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Archive for March, 2004


Best in Show

The more i think about this one the more I laugh. It is a bloody funny film about a dog show and the lives of the owners and handlers of some of the dogs. A star performance from the director who also plays the odd ball owner of one of the dogs. Watch out for some comedy gold in deleted scenes too.

Maida Vale, London, Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

Recent flicks

Watching The Graduate for the umpteenth time. I just found out that the director, Mike Nichols, also directed the truly diabolical ‘Wolf’ (which from memory starred Jack Nicholson?). How the mighty fall – The Graduate must be one of the finest films ever made, Wolf, one of the worst?

The Last Party 2000 – a gripping doco that anyone with an interest in the 2000 US presidential election should watch. Hosted by that Seymour Hoffman dude, it features interviews with Noam Chomsky, Jesse Jackson, various democratic and republican senators and representatives, movie stars and musicians, and Michael Moore (who shouldn’t really be mentioned in the same sentence as the Chomster, but there you go). What can I say? This is a fantastic doco – go to the movie rental joint and rent it ASAP.

This is Spinal Tap – ha ha ha! Really funny. Now I see where David Brent comes from – The Office has pretty much ripped this idea off (and not that I have anything against The Office – I think that it is superb, but now I know whose shoulders it stands on).

And lastly, Jane Campions ‘In the Cut ‘. Beautifully made and acted, but it is none the less routine. It adds nothing to the genre (a ‘thriller ‘ which revolves are a serial killer preying on young woman. Yawn.) as not only is the obligatory twist rather predictable, but the characters aren’t especially likable (although Meg Ryan masturbating is memorable!). I’m not a Meg Ryan fan, but this must rate as one of her better performances. This is typically gritty sexual Campionesque drama, but not a shade on some of here previous work.

Maida Vale, London, Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

Birthdays and passing aways

Rach’s birthday on Sunday – we went out to Leeds Castle (that is actually in Kent) on Saturday. The beautiful grounds were even more spectacular with the spring flowers and blossoms. Sadly, my old buddies Peter Ustinov and Alistair Cooke both passed away in the last few days. There seems to be an appropriate symmetry in this.

Maida Vale, London, Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

Venice

I forgot to put this in so here is the tale of my trip to Venice, 20 days late.

What an amazing place. A small town but it easily rivals Rome or Paris in terms of atmosphere. Of course the unique geography of the place makes it stand-out. There are no cars and it was off season so it was tranquil when we were there (at the end of Feb). I’m not sure that I’d like to go there during the peak season – I can’t imagine how packed it would be or how pissed off the locals must get with the invasion.

It snowed while we were there, and apparently it hadn’t snowed for some time. We were in a place called Harry’s bar when it started. We took shelter there from a freezing wind – but I wasn’t expecting anything like snow. Harry’s, by the way, serves drinks in the smallest receptacles known to man, but he’s consistent at least, he also charges a small fortune for the privilege. Whenever I travel I spend plenty of time chowing down, and Venice was no exception. Great food.

We also met some girls that were in Switzerland at – get this – finishing school. Pretty far out I reckon. They were learning how to throw parties or some such….

Snow in Venice

Maida Vale, London, Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

The Fog of War

Fog of War is a fascinating insight into the life and times of Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defence in the Kennedy/Johnson era. I believe that it won best doco at the Oscars. Rob’s an interesting chap – charismatic, cogent, and yet he seems to carry the weight of a considerable guilt. He sounds important warnings for the US government of today, and his insight should be urgently heeded.

McNamara recited a quote from TS Elliot that struck me:
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time” – and that is where he feels he is now. If there were more people in positions of power that had learnt from their mistakes (and what they’d done right) would the world be a better place? I think that the answer is obvious.

Quite a strange website – the Southpark Robert McNamara figure at the start is completely out of sync with the film – it is disrespectful. But, the teachers guide looks superb.

Maida Vale, London, Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

Recent flicks

Recent Movies:

City of God – fantastic film – extremely vibrant, shocking, watchable.

The Barbarian Invasions – The first Denys Arcand film I’ve seen. It’s a thoughtful take on globalisation, death and change – moving and perceptive but it didn’t really ring my bell. It has prompted me to look out for Jesus of Montreal.

Lost in La Mancha – great doco about Terry Gillaim’s (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Fisher King, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas among others) attempt to make a film about Don Quixote. Everything goes wrong, a great insight into certain facets of how a picture is made.

Belleville Rendezvous – a creepy animated feature in French. Beautifully drawn, but, well, kinda creepy.

Maida Vale, London, Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

Elephant

Can’t believe that I forgot to write about Gus Van Sant’s amazing film Elephant . Controversial and shocking – get thee to a movie theatre and see it!

Oh, and web geeks check out the web site source – ooh lovely CSS all the way – a product of Dreamweaver MX 2004 I suspect.

Maida Vale, London, Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

SKype – it really does work!

It’s true – Skype works . I spoke to my brother in Aus and the line was crystal clear – no issues at all. I recommend it for free calls to other skype users. No hassle to install, and after running a scan with Ad-aware I found no nasties related to skype, although I have picked up the welchia worm. AVG is removing that now…. no it’s not – Ad-aware will have to do it.

Maida Vale, London, Saturday, March 13th, 2004

For those who came late to CGI/Perl…

I do bugger all Perl. None in fact. So the last week was something of a learning experience.

Two of the corporate websites that I help maintain use FormMail from Matt’s Script Archive . FormMail is a general form handler that can email a user-submitted form from your website. We’ve had a few issues with it in the past, and this week I began to understand some of the whys and wherefores of how one goes about setting a Perl script up in your cgi-bin directory.

Before I go on, the host of our corporate site runs the very fine Zeus web server on Unix.

First tip when editing CGI – NEVER use an HTML editor. Use Notepad, or better still a product like EditPlus . If you use an HTML editor you will be doomed to an eternity of frustration because your script won’t run (see this great tutorial for details).

Dreamweaver 4 and FTP

If you use Dreamweaver 4 (as we do at work) for FTP-ing files to the site you need to be aware that there is a bug. CGI files must be uploaded as ASCII not binary. There is a file in Dreamweaver 4 called FTPExtensionMap.txt. This contains a list of file types and what method should be used when uploading them. Problem is, Dreamweaver 4 doesn’t honour the list. In order to correct this behaviour, patch Dreamweaver to 4.01 and those particular troubles are over.

Nearly there.

Once the file is uploaded, you must change the Unix permissions so that users can execute the file.

In Dreamweaver this is actually simple (as I’m sure it is in other FTP clients too).

1. Connect to the remote site in Dreamweaver
2. Click the cgi-bin folder on the remote site

3. Open the FTP log (Window > Site FTP log)
4. In the FTP log type: site chmod 777 (eg: site chmod 777 FormMail.cgi)
5. Happiness. You have now given all users access to the file

Read this chmod command/Linux security summary and go to table 3-9 for other code numbers (like 777).

Hopefully that will save some of you time one day!

Maida Vale, London, Friday, March 12th, 2004

Skype

Skype – free internet calls that work? With no spyware? You’re kidding me right? My bro Luke gave me the tip off about this software so I’m gonna get a headset and find out if it really works. Presently it’s in beta and is for Windows only.

I also discovered an online store that I liked called eBuyer

Maida Vale, London, Wednesday, March 10th, 2004

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