The Worst Christmas Ever?

I had a message from Matthieu. I pass it on without comment. If anyone out there wants to send him a message of sympahty after reading this, I’ll pass them all on!

Matt says . . . “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin… Saturday 14th December and the Microsoft Christmas Ball in the Roundhouse, London is well underway and I am resplendent in my new Dinner Jacket – all very James Bond etc… until my car is clamped outside our hotel and my dinner jacket goes mysteriously missing at the Ball along with £100 in cash that I had for taxis, emergencies etc… :o(

Sunday sees my car unclamped after a lengthy discussion with London officials and I spend the next 6 hours on the motorways of England dropping various friends home in Surrey and Berkshire before heading to Bristol to a dinner party…

Monday morning sees the rear of my car totalled by a speeding Transit who decided not to stop at the red light… where I was already stopped… this happens at 10:30am and it is not until 4pm that I am actually picked up by a Recovery lorry due to the insurance company, RAC and the garage where the car will be repaired, arguing over who should come and get me… so I kill time by doing all my Christmas shopping. When I finally arrive back in Reading and pick up the hire car I cannot be bothered to lug several bags of Christmas presents up three flights of stairs after the day I have had so I lock it all in the boot…

Tuesday morning I drive to my little village railway station and park the hire car under the CCTV camera… I go to {big important customer} at Clipstone Street for the day and then am invited to their Christmas Party… to cut a long story short, 4 am sees me in the spare room of one of their IT Managers somewhere in Pinner!

11am Wednesday morning and I return to Pangbourne railway station to find the hire car (only 450 miles on the clock!) with no windows or wheels… the glove box is open (there goes more cash and my 50 favourite CDs!) as is the boot (£several hundred worth of Christmas pressies!). Bugger !

Wednesday night sees me in bed with a horrible throat virus and there I stay until Saturday morning…

Saturday morning I head into town and putting my switch card into the ATM it is promptly swallowed… to cut another long story short (!) Halifax Head Office had suspended my account (currently £10K in credit due to my selling my house!) because of a £5 non-payment on my Halifax credit card… but rather than calling me to ask would I like to pay this – they suspend the account THE SATURDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS AND NOTIFY ME BY POST!

Today and the BMW is just back and Halifax are working to unravel the mess… however, I will have no cash card or cheque book (it was in the car!) until the New Year and have no Christmas presents… oh, and the insurance company have said that I am not covered for any loss of personal goods . . .”


AIBO Recognition

For the first time ever, with the new software “Aibo Recognition”, Sony’s amazing (but expensive) robot dog can now recognise your face and voice! As well as this, it can now locate it’s energy station by itself when it feels its battery is running low. Sony say this is the highlight of their new software, i.e. it will know on its own when its battery needs to be charged and will locate its Energy Station and walk over to it to recharge itself. This action can be triggered by a voice command as well. When Aibo is charged and ready for action, it will walk off the Energy Station by itself, and resume its autonomous nature.

To me, however, voice and face recognition seems a far greater step forward. (See the piece below entitled “Aibo Might be Good Medicine for People“.) As it’s name implies, “Aibo Recognition” (installed in Aibo via a Sony “Memory Stick”) brings owner recognition to Sony’s dog, so after teaching it your face and voice, it’s capable of distinguishing you from other people. For example, if you are interacting with Aibo within a group of people, Aibo will know that you have told it to sit down, versus the same command given by someone else. Furthermore, if the owner calls out Aibo’s name, it will look up at them affectionately and be delighted! I’ll have to try and get the new software for June and her Maxwell. Keep going Sony, you’re fascinating us all. Whatever next?

The T.Mobile Ad’ is Back

I notice the T.Mobile TV ad’ with the baby picture is back on our screens, no doubt with the Christmas market in mind. This was the commercial that sent me off on a chase for the music and introduced me to the track entitled “So Easy”. I found it. it’s from the album ‘Melody A.M.’ and it’s superb! This is the debut from Norwegian outfit Royksopp. It’s already becoming widely touted for “classic” status. I’ve already noticed it in two other TV programmes – one food programme and one travel programme! Far from “just another chill-out” album, this is a richly textured feast of warm, late-night food for the soul. The songs seem to reflect the extremes of the environment they were produced in. If, like me, you find the music interesting, you can find more details on my Music Page and, if you’re in the UK, buy it from Steve’s Shop!

The End of the BBC’s Fame Academy

David Won! Watch it here. We were rooting initially (and marginally, it has to be said) for Lemar with David a second choice, but when Lemar lost the first public vote we switched to David and dialled in a pound’s worth of votes for him. In the end, there were 6.9 million votes cast and David won with a slim majority over Sinead. We got the impression Sinead was pretty sure of herself, but in the end she was beaten to the finishing line.

David made the main BBC news during the day today and was on Saturday morning TV this morning. He still seemed to be a little in shock although maybe it was the 90 minutes sleep he’d had since his win. Judging by the reaction of the young audience, both in the studio and on the phone, he’ll do well. Good luck David, we’ll watch you with interest over the next 12 months and if you happen to come across this website, drop us a line! :-)

Another Moan About British Midland

I flew up to Scotland and back yesterday, and I have to say again, I really miss the original Full English Breakfast on Brtish Midland! I wrote about this a while back, and I still think it’s a decidedly retrogressive step in this day and age where service is the key differentiator. I think I’ll start a campaign called Bring Back the BMI Breakfast! What did we get on the way back? A cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit! Not good enough British Midland!

Snow or No Snow?

So what do you think? Do you like the snow or not? Respond to me Here with the words “Snow” or “NoSnow” in any box. When I have twenty votes, I’ll leave it or dump it accordingly. You choose! :-)