Talent Shows

Big music excitement in the UK this week, as the nation tries to decide which version of "Hallelujah" is best: Jeff Buckley's soaring version, or a cash in copy from a talent show contestant. The result will be known later today, though it's pretty much a done deal thanks to the popularity of the talent show in question. "Presenting" the Top 40, alleged personality Fearne Cotton rather spoiled the tension by announcing "We'll be talking to the number one artist, whoever that might be." Er, right.

Praying to the Wireless Gods

I have a photo of two frollaborators (pointless portmanteau of friend and collaborator) kneeling in front of a hotel window on the 14th floor, with their laptops on the windowsill. The reason being that in this way they could just about pick up a WiFi signal. I'm now in a somewhat similar position myself: laptop hoisted up on a couple of conference proceedings next to the window, in order to catch the signal of a neighbor whose password I've borrowed. Since they are the only people in the world still using B, the signal is weak and a bit flaky, so I can only pick it up from this one location, so it doesn't really feel like "true" wireless -- it has the same pauses and cut-outs more familiar from dial-up, which was my solution for my Maidstone trips in previous years. It's quite weird to go back to the model of actively having to connect to the internet to check email or look something up, and then disconnecting. I don't recommend it.



AC asks "So XBMC is better than VLC?"

Well, maybe, but it's not quite a fair comparison. XBMC I use in its original incarnation, on a softmodded xbox to stream content off my main server. VLC I've used as a desktop video client, but I got increasingly frustrated with it: it would have problems rendering video occasionally: failing to show anything, but stopping and restarting the video would fix it. It also seemed very slow to seek. So I've gone back to my previous desktop solution: MediaPlayerClassic, plus ffdshow and possibly another codec pack or two ("Windows essential codec pack" seems to do the job, and is not obviously full of adware crap).

Well, you did ask.


Video on Deplane

Continental is proudly trumpeting the installation of VOD on its 757s, about a decade after it would have been cool. This means I will get slightly less work done when I am returning from trips abroad.

The last CO flight I was on had this system, and it's a bit rubbish, actually. It crashed about 3 times during the flight (maybe there has been a "firmware" upgrade to fix this: waiting for a firmware upgrade seems to be the modern equivalent of praying). The selection of content was pretty dire: the press release trumpets "25 movies and 25 TV shows", as if half its passengers aren't already carrying that much with them in their pockets. Any half decent system needs to have at least 50 movies and 150 episodes to have a decent chance of having something worth watching. Lastly, because it kept crashing, I'm now in the position of having seen about three movies most of the way through. Like many other systems, the only way to navigate through the movie is via fast-forward and rewind. Fast-forward on that system I pegged at roughly 8x, meaning that when the system crapped out after two hours of a long movie, it would take about 15 mins to get back to where you were; not really worth it for the last five minutes of, er, "Speed Racer". (don't tell me what happened). I did this for one movie, by going to the toilet while it was running forwards. Still, fast-forward and rewind are terrible ways to seek through video content. As I've probably opined before, but can't be bothered to look for, the main actions I want to take are "Wait, I missed that bit of dialogue -- go back about ten seconds" and "Hmm, I've seen the first half of this already, jump forward in large chunks till I get to something new, then let me go back and forth a bit till I find where I want to be." Modern video clients, such as the superlative XBMC, have lots of options for doing exactly this, but other things seem obsessed with the idea that I want to emulate an almost extinct analog linear tape based system. Ffwd and Rewind are artifacts of tape, and must be destroyed. That is all.


TV on the radio

Daily Mail gets itself into a frothing, incoherent rage... over nudity on the radio.

What should I do now?

As usual, I will be returning to the motherland in December. As a result, I'll be at a loose end (in Loose) from mid-December to the end of the month. Exercise usual means of communication to influence my movements to intersect with your locale, if you so desired.