I have a driving license

Still only a provisional, but I finally got a driving license sorted out (thanks to Grete who did most of the hard work).  Now I just need to organise some lessons in the next 10 or 15 years to keep up the same pace and I’ll be golden.

I swing between optimism and complete and utter terror.

So no change there then.

If you write – they will come

I’m interested, peripherally, about how people find web pages and why they read them.  Especially with respect to personal blogs (such as mine) for people who are neither famous nor especially interesting.  The two things I can tell you are,

  1. If you write it, they will come.  People will read anything, and if you eventually get your blog to show up on searches, some people will turn up and read stuff.
  2. The more you write, the more chance you’ll get visitors and the corollary, if you stop writing, they will go.  It doesn’t matter what you write, almost, if you write every day you’ll get visitors on that basis.  If you write once a week you’ll get fewer, if you write once a month you’ll get fewer still.  If you write sporadically you’ll get sporadic visitors, if you write consistently you’ll get consistent visitors.

So there.

How do you make mystery TV mysterious?

It can’t be easy making mysterious TV mysterious any more.  Sure, if it’s not popular you’ve got a chance, but as soon as it is popular you’re screwed.  In the old days, the folk in the house would talk about the plot and maybe they’d work out some of what was going on, but they wouldn’t know anything until the following week.  Perhaps someone in the house would work out Some Great Secret but you didn’t have any way of confirming it.

Maybe they chatted about it to a friend or two at work.  Perhaps students got together in bars and mused over cheap alcohol.  But eventually you had to watch and find out.  You had no contact with the writers.

Later, maybe magazines ran stories, and you could garner some information from those to share among your small circle of friends and you could enjoy yourselves discussing the possibilities.

These days, thousands of fans, maybe tens of thousands gather on forums and they pour over every aspect of the show.  The dialog, the scenes (frame by bloody frame if necessary), and they look for connections.  Connections within the show, within the other shows of the same writers and directors and producers.  They look for patterns and they talk and talk and discuss and theorise.

Writers are normal people.  They’re not super heroes with super writing powers.  They invent stuff and they research stuff and they bring to the front stuff they watched and remembered and enjoyed and twist the tale and deliver excitement.  But they’re normal folk.  So when you bring together 10,000 more normal folk they’re going to have some shared experience, some knowledge, some idea of what is going on, and when they brainstorm – well you should fear their collective awareness.

They will find every hole, they will spot every plot, they will dig deeper than you can imagine, they will invent stuff you love but never thought of yourself.

How on earth are writers ever going to deliver something interesting at the end of a mystery TV series these days?  Is there no hope?

Is Fringe doomed, lost in the shadow of the thousands of fans predicting every episode and digging beneath every mystery?  Did Lost lose it’s way when the fans described every possible explanation for the island there could be?  Do we need to use the approach from Push where our hero works out what to do and then has his mind wiped so no one, not even he, can guess where things will lead?

Will we end up with soap opera style TV series in which there is no long running mystery because how can any mystery survive the glare?  Will we have to live on a diet of 1 hour mysteries with no long running story line (and how long will they survive when we’re all wired in and talking to our 10,000 friends while the episode is on air).

I wonder how mystery TV writers with ambitions of long plot arcs will survive in the glare of the Internet and how fans will come to lament the loss of the mystery and the inevitable let down when the predictions from 10,000 fans come true in the final episodes.

Twitter / Facebook fail?

Well that sucks.  I noticed a few days ago that the Facebook Twitter app had stopped updating my Facebook status, and started making wall posts.  Didn’t think much of it, just assumed I was missing a new option.  Then I noticed other people saying the same thing.

Did some digging and it looks like Twitter have made the change ‘at the request of the Facebook folk’.  Check out this (closed) bug report,


If I wanted the Twitter app to make wall posts, I’d have done that.  I wanted it to make status updates (so I could update several status entries from one place only).

Not enough people read this blog to start a movement, which is a shame, because I’d like this to go back to how it was.  I’d rather not use a third-party app because Twitter already has my credentials and I’m nervous about using them in other apps, or giving other apps access to anything more than I need to.  Some people suggest the Smart Twitter Facebook app is okay, and if nothing changes I may move to that eventually.

Shame.  And to use the phrase everyone loves, Twitter Fail (or rather #twitterfail)

An Open letter to my Labour candidate

Dear Labour Candidate,

I didn’t vote for you in the 2010 General Election.  Previously I have always voted Labour.  I agree in principal with the philosophy of the Labour party and disagree fundamentally with the philosophy of the Conservatives.  However, over the last few years the Labour party has consistently brought in laws in specific areas which I can not support.  Those laws outweigh the good that the party can and has done.  I hate the idea of a Conservative government, but if I voted Labour it would have given you a mandate to continue eroding my rights and my privacy.  I can’t give you that mandate, you have to understand that the decisions your party has taken over the last few years in areas such as terrorism law, digital and copyright law, privacy and data retention laws are abhorrent to me.

This isn’t about the recession.  Nor is it about Brown.

The worst outcome for me would be a Conservative government and a Labour party who thinks the reason they lost was Brown.  It’s not Brown, it’s not the expenses scandal, it’s not finance.

It’s my personal freedom, my liberty, my privacy.  You have eroded my rights and I’m prepared to live with the Conservatives for four or five years to make you see that.

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

Every now and then I trawl through Amazon’s bargain bin for old films I fancy watching again or feel like owning.  Just been through today.  Almost bought the complete Terrahawks DVD box set but it’s not exactly bargain price, likewise for Star Fleet (Staaarrrrfleeeeeeet).  Did end up getting some other gems though, a few I want to be a surprise for Grete so I won’t mention those, but I felt it was about time we owned the first Police Academy, Airplane 1 & 2, the Naked Gun movies, Lost Boys, Little Shop of Horrors, Dark Crystal, and Reservoir Dogs.  Most of them are under £3!

We recently watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Wargames.  Both of them are as good as I remember.  Wargames stands the test of time remarkably well considering the subject matter.  I was amused by how the FBI dealt with our super-hacker, these days the movie would probably have him being caught, bagged and shipped abroad for ‘special treatment’ without so much as a second glance, but in the 80’s they just put you into a store room with a randy guard on the door and lots of sharp objects in the draws.  How times change.  If Wargames wasn’t the movie that taught you what the term DEFCON meant, then I’m not sure I want to be in your gang.

I think Wargames should be part of all Computer Studies courses at university.  Both to remind people what daisy wheel printers were along with acoustic modems, and also to remind them why closed loop computer systems are bad.  Oh, and to prove to them all that even the geeks can get the girl (or guy, if you’re a girl geek, but you know what I mean).

That reminds me, I should probably get a copy of Sneakers on DVD at some stage.

Was Wargames the first movie to give us the trope of text appearing on the terminal one character at a time and making a noise while it did it?  I wonder.

Anyway I leave you with this quote, one of my favourite movie quotes of all time,

Joshua: Greetings, Professor Falken.
Stephen Falken: Hello, Joshua.
Joshua: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?