It's Hailing Taxis!

A quick thought: do taxis actually work? After being in some danger of missing a flight after a cab failed to show up and a new one had to be procured at short notice, I thought back on all the hours (probably three or four hours in total) I have spent pacing up and down awaiting a taxi to arrive. It's got to the point where, if I have to book a cab (and I realize that I do this quite rarely, probably because I hate the waiting so much), I have to book it sufficiently long in advance that if it doesn't show up I can ring up and call for another. Which seems to rather defeat the point, now that I think about it.

I don't like taking taxis as a matter of course. If there's a way to do it on public transport then I prefer that, even if it adds up to an hour to the journey (which is probably what you need to allocate to allow for the cab not turning up). But if you have to be at a station or airport early in the morning, or you have a lot of heavy luggage, then a taxi seems to be more necessary.

If you can go somewhere that there are always taxis hanging around, like, er, out the front of an airport, or, er, New York, then it's OK. But even at most railway stations, there always seem to be taxis out front, except when you arrive at one and want to hail one.

I think the source of my anxiety and irritation is that it's a very one-sided game. If the taxi you ordered never shows up, then there's not much you can do. They probably have enough business that theloss of your fare is no great loss. And because ordering a cab is such an impersonal business, you never really know who let you down, so it's not like they lose your custom.

I think the only solution is to institute some private system by which individual members of the public can own and operate their own automobile vehicles. It will be dreadfully inefficient, there will be all kinds of probelems from inexperienced operators, the problem of where to store all these additional vehicles and so on, but given the problems with using taxis, I think it must be the only option.


Blog Entry

These spammers are just getting lazier and lazier. Here's the latest message I received, in its entirety:


What am I supposed to make of that?

Anyway, I'm back from Italy and still somewhat jetlagged. That means I wake up early in the morning, but am still tired all day since I've not had enough sleep. Also, it's too hot in America right now.

Thoughts on Italy: they do like their pasta, don't they? Right now, I'm so fed up of pasta that if I see another ravioli I will scream.

I flew with TAP (Air Portugal). This actually worked quite well, inasmuch as they didn't steal my bags or send me to Amsterdam instead of my intended destination, as has happened on previous trips with non-US carriers. (admittedly, I didn't let them take my bags, and instead stuffed everything into the overhead lockers). I think they did their best to ruin things for me, by playing "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" on every one of the flights I took. I overcame this by ignoring the films entirely.

I watched "FlightPlan" last night, which I had been looking forward to, but it turns out to be completely awful. The basic plot is The Lady Vanishes, but on a plane instead of a train. And the shoot out at the end isn't as good. The plot makes no sense whatsoever, and is completely implausible if taken at face value. It only makes sense if you assume that the missing child really did never get on the plane, and that the whole thing (including the last forty minutes or so) is really just a psychotic hallucination of the main character undergoing a complete breakdown. And even then it's still a bit rubbish.


How To Serve Man

There's a lot of exciting music coming out at the moment. But a lot of the buzz surrounding some artists "discovered" on the Internet turns out to be just as manufactured as 90s boy bands. So here's something which deserves to be the smash hit of the summer. I first mentioned the awesome ManServant last year, when a bootleg of the first single fell into my hands via a complicated chain of custody. It was probably the best thing I heard all year. It's still the best thing I've heard this year. Back then, the response to the news here was one of widespread confusion, as often happens. Well, now you can hear the song yourself thanks to the wonders of the Rupert Murdoch publishing empire: NaiveLaFemme, the principal member of Manservant has graciously placed the song on the "This is my space" website organisation (it's apparently a web site apparatus that allows and encourages such things).

"No Means Yes" still delivers a searing gutpunch of guitars and lyrical imagery of regret, pain and awkwardness. The only flaw in the song is that at just over 3 minutes in length, you have to stop what you are doing every three minutes to start it over again.

So, all you superstar DJs out there -- download a copy of this song, burn it onto a CD, and put it on repeat play for an hour at your next gig. You won't regret it. Spread the word. Manservant is the best new band *ever*.


Route 78

I'm just about to set off for Italy for a week, so, uh, screw you, and all that. Anyway, I recently received an empassioned message from Trixie for more telly recommendations. When I get a few hours spare, I might get around to it. In the meantime, I trust that you are already aware of the twisted humour of "Robot Chicken", from the minds of top movie start Seth Green and his buddies who employ a large team of slave animators who take children's toys and turn them into a weekly satire on pop culture. They're midway into their second season now, and a recent episode had a nice touch. In a segment on "Numb-chuck", one of the characters was thrown off a road bridge onto Route 78 West to Clinton -- which is one of my favourite roads! Nice one, Seth and co!

Anyway, off to the airport, and thence to Bologna, where I can hang out with the Bolognese.


Numb3rs Stations

Numbers seem to be very popular at the moment. There's the mysterious "Mein Fraulein" Craigslist postings, the numbers-in-blog-comments-spam and now most recently I've been getting numerical spam sent from myself.

To be more precise, I received two very short messages with the From: address faked to be the same as the To: address, to two of my email accounts (one old Warwick one that I thought was long dead). One has Subject: 455 and Body: 5556 (wrapped up in HTML/body); the other has Subject: 557 and Body: 5556. This is surely too short to mean anything?

Perhaps it's like a lot of the spam that I receive, mere incompetence on the part of the spammer. Quite a few messages I get are clearly spam and have a completely blank or empty body.

In other news, no one has so far announced that they have claimed the free iTunes in a previous posting below. Perhaps no one cares. This is potentially devastating for the iTunes economy, since it suggests that the iTunes currency is practically worthless. I suppose that everyone is speculating in the AllofMP3 instead.


One Minute Man

After I recently commented on b3ta as a news source, I was wondering if this was referring to a news story that I hadn't heard about (about Trident nuclear weapons?).

Then it dawned on me.



No, not Wii, but Wie. Apparently this is happening about a mile from where I live. Very weird (or Wie-rd). Last year the US PGA was down the road at another gold club near by. Conclusion: I live too close to too many golf clubs. How can I claim to be as street and down wid it as I clearly am when I am surrounded by such symbols of opulence? Fo' real. I am living in the wrong 'hood.


Uninvited visitors...

According to my web logs (not the same as weblogs), there was a visitor here at about 8am this morning from house.gov. Specifically:

01 Jun, Thu, 08:24:27 housegate10.house.gov MSIE 6 Windows XP

That address sounded strangely familiar, so I had a quick web search and found the following: this reference (it's actually a proxy through which most House traffic [Not To Be Confused with House traffic, dedicated to the TV show House] passes).

Unfortunately, the arrival time doesn't coordinate with any particularly juicy search queries or interesting referrers. A few weeks I got a couple of links from a yahoo group called b4ta, but was unable to find the message linking here.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for iTunes

As threatened before, I am now going to give away five free iTunes. I've had these cluttering in my inbox for a few weeks now, and they are no good to me. Perhaps you, casual blog reader, can make use of them. Just go to the (US only, I think) iTunes store, and enter the following code:


Et voila. Free, gratis and for nothing. Your only requirement on accepting this free offer is to post a comment on this entry listing the five songs that you bought with this. It's only fair.

(I have no way of telling when this has been used, so please let me know if you try it and it doesn't work, so I can update this post).


Going Hard

Ah, at this times I remember the joy of being a teenager trying to get a computer to boot once more. A recent online shopping expedition rewarded me with a new hard drive, and what could be easier, I wondered, than formatting and partitioning it, popping the contents of my old hard drive onto it, and swapping it over as the new master. Trivial, right? It even comes with a nice bit of software to make the whole thing as easy as Pi.

So I spend a while messing around in the internals of hughanchor the desktop, and a few hours for the program to do its copying work, and switched over the cables to see the effects of my work. XP flickers along, loading settings as it is wont to do and then... nothing. A blank screen. Fortunately, I know what I am doing. I pull up task manager with a swift CTRL-ALT-DEL, and discover that, I can connect to the internet, Opera works fine. I can fire up a command shell, or even a bash, and do everything I want to do. But whenever I try to summon up a new instance of Windows Explorer, the task bar flickers and then disappears again. Iexplore similarly fails to boot up. It's all very mysterious. I though that maybe something had gone wrong in the copying, so I switched the drives back (the original copy is still alive and functioning) and repeated the procedure... with the same effect. I'm quite perplexed since everything seems to work almost perfectly with the exception of no explorer. Is there anything that I could possibly do to fix this small distinction? So far all I can think of is to run an rsync between the two drives to see if everything really is copied accurately, and then to try a Windows repair if that doesn't fix it. Any other suggestions? In the olden days if all the files were the same then the system was the same, but now that there are all these mysterious registries and system restore points, I don't feel quite so sure any more. Of course, the usual recourse to the internet is no help whatsoever, full of idiots with stupid problems that have no resemblance to my own unique privations.

Going Soft

I must be going soft in my old age. Although I enjoyed X-Me-N-3 a little, I've neglected to allow my old friend Robert Eger to review the movie. Robert has reviewed the first two films in the series (here is his review of the second film, his first is lying about somewhere else). So I had to have him in to finish the job.

Robert Eger Hates The Movies - X-Men Thre3: the last stand.

Oh joy. You aren't waiting at all for any x-men films, and then three come along a once, only spread out over six years. That's just great. Well, at least this one is the last one, since this finally wraps up the tedious trilogy of superweirdo flicks. What's that? It broke box office records on its opening weekend? Great, then I confidently predict that we'll be in for another dozen spin-offs by the end of the decade. Thanks a lot, you tedious, predictable sheep.

So, that's this one all about then? Well, I know that some of you reading this may be fool enough to actaully want to see this tripe on celluloid. So, in the interest of avoiding too many gratuitous SPOILER ALERTS shrieks, I will carefully hide the identies of the main protagonists using a careful code that only I know the key to.

The film begins at the start of another year at Hogwarts. But Harry (Huge Ackman) and Ron (Someone Else) are mopey, because Hermione (Famke Janssssssssen) has been missing all summer. Ron takes off after receiving a screecher, and very soon he is missing too. Meanwhile, muggles are becoming increasingly aware of the threat posed to them by the wizards, and have developed a new formula that is able to "cure" wizards of their thinly-veiled-metaphor-for-sexuality. Dumbledore and his old nemesis stroke golf buddy Voldemort (and, by the way, have you noticed that Dumbledore is an anagram of Voldemort? Is that another hidden clue?) decide to put aside their differences and team up to fight the muggles. It's the wacky good cop/crazy cop partner comedy that you haven't been waiting for! Anyway, to cut a long story short, Dumbledore dies at the end (or does he, yawn), and Voldemort falls to rise again, same old story.

Like just about every other piece of celluloid excrement currently hitting up against the white screen, this film is all about the special effects. Everything in this movie is computer generated, from the minutest detail in the script to Vinnie Jones (in fact, no Vinnie Jones was used in the production). A quite spectacular sequence will make you believe that Patrick Stewart had to do some work to earn his million dollar pay cheque.

X-Men: as usual, three mutant thumbs, way down.