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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Tuesday, 21 November 2006

'tis the season (Autumn, actually)

We are the Music Man - Great YarmouthBeth and I came home yesterday after a weekend away on the peaceful East Anglian coast - with Beth's folks kindly looking after the children for a couple of days, it was a civilised, relaxed time, where we were even able to buy a Saturday newspaper and actually read some of it (although I'll admit to having been beaten by the Sudoko..) and visit the strangely named and even more eclectically stocked shops of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. I miss seaside towns!

We're back now, though, and the lounge is the main focus for the next couple of weeks, since we have a new carpet due to arrive at the beginning of December, and it would be useful to have it painted - and essential to have it cleared - before it turns up. It'll be really nice to have a floor that's not stained by squished raisins and bits of ground-in play-doh!

Speaking of the beginning of December, I thought I'd mention that we're planning a long-overdue return of Image FM (sorry about the scant contents.. I'm working on a general website update at the moment) on the evening (GMT) of Sunday 3rd December 2006. Hope you can join us - all you need is a computer and a media player. We're hoping to have four shows between about 6pm and midnight, all of which will be available for download afterwards!

Just to bring you up-to-date with the rest of the news, Beth has been having a fair amount of trouble with her email forwarding recently. In fact, it's not just her - her mum and brother are both suffering from delays of up to two weeks, which really is no good. I'm currently waiting for Beth's domain to transfer to names.co.uk, which involves all kinds of complicated things (such as changing the tag) but if we can get it all working, we can do ther others. The technical support team at names.co.uk have been really helpful, and I'm hoping it'll all be sorted before the end of the week.

Right.. better get Christopher from school - we're off to Dave and Debi's this afternoon for a small joint celebration.

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 8:38 PM

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

podcast, party and video (game) players

There's only one way to start this blog entry (save to say that it'll probably be a fairly long tedious one, what with the last post being ten days ago.. annoyingly this means that I'll only be able to capture about thirty percent of the anecdotes and links that I've accumulated over the past week and a half) is to announce the long-awaited episode 4 of The North South Divide comedy podcast. You can hear the fruits of 6 months' intermittent labour here:

It's far, far from perfect, but it's twenty-five minutes of gentle humour, so I'm pleased with it. Thanks to Debs, Beth and (as she has asked to be credited!) Florida Goddess for supplying the extra voices... hopefully they'll also be appearing in number 5, which will certainly not take as long to produce. Hopefully...

Christopher's new glassesThe other big news is that Christopher has rather a fine new look - he's been prescribed glasses for a while, since he has an astigmatism in his left eye that needs straightening out. Spectacles these days are much more stylish than they were when I were a lad; no need for big ol' black or tortoise-shell plastic frames any more! He's dealing with them very well, which is something of a relief.

It's definitely birthday season in the family - September's quite a busy month, but what with Tilly, Max, Rob, Debi, Lisa and I having birthdays in November, we'll all be a year older within the next couple of weeks. We were invited to her party, and entertained for the second year in a row by the marvellous Freckles.

Beth was up North over the weekend, at the Christening of Lucy, her most recent surrogate baby, but that didn't stop us having fun - I took the children to what turned out to be a very well-presented exhibition on board games through the ages at Luton Museum.

One of the side benefits to being a parent is legitimate Children's TV watching - a perk that I've not had since I was a student. My current (possibly even 'all time') is Charlie and Lola and an added bonus is that the CBeebies website offering ten on-demand episodes. If you've got ten minutes to spare, why not watch one?

I have recently discovered that my cherished iRiver H320 can - to a certain extent - play videos, too. They need to be in a particular format, but some bright spark has written an extension to the excellent mplayer that can transcode almost any media (including DVDs!) to the XVid format. Perfect, then, for watching a film while traveling (although the screen's a bit small, and the battery life isn't perfect...)

iriverter can be downloaded from iriverter.sourceforge.net

Link of the day/week/November:

  • gp2x.co.uk : I don't think I've ever seen anything like this - it's a Linux-based hand-held games machine, that looks the business, but can play games, MP3s, movies, and all for only £125... does more than a Nintendo DS, and you're not stuck with having to find strange-looking UMDs to play things on it. I think I want one! (although actually, I've got far too much tech gubbins in my pockets already!)

Posted by james at 8:21 PM

Saturday, 4 November 2006


Fireworks! Wheee!There's certainly been a change in the weather - seemingly to co-incide with the season where people see fit to set fire to explosives... Chris and I went to his school to see their fireworks display - I'm sure they've become a lot more sophisticated over the past few years, since this display was rather impressive.

It's quiet in Central London tonight, though (I'm working a little later because our 9pm man is unwell) but it hasn't been during the course of the day. Demolition has started in earnest of the old building (known affectionately as "BHX" - Broadcasting House Extension) and in order to get the job done, they've had to put together one of those huge looming cranes.

crane carrying crane..Although it was slow (which meant that I only needed to watch it occasionally) it was still a marvel of civil engineering, as one (smallish) crane took the pieces of the very big crane from the back of the waiting lorries and stood them up, a much larger, telescopic crane picked them up, lifted them over the building and planted them in the courtyard behind. On a clear, crisp day like today, it was a wonderful spectacle, and certainly made the day a little more interesting.

I'm not going to be able to watch another piece of crane action tonight, though - the Highways Agency M1 Project page gives details of the bridge work that's going to be carried out. If Christopher was a little older (and if he was interested!) it'd make for a fascinating bit of education - certainly for me! (No.. I've not missed my vocation - I really have trouble getting my head round moving large things from one place to another! Take, for example, the salvage of the Tricolore (thanks, Brian)... now that is cool.

Podcast bits
Before I dash off home, I discovered a couple of days ago that the New Scientist magazine has a podcast! That brings my list of science and technology-based podcasts to three (the BBC's Digital Planet and Guardian Unlimited's Science podcast being the other two).

Recently, they interviewed the Prime Minister, and - despite the usual sycophancy and politician-ness (if you know what I mean) - it was a fairly interesting interview. You can find it here.

Odd music.
Loopy : www.myspace.com/lesliehall. That is all.

Halfway through my long weekend shift! Yay!

Posted by james at 10:37 PM

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