26 March 2006

Finally, An End To The Monopoly! About Time...

Monopoly's really annoy me. I'm glad to say that as of 6am this morning a major monopoly in Scotland is finally over. No longer do we have no choice in what our pubs and restaurants stink of. We can now enjoy all the olfactory wonders of body odour, spilt lager, vomit and probably even urine. Smoke has been banished forever! Don't get me wrong, this is the single greatest day in my time in Scotland (more-so than Devolution Day), but as Ireland (and others) have learnt, while the smoke was killing us, it did cover a plethora of other repulsive smells. One thing does puzzle me though, why introduce it today? Humans are generally forgetful beings so to launch it on the same day Mothers Day and the clocks go forward - surely the best we can hope for is remembering two out of three?

On the subject of BST I read a very fascinating piece from the BBC reporting on a Private Members' Bill that was read on Friday in the House of Lords. Basically it proposes a three year experiment with the clocks staying forward an hour in October (so our winter remains GMT+1) and then next March going forward a further hour to GMT+2. It would gives us much more daylight in the evenings during the summer (what's the point in the sunrising at 5am in Edinburgh in July?) and save an estimated 100 lives on the roads. Of course the former Tory-boy and ex-greengrocer "Lord" Sainsbury, you know the guy who gave a massive donation to New Labour and then became their adviser on science. The very same one who went on to promote multiple GM crop trials despite farmers protests, having previously invested bucket loads in GM food when in charge of Sainsburys, that one. Well he said roughly "we tried it in '68-'71 and people didn't like it so we never need to try it again". Can't fault his logic, after all the generation of 30 years ago is still the current generation isn't it? *Anywho*, fingers crossed and with the support of the Idiot Protection Society, I mean the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents this bill may just become law. It also means no more putting our watches and phones forward when we go to Europe!

25 March 2006

PhillG.com Is To Close

Sad News Everyone :-( PhillG.com is to Close!

It is with a very heavy heart I bring you this sad but inevitable news. This days was always coming and almost one year into my most recent online adventure, here we are. This site has evolved significantly over the past year and while I do like the interaction with people who read it, it has strayed away from what it should really be about. The "phillg" you see on this site is not really me, it's a projection of what people expect of me, it's not who I really am. To that extent I take the decision to close phillg.com for good rather than continue pretending I'm someone I'm not.

The great news is that I'm opening a new site, starting today, that is far more in tune with what I originally wanted out of a website. No more giving in to demands from friends for new content, this new site just be about expressing what's really on my mind. Now I have great pleasure in inviting you to join me for this weekend's launch of my new website...

Best of luck, in all your future endeavours.

Phill G (for the last time here)

31st March 2006

24 March 2006

Liverpool Certain To Win FA Cup

Before I start, let me say I swear this was written *before* the draw took place, but it's now been changed to reflect the fact that we are playing Chelsea. Put simply Liverpool have been to two cup finals under Rafa, won one and lost one. First one we played in we lost against Chelsea in the final (League Cup), despite scoring in the opening minute. The more important cup we won, the European Cup (or Champions' League if you must), we played Chelsea in the semi finals and beat them before going on to win the final (in what was the arguably the greatest final ever). This time around I *know* we are going to get Chelsea in the semi final draw today (and indeed we did), therefore we'll beat them again in the semis and go on to win the final in May. You can bet you liver on it :-)

21 March 2006

Andy Loses His Freedom, Gets Locked Up :-(

With a heavy heart I have to inform everyone that a good friend of mine and a regular contributor to this site, Andy Regent, has lost his freedom and has been locked up as of this morning. The incidents that led up to this were on Friday night at his leaving party (warning: viewer discretion advised for the second page) most at Henry J. Beans. When he arrived at his new job this morning he found out he was in trouble. Everywhere he looked there were closed and proprietary products preventing expression and improvement. They make him suffer by using Outlook and the hellish Internet Explorer (ah, I have a bad taste in my mouth) not to mention depriving him of all the powerful features of Gnome. The standard lines are "a closed world is a better world" and "the barriers are there for your protection". Others, such as Andy, knew better. He'd tasted freedom before and it tasted sweet. Sadly Andy is now missing the ability to have Bookmarks in your open and save dialog; proper filtering file names as you type (not just jumping to that one file; allowing you to scroll up and down only those matching the pattern you'd keyed in); as many workspaces as you could possibly want; two panels (obivously better than one) with a stunning deskbar applet; speed of rendering and action when clicking something and not having bloody Windows Explorer die on you every few hours; the list is endless. As a final leaving present he received the latest live CD from Ubuntu (Dapper Drake release) so he can relax after a hard days slog and remember the better days (or just play Same Gnome until he breaks his own high score). One day you will be free again my friend.

20 March 2006

For the Love of God Please Put A Bullet In Their Heads Now!

Very sad news. The Simpsons has been renewed for a further two seasons. This year, half way through an episode, I actually turned it off and said out loud "this is *shite*". I'd actually physically had enough. For almost five years now I've been bitching saying that the show had gone on far too long and desperately needed to be ended once and for all. Yet for some reason I kept watching and listening to the incredible poor dialogue, the trite and uninteresting story lines and screaming at the lack of any form of ending as the writers were unable to produce anything other than third rate gibberish that doesn't even resemble jokes. The sooner Fox pull the plug on a show that is so far away from its peak it'd need a telescope to see it, the better. Do I blame Matt Groening for continually receiving massive cheques while the airwaves are being polluted? Only partially as he should have fought a damn sight hard to save Futurama, even cancelled The Simpsons to save Futurama. That said his better creation is coming back to TV (26 new episodes go into production soon) which will push The Simpsons down to the fifth best cartoon on TV (1. Family Guy, 2. American Dad, 3. Futurama, 4. Every other cartoon on TV, 5. The Simpsons) so hopefully that will cause the show to die sooner rather than later. You can all help too - stop watching The Simpson forever!
Updated: It seems the info gave out by Billy West on Futurama returning to TV is in fact wrong :-( Instead the previously announced four Futurama straight-to-DVD movies is the resurrection he was thinking about. Ah well, at least it's back on one medium.

Evolution Needs Intelligent Design

No, I'm not going to start banging on about the screwed up GCSE exam board in England, the victory award from Republican judge in Pennsylvania (one, ha-ha-ha, two, ha-ha-ha), or even the reggae-indifferent Pastafarians. No, there are far more important things in life, namely why Novell's Evolution (the main email client with Gnome) does not allow the preview pane to be viewed vertically as well as horizontally. Version 2.6 has just been released and a few guys have been clamouring for this bug to be fixed (bug 262742 if you're interested) but they just seemed to run out of time. Microsoft's Lookout, sorry, Outlook, has done this for quite some time and so has our email viewer of choice, Thunderbird (from those great folks over at Mozilla). When you have a decent sized flat panel or even one of these widescreen laptops (I have both, hee hee hee!) then it's far better and a lot more intuitive to view the messages vertically and the "preview pane" as a sheet of portrait A4 paper. Don't get me wrong, Evolution is a decent piece of software and is so heavily integrated with Gnome through the calendar, applets and of course now Beagle, I think it would be good for my office to migrate from Thunderbird to it. Of course when you can't add a button or a shortcut for a key function, redirect (not forwarding), nor can you group your emails by date or sender (again like Thunderbird and Outlook) then I guess we'll just have to wait. A very good friend of mine and theoretical computer science genius, Bob, put it best when he said: "Evolution could have really done with some intelligent design early on".

19 March 2006

The Shield Ends in 2007, Not 21st March 2006.

I am delighted to confirm that The Shield *will* be back this year. On Tuesday there is a big season finale on the US channel Fx and it is being billed as bringing everything round to conculsion, notably the resolution of the massive incident in the very first episode. Shawn Ryan was interviewed on Fresh Air (a radio show on National Public Radio in the US and online) and confirmed there will be ten further episodes of this series either being screened in the states in Autumn (that's Fall to any US readers) or possible hold them off to an artificial sixth series next year. Half way through making those next ten episodes he will decide whether or not to wrap everything up then or do one final series. As they are being filmed in a few weeks time (April 2006) I would imagine if the show comes back this year it will mean there will be on final series in 2007, if not I'm guessing that the last ten being held off will be the final episodes. I'm preparing myself for this great show to end next year. No word on when five (nee Channel Five) in the UK will start screening the fifth series.

14 March 2006

I Don't Know Who I Am Anymore, I've Lost My Identity!

This is quite worrying. I don't remember taking those two great pictures of the East End of Edinburgh covered in snow, especially as I don't work anywhere near there. What's more troubling is I now have a page of wintery shots of Dunfermline covered in snow and I've never been there! I'll have to ask Andy Regent to see if he knows anything about it, after all he lives only a few minutes away from the park where the enchanting images were captured...

12 March 2006

I Said “Beware the Ice of March”

Like most of the top half of the UK I awoke to a lovely blanket of snow covering the view from my bedroom. Not that any of the people involved could actually do anything about it, but I did warn them to “Beware the Ice of March”. I managed to steal a couple of extra pictures from the recent snow escapades, here's a car sliding across the East End and here's a rather beautiful Dickens-esque building (both pictures captured by Neil McRobie). Back to the fulfilment of my prophecy. First off KT's parents phoned at 10am saying they couldn't actually leave their house. The snow was heavy the cars were snowed in and the roads impossible to get to. Admittedly this was the other side of the Forth so it's not too unusual. Let's try a little bit closer to home. At 6am I got up with a throbbing bladder and saw the white wonderland outside. My good friend Neil McRobie however was just arriving at Edinburgh airport to wait for his flight to EspaƱa. Sadly after a four hour wait while the airport (and Glasgow airport too) was closed, he was informed his flight was cancelled and he should just go home :-( Finally on a more suicidal note my mother (me ma) phoned me to tell me she had lots of snow and the roads were closed in Liverpool. She then informed me that at midday a car went down her road (which has quite a slope to it) and it had it's boot open. “What fallen goodies did you manage to grab?” I asked. “Nothing” she replied. You see out of the boot there was a tow rope and at the end of that rope there was a sledge with two children sitting on it! As if driving on ice/snow down a hill wasn't bad enough but poisoning your children with your exhaust fumes and risking them coming smashing into the back of your car as they can't control their braking is tantamount to reckless endangerment. Of course, maybe the children had been naughty and this was his way of punishing them as he can't smack them anymore...

Drink Beer, Drive Faster

If it's good enough for Giancarlo Fisichella then it must be good enough for the rest of us:

9 March 2006

I'm Off to See Nessie the Ephalump!

What a great job I have at SNIPEF! Rather than being chained to my desk I'm currently on the banks of Loch Ness monster spotting. I learnt yet another new fact today. Last time I was here I found out that Loch Ness has more water in it than all the lakes and rivers in England combined. Today I've found out that the outside of the loch (i.e. not the water) is a geological fault called the Great Glen. Earlier this week some muppet, presumably after seeing elephants swimming and larking around in the water in Africa (I bet there was no life guard on duty or they'd be kicked out), has announced to the world Nessie was probably an elephant swimming around in the loch as carnivals used to stop off there. Amazingly this guy is a credible scientist! If you would like to share in the beauty of Loch Ness with me, then have a look at the linked page from my gallery.

5 March 2006

Sir David Attenborough Is Right: Planet Earth is Mind Blowing!

Not a phrase you usually associate with Sir David Attenborough but the morning before Planet Earth launches on BBC1 (Sunday at 9pm, repeat on Saturday at 6.30pm on BBC2) he said the series contains footage that will “blow your mind”. Do you know what? He's exactly right. The first episode showed a heard of over 3 million mamals from the air, a flock of one species of bird that contains every single one of that species and a great white shark leap several metres out the water while snapping a seal that was slowed by forty times – all in exceptional quality. If you haven't watched it yet don't miss the repeat and just to get you interested, he's a wallpaper that shows one of the remaining forty wild amur leopards left in the world (there's a second one in the show too, but it's heart-breaking to think a species will soon disappear out of existence because of humans).
Wild Amur Leopard

A Right Handed Carving Fork Is For A Left Handed Person?

I was wandering around Livingston today and came across a very sharp Kitchen Devils carving fork. It may not surprise many people, but I already have a carving fork but this one had such a fantastic grip on it I was desperate to get it (even more so when I found it was reduced from £15 to £3)! After a quick discussion with KT, off it went back to its shelf :-( You see the flaw in the design was as follows. Yes it does have a fantastic grip for a right handed person (like the vast majority of us are) however when you are carving meat you place you bestest knife in your right hand and you have the carving fork in your left. This fork was designed to be used right handed but ironically for a left handed person. I almost bought it for a very good friend of mine p5ychofox, but sadly I remembered he's a vegetarian and doesn't have much need for a carving fork. On the same trip I also came across this interesting wine rack. At full price of £250 each bottle of wine you put in there would have to be worth at least £20 each just for the wine (the object you are storing) to be worth more than the container. An interesting dilemma if there's a fire: which to take the wine of the unit?

4 March 2006

Beware the Ice of March

Here we are, the 12 days before the Ides of March, and it's started snowing like you wouldn't believe! I took my first picture as I came out after only 30 minutes of snow but sadly the very first one I took of some boy racer in an Audi sliding all over the road never actually saved (I must have been too worried about the snow getting at my camera). Driving around in this weather reduced us to barely 15mph in second gear but the snow fall didn't bother me as we'd just paid a measly £23 for a complete (three) set of brand new Bosch wipers including blades. In addition, I figured that now that the wipers are working flawlessly, I should really cover all six windows (and wing mirrors) with Rain X to stop the rain sticking to the screen (more on Rain X another time). After one hour you can no longer make out the parking spaces or grass! I did feel sorry for train commuters, including Andy Regent, as there must have been some heavy delays.

The driving conditions were quite dangerous, the BMW in front of me slide every time he moved from a standing start to try to hit 5mph. It may have been just poor driving on behalf the BMW as the idiot had no rear wiper and didn't bother to wipe the snow of the rear window – I'm adamant (no, I'm really Phill G) that they couldn't see through it. Couple that with two drivers behind me who couldn't be bothered to turn on any lights at all even though every one else was driving with their main headlights on (and even fog lights if they had them). Even having fools to the front of me, fools to the back of me, couldn't spoil my child-like enjoyment of the snow. Our brand spanking new Michelin Energy tyres made short work of the snow – not one single minuscule slide thanks to the superior tread. I managed to grab a few pictures of the Meadows where kids were sliding downhill on sledges and the great effort by the kids in the block opposite (snowman with a mini clone). Finally I topped it all off my getting a few snow balls hurled (and hit most of my targets) but also kept one back that is now sitting in my freezer, waiting for summer!

3 March 2006

Asda's Multibuys Aren't That Great

I've previously posted Asda's ambiguous checkout sign before in my gallery but now I'd like to tell you about what great deals you can get there. Not only do they sell Dandelion and Burdock (in Scotland!) but they also have a diet version too (don't see the point personally). It's a bargain at 39p a bottle but check out this offer on when you buy three...

2 March 2006

Ming Wins; Is David Cameron the Odd Man Out?

Sir Mingis Campbell (look it's spelled Menzies but I don't want any person with no Scottish knowledge pronouncing it Men-zies) has just won the leadership contest of the Lib Dems. Inevitable tabloid headlines are bound to follow the second he does something ruthless, calling him Ming the Merciless. Does that mean in the next election after Blair is succeeded by Brown we'll finally have a nickname for the Chancellor - "Flash"?

The BBC has two excellent pages about Ming, notably this one explaining why his name is pronounced Mingis (it's to do with a letter that doesn't exist anymore, a yogh) and this one analysing what the collective name should be for his backers. If anybody doesn't get the joke in the final line of that article, visit this site the OED's BBC Word Hunt page.