bookmark_borderIt's RIGHT THERE!

I almost shrieked like a girly girl. There it was, floating a metre in front of me, within touching distance, if I just stretched out my hand I could probably feel it under my fingertips. I wondered if anyone would notice and, glancing around, I saw the same look of wonderment that I could also feel plastered across my face.

Yup, there was no doubting it. Floating in the space between my seat and the cinema screen, the Nickelodeon logo was slowly revolving and looking very 3D. Ohh sorry, very RealD.

It was quite awesome. I wish I could find some better words but, like, seriously, it was AWESOME!!

All very impressive and that was before the movie started. The movie, Ice Age 3D, was about Mammoths and Dinosaurs, some cute baby dinosaurs, a cute baby Mammoth, had no real plot but a few giggles and on that front probably met all its requirements, although to be honest, it was a largely secondary affair to the technological wonder of the evening.

I can remember when Jaws 3D came out and how underwhelming the experience was, there seemed to be a disconnect between the 3D elements and the movie which broke the suspension of disbelief, never a good thing.

But last night, once I’d gotten past the schoolboy amazement of seeing things float out of the cinema screen, it struck me (not literally, it’s 3D but it’s not THAT good) that it felt natural and connected to the movie I was watching. Ohh of course there were a few gratuitous “lets put some grass at the front to show off the 3D-ness” moments but pretty soon it stopped surprising me that some of the characters seemed to be sitting in the front row of the cinema.

I can also happily report that George Lucas will soon be remastering the entire Star Wars franchise in RealD. Well, if not, he probably should given that one of the chase scenes (featuring flying dinosaur type things) was a straight rip off of the Pod Race which was so FREAKIN AMAZINGLY AWESOME that I almost wet my pants as the winged dinosaurs flew past me, into the screen and beyond at a zillion blurry miles an hour. AWESOME!

So, all in all colour me impressed (which I believe is just a bright purple).

It’s not all roses though. Some of the trailers were in 3D whilst the animated movies looked OK, those feature live actors looked like the reality was being forced, like there was a deliberate effort being made to introduce depth where none was needed.

Safe to say though that I was hugely impressed and the novelty of watching items from the movie float around and leap past me easily got me through the movie. The fear is that it will be just that, a novelty.

bookmark_borderSome shops are evil

Tomorrow I am going into a city called Glasgow. Once there I will likely partake of a coffee from an American outlet known as Starbucks, and most likely wander around a variety of shops trying not to spend money (hey, I’m Scottish, shut up).

This activity is known as shopping. The key purpose of shopping is to visit shops with the aim of purchasing an item (or items) that you need. The items I currently need are some new shirts for work, and probably a new shirt to wear the following weekend when we attend a small party being thrown to celebrate the fact my sister got engaged (yay!).

The shopping activity is one I am familiar with but, over recent years I have fallen out of practise, preferring to purchase required items online and have them delivered to me. So, whilst shopping for everyday essentials is a fairly routine task, shopping for specific yet more ephemeric items is not something I’ve done for a while and I fear that, once I rediscover my latent shopping abilities, I will go mad with spending power and end up buying many unnecessary items.

The shirts for work I will buy somewhere cheap as they get heavy use. The shirt (outfit?) for the party will be bought somewhere a little more expensive as it’s for a special occasion. The logic here is, obviously, wrong. I should be spending more on the shirts I wear everyday as I should get better quality, longer lasting shirts that way, right?

One of the problems I have when shopping is when I’m not looking for something specific. By that I mean I’m not looking to go and buy THAT shirt, I’m just shopping for A shirt. This is when it’s just as well I shop by myself, as I tend to hold off making a purchase in case I see something I prefer elsewhere, typically returning to the first store I visited once I’ve exhausted all other options.

And with my spending abilities rediscovered, what happens if I spot a nice jacket, or perhaps a nice pair of shoes, neither of which I need but which may catch my eye? On my wanderings I may pass several different stores and it’s likely that, with my excited wallet jangling in my pocket, I will venture in “just for a quick look”, emerging sometime later with yet more books, CDs and other unnecessary items.

I must curb such urges!

Perhaps a list is required, a small amount of planning to ensure that I limit myself only to that which I need, and thus remove the temptation to spend. I do keep a list of items that I see here and there, so can pull from that if required, strictly adhering to the “do I really need this” rule which I am notoriously bad for following, I admit.

Regardless, I think a list will help. I will commit to buying only items on the list, and nothing else. I will be brave in the face of mounting pressure and stay strong and true to my goal! Yes! I can do this!!

On Saturday I will be purchasing:

  • A Grande Skinny Latte in Starbucks. No cake!
  • Three shirts for work.
  • A shirt to wear to the party.
  • A 24″ iMac.

Huh? That’s not right…

And so we get to the crux of the matter. I confess. Dear blog readers, despite the fact is has been open for over a year I have yet to set foot inside the Apple store in Glasgow.

Now, this is mainly because I’ve not been shopping in Glasgow for months, so haven’t had occasion to stop by for a gander, but that self same reasoning now works against me. For I will be in Glasgow on Saturday, I will likely have the ‘shoppies’ in full flow and, in horrible cunning move, there is a Starbucks outlet RIGHT ACROSS FROM THE APPLE STORE! (yeah, big surprise, right?)

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought all of this through. I don’t need an iMac and I certainly don’t have the money required to buy the one I’d want anyway so it’s a bit of a no brainer. Admittedly I quite fancy the super thin wireless keyboard but, price wise, that wouldn’t be all that bad in comparison.

Despite that, it felt a little like the stars were aligning and cosmic forces were coming into play, so I was steeling myself to ward off the demons (with the ingenious tactic of avoiding the area around the Apple store altogether) when the final blow was delivered.

“Are you going into Glasgow on Saturday? I’m going to get my hair done so take your time, have a wander. Ohhhh you could finally get to the Apple store…”

So, really, it’s not gonna be my fault. Right?

bookmark_borderSticky smartness

It’s always the little things that you’ve never seen before that make you sit up and think “hey, that’s smart”. In my case a simple photo, used to provide context, was enough to trigger this, and it’s so simple an idea that I’m surprised that something similar isn’t in wider use. Read on, MacDuff, to find out what the chuff I’m blithering on about this time…

As alluded to a few days ago, I’m currently hunting for THE laptop bag, one that will set me apart from the standard “black briefcase style” masses and move me into the same arena as all those elite, übercool kids, you know, the ones who are probably toting MacBooks. I spent a couple of hours browsing various stores in an effort to find something that suited but soon stumbled across a consistent problem.

Having thought more about what I really need from a bag, I now know that I want something that will hold a laptop, accessories, my usual accumulation of guff and occasionally my camera, all whilst remaining small and reasonably compact. Add in my mantra – Nothing is any good if other people like it – and it gets tricky. My mantra allows me first refusal on many items without any real grounds for rejection, other than pursing my lips and scrunching up my forehead in concentration, then muttering “yeah… but… nah.. I just don’t like it… because… well it’s hard to put my finger on… it’s just NOT RIGHT”.

You can see why my wife HATES shopping with me, and why I do most of my research online.

In saying that, I suspect that she thinks I ‘over-research’ such things as, when a mutual friend of ours recently asked for my advice as to which digital camera she should buy, her opening line was: “you know how you research everything to death… well..”. Alas there was no witty comeback from me. It is true.

When searching for personal accessories, or clothes for that matter, I have three basic criteria. Two of which will negate the other, but the third can never ever be fudged.

  • Price – I work to a budget. That budget depends on various factors, including the type of item I’m looking to purchase, and can sometimes be negated by…
  • Design – I’m very fussy in most things, particularly when it comes to design. If I REALLY like something, I’ll break my budget and buy because I like the design. However, above a certain threshold, design is negated by price.
  • Practicality – This isn’t the be all and end all but depending on the item has relative importance. For example, if I’m buying a shirt, it has to be long-sleeved. Price and design don’t matter in that respect. Similarly if I’m buying a car, if it doesn’t have the features I want, price and design don’t have a look in (honest!).

Nothing earth-shattering there then, I’m sure most of you conduct your shopping in a similar manner. Of course, buying things online adds a level of complexity, particularly when choosing the design – will it really look like it does in the photos? – and the judging the practicality – it says it has four tabs, but are they all the same size? – and as every online store does things differently, well that’s when it gets really interesting… or confusing… or both.
Continue reading “Sticky smartness”

bookmark_borderJack of none

I’m a fairly intelligent guy. I’m not a huge intellect but I reckon I’d be “slightly above average” on the scale of smartness which I’m sure exists somewhere… I mean I’ve taken one of those Mensa tests, and did some sort of “smartypants” test, before I joined Sage/tetra back in the day, so based on the those I have PROOF that I’m smarter than you. Well not you (obviously), but definitely YOU (yeah, you).

I’m not boasting. Honest. In fact it’s become a bit of a puzzle for me, you see I’ve always been smart-ish, was in the top classes for Maths and English and if I’d applied myself a little more I’m sure I could’ve gone on to great things at University whereas I took the “real life” education route and spent far too much time in the union bar. Lack of application, also known as laziness, is one problem but that’s coupled with an inability to focus on things in which I’m not inherently interested. As a result I find myself picking up new projects/interests with abandon and then doing just that, abandoning them.

And therein lies my problem. It’s all well and good to be kinda clever but it’s much more helpful to be very good at one thing, rather than OK at many, right?

When it comes to general “life” stuff I’m quite glad that I don’t have a single area of expertise as it assures that I won’t be the bore at the party, waffling on about MY topic in great (and no doubt fascinating) detail. Instead I can converse on a variety of topics, to a reasonable level, as my mood takes. Except politics. Apathy usually kicks in early when that topic rears its head as it’s never a discussion but inevitably turns into one or two people dominating the conversation, talking over others and trying to state their opinions the most vociferously. It’s very boring.

Why? Because people don’t want to explain their political stance, they want to convert you, educate you forcibly to see that THEY ARE RIGHT. Either that or they think that the only way to explain their support of a particular branch of politics is to prove how much better it is than all the others, usually by concentrating on the flaws of the other parties. Tedious. Anyway, where was I… ?

Specialism is something I lack and whilst it has nothing to do with being smart —and everything to do with being unique— it is beginning to piss me off. In short; I’m “quite good” at many things but excel at none, I know “a fair bit” about a lot of topics but I’m not an expert at any.

I’m not going to go on as this could be come one of those boring, introverted whaaa whaaa whaaaaaa posts that we all despise, where I’ll end up over-analysing everything and coming to some far-reaching and wholly inaccurate assumption (another thing at which “I’m quite good”). I’m putting this current malaise down to lack of sleep, general meh-ness, and that’s that.

Anyone else feel like this? Or are you very good at one thing in particular? How many experts do we have in the audience?


Coffee at its best – Just opened, fresh this morning, the jar of Nescafé we brought back from Spain. Yes, that’s right, we brought back a jar of instant coffee. Why? Because it tastes GREAT!

It may be because it’s not granules but powder, it may be because I don’t normally drink Nescafé and ALL Nescafé tastes great, or we may be getting back to the point I made a couple of weeks ago. Continental tastebuds are different from ours and most of their goods just taste better.

Working at home today, the advantages of which are many-fold (manifold?). However, over the past couple of weeks, a new benefit has been added in the fact that I wasn’t shouted at this morning.

Low-level Glasgow Central has two exits which take you from the platform and up some stairs to street level. The exit I use has two options when you reach the top of the stairs, turn left towards the north side of Argyll Street (and the upper-levels of the station) or turn right to emerge on the south side of Argyll Street. Most of the people, like myself, who turn right are heading for the same “office district” in which I work. We know where we are going. Or so I thought.

The people who run the station have seen fit to hire a very loud man who likes shouting. He stands at the top of the stairs and shouts at people to let them know that “THERE IS AN EXIT TO YOUR RIGHT” “THERE IS AN EXIT TO YOUR RIGHT”. Loudly. Repeatedly.

Isn’t that why we invented robots?

Gridlines don’t help but no-one has told Reckitt Benckiser. Despite the appearance of some funky gridlines on their package of Lemsip MAX I can feel no additional benefits between that and regular (non-MAX… um… MIN?) Lemsip.

Worryingly the packaging also includes the sword and circle motif found on bottles of Dettol (here’s Lemsip for comparison).

What AM I drinking?

[voiceover man] This post was brought to you by a variety of influences and goes to show you can construct a post from anything … um… nothing [/voiceover man]

bookmark_borderRadio Ga-Ga

I don’t listen to the radio much. It’s the inane rambling you see, drives me potty.

I don’t listen to podcasts much. It’s the inane rambling you see…

For the most part that is, I have listened to a few podcasts that I’ve enjoyed, mainly topical ‘casts (why do we have the “pod” bit? it’s a derivative of broadcast surely but why do we need to differentiate? both are consumed in the same way, so let’s get past the next year or so of faffing about and call everything that is audio/visually consumed “casts”. No? Agree or not we should definitely get out of parenthesis…).

I guess I really need to spend a little more time looking for what I want, what I’ll enjoy, but so far coloured me hugely unimpressed with the whole podcasting thing. It’s just not original is it? Ohh sure throwing in some music by an unheard-of band is interesting to a point but it’s still not hugely original?

I’ll pause now to assure certain readers of this site, readers which have put together their own casts, and to which I’ve listened, that this is not a dig at them. Sure it’s the “in thing” at the moment, but this fad will pass; not completely but it will become just another thing that some people listen to/produce, in fact I don’t think calling it a “fad” is fair. It IS fun and nice to hear the voices of the people you normally associate with the written word but beyond that it’s not really enough to hold my attention.

But then I don’t listen to the radio for the same reason, and it’s the same reason that some conversations drive me potty, that lag, that long meandering detour when I’ve already figured out the destination and can see where we are headed and WHY ARE WE GOING THIS WAY!? IT’S RIGHT THERE! yet I’m powerless to do anything except wait for the journey to end. Or end it myself by turning the radio off.

It HAS been good to hear what other people have to offer, and what I’ve heard has been good, but just not good enough for the long term. I must have listened to at least 50 different podcasts and none of them have had that little bit extra that would keep me “tuned in”.

Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places, and whilst I’m entirely sure a lot of my issues with ‘casting are generated from my own little quirks and foibles, maybe I’m missing the point, or maybe it’s just a fun diversion for a while.

I do have other thoughts around the whole “podcasting” thing – challenging traditional media, use of media on the internet maturing, etc etc – but ultimately, and I realise that the length of this post is somewhat at odds with this next statement, I can sum up my initial thoughts on “podcasting” (sic) with the following, well considered and beautifully simple, um, noise.