August 13, 2003
I'm really sad. Really I am.
After about a month or so of some of the best beta testing 'acshun!' I've ever encountered, I am having to wave goodbye to TypePad.
And I hate it.
It's like moving house. I've become emotionally attached to my home here, and really, REALLY don't want to leave. But my bank manager tells me that I can't afford to throw money away on 'non-neccesities'. I tried to explain to him that this was essential. Honest I did. But The Mrs
So I am off.
Farewell my fellow beta friends. I shall miss you all. Maybe one day I'll be back. Who knows, I may even win the lottery. Until then...
I'll be slumming it here.
Perhaps I'll see you again, one day.
August 01, 2003
You wouldn't like me when I'm Ang Lee
Before I begin this post I want to slightly caveat it by stating here and now that I am not a great comicbook reader. That is to say that I haven't recently read many comics, or graphic novels, it does not mean that I am not a fan of the artform, just that I don't often get the time to sit and read much these days.
Right, that said, let's crack on.
This week I went to the end of my road, to my local UGC cinema, and paid my six English pounds to watch the Hulk. I really wasn't sure what to expect. For the past seven months I have been anticipating this movie more than most of the comic book adaptations, certainly more than X2, and even more than the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. My recent purchase of the Spider-man DVD whetted my appetite for good, solid comic book fun , and the added bonus of a pretty much guaranteed, beautifully framed story to boot from Ang Lee, had me really on the edge of my seat waiting for release.
The Hulk TV series as a kid used to give me nightmares. I think, in fairness, that the site of Lou Ferringo in nothing more then ripped jeans is enough to send anyone over the edge, but as a four year old it was particulary terror-inducing. Having read a few Hulk comics since however, it was always my view that the comic and the TV series didn't really bare that much relation. I mean sure, there was a big, green guy in it. But Bruce Banners' psychology was never explored within the series' 30 minute framework, whereas within the brooding, darkly-lit cells of the comic book it was ethereally present across ever page.
I had hoped that Ang Lee would bring this to his film. He did. In spades.
And this seems to have caused a problem. Review, after review, after review has commented on Ang's over-reliance on exposition and backstory. Many of them comment on the fact that this was no Hulk with which they were familiar. But to me, this was exactly how a Hulk movie should be. This was a comic book adaptation absolutely sticking true to it's hand-drawn roots.
From it's simply gorgeous use of comic book cell editing and transitions, to it's short, tight dialogue, the Hulk plays out exactly as I remember the comic used to be (and looking at the Marvel Comics website, still is).
The Hulk is a beautiful film, with pacing so similar to my experience of comic book reading that I am surprised at the 'Hulk-Smash' backlash that has engulfed it. The dark, brooding story was developed slowly and lovingly for a full 40 minutes before we even see the big, green guy. And it was all the better for it. The Hulk has never (in my mind) been a character in the 'caper' style of Spider-man or Captain America. The stories have always had more emotional resonance than most. And unlike say, the recently new appearance of a darker, more pensive, contemplative Batman - that is nothing like his 60's TV counterpart, this is how the Hulk has (pretty much) always been.
He [the Hulk] deserves exposition so much more than his other genetically modified counterparts. This isn't simply a story about how he came to be the way he is, so that we can quickly explain away his ability to crawl up walls. But one in which the viewer needs to understand why the Hulk is the way he is. Ang Lee, and James Schamus' writing, delivered this reasoning flawlessly.
The film is certainly not without it's faults. There is still a long way to go within the field of CGI development if the physical interaction of real world elements of the Hulk is to be treated as a benchmark. The friction of walking has always been a difficult thing to portray (unless of course you wanted to recreate a Jackson-esque moonwalk), and at times the Hulk's leaps into the air and his subsequent landings onto the ground feel 'false' and tend to ruin an otherwise realistic, and surprisingly emotional computer animated character. But the simple fact that this looks so false when compared to his other excellent positioning within 'real' settings only goes to serve just how believable the character is (for a big green monster).
This was a great film, spolied by it's marketing towards a 12A audience, and the obvious commercial benefits that this rating enjoys. Had it been a 15 or an 18 certificate, I genuinely believe that the expectations of it would have been so much different, and the reviews would have been so much more favourable.
I'm genuinely looking forward to a sequel. And my only hope is that Ang Lee stays on board, although looking at the blame pointed in (and at) his direction, it doesn't look like this will be the case. To me this would be a great shame, but it was always going to be a tough act for Ang to get away with.
Next time, we will just have to live with the 'Hulk Smash' mentality. I can't see that winning any critic's hearts or Oscars either, but then maybe the Hulk is destined to be an under-achiever. And just like his misunderstood character, neither hero nor villain. This seems like a waste in my mind.
And that makes me angry.
July 29, 2003
Most of you know that we are looking to move house. It's been a pretty big discussion, and has involved a lot of soul searching. We've enjoyed living in London for these past 8 years and the idea of moving and essentially pricing ourselves out of the market, should we ever wish to come back, is pretty frightening. That said though, the thought of cashing in on our modest 3 bedroom, terraced house, and replacing it with a much bigger, 4 bedroom detached is too exciting a prospect to ignore.
So last Friday we put our house on the market. Within 4 hours we had our first viewing, since then we've had about 9. Most of these people have come (or are coming) back for second viewings. It's been a good result so far. But in order for this to happen we've had to do a fair bit of work.
This work hasn't been to the house itself though. That was already in pretty perfect condition. And with the exception of the bathroom, which the 'Good Lady' decided we should paint white (it was magnolia), we haven't touched any of the decor. No, the work we have had to do is to ourselves, and our general living habits/condition.
Below are the general rules that I have determined to be vital to anyone who is thinking of moving house.
1) Get rid of your shoe rack in your bedroom.
Nobody likes to be hit with the whiff of old sandals as soon as they enter the most intimate room of the house.
2) Buy loads of flowers
Nothing makes a house look full of life than a load of freshly cut flowers, Don't overdo it, but put some in 'every' room
3) Keep every room spotless.
It shouldn't really make any difference, and I know that people want the idea of moving into a 'home' and not a clinical experiment. But the fact is, a clean house sells. Let it be viewed as a blank canvas, remove clutter and let people imagine it as 'their' home, not yours.
4) Believe everything 'The Mrs' says.
I know moving all the furniture around is a crap job. I know the last thing you want to do on a Friday night is struggle with self-assembly wardrobes that you really think will fall down if you empty them. But She will be proven right when you realise that you have been living in a really, badly laid out room for two years.
5) Don't over-obsess (caveat to point 4)
Don't go overboard. You can make a house too tidy, and you can make too many changes. Sure the house will look better if you paint every room, but do you really think it will make 'that' much difference? And won't the smell of paint, and the feeling from buyers that something 'must have been really wrong if you had to paint over everything' be a negative on your 'sale ability'?
6) Put the plates away
If you have a dish washer use it. Fill it up constantly and don't leave stuff on the side of the sink.
7) Don't cook strong smelling food 15mins before a viewing
If your house smells of curry, people will instantly be put off (even if they are curry eaters themselves). Just eat a sandwich - and pick up those crumbs
8) Let people look around themselves
Don't get into the habit of pointing out every telephone point and plug socket in the place. Nobody really cares. If they like the house it won't matter to them that there is a cable TV point in the bathroom, or that the cupboard light is rigged to a dimmer switch.
9) Smile and be honest
Just be honest and natural when people ask you questions about your property. Don't go mad and tell them everything that is wrong with the roof, or that the leaky bathroom tap just doesn't seem to be fixable. But be honest about the 'feel' of the house and just how you have generally been 'at home' there. The added bonus of this of course is that if you really get on with the prospective buyers they feel less inclined to haggle you down on price when they realise that the water tank needs replacing and that the whole in the wall, that you patched up with old newspapers and painted over, is going to cost 800 pounds to fix.
And most important of all, hope beyond hope, that your frankly beautifully presented house, and it's ambience and 'feel', which you have spent years lovingly crafting into shape isn't affected by YOUR CONSTANTLY ROWING, WIFE BEATING, F-WORD SPITTING, RAGE INDUCING NEIGHBOURS!!
Because if it is, I might just add another, and final point to my list:
10) Go out and purchase one of these.
July 24, 2003
For some inexplicable reason I woke up this morning humming an old Rod Stewart tune - You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim).
Now I don't own any Rod Stewart CD's/MP3's or watch VH1 or listen to Magic on the radio. So for what reason on God's earth did I wake up with this tune in my head? I don't even remember ever hearing it before to be honest, and it's taken me pretty much the best part of an hour to browse the Interweb looking for audio links so that I could identify the culprit.
So how then, did this ditty end up reverberating around my brain? Well, I do tend to sleep with the T.V. on (much to the annoyance of the Mrs), but I've checked last night's schedules and there is nothing within them that would even hint at having this song played as part of the programme.
So it must be an advert then?
Well, with the amount of T.V. watching that goes on in my house I'm pretty sure that I would recognise it.
And I don't.
So I'm lost. Somewhere in my head is an archive of old tunes that I have possibly only ever heard once, and it's spitting them out of an evening as if my cerebellum is some sort of sub-cognitive jukebox. Last week I was reprimanded by a colleague for whilstling 'Billy Ocean - Get Out Of My Dreams (And Into My Car)'.
I'm too scared to sleep tonight.
I've been thinking about this, and working with Shazam! has made me think. So ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you the concept of 'Spazam!' . If you wake up in the morning like me, in fits, and contorted in agony at the horrible tune ringing in your head, and you know that you won't be able to sleep at night until you've worked out just who is responsible for that noise. Then either call me - if you know my number - or mail me (you'll find my email link on your left), with a recording of yourself humming (or whistling) the tune. Spazam! will promise to identify the tune (from just a few bars of badly hummed chorus) within a 24 hour period.
I, and my dedictated team of volunteers are here to help.
July 23, 2003
TypePad Beta Yahoo Group
Ray Angel has 'rocked on with his bad self' and has a Yahoo Group set-up for all of us TypePad beta people.
It's something we've spoke about for a while now and could be really useful, especially in my situation where most of my issues with TP have been entirely user (read: My own dumb-ass) related.
I feel guilty having to send a help-ticket every two minutes about some CSS or other that I've messed up, and if anyone else has been in the same boat, we now have the opportunity to annoy each other, rather than the busy (and I would imagine VERY tired - don't you guys ever sleep?) TypePad crew.
I look forward to seeing you all there! And well done Ray!
He shoots, he... Oh.
Maybe it was my 'tone of type'. Perhaps if i'd made greater use of italics, 'quote' marks or just finished the whole piece off with a :-p. Maybe then people would have read it all in the nature it was intended.
But Brian, you? You were so close. Really you were. But then you went and contradicted the nature of your whole post and took *yourself* too seriously.
So for those who didn't 'get'-it. May I offer the following caveat:
It was just a bit of fun, people!
There, do you see it? The 'f' word? Good. Now i'd like to caveat that caveat with (well... Um... another caveat).
It *was* meant as fun, but not as irony or sarcasm. It was intended as a flag, a badge (not a medal or reward) or, if you prefer, a lapel-pin from your football teams' last championship winning year. It was the digital equivalent of a rock groups' tour t-shirt. Sure it'll be faded and increasingly pointless over the years, but people would see it and know that 'you were there'.
I mean, it wasn't a swastika or a confederate flag or anything. It was a symbol of my feeling of unity for our little band of people. And most people I recieved mails from took it as such.
So it's a shame then, that certain people mis-construed it as 'so' much more. But i'm tired of apologising to you, because my post was (intended as) a fun, positive post.
Those of you who have posted otherwise, may I suggest that you look at the negativity in your posts, and think if you've had a positive effect with the words that you typed?
Oh, i'm sorry. Did that sound too serious? Here...
(Please take it in the nature it was intended).
July 22, 2003
AOL Journals: First Look
Matt has some 'bad' (his words - and discussing the visual quality rather than their function) screencaps of AOL Journals set-up over at Blackbeltjones.
I can't help but notice the initial similarities to a certain application that some of us already know and love.
Obviously of course, there are bound to be some, and the site-structure set-up looks amazingly similar, but it is looking pretty ok at the moment. In fact the use of consistent AOL'y interface elements give it a certain feel that I think would be appreciated by the current throng of AOL users who would have been scared of something a little more 'webby'.
The actual text entry on his examples look a little 'distant' from the graphical frame around it at the moment, but if it helps the massive get up and online then it certainly can't be bad.
Well, er... What can I say other than sorry. I didn't mean to cause offense, if anything, it was meant to offset the growing (and misplaced - in my opinion) snobbery among Typepad users, to cement the sense of unity developing among us, and to identify that unity within ourselves and to the outside world as a whole. It was a statement of pride - nothing more. I whole-heartily apologise for 'upsetting the balance' and if my context was mis-construed.
I must say though that the level of comment has astounded me. If nothing else, we are an opinionated and passionate group. I guess that's why we were invited here to begin with.
Mena's elegant solution, (of a 'Typad user since... ) label is a perfect idea in my mind, and I look forward to my 'day-dot'/ 'initial run' badge of honour. In the meantime I'll adopt Authgeek's ammended button (with thanks).
Eclecticism has another elegant stab at the problem here.
The result is the tpbeta button you see on my left sidebar.
I'm still extremely proud to be one of the 'chosen few' though, and will continue to be for the duration and beyond.
Now, what about that Beta testers maling list?
July 21, 2003
I'm loving my play time with Typepad more and more. I wrote about the community feel throughout those of us lucky enough to be beta testers a few posts ago, and Ray over at @typepad who was the first of us to really grapple and begin documenting the typepad sites out there, commented to me about a beta-testers mailing list.
I think that this is a fantastic idea, because at the moment I just send help tickets to Typepad direct, sometimes because I have a genuine query, but more often than not it's because I just feel like talking to someone, or have a really minor html issue which feels like a waste of the techies at Typepads' time. A beta testers mailing list would really help with this I think.
I'll send a help ticket about it!
Whilst browsing on Ray's site though I saw this comment on his post about the Typepad community (or snobs as some people have admitted to being because of the exclusivity of the beta test):
Your sentiments are echoed in many fellow typepadders. In a few months, perhaps, possibly even earlier, this community will have to disband. We no longer will be beta-testers, no longer set apart from the rest of the world, hobbling together in our little corners, unadvertised to all but us.
And the comradarie that is developing is amazing. In my upcoming blogathon, I'm hoping to contact a few people I've gotten to know through TypePad, just because.
I find this really sad. Sad because we shouldn't be forgotten. Sad because we are in a position to become guru's to the world (because Typepad is - by general consensus - brilliant, and quite possibly a product which could just change the nature of the blogosphere - and beyond). And I'm sad because I do understand that this period of time is going to end, and I want to be remembered - damn it!
I'm proud to have played my small part in the development of this software, I'm proud to be able to say 'I was one of them', and I'm proud to be part of a genuine online community who just all seem to be so damn nice and friendly.
To this end I'd like to introduce the title of TypePad Elite to my comrades. We are not snobs, a little gloaty maybe, but not snobs. We are the original members. We are the genuine. We are the first.
We're your badge with pride.
(wiping a tear from my eye)
I know I will.
July 18, 2003
Hunting for Houses
Well, it's Friday afternoon and I'm ready to go home. Actually I was ready at about 10:00am this morning but finally 5 O'Clock has rolled around.
Tomorrow sees Lea and I off to Peterborough to look for houses. I can't wait actually. London life is getting me down and the sooner we move away from our street the better (except for one set of neighbours that is - who we will miss).
The last two house buying trips Lea and I made resulted in us buying the first house we viewed on both occasions. Looking at the house we have lined up first tomorrow I think it may be the same case this time.
Let's hope so.