I Bet Battlestar Galactica are Annoyed By This…

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You might have missed the news, but the first series of Doctor Who, which has recently been shown in the US, did rather well at the Hugo Awards.

Three stories from the series were nominated in the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category in a total field of seven, including an episode of Battlestar Galactica, and Jack-Jack Attack the Pixar short that featured on the DVD of The Incredibles. The Doctor Who episodes nominated were the Steven Moffat two-parter The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, Robert Shearman for Dalek, and Paul Cornell for Father’s Day.

Last year, Galactica won the category, and they were favourite to do it again this year. However, this year they were beaten into fourth place, with the episodes of Doctor Who taking the first, second and third places – Steven Moffat taking the prize, with Robert Shearman in second and Paul Cornell in third. Certainly a great result.

However, things get interesting when you see the voting breakdown, and certainly if I were involved with Galactica I’d feel a bit annoyed. The voting appears to operate on a single transferable vote system, with multiple votes. In the first place vote, Battlestar Galactica got the most votes in each count, right up to the final round where the Doctor Who episode sneaked ahead. The same happened with the second place vote – Battlestar Galactica again got the most votes in every round until the final round where the Doctor Who episode went ahead. In the third place vote, it happened again, with Doctor Who being behind, until in the final count it beat Battlestar Galactica by one vote. After that, Battlestar Galactica won the fourth place vote after just two rounds, getting more than 50% of the vote.

Paul Cornell went along to the ceremony to represent the Doctor Who writers, and his account of collecting the award can be seen on his blog. You can also read his pre-ceremony posting where he is “reassuringly certainâ€? that Doctor Who can’t win.

All in all it was a great showing, and an interesting counter-balance to the aborted American Doctor Who, that changed elements of the show on the basis that a purely British Doctor Who wouldn’t go down well in the US.

A Writers Recommendation

As you may have gathered, recent events have had me blowing the dust off my old Psion 5mx, so much so that it’s back in service, primarily keeping track of the house move stuff. Whilst the Dell Axim can open up the spreadsheets that I’m using, it is a pain playing with figures without a keyboard. Anyway, today I came across a glowing recommendation from a writer who loves his Psion 5.

Junk Mail Own Goal

There has been an amusing own goal by the Royal Mail over the past couple of days. You might not be aware, but there are two sorts of junk mail that come through your letterbox. The first is stuff that is directly addressed to you, or more often than not some previous resident. The second sort is stuff that is adressed to merely the occupier, and is delivered by the postman to every address.

Reducing the flow of direct addressed mail is pretty straightforward, and involves signing up with the mailing preference service. Stopping the other sort is somewhat more complicated, and involves sending an e-mail to a particular address at Royal Mail. Needless to say they don’t advertise the address – to borrow a quote it’s written on a piece of paper stored in the basement, where the lights had gone out, in a locked cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Tigerâ€?…

Anyway, the Royal Mail quite often tries to get a regular member of staff to do each round, which especially in rural areas means that many householders build up a good raport with their regular postman. One postman in Wales was often asked how to stop all this junk mail, and it seems got so fed up with keep telling people the same thing, printed up a leaflet with instructions on who to contact. Needless to say his managers were less than pleased when they found out, as delivering this junk is a valuable source of revenue for the company, and they suspended him.

The story made the national news yesterday, and a number of the news programmes publicised the e-mail address. Amusingly after this so many people e-mailed the address wanting the junk to stop that the mail server crashed under the load. Rather than a few people in Wales opting out, hundreds of people across the country now know about the service and are opting out.

This morning, a senior marketing person from Royal Mail was doing the rounds extolling the benefits to the consumer of having the junk, and also doing the usual routine of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt by saying that there might be important communications that wouldn’t get through. It has to be said that this sounds much the same as the similar dire warnings that BT give when you try to get the Anonymous Call Reject service activated on your phone line (a service that will not connect any caller who deliberately masks their phone number so you don’t know who they are). Bear in mind that in both cases, the Royal Mail and BT make considerable sums of money by delivering either the junk mail, or the phone calls, so it pays them to persuade you not to block them.

(Post box picture conversations-with-royal-mail. Originally uploaded by lyrical.)

Weather

A while back I added another little application to the today screen of my PDA – SBP Weather. It is a pretty straightforward tool that displays a summary weather forecast for a chosen location for either the next four, five or seven days. In my case it is periodically querying the BBC Weather site to get a local forecast for Wokingham.

What is interesting is to note the frequency with which the forecast changes, even during the course of a day, which shows up the inaccuracies of modern forecasting, especially when trying to summarise the weather for an entire day, for a pretty localised area. Indeed on a couple of occasions I tend to find that the current day symbol doesn’t always match up with reality.

Having said that, perhaps it’s down to the changeable weather we’ve been having recently. After our heat-wave at the beginning of the summer most of August has been sunshine and showers, and at times pretty chilly for August. Quite often the symbols are switching between various levels of sun, cloud and rain, so it is really trying to determine whether a particular bank of cloud will cross this part of England without dropping rain or not!

Needless to say, right on cue, the long range forecast over at MetCheck is predicting a mini-heat wave just in time for the schools going back. MetCheck also includes an interesting ‘rest of year’ forecast page, which includes a percentage probability. What is surprising is that there are certain parts of the forecast that have a pretty high, sometimes even 100% accuracy. The reason of course is that there are regular patterns of weather across the UK, so whilst you can’t predict exact temperatures, or exact weather, you can make broad statements about what is likely to happen.

Justice

Sometimes there is a little bit of justice. This morning I was coming down the Barkham Road to work, and on the 40mph stretch stuck to 40mph as usual. As is often the case at rush hour I had an idiot behind me, who I can only assume was late for something. Suffice to say he was doing the usual driving too close, and periodically popping out to see if he could overtake. The moment of poetic justice though, was the point where he actually chose to do it. If you know the road, you’ll know that the stretch down the hill just after the Guide Dogs for the Blind building is straight, and with a clear view ahead, so this was the point he chose to roar past. Of course the other thing about the stretch is that it is in a built up area, often busy with children walking to school if this weren’t the school holiday, and has a number of fairly busy side turnings. As a result it has a 30mph limit and a speed camera. I have to say that there is a certain satisfaction when an idiot like that proves it even more by only spotting the bright yellow painted speed camera quite as late as he did… He did manage to slam his brakes on before the camera, but only just.

Needless to say, the idotic overtake and potential points on his licence didn’t gain him much at all, and I was not far behind him all the rest of my way to work. He just ended up following the car ahead instead of following me.