November, 2003

Vile Bodies

I’ve been reading this since I saw Stephen Fry’s film version a couple of weeks ago. It’s been some years since I originally read the book, and I think I was probably quite young and missed an awful lot of the references. The Penguin Classics edition is finely annotated and it’s a great fun book all round.
The film is actually remarkably close to the novel, with only the most inconsequential of sub-plots dropped. I’d have liked to have seen the party on an airship (which sounds great fun), but I can quite see why the Wesleyan film subplot was dropped.
Plenty more Waugh to work my way through in his centenary year.

CBS Bows to Republican Pressure

Obviously this’d never happen in Britain would it? Well not quite the same. Although if a government’s feeling really vindictive, they can see to it that you lose your licence altogether.
CBS have made a mini-series about The Reagans to run in one of the all-important sweeps weeks in the US. But the Republicans have been up in arms about it misrepresenting the Reagans, and they’ve mounted a heated debate.
It seems that CBS have backed down, since they’re palming the entire venture onto the cable channel Showtime – and we’re talking about something that was due to start in less than two weeks’ time.

Amazon Web Services A Go Go

Well not content with finally twiddling with MTAmazon enough to get it working, I’ve now been playing with the top 10 thing on the right hand side of the page.
Basically you can play around with Amazon.com’s scratchpad in an attempt to build an RSS XML feed, but the scratchpad doesn’t fully work. For one thing, the locale setting makes no difference, and for another, it doesn’t mention RSS feeds.
It’s easy enought to discover that these need to be of the form:
http://xml.amazon.com/onca/xml3?t=webservices-20&dev-t=amznRss&BrowseNodeSearch=130&mode=dvd&bcm=DVD
&type=lite&page=1&ct=text/xml&sort=+salesrank
&f=http://xml.amazon.com/xsl/xml-rss091.xsl
But that’s only good for the US. First I inserted &locale=uk into the string, and then I replaced the initial URL with xml-eu.amazon.com which started serving me with the correct information. The resultant URLs were completely wrong since Amazon doesn’t have a UK version of xml-rss091.xsl. So I took a copy of that file, and just replaced all the amazon.com’s with amazon.co.uk and saved it locally.
Et voila, after replacing developer tokens and associate ID, you get what I have on the right.
Here’s the sample code:
http://xml-eu.amazon.com/onca/xml3?t=webservices-20
&dev-t=amzn-Rss&BrowseNodeSearch=62&mode=books&bcm=
&type=lite&page=1&ct=text/xml&sort=+salesrank
&locale=uk&f=http://www.adambowie.com/weblog/xml-rss091.xsl
UPDATE: One thing to note is that I have bastardised that xml-rss091.xsl file a bit so that the description no longer exists. I’ve replaced this with Amazon’s asin code since I wanted to use that in conjunction with MTAmazon to pull in pictures of the books. Now I probably should have rewritten the file entirely into an RSS 2.0 compliant version, thus letting me have both pieces of information. But that seemed just too much like hard work. I’m sure someone else will fully script that version.

Nepotism Alive And Well

Last night BSkyB named their new CEO – James Murdoch. Wow. What a coincidence. You mean the same James Murdoch who’s son of the Chairman Rupert Murdoch? That’d be the one.
Howls of outrage – and rightly so – since BSkyB is only 35% owned by Murdoch. The rest of the shareholding is held by others. The group is a PLC and as such not actually within the fiefdom of a single man.
Why would any of the other senior execs at BSkyB stay on in the long term? They have no future. I’d be readying my CV for the next juicy position to come up if I were them. It’s just not a smart move all around.
And there’s the small matter of him only being 30. Not that I’m jealous or anything – OK I am. But can he really have the experience? Time will tell.

Royal Stories Blocked

There have now been two injunctions in two days relating to a story that The Mail on Sunday first attempted to run this weekend.
It seems particularly dubious use of the law since one can’t comit libel until it’s actually been printed.
But here’s the run – I think I know what the story is, and no doubt it’s no doubt flying around the internet as I type, but the public at large must be kept in the dark. Look – this stuff is going to get out, and there’s no way to do a King Canute with the deluge.

Hitchhikers Confirmed

Well it seems that The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy really is returning to radio!
Of course there’s still no BBC Press Release in the radio section, but given the enormous detail (including the fact that some of the stories won’t appear until this time next year!), I’m rather inclined to believe it.
In fact I’m surprised that there’s not something else out there about it! All I can find is continued stories about the film (once more greenlit by all accounts). I’m rather more likely to believe the radio version is returning than any film is any time soon.
And at least the story linked to above addresses casting issues.
UPDATE: Umm OK. There does seem to be a mention of Hitchhikers on the Spyglass website as being in development. Who are Hammer and Tongs?

MTAmazon

Well I’ll be buggered if I can get MTAmazon working at the moment. It returns precisely nothing. I’m fed up with it now!
UPDATE: Obviously I’ve got it working again.

Dude Where’s My Country

Well our recent school trip to Milan afforded me the chance to buy the airport paperback version of Michael Moore’s latest – Dude Where’s My Country.
Never the toughest read – but that’s why he sold so many of the last book – it does what it says on the jacket in an efficient manner.
I suppose I’m a little disappointed that there’s not more. Somehow I feel that his forthcoming film, Farehenheit 9/11 will cover some of the detail a lot more effectively, but maybe it’s because I agree with it all too easily.
This book very much focuses on America, and that’s definitely his strong suit. I felt before that his coverage of other countries, in particular the Irish problem, was a tad simplistic to put it mildly. Mind you, he’s visited Northern Ireland now (something I’ve never done) and is likelier to have a more balenced view. On the other hand his Middle East bit is again a tad over-simplified.
But you just can’t knock the guy, as he’s just trying to shake the whole damn country out a political hangover that somehow left George W Bush as the singlemost powerful man on the planet – a scary thought for anyone. Anything we can do to fight this apathy is good by me.
I guess that I was a little disappointed that by the time I got just over page 200 the book was over, and I was left with (plenty of) footnotes. But short and to the point isn’t a bad thing.