2011 — 20 January: Thursday

A pair of Mr Aspects1 are again at work already next door, but at least they didn't sound any alarm beeps this morning (or, if they did, I was too deeply asleep to notice). In fact, it's 09:53 and I'm only now more or less awake. Much better. Nice and bright, though another hard frost to greet the shiny day.

I was amused to see that the new issue of "Private Eye" has my favourite quote from JK Galbraith on its opening page. (Read it here.) I was less amused to see that I had a typo on my diary entry yesterday :-)

I was less amused to hear that the BBC Radio 3 "Breakfast" programme just ended with an amazing six-piano piece (played by one chap courtesy of multi-tracking) but that the CD with it on is a cool £100+ on Amazon as it's a boxed set. Right. Time for some brekkie.

Civilisation in HD?

It was interesting to read this article and the comments it's attracting. Having seen, first hand, what an excellent job the BBC managed with the 1995 "Pride and Prejudice" it will be nice if they can manage the trick on such venerable film stock.2 I actually joined an evening class that was showing this serial on its original transmission as my parents thought colour TV a step too far.

Enjoyable though it is to exchange emails with my Seattle-based cartoonist friend Shary Flenniken, let alone hear of Cathy's safe return from Tunisia, or ponder Big Bro's sense of humour, I fear it's time to gather my next crockpot of experimental ingredients together. The sun has saved me the bother of scraping ice off the car. Aah, the endless round of domestic administrivia... Still, if I want to eat, I'd better get on with it. Out I go :-)

Bitten by small print

I'd been vaguely wondering why the promised Amazon "£2 off your next MP3 downloads" discount had twice failed to be automatically applied the last several times I've ordered something. Turns out it's only applicable when everything on your next order specifies the same delivery speed. Given the often international flavour of my choices, and the multiplicity of market place sellers I tend to use, that's therefore not yet been the case.

What a mean-spirited little "gotcha". Or a very poor piece of coding. Particularly as MP3 downloads are themselves electronic and unrelated in any way I can imagine to the physical delivery options.

I watched with faint alarm an "asbestos collection service" van being loaded with sacks full of stuff from my neighbour's house. I'm assuming this will be the remnants of the 30-year-old Artex ceiling which was recently soaked into ruination by his flood. I have precisely the same ceiling material here, of course, but try not to worry3 about it. (Shades of the chap in John Brunner's 1964 SF short story "The last lonely man".)

Although I'm now contentedly catching up on some of the 200 film-related interviews (a Good Thing from BBC Radio 4) I had earlier spluttered when hearing Baroness Warsi on their flagship news programme trot out the phrase "This selective sloppy religious illiteracy has got to stop." She might say that, but I couldn't possibly comment, in the words of Francis Urquhart — the fictional creation of Westminster's baby-faced hit man.

Oh, dear

I'm not saying this piece of BBC audience research (a PDF file) is dull, but one of its most damning findings is certainly currently making the bad guys even richer (and that's a Bad Thing):

The quality of television signal (and Freeview in particular) was most of these participants' number one priority, and many were experiencing issues with Freeview which had, they felt, obliged them to turn to pay-TV options. (Awareness of Freesat as an option was very low in almost all groups.)


My emphasis. Meanwhile, I see that Amazon is buying 100% of LOVEFilm (link) and is planning to get into digital distribution. [Pause] It's 16:26 and has been hovering only a little above freezing all day. Brrr.


Happiest audio discovery of the last week or so? Without a doubt: The Kermode and Mayo film review podcasts from BBC Radio 5 Live. I've just listened to the Wittertainment festive film quiz. Very funny.



1  Yesterday's white van men.
2  Had it been on video tape it could well have been wiped by now "to save money".
3  Just as I tried not to worry about the fleet of such vans that would be present on the IBM Hursley site one summer two decades ago as I happened to be working several weekends there on a (doomed) project.