All entries for February 2009
February 25, 2009
Amazon don’t seem to have noticed the campaign for less packaging in consumer products. This is the Kindle2 – their electronic reader thing that I’ve already said I don’t see the point of.
It comes with a monumental amount of packaging, none of which seems to have a practical use, and little of which is likely to be recyclable.
I know this product’s probably saving a few trees that would otherwise have been turned into books, but this is just silly.
February 24, 2009
Oh Jack Bauer, how much I loved you in the old days when you were blonde and had a daughter that kissed you goodnight and a wife who wasn’t, you know, dead.
I started watching Season 1 of ‘24’ again yesterday. The wave of nostalgia emanating from the TV screen was awe-inspiring. Remember the days of Standard Definition? Of dodgy sound editing? Of bad haircuts?
Remember when 24 was actually good?
The experience was depressing. Because it made me remember just how face-crunchingly abysmal 24 has become. We’re now on Season 7, and the show should be on a life-support machine.
Every plot twist is recycled from an earlier season. Even characters Just. Won’t. DIE. and keep making miraculous returns, presumably to cut down on the need for casting directors.
But worst of all, the show just doesn’t know where it’s going, what it’s doing or what it’s about.
Villains come and go faster than Jack can say ‘sonofabitch’. Their dastardly plan changes from one minute to the next. Civilians die in their hundreds and the fictional CNN seems to forget about it ten minutes later. And Jack has to defeat his arch enemy Every Fricking Hour just to keep the audience happy.
Well I’m not an American simpleton with a thirst for blood and a desire for Jack to win every round.
There is literally a scene in the first episode of that first season when a character tells Jack exactly what will happen for the whole season. Terrorists will try and kill a Presidential Candidate. That’s it.
Now, the writers would be hard pressed to sustain an idea that simple for ten minutes, let alone 24 hours.
In Season 1, Jack had a team. Yes, two of them were moles, but he had relationships with people. Now he is, to quote Judi Dench’s M, a “blunt instrument”.
24 was revolutionary, and not just because of the way it was told in real-time. It led to hundreds of drama serials which rejected the traditional one-episode, one-story format of CSI, ER and Law & Order. Lost and Prison Break were just two of the more successful attempts to tell one story across six months of television.
And it was also the show that gave us hacksaw decapitations.
24’s not just a lurking shadow of its former self.
It’s as blunt as a spoon.
February 23, 2009
I’m kicking myself a little for not blogging my predictions for last night’s Oscars. Or the Baftas before that.
Because I got it dead right. Not only did I know Slumdog would win best film – I blogged it so on January 16th – but last night I also decided (in my head) the film would win eight awards.
Which it did.
So here’s another prediction, one that I’m not so keen to make.
On January 31st I suggested to a friend that Man United had peaked too early in the season and would suffer a big dip in form before the prizes are given out in the early summer. I was heartily laughed at. Well, I think the dip starts tomorrow against Inter Milan.
I hope I’m only good at predicting film award ceremonies.
February 12, 2009
Much of the media seemed to fall for the Department for Transport’s PR this morning.
‘Super express’ trains contract gives boost to British jobs said the Guardian.
The Daily Mail said: Government buys British for intercity train fleet
The Telegraph seemed to fall hook, line and sinker: Next generation of Intercity trains to be built in Britain they said.
The only trouble is, none of those headlines appear to be entirely accurate.
They all stemmed from the DfT’s confident announcement that ‘This will create or safeguard some 12,500 manufacturing jobs in these regions [of the UK].’
But as the day’s gone on, that number’s begun to look like a big ball of spin.
The 12,500 appears to include maintenance workers, who could hardly have found their jobs offshored! “Safeguarding”, here, seems like an exaggeration.
Rather than 12,500 manufacturing jobs, as stated by the DfT, Hitachi promise their shareholders the deal will “secure up to 12,500 direct and indirect jobs in the local supply and services industry and local supporting communities.” It doesn’t say create, and doesn’t say manufacturing. “Local supporting communities” could mean Joyce who works in the nearby corner shop.
What’s more, it appears the trains will be designed and, largely, constructed in Japan. Only the final assembly and some basic manufacturing will be done in Britain.
Transport Briefing says just 500 manufacturing jobs will be created here in Britain. I’ll repeat that again: Five Hundred.
It appears that of the Department for Transport’s headline figure, just 2.5% are new jobs.
Why does all of this matter? Well, there was another bid for the £7.5bn tender from Bombardier, who are based in Derby and would have designed and constructed the trains in Britain.
I’m not a protectionist, but the spin coming out of the DfT today has been particularly effective, and particularly deceitful. Slowly the media’s realising they’ve been had.
Edit: The BBC just beat me to it on the spin story.
February 11, 2009
...Twitter breaks down.
Let’s hope some of that $20m investment they’ve just had is used to buy some hardware.
February 09, 2009
I don’t get the Amazon Kindle.
Someone basically saw the iPod and thought “Yeah, we’ll do that but with books”.
And that was probably as much thought as went into it.
The device – and it’s newly announced successor the Kindle2 – is jaw-droppingly expensive. $359, or £240. For something that replicates, albeit badly, the idea of a book.
Don’t forget that unless you’re going to commit to a life of nothing-but-Dickens, you’ll still have to pay another £5 for every book you want to read on it. And that’s before we get to the device’s USP, newspapers and blogs. They also cost money to read (up to £7 a month), even though they’re available online completely free.
Some of the technology is very clever – the so-called ‘e-ink’ is impressive and it does look more like reading a book than your typical computer screen. And yes, you can store billions of words all on one little chip.
But then some of it is awful. It’s got a wholly unnecessary keyboard. It has an operating system that takes up more than 600Mb (for a book!). And it tries really hard to make you hate it by banning RSS feeds.
The Kindle completely kills the idea of what a book is all about. Books can be shared, given pride of place on a bookshelf, passed down to future generations, and loved.
The iPod made music portable. The Kindle is just making books look like even better value.
February 07, 2009
First it was the pedalo.
Then it was the awful Stanford Cup.
Then Pietersen/Moores, soon to be made into a film starring Michael Sheen.
Now it’s the Indian Premier League.
English cricket’s gone bad.
If you didn’t see this week’s auction of players, have a look. It makes the money-grabbing antics of football look perfectly reasonable. There’s something quite wrong about players being fought over by rich benefactors in the lovechild of a Christie’s selling room and a press conference.
And as for the suggestion that players should somehow share the cash with their poor colleagues back in Blighty? Pffff… Ha…! No chance. These selfish players and their WAGS need the money for more holidays. Although, of course, cricket is just one long holiday already. When did the England team last play a league match in England?
Football gets criticised for being ostentatious, overblown and ruined by commercialism. But at least it started in the boardroom.
Cricket’s new obsession with money is being driven almost solely by the players.