Watching the ScobleShow

Over the past couple of days I’ve been watching the first fruits of Robert Scoble’s much publicised move to PodTech. I have to say that I’ve not watched any of his Channel9 stuff, partly because all of that was (not surprisingly) in the somewhat less Mac friendly Windows Media format. However with the ScobleShow I was just able to plug it straight in alongside the other pod-casts I have set up in iTunes.

I kicked off with a look at the Photowalking items, where Scoble goes out and about with Thomas Hawk, someone who could probably be described as one of the stars of Flickr. Above is one of the shots that Thomas took during the walk that Scoble filmed. In terms of content, the Photowalking items were great, the main annoyance was the camera work. Whereas Thomas is able to sort out his images after the event to compensate for the lighting effects, Scoble was having real problems with the video camera as the automatics struggled to cope with the dusk lighting conditions, there are also times in the item when it really would have helped to have two cameras, since as Thomas spotted something interesting, the camera would swing round to try and catch it on video. I guess it’s the limitation of the one man and camera set up that Scoble is using, and also the fact that he is trying something new here. As Scoble says himself on his blog he’s fully expecting the show to suck for the first couple of months as he plays around and learns things. Having said that, it’s worth saying that from what I’ve seen so far it doesn’t really suck in my opinion – but it will certainly be a better viewing experience when Robert has found out a bit more what works and what doesn’t!

Anyway, the item I’ve found most interesting so far has been the visit to Printing For Less who run an internet based print operation from an office in rural Montana. The item is a great example of why in these days of high-speed internet connections and reliable courier services someone can run a successful and profitable business from what is effectively the middle of nowhere. From what we saw on the tour the staff are happy, the location is fantastic, and they are making money without having to cut corners on equipment – everybody had at least a dual screen set up, most had three screens. I can’t speak for the actual quality of the output as however cheap their prices, the fact I’d have to pay international shipping charges, plus the fact that being a US company their standard paper sizes are totally non-standard for the rest of the world resulting in anything I would want printing being a special order, I doubt it would be that cheap from here! However as an example of a successful internet business, and an interesting tour for someone who know little about commercial printing it was a great item.

So as a start, the ScobleShow is definitely an entertaining watch, and I’ll look forward to more to come in the future.

Doctor Who Record Non-News

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Earlier in the week I commented on an article on the Doctor Who web site about the latest Guinness Book of Records, and the fact that Stargate SG-1 had been awarded the longest running (consecutive) record.

The website article implied that it would be updated, which it has been, but not quite in the way fans were expecting, indeed in some ways it is still the same story. Whilst we have a picture of David Tennant with the award, and even an equivalent article on the main BBC News site, the book is still maintaining that Stargate SG-1 has been running without a break since 1997, without actually explaining how the ten series of Stargate SG-1 – which incidentally included a complete change of channel at season six – differs from the 26 series of Doctor Who which from 1963 to 1989 were produced every year by the BBC. The only argument I could possibly come up with is that they are taking account of the way that series are shown in the US where a series is spread over the entire year by showing blocks of new episodes, then repeats. Of course when the same series are shown in the UK and many other countries they would get shown in one run, with a gap. Also like any series in the US they aren’t continuously producing episodes either, they will get filmed in one block, much as with Doctor Who, and then the production team will be preparing the new series during the rest of the year again as was the case with Doctor Who, giving the actors a chance to go and do other work. Indeed if the award is for having episodes shown every week, surely the award should go to one of the Star Trek series which have been continuously repeated for years.

Anyway, I doubt that the Guinness Book of Records are going to give any ground over this – the 2007 version will be around until this time next year – however some more explanation about how they actually calculate the consecutive record really needs to be given – unless of course they can’t actually come up with a reasonable justification, in which case I guess they’re probably keeping their fingers crossed that the BBC and the fans stop making a fuss…

Think You Were Lost Before? You Are Now…

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I’m getting this whole deja-vu feeling – I think perhaps much the same feeling I had when we’d watched the season one finale of Lost. Having watched the finale of season two, Beth’s first words were ‘I hate them!’, them of course being messieurs Lieber, Lindelof and Abrams who are leaving us dangling until next year.

It was all going so well. The yacht that turned up at the end of Three Minutes turned out to be a welcome return of the excellent Henry Ian Cusick playing Desmond. Essentially his character had spent the whole of the season trying to sail away from the island, but then the first land he comes to is the island where he started. Through the finale episode we get to see Desmond’s back story, including a brief appearance from Jim Robinson from Neighbours – actor Alan Dale trying out a posh English accent this time round – as the somewhat sleazy father of Penny, Desmond’s love interest – trying to pay off Desmond never to see his daughter again. Another curious coincidence is the appearance of Libby again proving significant in that she supplies Desmond with his boat.

In the present day we have two parallel plot lines, the first being Locke and Desmond finding out what happens if you don’t push the button, and falling out with Mr Eko in the process. In the other plot line you have Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and Jack heading into a trap laid by Michael in an effort to get back Walt. However what they don’t know is that Sayid, Jin and Sun are sailing around the island too.

All seems to be fairly straightforward, until it gets into the second part of the finale. Firstly, Sayid and Jin spot a giant stone foot on the shore, looking like the base of the Colossus of Rhodes – except it only has four toes. Then Sayid discovers that the Others village is just as fake as their beards. Then it transpires that the trap being sprung by Michael isn’t at the village at all, but at Pala Ferry, the place mentioned in the orientation film as the place where people were to report when their shift had finished. Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and Jack are taken there, but not before they discover all the reports from the station Locke and Mr Eko found under the drug runners plane, all piled in a clearing. At this point, in a not exactly surprising twist Henry Gale reappears and lets Michael and Walt leave the island, with the cryptic words ‘We’re the good guys…’

It’s then things get even more weird. Waiting for the timer to count down, Desmond realises that the last time he failed to enter the code in time coincided with the plane crash that began the series. However by this point Locke has smashed the computer and the code cannot be entered. As the time ticks past zero all hell breaks loose and metal objects start flying around. Remembering a fail-safe key Desmond uses it, but that produces a strange bright white light that affects everybody on the island. After the white light everything appears to return to normal, but there is no sign of Desmond, Locke or Mr Eko. Over at the ferry pier Henry Gale sends Hurley back with a message, and says that Kate, Sawyer and Jack are going with them.

If that wasn’t enough, just at the end we get a totally unexpected twist as suddenly we cut to two guys who appear to be in some sort of arctic monitoring station, where a screen is flashing about an electromagnetic disturbance – the white light perhaps? What gets even more strange is when they phone up to report the event, and who should answer, but Penny Desmond’s love interest answers the phone. “Miss Widmore, I think we’ve found it.â€? says the man on the phone, and then of course the credits roll…

Things are certainly looking intriguing for season 3. It has already been revealed that we will find out more about Henry Gale and the Others, who as we’ve found out know how to escape the island. It has also been confirmed that we’ll see more of Desmond as Henry Ian Cusick joins the regular cast. Apparently Libby is going to continue to appear in flashback too. Can’t wait – even if it is totally bemusing at times, it’s still great entertainment!

What Happens when you let an English teacher loose in a Shop Full of Cheap Books

Beth spent yesterday at a training course held by a major book publisher in London. Whilst she was there, she discovered that the publisher has a staff bookshop, which offers their books at significantly reduced prices. She asked the course supervisor whether she as a visitor was allowed to buy books from the shop and was told yes, as long as she remembered that she had to carry them all home! Needless to say when I picked Beth up on the way home from work her bag was somewhat heavier than when she left…

This Site is NOTHING to do with the DVLA!

Today was one of those days when you feel you’ve slipped into a parallel world where everybody is totally barmy. One of my more popular postings was this page about my experiences with the DVLA online vehicle registration page. It’s had a steady stream of slightly odd comments, however the one today really took the biscuit:

I sold the vehicle registration mark K108PKR over two years ago, and informed your office at the time, so I don’t have either a current licence disk or the vehicle which was a green citroen bx.Can you please advise what action I now need to take with this licence application

Reading that comment, it looked for all the world like he thinks that I’m the DVLA. Quite how he has come to that conclusion I don’t know, however looking back at the previous odd comments, a lot of them make much more sense if you assume that the commenter’s think this is the DVLA. Anyway, I’ve changed the title of the post from ‘DVLA Online Vehicle Registration’ to ‘My DVLA Online Vehicle Registration Experiences’ so hopefully that will solve the problem, although I’m still at a loss to understand how anyone could confuse my blog site with the DVLA…