27 October 2005

How Long Have I Been Asleep? It's Warm At The End Of October

I think I've been shifted forwards many years and this is what global warming has done to our planet. I went to be and it was 13°C and still was that when I woke up. Over lunch I saw a guy cycling in shorts and an old lady walking along with her sleeves rolled up! My GNOME weather applet states it is 20°C outside (lunchtime) and the BBC reports it is the warmest 27th October ever even hitting 23°C in some places). If you don't believe me take a look at the sunshine and the warm glow around the city. All this on the day that the lead story on the BBC is Bonnie Prince Charlie decides to warn us about climate change!

My On Going Quest To Get OOo To Have A "Hide Blank Lines" Option

After almost two years of pestering and begging some wonderful person has now fix Issue 36696 that gives the (MS Word '97) option to hide blank lines when printing labels (or a letter with the wizard one would assume). Instead of being over joyed I find myself incredibly sad as with the new release of OpenOffice.org 2 they've actually broken the hidden paragraph feature :-( Here's a break down of Issue 56195

Imagine you have a data source that looks like this:
Address1 Address2 Address3
text text text
text null text
text text text

Create a document that looks like this:
"Record One..."
Address1
[hiddenparagraph] Address2 "Print me only for record one and three"
Address3
[next record]

Copy and paste the above, delete the final "Next Record" and change the "One" to a "Two". You are now ready to print a form letter (File > Print > Yes), only ask for records one and two to be printed.

The printed file will look like this:
Example One (incorrect)

This output is incorrect. Address2 has been hidden for record one even though it is not empty. What has happened is the hidden paragraph test for record two's Address2 has been done (which results in a true, hide paragraph as R2A2 is empty) and that test result is applied to all the hidden paragraphs for Address2s on the page :-(

You can see by turning "show hidden paragraphs" on (under the View menu) that record one's Address2 field is correctly being filled, it's just the hidden paragraph function next to it that is mis-firing:
Example One with Show Hidden Paragraphs On

To double check this just change the names Record One and Record Two to Two and Three respectively and do the print for only records two and three. This time record three's Address Two (the second one on the page) is not empty so the line is not hidden. Record two's Address2 is not hidden either, even though it is empty:
Example Two (incorrect again)

This bug basically makes hidden paragraphs useless for labels (which is probably the most common time to use hidden paragraphs) and any other multiple records to a page. Let's hope some one can fix it for 2.0.1 (although it is not targeted for it yet and nobody seems to be seeing the severity of this issue).

25 October 2005

There's Nobody Here But Us Chickens!

I've lost my grip on reality! Big hearted scousers have set up a mini shrine to a baby who was left dead in an alley way in Oakfield Road (in Anfield, Liverpool) following police cordoning off the street. Word spread around the city as "Paramedics could not identify the body and neither could the attending police doctor, who studied the foetus left outside Anfield Tackle". Rumours spread around the schools, pubs and in taxis about the incident however "The corpse was taken to a nearby hospital where it was later identified by medical staff as a chicken". This didn't stop a shrine being set up with flowers, teddy bears and handwritten notes (picture from the Echo) Yesterday Merseyside Police issued the statement: "Stop grieving, it's only a chicken!"

19 October 2005

Legendary English Footballer Johnny Haynes Dies

Oh dear. It seems that on Monday night Johnny Haynes, 71, collapsed whilst driving in his car and ended up in a head on collision. These injuries were so severe his family decided to turn his life support machine off on Tuesday. His wife who was also in the vehicle remains in hospital but in a stable condition. The head on collision was actually the one I photographed on Monday night as Johnny lived in Lothian Road. My deepest condolences to his family.

18 October 2005

Corpse Bride - You Only Sing When You're Dead

How can I watch Corpse Bride and not let the fact that we both saw the movie for free at a special preview screening before the film's officially released influence my review? I shall try... ahem. Best movie of the year. I've looked back over all the films I've seen this year and the only films that come close to this are Howl's Moving Castle and to a lesser extent Crash. So with it's new title in hand let's get on to the film. Johnny Depp is arranged to be married to the daughter of a family with old money (it's a very British film). He keeps messing up his lines at the rehearsal and goes to take a breather in the woods. He manages to get the lines correct and inadvertently marries Helena Bonham Carter, a corpse frozen in a curse/spell waiting for her groom to come back and marry her (she was killed on her wedding day). A quick visit to the land of the dead with a few hilarious gags and very catchy songs and we now have a problem: Johnny has fallen for the quiet daughter he was arranged to be married to but she's in the land of the living. To save the marriage up top, a sinister Lord comes along and tries to take Johnny's place. The Lord is Richard E. Grant and he does a superb job, as do so many of the other voices in a perfectly cast, well, cast. Christopher Lee is the priest, Joanna Lumley the evil mother of the innocent daughter, Helena has such a unique quality to her voice and Jane Horrocks gives a few characters a voice and even sings in the perfect yet soft way only she can (I wonder why she's never gone into music?). More songs, more laughter, the story continues and we quickly come to a climax (the film is only 77 minutes long but you don't feel short changed). Very similar to Hercules (staring James Woods) as a great movie to see on a date. To give this film five out of five would make it on the same level as Howl's Moving Castle and while that is an excellent film, the ending was a little bit weak. Tim Burton's creation does not have any flaws, so without wanting to set a precedent 6 bones out of five and the moniker of "Best movie of the year".

What Now For The Big Beast Of Westminster?

Damn. Okay, the big beast is out and all the credit goes to David Davis. He had 67 declared MPs and was suggesting he would get around 80. He only got 62. That clear shows several people who had declared for him switched to Dr Fox in order to try and get Ken Clarke out at the first round. That has happened which now means Cameron will get around 80 votes and Davis should get 80 too with Fox getting and embarrassingly low 20. So where does all that leave Ken? Well, he could try and get the role as Shadow Chancellor under Cameron which would be really interesting, although you have to feel this is a long shot given the fact Cameron and current Chancellor of the Shadows is George Osbourne. Probably the most realistic bet is Shadow Foreign Secretary and give er, um, Jack Straw a good mauling and Tony/Gordon too over Iraq. Of course if Davis gets in then you can kiss the Conservative Party goodbye into the annals of history.

Victory Is Mine ... UK TV Finally Has Good Programmes!

As of this Saturday, BBC2 will never be the same again. Having lost Larry David's semi-improvised Curb Your Enthusiasm to More4 (kudos to them though for making it available on Freeview), the BBC have more than recovered by getting Family Guy from the third series and putting it on directly after American Dad in a decent adult slot. 10.05pm will be American Dad, a satire based around Stan Smith, a right wing CIA agent who has a very interesting family. At 10.30pm we'll be treated to The Thin White Line, the start of a two-parter that begins the third series of quite simply the best animated series ever. Okay the third series is available to buy on DVD but it's still worth watching as many people will never have heard of it. No ad breaks and no censorship ... bliss! All this and a new series of Armando Iannucci's excellent The Thick Of It on BBC4... :-D

What On Earth Is This? Win A Prize If You Know!

For almost two years a TK Maxx store (I'm not saying which one as I don't want people to buy it) has had a kitchen utensil on sale and no one has bought it. It's only £2.99 but the reason now one has bought it is no one knows what the hell it is! The tag on it is hand written with just the internal code to ring it through the checkouts and the price. If anyone can tell me what it is they will win a bona fide prize (pending verification of your answer)! Full view, just the head, side view of head. Post your suggestions below.

17 October 2005

It's Oh So Quiet Says Damian Day

In true Damian Day fashion (possibly inspired by Ab-normal Beauty from last week) I was wandering down Dalry Road this evening and thought to myself, "Hmm, it's a bit quiet". Adhering to my voyeuristic needs I snapped a picture and then three more. (I know my finger is in two of the shots, I'm getting used to my new phone / camera / case combination) Can someone please explain why the car was all the way over there? Eek and ouch says it all really. This is Damian Day, Globelink News.

16 October 2005

Forwarded Emails Actually Entertain Shock

In the past few weeks I've had two images the have actually amused me even though they were sent in the usual mass forward manner. A couple of months ago there was also the photo of the sign outside Notting Hill Gate tube station, the day after the Brazilian electrician was shot by police. The two more recent ones are relating to the BA strike (and the whole Gate Gourmet thing) and this week quite simply the best vandalism ever. Enjoy!

13 October 2005

Ab-Normal Beauty - Unless You're Damian Day

One the films I considered during the festival but then found out that it'd be released shortly afterwards and I could watch it for a damn sight less! Sei Mong Se Jun is about a teenage photography student (Jin) is bored with her pictures (and talent) but then sees a fatal car crash and gets all excited about capturing the moment of death forever. She explores the whole area including paying a butcher to kill more chickens so she could photograph the blood pouring out of their necks and then the last flickers of life before the go totally limp. This of course is not enough and soon she is looking into human tragedies. Soon enough she tries to create fear in other people to capture it forever but then somebody starts sending her what appear to be snuff movies. A young girl is chained up in a chair and beaten senseless before finally being killed by repeated blows with a lead pipe. As she dies a multitude of cameras and flashes go off. Needless to say the whole snuff movie creation soon gets very personal for Jin and the final scenes are quite intense, especially as you try to work out who is doing all this. The film is from the Pang Brothers (who also did Bangkok Dangerous and more recently The Eye) and the direction and musical score is excellent. The script itself is also good and the story is thoroughly gripping. Another well made and very entertaining film from Asia (Hong Kong to be precise). The only thing that let the film down is the poor translation of the subtitles and also the speed at which some of them were displayed for. For example, "Now I know!" becomes "I knew now" and "No" was on screen for 2 seconds yet two sentences only stay on for one second (sometimes). Despite these minor gripes it's still well worth seeing if you are looking for a film to drag you out of the usual Holywood malaise. Four product-placed Nikon cameras out of Five.

9 October 2005

Cranium Inspires Comic Quips

Friday and Saturday night we played Cranium (get game, loads of fun). Each night the situations inspired me to come out with a truly amusing line that I am very happy with. The first night I read the yellow Spellbound question which was "Spell the word 'isthmus'". I wasn't certain how to pronounce it and made that clear. The team answering the question, possibly from watching too many of the Channel 4 US spelling contests, asked me to use it in a sentence. I gave them one. "The word you have to spell is 'isthmus'". The next night I read the answer to a charades type question before giving it to the team to try. As I handed it over I said "try that, as best you can". "It sounds like a place in the middle east doesn't it, 'as best you can'?". Very proud of those two, more so because of the amount of alcohol consumed.

7 October 2005

How The Conservative Leadership Contest Will Go

Five men go in, only one walks out. Rifkind is the first to go and Davis wins by a large number of MPs' votes. Sir Malcolm then throws his support behind Ken Clarke as he shares his "One Nation Conservatism" ideas, despite disagreeing on Europe (which is a none-issue in this campaign). Next out is Dr Fox who backs his co-right wing candidate David Davis who is struggling, as too is David Cameron as he seems to be rather lightweight after his initial early showing. The "Tony Blair" tag is really hanging heavy around his neck. Cameron then goes out with Clarke and Davis very close. He instantly backs Ken (unsurprisingly) and more of his supporters come out and do the same. If had then gone to the MPs Ken would win with overwhelming support of 66% MPs. Instead the two remaining challengers step out to the members of the Party appeal for their votes. Davis' lack of orator qualities really start to hurt him as Clarke seems to be selling him self on his previous tax cuts and his "big beast" status. Two days before my birthday the result is announced with Ken winning with 61% of the votes despite the bulk of the party not liking his pro-Europe stance. Davis is humiliated and withdraws to the backbenches and it seems the Party have made a sensible choice. Being able to speak in public really does matter it seems. The "Churchillian" comeback is complete (no doubt helped by the fact that he is overweight, speaks his mind, drinks and smokes cigars).

5 October 2005

Howl's Moving Castle - Don't Move Along Please, Plenty To See Here

I've been waiting for Hauru no ugoku shiro for a very long time, the hype surrounding it is huge. Disappointing is a word I could not use to describe this film. 'Mesmerised' and 'in awe' would explain quite well how I felt throughout the whole film. The genius of the director is clear for all to see in his animation. The detail and imagination is incredible and his ability to take you back to a childhood state is amazing. Put simply the story is about love and personal exploration. Howl (or Howell from Wales as he is in the original book this is vaguely based on) is a magician who looks a bit like Ken (think Ryu not Barbie) and he is continually running away, notably from himself. There is a young woman called Sophie who falls for him but Howl ignores because she is very ugly (because she was cursed into being a 90 year old woman). A simple journey set in Victorian England spiced up my magic, that entertains you all the way along. Oh yeah, I forgot to say the police fly on personal helicopter/planes, the world is at war, bombers use shape-shifting creatures and the evil henchmen are oil blobs who freak you me out. And Howl's castle can move, looks like something from Monty Python and exists in three points in space at the same time. Like I said, mind-expandingly good. There is nothing about the film you cannot like, especially the characters. The scarecrow Turnip Head is my favourite, closely followed by the fire Calcifer. This is one of the very best films I have seen, a full 5 magic wands out of 5. It's so good it has actually convinced KT to watch Miyazaki's earlier (and in some people's opinion even better) work, Spirited Away and Mononoke Hime, despite them being Anime animation and only subbed in English - now that is a powerfully good film.

3 October 2005

Time To Play The Game

I get a nice warm feeling when I realise the new "series" of politics is back on the air. It started with the Labour Party conference last week when Gordon Brown said he won't return to old Labour (i.e. socialist) policies and was a Blairite through and through. I didn't read one article that said what I was thinking, namely that what Gordon said was total bollocks. He's just saying that to ward off any "New Labour" challenger, namely Alan Milburn, that the more extreme of the Blairites may push to stand against him because the really couldn't stand Brown being in charge. Thank God for Rory Bremner (and all the writers including Dave Fulton)! The Bremner, Bird and Fortune team did a song by Gordon with the lyrics "I'd do anything .. for your job, anything" and included the line "I'd say anything". The second Brown takes over he'll kick out most of the Blairites that haven't been sacked or had to resign (and even those that have yet have come back almost instantly, e.g David Blunkett) and bring in his new era. Whether he'll win against a rejuvenated Conservative Party under Ken Clarke, hammering the Chancellor (who will it be, Nick Brown?) on the downturn in the economy that we seem destined for, is uncertain. I'm sure he will scare off several "middle England" voters which could leave if with a three-way split, if we only had proportional representation :-(

The other big story is Austria taking the piss with the rest of Europe over Croatia's entry into the EU (which has stalled due to the UN slating them for not finding a general wanted for war crimes), by blocking Turkey's entry and threatening to use their veto. They seem to have fallen into line now after a hugely publicised deadlock that I'm sure was just done so Austria could guarantee that Croatia will be allowed in when the postponed talks restart, after the Turkey issue is resolved. Notice I didn't even mention the Tory leadership elections, mainly because Dr Fox (hee hee hee), Malcolm Rifkind and David Cameron will all get knocked out very quickly and all their support will fall behind Ken. That will leave middle versus right in Clarke vs. Davis. I can't see the members making another monumental mistake in electing another right wing unknown (as far as the general public are concerned), especially after the last three elections when they've had such poor results. They may not like him but they will vote for Clarke in the same way the left of the Labour party were weary of the centre-right New Labour. They complained less (briefly) when the won the election though.

2 October 2005

Unfair Reporting of the Liverpool - Chelsea Game

"Rampant Chelsea Crush Reds" is the headline the BBC are running with in their sports section. This is unfair and untrue. Yes Chelsea beat Liverpool 4-1 but they simply had good luck on their side rather than being rampant. I'm not bitter about Liverpool not getting either of the two certain penalties on Wednesday night, I just want the truth to be represented in the story. Okay we made a couple of defensive mistakes, such as Djimi hacking Drogba down when he was going nowhere and Finnan fell asleep was we made the fourth substitution, but we played very well in the game. Sky Sports ended the match saying that Liverpool had 66% of the possession - that's unheard of! Liverpool also had 1 more attempt on target (9-8). The official Opta stats confirm this, giving the precise possession stats as 59.6% which is very high. We even had 57.1% of the territorial advantage. Given our poor striking efforts (as Crouch on had 10 minutes to work with a real partner, Cisse), 2-1 to Chelsea would probably have been a fair reflection on the game. As occasionally happens, luck goes with a team and you end up with a scoreline that is not reflective of the actual game. This is one of those times.