Monday, 31 October 2005

Revenge of the Halloween Masks

Today Star Wars Episode III is released on DVD. However, there are more pressing concerns for those who need a costume for Halloween but are just not sure which Star Wars character they'd like to be? Download and print these masks originally from Random House Publishing's 1983 book, The Star Wars Book of Masks. Or these created especially for by Star Wars illustrators and artists.

I'd like to wish you a happy and safe Halloween.

Friday, 28 October 2005


It's Christmas 1964 all over again! This holiday season aside from Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PSP, the "brand to give and receive" is Doctor Who.

The deserved success of the new 2005 series has made Doctor Who fashionable again and introduced the Daleks to a new generation. From LCD games to a 12" radio controlled masterpiece from Character Options, fans and general consumers are spoilt for choice. The 12" Dalek is in short supply (low production run?) and invariably eBay sellers are profiting with bids in excess of £60 (before P&P)!

I've ordered a Mini Radio Control Dalek Battle Pack (includes both Doctor Who and Rose figures), and pre-ordered a 12" Dalek from Forbidden Planet International. These are a far cry from the Palitoy and Marx Toys incarnations that reside in the darkest recesses of my attic.

Colin John Francis, a friend, is credited in the Claws Of Axos DVD and all proceeds from his Audio Guide book will go to Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Tuesday, 25 October 2005


Welcome Australians to iTunes Music Store sans Sony BMG (only a matter of time). My family, down under, can now subscribe to my podcast with even greater ease!

Went to Rydon Retail Park after having coffee with one of my relatives (on my Mother's side of the family) in Sainsbury's! Made the obligatory trip to the KFC drive-thru. The sales person gave us extra pieces of chicken, portion of chips and large Pepsi at no extra cost! That deserves a BIG SHOUT OUT to the Colonel.

I'm selling a Sony widescreen television on eBay, which segues into this cautionary tale. The Exeter Sony Centre closed a few months ago. In late 1999 I was in dispute with the store manager regarding a highly publicized RGB SCART fault with a model that I'd purchased 6 months earlier. After myriad callouts (at no charge) they replaced it with another model (KV32-FX60U FD Trinitron). However, it was £600 cheaper and the store manager never refunded the difference or gave me a credit note. If he'd pulled that same stunt now, solicitors would have been hired to resolve the matter! Taking closure to its literal conclusion. You reap what you sow.

Flock is based on beta 2 of Firefox 1.5 and performance is pretty slick for an alpha application. No crashes to date.

Saturday, 22 October 2005

Forbidden Planet

Please checkout my Flickr photostream! A photogenic collection of mint movie and television memorabilia is now available for your perusal. From Batman to Clone Wars cartoon and Masters of the Universe. Justice League Hot Wheels and rotocasts to follow.

Flock me! You must try this new branch of the feted Firefox browser. Because this is a Developer Preview, bleeding-edge caveats apply.

The holiday promotion switches into high gear. Shop windows and television commercials are ripe with yuletide cheer! And I heard my first seasonal song Andy Williams' It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year in-store!

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Giga Gift Giving

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced that it would be introducing the limited edition PSP™ Giga Pack to Europe, the Middle East and Africa in mid November.

With a 1GB Memory Stick PRO Duo included, the PSP Giga Pack provides exceptional storage opportunities for a combination of movies, music, and photographs, allowing PSP owners to enjoy a full range of entertainment options wherever they may be. The PSP Giga Pack also contains an added value package of accessories, including the PSP System, a 1GB Memory Stick PRO Duo, battery pack, AC Adaptor, USB cable and an all-new PSP stand for easy hands-free viewing.

Introduced especially for the Christmas gift season, and available for a limited time only, the PSP Giga Pack offers exceptional value for money, at a price far lower than if consumers bought the PSP Value Pack and 1GB Memory stick separately. With an RRP of just €299.99 (£214.99), the PSP Giga Pack will be available in the UK and Ireland on 21st November and throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa on 28th November 2005.

Shame there's no news regarding the "Ceramic White" model for the PAL market, eh Bing?

Monday, 17 October 2005

Can I Have It Like That

After reading a 4 star review of Rachel Stevens' new album, Come And Get It, in Friday's Guardian. I procured a copy and it's the most audacious, chic and eclectic collection of pop songs since Gwen Stefani's Love, Angel, Music, Baby! The Sunday Times concurs! An amusing anecdote. A photo of Ms Stevens adorned my Windows NT desktop at Dow Jones Reuters (before brand hegemony infiltrated every pixel) and a member of staff wondered if Rachel was my wife? If only...

Watching the Girls Aloud videography in iTMS, I noticed how much Cheryl Tweedy looks like Neve Campbell!

Added additional Doctor Who titles to the DVD collection. Claws Of Axos and Revelation Of The Daleks. The former is a by the numbers Pertwee yarn and the latter is a macabre masterpiece. Aside from the digital restoration and edible extras, the new disc art is welcome.

Version 2.0 of the Atari 2600 emulator has been released for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. This new version of Stella contains a wealth of improvements. Some highlights are listed below:

*Fully-integrated UI
*New ROM Launcher
*Integrated Debugger
*New Sound Subsystem
*Added ZIP Support
*Added Cartridge "Frying"

With the advent of Halloween comes Castlevania! This year Akumajo Dracula - Chi No Rondo (for PC Engine/TG-16 Super CD-ROM² System) should provide the requisite console chills. Considered by many as the definitive entry in the long-lasting franchise.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Bobbing for apples

Apple's announcement of a video iPod, iTunes 6 (including obligatory QuickTime update) and Front Row Media Experience was almost too much to digest in one evening. And the closer content ties between Cupertino and the Magic Kingdom, hint at possible merger* plans! At the very least Pixar should continue to leverage Disney's considerable marketing might coupled with vertical integration. In return Disney secures lucrative brands and artistic talent.

Churlish comment alert! In its present form I can't see myself downloading video from iTunes 6. Whilst the image quality surpasses HDTV, it scales poorly (see UMD) and there's no approved way to burn videos in iDVD. Toast 7 is crippled (due to contractual reasons). So, no legal means for me (or any UK viewers for that matter) to watch the new series of Lost (USA only) or Battlestar Galactica (the best sci-fi/tech noir series since Babylon 5, which is unavailable at present). A year from now things could be very, very different! As Master Yoda would say "Patience!"

The decision to use an existing form factor - a slimmer G5 iMac - meant that Apple's media centre proposition is in stores before the holiday season and the computer company can establish a beachhead into an overcrowded market that includes TiVo and Microsoft. Personally, I would suggest that power users wait for the 'star dust' to settle and snatch the first of the Intel-powered machines next year! A portable Mac mini Front Row Media Experience is alluring in the extreme.

It is arguable that Apple is now the custodian of the Capitalist media industry and if they can't get digital distribution of television programs and movies right then no one can!

Never one to be deterred by bleeding-edge technology. I've tested QuickTime Pro's new Movie to iPod (320x240) export option. Here's hoping a 60GB video iPod (in black) is in my stocking this year!

[*A merger between Apple and Disney has been the subject of Wall Street water-cooler conversations since 1997.]

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Apple Town Story*

In a few hours we'll know how Apple/Pixar intends to put the video into iPod and/or HDTV into a new consumer product! It will be all-pervasive.

Before Nintendogs, The Sims, Pokémon and Tamagotchi, there was David Crane's Little Computer People (1985). This is a vintage 8-bit game that I had intended bringing to your attention a year ago, but was sidetracked by a P2P editorial!

The pack-in included the following:

The Little Computer People House-on-a-Disk Research Software
This is a copy of the original two and a half storey house used by the research team. Activision guarantee that a Little Computer person will be drawn out by each and every one.

The Computer Owner's Guide to Care of, and Communication with, Little Computer People
Once a Little Computer Person has moved in, you take on the responsibility of providing food, water and loving attention. This booklet gives you the basic details on how to start this interaction with your Little Computer Person.

A Deed of Ownership
This allows you to register your ownership with Activision, and thus become an official member of The Little Computer People Research Project.

A Special Edition of Modern Computer People Magazine
This humorous, full colour publication comes with every kit and reports on the history, habits and culture of Little Computer People.

LCP was the recipient of a Zzap! 64 Gold Medal Award. Although Alternate Reality would ultimately consume my free time, I recall purchasing, from Trago Mills, a Commodore 1541 disc drive purely to play LCP on the Commodore 64.

Hours of fun were to be had. I especially remember Edward Gribble (a classmate) attempting, in vain, to encourage my LCP to perform acts that should be discouraged! And the day LCP died! Yes, they could perish and once gone the house was left empty...

[*Apple Town Story is a port of the 1984 Activision computer game Little Computer People to the Famicom Disk System. The port was released by Squaresoft of Final Fantasy fame in 1986. The game consists of watching an animated little girl wander around her house and play with her cat! Any connotations therein are subject to interpretation by the reader and the writer accepts no responsibility whatsoever.]

Monday, 10 October 2005

Behind These Hazel Eyes

American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson is rarely off my iTunes playlist.

The Sunday Times Culture section contained an interview with rising star Bridget Moynahan. Her cinematic debut was in guilty pleasure Coyote Ugly (2000). Bridget's recurring role on Sex and the City, as Natasha, had her vilified by Carrie fans. I found myself 'attracted' to her in last year's entertaining diversion I, Robot (2004). Refreshingly Bridget didn't let her hair down!

Today Sugababes round-off a solid album quartet with Taller In More Ways. Cool cuts include the poignant Follow Me Home, Better, Obsession and Push The Button. Ignore the muted press reviews and savor the dulcet tones of Keisha, Mutya and Heidi. Janet Jackson and TLC would be proud!

Sunday, 9 October 2005

Geometric Gaming

The GameCube has clocked up a few miles in its first week. An interesting fact for anyone who maybe mulling over a purchase and requires Digital A/V support. The following is an extract taken from Nintendo's support pages:

The Digital A/V Output port was removed from systems produced after May, 2004 (these systems will have a model number of DOL-101). If you have a Nintendo GameCube without this port, and you wish to play your games in progressive scan, you may be able to obtain a system that was made prior to the removal of the Digital A/V Output port. Please call our Consumer Service department at 1-800-255-3700 to discuss available options.

Additional Information:

Why have you removed the component video feature from the Nintendo GameCube?
On newer models of the Nintendo GameCube, we opted to remove the Digital A/V out port from the system because we found that less than one percent of all Nintendo GameCube players used this feature.

Will future Nintendo GameCube games continue to have the progressive scan feature?
About one-third of licensee-published titles and over 90% of Nintendo-published titles currently have the progressive scan feature. We expect that most Nintendo-published titles will continue to support progressive scan. Each licensee will continue to make the decision of whether or not to include this feature in their future games.

In order to reduce costs and increase profit margins it is not unusual for consumer electronics companies to simplify production. Sony made changes to the PlayStation and my model lacked S-Video connectivity. The good news is that I can confirm that the Limited Edition Resident Evil GameCube has a model number of DOL-001 and not DOL-101. Incidentally, DOL refers to the console's codename. Dolphin.

My fiendish friends at The Iconfactory, are unleashing seasonal GUI ghoulishness in time for the season of the witch. Grab those disgustingly delicious icons, dim the lights and play the Castlevania and Resident Evil franchises.

The ultimate browser-based feed reader is to be found in Google Labs. A Gmail account adds further razzle dazzle.

A glutton for punishment. I'm already preparing a DVD review of Battlestar Galactica (2004) Season 1! "It's the things I do for you..."

"One more thing..." There is much speculation regarding next weeks Apple event. I'm going to go out on a limb (as is my duty) and suggest that there maybe a new product line introduced. A PVR based on Intel?

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Whoa, that was like a... Jedi moment

The following, exhautive, review is based on the R1 release of Lost Season 1.

Disc 1 (2:48:39)
Pilot - Part 1 (42:13) 
Pilot - Part 2 (40:17)
 Tabula Rasa (43:27) 
Walkabout (42:42)

Disc 2 (2:51:38)

White Rabbit (42:30) 
House of the Rising Sun (42:44) 
The Moth (43:14)
 Confidence Man (43:10)

Disc 3 (2:51:13)
Solitary (43:08)
 Raised By Another (42:45) 
All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues (42:08)
 Whatever the Case May Be (43:12)

Disc 4 (2:51:24)
Hearts and Minds (43:17) 
Special (43:15) 
Homecoming (41:36) 
Outlaws (43:16)

Disc 5 (2:52:01)

In Translation (43:02)
 Numbers (43:06)
 Deus Ex Machina (42:39) 
Do No Harm (43:14)

Disc 6 (3:34:43)

The Greater Good (43:15) 
Born to Run (43:14) 
Exodus, Part 1 (43:16) 
Exodus, Part 2 (1:24:58)


Unlike the US 4:3 broadcast (only available in widescreen for HDTV consumers), Channel 4 is airing Lost in its original 16:9 aspect ratio. The DVD retains the 1.78:1 formatting and eclipses the PAL standard definition picture with 480p (compatible television required). The transfer is so vivid that it’s easy to forget that you’re looking at a screen. The image pops and colors are luxuriant.


The perfect presentation is not exclusively limited to sight. The sounds of the island are all encompassing. My Kef 5.1 speaker setup heightened the tension to such a degree that there were times when it became almost unbearable (check John Carpenter’s The Thing or Jurassic Park for comparison). The audio mix would be worthy of Skywalker Sound's Gary Rydstrom.

Often dubbed as "bonus features," "special features" and "added value", for many DVD consumers they're a compelling reason to buy a DVD set. The Mouse House has come a long way since those first, faltering, steps with Warner Home Video. A time when "special features" were anything but, and consumers should have sued for compensation.

Commentary Tracks
Pilot Parts 1 & 2 - Executive producers J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk
Walkabout - Executive producer Jack Bender, Co-executive producer David Fury and Terry O'Quinn (Locke)
 The Moth - Damon Lindelof, Bryan Burk and Dominic Monaghan (Charlie)
 Hearts and Minds - Executive producer Carlton Cuse, supervising producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Maggie Grace (Shannon) and Ian Sommerhalder (Boone).

The Genesis of Lost (8:40)
The tale of how Lost became a TV show. This featurette includes interviews with executives from ABC, and the producers of the series.

Designing a Disaster (7:59)
How did they construct one of the most incredible series openings of all time?

Before They Were Lost (22:55)
The formation of the cast as told by JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, April Webster (casting director), Bryan Burk, and the crew. There are lots of audition tapes included in the featurette, and you can watch the entire tape in...

Audition Tapes (23:34)

Audition tapes for the cast members. Matthew Fox (3:31), Evangeline Lilly (2:53), Dominic Monaghan (1:16), Naveen Andrews (2:01), Yunjin Kim (1:10), Daniel Dae Kim (0:46), Josh Holloway (1:20), Jorge Garcia (1:57), Ian Somerhalder (1:36), Maggie Grace (1:48), Harold Perrineau (1:35), Malcolm David Kelley (1:22) and Emilie de Ravin (2:19). These are pretty interesting, especially because there are things that didn't make it into the show, or actors are auditioning for different characters.

Welcome to Oahu: The Making of the Pilot (33:20)
Self explanatory and artfully leveraging the DVD medium a la Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Art of Matthew Fox (6:07)
When watching Party Of Five, it was clear that there was an inherent sadness in Matthew’s studied performance of Charlie and one that may or may not be autobiographical. This feature arguably lends further credence to my observation! I hope his photographic endeavors touch you as deeply.

Lost @ Comicon (1:50)

The cast and producers headed to Comicon last July where they debuted the pilot. Now this looked like fun unlike Bournemouth’s Excalibur.

Lost: On Location (43:42)
A few featurettes that focus on an episode, or a single aspect with shooting it. The Trouble With Boars (5:19), House of the Rising Sun (7:19), Confidence Man (4:24), All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues (4:56), Whatever the Case May Be (2:58), Hearts and Minds (6:20), Special (3:05) and Exodus (9:21).

On Set With Jimmy Kemmel (7:15)
Kimmel visits the set of Lost. This had me in stitches and the ‘monster reveal’ culminated in hyperventilation!

Backstage with Driveshaft (6:40)
Dominic Monaghan talks about "Driveshaft," and the "hit" song that they sang. The producers explain the idea behind the song, and how it was recorded.

The Lost Flashbacks (4:35)
A couple of flashbacks that weren't shown on TV, which makes them "Lost Flashbacks" and not "Lost Flashbacks." I really enjoyed the Claire flashback. At the Airport: Claire (3:07)
 At the Airport: Sayid (1:28)

Deleted Scenes (14:41)
There are 13 deleted scenes from the first season.

Bloopers from the Set (4:17)

Live from the Museum of Television & Radio (10:56)
The chemistry between the cast and crew is palpable, and it’s a genuine shame that this was only an appetizer.


If you have a PC you can read the script to the pilot episode while it plays.

Sneak Peeks (14:22)
Trailers for movies and TV shows can be found in this section. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe looks enchanting, and maybe the movie of the year for me. There are trailers for The Chronicles of Narnia (2:33), TV on DVD (1:56), Lost Season 2 - spoiler free! - (0:32), Alias Season 4 (1:19), Desperate Housewives Season 1 (0:32), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2:25), Scrubs Season 2 (1:33), Dark Water (2:33) and Jimmy Kimmel Live (0:59).

Easter Eggs (1:58)

Alternate Main Title Sequence (0:22) – Just terrible and evokes the X-Files opening titles. Want to find it? Put in disc seven, go to "Tales from the Island" and press left twice, then enter.

Locke and the Orange (1:36) - Want to find it? Select "Tales From the Island" on Disc 7, then highlight "Main Menu," press right, and then enter.

In summary
When you have the collective talents behind Alias, Buffy, Angel and Batman: The Animated Series how can you go wrong?

Theories regarding how the Sydney to LA Oceanic flight crashed are as abundant as they are diverse. Are the passengers dead and struggling to make peace with their past lives before moving on or is it The Truman Show meets Survivor? Whatever. Discuss by all means. But, as my Media Studies tutor once said – the journey is often far more interesting than the destination!

There’s a liberal sprinkling of Star Wars and Star Trek in-jokes set against a Planet of the Apes backdrop. Hurley's "Dude" manages to remain humorous and so revealing of the character - a gentle giant a la Chewbacca. And then there's Sawyer who immediately reminded me of Solo - I couldn't stop grinning at the lines including "Princess", "Sulu" and "I'm a complex guy!" And John Locke's character resonates as I'm a paraplegic due to a serious head injury in first school - a classmate was pushed into me. And, yes, I was in a wheelchair...

The inaugural season of Lost is the finest DVD presentation of a television series I’ve viewed since purchasing my first Sony DVD player in 1998. Yes, it really is that good. This is a seminal seven-disc treatment and only Battlestar Galactica (2004) can take the edge off withdrawal symptoms.

Monday, 3 October 2005

Ultravox fans ahoy!

Here's a very useful (and free) open source RSS/Atom reader called Vienna. My feed never looked better in a newsreader.

Adding the finishing touches to my Lost DVD review whilst I wait for the Royal Mail to deliver Mario Kart: Double Dash and the cel-shaded brilliance of The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Both titles are a veritable bargain at £14.00 each. With soft market conditions, consumers can procure discounts of up to 60% off RRP. The best deals are reserved for those who can buy in bulk! Time to read Daniel Bell's The End of Ideology.

Saturday, 1 October 2005

Captain N: The Game Master

The title of this post, and its intrinsic camp value, refers to the live action/animated series, which ran for three seasons and was broadcast on ITV between 1989 - 1992. If memory serves correctly the show was a vehicle to blatantly promote the latest Nintendo video game releases and included appearances from popular properties Link (Zelda) and Simon Belmont (Castlevania).

In the '80s you could start your day by waking up in your Nintendo-themed sheets, wash your hair with Super Mario shampoo, eat Mario & Zelda cereal, and go to school with your Nintendo backpack. How times have changed. Did someone say Harry Potter?

Last Thursday I unpacked a shiny new platinum and black limited edition Nintendo GameCube. You know, the livery emotes sophistication and it's fun to posit whether or not Big "N" should have adopted this color scheme at the console's launch in 2002?

Aside from the glaring omission of a 251 Slot Memory Card from the bundle. I'm delighted to be reunited with Mario, Pikmin and Zelda franchises once again. This time for keeps. Viva la Revolution!

Discovered Galaxy FM. Anyone with a passion for Dance/R&B should listen (digital receiver required). The first song played was Opposites Attract (Paula Abdul featuring MC Skat Cat). The College memories.