Supermarket rant. No.1

It’s been many months since I did any work on this blog and I always feel bad about it, I think that if i worked with a PC all day I’d probably work on it a  little more often but at night I seem to just chill out and either forget or just cannot be arsed to write in it.

But the other day when I made an AudioBoo comment, I had a good friend of mine reply to my comment. Young Andy, who is one of my nearest and dearest buddies, and always takes the time to either insult or praise me in equal amounts, is often telling me that I am old before my time and that I spend far too much energy ranting about the things I find annoying in life. But then I thought “Hang on”, I could vent my spleen on my blog. I mean, It’s sitting there doing nothing and I might as well make use of it, and as so much in life pisses me off I reckon I have enough material to last a few more posts at least. So here goes my first of many rants, and today I’m focusing on my experiences in Supermarkets.

Now, we all have to go to the supermarket and It’s not as if anybody actually enjoys the experience is it? But really, why must I end up loathing almost the entire population within the store? I’m only going to rant about one particular bugbear of mine today but I have so many about Supermarkets that I will without doubt return to this topic. But today I’m concentrating on the Car Parks and how people use them.

So, there I am pulling into the local Tesco with the kiddies in the car and I’m looking for the “family bays”, these parking spaces are meant for people with young children or pushchairs and they are nearer to the entrance so the little angels don’t have so far to walk on their tired little legs. So many times I have arrived to find some idiot parked there with child seats in the back but with a distinct lack of ankle- biter, or worse still, there will be no evidence whatsoever of any child ever having been in that vehicle. No empty crisp packets, no mucky fingerprints on the windows or no toys strewn all over the car. Now this can only be down to laziness or the fact that they just want to piss me off. So then I have to park near the back of the car park and dodge the other idiots who insist on driving at well over the 10mph speed limit or decide to drive down the wrong way despite arrows clearly marking the correct direction. I mean come on, have some decency. These are the same people that park in disabled bays without a badge and just wonder off totally oblivious to the fact that a genuine person may need that space.

Another major “piss off” for me is those who simply cannot park properly. Those who find it impossible to park in between those white lines. It’s not tough is it? It seems that these morons cannot be bothered to reverse and line up properly. I  went to the same store the other day and watched this young couple pull into a space, the guy got out, looked at his utterly crap parking. His girlfriend commented on his bad parking but he thought it was quite amusing. He stopped the engine, locked the car and they both sauntered off leaving their heap of shit parked with one wheel encroaching into the neighbouring bay. I doubt he was smiling when he returned to his car to find a note under his windscreen wiper telling him exactly what his parking skills were like. (Hmm! I wonder who could have done that?)

One last thing I hate about Supermarket car-parks. When you have finished with your trolley, can you please return it to a trolley park? Don’t be a lazy git and just abandon it where you have unloaded it. Now this is purely down to having no regard for anyone else, these trolley parks are always only within a few meters of your car and it will only take a minute to push your wonkey trolley there. Have some respect and don’t be so damn lazy.

Well I think that is about it for my return to blog posting. As you have read, I hate Supermarket shopping and it’s a pity that we cannot avoid it. Online shopping is an option but many people I know who have tried it are often disappointed and they quite often end up with shit that they didn’t order. In an ideal world they’d shut the Supermarket so I could do my shopping in peace and quiet, but perhaps I need to be Michael Jackson for that to happen.

Star Trek. A Review. (Beware Of Spoilers)

Well first of all I have to admit to originally being a heavy critic when I heard that they were making a Star Trek prequel movie. The franchise was already in its death throes and I really thought this was going to be the straw that broke the camels back. I mean, here was JJ Abrams who readily admitted that he wasn’t a big fan of Star Trek and he was going to “re-imagine” the longest running sci-fi franchise in the world. The alarm bells started ringing, I didn’t want this to
happen. “Let me remember Kirk as The Shat played him” I cried. “Don’tmess with the timeline” I moaned. I really was against this from the time the rumours started about prequels long ago. But I should have had a little more faith in JJ Abrams, after all, I do enjoy most of his other work.
So I went into the cinema with my pre-booked tickets in hand, a little nervous but very excited indeed. I had booked the first showing of the day to go with my buddy Andy who is also a little bit of a Star Trek fan (when I rented a room at his house we would sit back with a few beers and smokes and watch TNG all night)

The movie starts off at a very fast pace and is the best opening of any of the previous Trek movies (although Nemesis still ranks up there). Straight away I was gripped. I was transfixed as I sat looking at this new version of Star Trek. “Shiny” I thought. The Abrams influence was obvious very early on, I have to admit to nearly choking up at the first scene. It reminded me of the more poignant moments from “Lost”, it was tough but I held it together. That first scene
featured George Kirk, Jims Dad, saving eight hundred people from certain death by launching a kamikazee attack on a gigantic enemy. Truly emotional stuff. And this is all before the titles roll. The legend “Star Trek” comes on screen, the chills run down my back and the hairs on my body stand on end…..I was sold.

I’m not going to go through the whole movie scene by scene but I will tell you my thoughts in general. I thought the new actors were all brilliant,  every one of them nailed their characters perfectly with special mention to Karl Urban who plays Dr McCoy “Leonard H”.

Chris Pine as Kirk? Well this was one of my biggest doubts before I saw the movie. Before this film, only one actor had ever played “Captain James Tiberius Kirk” and I was one of those naysayers who wanted history to remain that way. Unlike the characters of Doctor Who or James Bond or many other fictional heroes, the role of Captain Kirk belonged to one person, it seemed such a pity to change that. However, Chris Pine put my mind at ease within a few minutes of appearing on the screen. When he sat on the Captains chair spread-eagled like that he looked perfect.

Zachary Quinto was always going to be perfect as Spock, the guy was born to play him. The similarities are spooky. Quinto brought an emotional side to Spock that I can’t ever remember seeing before and this divergence from what I have known to be Spock all these years was actually very welcome (he is half human after all).

Uhura- Oh Man, Uhura is just so gorgeous and I believe Miss Saldana has a lot to offer the role in the future. I found the relationship between herself and Spock quite interesting (again I don’t remember seeing this in any of the original series, I may be wrong though). Sulu was a lot of fun and his fight scenes were well choreographed, I hope to see much more of him in the future. As for Scotty and Chekhov, I need to see more of them in action, in particular Anton Yelchin who needs to tone down the Russian accent and Simon Pegg who needs to develop his Scottish accent.

The story was satisfactory. Time travel is always a tricky subject to deal with but the whole issue in this movie was that the time-line we all knew and loved has changed forever. Abrams has shown his genius by wiping the slate clean and starting afresh. No longer can we expect our heroes to win through every time and survive the movie, if JJ can destroy both Vulcan and Romulus, then surely he can kill off a main character.

The action scenes were incredible, the whole film (over two hours) was very fast paced and the CGI was well executed. The Enterprise was beautiful and I particularly liked the nacelles, i loved the new “chunky” look to them. This was another concern I had before seeing it but all was fine. I noticed a small homage to “The Motion Picture”, when Kirk sees NCC 1701 for the first time in space dock although they didn’t linger for ten bloody minutes.

I also think they were successful in the whole look of the movie. It was always going to be tough to make it look good for us die-hard Trekkies. Back in the sixties it was all about primary colours and little flicky switches. How would they manage to make it look modern yet lead us to believe that these events occurred before “Nemesis?” This I thought, would be the highest hurdle, but yet again Abrahms has delivered the goods.

In fact this film was so well made that I only had two VERY small criticisms and they were two scenes that they really could have done without. When Kirk was stranded on the ice moon. Then this monster comes out from nowhere and it just threw me. Totally out of place and unnecessary in my opinion. And when Scotty was sucked through the pipes, again this was silly and not funny although the initial beaming into the wrong place was pretty good actually. But to be fair, along with Chekhovs anoying accent, these were the only minus points and to be honest, after the second viewing Chekhovs accent bothered me less.

So to sum up.This film is bloody fantastic. It should appeal to both die-hard Trekkies and newcomers alike. Go on, all those people who have hammered Star Trek in the past should really go and see this. Even the lovely lady Sarah (my gorgeous missus) has expressed a very small interest in seeing it ( I wonder If Chris Pine has anything to do with this). JJ Abrams has made Star Trek cool and he has breathed life back into a previously dying franchise. I believe for the next ten years, these fine new actors are going to be very busy reprising their new roles and will become household names just like their predecessors.

Mr Abrams, I thank you for giving us this gift and I humbly apologise for ever doubting your genius.

And Mr Lucas?? This is how a prequel movie should be made.

Edited 10th May for spelling of Abrams and Karl

Ticketmaster & Ticket Touts, I F****ng Hate You.

A couple of weeks ago Michael Jackson announced that he was going to perform twenty dates at the O2 arena. I was very excited about being given the opportunity to see one of my musical heroes once more.

I’ve been a big fan of Michael Jackson since “Thriller” came out in 1982 and I was lucky enough to see him at Wembley Stadium for the opening night of his “Bad” tour in the summer of  ’88. I was sixteen years old and queued for twelve and a half hours to see my idol,  It still marks as one of the best days of my life so far. I managed to get to the front of the crowd and I’ll never forget that atmosphere. I have also been to see him on other occasions 1992 and 1997 and each time it has been amazing but none as magical as my first concert.

Each time I bought a ticket, It seemed to be simply calling Wembley Stadium, and within a couple of weeks I’d have my tickets and then I could look forward to the big day safe in the knowledge that the ticket was in my house. Now of course, It’s very different.

As soon as this new tour was announced, I registered for the pre-sale window which allowed “real fans” to buy tickets a few days before they went on sale to the general public, as soon as I received my code I went online in the vein attempt to buy two tickets for myself and my best mate Chris (he went with me to the ’97 concert). Could I get any tickets though?

No sodding chance.  Ticketmaster, the company in charge of ticket distribution, were a joke. Not only was I unable to log on to the site, but I also couldn’t ring them ( you know, the old fashioned way, like back in the day when you could actually speak with somebody on the phone.) Four bloody days I tried to book these tickets before the general public sale, in these four days it was failure after failure. So I tried again at 7am on the day the tickets went on general sale, once more I was unable to complete the purchase and all tickets to all shows (including the extra dates well into 2010) were gone within four hours.

So out of interest, I logged onto Ebay to see what the tickets were selling for, and this is where I started to get even more pissed off. There were hundreds of tickets for sale and every one was going for more than fives face value with one pair up for the astonishing figure of £10,000 . Ten bloody Grand. Now the strange thing was that many of these sellers had only recently opened accounts and only had a couple of feedbacks. Another problem, these tickets weren’t even in the sellers possession. The buyer had to give over his money,  and then the seller would send the tickets via special delivery when they themselves received them from Ticketmaster. This could be upto ten days before the concert date. I can imagine all shades of shit hitting the fan with this arrangement. I started “watching” these items, not with the intention of buying but I wanted to see what people were willing to pay.

Well I was very pleased to see that a lot of them didn’t sell, many of them didn’t even reach reserve. A few re-listed with a much cheaper “buy it now” price than previous (sometimes cheaper by £200.) I hate to admit to a certain amount of glee at these at these poor souls not raking in as much profit as they had hoped.

So basically these tickets sold out very quickly to people who were more interested in making a quick buck than seeing Michael Jackson. I was under the impression that ticket touts were being clamped down on,  but I suppose that hasn’t happened. They only care about selling their stock and if arseholes are buying tickets and selling them off at stupid prices, then tough shit eh?

For the first time, I am unable to see my music hero when he tours over here and I’m gutted,  although I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset. After all the bloke is fifty years old and is well past his “best before” date. He simply cannot produce the same magic he did back in’88 or even ’92, and I would hate my memories of these days to be tarnished. I want to remember him as the great performer that he was.

Why I don’t bother using Torrent sites anymore.

A few years ago I discovered the world of torrenting, first of all through p2p sites like Limewire and Kazaa and then later Pirate Bay and the utorrent app. Back then I was very new to the internet and I had an old second hand PC with just a 4GB hard drive, I also had a dial up internet and would wait several hours for just one or two mp3’s. and even then you couldn’t be sure that the file would contain what it said on the tin.

Well I got my fingers bitten once when Limewire, my own raging hormones and naievety led me to download what I was led to believe was a naked picture of the lovely Gates McFadden aka Doctor Crusher. However, when I opened up the file, my computer just went crazy and opened up several windows of hardcore porn and then it shut down and I was never able to start that PC ever again. I lost all my data (in hindsight, I know a lot more now and would probably be able to recover at least some of it.)

My next PC I was a little more cautious. I never used p2p sites but did use Pirate Bay regularly. I built up a nice collection of music and I used to be able to catch up with TV shows that my friends In the States had seen over six months ago. Granted, I knew it was illegal but my argument was that if TV studios and channels couldn’t get their act together in showing these programmes within just a couple of weeks of each other, then I thought it was fair for me to find them for myself. I mean, if you are a member of a forums where people like to talk about BSG, Lost or any other Geeky show, then that immediatly puts us Brits at a disadvantage.

Lately though things have improved greatly. Now we get shows like Lost, 24, BSG, Fringe and others within just a couple of weeks of original broadcast in the States. Likewise, I believe shows like Doctor Who and Torchwood will be showing on BBC America within a few weeks of being broadcast over here.

Also the same applies to movies (probably even more so). Who here has bought DVD’s from some dodgy bloke in the street? You buy this disc of the film that is still being shown at the cinema and you ultimately end up disappointed in the quality. Either the picture is crap, the sound isn’t synced up or you see people getting up and going to the loo. And the film ends abruptly with no credits.

The good news however is that most movies are now released within 3-4 months of cinema release. Now I don’t mind waiting that long at all and if you pre-order from Amazon, you can get the DVD’s for almost half the recommended price. Gone are the days where you’d have to wait nearly a year to watch these movies at home.

So, since my favourite shows have started coming over here soon after the States, and since I only have to wait a few months for DVD releases, I really see no reason to use Torrent sites for these things, and you never even get a decent quality movie on Pirate Bay ( mostly they are handy-cam recordings). Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I saw a chinese guy selling DVD’s on the streets. Is this because the Police are cracking down on it or is it because the quality is shit and if you wait a few months you can buy a pucker movie?

Now I’m not totally innocent and I do have some torrented music, but this was downloaded many months ago and I stopped once the major ISP’s in this country said they were going to clamp down on such action, so I guess that’s another reason not to use torrent sites anymore. But my main reason as I stated before is that shows are going out to a worldwide audience much quicker than they used to.

ipod Touch Review

So a couple of weeks ago I bought an ipod touch to replace my old 30GB ipod classic which was having problems with the headphone jack. The choice I had was to either replace it with a 160GB hard drive classic which could contain my entire music collection for me to access anywhere at anytime, or I could go for the much more expensive ipod touch with the flash drive with only 16GB (32 was just out of the question price wise.)

It was while listening to a podcast where a chap had called the host asking for advice on the same problem as myself, the headphone jack, and the host was almost orgasming about his new ipod touch that I decided I would have to buy one for myself. The biggest negative was the memory. I was used to carrying around all my music on the Classic and being able to listen to anything I wanted, however, I primarily use my ipod to listen to podcasts at work and it gets used every single day so I decided I could live with managing my sync options on itunes.

So this small parcel arrived through the letterbox ( I was surprised at just how small) I unwrapped this parcel and was a little disappointed at the fact there was no wall charger, just a USB cable so you have to charge it using your computer. Never mnd I thought, I’ll just use the charger I used for my Classic. But no, It wasn’t suitable ( a little bit like Nokia who until recently had the charger that fitted every Nokia phone I had ever had,) so I had to buy a separate charger from Amazon. The one I chose was a 3 in 1 charger which also had a car charger which was perfect for work.

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Another couple of things I bought for it were a screen protector (in hindsight I think this was pointless) and a leather flip case. I have always been into protecting my products with cases or Hori screen protectors, my DS, PSP, digital cameras and phones have all been given the treatment and people are always taking the piss because of my almost OCD ways, but If I ever dropped one of my geeky gadgets and there was no protection, I would be devastated.

Flip case and screen protector

After the first charge and pairing up with my WiFi (so easy to do) I went straight to the apps. store to look for fun and interesting add ons. Now this is where the Touch really comes into its own. From the useless but fun lightsaber app to the wonderful resistor code app for work, the app. store is just so cool and I spent the first night browsing and installing countless applications.

The Wifi feature is just so handy. If I’m lying in bed and suddenly remember an unsent email or a post I have to stick on Twitter, then I just fire up the Touch rather than having to switch my laptop on again. I’m not keen on the Safari browser though and love Apple to allow use of  an Opera Mini app. and I also wish I could find a few more open WiFi spots to make use of it but it seems people are finally catching on to being a little more careful with security.

As I said, I mainly use my ipod to listen to and watch podcasts and the screen on this little beauty is outstanding and I could easily watch a full length movie on it with no problems and it’s perfect for video podcasts. This is also the first ipod to feature an inbuilt speaker which is not before time, now it isn’t the worlds most powerful speaker but you can listen to it in a quiet environment and is fine for listening to while chilling out in the bath.

This is my first ipod with flash memory. I’m used to having spinning drives which can hold all my music but is very bad for listening to whilst jogging, and If I ever take up jogging again then the flash memory will be ideal for that. On the downside, I cannot store my entire music collection like before which I thought would be Okay at first but you inevitably want to play something that isn’t synced up to the Touch.

The one big thing I miss about my old Classic is the tactility.I could listen to it while it was in my pocket and I could operate it with the nice click system without having to remove it. Now I have to take it out of my pocket every time I want to do something apart from adjusting the volume. And you can’t even buy a remote control for it so the young chap in the Apple store informed me, something to do with the touch screen software clashing with remote control hardware. But if anyone else knows any different then please let me know.

So to summarise. This gadget really is beautiful and versatile, It offers so much more than it’s previous incarnations, but it does come at a cost. No wall charger (which I think is unforgivable – Come on Apple, stop thinking about the aesthetics of the packaging and bundle this item please), no instructions or manual to advertise what this thing can do and not much memory. Even 32GB is not enough for most peoples music library

Despite these small faults I do love this ipod Touch and It’s going to overtake my Classic as my almost favourite gadget. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship. Just one word of advice, If you do buy one you must get a case for it, I have really nice slim leather one that although tight at first, now fits perfectly and looks the part while offering protection should it fall out of my very clumsy hands.

Here are some pros and cons of the ipod Touch.

Pros.                                                                                                                       Cons.

Looks Gorgeous                                                                                                 No wall charger

Flash memory                                                                                                    No tactility

Inbuilt speaker                                                                                                  Safari browser only (no open source)

Screen size                                                                                                           Quite pricey

Glass screen.

What you get

My new best friend

The Longest Bout Of Man Flu Ever.

So back in mid November,  I wrote a post about having a long overdue week off work only to be hit by the same bug that was affecting my kids.

Normally, most of us go through some kind of heavy cold or even the Flu at the start of Winter, apparently it’s the body’s way of preparing for the long winter months ahead,  so I expect to feel like shit for a few days but it then goes away and will sometimes come back at the start of  Spring for another round. But his year it’s been totally different.

Since back in November, this bloody bug has stayed in this house seemingly fading and then coming back and making you feel awful again. All four of us in our house have been affected by this thing, indeed my little girl has really suffered with her ears and today I had to take her to out of hours Doctors where a burst eardrum was diagnosed. She has been given anti-biotics to fight the infection and the Doctor said he was very surprised that she hadn’t been seen by a professional before today. Apparently a burst eardrum comes after the infection has built up and then has nowhere else to go but through that thin membrane. She had shown no obvious signs of pain until yesterday and when we saw the discharge on her hot water bottle this morning, we decided to take her in.

So, we’re all suffering and I wrote this post to see if this is common this year. Five bloody weeks I’ve felt like crap and the family also. I have never experienced something like this and I could get some sort of consolation if others were going through this and that it wasn’t down to my house being a bug infested mess.

So come on guys, try to make me feel better whilst I go and prepare another Beechams.

The Importance Of Close Friends

I don’t get to go out on the town with the lads these days as much as I should. Our collective bunch of guys have known each other for over fifteen years with a few of us going back twenty. Back in those halcyon days things were less complicated, no mortgages to worry about and no family to sap our very limited incomes. We had just about finished college and it was our mission to go out into the streets of Brighton and drink, dance and chat up the girls (with varying results). Partying most days of the week was not a problem back then and we always promised that we would stay in touch and keep up our social lives as much as we could.

But that was many moons ago and we have all grown up and had families, now we have responsibilities. Mortgages, council tax,  never-ending fuel price rises and exorbitant food costs now take up our hard earned cash leaving very little disposable income, and even if we could afford to hit the town every week I just don’t have the longevity or passion for such punishment. How many of us family men look forward to just chilling out at home at the weekend with a couple of tinnies and a good movie? When I hear my work colleagues planning their weekend, I just smile inwardly, reminisce for awhile and then look forward to settling in like an old boy complete with slippers. So when the opportunity comes around for a vintage boys night out with the old crew I always look forward to it, and that’s exactly what happened last night. For weeks I have been communicating to and fro with my buddies via Facebook and Email to get us all out together before Christmas and it was a pretty good turn out.

So we all meet up at our first port of call, no doubt noticing how we have all put on a couple of pounds (except the Ramdog), gained a few wrinkles (even the Ramdog) and lost a little more hair (no comment) except for me who went out with a freshly shaved Slaphead, and straight away we slipped back to our old comfortable ways as if we were a regular Friday night crew. But instead of chatting up the poor unsuspecting young ladies (that’s what I call them these days) our conversations were about our children, outgoings, the current economic crisis, and talking about the “good old days”.

Then at around 11pm, myself and my longest serving mate decided that we had had enough and, happily sozzled, we said our goodbyes (you know the routine, big bear hugs and lots of man love and promises of getting out more) and walked over Shoreham footbridge gassing on about how we’d had such a great time, we waited ten minutes for a Taxi in the freezing cold and I got home around midnight, just a little drunk and having a bloody good night out.

So I guess I’m writing this post to say how luck I am. I spent my formative years with this fantastic group of  friends and they are all so very dear to me, and even though we don’t see each other as often as we should, when we do its just like old times and I cherish every night out. So if any of these chaps ever read this post, I bloody love you all and thanks for a superb night out.