Skins series 1

September 20th, 2007

This I first heard about when the initial trailers apeared on Channel 4 at time of first broadcast. Yet at the time I didn’t get to see it. More recently I think it was repeated and with the power of my PVR I got to see what I later found out was episode 3… About 3 weeks ago I was having a lovely walk around Crystal Palace Park with a friend who was telling me, among other things, how great she thought the series was and how it reminded of her time at Uni. in Bristol, where the series is set. So, what it’s about is a group of teenage friends going to college ( the 6th form type) in Bristol and what they get up to. I would say its the most realistic portrayl of modern family life I”ve seen, with the acting, presence and general underlying helplessness of modern society giving me at least the impression of a drama that should win awards… It may be a drama about teenagers, yet it is certainly no ‘teen drama’ in the slick american sense. Sex, drugs and Drum&Bass are what populate this world. What quite surprised me, having seen previously only one episode, was that while the younger cast are all (?) unknowns, those playing the parents are all pretty well known – Harry Enfield, Josie Lawrence, Neil Morrisey – with them playing obviously not strictly comedic roles, but bringing that quality to the screen of all the reasons why, as teenagers, we often find our parents embarassing… Which in this case adds to the quality of the production (as in comedians can do really well in serious roles). So what have we learnt from the series? Well… Teenagers arent stupid – not just for the acting, but the pretty believable characters too – we all have our problems and we cant always deal with them on our own.. Never trust the tall good-looking ones, they’ll always fuck you about, whereas the small, funny looking ones may surprise you… :o ) There is alleggedly a second series coming (soon), which I shall definitely set my PVR on repeat series for.
So thanks for the tip, J. :o ) x


August 1st, 2007

So today I had occasion to visit WH Smiths in Liverpool St.
I go in, down to the end to find the latest X-Men special, and this ‘security’ guard comes over and says “You have to take off your hat”, I say “Why?”, he says “Security”.
So I think “whatever”, go round to where the music magazines are, put my hat back on, pick up the latest 200AD and wander off towards the tills.
Bloke stands in front of me again, saying “I asked you to take it off”, I said again “Why?”, he says, “It’s for security. We have to see your face for the CCTV”, I say “But that’s just stupid!”.
Am flabbergasted at the apparent inanity and a bit pissed off.
Take off my furry hat again as I can’t be bothered to argue (although I’m in the mood for it), then see another 5 people with hats on my way to the tills. I bet he never asked any of them!
So basically I am being discriminated against because I’m wearing a warm furry hat. Where next? Not letting in black people because statistically they may be more likely to offend?
Not letting in eastern europeans because they may be low-paid migrant workers and not have the money?!
It’s preposterous and probably illegal in some way (if anyone knows, let me know!)
If they think that they need to see my face, then the implication is that if I’m wearing a hat that I would be more likely to be someone who would want to steal from the establishment. Is that really the impression they want to give their customers?
That you can only come in if you remove your headgear (whatever it may be), otherwise you’re likely to be a thief! I ask you! If find that very offensive.
Casting aspersions on my character indeed! I may have to demand an apology. Proper spoilt my evening that did.
Mind you, they probably thought I was a teenager too, which wouldn’t have helped either way.
Small person, big coat, big hat.
I shall look up their customer service address and complain!

feisty upgrade broke my system!

July 21st, 2007

in attempting to see whether having the newest versions of cups & avahi I discovered that my home server was still running dapper and not edgy as I’d thought. So I dist-upgraded to edgy and found the vncserver wouldn’t start automatically. Fixed that by adding the changed fontpath in vnc.conf. Next I thought I’d go for the newest and dist-upgrade to feisty (for some reason update-manager wouldn’t recognise the existence of a new version. So I get through the update and all looks to be running fine, then I reboot to make sure the vncserver still comes up and it all stops working… For some reason I thought it would be a good idea, when reinstalling the machine itself from slack7.1 to xubuntu, to go with reiser as a boot partition. At this point it should be noted that the boot drive is a 9G scsi attached to a 29160 as then I could use the ide channels for software raid5. After rebooting the system I had apparent reiserfs filesystem errors so attempted to repsir them using the given tools, yet after 3 periods of sitting through –tree-rebuild I thought I wasn’t getting anywhere… My next bright idea was to boot with a knoppix disk, image the partion for safety (and tar up the filesystem with the preserve flag), so I could reformat the drive as ext3 and put back the files as they were and hopefully boot that way. This worked to a certain extent, except now I was getting Grub error 17 which is apparently when the partition type ID is not what is expected. So I tried installing ubuntu 7.04 fresh to solve that, no joy (then I copied my tar file back over that install). What I’ve discovered is this: * During the edgy -> feisty upgrade, the raw (standard) device names have been replaced by UUID entries (mapped in and the move to everything as a scsi device what *was* my primary scsi boot device of sda is now not, as hd(a-d) are now also sd* devices. This now (partly) explains why one of my raid5 stripes seems to think that it has a member that is 8Gb and reiserfs as opposed to 300Gb (I’m running lvm2 over raid5 – md0+md1 -> lvm0 which is about 800Gb), in fact finding both my lvm partition and the 300Gb spare partition showing as 7Gb and empty is a bit scary, but that’s for a bit later…
This change in device types (hd to sd) also explains why grub-install (tried to fix the error 17) no longer works, as the device it points to is not the same physical device as defined in the map file! That was Friday, this is tuesday… So Saturday I got it all figured out. All drives now go through a scsi emulation layer, however with a mixture of native scsi and ide devices, things got a little remapped. When I connected (what was) hda, sda stayed as sda, yet when I connected (what were) hdc & hdd, sda became sdd with the ide drives (the raid array) becoming sda-c with the cdrom (previously hdb) becoming sg0. So this explains all the confusion. What I eventually figured out after a bit of head scratching was that booting with an ubuntu cd would let me set up grub to boot from that drive (3 lines :o ) ), and mounting sdd1 would let me change the fstab and so get the machine to boot again! So the initial problem may not have been with the actual reiser filesystem, but the fact that the partition that had become sda1 wasn’t reiserfs at all… Next problem was that /dev/md0 & md1 were now remapped to /dev/md/0 & 1 so commenting out the entries in /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf was neccessary. The raid arrays themselves seemed to be pretty much ok, because of persistent superblocks, although md0 needed rebuilding because of its identity crisis regarding the drive, or more correctly the filesystem, that was previously sda1. An fsck and a few hours for the rebuild later and we were pretty much all good to go! I took this opportunity to reorganise the drive-bays so that ide drive 1, now in its quiet-drive box (very quiet but quite warm!) was in the top bay, then the cdrom (to ease any strain on the ide cable on its way to the motherboard) and then the seagate cheetah with its fan on front. I’m now thinking it might be best to put the hot scsi drive back at the top of the case with more airflow around it as I’ve now twice found the system terminal showing journaling errors and telling me the root filesystem has been remounted read-only. Which isn’t a good sign in a recently rebuilt machine. I also found that the cpu fan was caked with dust and that is acually what is causing all the noise, so I’m thinking that this evening will be including some time with a screwdriver… I can’t really explain the stress on Saturday before knowing that my 800Gb of data was safe and the relief when I found it all safe again. There were about 4 non-important video files with cross-linked clusters after lvm0 (if I hadn’t explained previously I’m running lvm2 on top of raid5 to ease growing the large storage partition) but if that’s the only problem then that’s a small price to pay. As this machine is but a 1GHz P3 I’ve disabled gdm from startup as I only really connect to it via VNC (which works again!) as having 2 X servers seemed a bit of a waste of resources. All in all a successful operation as I now have an up-to-date system with a nice looking minimal (latest xfce) desktop. After the final clean and drive rejigging later today, I should be able to leave this alone until the next drive upgrade (another 750G or even a terabyte drive when they’re more aFordable) or O/S update, as long as tha doesn’t try to UUID my drives again. Or then again when, or if, I have a spare couple of hours I can learn how that works and do it myself… :o )

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

July 21st, 2007

With this being the first of the series that I’d be seeing for the first time on the big-big screen, I can’t say I was expecting that much to blow me away and in that I wasn’t disappointed. Maybe it was the fact we went to see the last showing (23:15 start) or maybe because I was quite tired, but the film felt very much like an in-betweener. It was rather over-long and to be honest could be summed up in one sentence – “The real return of the dark lord” or from the perspective of HP himself “How I learnt my destiny and its connection to the dark lord he-who-must-not-be-named”. With a name containing ‘and the Order of the Phoenix’ I was kindof expecting large-scale magical battles powered by magical birds, yet the order seemed to consist of a small group of misfits who meet in a dingy house to talk about what to not do next…


April 22nd, 2007

Needed to set the postie calling script to +x :)

April 21st, 2007

and then (now) it works! ;)

Is postie working?…

April 21st, 2007

…automatically I mean.

Recycle more, because we want you to.

April 21st, 2007

When I left the house this morning I was quite surprised to find a new wheely bin, coloured blue, outside next to the other two.
This one is apparently for paper, glass and aerosols, which I would imagine is going to be far more useful than the small green box we had before. I suppose it could have arrived before as down the road someone else already had numbers on theirs. So I guess that the local council are taking recycling more seriously, or its a health and safety issue to stop the refuse collectors picking up the boxes and possible straining their backs. Either way, it’ll make dealing with all those boxes that ‘stuff’ arrives in a bit easier with a dedicated bin and maybe even give me a small fuzzy feeling for it not all ending up in a landfill somewhere…

Curse of the Yellow Flower

April 17th, 2007

Well I was expecting another Crouching Tiger, however what turned up was more a continuation from the House of Flying Daggers. Meaning that it was indeed visually stunning, yet the story was a bit thin for this western mind. Less than a handful of the action scenes we have come to know, lova and almost expect and more of the lingering shots meant to convey supressed emotions from the aincent culture this represents.
The tale of an Emperor, his consort and three princes, what’s been happenning in the preceeding three years and a myterious dark secret kept hidden to preserve the image of the royal family. All leading up to the ceremony of the Yellow crysanthemum…
If you’re looking for intrigue, skullduggery and smouldering looks, they’re here aplenty. If you’re looking for dramatic large-scale action sequences, keep your finger over the fast-forward button.
Visually stunning but a bit lacking in substance.

Drop the Dead Oyster

April 17th, 2007

So I get to the tube station on my way home (on Wednesday), after having left on time, to find that my oyster card doesn’r want to work.
Go to the quick ticket machine and try to read it, nothing. Go to the big ticket machine and try it, still nothing. Go to the ticket office, they confirm it is comletely dead and here’s a form to fill in to get a replacement. So I fill the form in, take it back and get a new card. All well and good but I don’t think it really should have taken a phone call to (I think) confirm the new card – their computer system should have taken care of all of that from the number on the card. Something to suggest?..