October 2005 Archives
Have I told you how much I love BBC Four? Truly, madly, deeply - that's how much. I've just seen a trailer to say that The Avengers are coming soon on the channel. Fantastic news! From the looks of the stylish trail, they're starting with the Emma Peel episodes. Roll on the re-released DVDs...
I'm not entirely convinced that Sky News have quite got their new widescreen system sorted out.
Viewed on a 4:3 TV, there are some strange distortions in some clips, in particular, people appearing wide and fat (as opposed to the tall and thin you might expect). It means that close ups of Adam Boulton become especially scarey.
More seriously, the people running their captions need to realise that not everyone is viewing in widescreen, so they need to stop letting words disappear off the right of the screen.
Annoyingly, the scaffolding put up by the company next door to us has made terrestrial television nearly unwatchable now, so no Murray v Henman for us this afternoon (unless I want to watch it online). But then, having gone to bed watching the World Series, and then woken up to find it was still being played, in what was the longest ever World Series game lasting 5 hr 41 mins, I've probably seen enough sport today.
OK, what genius scheduled BBC Three's new comedy thriller Funland? Heavily trailed across terrestrial channels, it premiered with an hour long episode on Sunday at 10.00pm. The next episode followed tonight, except that it was actually two episodes back to back. In fact, they could easily have edited out the end credits and opening credit sequence since BBC Three didn't even drop a trail into the middle of it (most unlike them).
So far, so strange, but it kind of makes sense. The next episode is next Sunday and is again scheduled for an hour. I suspect it'll be another "pair" of epsiodes. More are scheduled to air the following Sundays and Mondays.
So far, so strange - if they'd wanted hour long shows, why were half hours commissioned?
But add into the mix the bizarre repeat mix. If you try to catch repeats you're going to be completely lost. Yesterday's episode had a late night repeat while today's doesn't. There's an episode at midnight tomorrow, but is it the first or the second? Then there's an episode on Wednesday at 9.00pm lasting 50 minutes (?) with a late night half hour showing lasting just half an hour. Thursday late night see's another half hour, while Friday sees another hour at 9.00pm. If you can find your way through that mess, you're doing well.
While multiple showings of programmes in a digital age are a good thing, it gets very confused when you're running more than one episode a week. Surely a simple "new episode on Sunday" strategy would have been better?
I'm quite enjoying this show which is almost certainly not top of the Blackpool tourist board's Christmas card list.
This really annoys me. Basically BBC Three (a channel I've railed against before, but Funland was quite good last night, and Stuart Murphy's going, so who knows), has been found in breach of showing Pulp Fiction too soon after the watershed.
In the past the BBC has played the film from 9.45pm which is seemingly OK, yet starting it at 9.10pm isn't. While there is a 9.00pm watershed, it seems to be a flexible affair that means you can't actually start more edgy material right after 9.00pm. Kind of defeats the point of a watershed.
So if 9.10's too early, but 9.45's OK, when's the cutoff? Is 9.20 too early? What about 9.30?
Sky News have relaunched today, and I believe it's true that their "news wall" is now so big that it can be seen from space.
I know that The Guardian published this picture of Dione in their double-page spread on Thursday, but it's still worth a look. It's spectacular.
And this video from the flyby is also worth a 10MB download. Just wait until Cassini flys past Dione.
I read this because it was slim, and came for just 99p with a copy of the Telegraph in WH Smiths this week. I knew next to nothing about the book, and having it read it now, I'm not entirely sure that I know a great deal more now. The book is presented from the viewpoints of various characters all linked a hotel in an unnamed town somewhere in England.
Some of the stories were interesting. Some, much less so. I can't exactly recommend this.
My second Ian Rankin Rebus novel, and unlike the first, I liked this a lot more.
A the theme of the novel is race, and we get everything from overt racism in our inner cities to Morecambe Bay-style cockel pickers. There are several stories going on simultaneously, that may, or may not be interlinked.
A good read.
I don't know why, but it annoys me when generic bird-watchers are described as twitchers. Twitchers are that special breed of bird enthusiast who chases around the country looking for exceptionally rare speicies of birds. They're a relatively rare breed themselves.
Anyway, this is all just an excuse for me noting that there are an abundance of bird-watchers in North Norfolk just now. And I don't think they're all watching out for migrating birds who might be bringing the bird-flu virus into the country.
Someone in a Newsnight editing booth has obviously been to see Michael Nyman recently because Susan Watts' piece on nanotechnology this evening was packed full of Gatacca music. Fantastic.
As a long time fan of Wallace and Gromit, it was only a matter of time before I had to drag myself along to the cinema to see this. One of the key reasons for not going immediately was the prospect of being in a cinema packed to the rafters with kids. I've got no problem with kids, and of course they should go to the cinema very frequently. Just not when I'm there.
Fortunately the showing I caught was mainly full of adults - a teatime showing during term time. I remember seeing The Wrong Trousers in the cinema at the opening of the Bristol Showcase Cinema along with the UK premiere of Speed. A strange combination indeed.
This film was, of course, made for the big screen and all the usual charm is there. Possibly it's a little longer than it needs to be, but it's great fun and thoroughly recommended.
Out in the distant parts of Norfolk, you often see fighter planes out on manouevres flying low over the landscape and off over the North Sea. But today I saw something I'd never seen before: a pair of fighters, possibly F16s from Mildenhall, but they could have been Tornados, in a mock dogfight over the coast.
I've never seen these planes perform the kind of tight turning manouevres that they were pulling off this afternoon. They were flying very slowly - well under the speed of sound, and pulling 180s like they were Tom Cruise in Top Gun. I wasn't the only person out on the cliffs who stopped what they were doing to watch. These planes were even dropping "coutermeasures" or "chuff" which was lighting up the sky to divert the psuedo heat-seeking missiles that the planes were no doubt "firing" at each other.
Typically I didn't have my camcorder with me, when I've been carrying it around quite a lot recently.
The Farrelly brothers certainly have managed to offend various people over the years with their brand of humour. This is taken to the extreme in the forthcoming The Ringer, which they've executive produced.
Essentially they've gone out on a limb to try to make it as hard possible to like a film - at least from the synopsis. Let me explain.
In The Ringer, Johnny Knoxville plays Steve, an office cubicle drone who wants to improve himself. His boss is willing to give him the chance, but also gives him the job of firing the nice janitor, Stavi. Steve feels sorry for him and offers him a job cutting the lawn for his apartment complex, with cash coming out of his own pocket. But a tragic lawnmower accident leaves Stavi minus three fingers and it becomes clear that as his employer Steve should have taken out medical insurance. Without this, he needs $28,000 to pay for surgery.
Meanwhile Steve's crooked uncle, played by Brian Cox, needs even more money to get himself out of a gambling hole. Then he dreams up a quite brilliant scheme...
He'll get Steve to act as though he's mentally disabled, and get him to enter the Special Olympics in this guise. His uncle will bet against the Special Olympics superstar Johnny, and win lots of money. With his name as Jeffy Dahmor, Steve goes undercover against his better judgement.
What follows could be considered some of the most tasteless humour to ever be committed to celuloid, but it's actually very good.
There's no doubt that one of the worst things a human can do, is laugh at another because of a handicap they have (and have no control over), but this film, with it's cast full of disabled actors, is not malicious, and like Steve/Jeffy we, as an audience, feel far less alienated than we might otherwise.
Needless to say, "Jeffy" falls in love with Lynn, a helper at the games and is left in an impossible position as a result.
I've got to be honest and say that I laughed my way through the entire film. I may go to hell as a result, but I honestly believe this to be a good film with a kind heart and good spirit. I'll say right here and now that it's going to get some very tough press and some people are going to need to come out batting on its side.
But then the Lars Von Trier Dogma film The Idiots had worse scenes, when the group went out and about on "outings", "spazzing" when they met people who'd show them around factories or whatever. There was no redemption there.
Could this be the first half decent film Johnny Knoxville has made?
Completely unrelated to anything else, James Cromwell was in the lobby of the hotel where the screening of this film occurred today. At the time I couldn't recall his name, so out came the mobile and a bit of surfing later revealed it. But then came the intriguing note that he's soon to be seen as Prince Philip in a Stephen Frears film called The Queen. And I note that the Queen herself is played by Helen Mirren, giving her an unlikely 2005 double of playing both Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II!
But seeing James Cromwell doesn't trump my best celebrity spot of the week - seeing Chris Morris in Soho. That beats seeing David Walliams (twice in one day), and June Sarpong. And that doesn't even take into account, seeing Paul Weller and Eric Sykes at work (not together, obviously). I'll stop there, because whenever I flick through it, I always despise those pages in Heat magazine that show celebs out and about being snapped in the street. Horrible.
The latest Henning Mankell novel's recently been published, but it's not actually his latest book. It just happens to be one that's out of sequence. Actually, we've had loads of Mankell novels out of sequence, but this one jumps back quite a few years and characters who were last known to be dead are suddenly alive. And a character who'd previously just appeared out of thin air, is now introduced.
At first I was slightly concerned because I caught a glimpse of a review somewhere that spoke of this being the "last" Wallander book, but that's more because Mankell's concentrating on Wallander's daughter now.
Anyway, enough of the background and on to the book itself. It opens with a small town solicitor being murdered on the roadside - a murder that's later made out to be a traffic accident. This is swiftly followed by the murder of his son. Wallander's soon on the case, coming out of sick leave to take it on, and we're into a case that revolves around a reclusive Swedish tycoon who lives in a castle. Is he to blame, and can the evidence be found to prove it?
Once again, the novel's full of Swedish melancholy, and I never fail to be amazed at the long hours they all seem to work there.
So where do we begin with Ducktastic? It's a new play written by the guys who wrote The Play What I Wrote about Morecombe and Wise. It revolves around someone who was previously "the biggest breakfast time magician on the Vegas strip" and who performs magic with a duck flavour (not in the Chinese "duck" sense, since the birds at this performance are, for the most part, alive).
Incorporated into the play are audience participation moments that actually scared me stupid since my free ticket, courtesy of some rubber ducks found floating in a fountain in Leicester Square on Monday morning, saw me seated in the front row.
We then end up in a world of stage magic and a duck called Daphne who might actually be able to do real magic. There's a romance blossoming between a theatre late-comer and one of the ushers.
There are puns aplenty, and corny jokes that make you wince rather than laugh.
And there are songs - they finish on the big glitzy number "Duck Knows".
All in all it makes for one of the strangest evenings in the West End I've ever had. They're still in preview, so with luck some of the jokes can be tied down a bit more, since they don't "hit" quite as much as they might, but I'm not complaining that much.
This article (free subs. reqd.) about the BBC's Beethoven downloads really annoys me. Not the article itself, but the words and thoughts of John Whittingdale of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
It seems that the record companies are still annoyed that the BBC actually gave away some music free. These were recordings of live concerts recorded at licence payers' expense for Radio 3 by members of an orchestra that's also paid for by the licence fee. And the composer's been dead some 178 years, so there aren't any royalites due to any Beethoven copyright holder. Although rumour has it that the record companies might quite like extend copyright until 200 years after a composer's death. I mean, how else are they going to be able to turn a profit from The Beatles' back catalogue. The fact remains that I paid for this music, so why shouldn't I be allowed to have a copy?
The usual nonsense about it taking a commercial CD upwards of five years to reach 1.4m sales (the cumulative number of downloads) was spouted. Of course, if anyone did any research into the people who downloaded they'd inevitably find that the downloads reached a far wider audience than the classical CD market does. Initiatives like this actually grow the audience for classical music. I suspect that a goodly number of those who downloaded that music had never bought a classical music CD in their life.
I completely understand that the classical CD market isn't as buoyant as it once was, and that labels are having a tough time. But there are other issues at stake here. And protectionism isn't the answer.
I'd have more sympathy with the classical music labels if one of them could publish some verfiable data to show that their commercially available Beethoven catalogue suffered some kind of marked drop-off following Radio 3's Beethoven week. I mean, it surely isn't possible that more people than normal bought Beethoven CDs in the weeks following that initiative is it? It seems terribly unlikely that someone heard something and thought "I'd like to hear more Beethoven now", isn't it?
In a strange way, this actually seems to hark back to the old days of The Third Programme, when "needle time" was limited, and BBC Radio was forced to broadcast lots of live music to keep an industry alive. Now it's the other way round. The BBC helps support several orchestras that wouldn't otherwise exist. And these orchestras make recordings for a variety of record labels incidentally.
Who at the BBC told who at the record companies what they were doing and when, I don't know. But then the BBC shouldn't need to get record companies' permission to do anything; they already act as the biggest shop window for the recording industry there is.
Now here's a curiosity. If you happen to see a little of the trailer, or happen upon the poster for Lord Of War on the tube you might be forgiven for thinking that this is some kind of Con Air 2 - Nic Cage in a big action movie.
But that's not remotely the case. Lord Of War is about the arms trade and in particular Cage's character Yuri who travels the third world selling arms to various parties without a care in the world about what happens to them or to what use they're put.
I watched Jonathan Ross review this yesterday evening and I think he was very unfair on it. He talked about the classic three-act structure into which all films seem to fall, with redemption at the end. But that's simply not the case with this film.
Cage's character is completely amoral, and although he gets scared from time to time, it's not really enough to make him see error of his ways.
There are a couple of very clever scenes in this film: the first sees a bullet manufactured until it's fired (into the head of a young African child), and the second is the overnight dismantling of a cargo plane.
We're not left with any doubt where the feelings of the film's producers as a caption at the end of the film reveals the five largest arms trading nations in the world - US, UK, France, China and Russia - as also being the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
It's ages since I last went to the theatre, and that would have almost certainly been a freebie from my friend Simon who works for a theatre marketing company.
Yesterday, I read an interview with Richard Griffith in The Observer. He's in a new play called Heroes, a translation by Tom Stoppard of a French play originally called The Wind in the Poplars by Gerald Sibleyras. So being nearby at lunchtime I went in and bought a ticket, thinking that they might be cheap while this production is in preview. They aren't.
But don't let the ticket prices put you off, as this is a wonderful play. It's funny that it's on at the Wyndhams Theatre, home until relatively recently of another three piece, Art. The three players this time are three ex-WWI servicemen in a retirement home played by Ken Stott, Richard Griffith and John Hurt. There, they live a life full of nothing as they each have their own neuroses - real or imagined - to battle with. Slowly, they put together a plan to escape their presumed misery.
To say much more would be a shame, but given the calibre of the man who translated the work, expect some sparkling dialogue. Oh, and there's also a dog.
Incidentally, should you want to save yourself a few pennies when you see this play, you might consider reading this article published in today's Telegraph, an extract of which makes up the bulk of the programme. Now I know that theatre programmes are never exactly value for money, but just reprinting a newspaper interview is a little poor.
On my way home, I had the delightful pleasure to share a train carriage, for a short distance, with someone who'd make Waynetta Slob look like someone you'd want to take home to meet your mum. Now Richard Griffith is a big fellow. A very big fellow. She was bigger. Now I'm not being sizeist, but when a fellow passenger asked to sit down where she had her bag, she gave him a dirty look and let him know that a friend was getting on at the next stop. He ignored this and sat down.
I got off at the next stop, but I saw her colleague get on and feared for the life of the chap who was sitting with them in the four-seat grouping. There simply wasn't going to be room for all three of them. Incidentally the two larger people both worked for the rail company. Obviously the company in question doesn't have a corporate gym membership.
I popped along to this after work, and was reminded once again that I don't read enough SF. The discussion was getting very interesting before I had to leave for my next busy Monday night engagement.
The album's well worth a listen.
I've just noticed that filmmaker Alex Cox is blogging again.
A while back, he used to write a weekly column for the BBC film website. He kept a weekly update of how his filmmaking was going. But probably due to the political nature that his life tended to take, he was removed, and the diary switched to his own site until back in March last year he stopped it.
Now it's back, although due to the unblog-like nature of his site (no RSS, no calendars to surf around), I don't know how long it's been going on for prior to the start of August this year. There's a re-release of an extras packed edition of probably his most famous film, Repo Man, in the works, so this might to be build interest. But Cox is unlikely to be doing it for such a reason.
Of course, I remember him mostly for his introductions to the BBC2 cult film series, Moviedrome. It showed some great films, both big and small, and acted a real education.
It's a shame that we don't get more introductions to film series like this anymore. I guess that we're supposed to just buy the extras-laden DVDs (and then rebuy our collections in HD-DVD or Blue Ray or whatever). But if you don't know about the film in the first place, you're not going to buy the DVD.
So how many DVDs did you pick up this weekend.
I got East Is East in The Guardian, Indochine in The Independent and Rogue Trader from The Mail On Sunday (sorry sorry sorry). I didn't get Cabaret from The Times because I've already had that free from a paper before.
I may have missed the odd TV or kids title. Quite how long all the papers can afford this kind of thing is yet to be determined. Not that long ago it was all CDs, but the music companies eventually realised that however poor the tracks offered were, they were suffering in sales of compilation albums. Even Express newspapers, for whom no stone has been left unturned in search of a 70s track, seem to have stopped giving them out. Still The Mirror managed a pair of CDs this weekend.
One of the more troubling aspects of Sunday's papers was the complete lack of coverage of the Asian earthquake. I only saw The Observer and the (despised) Mail on Sunday yesterday. And while The Observer had a front page article, inside the coverage was a bit limited. I realise that they probably don't have dozens of correspondents in Islamabad or the region, but there are plenty of wire services out there.
Still that's nothing compared to the Mail's lack of coverage. You had to turn to about page 8 before you found anything where there were a paltry couple of pages of coverage (it sounds a lot, but in tabloid terms it's nothing). The event certainly wasn't deemed more important than, say, Gavin Henson's thoughts on Alistair Campbell, or a full page promoting a new magazine that included Kelly Brook's review of new digital camcorders (!!!).
Still, it's not like there'll be many people in this country with friends or relatives in the affected region. Excepting our massive Pakistani and Indian communities that is.
What planet are these editors on? This will directly affect far more Brits than, say, the recent tragedies in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Listen to Lord Ahmed on the Worricker programme on Five Live yesterday (it's at about 2:22:45).
They also mention that Hurricane Stan got pretty limited coverage earlier in the week. It swept through Central America killing hundreds including Guatemala.
The only Philip Roth book I'd read before this was The Human Stain, which ultimately I found unsatisfying. I haven't been to see the film.
But when this came out in hardback a year ago it was so well reviewed that I thought that the man who's regarded as one of America's greatest living novelists probably deserved another go.
This book is stunning. Roth sets the book in a parallel world as a young Philip Roth grows up as World War II is underway. He presents a USA where Charles Lindbergh, who'd become an American hero when he crossed the Atlantic in 1927 in his plane, was elected president.
What I hadn't realised until reading this novel was what an anti-semite, Lindbergh was. His family suffered a tragedy when a young child of his was kidnapped and murdered, and he'd left the States to live in England. But from there it was a short hop to Nazi Germany where he looked on, seemingly with some admiration for what Hitler was doing. He received a medal from the Fuhrer and then returned to the States.
Fiction takes over as he wins the presidency and the Roth family, part of a Newark Jewish community, is aghast at what's going on in their own country.
As a result of the change in history, America no longer wants to become part of the European war.
What's presented to us in this vivid depiction of those war years is very scary and all too believable. None of the events are too far fetched, considering the large number of European immigrants that lived in America at the time, but the way events are presented is all too believable.
Goodness, we can see today, that if you want to present one side of a story it's still very easy to do, and easy to win over the people to your side of the story. Only later does the truth emerge.
The novel ends with a series of very useful summaries of what the major characters really did do in those all important years. This isn't just to show off some very impressive research, but useful background into proving that events needn't be so far fetched.
I stumbled across this slim volume by chance in the bookshop and it intrigued me. It's a basic (very basic) introductory guide to probability. The trouble is that it's just too small and light. While the author's not afraid to include some equations in the text, he embarks on a chapter on, say the normal distribution, and three pages later it's over. There's no mention of the other distributions that also exist which might lead the unwitting reader to believe everything's distributed normally.
In fact the book finishes after around 130, small, pages. And is almost padded out with an afterthought by a co-author whereby we're run through several real world examples and the probabilities are explained some more.
I suppose I just wanted more out of this. We're all using probabilities every day and some explanation about how lotery systems work or what your chances are in casinos are to be welcomed. (There is some coverage of roulette within this book).
So maybe this acts as a primer, but you're definitely left wanting more.
I thought I'd catch up with the books I've read recently.
I'm quite a Michael Dibdin fan, and this is the latest Zen novel. He spoke to James Naughtie on the Radio 4 programme, Bookclub recently, and you can hear the conversation here (with Realplayer). On that occasion he spoke about Blood Rain which is set in Sicily. But this entry in the series is, as the title indicates, in Bologna where Zen is sent to investigate the mysterious death of a football club owner. Things aren't simple of course, and there's a ridiculous subplot involving a singing chef. Maybe they really have such things in Italy?
Anyhow, this probably isn't the most serious book in the series with a ridiculous character who's a not-veiled-at-all Umberto Eco character (his name's Professor Ugo and he too works in semiotics).
But all said and done I enjoyed the novel, and if what Dibdin told Naughtie is true, then there should be plenty more episodes with Zen to come.
Just looking at the logs of this site and a few strange searches show up. In the last month, the most searched term is for "Hunting Chris Ryan". That's because I reviewed it once. But I bet this site disappoints all those who get to it when searching for "Abbie Titmuss"! I misspelt her name (it's Abby), and consequently I'm currently the second site showing up on Google.co.uk. She was at V Festival this year, and I mentioned it... "Kevin Pieterson" also does well and again it's a typo - he's a "Pietersen". I've corrected both entries now.
David Cronenberg films are always worth watching - although I admit I didn't see his last film, Spiders. But eXtistenZ was a very interesting film.
A History Of Violence is one of those films that you probably don't want to know a great deal about before you see it. Viggo Mortensen is Tom, a nice guy married to Edie (Maria Bello) who seem like a lovely family in Indianna where Tom runs a diner.
One day two criminals try to hold up the diner, and out of the blue, Tom saves the day by spectacularly disarming and killing his vicious attackers. He becomes a national hero, and with this brings some unwanted attention as some dubious characters believe him to be someone else.
And that's all I'll say about the plot. Mortensen and Bello play an enormously believable husband and wife in a film full of good performances. Of course, we're always in Cronenberg's world, so nothing's quite that straightforward.
Well, it's the film that everyone's talking about at the moment - well the Browncoats are anyway.
I only recently saw Firefly having read a few decent things about it on the net (I certainly never caught any of its airings on the Sci Fi channel). Then it appeared quite reasonably in the current HMV sale. So a couple of weeks or so ago, I bought it and watched nearly the whole series over three days.
The first thing I should say is that I'm not especially a Joss Whedon fan. I saw a few Buffys here and there, and even tried to watch a bit of Angel, but I found it all a bit disposable.
Firefly's different, with a believable setting, although I'm still not quite sure how the planets and moons relate to one another. Are they in the same solar system? And the dialogue is witty and sharp with jokes and characters who develop. As everyone now knows, the show got cancelled and only really got a resurrection when it was released on DVD.
But the story, incomplete as it was, didn't die there, and Universal picked up where Fox had left off, greenlighting a feature film - Serenity.
Of course the challenge of the film in such a situation is that it has to appeal to more people than were fans of the TV series. It should be intelligible to all, yet you don't want to annoy those who're fully aware of the situation. In fact this potential conundrum is skillfully handled and doesn't prove to be a problem.
What we get is a fast entertaining and intelligent science fiction film with humour. Serenity is the ship our heroes are based on and its captain, Mal, has more than a passing resemblance to Han Solo. Of course I'm not remotely the only person to observe this, and nor am I the only person to think that the zip and buzz of this film just shows how short changed we were with the three Star Wars prequels.
People get hurt in this film, and the plot is moved on. In that respect, this is absolutely not like an extended episode of the TV series.
Yesterday I went to two fabulous places. Sadly, due to my having to sign an NDA, I can only talk about one of them. But if you run into me, feel free to ask! Roll on 2006 is all I can say, when, at some point, I'll be able to reveal all...
The place I can talk about is Arsenal. I was supposed to be seeing the new stadium at Ashburton Grove. Unfortunately, due to a mix-up over times (not my fault, honestly), I managed to arrive after the coach had left for the tour. But I was fortunate to be able to tag on to the end of another Arsenal tour which took me into the directors' box and the home changing rooms, where all the shirts were hanging up.
Then, I also got to see the tunnel the players come out of - not a view I'd ever previously had at Arsenal. I also got to go into the boardroom. All in all it was great fun.
Fortunately, I'm now booked onto another tour which should see me finally get to visit the new stadium!
Here's a slideshow of some of my pictures from Highbury.
Radio professionals need to be careful about what they claim, if the Advertising Standards Authority are to be kept happy (PDF).
This article leads you to at first think that content producers are failing to actually copyright their product - perhaps allowing it to slip into public domain or something.
Actually, it seems to be Macrovision touting for business. They obviously don't think that they're getting their wretched technology onto enough CDs and DVDs.
If a CD has the copyright protection that Macrovision has on it, then it's no longer actually a "CD" according to the white book standards. It's a disc that may play on your CD player, but that's not the same thing - it can't actually have the CD logo on it. Their technology is the kind of rubbish that frustrates consumers who want to legally place their purchased music onto their mp3 players.
I guess that with DRM being sown up by the major players - Apple and Microsoft - the long term future of CD copy protection is bleak. Oh, and their DVD protection can easily be sidestepped. The technically savvy who are able to rip a DVD and put it onto a torrenting site are not the sort of people who're going to be too worried by "CP" appearing on the back of the DVD they're ripping.
It's probably been ten years since I last visited Bletchley Park, so it was high time for another visit. They've done quite a lot to the site in the meantime. Last time I went, it was only open on alternate weekends over the summer. Now it's open everyday except Christmas. Last time I visited the site also bore reminders of a more recent previous existance as a BT training area. Now it's home to whole host of different societies and little museums, along with its main function as the home of the Enigma decryption exhibit and historical computers - the National Codes Centre.
As well as the fascinating collection of Enigma machines and replicas and rebuilds of the devices invented to solve them, there's a host of other exhibits. For example, a Churchill collection, a film projection collection (I watched a couple of fascinating 1960s newsreels), a diplomatic wireless collection (where one of the other visitors recognised one of the machines from his time in Germany) and even a railway collection.
Outside a building where they're painstakingly rebuilding Turing's Colussus there sits, somewhat mournfully, a replica of the top of a German U-Boat which I belive was used in the film Enigma. It sits atop a lorry trailer, and was obviously used for closeups alongside minitures of CGI in the film.
Overall, a fascinating experience. And they provide those handsets which give you more information than you could possibly need as you wander around the exhibition.
See a Flickr slideshow of some of my photos here.
1. What happened to the Wynton Marsalis concert that was going to be on Radio 3 today? It's in the BBC Press Information pack and was highlighted in at least one TV & Radio guide in yesterday's papers. But there's nothing to let you know why it's been cancelled or rescheduled on the BBC website.
2. Why has the CBS TV show Numb3rs changed its theme away from last year's Talking Heads song Once In A Lifetime? (Yes even though the maths geniuses on this programme discuss stuff very simply, I still enjoy it).