X-Factor and Britney Spears short change British public.

Okay, now I know I’m going to get a lot of grief for this, but I love X-Factor when It’s done properly. I love the fact that someone with genuine talent is finally realising their dream and can belt out a tune that will almost bring me to tears. It’s only happened twice though, the fantastic Leona Lewis is a genuine world class singer and her story is what X-Factor is all about and I believe Alexandra this year can do almost as well, listening to her sing that second song of hers, I am now convinced she will win, utterly awesome.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Britney Spears. All week ITV were saying this was her first performance in the UK since her comeback and I was looking forward to seeing her. Now I’m not a particularly big fan of Britney, but I am a fan of anyone who can come back from such a dark place as she was. Just a few months ago it looked very bleak for her as she self-destructed and showed herself up to the rest of the world, so I really wanted her to do well last night and seal her comeback with a stunning performance.

What we got was nothing short of a disgrace. X Facor is a show where non-professional singers sing live to an audience of millionwhich takes massive kahunas. So then along comes Britney Spears, multi-platinum albums, professional who has been in the business for years, and she comes on and mimes her way through her single. Now I think this is unforgiveable. She concentrated on a bland dance routine and was more interested in looking good than actually sounding decent.

Over the weeks we have had Leona Lewis, Will Young, Mariah Carey and Take That. All have sang live and Take That along with Mariah spent time with the contestants during the week giving advice to the nervous wanabees which must have really helped them. But no not Britney, she just came on the stage for a few minutes, danced some crappy dance and mimed badly. I was so angry that she had done this, is she really talentless? I so wanted to nearly be brought to tears with a powerful performance that said “I’m back and I have beaten my demons and now I’m betterthan ever”. But what we got was a damp squib which left a nasty taste in the mouth and I was glad when she left.

So there you go, my rant at Britney. Not important in the wider world, but this performance was so hyped and delivered so little. Sorry Britney, could do better. Why don’t you watch Alexandras second performance of the night for some ideas.

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One phone call to Orange saved me £120 for the year.

We are all aware that we are in a difficult time financially and many of us need to cut costs in places if we can. Having recently watched “The Gadget Show” and their research on ISPs and who gave the best value for money, I decided to look into it for myself.

I have been with Orange broadband since it was Freeserve many years ago and have never had a problem with either connection speed or reliability so I didn’t think I was going to do much better now. My existing plan costs £20 per month for upto 8mb and a 40GB monthly allowance, now I know I’m not getting anywhere near the 8mb but I have no major worries and this connection speed allows me to do pretty much anything I want.

So I checked out Sky and 02 because apparently they had the best deals (according to The Gadget Show) and the deals were okay. Sky promised upto 16mb per sec (but not in my area) amd the price was pretty damn good actually,  but they wanted to charge a set up fee and I’d then have to go through the whole Mac no. thingy, and all the set up for a new router and they also really wanted me to leave BT and take their line. Now that I wasn’t sure about so I made my excuses and hung up.

I decided to give Orange themselves a call and I’m glad I did. I explained to the very helpful and knowledgable Dan, that I had seen better deals elsewhere and that being a “valued long term customer”, could he do anything to convince me to stay with Orange? Straight away he told me that If I stayed with them for another year, they would give me six months free broadband starting form today. And even better, If I rang them again in another year, they would do the same thing. Now this isn’t the first time Orange have done this for me, I had the same plan last year so I wonder just how exclusive these offers are.

But the main point of this post is.. If I hadn’t made that one call that only took five minutes (thats another bonus, I was through almost immediately) I have no doubt that they wouldn’t have called me. In these days of strife and minding our pennies, most of these companies want your business, and If you’ve been with them for a while, I reckon they’d bend over backwards to keep your custom. So go on, make that call. What have you got to lose. Good luck

Right then…. SKy TV next me thinks

Trailer for the new Star Trek movie

I have been waiting a long time for this trailer since the teaser came out some months back. I watched a bootleg copy on Youtube the other day but justice was not done. Having seen this latest trailer, I’m a little more excited now. I have never been a fan of going down the prequel path, in my opinion there was so much promise in setting the movie just after the events of Nemesis.

They tried the prequel experiment with the TV series “Enterprise” which was okay but It felt too different. Others must have agreed because the show was axed after four seasons which signalled the death knell of Trek as an ongoing drama series.

So now JJ Abrahms is given the reigns to try and pump new life into the franchise. Will he succeed in rebooting and making something exceptional like Christopher Nolan did with Batman begins? (another dead franchise at the time) or Casino Royale directed by Martin Campbell who delivered something truly wonderful and managed to take a franchise which was cheesy and unbelievable and turned it into something serious and a great re-imaging of a British hero.

We’ll have to wait until May to find out, but in the meantime, check out the movie trailer and let me know your thoughts.

Trekkies are damn fine people.

Despite feeling really crappy this morning, my spirits were lifted when not only did my lovely missus make me breakfast and a fine cup of tea, but also, while I was checking my Emails, my pukey little girl toddled up to me with a parcel in her hand.

I knew exactly what this was, this was a CD from my Geeky friend in Aberdeen in Washington, Rick Moyer. Now Rick is somewhat of a musical genius who surprises us every week on the Treks In Sci-Fi pod-cast with a song that he has specifically written for that particular show. Every week he comes up with the goods and Rico and all his listeners enjoy this section as much as the rest of the show. Indeed, Rico often states that the show wouldn’t be complete with a “Father and Son review” well I think the same can be said for Ricks little ditty’s.

Rick has compiles a CD of festive songs for the Christmas holidays. He has taken 14 classic Christmas songs and added his own lyrics centered around Star Trek. The result is a very enjoyable and amusing 40 minutes of joy. I was feeling horrible this morning but Rick has cheered me up somewhat and I’m currently going through the list of tunes, and with titles like “Jean-Luc The bald head Captain” and “I’ll be home on Voyager”, I know I’ll be smiling for the rest of the day.

Rick my Friend, thank you very much indeed. This was such a lovely thought and I know you must have had fun making it. Thank you for counting me as one of your Trek buddies from the forums and I really appreciate you sending it across the pond.

The CD was imported onto my itunes within 10 minutes of opening it and has been added to my Christmas playlist, I know it will raise a few eyebrows when my non-believing friends hear it, but even they won’t be able to deny the talent that is Rick Moyer. Thanks again my friend. Peace and long life.

All ye stay away from this house

Last night was a really bad night for me. I had trouble falling asleep and then awoke at about 3am with my face in horrible pain. It seemed my sinuses were completly blocked and I couldn’t breath through my nose and breathing through my mouth was just drying up my throat compounding my already persistent cough.

After an hour of tossing and turning and generally feeling sorry for myself, I had to come downstairs, take a couple of pills and then fill ahot water bottle. The only way to feel any comfort was to rest the bottle on my face and then finally drift off into fitful sleep.

I was then woken by the kids at around 6.30 who both decided to climb into our bed and then breath more germs onto me. A little later, I was woken to my little girl throwing up on the bed, no warning, just shot bolt upright and the contents of her stomach were next to me. I don’t do sick very well and I had to leave the bedroom while Sarah cleared up bless her.

So now my holiday is really turning into a bout of horribleness and It’s at times like these that i wish I hadn’t take a holiday because as Sarah said, my body probably realised I was going to relax and have a week off, let down its defences and then BANG it bloody well gets me. Oh well, as long as I don’t get the tummy bug, I’ll be okay.

A glorious week off work?

Today I started my first holiday in eighteen months (with the exception of Christmases and Easter), nothing planned just a week chilling out and doing nothing. However, at the same time as this is happening, my kids have decided to turn my house into a sick house. My little lad is currently a snot machine with a nasty chesty cough as is my little girl. She has also vomited this afternoon and wants nothing more than to stay snuggled up to me and drink warm tea. I myself have a nasty cough and frequent bouts of sneezing and I’m sure that staying in close proximity of these sick children will soon have me with my head down the toilet bowl and shivering with hot and cold sweats.

So, the first week off in over a year and a half, and it looks like it’s going to be spent indoors watchin crap TV or web surfing too much. Also, I haven’t had a day off work with illness in over three years, and when it does come, I’m already off work. That’ll be the law of sod then.

The amazing Sky+ box.

This little beauty has literally changed the way I watch TV forever.  The Sky+ box is a PVR (personal video recorder) that basically lets you create your own TV channel. Indeed when Sky came out with this product, the advertising campaign was centered around this idea.

My version has an 80GB hard drive which allows the user to store up to 40 hours of TV. If a TV show that you like is part of an ongoing series, Sky+ allows you to automatically record every episode with just one press of a button, I found this feature so handy as you don’t have to worry about schedule changes, the box will do it all for you. You can also record two channels simultaneously and even watch something recorded previously.

The interface is so simple to use. It’s all so concise and well thought out and even my old Grandma (bless her heart) could use this easily. It’s amazing that such a technological breakthrough can be used by the very vast majority of the public.

Since I got this thing nearly two years ago, I don’t watch television when the channels say I have to, I just settle down, check out my planner and choose to suit my mood. You can even whizz through the adverts at 30*  speed, no more annoying breaks. The only drawback is that you sometimes don’t get to see you favourite shows for a couple of weeks after original broadcast.

I know this sounds like an advert for the 800lb gorilla that is Sky, but I really love this gadget and is in my top five all time favourite Geek toys. Go ahead, try it for yourself and I can almost promise you that you, like me, will change your viewing habits forever.