I hate TV ads

July 28, 2009

I really do. They get in the way, they’re usually too stupid for words (Auckland Glass will never see a dollar of mine. Never) and they get muted the minute they appear.

And yet, a good TV ad is really good. The UK has some of the best, and I’ve chucked a bunch of good ones in here (bunnies!).

This irks me. How can I find ads that I actually enjoy? Is it just the comparison with crap ads that makes them enjoyable? I even like the Fold ad that Vodafone produced:

(we’ll claim it as a local ad even though it was thought up by a couple of Poms and filmed in Australia. It’s as Kiwi as I am) and the bit I really like is that the whole thing hinges on the actor’s ability to do sleight of hand and so drop the things he folded without making it obvious he was doing that. Brilliant – without him, the ad would suck.

Fair Go did a piece on the making of the Fold ad which you can watch here.

I don’t know what Spike sells but I do like these ads.



I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief.

I am delighted to be here and I’m particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.

Nice intro, get the laugh in early.

Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nation’s own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

Would that that were still the case, Mr President. What might have been, eh?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

My favourite bit… Everyone’s favourite bit, if I’m honest, even with the clunker “and do the other things” in the middle. Still get goosebumps reading it. The challenge, the leadership, the vision!

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school.

Ah, if only Mr President. If only. No wait… that’s happened! MRI scans, CT scans, home computers, cellphones, satellite communication, heart-rate monitors, Velcro and mircowave ovens. Just off the top of my head.

During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

That’s right, we’ll have to invent new technologies, create new roles, hell we’ll have to create new materials just to get the damn thing off the ground! And what a price tag. ZOMG!

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year’s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year – a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority…

Wait a minute. Are you saying, Mr President, that we can go to the moon for less than Americans spend on cigarettes? Holy cow! That’s insane! Even in the 1960s with the cigarettes and the smoking and the oy!

And what, 40c each a week? Holy Mother-frakin’ crap! Is that it? What is it today? But wait, he’s still speaking.

[E]ven though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us.

But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to Earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.

And there you have it. The truth of the matter. We will invent an entire industry, a new way of life, materials and equipment not yet built to get this thing off the ground to the moon and back in one piece.

The amazing thing is, they did. In the 1960s. They sent a capsule with limited computing power – less than a calculator digital watch had in the 1980s – to the moon. They flew it there and back, repeatedly. They survived the unknowable and the unthinkable and they returned to tell the tale.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.”

Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

And then we stopped. We stopped going.

I can’t get over that. We simply stopped.

It’s now forty years after Armstrong stepped onto the surface. An entire generation has been born since we stopped going to the moon. An entire generation! That’s not right.

There are plenty of reasons not to go – it costs money, children need food, we shouldn’t be wasting money on this kind of jaunt, robots are cheaper, there’s nothing there to see, we’ve been there and done that, the money could be better spent elsewhere.

But we went for the right reasons, in public if not in the backrooms where I’m sure it was more to do with the Soviets and then Vietnam, and we should go back for all the right reasons: we will grow, we will learn, we will expand and we will be changed by what we find and by the finding itself.

We should struggle, we should take on the hardest of challenges, we should dream to do the impossible because without those dreams, all we’re doing is picking over the mundane.

The president’s speech was given at Rice University on September 12, 1962 and true to his word by the end of the decade we were standing on the moon.

Imagine where we’ll be in eight short years. The year is 2014 – will we be as far ahead of 2009 as Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins were eight years after Kennedy’s speech?

Happy Birthday, Apollo. I think it’s only now we’re truly beginning to realise just how audacious the goal was and how amazing it is that you did what you did. But I know you’ll forgive me if I wish for the day when we erase Gene Cernan‘s place in history as the last man to stand on the moon.

Bad language

July 13, 2009

NSFMMTR (not safe for my mum to read)

I like language.

I’m quite fond of bad language too. I was a reporter, after all, and in most news rooms “Fuck You” is considered witty banter and/or a jovial greeting between peers.

And so it was that I was very angry to discover a journalist was fired for telling an editor to fuck off. But that was some time ago. I no longer mutter “motherfucker” under my breath when I think of it (arse).

Today’s lesson: swearing is good for you, particularly when you bang your head on the upper bunk while tucking in your four year old daughter/comedian/mimic.

It’s true. Scientific America told me.

“The study, published today in the journal NeuroReport, measured how long college students could keep their hands immersed in cold water. During the chilly exercise, they could repeat an expletive of their choice or chant a neutral word. When swearing, the 67 student volunteers reported less pain and on average endured about 40 seconds longer”.

I find the longer the string of words, the happier I feel.

Sadly, I’ve also discovered that some people view swearing in the same light they view kicking small dogs: that is, it’s not for polite company.

Interestingly, I work in an open plan office very near the boss, surrounded by accountants and people who have corporate jobs. They’ve never worked for an angry red-faced man with a too-tight collar and a bad tie who ate junior reporters for breakfast and spat out the pips onto the newsroom floor. Neither have I but they all think I did (either that or that I secretly ran away to sea many years ago and instead of a tattoo or syphililis, came home with a Vocabulary).

Still, they’re learning. I swear (ha) I saw someone taking notes during my last outburst. It went something like this:

and was a sight to behold.

EDIT: Asshole! Embedding not allowed? Wah? Huh? WTF? KMA, MF!

take that!

As I was saying, the boss doesn’t seem to mind. He seems to quite enjoy it at times.

One of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, has of course already stolen the best title for this blog post – Warning: Contains language. The bastard.

Piano II

July 8, 2009

As regular readers (Hi Mom) know, I bought a piano.

It’s an old piano. It has an awful tone. It has sticky keys. It hasn’t been tuned since before The Turn of the Century.

As pianos go, it’s pretty average.

I love it. It’s my piano. I own a piano. I have a piano in my lounge. There’s no room for it, and we don’t have a stool, and currently it’s no more than piece of furniture. But it’s my piano. I can see it … if I crane my neck a little.

I feel better having a piano. I can’t explain it but I do.

Oh, I can’t play it, but that doesn’t matter. I can pick out tunes, one handed. What I want to do, however, is play this:

It’s one of the finest Jazz pieces I know and look, it’s so easy you can play it in splints!

But wait, as they say, there’s more.

For the beauty that is the You Tubes has given me: piano lessons by video. Hence:

and that leads me on to other simple pieces of music with which to wow and boggle my family.

So, thanks You Tube, hat tip Shawn Cheek Easy and thank you my piano.

You know where all this is leading, right?


July 7, 2009

It’s been a while. Sorry about that. Had body painted girls to cover up, corporate ships of state to maneuver into laying along side, possible outbreaks of swine flu (she had a cold) to consider and general lethergy to take into account.

Meh. It’s a blog. What are you gonna do?

On that note, the holidays.

School holidays, to be precise.

They’re upon us.

A colleague of mine (and occasional correspondent) says he’s been informed that Her Indoors is taking the kids to the In laws for a couple of days during the holidays.

Cunningly, Mr X (for that is his birth name) has booked a day off work without making mention of this to his wife.

Is he conducting an illicit affair? Will he spend the night out with The Boys?

No, he’s after one thing and one thing only:

a lie in.

That’s right, he has to book time off work so he can luxuriate in that experience we call “sleeping until you wake”.

I can only agree, it’s a gorgeous idea and quite a tempting one. The downside is that Someone will find out he’s got a day off and hasn’t:

mown the lawn;
sorted out the dripping shower head;
painted the ceiling in the lounge;
updated his blog;
journeyed to the in-laws to partake of the family cheer, etc,

and he’ll be in a world of hurt.

So Very Tempting.

I do get a lie-in each week. On the Saturday morning I get to stay in bed while Mrs Audent gets up and tries to coral the children. Sadly our house has the main bedroom off the lounge, so despite all best endeavours all I can hear is children scrapping, whining, fighting, moaning, watching TV, not watching TV, eating breakfast, making a mess, refusing to eat breakfast, getting told off and, occasionally, standing in the corner.

I love them to bits but a lie in… mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Modern Warfare 2

June 11, 2009


Modern Warfare 2.

Must have.

World War II is all well and good but I’ve stormed the beaches, I’ve taken the pill boxes, I’ve pushed on through the rain in France, I’ve shivered in the snow in Moscow and I’ve flame thrown bunkers. That wasn’t much fun, the last bit. It was grim, it was (get this) too realistic.

I’ve enjoyed it all but there’s nothing like the kinetic madness that is Modern Warfare, whether it’s storming the boat in the opening sequence or crawling through radiation in Chernobyl to take out an arms trafficker… the whole thing was gloriously cool (including the special after-the-titles sequence which was ace).

And now it looks like it got a bit better still.

Windows 7

May 22, 2009

Wammo tells me he’s installed the pre-release version of Windows 7 and it’s like being born again. His computer (get this) actually does what he wants it to do! ZOMG! Revolutionary.

I’m reminded of my old boss at IDG Communications, Pat McGovern, and a story he tells of the first time he saw Steve Jobs demonstrate the Mac OS.

Steve had invited Pat and some other assorted luminaries to check out his new product and was, the way Pat tells it, quite anxious that they be impressed. He ran them through the demo, showed off the “mouse” and the “graphical user interface” and some other bits and pieces and stood back.

“Well, Pat. What do you think?”

Pat McGovern, for those that don’t know him, is well over six foot tall and has been kicking around the IT publishing industry since before there was an IT publishing industry. He set up IDC Research to monitor this growing market but couldn’t find any publication that wanted to take his research. So he founded IDG Communications and set up Computerworld and the rest is history. Pat was a big cheese and if you could get Pat on side, you were made.

“What do you think?” asked Steve, with (I like to think) a tremor in his voice.

Pat stood up, looked around the room at the assembled journos and said, “If this catches on, we’re all out of a job. It just works”. Thankfully, it never did, and so countless millions of pages of reviews, tips, tricks, support and help were able to be written and re-hashed over and over …

Windows 7 is best summed up, however, by XKCD and if I can make it fit, the comic is below. You should, however, go visit XKCD and look at all the comics and let your mouse hover over each one as there’s a secret message for those In The Know.

It’s mostly a fail until such time as I can move the post down below my sidebar. Hmmm. Any WordPress gurus who know what they’re doing out there?