Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is your memory letting you down?

I had to give this post that title because it reminded me of those silly adverts in the Daily Mail. Which in my little world made me laugh.

But this post is actually about a very cool application that I heard about here. Evernote helps you save images in a searchable directory, actually searching for words within images, which is really rather cool.

You can take piccies of business cards or funny signposts or post-it notes you just know are going to lose their stick and vanish from your desk... then just remembering a couple of the words (first name or company name or whatever) will enable you to call the picture back up on your computer.

Not doing a very good job of explaining it? There is a cool video on YouTube which explains it (rather too quietly for my liking, but turn your volume right up and you should be fine).

I am going to download this tonight and see how I get on with it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No come back...

My last post lamented a Scottish minister's attempts to weaken Team GB and the amazing sentiment sweeping Brits all over the world following the Olympics by calling for Scotland to compete as a separate team in 2012.

I had even more cause to bemoan him today.

Yesterday The Sun sent a lorry round Sydney asking the Aussies "Where The Bloody Hell Were You?" - poking fun out of their "Where The Bloody Hell Are You?" tourism adverts and illustrating how many more golds we got than team "Green and Gold". Today the Aussies responded with their own truck, saying "Where the bloody hell were we? Above you in the medal table" and pointing at Australia's 14 golds - ahead of England's 13.

They miss the point - big time (I wonder how well New South Wales scores by itself), but you can't critise them when they are only making use of nonsense stirred up on our own fair shores.

Just annoyed me, thats all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Eternal separatists

So the Olympics are over for another four years. Still the Paralympics to go though for anyone who can't go cold turkey after the last two weeks though.

The Brits have had a fabulous two weeks with newspaper headlines full of optimism and collectivism. Or so I am lead to believe Down Under.

So it is all the more disheartening to see a Scottish minister using the success to push for a separate Scottish team in 2012. His thinking? Some of the medal winners were Scottish, so why not go it alone.

Pish, say I.

The minute his comments were out of his mouth BBC forums lit up with Anglo/Scot arguments; "Whose taxes paid to train the Scottish sportsmen and women?", "Pah we don't want them anyway" and such nastiness.

Why do British people (and yes I choose that collective term carefully) always look for the negative? Why do we insist on segregating our society into smaller and weaker collectives? Why can we not see how much we can achieve when we are united and look to build on that to achieve even more next time?

Fact is, Scotland is not an independent nation. The population has had its say on the matter and chose to stay with the rest of GB. As it is not an independent nation the IOC cannot let them compete on their own. And I doubt many Scots would change their mind on independence purely so they can sit lower down the medals table in 4 years time. So why unleash all this bad sentiment even before the closing ceremony (in fact, even before our final athlete was over the finish line)?

Personally I am proud of a nation that has produced a few athletes who, over the last fortnight, have proven that the British can be Great too. And I say keep it together. Plenty of opportunity for us to compete against one another in the Commonwealth Games... and at rugby.



Friday, August 22, 2008

Digg this!

I am feeling very capable all of a sudden... I worked out how to add Digg to my blog! *AND* I have added RSS feed shortcuts over there... on the left of the page.

If you don't know what Digg is, have a peek here. Its just a way of sharing cool and exciting things you find on the internet (things with which my blog is riddled!) So if you like one of my posts and think someone else would too, just Digg it (translation: hit the button at the bottom of the post).

[I am off to the kitchen now to get a drink and escape the teasing of Bec who sits next to me and who thinks she has just seen proof that I am a total geek who deserves to have no friends]


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

APPEAL

This is an important and urgent appeal....

I am lead to understand that the new series of Spooks started this week on the Beeb. YOU CAN'T BEGIN TO IMAGINE HOW MUCH I WANT TO SEE THIS!!!

Please please please *don't* post any spoilers (Did he kill her? Didn't he??? I wanna see it!!!) but can anyone burn the series to DVD and post it to me in the Land Down Under?

I am struggling to survive without BBC iPlayer and you can't watch it abroad...!!

Actually a note to the Beeb; have you considered selling overseas TV licences to ex-pats and travelling business people? Password controlled access to content abroad?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Viticulture

I quite fancy going on a proper wine tasting course.

Until about 6 months ago my wine taste was... what's the right word.... elemental. I didn't have bad taste - I fully appreciated a good bottle, but I tended to favour familiarity and my ability to understand what I was drinking was limited.

Somehow in the last 6 months my tastes have, out of the blue, developed.

In the last couple of weeks alone I have uttered the following sentences:

"Yes Bridie, definitely cranberry in there, but something more... dark chocolate coated cranberry" (describing a desert wine)

"Thats a lovely light red, I can taste cloves - wow!" (followed by vineyard owner saying "yes, it says cloves on the label" then checking, and realising it doesn't, and noting that they should change it)

"I believe there is a shortage of Pinot Grigio in Australia because the winemakers favour the Pinot Gris Alsace style which is too sweet for many" (affirmative response from man in nice wine shop)

"Chardonnay is just far too powerful for me - I get tired of Australian winemakers' dependence on oak for flavour, particularly new oak"

And possibly my favourite:
"I find Australian winemakers favour blends - and think I prefer the simplicity of European flavours"

I always close with the compulsory modest:

"I know very little about wine, but I know what I like"

Have I become a pompous wine fraud?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Breaking the Olympic vow of silence

I wasn't going to blog about the Olympics. It was a casual decision I came to because I don't really care about it, I am not a fan of the location decision... and we never do very well (something which I was aware was going to be harder to deal with while surrounded by victorious aussies).


But taking a lunchtime stroll through BBC online just now I stumbled upon this story about the opening ceremony.

It seems that the angelic voiced seven year old who was chosen to sing in the ceremony was not deemed pretty enough to stand in front of the world and do her thing. She sang, a "prettier" girl stood there in the nice red dress, beaming at the crowd, lipsycning over the tape.

I have managed to keep quiet about a lot of the nonsense coming out of Beijing, but this really got my goat. If you are looking for the best singer, pick the best singer. Let them get on stage, and sing.

But most of all.... how *dare* you label a seven year old girl as not pretty? The musical director said "The reason for this is that we must put our country's interest first". This little girl is beautiful, with the best voice in China (according to them) and I just hope this doesn't impact her self confidence.



Monday, August 11, 2008

Piece of home?

I had a meeting in North Sydney this afternoon so at 3.30pm I headed straight back to my flat to do the last hour or so from home. On route, I spotted that the British Shop was open and so popped in to peruse.

It's startling to realise what things people miss from home. Pot Noodle occupied half a shelf. As did Heinz puddings (the ones that come in a tin; chocolate sponge, treacle pudding etc). Heinz actually had a very good shelf share, including cream of tomato soup.

It made me stop and think about the things I have missed since coming out here;

1) Real cadburys chocolate. Not the fake stuff they sell out here that is so riddled with anti-melt ingredients that it, well, doesn't melt. In your handbag... on your tongue.... nothing. Its just not the real thing

2) Heinz cream of chicken soup. They think they sell it -ask any aussie - but they don't. Trust me. I have looked. So my friend Katie brought some out with her from the UK last weekend (which was rather good of her considering she only had one backpack)

3) I confess I *would* have missed marmite, but I brought some with me AND found it in my local supermarket. Nice

So what did I buy in the British Shop?

A walnut whip, a packet of Quavers and a CurlyWurly.

Mmmmmm

Friday, August 08, 2008

Karma - the game

On my way into work today I watched a dude (lets call him Dude1) unloading boxes from a van. The boxes toppled off his little trolley thing and into the road. A car was approaching the boxes and they needed moving swiftly. Up steps another dude (predictably, Dude2). Dude2 has his iPod earphones in but sprints across the road, picks up half the boxes helping Dude1 (all with his earphones still in so no communication was exchanged between the Dudes) and then in a smooth motion sprints back across the road to continue his trip to work.

Heading down the hill and watching this all unfold in front of me in a matter of about 15 seconds, all I thought was "that man clocked up some good karma points there". Which, in turn, made me imagine a little counter hovering above his head, clocking up a couple of extra points. Which, in my *special* mind, led to thoughts of what the world would be like if we all had these counters over our head.

Imagine a mugger running up to his victim and in the act of a bag snatch his karmic counter hits 0. Maybe his victim gets all his banked points added on to her counter hovering over her head? In my imagination it all resembled a T-Mobile advert somehow (sorry to all the aussies reading this who haven't seen a T-Mobile advert).

Would we all be nicer to one another if our Karmic counter was visible? Would we wake up and check above our heads and think; "better make the team coffee this morning"?

Here is a detailed and complex graphic representation of my thoughts....

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Australia Post

I just got back from the post office, posting my nearly-one-year-old niece's birthday present. It being a lunchtime, the queue was rather lengthy, but I was not bored. Oh no. Because throughout the queuing process I had Australia Post's bookshelves to peruse.

Back in the office I am left pondering the choices on the shelves. If a store stocks titles such as "How to be comfy" and "Great Australian Shearing Stories" (next to "Great Australian Droving Stories") what does it say about its customers?

Their marketing collateral was targetting a modern crowd (endless posters telling you how to post things if you were an online seller). So what is with the books??

[confession: I have seen the Shearing Stories on two separate occasions now, and have to confess to being rather intruiged, can anyone recommend it?]

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?

Despite having moved half way around the world (if I had moved the whole way I would be tucked up in my own bed right now) I am not prepared to let my book club have all the fun without me.

I am reading along with the book choices each month and submitting my review by email. I am also keeping up with the rather surreal email exchanges so all I am missing out on is the many opportunities to quaff vino with Boo folks.

Anyway I thought it would be fun to blog each book review too, so here is the first. The book was Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep by Phillip K Dick... the book that the film Blade Runner is based upon.

"Wow, who knew sci-fi could make good literature!? Now of course I have something else to hide from prospective husbands... Emily kinda likes sci-fi books. So as the first sci-fi book I have read, this one had quite a challenge. It was single handedly responsible for trying to change my mind about an entire genre. At first I was rather lost trying to find my way in a made up universe; what he hell is an empathy box? But actually it showed how talented a writer he is/was that I got into his world so quickly. I expected that any book so geekily titled would be lacking in characterisation, but it wasn't at all. I liked the chickenhead dude. I even liked Rachel. The wife was a bit of a waste of ink though. Loved the little insider sci-fi jokes - it being a real cat dying and New New York... he he! So, what didn't I like? Although I wanted him to beat the 6 androids and I was definitely ready for the book to wind down by that point it all seemed to close a bit abruptly. And the whole Mercer-hill-climbing-and-its-reveal-as-a-fake was a bit crass. There was definitely some interesting emotion in there (how do you deal with shit like fancying an android, and being trained to kill her as a murderous robot, but quite liking her pithy conversation?) but just as a personal choice I like books with some female emotional understanding. That said, I hate male authors who attempt to depict women they blatantly don't understand. Old Dickie got around that by having only two female roles; one an emotionally retarded depressive and one an android - whose model appears 3 or 4 times. I can't remember what I scored the other books but on a clean slate would give this around a 6? (I reserve the right to change this when I check the table of my old scores from The Original Andrew Green). Thumbs up from me!"

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