Monday 26 December 2005

The Feast of Steven

Clever title, eh? Refers to the Doctor Who episode (taken from the Daleks' Master Plan) broadcast on Christmas Day 1965.

Although shattered from a busy Christmas Day with relatives, I managed to watch The Christmas Invasion at 1:30AM this morning (sky+ delivered)! A terrific yarn filled to the brim with pop culture and current affairs references - Torchwood has ominous pretensions, transforming the Earth into a Death Star. Even the beauty of snowfall was undermined by its true nature - burning ashes from the destroyed spacecraft.

Unsurprisingly David Tennant and Billie Piper's chemistry remains undiluted by the regeneration and, if anything, the mythology is now taking flight. Tennant is as alien as he is enigmatic and epitomizes Tom Baker's classic line from The Pyramids of Mars (1975) "I'm not a human being; I walk in eternity..."

The series two teaser induced chills and excitement: the return of Sarah Jane Smith, an art deco Cyberman and Buffy's Anthony Stewart Head (surely he's the Master?).

Sunday 25 December 2005

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree

As gifts are unwrapped and Mac Users await the irony of Intel Inside (I'll be ordering a Mac mini during MWSF 2006). News reaches these shores that Nintendo Revolution gamers can expect Sega's 16-bit classics on the next generation console! What this means for software emulation remains unclear. Incidentally, MacMAME maybe updated next week. If it heralds the long awaited new front-end, I'll post a review. Who knows, Brad Oliver may release it as a Universal binary.

Home for the holidays

Contrary to my earlier post. There was no DS for me today. Play weren't able to send a replacement prior to the weekend festivities. However, Lego lightsabres basked in the neon glow of a fiber optic tree.

Saturday 24 December 2005

Christmas NiGHTS

In the spirit of the season. Here's The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Thursday 22 December 2005

Deck the Halls

With the holidays now upon us, regular postings will most likely dry up! Therefore I wanted to wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and a Festive Festivus.

UK readers don't forget to set your VCR, DVD-R and PVR to record Doctor Who. The Christmas Invasion starts at 7:00PM on BBC1 Christmas Day. David Tennant looks set to eclipse even the brilliance of Christopher Eccleston.

Thank you for reading and please stay tuned via RSS for more pop culture goodness in 2006.

Monday 19 December 2005

Christmas Decade

This Christmas marks ten years of Mac ownership! Time has flown since I unwrapped the Performa 5200 and took those first tentative steps into new media authoring and WarCraft!

*CPU: PowerPC 603
*CPU Speed: 75 MHz
*Bus Speed: 37.5 MHz
*Data Path: 64 bit
*ROM: 4 MB
*RAM Type: 72 pin SIMM
*Minimum RAM Speed: 80 ns
*Onboard RAM: 0 MB
*RAM slots: 2
*Maximum RAM: 64 MB
*Level 1 Cache: 8 kB data, 8 kB instruction
*Level 2 Cache: 256 kB
*Expansion Slots: 1 LC PDS, comm, video i/o, TV

*Monitor: 15" CRT (built-in)
*Max Resolution: 832x624

*Hard Drive: 500 MB
*Floppy Drive: 1.4 MB SuperDrive
*Optical Drive: 4x CD-ROM

*ADB: 1
*Serial: 2
*SCSI: DB-25
*Audio Out: stereo 16 bit mini
*Audio In: mono 16 bit mini
*Speaker: stereo
*Microphone: mono

*Codename: Trailblazer, Bongo, Rebound, Transformer
*Gestalt ID: 41
*Power: 125 Watts
*Dimensions: 17.5" H x 15.1" W x 16" D
*Weight: 47 lbs.
*Minimum OS: 7.5.1
*Maximum OS: 9.1
*Introduced: April 1995
*Terminated: April 1996

Here's to another decade of delights.

Friday 16 December 2005

A Cup of Good Cheer

Nintendo's official stance on dead pixels is far removed from Sony's:

Extremely high precision technology is employed to produce the Nintendo DS LCD screens. The result is more than 99.99% effective pixels with a mere 0.01% of the pixels inactive or always lit. You will find this situation in many LCD devices (PC monitors, televisions, cell phones, etc.). However, this is not a malfunction.

It is important to understand that this issue will remain limited to the pixels you have already noticed. The problem will not get any worse and you should not expect to see the problem in any other areas of the screen.

We suggest you use your system for a few weeks to determine whether this interferes with your enjoyment of game play. If, after using your system for a while, you feel that this tiny dot is too distracting, the Nintendo DS does carry a one-year warranty. We are happy to inspect and, if necessary, fix your system at no charge within the warranty period.

The above information is freely available on the web and reproduced here to illustrate Nintendo's excellent customer care. In any event arranged free collection and replacement of the defective DS. My thanks to them as always.

Wednesday 14 December 2005

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Readers with vision impairment and/or whom would like to 'listen' to RSS feeds can subscribe to text-to-speech recitals here. I'll add a permanent link soon.

My Nintendo DS arrived on Monday and, although it's a holiday gift, I had to charge the internal battery and play test Mario Kart DS! I mean, imagine if it wasn't working on Christmas day? The DS is a joy to use and the must-have list of games includes Castlevania DS and Resident Evil Deadly Silence (DS get it?). The second screen sports a couple of dead pixels, which Nintendo is happy to repair or replace the unit at their discretion.

The Toys R Us exclusive 12" R/C Assault Dalek (with Claw) was delivered to the door in a very large box. I'm going to need to put this into hire storage when not 'terrorizing' our beloved cat Leo (obviously joking). The Dalek looks and sounds fantastic and my packaging fetish is satisfied too.

Monday 12 December 2005

Let There Be Peace On Earth

There has been much hullabaloo since an early beta of Google Earth for Mac OS X appeared on the web! Google Earth puts a planet's worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop. View exotic locales like Maui and Paris as well as points of interest such as local restaurants, hospitals, schools, and more.

In its present form Google Earth's GUI is a mélange of Mac OS X 10.1 Aqua and Windows XP (Preferences includes an OpenGL and DirectX Graphics Mode option. DirectX is a Windows only graphics layer). The application will intergrate with Gmail, but the feature is grayed out. It runs surprisingly smoothly on my aging G4, but requires Core Image and therefore will be restricted to 10.4 Tiger users.

Whilst perusing FeedBurner I stumbled across DropSend, a file-transfer service, and signed-up for a free account. They've included a free desktop uploader tool (10.1 or higher).

Running maintenance scripts can be a chore and most of us don't bother. I tend to run these in Terminal, which is a minefield of dangers for inexperienced users. So, fret not as now this elegant Automator script takes care of everything.

Friday 9 December 2005

My Favorite Things

Part two of my Review of the Year.

*Album - The Emancipation Of Mimi. After several years in the wilderness Mariah Carey captures R&B magic in a bottle. Runners up: Chemistry (Girls Aloud) and Come And Get It (Rachel Stevens).

*Single - Biology. Those Girls Aloud produce another pop opus. Runners up: You're Beautiful (James Blunt) and Push The Button (Sugababes).

*Movie - Batman Begins. The dark genesis of everyone's favorite psychologically damaged vigilante. Runners up: Revenge of the Sith and War of the Worlds.

*DVD - Lost and Doctor Who Season One Boxsets. This was too close to call! Runners up: Battlestar Galactica and Desperate Housewives.

*Television Drama - Battlestar Galactica. Dangerous and dry sci-fi that avoids the simplicity of the Star Trek franchise. Runners up: Desperate Housewives and Lost.

*Television Sci-Fi - Doctor Who. A slumbering Whovian was stirred by Russell T. Davies, Billie Piper and golden Daleks. Runners up: Battlestar Galactica and Lost.

*Merchandise - 12" R/C Dalek from toy powerhouse Character Options. This year's Buzz Lightyear is the definition of 'must-have'. However, may I direct your attention to the Assault Dalek (with Claw) sold through Toys R Us! This variant is limited to 5000 units worldwide. Runners up: General Grievous Wheel Bike and Transformers Darth Vader.

Tuesday 6 December 2005

Walking In The Air

This is the first part of the mandatory Review of the Year. And the prizes go to:

*Web - RSS. Of all the emergent web-based technologies reaching critical mass (despite low consumer awareness). This year RSS has captivated my imagination with many a late night brain storming, and exchanging of e-mails with those Chicago-based coders at FeedBurner, to facilitate an all signing and all dancing, but ultimately transparent, RSS experience. Runners up: Google Reader and Blogger.

*Buzz Word - Podcast. This term is a misnomer, but joins the pantheon of brands TiVo and Google. My iTunes Music Store listing was the crowning achievement. Runners up: VoIP and Blogging.

*Application - Flickr Uploadr. I've honored Flickr with the distinction of best cross-platform social networking tool. Google's photo proposition looks positively anemic and clunky by comparison and gets a zero for the lack of a Mac OS X client. Maybe next year, eh? Runners up: Firefox 1.5 and iTunes 6.

*Console - Nintendo DS. Sony's PSP wins the hardware and multimedia battle. But Miyamoto's masterpiece is 'all about the games': delivered with an inventive quirkiness and wrapped in Game & Watch geek chic. Runners up: Xbox 360 and PSP.

*Video Game - Mario Kart DS. Combines the SNES, N64, GameBoy SP and GameCube iterations with Wi-Fi. Do you need to know anymore? Runners up: Resident Evil 4 and Lego Star Wars.

Stay tuned for Best Album, DVD, Movie, Television series and more.

Sunday 4 December 2005

Step Into Christmas

The buzz surrounding Mario Kart DS is reaching fever pitch. Reviews are extremely positive with gaming journalists evangelizing that this is one of the greatest games released on any platform. Hyperbole? I'll review Nintendo's portable opus soon. It's worth noting that the DS is now outselling the PSP in Japan.

The first installment in Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia not only looks wonderful, but reviews are very encouraging indeed. Can't wait to see this over the holiday season.

Some of you may have noticed that the sidebar has been tweaked with additions. The podcast link is now more prominent - either subscribe via iTunes or Yahoo! Podcasts - and readers can Skype Me 24/7.

Thursday 1 December 2005

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

This will be the third year that my Mother isn't 'home' for Christmas since the diagnosis of Central Pontine Myelinolysis and extra pontine: the neurological damage has left Mum with epilepsy, dysarthria, dyspraxia and requiring 24/7 care! Looking forward to spending the holidays at her nursing home. The family is to be featured in a magazine photo shoot, which will be as much memento as publicity. My hourly rate is not open to negotiation!

Before the holidays

Despite little enthusiasm, I'd better start writing the Christmas cards and moving the furniture in preparation for the decorations (photos to follow).

Tuesday 29 November 2005


Keeping with the informal oriental theme of yesterday. Due to the stress of real world events, I suffered an uncommon migraine and was forced to bed early. Whilst still feeling a little groggy, found time to listen to John Williams' score for Memoirs of a Geisha (Spielberg passed on directorial duties).

A work of beguiling beauty, Geisha effortlessly combines the Orient with Copland flourish. The silhouette of Shindler's List (2003) cast by Itzhak Perlman's arresting violin solos.

This year Williams has completed a stunning quartet of albums from Revenge of the Sith and War of the Worlds to Munich. Next year Superman Returns and so will John Williams' main theme. Watch the teaser trailer, underscored by The Planet Krypton, and tell me that you're not moved by its impressionistic power.

I'd like to welcome Sony PSP users to the addiction known as RSS! Albeit in the bandwidth-demanding form of audio streaming. The latest firmware upgrade, 2.6, was released today.

Sony's move into this 'space' may provide competition for Apple! However, under the tree this year I'll be opening a Nintendo DS Mario Kart Bundle and a copy of Lego Star Wars for GameCube.

Sky is offering an iPod Shuffle to customers who recommend a friend. Any takers?

Monday 28 November 2005

Manic Monday

Watched the excellent Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003); A young peasant maid working in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer becomes his talented assistant and the model for one of his most famous works. I'm left yearning for an art studio and muse of my own! Scarlett Johansson call me sometime?

When I reflect back on A-Level Fine Art, it feels a life further and further removed. This is a double edged sword given my then estrangement from fellow students (and the established tenants extolled by the art teachers), but burning desire to create. Not since September 2003 have I come close to picking up a pencil and paper! Maybe it's mental exhaustion or the lack of time? A New Year's resolution is in the making...

Another notable movie consumed at the weekend. The Last Samurai (2003). Personally, I've always admired Tom Cruise since Born on the Fourth of July (1989). Here he's at the height of his acting game alongside a standout performance from Ken Watanabe. There are few clichés and the poetic portrayal of Japan is mesmeric. Can't wait for House Of Flying Daggers (2004) to be shown on sky movies.

Sunday 27 November 2005

Toy Story

You've got to get one of these (subject to availability)!

The Mutants

The wood carving (on the left) was a gift from an Uncle who toured Africa.

Wednesday 23 November 2005

The Ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is...

42 and Happy Birthday Doctor Who. Over four decades ago An Unearthly Child was broadcast in the aftermath of US President John F. Kennedy's assassination. I still have vivid memories of the Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and The Pyramids Of Mars (circa 1974/75)!

It pays to search eBay listings. Early this morning I purchased a brand new 5" R/C Dalek (£29.99 inc P&P)! The 5" model from Character Options is a limited edition and its market value is higher than the 12" R/C. However, whether it is worth £75 is relative.

Character Options will be extending their 5" Doctor Who range to include the following:

*Pack 1 - The Tenth Doctor (in his 'signature' outfit with long overcoat and Sonic Screwdriver accessory.

*Pack 2 - Rose Tyler and K-9

*Pack 3 - Intergalactic Warlord, the Sycorax Warrior complete with two weapons.

*Pack 4 - A double pack of Lady Cassandra and Moxx of Balhoon

*Pack 5 - A Slitheen action figure - with extendable claws that can be slid out from its finger ends.

*Pack 6 - Radio controlled K-9 and Tenth Doctor double pack.

*Pack 7 - TARDIS console room playset. Six buttons control around ten sound effects plus chair, hat stand and lift-out access panels in the floor to reveal the TARDIS mechanisms and circuitry.

The granddaddy of them all, The Emperor Dalek, will be available exclusively from Toys R Us online.

Still wondering whether or not you should purchase the Character Walkie-Talkies? Don't hesitate any longer! The likeness of both the Doctor and Slitheen are superb and eclipse Hasbro's hyped methodology! Go on, you know you want to play with these.

Doctor Who 2005 Merchandise

Pop Princess Rachel Stevens (isn't anyone buying her excellent album?) is rumored to be in the Doctor Who franchise spin-off Torchwood with John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness). Torchwood is described as 'adult', not necessarily a positive connotation. Perhaps BBC PR should seek more articulate adjectives?

Monday 21 November 2005


In this era of digital content distribution, the notion of going to the cinema maybe considered antiquated (not that I'm an advocate). Sky movies offers 9 screens of 'near demand' movie magic. This is what I've been watching:

*Freaky Friday (2003)
*The Bourne Supremacy
*The Last Samurai
*The Matrix Revolutions
*The Cat in the Hat
*Pieces of April
*Two Weeks Notice
*The Stepford Wives (2004)
*Open Water
*Dawn of the Dead (2004)
*Resident Evil: Apocalypse

TiVo has announced that its portable media software will support transfer to iPod and PSP. It'll be interesting to see whether or not a future sky+ update will include such a feature too - otherwise the USB 2.0 port is nothing more than a glorified iPod/mobile phone battery recharger!

You can now shop for holiday gifts at my T-Shirt Shop.

Friday 18 November 2005

Scissor Sister

When I first saw the advance poster for Underworld Evolution, the comparison with Edward Scissorhands and the surreal-enthused cinema of Tim Burton was unmistakable.

Whilst Underworld (2003) is far from satisfying and wholly derivative. It's a pleasing antidote to the banal Matrix Revolutions and tiresome Van Helsing. Kate Beckinsale's aloof Alice captured the character's detachment in Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998). Why they didn't ask her to reprise the role in American McGee's Alice is a mystery!

During tonight's Children In Need UK viewers were treated to the first official adventure with the new Doctor and Rose. A scintillating season/regeneration segue. The chemisty between the principles has not lost any of its spark.

Thursday 17 November 2005

Rebel Base

Jack Frost's at play! This morning looking out of my south facing bedroom window, a mantle of white had conjured a 'Winter Wonderland' dress rehearsal. Cue the incomparable Johnny Mathis or the main theme from The Box of Delights (1984).

Got something you want the world to see? Google Base is Google's database into which you can easily submit all types of content.

You can describe any item you post with attributes, which will help people find it when they search Google Base. In fact, based on the relevance of your items, they may also be included in the main Google search index and other Google products like Froogle and Google Local.

While you pour yourself another peppermint mocha, why not see what I've published onto the database so far?

Looks like Apple will be releasing Mac OS X 10.4.4 before the New Year. Will Quartz 2D Extreme be activated in time for MWSF 2006 and the introduction of Intel hardware?

Battlestar fans rejoice. Series 3 has already been commissioned.

Tuesday 15 November 2005

Mars Attacks

Last evening's Autumnal sunset was striking and rendered a Satanic skyline! So, I took this photo in my back garden, or yard as my late Canadian Grandmother would say.

Fall Sky

It could be a missing frame from Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds...

Sunday 13 November 2005

Hang On

Yesterday I met an Aunt and cousin in town. Whilst loading the car we witnessed another driver reverse into a row of parked motorcycles - knocking them all over accompanied by a resounding "crunch!" Clearly most, if not all, the bikes had sustained some degree of damage. However, the driver sped away before onlookers could stop her! A testament to the self absorbed society that we live in; one where accountability is a rare commodity! Call the lawyers...

I won't be one of the elite gamers opening an Xbox 360 under the tree this holiday. But, I'm impressed by the new console's backwards compatibility - the software emulator (updates can be downloaded for free and burned to CD - surely a boon for hackers?) supports an impressive 200 games and anti-aliasing for a smoother image.

Knowing that this blog has an avid readership combined with Podcast subscribers is most flattering. Glad I made your day Jim and thanks.

Friday 11 November 2005

Silver Nemesis

For me Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis' creation is second only to Darth Vader. The new droid-like Cybermen are instantly recognizable. The official BBC website welcomes visitors with a metallic klaxon. I can already hear the Earthshock score composed by the late Malcolm Clarke!

Will David Banks (Cyber Leader) and Mark Hardy (Cyber Lieutenant) once again be entombed in cyber armor? Rumor has it that this tale will hark back to the Patrick Troughton era.

The Snowman is an original story idea featuring a solitary Cyberman (see Marvel comics Doctor Who Issues 58-59 Junk-Yard Demon) whom is discovered, deactivated, in the grounds of a country house estate. I had intended producing an audio drama (Bournemouth University 1994) and am considering whether or not to release it as a podcast in the New Year.

My copy of Madonna's Confessions On A Dancefloor has arrived! As I listened to the new album for the first time, I was editing lines of html code and optimizing the blog template! The review will be published next week.

Tuesday 8 November 2005

Full Throttle

Bloggers the world over are starting to post their holiday lists for 2005!

1). I only ever owned a Paris to Dakar Rally Range Rover R/C and this year's collectible line has been dominated by Masters of the Universe. When I learnt that, Mattel subsidiary, Tyco RC had released a giant Monster Jam truck, it went straight to the top!

*Working suspension
*Air tires
*Authentic, detailed decoration
*Forward, reverse, left and right turn functions
*Requires a 9-volt battery for the remote (not included)
*Includes a 6-volt NiCd battery and charger for the truck

The 12" R/C Dalek from Character Options didn't qualify as it's already on pre-order (shipping in December)! And the 1:6 (Batman Begins) Batmobile is off the list due to poor reviews.

Monday 7 November 2005

Fire In The Sky

This year's Bonfire Night passed without incident. Unlike 1985 when a high school friend ignited a rocket in my parents kitchen and burned a hole in the carpet (luckily for him we were moving to a new property).

Here's an in-depth look at the new Pace TDS470N.

*VCR A/V SCART – VCR Scart for connection to Video Recorder.
*TV A/V SCART – Provides either composite or RGB and composite video output. Audio volume can also be controlled in software.
*Analogue Audio Outputs – An important addition for users wishing to integrate the set-top box into their home audio system. Volume can be adjusted or muted under software control.
*S-Video Connector – For high quality video connection.
*UHF Modulator – For connection to main TV and optional connection to second TV.
*RS232 – Serial port connector for service and factory use only.
*USB 2.0 – For connection to an array of multi-media devices (iPod and PSP).
*SPDIF – For connection to home Dolby Digital amplifier.
*RF Input – Twin IF inputs to connect to dual LNB at dish.
*RJ11 – For telephone line connection.
*AC Input – For mains power supply.

3rd Generation
The TDS470N is a third generation personal video recorder (PVR) currently deployed by BSkyB in the UK.

Main processor speed runs at 166MHZ.
Internal hard disk drive (possible option to upgrade HDD size).
High speed data port for future connectivity upgrades.

PVR Features
Twin Tuners – The TDS470N’s twin digital tuners allow the user to:

*Watch one digital channel whilst recording another.
*Pause live TV – Pause a live programme.
*Archive favourite programmes on to VCR.
*Dual Record - Record two programmes simultaneously while watching a programme from disk.

The TDS470N’s Time Shift and Video Recorder functionality allows the user to:

*Store 40-80 hours of programmes (depending on bit rate and set up).
*Use VCR style facilities (FFWD/RWD/Stop/Pause).

Assuming that your satellite dish is installed and correctly aligned. Self installation is a breeze. Before starting I'd recommend switching the mains power off. Interconnect quality is important and I used Monster and IXOS SCART and Toslink cables. Once you've completed this step. Insert your viewing card and turn mains power on. Leave in standby for at least 60 seconds. Switch on and leave it for another 60 seconds. This gives the software time to settle and download channel listings.

The Pace TDS470N shipped with EPG version 1.28d (latest version is 1.30q) and is missing new, but non-essential features (the new PIN restrictions are a nuisance). Go into the menu, system settings and configure the following (not defaults):

Picture > RGB SCART (for a suitably equipped television)

Sound > Dolby D (for a suitably equipped receiver)

Foregoing callback (accessed via 'secret menu' Installer Setup - 4 0 1 Select > New Installation), call customer care to match your viewing card (you will need to go into Service > System Setup > System Details). And that's it! Really, really simple.

Yesterday evening I watched this on sky+! With the exception of Star Trek: Nemesis all scheduled recordings in the sky+ Planner were successful.

Friday 4 November 2005

Remember remember, the 5th of November

Now settling back into a sky+ viewing pattern. Recorded Big Fish, Star Trek: Nemesis, Spider-Man 2, Matrix Revolutions and The Bourne Identity in order to test the reliability of recordings and, most importantly, see these movies for the first time!

Tomorrow I'll be in Teignmouth and wish all UK readers a safe Bonfire Night.

Thursday 3 November 2005

Party of Five

Currently watching Party of Five season one. Its signature familial dramas resonate more pointedly than they did a decade ago! Aside from the supernatural sibling synergy and canny casting. Seeing Lost's Matthew Fox, with long hair, requires adjustment. Here's the cover of the new Girls Aloud album Chemisty. Now tell me that Cheryl Tweedy doesn't look like Neve Campbell?

The second single, Biology, is an ambitious melding of backbeat meets Motown and I'm loving it!

The new Pace box arrived this afternoon (well within 24 hours) and eschews the 'bulk' of its predecessors in favor of Apple-influenced design couture. It sports USB 2.0, but I'll go into further detail at the weekend.

Wednesday 2 November 2005

Keeping Pace

For the past two years I have taken up sky's "come back" at 1/2 price for 3 months offer. This year is no exception. The holidays are the ideal time to view movies missed at the cinema and Mum benefits from the seasonal Disney offerings, which are copied to removable media for transfer to her nursing home.

Within hours of reactivating the subscription, the sky+ HDD failed (see earlier service diatribes). The reconditioned Pace box was outside its warranty (March 2004) and I may have been facing a costly callout and installation charge of up to £199! However, the customer care representative was genial and arranged a replacement (gratis).

An Amstrad DRX180 (40GB). Not my first choice by any means, but given that sky was under no legal obligation to make such a generous offer I accepted. The contractor cleary had no intention of making sure that the viewing card matched my box and erroneously suggested that I call sky to request a new card - the existing one was faulty! D'oh! I called their customer care number; filed a complaint against the contractor (quoting the job number) and was recording my first programme within minutes! There's a moral to this story...

The new box is slimmer, quieter and doesn't look too shabby. Yet, it's far less responsive than the first generation Pace! Has Amstrad heard of MHz processors? Because it would be churlish to complain and request another box (akin to playing Russian Roulette), I searched eBay and discovered Simply Digital's shop. The prices listed are significantly cheaper than their own brand site and P&P is free (Parcel Force 24). Never one to ignore a bargain I've ordered a Pace TDS470N (160GB) £149.00 with free quad LNB. The same product normally costs £172.95. A sweet deal in any currency. In-depth review to follow.

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.

Friday 30 September 2005


My preferred Atari 8-bit emulator - Atari800MacX - has graduated from beta. Version 3.0 is available from all good gaming stores (not really, but you get the point).

Thursday 29 September 2005

Push The Button

Still suffering from flu-like symptoms, which is most likely related to exhaustion and the arrival of Autumn/The Fall. This hasn't deterred me from watching the conclusion of Lost (written review to follow). The introduction of Michelle Rodriguez, in Exodus Part 1, as new cast regular Ana-Lucia Cortez was a surprise! And recording this short audio blog sans script (gradually gaining more confidence).

The Xbox 360 Premium Pack pre-order has been cancelled in favor of a replacement GameCube (Resident Evil 4 Limited Edition Pak) and Resident Evil 0! Halloween is only a month or so away and the Resident Evil franchise is one to be savored (or endured) by survival horror genre fans.

Dreamcast's CODE: Veronica remains the only game to leave me scared sheetless (to quote Tim Burton on the set of Beetlejuice) and I have it on good authority that Resident Evil 4 is set to steal that corrupted crown. I miss my Dreamcast. Sega's NAOMI-based console was a proven product. Why did I sell it in 2002?

Have you seen Nintendo's Game Boy Advance Micro? There's a Famicom anniversary edition exclusive to the Japanese market. A must for console collectors.

Adobe has announced Photoshop Elements 4 for Windows! Where's the Mac version? Well, lets wait and see. Elements is my bread and butter, and 3 is working just fine thank you.

You can read my review of Desperate Housewives over at MovieTyme.

Wednesday 28 September 2005

Triangle, Square, Circle and Cross

Today Sony's PlayStation celebrates ten years since its official European introduction. My first PlayStation experience was on an NTSC import machine from Japan and predated the PAL release by several months.

Glimpsing Battle Arena Toshinden and Ridge Racer drove me back into the arms of console gaming after a four year hiatus in the wake of the spectacular SNES Super Star Wars trilogy. However, it wouldn't be until 1998 that a PlayStation would appear alongside my MiniDisc and Discman!

N64 swayed me away from Sony's CD-ROM console with Mario 64, Mario Kart 64 (racing against Jari is the stuff of gaming greatness) and Star Wars Shadows of the Empire. Not to overlook the female distractions too - Emma how did the career at Deloitte & Touche pan out? This was a brief diversion from the PlayStation path. The allure of the Tekken franchise was irresistible after I loaned a machine from one of my co-workers at Reuters!

A PSP has yet to grace these hands!

Saturday 24 September 2005

Energon Cube Redux

I think I maybe coming down with a cold. However, couldn't let this cool collectible news pass by without comment:

The Star Wars Transformers line has been confirmed at BotCon today. There are eleven of them planned for 2006 starting in January, available as a play pack. An X-Wing and a "Boba Fett ship" (probably the Slave I) have been confirmed by name only. Here's the possible full list:

Luke Skywalker / X-Wing Fighter
Darth Vader / TIE Fighter
General Grievous / Wheel Bike
Obi-Wan Kenobi / Jedi Starfighter
Boba Fett / Slave 1
Darth Maul / Sith Infiltrator
Anakin Skywalker / Jedi Starfighter
Snowtrooper / AT-ST
Clone Trooper / ARC-170 Fighter
Emperor Palpatine / Star Destroyer
Jango Fett / Slave 1

It will have no bearing on the continuities of either universe. Additionally, Hasbro plans to release Transformers Attacktix, which will be game-compatible with the Star Wars figures.

So, nearly two decades on and my suggestion has come to fruition!

Friday 23 September 2005

Come Clean

Two years ago a crisis in my personal life escalated. The ripples continue to extend outwards and there's no sign of closure.

Twenty years ago Steve Jobs was sued by Apple Computer. He was charged with dereliction of duties as chairman of Apple. I guess patience is the embodiment of valor.

Wednesday 21 September 2005

Maggie And The Ferocious Beast

After some serious soul searching. As if? Lost's Maggie Grace (plays Shannon with a Paris Hilton panache) gets my vote for most fanciable female on the island. Not least because she shares the same Christian name as my dear Mother. Margaret. And she's a natural brunette.

Happy Birthday, Maggie!

Xbox 360 Premium Pack pre-orders are reaching critical mass (no statistics) if retailers are to be believed. Exeter's Game has stopped taking orders citing limited stock allocation. The hype starts here. At least UK gamers are spared the 'Nickel and Dimed' extravagance of Xbox 360 bundles from and Gamestop's Omega Bundle is the pinnacle of avarice at £1,116.63.

Found this American soda and snacks importer today. Might try Wild Cherry Pepsi and Hershey's Cookies' n' Chocolate.

Tuesday 20 September 2005

Back to the future without an Atari Paddle

Crumbs Chris Cringle! Autumn is in the air and holiday consumables are creeping into stores near you! Here's a fine product that may not see release until November 2006. Nintendo's Revolution console.

The Revolution's remote controller - Nunchuk - may ordain a seismic change in the gaming interface experience tantamount to the advent of Macintosh and mouse (1984). I sincerely hope that Apple's industrial design team is earning royalties from both Nintendo and Microsoft for all this gorgeous imitation 'ice' kit.

Opera 8.x is now free and its file transfer and security capabilities are worth your while! With Safari, Firefox and Opera available at no cost to consumers, I can't see any justification for buying and/or using OmniWeb!

Odeo and FeedBurner are now offering widgets du jour. Grab 'em while they're still hot and delicious.

The promised Lost S1 DVD review is behind schedule - I've only reached disc 3 (and watched all the extras). The show deserved the Emmy for best drama. Evangeline Lilly and Maggie Grace are too cute for words. But, real world problems take precedence. In the meantime here's a music CD recommendation. You could do worse than buy a copy of Pussycat Dolls - PCD. Don't expect an album that surpasses Destiny Child's The Writing's On The Wall (1999).

Back to the new .mac goodies.

Sunday 18 September 2005

Dress You Up

In the '90s Paula Abdul and Michael Jackson signed lucrative celebrity endorsements with LA Gear. At the time college friends encouraged me to produce bespoke graphics for t-shirts. Over a decade on, I'm proud to introduce my very own clothing line and accessories! Well, sort of.

Be sure to check back as I add more products for the holiday season.

Still mulling over whether or not you should put an Xbox 360 on Santa's list? Better be quick as Amazon UK's dispatch date continues to slip (and I pre-ordered mine a couple of weeks ago).

Friday 16 September 2005

Archer MacLean's Dropzone

The release of Archer MacLean's Mercury (for the PSP) has made me all nostalgic for his 1984 Atari opus Dropzone!

The game, a horizontal scrolling shoot 'em up, deftly mixed Defender, Scramble and Galaxians and delivered an 'arcade experience' (coin slot not included) into the home.

In the mid 1980s I had to settle for the, not too shabby, Commodore 64 port (recipient of a Zzap64! Gold Medal) and suffer inherent speed compromises. Dropzone's code was written (over two years) for Atari's superior 8-bit hardware.

Fast forward to this morning. Whilst completing the second round of beta testing for an updated Atari emulator, I got to play the Holy Grail. Dropzone for the Atari 800XL. The product has not deminished. Time to dig up Star Raiders, Head Over Heels and Spindizzy.

Wednesday 14 September 2005

Bad Dreams

After playing MacPlay's port of Aliens vs Predator Gold for a few hours and becoming seriously spooked. Thought I would list the ten most nightmarish movies (in no particular order):

*John Carpenter's The Thing
*The Fog
*Invasion of the Body Snatchers
*Day of the Dead
*The Fly

I'll leave the closing comment to Newt (Aliens): We'd better get back, 'cause it'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night... mostly.

Monday 12 September 2005

Battle Of The Planets

Growing up did you ever have a crush on a cartoon character? Mine was Princess from Battle Of The Planets! And I'm so glad to have held-off purchasing the R2 DVD set. The R1 edition (from Rhino) boasts both the US version (familiar with most children of the 70's and 80's) and original Japanese source Gatchaman. Here's the Rhino PR blurb:

From the award-winning Japanese animation team that created Speed Racer and Robotech comes one of the most influential Anime shows ever! This four-DVD boxed set features 12 original, uncut and unedited episodes. Bonus features include 12 original, uncut and unedited Japanese Gatchaman episodes with English subtitles (each corresponding to a Battle Of The Planets show in the boxed set), as well as interviews, commentary, trailers, and a memorabilia gallery.

Not since the premature demise of Anime UK/FX magazine (thanks for all those cool e-mails Helen McCarthy) have I been this excited about anime. Be sure to comeback for my review of Battle Of The Planets: The Ultimate DVD Boxed Set in a few weeks.

Awkward adjunct from Fiery Phoenix to Firefox (formerly Phoenix). All weekend Firefox Beta 1 has delivered the goods (and posts too). The speed increase is worth the download alone.

By word-of-mouth I've inadvertently become an eBay expert®! Yesterday an aquaintance (whom collects and sells model trains at car boot sales) wanted to know my selling methodology (best practices). There's no secret formula per se. A tip for any aspiring eBay millionaires would be to start off as a buyer (using PayPal only) and attain positive feedback. Talking eBay. They're about to acquire Skype.

Thursday 8 September 2005

Perfect Dark

Is there no end to Apple's accomplishments? With its slender solid state form factor the iPod nano knocks the competition into a cocked hat. Sony should start bundling the PSP with the black nano and iTunes Music Store vouchers.

The Material Girl's succumbed to the allure of Apple too. Her back catalogue is available on iTMS. And the new iTunes 5 should be on the cover of a magazine! Please drop the pinstripe and brush metal mishmash for Tiger's posh plastic from now on.

Wednesday 7 September 2005

The Right Stuff

My cousins, Hazel and Hayley, have safely returned from the USA. They were holidaying in Florida when Katrina struck. Though the State of Florida was on the periphery, Hayley video taped the storms that hit. Journalism clearly runs in the family. Welcome home.

A friend recently inquired as to whether or not I had considered audio blogging? The answer is an emphatic yes. But, there's no timetable for its introduction - I'm a perfectionist and quality matters. You never know though, the CD Spin Doctor Desktop Recorder Dashboard widget (included in Toast 7) looks mighty enticing from here!

Lost arrived this morning and the gatefold presentation is sublime. On the horizon, the DVD extras included with Battlestar Galactica (2004): Season One R1 reduces the R2 release to vanilla status! Even the box art is far cooler.

An Atarian since 1980. I'm beta testing a popular Mac OS X emulator for XL/XE that's undergone an overhaul with added Tiger polish.

Anyone else notice that iTunes Music Store wasn't updated yesterday? I'm off to get to grips with RSS Writer (documentation not included).

Monday 5 September 2005

Double Jeopardy

Well, I've done it now! What heinous crime has been committed, you cry? Amazon UK permitting, an Xbox 360 Premium Pack will be opened before the holidays! The combined price of a Core Pack and the accessories included (remote control subject to availability) in the Premium Pack could cost upwards of £320 (depending on supplier).

Of the two Xbox 360 SKUs (Stock Keeping Units), gamers should be encouraged to purchase the Premium Pack - the 20GB portable HDD is required for backwards compatibility. My HDTV's component input will be put to good use and Xbox 360 offers Plug and Play with iPod and PSP.

Sega's next generation arcade board (codenamed Lindbergh) DNA parallels Xbox 360 architecture. This translates to an envious arcade-to-home porting model akin to Sega's NAOMI and Dreamcast. The key attraction, here, is future arcade smashes House Of The Dead 4, Psy Phi and Virtua Fighter 5 in the home sans compromise.

To reiterate. Xbox 360 SDK was (originally) Mac-based. Jonathan Hayes (manager of platform experience design) owes a debt to Jonathan Ives (vice president of Apple Computer's Industrial Design Group) IMHO. The upshot of this philosophy is a console whose contours are organic and appealing. Certainly this product is a more cohesive 'brand' experience (from the hardware to the software GUI) and lessons have been learned from the first iteration of Xbox. Go Microsoft.

European PSP users are already reporting that some machines are afflicted with the pixel problem that blighted the Japanese and US launches. As I understood it, Sony sourced Samsung LCDs to reduce this reliability issue (officially users should expect up to 9 dead pixels)! Anyone contemplating a PSP purchase, and are concerned about the possibility of buying a product that doesn't meet their expectations, should wait. Lets face it, the new Ceramic White model is much more desirable for the eye candy cognoscenti.

Now that the nights are drawing in you maybe in need of extra PDF reading material. The Bomb (1994), an original audio drama, was written as a 5-minute play and recorded during the second year of undergraduate study.

Saturday 3 September 2005

When The Wind Blows

It would be imprudent of me not to comment on the devastation and subsequent loss of life wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Put ideology aside and lend support (in whatever way you can). Thanks to FeedBurner, I have enabled Red Cross banners (spliced into the feed) should readers wish to donate money.

Please visit, fellow Mac enthusiast, Jim Ownby's photo of the month gallery, which includes "before Katrina".

Thursday 1 September 2005

Street Smarts

After a nine-month wait European consumers can now enter the fourth space. Say hello to Sony PSP. Want one? You'll need to get in line, I'm afraid.

Photo reproduced with the permission of the copyright holders SCEE.

In keeping with the Sony theme. Lets focus on their music (software) group and a confession. I listen to Jessica Simpson! Before you flame me. In 1999 I received her debut CD (as part of a larger package) from a US-based friend: Jessica's vocal range and control impressed. Prior to this, Sony had included "Did You Ever Love Somebody" (performed by Jessica) in the first Dawson's Creek soundtrack compilation. So, I was already a convert. MTV's Newlyweds introduced us to her solipsistic lifestyle and has become appointment television (Pepsi floater optional).

Last weekend Michael and me perused the shelves of MVC. The subject of Madonna's next album arose: I had no idea about the forthcoming release of Confessions on a Dance Floor! Madonna sagaciously appears in the new commercial for Motorola's ROKR iTunes phone. The new single "Hang Up" is also premiered during the advertisement. Does this mean that her back catalogue will shortly be made available on the iTunes Music Store? Madonna's lucrative deal with Microsoft (under the Windows Media brand) always struck me as spurious and inherently limiting. Maverick (co-founded by Madonna) artists were introduced last year.

Sweet syndication Batman! Last night FeedBurner got a face-lift and now my Flickr photos are spliced into the feed. The guys and gals at FB are a talented bunch. I'm delighted to have partnered with them. I urge all site managers, overseeing rich media feeds, to do the same. Incidentally, Flickr Uploadr is now at version 2.0.

Firefox fans are in for an early Halloween treat this year. Version 1.5 should bow on October 28th. For further information and news on the Public Preview Beta, point your browser here.

Wednesday 31 August 2005

The Ilearth Stone

Another month inexorably draws to a close. September sees the release of PSP, Autumn/Fall and the, inescapable, commercial conveyor belt transporting consumers toward the holidays.

Holiday 1996. Following a visit to the Reuters stand at Earls Court, I took the opportunity to visit London's Oxford Street and made a bee line for HMV! In the games section eye catching WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness point-of-sale tempted me into a purchase. Games publisher Blizzard bought me wholesale!

In the spring of 2004, whilst beta testing the Mac client of World of WarCraft, I alluded to the forthcoming release of Diablo II and StarCraft Mac OS X installers and updated patches. Now that these are robust and freely available to consumers, both games are eagerly anticipated from eBay (brand new). The last time I played these signature Blizzard titles was on my iMac DV SE in 2000. Retrospective reviews to follow.

LEGO is a world class toy brand. But, an overemphasis on film franchises has diluted the company's unique selling point - creativity and imagination. In a bid to recapture the minds of children and adults alike, LEGO has launched Digital Designer for Mac and PC. As a lifelong LEGO (second only to Star Wars toys) lover, it's a smart move.

Feel the love! Google has released Gmail Notifier for Mac OS X. A neat application, that resides in the menu bar. Most (if not all) users may already have POP3 setup in their prefered mail client, but I like advanced warning. Expect Google Talk sooner rather than later.

Wednesday 24 August 2005

E.T. Phone Home

Google Talk is now in beta. Whilst there's no sign of an official Mac client at time of writing, Gmail account users can access Google's IM service via iChat's Jabber protocol:

Password: yourpassword

If you can't login, disable SSL.

I'm aggrieved that Google continues to behave in a manor indicative of a bias towards market forces. All it would take is for a competitor to exploit this "Achilles' heel" and sway Mac users into a robust family of products. Yahoo! give it your best shot.

Tuesday 23 August 2005

Fahrenheit 451

Why should anyone buy Toast 7 Titanium if they're already using iLife '05 and/or Toast 6? A simple answer is problematical. However, after putting Roxio's latest iteration through its paces, I can't imagine not seeing Toast 7 taking pride of place in the Dock!

Firstly, Toast now incorporates the DVD compression features showcased in Popcorn (presumably defunct). Copy and compress a 9GB dual-layer DVD to a standard 4.7GB recordable DVD disc. Avoid artefacts by extracting the movie, language and audio format of your choice only.

A DivX Pro codec license is available out-of-the-box and interpolates with iMovie HD and Final Cut HD. The DivX format is reaching critical mass and DivX HD DVD players are all the rage. On the strength of this new feature alone, I'll be purchasing a DivX Certified DVD player and will post my experiences.

Toast 7 Titanium’s video conversion doesn’t end with DivX, either. You can convert videos to versions suitable for playback on 3GPP-equipped cell phones and handheld devices, H.264 players and Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP). Now that Sony's PSP is clearly a global phenomenon and UMD (contradictory to expectations) is meeting little consumer resistance (Woolworths' aisles are flooded with pre-order movie product). The AVC encoding facility maybe enough to compel users to upgrade.

I've experimented with converting H.264 to Sony's specified codec with subjectively pleasing results, but will be better placed to judge its effectiveness when review hardware arrives: the teaser trailer for Serenity was reformatted from 480 x 204 to 368 x 208 and black bars automatically inserted.

The only fly in the ointment, aside from a few quirks (to be expected with any new software release), is the acquiescence to Apple's dictate regarding music purchased from iTunes Music Store; you cannot burn a CD or DVD using songs legally downloaded! This 'feature' was introduced in Toast 6.1.

Do you want more?

Saturday 20 August 2005

360° of Separation

Thursday was Mum's Birthday. So, we took her (with a care nurse) to Budleigh Salterton (an affluent Devon seaside town) and were treated to an ice cream courtesy of Uncle Allan. Next stop Dawlish.

For generations Budleigh has been favored by both sides of the family - my parents pencilled it in as a potential retirement destination. A most enduring memory was peering into the window of It's A Small World and spying a Speeder Bike, Biker Scout, The Emperor's Royal Guard, Leia Organa (Boushh disguise) and Jabba the Hutt Playset (1983).

Now that Microsoft has announced the price points of both Deluxe and Core Packs for Xbox 360, I'm in a consumer quandary! The proposition of a wireless PowerPC games console is most enticing; even one sourced from Redmond (just joshing Bill). The biggest pre-order hurdle is that I couldn't sell my original Xbox on eBay* (due to the 'fire' hazard) to offset the investment in new hardware. If Microsoft could broker a deal then Dead or Alive 4 may yet fall into my hands this upcoming holiday season.

Remember Super Cycle (1986) from hardware and software luminaries Epyx (creators of Atari Lynx)? The nearest the Commodore 64 got to Sega's Hang-On (1985). These days, whenever I'm in need of an arcade thrill ride (a la arcades at Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth), nothing comes close to the exhilarating Super Hang-On (1987) courtesy of MacMAME. Asphalt-action ably underscored by Tangerine Dreams' theme from Street Hawk played really loud.

Roxio's Toast Titanium 7 debuts August 31st. Standout improvements include DivX HD and PSP encoding, Motion Pictures HD and iLife Browser. I'll be reviewing this updated application, which negates the need to purchase Roxio's Popcorn, in an upcoming post.

[*Since trading on eBay sales have been brisk. Thank you for your custom.]

Tuesday 16 August 2005

Open All Hours

You might have noticed the new link to my eBay page in the sidebar! In 2003, prior to a personal tragedy that is still in 'shakedown', I signed-up with the intention of buying elusive memorabilia and selling items (always in excellent condition). Please drop by and happy bidding (terms and conditions apply).

With the transition from established website management tools (including Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe GoLive), to an extensible blog publishing platform, gaining momentum. I thought it was beneficial to undertake a trial separation from GoLive (my preferred client since 2001) and spend some quality time with BBEdit. This blog's template is now exclusively hand-coded in Bare Bones' award-winning product. It doesn't suck.®

The web should be platform agnostic. Yet the Mac plays second fiddle to Windows and Blogger for Word add-in is the latest offender. Come on we demand better. Google rant over.

Monday 15 August 2005

Hidden Hawaii

What a most splendid haunted house theme park ride Lost is! The signature scene, something screaming in the jungle, was on a emotional par with the T-Rex attack from JP - nerve shattering... The 'live' jet engine on the beach... The derelict cockpit - where were the Raptors and Dilophosaurus? And isn't there an aura of Spielberg meets Chris Carter about it all?

After reading that Channel 4 has cut the UK episodes (intense scenes et al) and the cynical R2 two-part box set release (£27.99 each) due to a lucrative deal with Disney's Buena Vista. I've already ordered the R1 complete box set from CD-WOW @ £31.99 (no import duties). Hopefully to be savored post real life trauma or in the very midst of next month! If you're interested here are the delicious details:

*7 Discs
*Never-before-seen, extended uncut version of the original pilot
*Exclusive, in-depth behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the show
*Backstage with Drive Shaft all-access pass behind the music
*The art of Matthew Fox featurette
*'Before They Were Lost' original casting tapes
*Blooper reel
*Rare deleted scenes
*Multiple filmmaker audio commentaries

David LaChapelle's Lost promos have met with mixed critical reaction. The conventional US trailers pander to the needs of the lowest common denominator. As an artist (myself) accessibility has its place, but sometimes it's desirable to challenge the viewer too! Wouldn't you agree?

Sony Online Entertainment now offers Mac gamers a 'free' (credit card details required) trial of EverQuest. Having played both EverQuest and Blizzard's World of WarCraft, there's no prize for guessing which one I prefer!

Although the key pads are an acquired taste, I adore Sony Ericsson mobile phones. My trusty T-310 still elicits coos of delight from avid admirers! The new W800i Walkman™ model could be a suitable future successor.

Tuesday 9 August 2005

The Final Countdown

The year 1996 forms a convenient segue from the last post and ties-in with today's safe return of space shuttle Discovery. Prior to completing my final year at Bournemouth, I graduated from console gaming (only to return a few years later with the purchase of a PlayStation) to PC/Mac.

My Macintosh Performa 5200 introduced me to the rich CD-ROM tapestries weaved by LucasArts at the peak of their powers. Dark Forces (favorite FPS), Rebel Assault II - The Hidden Empire (completed between sending off an application to Reuters and accepting the position) and The Dig (demo). The latter remained an enigmatic curio (I'm familiar with Alan Dean Foster's soft cover novel) until this morning, when I obtained a copy of the full game (PC) and played it via the venerable ScummVM.

Based on a story by Steven Spielberg, with dialogue written by Orson Scott Card (The Abyss), the apocalyptic narrative presages Hollywood's meteor movies Deep Impact and Armageddon. The Dig's hand-drawn and animated game art looks fresh and inviting in 2005. Surely this was a franchise in the making replete with animated/live action series and merchandise?

Whilst UK television viewers await the debut of Lost (teasers directed by Madonna and JLo photographer David LaChapelle) on Wednesday night. A few films, that are worth watching more than once, are being repeated. Jean-Claude Van Damme (AKA The Muscles from Brussels) is not an 'action hero' I'm particularly fond of. Yet Timecop (1994) is a riveting yarn from Dark Horse Comics scribe Mark Verheiden (whom responded to a letter I wrote Dark Horse in 1994). Even the wooden Mia Sara can't detract from the forgettable fun to be had. The first time I ever saw Timecop was on a NTSC THX-Certified DTS Laser Disc. The image and sound surpassed VHS and analog broadcast transmissions of the day.

A few of my observations concerning Flickr and Firefox were shared during last night's JMUG meeting. Appreciated.

Thursday 4 August 2005

Pure Shores

Last summer I was featured in the Alumni Association magazine, The Talbot, a Media Careers special (PDF download). Eight years prior to this, as a BA (Hons) Media Production student I savored the sights, sounds and salty air of Bournemouth beach. Today, I returned for the first time since 1996 in the company of very gracious hosts who kindly treated my Dad and me to a cod and haddock banquet in West Beach. The rival of any shoreside restaurant in the USA, one wouldn't be surprised to bump into the likes of "LC" and Lo (from MTV's Laguna Beach). Topics traversed Apple Computer, Bauhaus and the cinema of Steven Spielberg. Thank you for embellishing a memorable occasion.

Being a Mac user means I can't leverage Blogger's Picasa button! No fear because in steps Yahoo! with Flickr. An exceptional photo publishing platform. Flickr Uploadr is available in Mac OS X flavor too and is the perfect citizen. A flash-based photo gallery has been integrated into the sidebar.

DivX is increasing its market and mind share. And, as with RealPlayer, I can now author DivX content. Although the company's Mac support is far from startling, their lab indicates future improvements. Currently preparing demo clips.

eBay has made purchasing a breeze with tighter PayPal integration. Handy for those memorabilia bids.

Sony UK have announced official support for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger in PlayStation 3. Can console gaming get any better than this?

Monday 1 August 2005

True Lies

First day of a new month and I was invited to spend it, on Exmouth beach, with relatives. The endless sand dunes evoked memories of playing with (and inevitably losing) Action Force/GI Joe and Star Wars figures - Hyena Tank (Cobra H.I.S.S.) and AT-ST attacking a Rebel seashore encampment. The rock pools contained untold terrors that reached their zenith with the advent of 1984's The Bluebottle or Portuguese Man-of-War invasion. This became an infamous urban legend! Out to sea? You'd better ask Police Chief Brody, Quint and Hooper!

The above recollections jolted a childhood faux pas made at Budleigh Salterton. A friend lost his Muton action figure (a repainted Deep Sea Diver with the helmet resculpted to allow for the radar, gun, and eye piece to be stuck on.) after he'd carelessly left it in his bucket. This had become a temporary home for a dying squid! Thankfully, I had a spare Muton (in my toy collection) and the tears soon stopped. A close call.

Although my encounters with sharks have been limited to marine aquariums and a basking shark (face to face whilst boating in Spain). The weekend we were in Hayle, a mako was spotted in St. Ives shadowing a group of children who were undertaking a surfing lesson. The instructor took them to safety because the mako is a predator and is known to attack humans in shallow water.

Successfully bid on the rarest Masters of the Universe exclusive: a ToyFare 2003 Faker MIB. No, I didn't pay an extortionate price. The key is patience and track auctions.

Dream Arcades has announced an official licensing deal with the MAME™ developers to include MAME™ software! Fans of arcade classics will be able to order arcade cabinets (including StarROMS) in time for the holiday gift giving season. If anyone gets stuck for gift ideas, then you know what I want under the tree this year aside from an automatic transmission Mercedes-Benz Convertible!

Within a month or so SCEE will release the much vaunted PSP. This may sport the recent OS update and include the browser out-of-the-box. I'm really looking forward to reviewing the first clutch of software releases.