Monday, 30 June 2008

Stealth Inflation?

I'm not sure who to believe; the media is telling me that the economy is stuffed, Alistair Darling is telling me that the UK is "well placed to weather the current economic storm". What I do know for sure is that my lunch today is a clear example of inflation in action.

My canteen at work is catered by Compass Group and one of the remaining bastions of good value was the omelette. Whilst the price of the omelette has stayed static, the size of the portion has decreased significantly. I thought that the one I had late last week might have been an anomaly, but todays lunch suggests a deeper, more worrying trend. The signage still says "3 egg omelette" so I don't think the portion size has explicitly been modified, this must be stealth inflation - perhaps a move from large to medium eggs?

Or, for an alternative representation using Google Charts (I love Google Charts!)

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Sasha @ the Old Firestation, Bournemouth

If Sasha is one thing as a DJ, it's inconsistent. Because he plays such a wide range of music, whether or not what he's playing matches up with what you want to hear on a given night seems to be pot luck. Additionally, his studio work is a really long way away from what he plays live so if you've got to know him through his production work, one of his DJ sets can be a real surprise.

Of all the times I've seen him live, he probably splits into both good and bad. The good were South West 4, Brixton Academy 2006, Global Gathering 2006, and the Opera House, August 2007. The bad were tonight and Ministry of Sound December 2007.

I'll keep on going to see him I think because every once in a while he pulls out a live show that is pure genius, like his Essential Mix from Maida Vale in 2005. And given his ace studio mix albums Involver and Fundacion NYC
he clearly is capable of playing music I really like.

To wrap up, here's Sasha's set tonight as a Google Chart.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

A note on: Assasin's Creed

I really didn't want to like Assasin's Creed. After the hype, and then the reviews I wanted to detest it as an example of graphics over gameplay. However, after sufficient badgering from Richard, I gave in and decided to give it a go. I wasn't able to get over my misgivings enough to actually buy it, so instead I swapped Portal with Jezz and got it on loan.

My one line review would have to be: "So next gen, so not next gen."

Where it succeeds is that the world they've created is incredibly solid and very beautiful, a real technical marvel. Also, free running around the world is excellent and rarely becomes tiring. The assassinations of the title are sweet and can be approached in a whole host of different ways.

Where it falls down for me is where most "realistic" games fall down - it totally fails to traverse the uncanny valley. The cities, although well populated, have very little variation in the character models; all NPCs use the same 20 snippets of dialogue and you perform the dizzying climb up the exact same tower structures many, many times. Other immersion-breakers were: "desynchronizing" (dying) if you set foot in a puddle, repeating the same tired investigation missions over and over again and some cockpiss-pot poor AI. Finally, the bolted on sci-fi story was ridiculous and unnecessary; why couldn't I just have been a bad ass-asin taking names and kicking faces in the middle ages?

Despite all my moaning, I was enjoying Assasin's Creed - right up until last Sunday night. I was finishing of memory 6 and running late for playing co-op Halo 3 with basement and andyw so I switched off my console after seeing the game auto-save following the particularly laborious chapter ending cut-scene . On reloading my save game, I've discovered that somehow turning off after that particular save has broken the sequence of the game and left me trapped in a small area (Arsuf), with no NPCs and no way of returning to the main game. I've raised a problem on the Ubisoft website so we'll have to see what they say.

Broadly, I'm in agreement with the Zero Punctuation review, however I do think my broken save game after 20 hours of play time investment has made me even angrier than he is.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Making a guerilla stand against poor signage

Some recycling bins have appeared in the coffee lounge - one for plastic and for for paper. However, the signs directing you were identical save for the small font saying "PAPER" or "PLASTIC" in barely readable black on green.

I've taken a stand and gone all arts and crafts.

It's a victory for intelligibility. And I've managed to cover over all the Comic Sans. And yes, I did recycle the half cups.

If that's still ineffective, there's always one last resort.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Trainers with a story

When I ordered my latest pair of Wovens, I knew that their colouring was tied in with the Chinese Duan Wu Jie festival, but today I learned the full backstory courtesy of Dr Beng.

When I showed him the insole, he said "Ah, Zongzi!" and then proceeded to tell me the tale. So, the story goes that the high born Qu Yuan, on being exiled from his homeland became a beloved and renouned poet.
Qu Yuan was so saddened by the demise of his country that he comitted suicide by tying a stone to his chest and throwing himself into the river. The local people loved and venerated Qu Yuan and to prevent the fishes from eating his body they threw rice wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river, hoping that the fish would eat the rice rather than Qu Yuan. Then, the sailed out in their Dragon Boats, banging the drum to scare the fish away as they retrieved his body.

To this day, the festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month by eating Zongzi, or sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. Zongzi typically come in plain, sweet (flavoured with lotus seed) and savoury (meat & veg).

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Status: May

In an effort to ensure this blog gets at least 12 updates a year, I thought I'd start a habbit of posting my Facebook status - here's May 2008 (a little late).

May 1
9:33am Tim had a good long sleep.
4:53pm Tim is preparing things.
10:38pm Tim is beta on A.virary.

May 2
1:36am Tim is tired, but not aleep.
10:11am Tim will be getting ready to board this time tomorrow.
11:45am Tim is Eee. Thanks James!
7:27pm Tim is departure for V minus 11.5 hr.

May 3
6:51am Tim is Gatwick bound.
9:04am Tim is at Gatwick, in a massive queue.
10:43am Tim is on the plane. VS43 to Las Vegas.
11:26pm Tim is in Las Vegas!

May 4
3:48am Tim is struggling to stay awake.
6:31pm Tim is an expert at catching the sun in a stupidly short space of time.

May 5
1:23am Tim is registered and connected.
5:41am Tim is an excercise is studious avoidance.
4:18pm Tim is at the first day of sessions.
11:18pm Tim enjoyed his eDate with May.

May 6
5:00am Tim is doing networking.
3:49pm Tim is navigating through the WSTC education maze.
11:55pm Tim is experimenting with Project Zero.

May 7
4:46pm Tim is digging blueberry bagels.
10:14pm Tim is virtualising.

May 8
12:44am Tim is 9% short of the pass mark.
11:20pm Tim is bored by verbosity.

May 9
3:16pm Tim is May minus 6 hours!
5:33pm Tim is May minus 4 hours!
7:51pm Tim is May minus 1.5 hours!!!!
9:41pm Tim is eagerly awaiting May's arrival.

May 10
3:36pm Tim is setting out for Tropic, UT today.

May 11
2:40am Tim is checking out the Hoodoos.

May 12
4:08am Tim has spent the day above 8000ft in Bryce.

May 13
1:22am Tim has been to Kodachrome and into the canyon at Bryce today.

May 15
1:58am Tim is in Zion with no phone reception.
5:15am Tim is in Zion, raffing someone's satellite internet.

May 17
8:32pm Tim finally has signal again.
10:57pm Tim is baking at 100F.

May 18
8:59am Tim had an ace time with Jane and Michael.

May 19
12:20am Tim is shopping, then going to see Cirque's O.
1:35am Tim has discovered free wireless @ the hotel.
5:25am Tim was stunned by the spectacle of O again. Contortionists are pretty wrong though.
8:57pm Tim is looking for someone who'll break the US Wii Fit release date.

May 20
2:05am Tim has been inside the Hoover dam, next stop the plastination man's Bodies exhibition.
5:56am Tim is overwhelmed by the Planet Hollywood buffet.
11:25pm Tim is boarding VS44.

May 21
10:37am Tim is back in the UK.
7:41pm Tim prefers to use next exclusively. Ie. this weekend = 24th May, next weekend = 31st May.

May 22
10:07am Tim is lagging out.

May 23
2:14pm Tim is pwning n00bs.

May 24
12:26am Tim is going to Eurovision after all.
11:32am Tim is really hoping that his hard disk isn't totally dead. Anyone fancy a fun weekend 'project'?
7:20pm Tim is in the dressing up box.

May 25
1:54am Tim is fishing cheese and onion pringles out of your red wine.

May 26
5:37pm Tim has made rhubarb crumble.
9:54pm Tim is new to Flickr.

May 27
9:07am Tim is tired of Government blunders.
1:16pm Tim is excited for May.

May 28
12:05am Tim heard an awesome Soulwax remix of Muse on Colin Murray and got home to find it on his Soulwax remixes triple vinyl. Thanks for the gift Ant & Hel!
11:34am Tim is racing elephants while all dressed up.

May 29
4:43pm Tim is going to Terminal 5.
6:31pm Tim is experiencing T5, good so far although the robotic xray conveyor belt and automatic box dispensor/collector was a little unnerving.

May 30
2:58pm Tim is in Frankfurt.
4:41pm Tim is on a German train.
5:33pm Tim just got vigorously searched by Frankfurt airport security.

May 31
1:05pm Tim was up early.
4:26pm Tim is having quality Marley time.
6:26pm Tim is a marley & finlay expert.

You have to start somewhere

New blog, first post - a self interview. Hopefully not too trite.

Name? Tim Poultney
Interweb alias? timdp
DOB? 12/08/1979
Job title? Enterprise Speech Consultant, IBM Industry Business Partner Technical and Strategy Enablement
In English? When you end up on the phone to one of those systems you have to speak to, it's my fault.
Really? Yes, as an expert in speech recognition and IVR systems, I own the technical relationships with IBM business partners that use WebSphere Voice Server in Europe. I'm responsible for ensuring that our BPs make the best possible use of our technology and build excellent solutions.
What tabs are always open in your browser? Facebook, Netvibes (the best content aggregator I've found) and (video games forum).
Last 5 technology purchases? 2 year Flickr Pro account, Ableton Live 7 Suite, Dell Vostro 400 (Q6600 4x2.4Ghz, 4Gb RAM, 500Gb storage), Benq FP241WZ , XBox 360 Premium.
Next technology purchase? probably an Atom based netbook, maybe the Eee 1000.
Ideas you've been beaten to? Property-Bee
Last videogames purchased? Call of Duty 4 (Xbox 360), Okami (Wii), No More Heroes (Wii),
Lost Winds (Wii Ware)
Last videogame completed? Lost Winds (Wii Ware)
Last eBay purchase? Nike Air Woven HTM Rainbow 261
Last 3 CDs purchased? Portishead - Third, Renaissance Masters Series: Dave Seaman, ILS - Paranoid Prophets
What's your best advice? Live by "the rule of everybody else"; the rule states that in general people will respond to things in the same way that you do, and that as an individual you judge yourself more critically than you judge others. So, for any given challenging situation, imagine what you'd advise someone else to do in that scenario - then take your own advice.
Best spam received? "
New plan, stay tuned! 1. Do nothing 2. Girl'll find you herself 3. Use our Product V (or C) 4. Have fun ... Profit?" - it was the line "Profit?" that really swung it for me!
Motto? Think awesome, be awesome.