Friday, March 30, 2007
The happy couple with a drunk Irish priest.
Louisa and Tiff.
Rosalie has been living in Madrid for a few years whilst studying and performing flamenco - she's the blurry one getting jiggy with it latino style.
Amy, Danielle, Alan.
I wrote the following poem a wee while ago, and it was illustrated by, the then unknown, Nathan Jurevicius. I stupidly misplaced said illustration, and am now reduced to trawling through the interweb in a futile search for it. Its taste is not so fresh on my palate The strawberry is shriveled My champagne is flat and warm The bubbles are now gone
The poem is all about getting old and cheap Champagne - two subjects that I have substantial experience with.
The bubbles of my champagne
Are fading away
Just like the days of my youth
It is cheap and gaudy
Its seeds will never give birth to a tree
The same as my seed
Whose fruitful years are disappearing
Like the aforementioned bubbles
I live in a flat
But it is cold
And smells of gas
My champagne also smells of gas
It is not good champagne
I am not a wealthy man
And so am I
Its taste is not so fresh on my palate
The strawberry is shriveled
My champagne is flat and warm
The bubbles are now gone
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Last night, my inner-nerd drowned in its own drool. What caused this messy metaphor? I went with my confrere, Tim, to an event at the Hilton for the release of Adobe Creative
I’ve been to quite a few of these new release events, which usually turn out to be disappointing affairs. If you are lucky, there’s a GUI tweak here, a new filter there, or a tool that does something slightly different to existing tools. Nothing that’s thrilling enough to equip you with the mental fortitude to convince your overlords of the oft costly upgrade. However, CS3 has restored my faith and given me some arsenal in the battle of the purchase.
Adobe did a Godzilla to Macromedia’s
One particular integration feature that “engaged” (one of the current over-used verbs spewed out by the bestial Morlocks involved in marketing) me was the ability to export InDesign page layouts as XHTML or XML and what seemed, at first glance, quite tasty CSS.
You can now import a PSD file into Flash, and a dialog box will appear, revealing the entire layer hierarchy of the Photoshop file. You can then choose which layers you want to import, and can also choose from a variety of settings for each individual layer. For example, you can retain Photoshop text as editable text in Flash, convert Photoshop layers or layer groups to movie clips, and even specify publish settings.
Tasty time saver.
The grand dame of photo manipulation, Photoshop, is still looking good. One particular new tool I liked was Photomerge, which provides an easy way to convert a series of images into a panorama.
There are plenty more new things that I’ll get my teeth into over the next month.
They have even improved Bridge, something I never used because it was so damn sluggish and, I thought, pointless. Now that it is “all newer and faster” and offers "many features to render the process of sorting, and ranking images more efficiently", I might give it another whirl.
Adobe Device Control
Of particular interest was the Adobe Device Central, a very cool little package which enables you to design, develop, preview, and test content made with the Adobe family for a wide range of mobile and consumer devices. Therefore, you can easily see if your itty-bitty web site works in a facsimile of your very own cell phone before sending it out into the ether. It currently has many mobile device skins already and promises to regularly update device profiles.
The ADC will actually work like the mobile device does. Say you have a NOKIA N73, you can download a file that looks and acts just like the phone does, so the buttons that you use on the actual phone to access information need to be pressed on the virtual one in order for it to do stuff. It apparently also emulates the performance of your file, giving you a feel of how your miniature extravaganza will perform; even how much juice it will suck from the battery.
This little breakdown of the new suite was all gleaned from a choreographed demonstration by Mike McHugh, in an action packed hour. It is only the tip of the iceberg. The next task is finding the time to play with the trial versions, and seeing if all my dreams of ease and integration will come true. Can’t wait!
Added a Ballistic artists' section to the site. It's a nice little resource for punters to get quick access to some of the luminaries of digital art that we have in our society.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
The reasons behind the redesign...
1. To get concise information in front of the punter, without an ocean of hyperbole. The previous site was a wall of words, which even I couldn’t be bothered reading. When people are in bookshops, all they care about is 1. what the book is about, 2. what's in the book. 3. how much the book costs. We've addressed all of these issues above the fold.
2. We’ve tweaked a lot of things for faster loading, plus we’ve introduced a lot of automatic updating from the database.
3. Everything is modular and easily updatable.
4. A lot of redundant and repeated information has been consolidated or deleted.
Much fanfare must go to my confreres - Tim, Rob and Anton who are all incredibly brilliant and talented and should be praised constantly!
There is a lot more stuff that we’ll be adding over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Tokyo is the most exciting city in the World. To some extent, the reason for this must be because the free-to-air television is just plain awful, so people are forced to devise ingenious ways of avoiding it. I will never complain about British and Australian television ever again. If you look up banal in the dictionary, a selection of “Nihon no terebi” highlights will be flickering up at you in glaring colours.
Every show seemed to involve either cooking or comedy. Or, if you were very lucky - "comedy cooking".
It was like watching "Ready, Steady, Cook", 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 10 channels.
I have always championed the genius of Ainsley Harriet (even if it is deeply buried in a quagmire of dullness and wrapped in a thick gauze of stupidity). But even I couldn't stand Ainsley's brand of hilarity for more than 30 minutes a day. Japanese television has Harriet to the power of a thousand, and it is all in a different language.
Despite the language barrier, there appeared to be only be 2 words you needed to know to get the most out of your viewing pleasure: "oishi" and "sugoi". The former word means "delicious", the latter means "amazing". Apparently, everything was either delicious or amazing, or, if you were very lucky, a combination of both. This would refer to anything from a bowl of plain rice to road kill.
Occassionally, we were given a reprieve with K1 fighting, which pits large, powerful men against other large powerful men with the victor being the last large powerful man standing. But they took it to the extreme by taking Akebono out of mothballs. He is a former Yokozuna – a Sumo grand master, part of a proud sporting tradition. However, this lumbering giant was reduced to slapping at the air while his lithe opponents fancy stepped around him. His only hope was if they tripped on their own fancy footwork, and he pinned them with the belly flop of doom. To make matters worse, a little man from NHK - the state television station - came around once a month and asked for money - there was actually a license fee for this?
I generally loved teaching. There is such a buzz when your students get it, and use the language you have taught them with confidence. However, there are a few students that you just wish would burn in the everlasting flames of Hell. Here they are for your reading pleasure...
For legal reasons, the names have been changed, let's just call each one arsehole, and number them sequentially.
Not so much an individual, but a whole class! The following is the beginning of my handover notes, the joyous day that I was finally rid of them:
This class made my decision to resign a very, very easy one. It is populated by the thickest and most malicious children I have come across. One, you will soon discover, is a mountain-sized, hairy knuckled Neanderthal, more about “her” later…
Do not employ an ounce of “genki-ness” with this mob, stride into that classroom full of vengeful fury and get medieval on their asses!
The formerly mentioned mountain-sized, hairy knuckled Neanderthal rates her own special mention. She was, according to her birth certificate, an 11 year old girl. Personally I thought she was a Russian sailor that went AWOL and, in order to evade authorities, decided to take on the guise of an 11 year old Japanese girl. Am I the only one who knows the truth?
Again I will flout the grammatical rule of singularity and combine a plurality of little shits into one pooey mess, now known as arsehole#3. The following are my handover notes for the next suffering teacher.
Out of the 100 or so students I teach, I only dislike 3 of the them. These two cackling little witches are 2nd and 3rd on the list (this was, of course, before the hell of arsehole#1 and #2 entered my miserable existence.) If this was Lord of the Flies, I would have been dinner long ago. However, I have fought a bitter and prolonged battle with them, and in the last month I have experienced a detente of sorts. They are North Korea, and I am South Korea - I suspect they have nuclear capabilities . . .
I must say that my "problem" children (ie arseholes) are usually girls. The boys are generally quite good, except for ...
Arsehole#4 is a very annoying little brat. You can see his future every time he opens his horrible little mouth and shrieks his horrible little incantations: he will be a chu-hi swilling, hostess-butt-rubbing, wife-beating salary man. The following is a typical list of my commands to him that I must roar over his unrelenting shrieks:
“Arsehole#4, stop hitting him”, “Arsehole#4, put that down”, “Arsehole#4, be quiet”, “Arsehole#4, take that out of your mouth”, “Arsehole#4, get your head out of her skirt",“Arsehole#4, stop crying like a little pansy”, “Arsehole#4, stop bleeding”
Oh, the joy of teaching children.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
There I was, a fresh-faced, wide-eyed boy from the south of Australia, suddenly standing in the land of ninjas, high quality mass produced consumables and Godzilla.
From my dead end job in London, I made the decision to travel back to the other side of the World in the quest for wealth, experiences, some cultural stuff ... and maybe even a little cuddle.
So, with no real skill set to fall back on, I decided to teach the Queen’s English in Japan.
This required me to do a CELTA course, which instantly turned me into an educationalist capable of nurturing the minds and boosting the spirits of all the people of the world who have not yet had the enlightening torch of English pointed towards the receptive recesses of their mind. All this in one extensive and expensive month.
I soon realised that the job was not as good as I hoped for. But, not nearly as bad as I expected.
I hoped to end my London rut and get myself on a better wicket. Instead of being on a better wicket, I ended up fielding around the boundary. Because I wasn't actually in Tokyo to start with (I later moved to Akabane, which is on the cusp of Tokyo), but in a prefecture just north called Saitama. Well, I wasn't actually in Saitama either. I was where the arse end of Tokyo rubs up aggressively, and not at all seductively, with the arse end of Saitama: Koshigaya.
Hip Tokyoites actually have an insult to those they consider uncool: “dasai”, which is short for “Datte Saitama no” which translates to “But that’s from Saitama (therefore it is boring/crap/backwards)”. This gives you an insight into just how dull this place is.
At the start, I taught at 5 different schools: Takenotsuka (Saturday), Soka (Monday), Akabane (Tuesday), Kawaguchi (Wednesday), Warabi (Thursday) and wherever my Overlords wanted to place me on my "days-off".
Takenotsuka is a crappy looking council estate town. It used to be a Yakusa city, hence all the "Lady's Clubs" and "Pubs", which are synonymous with the naughtier side of life.
I also taught at Akabane, a notorious red-light district famed for one particular street that is bursting with Thai Lady Boys.
The other schools were so non-descript that I can think of nothing either witty nor damning to say about them.
The hours were often quite silly - my students will never get much Present Perfect out of a bleary eyed yawning Mike whose Past Simple involved 5 hours of “Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes” with screaming children (or the spawn of Beelzebub). I apologize for the lame grammar joke.
Talking of demon spawn. There is a sport amongst Japanese children called “kancho”, which roughly translates to stick your finger up teachers arse. Believe me, after you have experienced this a few times you never turn your back on some angelic looking child in a sailor's outfit.
Uniforms run rampant over there. Even parking attendants are decked out like Napoleon. They also have these great big pink truncheons always at hand. They light up to an eye-achingly lurid neon pink to beckon the seemingly blind drivers to a car's resting place.On a linguistic note, I did find my favourite Japanese word: “hanamizu”. “Hana” means nose, and “mizu” means water: nose water. Or, as we say, snot!