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2009: A Web Odyssey [Feb. 9th, 2009|11:20 pm]
Been doing quite a bit of web work of late. I started the year creating a website in order to practice valid HTML/CSS and have something new for my portfolio, but that was interrupted by a freelance web project that came up a couple weeks ago.

A car parts company in Uxbridge is redeveloping their existing website and I got involved in it as a favour without really knowing what it was about. It turned out to be a massive e-commerce project that is pretty messy and way beyond my ability so I've mainly been helping them develop concepts for the sites appearance. I think my contributions over now, and I'm still not sure if it was paid freelance work or unpaid work experience (the whole thing was pretty unclear), but I suppose it was worth doing regardless. Some of the concepts I came up with:

Concept One

Concept Two

Concept Three

The first one is deliberately loud and busy, but I was quite pleased with it. The second one is smarter and by far my favourite, but the third is pretty last minute and so dull and generic that I can barely stand to look at it. Still, the only website I currently have in my portfolio is Cinema Central and thats a lot worse. I've also discovered that I have no idea what to do with the design of website headers.

At the moment the concepts are just images, but I'll probably code them into proper templates after first finishing off the personal site I was working on before. Hopefully this sort of productivity will result in a web job of some kind, but that may be optimistic.
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As Only Celluloid Can Deliver... [Aug. 23rd, 2008|04:26 pm]
Taking inspiration from the journal of tralaz I have prepared the following quiz. The rules are as follows:

1. Pick 10 of your favorite movies
2. Go to IMDB or some such and find a quote from each movie
3. Post them here for everyone to guess
4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie
5. No googling, using IMDB search, or other search functions

* I'm telling secrets to the one guy you don't tell secrets to. - Almost Famous, tralaz

* I am not wasting one more minute of my life on prayer. Not one more minute. Understood? - Signs, tralaz

* Come on, all the long distance lines are down? What about satellite? Is it snowing in space? Don't you keep open a line for emergencies or for celebrities? I'm both. I'm a celebrity in an emergency!

* They are all freaks! Not one of them under five foot six. What kind of theater is this?

* Oh, fuck it, I don't have to talk, either, man! See how you like it. Just total fuckin' silence. Two can play at that game, smart guy. We'll just see how you like it. Total silence.

* I don't believe I have to be loyal to one side or the other. I'm simply asking questions

* Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.

* Suck my fat one, you cheap dime store hood.

* Well hello Mister Fancypants. I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things, right now: Jack and shit... and Jack just left town.

* Oh, he's an imbecile, probably from birth. Man's a complete idiot... Pray to God he's an idiot.
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One Step 4ward [Apr. 11th, 2008|09:59 pm]

Today was quite interesting for a change. I went to Channel 4 for a day of assessment after applying for a new media design assistant placement as part of 4talent. The three month job would involve assisting the design team in web projects, taking on a complete design project of my own and spending a week at a different design agency working with the channel in order to gain industry experience and technical skills. In addition there would be training seminars and involvment with other departments making it a lot better than regular placements plus pay to the equivalent of 15k a year. It’s aimed at those who already have skills in the Adobe Creative Suite and HTML as well as prior design training and experience creating for the web, so it all seems pretty relevant to my position. Two people who did it last year now work for the channel full time so it may also have good future prospect.

Taking a rare opportunity to boast, there were hundreds of applications for the role and these were narrowed down to six people including myself who took part in the assessment. Interestingly everyone seemed to be in a similar position, having graduated a year or two ago from a Multimedia or Graphic Design degree, but still floating around doing short term stints with no long term employment. I was reading the other day that over 1/5th of graduates go through this kind of thing, and they are more likely to be clinically depressed than people with unfulfilling careers who didn’t go to University. Makes sense really. A donkey that has never seen a carrot is likely to be happier than a donkey that had one and then lost it. I miss the carrot.

All that said, the competition was clearly of high calibre and there were no dud candidates. This concerned me slightly as I recall a poker theory stating that, “If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker”. I think though that we were all evenly matched (based on absolutely no knowledge of their technical or creative skill), so it seemed like our performance in the assessment activities would have a genuine impact.

The Channel 4 building itself was pretty cool; certainly different to the buildings I usually frequent. Almost every room and hallway is formed from glass and steel, like a slick futuristic world of some kind …though I never felt I was in the future, or indeed slick.

Getting back to the point, the first activity of the day was the most interesting. As a group we were given the synopsis for a fictional film about an alien invasion on a South London estate and we had to come up with a website concept to market it. This was then pitched to Channel 4 staff from film4 and new media, as well as a group of applicants who were undergoing similar assessment for a film4 placement. Memories of Leon Cruickshank workshops came to mind, but it was enjoyable and I didn’t humiliate myself, so I consider it a success.

After the presentations everyone mingled over several platters of free food, most of which I couldn’t identify, and I then went for a standard two on one interview. It was however more interesting than usual because they asked me about my favourite C4 shows, which provided me with the rare opportunity to spill my fanboy guts over The Sopranos and Peep Show in a context that wasn’t entirely meaningless. I went on to criticize Hollyoaks afterwards, which doesn’t seem like a wise thing in reflection, but one interviewer seemed to share my opinions and I did admit to watching it which should count as some form of appreciation. I also ended up talking about that guy who had a huge tumour for a face. Exactly the kind of thing dynamic media types should be talking about.

The final activity of the day was a series of three writing tests. The first presented a Channel 4 job description full of spelling and grammar errors, which we were asked to identify and correct. What a bitch I thought, surely they know computers can solve such problems in this age of whizzing data and hyperactive megachips. The other two questions were more predictable; one asked about how we would spend our time during quiet work hours and the other wanted three interactive feature ideas for the Hollyoaks website. Had I not been a regular viewer of Hollyoaks I think this question would have screwed me, so I guess this makes me one of very few people whose soap addiction has actually had a constructive impact.

The day ended with the C4 people explaining that five of us were going to fail, and I think my chances depend on how badly the other candidate’s interviews went. I will be lucky to get the position, but even if I don't get it they said they would provide complete feedback on my performance so I should learn something. The strange thing is that I never felt any sense of competition with these people and was sincere in wishing them luck. Perhaps because I’m a really awesome human being who puts the needs of strangers above his own, but I fear not. Just a result of the curious situation we were put in I expect.

At the end they gave everyone a goody bag, which was obviously the most exciting part of the day. My bag contained many wonderful products including:

- A fancy embossed and well printed book about 4Talent
- A less impressive brochure I already had about 4Talent
- A 4talent ballpoint pent
- A tin of jelly belly sweets
- A 2gig 4Talent flash drive
- The Deal or no Deal Family challenge interactive DVD

It would have been nice if they had surprised us with customised bags, relevant to the shows we said we enjoyed during the interview, but I suppose you can only ask for so much. I regretfully know that I will never open that Deal or no Deal box and will therefore completely waste the free gift. Anyway I will find out within the week whether or not I got the job and if I don’t you will probably never hear anything further about it, nor should you ever comment on my failure to succeed. In conclusion, assessment centres are no way near as dull as regular interviews, but the ambiguity is concerning and at least you know what to expect with companies who don’t go to so much trouble.

My Apologies to those who found this post self-indulgent, but I can assure you it was written for the benefit of your own general interest.
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I am Reborn [Mar. 23rd, 2008|08:02 pm]
I have decided to start blogging again for the good of my writing skills and mental sanity. Endless covering letters have dulled my mind and the part of my brain that sort of enjoys writing needs a less tedious place to find occasional sanctuary. So consider me reborn, on this day that we celebrate the resurrection of our lord and saviour. It will be like those rebellious University years again, where I would endlessly plague you faithful readers with any random thought I vainly felt was worth sharing. With age and wisdom this vanity has waned and as a result so has the posting, but I am determined to force its return if this means any kind of productivity.

Having just gone through some of my older entries, many of them do seem very pointless, but I do like the fact there is an online record of what I have been thinking and I am determined to make the last few empty months (or possibly years) on this blog more of a lull than a ending to my historic digital record. To ensure this actually happens will mean fighting a natural urge to remain inactive, so I will have to be even less critical than usual about what I consider blog-worthy if there is any chance at all. That said I intend to offer more trivia and web links than I used to for added entertainment, as I find I acquire a lot of these since becoming a regular visitor of digg.com earlier in the year. Posting the odd news story on someone’s Facebook wall does not seem like nearly enough shared coverage.

Of course one thing I must consider in this revival is the change in dynamic. In the old days I basically had three readers, but with these entries now being published as Facebook notes my potential audience has increased by precisely 2800%. Taking responsibility for this would mean adopting a far less personal tone and probably limiting the sort of topics I cover so as not to offend people. I have therefore decided to ignore it and continue to aim the blog at my University clique in an effort to alienate all those beloved Facebook strangers, who if reading this will hopefully consider themselves rude for virtual eavesdropping. Obviously though they should become regular readers anyway, as having a huge secret fan base seems the kind of thing that would greatly appeal to my re-embraced sense of vanity.

That’s probably enough text for today, which could have been summarised in the sentance, “I am going to start blogging again”, but there is little opportunity for philosophical sprawling with such efficiently written statements.

My internet offering for this post is www.adam-buxton.co.uk, which I know Kim already reads. Whilst I remember watching Adam & Joe from time to time, I seem to have overlooked how funny Buxton can be and his blog is hilariously awesome in places as well as being very extensive. It’s also partly responsible for the decision to start mine again and has led me to propose a theory that more blog-worthy events will happen in life if one is actively seeking content to blog about, thus leading to increased life satisfaction. I feel this makes sense, and as an added bonus it should mean become less introverted if I write here more frequently.

Come to think of it, most films and TV shows featuring therapists do include a scene where they recommend the patient keeps a diary so whilst my theory may not be completely original, it is at least reassuring that I am probably thinking intelligently.

Today’s Wikipedia sourced trivia offering is some light Easter folklore, in case you were wondering where the egg laying rabbit concept came from ...and you should be if you arn't just a mindless slave to cultural tradition:

In English, the etymology of the word "Easter" comes from an ancient pagan goddess of the spring named Eostre, related to German Ostara. According to popular folklore, Eostre once saved a bird whose wings had frozen during the winter by turning it into a rabbit. Because the rabbit had once been a bird, it could still lay eggs, and that rabbit became the modern Easter Bunny.
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An Occasion For Bow Ties [Dec. 22nd, 2007|04:39 pm]

Merry Christmas to one and all from a gentlemanly fish type creature.
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Strange Delivery Part 2 [Jul. 16th, 2007|06:25 pm]
In February I received a strange and anonymous envelope in the post. Inside it was a tiny blue model plane with no further documentation. Even stranger, the envelope featured my name and address in print along with a rare Beatles stamp and a small plane symbol. Even stranger still, it appeared to have been sent from Southampton and I don’t know anyone who has been there this year. After a detailed investigation I still have no idea who sent it or why. The original blog post about this occurrence can be found here:


Now, several months later, the mystery sender strikes again! Today I received a similarly bizarre envelope in the post; a scanned image of which can be found below:

Right, lets consider the evidence:

1) As you can see, my name and address has been typed in a similar manner to the last letter, but there are also a series of numbers present.

2) Instead of a plane symbol, there is a poor quality aerial photograph of what looks like a motorway junction.

3) The sender has moved on from classic rock and has this time chosen an Egyptian themed stamp, which contains the message 'Rub fezzes with your finger to find pyramid'. I am yet to rub the fezzes, because it could release anthrax and I also want to keep the evidence intact.

4) Finally, there are postal markings in the form two rows of luminous orange lines, which were also present on the last letter. On the back is a faint ink stamp that reads:


I don't know where to begin with analysing this evidence, but there are certainly plenty of clues. The question is whether or not these are meaningful or just appear to be when in fact they are completely random. Either way there’s only so much I can learn, which is basically nothing. I don’t know much about postal markings so if anyone has any specific information on those present here; please feel free to share it.

And now onto the more worrying part of today’s mystery…

Inside the envelope this time was a single Greek bank note to the value of 100,000 Drachma. Both sides of this note have been scanned for the image below:

The note is extremely old and frail, and very worryingly, it appears to be covered in dried blood stains. I suppose it could be ink or dyed water, but it certainly looks like blood and I guess whoever sent it was trying to give that impression. After a bit of research I have discovered that the Drachma is no longer in circulation and has been replaced by the Euro, but I decided to covert the currency to pound sterling anyway and it comes to the value of £198.66.

I don't know anyone who lives in Greece and whilst I do know a couple people who have been on holiday there this year, I find it unlikely that they would have acquired this note during their trip. Furthermore, they are not the kind of people likely to send such a thing.

So that’s about it, no documentation, no clear message or intent, just this single bank note. One thing is for sure though; this can no longer be explained as a random gag. It appears to be the makings of a long term stalking campaign and I think it’s reasonable to expect another delivery within a few months.

Another interesting fact is that I recieved both letters after recovering from mild illness. The first came after a particularly bad cold, whilst this one arrived following a week spent in bed with some sort of flu thing. Is this a mere coincidence? Perhaps... but perhaps not.

I will finish with a quote from my last post:

“What the hell? Who sent me this? Why?”

P.S. I still highly suspect that Kim Laughton has something to do with this.
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A Kouple Krappy Kaptures of my Kingdoms Kapital [Jul. 8th, 2007|05:22 pm]

Didn't really intend to take any photos, but thought I would go the extra mile for these high quality and totally original snaps. Went to Harrods for shopping, but tour de france business made everything crazy. Although I did see some of the cyclists so I can now cross 'see tour de France' of my list of things to do, even if it was never on there to begin with. I highly recommended Gauchos, which was near oxford circus. The steak was delicious, even if the place did somewhat outclass me.
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An Evening of Good Music [Jun. 2nd, 2007|04:32 pm]
Last night I was at the Royal Albert Hall for about three hours listening to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conduct film scores, in a one performance a year show called Film Harmonic. It was pretty awesome if you are into that kind of thing. I had never seen a live orchestra before, let alone one so renowned and the amazing quality of the sound aside, it was interesting to watch the conductor and the way the different musicians synch together in their movements. For some time I was in awe on the orchestra as a system and was contemplating the display in a very Cockettesque way.

The shear perfectionism was also very impressive, yet for all their hard work, not one of the musicians could crack a smile. They were reluctant to even stand up during applause when the conductor spurred them to do so, and often it seemed they only did so as not to embarrass the guy. I was genuinely confused by this. The conductors were always smiling and bowing away, but everyone else just looked miserable. Is it unprofessional to show gratitude in the music circuit? A common practice I’m too uncultured to understand? Perhaps, but regardless of the reason, it still wouldn’t hurt to show some respect for the crowds appreciation.

John Williams was seventy-five this year, so in his honour of that they put in a lot of his scores. This was good, as the renditions of his scores were among the best played and they are also some of the best around anyway. The For your viewing and listening pleasure I have provided a list of the scores featured in the performance, with many titles being direct links to the download of the original score. You may notice a couple obscure titles in the list. This is because the show had several special guest conductors, who were conducting their own scores.

Mission Impossible – Main Theme
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – Jack Sparrow
Out of Africa - Concert Suite
Arsene Lupin – Concert Suite
Flood – Title Song

Gladiator – Main Theme
E.T. – Flying Theme; Finale
Indiana Jones: Raiders of The Lost Ark – The Raiders’ March; End Credits
Chariots of Fire – Main Theme
Star Wars – Main Theme
‘Once Upon A Dream Parade’ Medley – Excerpts from various Disney Films
Superman – Main Theme
Jaws – Main Theme
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes – Violin Concerto: Second Movement
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring – Main Theme

Dances With Wolves – The John Dunbar Theme
The Great Escape - Main Theme
Jurassic Park – Suite
Rocky – Main Theme

The Rocky theme was a nice final touch which was not mentioned in the concert program. Jurassic Park was a better finish and it did mark the end of the concert, but after all the applause they broke into Rocky as a light-hearted way to exit. The orchestra encouraged clapping to its beat, their first acknowledgment to the audience during any performance, and whilst this represented the lowest point of sophistication that evening, it was quite a cool thing to hear the entire hall clapping in unison.

Talking of sophistication, it was hard to judge how dignified an occasion it was. Half the people seemed dressed up, treating it as a classical music performance whilst others were very casual and all about moving their heads to the music. Similarly, the evenings host was very eloquent and talked a great deal about instruments and the orchestras involved in the scores, but also let loose some very low brow wise cracks from time to time about the films involved. I suppose therefore it was either a very casual evening for cultured music lovers, or a fairly formal occasion for the uncultured filmgoer with a love for scores, but whatever it was, it was awesome. I fully intend to go again next year.
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It wasn't a famine, England stole all their potatoes. [May. 29th, 2007|09:10 pm]
I havn't blogged in a while, so I figured I'd fill you kids in on the latest happenings in my non-data entering/scanning life. I remain consistent on that career front I’m afraid, so no news there, but I am …almost certain that my next blog post will concern either my finished website portfolio or an accepted high-flying job offer.

I went to Portsmouth on the weekend for another house party. It wasn't quite as good as the first one, but still pretty cool with crazy behaviour and a good turnout. I personally got happily drunk without going too far, and didn’t destroy anything, so as far as I am concerned it was another roaring success. That said, I did almost break my back in a spontaneous bundle and remember falling over a lot which has led to several bruises. Passing out uncomfortably on a hard floor has also left me with a rather bad memory of the whole night.

The above image is one of the only photographs I took of the city this time, and it came out blurred. Rather than make a weekend out of it, I just went for the party this time, so there were few excursions and it was too cold and wet to go happy snapping anyway. I won’t post the equally limited party photographs, which were also very blurred and they mainly just depict groups of sitting people and man on man spooning, which seemed perfectly natural within the context of the evening. I wasn't involved of course.

Yesterday I went to the Antony Gormley: Blind Light Exhibit in London with Olivepixel. Like Portsmouth it was cold, dark and raining so I didn't take any photographs. But it was good to see London again in this clichéd fashion and the exhibition was cool. It is well worth going if only to walk around in the glass room full of steam, which I suspect is intended to give a feeling of isolation, in that you only have a hazy 2 feet of visibility inside. You can’t see your own legs let alone the walls or entrance. What makes it exciting though is hearing the other people talking around you and every so often seeing a person come into view, just as you are about to walk into them. It is also fun trying to find the edges, and seeing the people outside looking in at you. Do note your hair will be soaking afterwards and for a while it was quite claustrophobic.

Later we arcaded it up at Trocadero where I won at video poker and possibly beat Mr. Laughton at Outrun 2 several times. The previous photograph is of a monkey I won on a grabber machine, which I really didn't want. I guess I didn't expect to win, but I do then wonder why I paid to try in the first place, especially given the predicted discomfort in carrying it all the way back to Iver Heath. Perhaps just for the thrill of grabbing.

In sadder news, the aerial on my mobile phone broke off. Most would take this, along with the generally poor condition of the thing, as a sign they should purchase a new one, but not me. I just taped the bastard up, and now it’s as good as new. I will not be intimidated by the planned obsolescence that evil phone designers force into their products. I have had this phone since before I started University and I am still content….well, not really, the battery lasts about a day and it doesn’t even have colour, but I have far more important things to spend my money on than a new phone that I’ll hardly use.

In much better news I finally obtained a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine #970, the Hunter S. Thompson memorial issue released in 2005, which is sold out and one of few back issues not available to purchase from Rolling Stone directly. I was therefore forced to brave the auctions of e-bay to get the magazine, where luckily one or two copies of it seem to float each month, in varying condition. The first copy I placed a bid on was sealed and in mint condition, but it got too expensive. The $3.95 issue eventually sold for $147, and its not even two years old! That’s how awesome Hunter S. Thompson is. Luckily for me, someone auctioned another copy a few weeks later with a buy it now price of $20, which I jumped at like the elusive Victorian super villain Spring Heeled Jack. It’s a shame there aren’t more flamboyant villains like him around these days. Anyway the magazine wasn’t sealed, but it was in perfect condition as show above.

I bought the magazine because I wanted to read it, but knowing it might actually be valuable is also very interesting and I shall look after it dearly. It features several tribute articles form the likes of Jack Nicholson and Johnny Depp, along with rare photographs, interviews and what not to make fanboys like me go giddy. I have said it before, but most of you don’t listen to me, so I will repeat myself in telling you that Hunter S. Thompson is in my opinion the finest journalist of the last century. Anyone interested in creative approaches to journalism or American hippy/drug/political culture in the late 60’s – early 70’s should read his stuff. It’s interesting, thought-provoking and hilarious.

That’s about all the news I can think of for now. On Friday I go to London again for this, which I have been looking forward to for some time. I also found the trailer for He Was A Quiet Man the other day, which for some reason I find very compelling and I have a good feeling about the film. I am very into this cult style films that won’t be fantastic, important or particularly successful, but which are just small scale creative ventures and not solely made to turn a buck. This article I read earlier about facebook is also funny.
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HORNETS: Unleashed by Nazis, Propagated by Global Warming [Apr. 25th, 2007|06:14 pm]

Two brave Bachelors of Science dare to probe at one of those most significant and yet taboo issues of the 21st century. Discover their findings for yourself right here.
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