Wednesday, February 21, 2007

So Much For FREEview

A few weeks ago Sky announced plans to remove Sky 3, Sky News & Sky Sports News from the Freeview platform. They said that the channels would be replaced by a premium subscription service meaning Digital Terrestrial users would be able to view prime content from Sky Movies, Sky One & Premiership Football for a fee. To take advantage of this service Freeview box owners would also have to scrap their existing box for a new one capable of decoding the encrypted channels.

While I acknowledge that ‘Freeview’ is actually only part of the DTT service I feel strongly that Ofcom should prevent this happening. I’ve never wanted Sky. I already pay a licence fee, I don’t want to pay additional money for my TV which is why I love Freeview so much.

“So what’s the big deal smeg?” I hear you cry, “Just don’t subscribe.” Of course that’s the simple solution and of course I won’t be upgrading my box or subscribing. It’s what it stands for I don’t like. I don’t use Sky News or Sky Sports News in the first place, but I like that they’re there. If Sky go ahead with this Freeview users will lose 3 channels. If I wanted a Sky service I would subscribe to Sky, why should they remove 3 channels of Freeview?

Also think of the older viewers that are already confused enough by the digital switchover. This is just going to add another layer of fuss to the change for analogue to digital.

There is a petition to stop this on the Number 10 website but given the government's reaction to the road tax petition I doubt it’ll make any difference.

P.S. My 300th post!


So much for the resistance. I’ve been forced over to new Blogger by the powers that be. OK so I can now add photos direct from my mobile but now if I want to make a single change to my template I will lose all my previous changes and have to start from scratch.

Cheers Blogger.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rudebox Paradox

Rudebox has been slated by the general media. I feel this negativity has come purely on the back of the actual single ‘Rudebox’ which certainly wasn’t Robbie at his best. The press have used this to totally rip into the whole album. The truth however is that it’s actually a damn fine effort. Look at Love Light, A cracking tune. A cover, yes, but Robbie’s performance could be easily compared to George Michael. Then there is the stunning current single ‘She’s Madonna’. Not only the best track on Rudebox but one of Robbie’s best singles full stop.

It’s not all Rudebox has to offer. The album sags slightly mid-way with ‘Keep On’, ‘The Actor’ & ‘Never Touch That Switch’. Not that the tracks are essentially bad but placed together they’re just a tad samey. ‘Good Doctor’ is a stand out track in that it’s so different. It’s Rudebox in style but so much better - and very relevant.

‘Bongo Bong’ is fantastic because it’s just so damn catchy. Then there’s the truly haunting ‘Burslem Normals’. Beautiful. Dreamy music and breathy vocals, it stopped me dead the first time I heard the album.

Kiss Me is blinding – especially when, you have the opportunity to play it on a night club sound system. Cracking bass and I far prefer it to Stephen Duffy’s original version.

There’s the two part song/story ‘The 80s’ & ‘The 90s’. I dunno. These are the two that have just never hooked me. I prefer the 90s by miles but I suppose that’s because I’ve never been convinced by Robbie The Rapper as featured on ‘The 80s’.

Summertime ends the album with an average ballad… oh and then there’s the bonus track. Which I can’t say anything about other than I just can’t stand it.

Rudebox is a more testing album than any Robbie Williams has ever released, but it is no where near the disaster that popular opinion claims it to be. It’s just different. Yes I said that about Intensive Care but this album takes the experimentation to another level. And hey it’s a good thing. Robbie could just keep releasing similar sounding songs and get surefire number ones every time.

Look at Oasis. Good band yes, but have they actually ever done anything new or experimented with their sound at all? Nope. Essentially their latest singles could have been Oasis material from 10 years ago. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing – just a boring one. Oasis claim they’re the greatest band in the world but I’d argue they’re in the same league as Status Quo – a band surviving off the same riffs and chords all the time.

Queen & Beatles, for better or for worse were both groups that changed their sound. I can’t stand like the man but even Justin Timberlake is trying out new things and I respect him for that. Robbie’s Rudebox is worth listening too just for the fact that he’s trying something new. He’s in a place where he can afford to experiment and try different stuff. He’s got nothing to prove, he’s already done that with his back catalogue.

So to those of you who argue that pop music is boring go and buy Rudebox. Cast off any preconceptions and enjoy and album that amazes, (She’s Madonna, Lovelight, Burslem Normals) annoys (Rudebox & Dickhead) and entertains. (Bongo Bong & Kiss Me.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

"It’s 4 Minutes To The Top Of The Hour"

Cheesy radio DJ’s. Don’t you love ‘em? One new commercial radio station in Oxford doesn’t and is promising to be DJ free when it launches.

Jack FM is based on a US format where radio stations simply put their digital music library out onto the airwaves in ‘random’ but without the use of any DJs. (It’s no big deal, a lot of UK stations have been using automated output overnight for years.) Jack FM feel that people are turning off commercial radio because they’re sick of DJ’s dumb links and prefer the randomness of an MP3 player instead.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Content is the key. If I wanted to listen to random music output I can simply put my iPod on – better yet I know my iPod has no jingles spoiling the intros and no advertising every 20 minutes.

I tune into radio to be informed and entertained and for that I need a good personality hosting the show.

The reason I don’t listen to commercial radio is because of its very nature… the commercial side of it. I’ve written before how I feel that the big national station owners like Gcap & Emap have killed true local radio. It all just seems too sanitized, bland and safe. From my local commercial station I expect local personalities, local news, views and even local music. They just don’t offer enough it. This is why people don’t tune in.

I tune into Radio to hear the DJs. Chris Moyles, Scott Mills, Ian Collins, James Whale, Steve Wright, Jeremy Vine, Mark Radcliffe, Mark Riley. All fantastic entertainers in their own way and often when listening to them I actually get annoyed that they have to play music as most of their links are brilliant.

Jack FM say their target audience are the people that love to listen to their iPod on shuffle. Dumbest strategy ever… those people are just going to carry on doing exactly that. After all you are in total control over the music on your Mp3. You know you’re going to like it all. What’s the point in listening to a station where every now and then a song comes up you can’t stand when you’ve got 5000 tracks you love at your fingertips.

You want to get listeners. Search out and use the talent that is out there. Be different, edgy, pioneering. Above all - entertain.

Friday, February 16, 2007


I got stopped in the street by a kind looking, slightly bearded young woman this afternoon. I anticipated she was going to ask for directions and, as she wasn’t wearing a fluorescent tabard and lacked a clipboard, I popped my earphones out and acknowledged her.

“Hi, I just wondered if I could ask you. Do you believe in God?” She smiled at me.

What business is it of hers? Religion and faith is a powerful and personal thing. Who, or what I believe in should be of no concern to anyone else and it’s precisely these sorts of people that cause a lot of problems.

Have faith, celebrate your religion but you shouldn’t give flying toss about what anyone else believes in. I decided to just walk on and ignore her. To this minute I don’t know why she asked that, or what she expected but oddly she didn’t seem to stop anyone else in the street.

I do seem to attract weirdoes. Minutes later in Vision Express helping Miss Smeg choose a new pair of frames I watched a man talking to himself. Not the occasional muttering under your breath that most of us absent-mindedly do now and then but a full blown, loud monologue.

“Hmm, mens, ladies, designer. Wow, designer… ohhh. Pricey. I think I will stick with simple frame. Ooooh good grief.” He exclaimed.

“The public are weird.” Miss Smeg muttered.

I couldn’t agree more.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


So I’ve got a nice shiny new mobile phone. One of it’s spanky new features is that it has a 3 megapixle camera with a built in link to Blogger - you can take a picture and within seconds post it to your blog with text and all.

I tried it out this morning, a picture of my funky new Nintendo T-Shirt. Then came online to ‘claim’ my mobile blog and link it to this one. The problem is that Blogger won’t let me. Why? This blog is on ‘old Blogger’. The mobile blog will only let me sign up in Google Blogger.

I don’t want to upgrade my blog. I like its clunky old interface and I fear change.

So for now, because Google has changed from being the cool and fresh search engine to an evil corporate whore like Yahoo, this blog will not be featuring my pretty mobile camera pics.

Of course, we all know that the Google SS will soon round up us old school bloggers and tell us to like it or lump it. But I’m not going down without a fight… or, at the least, a few more posts…

The big n

Its weird how nintendo are suddenly cool again

Thursday, February 08, 2007


This was my view as I woke up this morning.

As I pulled back my curtains my heart skipped with excitement. The world looked pure and beautiful, covered with glistening white stuff. I love snow and I love that feeling of awe that rushes over you when you first open the curtains.

Then there was the tinge of disappointment. I’m the last of my friends to still have my ‘Saturday job’. I’m the only person with the morning off. Even though I’m 26 the prospect of sledging and snowman building was still fantastic. The last big snow day was 12 years ago. I spent all of it with my best friend at the time doing all those snow related activities you can think off. I wanted to do it again but even my usual suspect now has a ‘proper’ 9-5 job.

So what can I do? I can’t snowball fight with myself. I’ve decided I’m going to leave for work early this afternoon and take a scenic route. Take some nice photos of snowy Herefordshire and prey that work’s quiet enough to close early for some snowball action.

Failing that, I might just write my name in it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Single Showgirl

So Kylie’s now single. Well I knew it would happen. The moment I realised I was in the same room as her I knew it was a matter of time before she’d come to her senses and ditch Oliver for the fine specimen of man that stood before her.

Of course, I’m completely ignoring that fact that there were a few thousand other people in that same room too.

One of the great things about seeing a band live is that feeling that for those few hours you’re experiencing something that only a few thousand will ever see. Your own gig with the band. The things they say, heck even some of what they sing will only ever be heard by the ears of those attending that particular concert.

Sadly with Kylie you knew that everything she said and did was totally scripted and rehearsed. Still, put this observation aside and Kylie: Showgirl Homecoming was one of the most amazing sound & light shows I will ever see. The delicious costumes, the fantastic songs, stunning dance routines and sublime light show.

In the last 10 minutes Kylie finally let down her guard, finished her script and talked to us. She picked out people from the audience and chatted to them, poked fun at a few and even entered into an impromptu song with sister Danni. It’s a shame that she didn’t do this more throughout the 2 hours as her great personality completely shined through and gave hints as to how intimate the concert could have been.

Amazing concert, amazing lady and a fantastic night out.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lylat Bores

I've been waiting 10 years for this game.

After Starwing & Lylatwars on the SNES & N64 I wanted more Fox McCloud. The gamecube came and went and offered 2 very poor insults to the Starfox legacy.

Then the big N teased me with screenshots and video of Starfox Command. I was excited again. I finally got my hands on a copy and...'s crap. Why are Nintendo so hesitent to give us a good LylatWars followup? They're obsessed with changing the format. If I wanted a strategic fighter I'd buy Advanced Wars.

No I want the blisteringly fast and furious shoot-em-up fun the original 2 offered. Instead we've got this stylus controlled mess.

Imagine if Nintento tinkered with the controls of Mario Kart this much? There'd be outrage! So why the constant different formats to Starfox?!

Oh well, at least I can use it for a trade in for Wario Ware Smooth moves I suppose.