Sunday, 28 September 2008

My October Symphony

Are you a fan of regular blog posts? Do you appreciate creative endeavour, even if the results aren't much cop? If so, prepare yourselves for the mildly exciting launch of my Creative Year. As mentioned previously, I have set up a new blog on Wordpress (no offence Blogger, we've had some good times) which I plan to update EVERY SINGLE DAY with something that could, if you squint a bit, pass for creativity. It begins on October 1st (that's Wednesday, calendar fans!) and the posts will be numbered 1 - 365. That's how many days there are in a year! Wow! The blog is called Once Around The Sun because - you guessed it - that takes a year as well! The whole thing has been planned with the intricate precision of a particularly pernickety horologist.

Stay tuned and I'll post the link on Wednesday!

Thursday, 25 September 2008


I've just spent two hours watching online videos about the capabilities of this little beast:

I'm eligible for the cheaper upgrade copy, but even that's £540. Annoyingly it looks so damn good that I don't think I'll be able to resist, so between now and its release on October 30 expect to hear several news stories about a lanky ne'er do well in the Suffolk area mugging old ladies on pension day. If they knew about Content Aware Resizing, they'd understand.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

DOS-ing about

At work, our surveyor is soon going to New Zealand for a year. I haven't asked why - perhaps he couldn't get a return flight any sooner - but it's not important. The point is that he will be leaving a large, surveyor-shaped hole when he departs and my boss' attempts to fill it have not been fruitful. It was then suggested, by said Antipodean bound surveyor, that I should be trained up to take over when he leaves. Sensing a pay rise, I expressed a firm interest and so he invited me to his place to familiarise myself with the software he uses. I was slightly apprehensive about getting to grips with what would surely be a system so complicated that the sheer brain power required to use it could cause a haemorrhage that would end my life (and therefore hamper my career ambitions). Remember, surveyors are well paid! They must have access to stuff that NASA can only dream of. Anyway, he led me into his study and switched on the Grand Machine of Destiny and Truth (my name for it, not his, applied in anticipation of its awesome processing power). The monitor flickered into life and displayed a Windows 98 splash screen. Ha! Obviously an ironic joke. These surveyors are a hoot!

And then reality was torn from my limp, unsuspecting grasp and sucked into a temporal vortex that eventually spat us out, like a couple of phlegmy hairballs, into 1985! Well it must have been, for we were staring at the following display:

At first I was excited about going outside and reliving 1985 all over again. Bright colours! Over-produced music! A cheery lack of taste! However, this feeling soon wore off. You see, I am a cold and rational man and it took me only a few minutes to realise that temporal folds are not really possible and that the more likely conclusion must be that we were still in 2008. Looking at a 23 year old Lotus spreadsheet. A spreadsheet that only runs in DOS. "When I first devised this spreadsheet," he explained proudly, "I thought it would only have a shelf-life of about ten years. And yet here we are, almost a quarter of a century later, and it's still going strong!" Well, yes. As long as you ignore the parts of the word 'strong' that relate to 'strength' and also that loud alarm in your head that's bleating FUCKETY-FUCK, HE'S STILL USING DOS. It's quite feasible that some people reading this won't even know what DOS is. All I'll say is that although the D doesn't stand for dinosaur, but it probably should have done.

So that's what I've been up to lately. Getting my head around a computer system that's about as advanced as a speaking birthday card. And yet, in a strange way, I'm enjoying myself. Not in a nostalgic sense - who can honestly say that things were better back then? - but because I love spreadsheets. I will, of course, be re-programming this archaic beast in a modern software environment and I'll find it hugely enjoyable. Some of you may recall the dance I created a couple of years ago called My Version of Excel is Better Than Yours. It wasn't a joke, I really do get that excited about spreadsheets. Perhaps in this admission I've lost you, dear reader, but the path of an Excel lover always was a lonely one.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Laced with creative fervour

It's okay, you can stop worrying - I have decided upon my next creative venture by not deciding at all. Instead I have set up a new blog in which I will spend one year posting a new creative effort every day - whether I feel like it or not - with no parameters whatsoever in the hope that forcing myself to try as many things as possible will show me what I do best. If some of you were to comment on things that you like, that will also help me decide what works and what doesn't. Essentially it's going to be a year long brainstorm, probably starting next week. Being a daily thing, most of the posts will probably be in the form of rough ideas rather than fully formed pieces but I'll complete them if it seems worthwhile. Watch this space.

In other even less interesting news, my new trainers have finally arrived. I had forgotten what springy footwear felt like. It's... springy! I haven't managed to go jogging yet though. Don't rush me. Also on a footwear theme, I have learned how to tie my shoelaces properly after 31 years of misery and tears. My laces have historically always come undone if I do them in a single bow, so for years I've been using a double bow to prevent this happening. The trade off, of course, is that occasionally they become knotted when you try to undo them, resulting in a frustrating two minutes of trying to pick apart said knot with (as sod's law usually dictates) recently cut fingernails. Just when I was seriously considering velcro shoes, I discovered... the reef knot. All those years I'd been using a granny knot! Why did no one tell me? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME?  Anyway, I now tie my laces using a single reef bow and they never come undone. It's no exaggeration to say that this has changed my life for the better, and it's all thanks to Ian's Shoelace Site. Thanks Ian - you probably have no friends and your own family must choke with shame every time they think of you but you have my gratitude to keep you warm tonight.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Who's that girl?

The portrait in the preceding post was based on the following photograph.  I wandered off script for the hair as it wasn't crucial to the likeness.

It's Claire Danes!  Five points.  Now that you've forced me to reveal the original photo you can see how cheap I was in not drawing the floral top.  If you want to be nice to me you can say that this photo isn't a good likeness of her.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Unhealthy Interest #2

Here's number two in what I think I shall call the 'Unhealthy Interest' series.  I've realised that it was a mistake to paint my favourite actresses first because, assuming I improve little by little, by the time I get it sussed I'll be left with a cracking portrait of Judi bloody Dench.

You can click on the picture to enlarge it.  Again, I fear that it's not immediately obvious who this is supposed to be.  Oh well.  Expect this series to continue until your indifference can be measured in decibels.