Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Did anyone see the total lunar eclipse this morning?

A full lunar eclipse only happens when the earth passes directly between the sun and moon -- a spectacular sight that won't happen again until December of 2010.

I got all excited when I read it was on Feb.21st then I read time it was due to happen at and realised, dammit! I missed it too :(

So courtsey of the NY Times, here is what we all missed:

It doesn't really look like it is made of cheese, does it?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Business is slow

I knew it!

See this post I wrote a few days ago giving out about companies replacing technology and standards in electronics almost as soon as they are in the shops. Then guess what has happened today? Toshiba has announced their decision to no longer develop, make or market high-definition HD DVD players and recorders. See here for Wired article.

I love the way it is presented as all being in the interest of the consumer. The article says:

"In making the announcement, Toshiba Corp. President Atsutoshi Nishida said
he wanted to avoid confusion among consumers. The decision was relatively
quick, coming just several years after the competing technologies arrived."

Yes, "relatively quick" is now redefined as "just several years" in corpospeakedness so that is all right then.

All right for everyone who bought blu-ray as their choice of film player. Not so all right for those 1 million North Americans who went with HD-DVD players.

So under the circumstances, the decent thing would be for Toshiba to recall all HD DVD players on the shelves of major retailers at the moment as in time, there will be no newly released DVDs released on compatible media to play in the players. It would also be gosh-darned-super-duper-ickle-fairy-darn-tooting-moral of them to take back the HD DVD players already sold to soon-to-be-disgruntled customers.

Well neither of those is going to happen.

"Toshiba said shipments of HD DVD machines to retailers will be reduced and
will stop by the end of March."

I suppose it is some sort of improvement on the Betamax/VHS battle where it took Sony 10 years to stop making the players.

Like I said. Business is slow ... to be fair to the consumer. Not so slow on charging a premium for emerging technologies though. Nor not so slow to keep money for recently redundant technology. No sireee.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A tale of pot-bellied pigs, a night in a pub, ploughed fields and friendship.

I lost a very good friend Sybil to cancer a few years ago. She was German and survived growing up as a small child in post-war Berlin.

In her mid-40's she moved to the Cork countryside where she was the terror of every local Romeo who came into the flower shop she worked in. "You are buying ROSES for your girlfriend? Wat hav you done - had ze affair or lost ze imagination??"

My favourite memory of her is seeing her standing on Middleton High Street, surveying the chaos of a typical Saturday around her and yelling out in a very loud voice "these DAMM Irish, zey do not park ze cars, zey ABANDON dem!"

For all her exterior toughness, she had a heart of gold, a wicked sense of humour and was one of the best dog-handlers I have ever seen.

She was not so hot however with pot-bellied pigs. Hers escaped and had to be chased across several muddy fields by torchlight.

How could you not love a woman who greeted you on the walk home from the pub with the words "get your torches, the pigs are out!”? A few Friday night pints of Guinness only carries your good mood across so many ploughed fields and ditches. Typical of Sybil though, she had whiskey indoors that night which was distributed with Irish generosity to the pig-chasing posse once the bandits had been recaptured.

I am still wondering who was the tall handsome middle-aged man was who came to see her in hospital when she was there in her last days. I thought from the look of him he was a farmer. I even went as far as to speculate he was someone who she was very intimate with. I only got as far as looking him up and down before I was shoo-ed out of the room for his visit. When I came back, I never asked and she never told but she had a very naughty glint in her eye.

Everywoman is allowed to keep her secrets but I would give my eye teeth to know what the story was there.

So in memory of my friend, the well-loved one-woman German scourge of a small Irish community, I am going to do a sponsored race to raise funds for cancer research. I am just grateful there are no pigs or coverts involved. Unless the Blackheath race for life organisers have some very perverse ideas for race routes!

Anyone wanting to give a £1 can use the link above and it would be very much appreciated.