But not least ...

Music I've just activated my last.fm account. So now you can see what I'm actually listening to when I'm online. Worrying.

New Doctor Who Spin-Off?

For the continuity nuts: The BBC are developing a new series for the Who slot on Saturday nights based on the legends of Merlin who as we all know from sitting through the Sylvester McCoy adventure 'Battlefield' is a future incarnation of The Doctor.
"He regenerates at least once (Ancelyn knows of this ability) and helps Arthur win many battles (including Camlann). Finally, around the year 1200 at Badon, the Doctor defeats Morgaine's armies completely. Arthur is killed in the battle, and the Doctor, pretending that he's putting him in suspended animation, sends his body across the dimensions to the 'Avalon' lake in our universe (The propaganda value of the idea that the King might awaken when cured, and use Excalibur to call for aid, would help in restoring order)."
Casting ideas?


Life I'm a student at Manchester University.

It's official, no turning back. I have a card with my photography on it and everything.

There aren't many days when you fulfill a life's ambition, when everything you've been working towards for years and years and years finally happens. Typically my induction was early in the morning, and untypically it was extraordinarily easy, a case of filling in a form and taking a section of it to a grand old hall in another building were a friendly face took my picture, checked my finances were in order and issued me with the card.

Times have changed. When I was first an undergrad I needed an id for the university, for the library and for the student union. Now I need but one. There is something slightly biblical about that. Also out with the laminator, this is printed directly onto plastic and swipes and scans.

It all feels real now.


AskMe Today The Guardian published the group photograph of delegates to the World Summit at the UN. There is a key to who all these smiling faces are which is useful, except two gentlemen are listed simply as 'unidentified'. Would anybody like to take a guess as to who they are?

20 Unidentified

151 Unidentified

[also posted here]

Pretty Good Ear

People Why does Cate Blanchett's photo at the Internet Movie Database look like an unseen shot from a biopic of Tori Amos?


Sport England won the ashes. I'm getting harranged in the comments section so I'm doing The Guardian thing of offering what the reader wants. But two things (1) I love everything about cricket except the game and (2) I've been busy ...

More Tales

Commuter Tales is a heading a certainly didn't think I'd ever use again in the context of Liverpool to Manchester, but here I am. In the past it was fairly interchangable with ...

Commuter Life ... which I much prefer. Last time I used either was at the end of June 2002 when my work at the Royal Bank of Scotland's credit card centre ended. I don't think I've ever mentioned where exactly I was working before, because of The Rules, but I think it might be OK now.

Then I was on a strict clock of needing to be in work at a particular time and so tired at the end of the day all I wanted to do was get home. I'm travelling again, and the times haven't changed and the delays will inevitably happen but I feel much more relaxed about the whole thing. Until lectures begin I won't know how many hours I'll be having to study or how late I'll be working or how many days I'll need to be in university, but I think because the choices will largely be mine and my working patterns will be flexible it doesn't feel like as much of an obstacle. I'm enjoying the journey ...

... that said ... this is only day two ...

... but I did get exciting vouchers as I passed through the station this morning which mean The Guardian will only be twenty pence a day, which is either a fabulous way to gather new readers or a foolhardy way to bankrupt yourself. I wonder how many other people managed to get seven weeks worth. I'll not have pay full price until November ...


Journalism Something remarkable happened today, something which hasn't happened in probably months, even years. I bought The Guardian on a Tuesday. Traditionally I've skipped today and Wednesday to give myself a reading gap were I can catch up on whatever novel I'm trying to plough through or a magazine. But I'd enjoyed myself so much yesterday, I wanted to read it again today to see if they could continue the perfection. I'm pleased to see that they have and I'll probably end up back with it tomorrow.

The new size has brought a new philosophy. The news section in particular feels punchier. There is certainly detectably more analysis, a definite move away from simply offering the news to describing the implications. It understands that many of us already have a comprehension of what's happening in the world from radio or television; the paper is trying to find out why it's happening. The short leader paragraphs for each section which appear at the bottom of the front page cleverly act as adverts for the internal content. I found myself reading a finance story I would almost certainly have skipped over before. In this new Egyptian font, everything looks fresher

In parts, it plays like a printed weblog, Boing Boing, Slashdot and Metafilter rolled into one, presenting the whole story instead of a link. G2 in particular is a directory of wonderful things: there is a new section all about ethical living which randomly includes an explanation of the ingredients section from a bottle of Diet Coke; at the centre of the main paper is a two page full colour spead, EyeWitness which highlights some extraordinary photograph or subject -- yesterday that meant the riot in Belfast and today the new fourth grace still in the workshop in Italy; Morse author Colin Dexter has a new column 'How To Solve Crosswords...' so we might finally be able to look at that grid and mess of words and actually have some idea what it all means.

Granted, parts of the paper feel slightly design heavy, especially in the use of cutout head and shoulder shots of the writer or subject to illustrate stories. There are some columns such as Pass Notes, Smallweed and Country Diary which I might not have always read but were part of the furniture and the gap is felt. Thankfully Doonesbury is back next week after enough people complained. But overall this is a job well done. Congratulations Alan.

Links for 2005-09-12 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2005-09-12 [del.icio.us]
* Jon Newman's nano photos @ flickr
It's smaller than a cd ...
* Been there Manchester
* Microsoft's army of lawyers was no match for a kid from Kent State.
"For the past four months, David Zamos has been fighting four high-powered attorneys. They claimed he violated trademark and copyright laws by selling two unopened pieces of software on eBay for $203.50."

Links for 2005-09-11 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2005-09-11 [del.icio.us]
* Excuse me, do you have a camera?
Triforce go on the offensive
* Lost Doctor Who clips found
You really aren't going to believe where ...
* The Editors' Weblog
Making the new Guardian. I'll give my reaction at the end of the week or when I've slept. Although -- no Doonesbury? A quick thread at the Editor's Blog and decision maker Ian Katz appreciates the error, with a Friday catch-up promised and everything back to normal next week. They're the paper that likes to listen.

And over ...

Life The first thing I did when I reached Manchester University was to trip over. I had the campus map out stretched trying to work out were the building was for the induction for this introductory week and completely failed to notice were the pavement became a low wall. I tried not to fall downwards, but almost in human slow motion, I met pavement.

This week is all about the different resources Manchester itself has to offer. So this afternoon that meant presentations from the Museum of Science and Industry and The Portico Library followed by a visit to the Connect Theatre. In this initial flush of excitement, everything is exciting.

I'm still smiling. Every now, as we drifted between seminars, I would look around at all the university buildings, at the architecture, the history, and I'm still amazed that I've been granted the opportunity. I haven't any idea what will be happening over the next twelve months, with all the lectures, study groups, essays, dissertations, whether I still have the ability to write coherently and the deadlines. But today everything felt alright. That I wasn't an interloper.

Such nice people. Ironically if you know the history, I spent most of the day hanging about with people taking MAs in Art History and Museum Studies. There appear to be many of those. Later on I met a couple of my course mates -- or all of them if there really are only three of us. As usual I developed that nervous tick were I talk and talk and make crap jokes (see Steve Martin in L A Story) but I don't think I was too embarassing and people were still speaking to me at the end of the day. Beautifully I'm not the only commuter with people travelling in from Huddersfield, Chester and Wigan. And we all seem to share the same look, an unspoken conversation which amounts to "I can't believe it!" "No neither can I."


That Day Just a post.

Links for 2005-09-10 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2005-09-10 [del.icio.us]
* Atmosphere of rivalry
"The BBC's new docu-drama Space Race zooms in on the personalities that led the cold-war rocket contest. Andrew Mueller charts its ups and downs."
* 20 Things They Don't Want You to Know
"We reveal some of what vendors are keeping mum, such as: You never have to pay full price, extended warranties rarely pay for themselves, and the big sites do have customer service numbers."
* Proud of their "New" Logo?
"Quark gets a new face. Problem is, it looks just like the face of the Scottish Arts Council." Similar new logo fun.
* Museum of Liverpool Life is to close
"It is hoped that the museum on the city waterfront will eventually find a new home in the £65m building planned for neighbouring Mann Island but that is not due to open until 2009."
* The John Cassavetes Collection
DVD Times reviews the new boxset. Includes two different edits of 'The Killing of a Chinese Bookie'
* Mark Kermode reviews Gus Van Sant's 'Last Days'
Bored of the latest releases Kermode suddenly launches into a blisteringly funny review of the Cobain inspired movie. Warning: 10mb mp3 download (but well worth it)

Robyn / Orbyn

Blog! "Driving a van through traffic makes you dizzy with power. I was just a passenger, but even I wound down my window and yelled, "What are you lookin' at, Backpack?" at a pedestrian who goggled at us - two girls tootling along Pentonville Road in a people carrier. Van fever is catching." -- Robyn has a new weblog

blah and waah

Life Wasting the day on purpose. That's my rationalisation for not actually managing to do anything constructive other than hang a few pictures. University begins tomorrow and I've come to the conclusion that there's no point flaying about doing blah and waah if I'm worn out at the end and totally unprepared for the busy few weeks I have ahead. So instead I'm writing this and watching Firefly for the umpteenth time.

It's your

Comments Ian Jones remembers in the comments section of this post the origin of The Mug.