August 11, 2005

How to be a Great Blogger

Surprise, surprise, I don't actually know how to be a great blogger. Do you really think I'd have written entries such as this if I did?

In a fit of boredom I – typically behind the times – ended up stumbling across the Guardian's 2003 Best British Blog Awards . The categories were:

  • Best Design
  • Best use of Photography
  • Under 18s
  • Best Specialist
  • Best Written

So how can we, Warwick Bloggers, go on to be great bloggers?

Design

I think winning a best design award might be a little tricky here as there's not any room for creativity. As someone who breaks in to a cold sweat every time my computer asks me anything more complicated than if I want to log-off or shut-down I'm most grateful for this.

I'm not sure what makes a blog well designed anyway, they all look the same to me. Perhaps they're like babies, only their parents can tell the difference between their own blog and somebody else's.

Best use of Photography

This is one for the "arty" bloggers out there, though make sure the file's not too big. There's plenty of Kodak moments on Warwick Blogs, but I'm not sure that's what's meant by good photography, being something more like this sort of thing rather than this sort of thing. Though there a few proper photographers out there, such as Steve Rumsby and… and… I'm sure there's plenty more.

Under 18s

I find it hard to envisage anyone on Warwick Blogs winning this category without cheating so let's move swiftly on.

Specialists

In a way all Warwick Blogs are specialist by virtue of being related to the University of Warwick, but as a subject goes it's pretty dull. One of the blogs mentioned in the article is about travelling on the London Underground even if it didn't actually win, so perhaps there's potential for an X12 specialist blog.

The winner of the category was someone posting The Diary of Samuel Pepys over the course of ten years. Which if you're of a certain intellectual bent you might consider clever and artistic, but as I am not I'd call it a bit of a cop out. We've all been there: Blogger's cramp. If you've got it pre-written by someone else it's easy to get around. In all fairness, what the heck do I know though, so if someone has a copy of Anne Frank's diary to hand you might be onto a winner.

Best Written

This is one that's got to open to everyone. At least, everyone who can type coherent sentence. usrs of txtspk might b best 2 frgt bout it. The winner was belle de jour – the diary of a London call girl. Let's face it, that's a bit grittier than anything likely to be seen on Warwick Blogs. Warwick Blogs are written by either bratty students or people who work in a university – a place full of bratty students.

Less gritty, but probably still beyond Warwick Blogs reach was Call Centre Confidential . I've taken a quick look and anecdotally it's much funnier than any of us here could hope to achieve, making me think of The Office at a first glance.

You won't need telling that there are well written Warwick Blogs though. By default I'd rate anyone on my favourites as being worth reading (duh!) To pick some out I'd say Fluffy Pink Shit by Elizabeth Jenner is especially well written and humourous, and of course, as everyone knows, the bloggiest blog has to be Sam Hates... .

Conclusions

To summarise the above, to be a Great Blogger, you need to:

  • Make your blog look pretty, I'm going out on a limb here, but the "glassdog" theme is unlikely to do you any favours.
  • Blog on a specific theme, flitting from one topic to another doesn't seem to win awards.
  • Be from London! With blogging, as with just about everything else, the rest of us may as well not exist.
  • Have an interesting job or lifestyle or…
  • Have a boring job or lifestyle but use it for humour.

24 Hour Liscensing

There's much brew-ha-ha about 24 Hour Liscensing. I'm not sure what to make of it all, there seems to be strong feelings on both sides of the debate.

Take for instance this quote I read by a scientist studying drinking:

It is my honest opinion that 24 hour liscensing will turn our young people into ogres.

When the scientist was accused of using inflammatory metaphors, he responded with "who said anything about metaphors? In Shrek they try to make out that princess Fiona was under a curse. In actual fact she was a binge drinker. They removed those scenes from the film because drinks companies who supply actors with booze for their drink problems were worried it might harm their profits."

The other side is just as barmy if you ask me. Alcoholics Unanymous have this view:

Twentyfour hour drinking is still too restrictive. Twentyfour hours just isn't long enough for a good piss up. So what we propose is building pubs and bars on Mars, they have twenty five hour days up there. That extra hour makes all the difference.

Naturally the forces of reaction have their views, usually available to be read in the Daily Mail. Judge O. L. D'Fart had this to say:

If I want to go to a friends house for dinner, have a couple of sherries before dinner and maybe a couple of G&Ts and then a few bottles of wine with the meal and then follow it up with a couple of rounds of brandy, then drive home, then that doesn't hurt anybody. But when these young people go to bars and get lashed on lager and alco-pops then that's a different matter.

This is the view of a priest:

Sure, we drink at the church, but a couple of bottles of wine never hurt anyone. Well, except for Pablo, the little boy I er… rescued from Brazil. A crate of wine fell on his head and killed him. Most unfortunate. When these young people go out and get plastered they don't know what they're doing. I don't know what it is with the youth of today. I saw a young couple walking down the street holding hands. In broad daylight. I couldn't believe it. This sort of debauchery is bringing the country down.

The student population is also getting in on the act:

Oh we're all for it, but we're not like those Faliraki types. They're just louts. When we get drunk and mess about it's just hi-jinx, there's a subtle but important difference.

With all the conflicting views trying to figure it out is a minefield. I give the debate 3 stars. The Daily Mail plays the role of the nasty old baddie really well, but the liberals come across as a bit wooly and unconvincing.


August 10, 2005

Guide to going to a football match

Most bloggers are far too middle class to ever go to anything so common as a football match, but should you do so here are some points to bear in mind:

1. The referee is always a "w&!£er". Only this insult will ever do. He is not a tw@t or a k%"b. He is a w&!£er. Every decision he makes is wrong. You know this even when you're fifty times further away from the incident than him.

2. Don't be confused by the crowd asking "Who are you?" This is not an attempt to ascertain who the opposition team is. They already know. It is intended to belittle them, suggesting that they barely register on your radar.

3. Don't worry about what noise to make if your team scores a goal. Scientists have tried for years to understand what people shout when their team scores but have had no success. Nobody knows. It isn't "Goal!" or "Yes! We've scored!" If you ask a football fan (Don't try one of the ones wearing a cap. They will probably be working class, *gasp*) they won't be able to tell you either.

4. The offside rule is thus: when the opposition team gets too near your goal, they are are offside. When your team gets near the opposition goal they are onside. Assistant referees or linesmen/lineswomen (they're the ones who run up and down the lines) who don't enforce this rule are also "w&!£ers".

5. When you hear a crowd of Hull City fans shouting that they are "by far the greatest team the world has ever seen", don't answer in a pub quiz that the team who has won the most league titles is Hull. It is just a chant used as an attempt at bravado.

6. If you're six years old and about to go to a football match, don't.

7. You know more about football tactics than your team's manager. Don't be fooled by his decades of experience.

8. If you want to buy a match day programme you need to take out a small personal loan beforehand.


August 09, 2005

Bloggle is here!

Follow-up to Bloggle! from Bloggle

The rules are:

  • Make a word from the grid using adjacent (including diagonally adjacent) letters.
  • Each cube can only be used once.
  • For each grid come up with one word.
  • Slang, Proper Nouns etc… are all allowed.
  • The words don't even need to be English!
  • The length of the word is the number of points you get.

Bonus Points on offer:

  • x3 Finding a blogger's name.
  • x2 Finding an insulting word.

Grid 1

Grid 2

Grid 3


F411 Championship: Round 13 – Hungarian Grand Prix

Drivers

10pts Ralf Schumacher: A first alternative win for the other Schumacher. Similarly to his performances in races, he’s notched up lots of minor points finishes, including four consecutive single pointers. The conclusion to be drawn from this is that he deserved a good score, but thanks to this blogger’s anti-Ralf prejudice he had to make do with one measly point. However, a podium and hunting down older brother was pretty impressive.

8pts Michael Schumacher: An incredible lap to take pole position. There was an almighty rave about Raikkonen’s lap, but even taking into account his qualifying slot I’d say Schumacher did a better job. But isn’t it strange to be so amazed at a Michael Schumacher pole position?

6pts Juan Pablo Montoya: He should have won. He thinks so at least. Mind you, he seems to think he should've won every race ever, Brazil 2001? Montoya's. Indianapolis 2003? Montoya's Monaco 96? Montoya's. Donington 93? Montoya's. etc…

5pts Nick Heidfeld: Another of Heidfeld’s sneaky performances where he somehow wrangles up in the points and ahead of Webber. It’s a mystery how he manages it so consistently.

4pts Kimi Raikkonen: Well, he did win the race after all. Though once Montoya had gone out he could have pushed it home, which given McLaren’s reliability record wouldn’t have been all that surprising to see.

3pts Christian Klien: Thankfully he’s got another crack at it. I know Red Bull are into extreme sports but allowing Klien’s last race to be a barrel roll wouldn’t be quite right.

2pts Mark Webber: Back in the points at last, though he did nearly cause an oil crisis by putting half the world’s petrol supply in for qualifying.

1pt Robert Doornbos: Didn't see him do anything wrong. Didn't see him at all but that's not the point.

-1pt Rubens Barrichello: Out of Ferrari and out of the points. He’d have been way behind Schumacher even without the problems at the start, I reckon he just pitted to draw attention away from what he knew would be a poor performance.

-2pts Jacques Villeneuve: Given his two most recent performances it must be concluded that Villeneuve’s looking to go back to America… in NASCAR where you practically get points for bashing into other cars.

-5pts Takuma Sato: His first points of the season, but all that did was to highlight to me how poor his performances have been.

-6pts Fernando Alonso: The incient at the first corner was probably Ralf's fault, but not terribly impressive. The championship is Alonso's to lose and if he keeps going like that he will lose it. Incidentally I was watching the IRL and the commentator drove me mad by repeating over and over the phrases "It's Wheldon's title to win" or "It's Herta's race to win". It was bad enough getting the phrase all wrong but he must've repeated it around seven times (no kidding). It makes you appreciate James Allen a little more.

-8pts Giancarlo Fisichella: It's testimony to the pooor directing of the coverage we receive that it was so hard to tell whether Fisi had gone off again or we were seeing a random replay.

-10pts Jenson Button: According to Button BAR are way ahead of Williams. Button finished about ten seconds ahead of Heidfeld. This is not way ahead. Ergo, his performance at the Hungaroring must have seriously sucked.

Constructors

10pts Toyota: Anohter podium, though clearly they need the practice; the mechanics struggled to catch the champagne bottle Ralf dropped down from the podium, unlike the slick job Ferrari made of it. Mind you, Ferrari have probably got an R&D department specialising in champagne bottle dropping/catching.

8pts Ferrari: A better performance, though perhpa smore credit is due to the driver than the car. You have to wonder what they're thinking with signing Felipe Massa. You can imagine Jean Todt's thought process. Pros: Sometimes fast, manage by Nicolas. Cons: Erratic, looks like a little school boy, guaranteed to lose No Claims Bonus on Enzo. Can anyone else hear the words "Stop-gap" echoing in their ears?

5pts Williams: A strong performance in the race. Interesting that it was at a circuit where engine power isn't so important. Strange that.

4pts BAR: Both cars in the points for the first time this season (officially). The fightback continues.

3pts Jordan: The at least managed to get the better of Minardi… eventually.

2pts Minardi: Another strong weekend.

1pt Red Bull: Everything's spectacular about this team. Great big motorhome, flashy marketing campaign and they know how to retire from races too.

-1pt Sauber: They must have known Massa was off to Ferrari, why else would they set him on fire and then start adding fuel to the mix? Villeneuve was probably smart to park up on the track, I thin they were planning on doing the same to him.

-4pts McLaren: A McLaren leading the race pulls up and out of the race. Sorry, which race are we talking about here? Rumours that Fernando Alonso performed an ancient gypsy curse to make the "leading McLaren" retire have yet to be confirmed.

-10pts Renault: All of a sudden it looks like the early eighties again. Renault, with the best driver ever from a European country, make a great start to the season with the best car but manage to fuck it up somehow. Let's hope not.


August 07, 2005

Walking Plants Discovered

Wow! I couldn't believe it when I read it in the paper, but apparently scientists working in the Amazon Rainforest have discovered plants that can walk. Frighteningly they're thought to be poisonous to humans. One scientist got too close and ended up in hospital after the plant lashed out at him. Eek! I'm glad we don't live in the tropics.

The plant has yet to be officially named, but are currently being refered to as Trigenates, given that they walk on three "legs".

This is just a young version of the plant, fully grown ones have been spotted and can reach up to twelve feet in height.

Already rumours are starting as to why we haven't come across them before. Suggestions are that they are the result of genetic modifications made to regular plants and that there have been attempted cover ups. There have been mysterious cases of scientists in the area going missing or suddenly deciding to move on. Very suspicious.

The article also suggests that if not properly controlled the plants may pose a threat to human supremacy on Earth, though I find that very hard to believe. I wouldn't want one in my back garden though!


August 01, 2005

Arctic Monkeys at the Leadmill 31/07/05

For a band who have yet to make an album, the Arctic Monkeys sure receive alot of hype. Nowhere can it be truer than in their home city: the mighty Sheffield – home of many other musical giants, such as Pulp, the Human League, Joe Cocker, the tramp with the accordian in the subway under Arundel Gate…

The Leadmill was sold out, meaning the best part of a thousand people were crammed into the venue, which I might add always appears in the top ten venues in the country – see how wonderful Sheffield is?

Support Bands

I can't remember the first band's name. This can be a problem if they're really good and you want to recommend them. Fortunately then, the band were poor. Featuring 3/5s female members they were never going to be anything else. I don't mean to be sexist (though I'm going to be anyway) but as a rule female fronted bands are rarely any good. My friend Chris described them best, suggesting they sounded like the soundtrack to a teen romantic comedy.

The second lot were much better – Stoney I believe they were called. Breaking the mould for support bands (Come on stage, don't say anything, stare at feet, strum guitars, thank main band) they were lively and energetic. I, along with everyone else in the place, thought they were rather good and I think the lead singer shared that view. He finished with a big rock outro, picking up the microphone and jabbing it in the air.

The Arctic Monkeys

True to the hype they rocked the place out. They're music's often compared with the Libertines and on this occasion such a comparison is fairly accurate. Though it doesn't hold entirely, some riffs even verge on ska (thankfully only verge on), meaning they sound perhaps slightly like the Ordinary Boys (terrible new album btw).

The singer played to the audience nicely, realising he could get away with requesting more applause. This reflects the incredible hype surrounding them. The fact that they're from Sheffield surely had nothing to do with it ("Is anyone here from Sheffield?" *Huge cheer* Where else?). They even managed a few sing alongs.

Particular highlights were "Mardy Bum", a very Sheffieldy titled song and… some others, don't ask me their names. All in all it was very good, plus the gig was helped by standing near to a fan (of the cooling appliance variety, not the "fan of" variety).


July 28, 2005

It's amazing what you see advertised in the paper


July 27, 2005

Blogging Statistics

It has come to this blogger's attention that in general the standard of blogging decreases as the amount of free time increases. This is particularly true of the following blogs:

And also:

Here are overlapping graphs showing this over the past six months:

Clearly this is obeying the old adage of "More time than blogging capabilities."

For the record here are some statistics

  • I have 1 (one) blog.
  • I have around 100 entries, around, oh, 97 of which are crap.
  • Poisson Distribution.
  • That joke was precisely 100% terrible.
  • I have a huge readership. At least two people will read this sentence.
  • 93% of vans are white.

July 26, 2005

F411 Championship: Round 12 – German Grand Prix

Drivers

10pts Jenson Button: Should he stay or should he go? Button is clearly in the camp of "the grass is always greener on the other side". He has a contract with BAR and he tries to go to Williams. He has a contract with Williams and he wants to stay at BAR (apparently). Perhaps he's just staying true to his (little) British roots: "I want that one."

8pts Kimi Raikkonen: It all looked so easy, yet somehow it didn't work out. As it's often pointed out, if it weren't for all these retirements he'd be leading the championship. But by that logic if it weren't for the other nineteen cars Doornbos would have won his debut race. Makes you think, huh?

6pts Michael Schumacher: An impressive display, though he must have been wishing it'd rain. ITV spoilt that by giving Jim Rosethal and Tony Jardine umbrellas. Sod's law dictates that it only rains when you don't have one. I'm not sure what ITV were up to there, there wasn't anyone in the background with a brolly. It was almost as though they were trying to say to the viewers "Look! It might rain! Please keep watching, it'll be exciting. We promise." Rosenthal seemed to be loving it, but Jardine just looked embarrassed.

5pts Christijan Albers: He's now the clear lead driver at Minardi. Whatsmore he finished ahead of both Jordans, a Sauber and a Toyota. Admittedly there were good reasons for that, but thirteenth from a race with only one and half retirements is good going. And the fact that he's the best Dutch driver in F1 suddenly means something.

4pts David Coulthard: A fair response to Louise Goodman's questions about a possible strike. But having read this article I think it's all a little clearer. Oh, but he drive well though.

3pts Robert Doornbos: I do like how he's nicknamed Doorknobs. I'd stumbled across this before as a possible pseudonym after his name was run through a spellchecker. The only disappointment is that he replaced Patrick Firestarter, I wonder what Kim Reckoned (Go figure) to that?

2pts Fernando Alonso: As the commentary team noted, he does like to inform everyone how many races he's won. I wonder how he'd deal with a season like Schumacher had last year. Feet? If McLaren's reliability doesn't improve he might have to take yoga lessons.

1pt Ralf Schumacher: Everyone gives him a hard time, but he's starting to rack up a fair few points. Besides I felt sorry for him because my Dad (who watches all the Grands Prix) asked me Michael Schumacher and Nick Heidfeld were the only German drivers.

-1pt Giancarlo Fisichella: His latest tactic seems to be to hide in the Grands Prix so his bosses don't know what he's up to. They're not going to give him the boot if they don't know he's there to begin with.

-2pts Rubens Barrichello: Clearly Rubens got it all wrong at Hockenheim. Schumacher's strategy was to get in front and just hold everyone up at the end, and he got four points for it. The only people Barrichello seemed likely to hold up on those rock-like Bridgestones were the Jordans and the Minardis. For Chrissakes, he was battling with Villeneuve on the first lap!

-3pts Narain Karthikeyan: At first it was cute, all this sideways stuff, but now it's starting to get a bit sad. Monteiro's starting to make him look silly.

-4pts Tiago Monteiro: I know it was only Villeneuve he smashed into, but it was still clumsy.

-6pts Juan Pablo Montoya: No, no, no Juan Pablo! You could see Ron Dennis seething post-qualifying. It's not often you hear anything from Dennis that stays in your head on account of his extraordinary dullness, but "All he had to do was make it round the last corner and we'd have been one-two" will probably ring in Montoya's ears for a while.

-10pts Jacques Villeneuve: Villeneuve's clearly so pissed off with Sauber that he's just going to try and destroy as much bodywork as possible. He was like a little kid on a computer game trying to have as many big crashes as possible then spending hours watching the replays.

Constructors

10pts BAR: Finally they're picking up where they left off last season, about time! Still can't get close to McLaren and Renault though.

6pts Red Bull: The miracles continue. After twelve rounds of the 2004 season in a McLaren, David Coulthard had nineteen points. After twelve rounds of the 2005 season in a Red Bull, David Coulthard has… nineteen points.

4pts Renault: As Fernando Alonso pointed out it's no good being quickest only in the first 30 laps. McLaren's well found unreliability seems to be handing Renault the championship on a plate, escargot 'n'all.

3pts Minardi: Seeing how this car has to last them until about 2023 they'd better make the most of being the second worst team, it's probably not going to last for very long.

2pts Sauber: I was most interested to hear about the mechanic hitting Villeneuve on the head. Two points just for that. Personally I wouldn't want the person in charge of gallons of fuel to be pissed off with me. Wonder what Jos Verstappen did in '94.

1pt Toyota: The only thing I can think of to say about Toyota's German Grand Prix was that they were there.

-1pt Ferrari: Barrichello was barely a second quicker than Albers in qualifying. What on earth is going on? The only sensible explanation I can think of is that the nine "rebel" teams have put sugar in the tanks.

-3pts Williams: Poor.

-4pts Jordan: I was watching the official review of the 2000 season (it's terrible, they don't put much action in, for instance they only show Hakkinen's move on Schumacher at Spa once. And my lord does the narrator have an annoying voice) and there was a bit about Jordan getting Honda engines for 2001 with Eddie Jordan saying if the team didn't win the world championship with Honda it would be a poor reflection on him. Ahem.

-10pts McLaren: They used to have it right in the old days. Give Mika Hakkinen the good car and Coulthard the duffer. You can almost imagine Montoya sneaking into the garages on Saturday nights and swapping the numbers over to make sure it works out okay for him.


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