News and comments from Arthur


PS3 and Blu Ray

 Tuesday 26 Feb 2008, 9:50 PM

No, Arthur hasn`t commited himself to going blu quite yet, but has instead borrowed a PS3, some Blu Ray discs and some games from someone at work whilst they are on holiday.

He finally connected it all up this evening (simple job with HDMI and optical digital audio) and checked a few settings on the PS3`s extensive but relatively intuative menu system. He then possed in Casino Royale and watched the opening sequence, start titles and free running action scene from the start of the film; all looked very good, especially the nice crisp, clean start titles with its colourful graphics. As expected it wasn`t any better or worse than HD DVD and although the Dolgy Digital soundtrack seemd to be downsampled to a lower bitrate than HD DVD it still sounded perfectly good. The menu structure was a similar kind of thing with animated interactive menus running over the film although the animation didn`t seem quite as slick as HD DVD and the mneus a bit sparse but this was likely just the disc itself rtaher than any shortcomings on the Blu ray format. Arthur will have to check out some other films to see how they measure up. Unfortunately at the moment the only other film he has is 300, which is actually quite handy for making comparisons to HD DVD as he has the film on that format too.

But that`s it! Those are the only Blu Ray films the person had with their PS3! Godanmmit, Arthur thinks it`s people like this that needlessly won the format war for Blu ray!

Arthur also fired up an F1 raqcing game and yes it was very slick and looked nice but it didn`t immediatley grab Arthur and cry out to be played repeatedley. He will have to try some of the shooty games he also borrwed to see if they are any more entertaining.

The only conclusion Arthur has drawn so far is that he definitely wants a Blu ray player for the HD films but he still can`t find one that is good enough to buy at this stage. Grrrr... blood... pressure... rising... again....

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Stuff about TV shows

 Tuesday 19 Feb 2008, 5:18 PM

Here a a few odd TV show related things that probably don`t deserve lots and lots said about them but Arthur thinks they should at least be mentioned.

Firstly, Torchwood series 2 is certainly better than series 1. In fact one of the epsiodes Arthur would even classify as really good, wioth one or two of the others being not too bad. The rest (so far) weren`t that great though. Still, if it improves on the first series then that can only be good news.

From one of the writers of Torchwood and Doctor who, Arthur watched Being Human on BBC3 last night. It was the pilot episode for a for a drama/comedy(in that order) about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost all sharing a flat together. What`s more it was really, really good. In fact Arthur thought it was everyhting Torchwood should have been with a good basic idea, good writing, good charcaters, good comedy. In fact it was just downright good! The tragedy is that BBC have only made the single pilot episode along with pilot shows for about 5 other series as well and will only be determining wjhat ones to make into full series at some point in the future. Nooooo! Arthur was desperate to see more, especially as it set up some nice ongoing story elements.

Lost is back (series 4 now) and is much better than series 3. The pace has picked up considerably thanks mainly to the use of flash-forward scenes rather than charcater building flash-backs. Howver the series continues to raise questions without actually answering any of the old ones.

One good new series is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Arthur expected this to be a train wreck of a show but it`s actually turned out to be quite good so far. He certainly prefers it to series 2 of Heroes. Arthur thinks it works becasue it isn`t just about Terminators chasing John and Sarah; in fact whole episodes can go by with only the merest glimpse of Terminator action. And it`s not just an action based show either. Arthur`s not quite sure where the series is heading but he`s looking forward to finding out.

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Roomba Dirt!

 Monday 18 Feb 2008, 8:36 PM Dust and Dirt from the Roomba

And here is all the grime from the Roomba`s first trip out. Not a bad haul for 3 rooms (livign room and hall, bioth carpeted and dining room wooden floor).

Arthur suspects if the Roomba were to go for another round it would get almost as much again. He thinks it will be of more use as a regualr cleaner for surafce dust rather than replacing a good depp clean with a proper vacuum every once in a while.

Best of all was how wel the wholw romm blocking thing worked with the virtual walls. Roomba didi each room in turn and, once complete, navigated its way back to the living room where it trundled around for a bit eventually finding its way back to its base station where it automatically dopcked and began tom recharge, all without any human interaction other than pressing the clean button to set it going in the first place! Cool!

Arthur thinks he should also look at getting a costume for his Roomba: Maybe he could presuade his mum to make one...

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 Monday 18 Feb 2008, 6:15 PM Roomba 560 robot vacuum cleaner

Roomba! Whilst it sounds like something Arthur may cry had be taken up some form of Latin American dancing, it is in fact the name of Arthur`s latest toy, a Roomba 560 robot vacuum cleaner.

The roomba is a late Christams gift as everywhere in the UK was out of stock in the run up to the big day itself. Arthur got it home last night and set up up ready to charge (it requires about 16 hours the first time it is charged up) and then set it going for real tonuight once he had watched neighbours.

It appears to be more of a floor sweeper, somewhat like a Ewbank but with a lot more intelligence and requiring a lot less effort! It runs pretty quitely and seems to be doing OK and hasn`t got stuck on anything yet (as Arthur is typing this it has only been running for 15 minutes). Particularly nice ar the Virtual walls - little battery powered beacons that stop the Roomba crossing its path until the whole room has been completed (or by setting anohter mode, stopping the Roomba ever crossing it, in order to keep it out of certain areas).

Arhtur will have to post in a few days time to report how good a job it does of actually cleaning his carpets and wooden floors.

It can also be scheduled to run automatically every day but Arthur will have to look into this as he`s not sure whetehr it weill set off his burglar alarm if it starts wandering round the hosue whilst he`s out! Arthur could set it to run at night or maybe first thing on a Saturday morning but isn`t sure if it`s quiet enough to let him sleep. Still, it could scare off potential burglars.

And most impoprtantly Arthur has to think of a name for it! "Roomby" is too predictable and dull and he can`t think of any name related to "sucking" that isn`t rude...

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Creepy Neighbours

 Monday 11 Feb 2008, 7:01 PM

Neighbours is back on channel 5 and it is somewhat weird to watch for several reasons. Firstly the adverts in the middle. Arthur doesn`t think they are that well done as it loks like the Australians actauuly have 2 sets of sdverts during the program in different palces to where the UK adverts are inserted. Thus scenes end/start rather abruptly when going into or elaving the commercial break. And then there are a copuiple of palces with nice quick fades to black where the adverts are actually supposed to go!

But the really weird thing is the new look it has. Gone is the bright, shiny shot on video camera look only to be replaced with a more serious, realistic filmic look. It`s really weird to see as Arthur can`t oput his finger on how the picture is different - it just is.

Arthur has seen the effect before and seems to recall it has something to do with interlaced video vs progressive video. But what he does know for sure is that he prefers Neighbiurs the way it used to look; cheap, cheesy and shot on video. Still, I`m sure he`ll get used to it over time.

The only thing that has changed are the end credits which are far shorter and have a quick, cut down version of the main theme. Again, nothing major but they seem really odd compared to the old BBC version.

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Neighbours is dead. Long live Neighbours!

 Friday 8 Feb 2008, 7:10 PM

Today is a sad and historic day... after almost 22 years, Neighbours has shown its last episode on BBC1. Arthtur started watching the soap when it originaly aired around 1986, when he was still at school. He can even remeber the very first episode involving the brothers Shane and Danny Ramsay and something to do with Danny having a diving accident (or something like that). It was staple lunchtime viewing for many years and when Arthur couldn`t get back from school at the right time, it was staple evening viewing for the repeat (in fact in the early days the evening and lunchtime showings were different epsiodes, with the evening one being the first chance to see a new episode that was then repeated the following day at around 1:30pm.)

Arthur contionued to wacth whilst at Univerersity but once he started work he hit a few w"ilderness" years where he stopped watching simply becasue he wasn`t at home and it was too much effort to record every single day. But when his job changed to one where he got home relatively early he began watching once more and has been doing so for around the past 7 years. So BBC stopping showing the soap is a very sad say indeed. What annoyed Arthur slightly was that the BBC were somewhat bitter about the whole affair and didn`t mention a thing about it being their last ever epsiode. Arthur at least expected the announcer to make some sort of comment about saying goodbye to the residents of Ramsay street, but no; there was nothing. Grumpy cunts.

From a business point of view Arthur can undersatnd why - they didn`t want to give free advertising to Channel 5, who are due to show the series from Monday (at least thre was no repeat of the Home and Away fiasco where ITV stopped Channel 5 for showing new episodes for 18 months). But it will definitely be odd to watch Neighbours with adverts in the middle. Not to mention the fact Arthur is going to have to sneak out of work 5 minutes earlier every single day to get home in time as it will now be starting at 5:30 instead of 5:35!

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Blood Take 2 (or in this case, 8)

 Thursday 7 Feb 2008, 8:30 PM

Time for another blood test (not exactly Arthur`s favourite past time) but he was feeling realtively OK given recent vaguely positive experiencs with needles and 18 months of neddle love therapy!

However all did not go to plan. Arthur had to avoid food for at least 12 hours so turned up at the hospital at 8:30m, feeling somewhat drained as a) he hadn`t eaten sionce 6pm the previous evening and b) he had cycled several miles to get there. When he was called in, he was not 100% happy with the nurse doing the job. Firstly she didn`t know how to operate her magic bllod letting chair properly so couldn`t get it to recline all the way (Arthur likes to be lying down to help keep bllod flowing to his head!). In addition the arm rest wouldn`t adjust and was at such an angle that it could only be used by someone sitting bolt upright, so the nurse had Arthur`s blood giving arm in a rather awkward position.

Then she got a bit bosyy about which arm wasd th best to use (previous nurses had said Arthur`s right arm had the best vein but she was not convinced). And when she did end up using the right arm at Arthur`s request she put the Tourniquet on much tigheter than any of the previous nurses which instanly gave Arthur pins and needles and made the whole process much more uncomfortable.

Anyway, Arthur seemed OK for the first 5 or so tubes of blood being taken but it all began to get a bit overwhelming after that and he felt himself beginning to go going downhill (light headed, cold swaet etc.) The nurse didn`t make any effort to keep Arthur distratcted which didn`t help and he also suspects he was a bit complacent about it all having been OK on the 2 previous occasions. Once it was all over (8 tubes worth!) and the needle came out Arthur went almost to the edge and felt very, very unwell and close to passing out for several minutes.

It was a very weird sensation where the best thing was probably to lie down and breathe deeply but Arthur felt like he wanted to keep moving to get his blood pressure back up and thus he squiremed a lot, kept sititing up etc. Basically lost control of what he was doing and was generally confused.

Anyway, with a bit of deep breathing Arthur got things back under control again and after a while went outside to sit in the waiting area before carrying on to work.

And thus Arthur has taken a bit of a step backwards in his needle phobia therapy. However he has also learnt some valuable lessons. 1) He won`t be so complacent and will make sure to breathe deply etc. at all times 2) He won`t go ahead unless he is 100% happy with the setup and what the nurse is doing and if that means telling the nurse he doesn`t like the way he/she is doing things and he wants someone else, then so be it.

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Liquified Rat

 Wednesday 6 Feb 2008, 3:48 PM A liquified rat

When getting his bike out the shed today to go to the hospital, Arthur spotted something odd on his patio next to his garden furniture and discovered the decaying remains of a dead animal.

If Arthur had to guess what it was he would say it was a rat as it`s about the right size and the gooey remains surrounding the skeleton look like dark grey fur that has melted off the body. Plus one of Arthur`s next door neighbours has a very untidy garden that is propbably home to more wildlife that every other grden in a 5 mile radius of his house, so if a rat was going to live anyhwhere, this neighbours garden would be an absolute rat palace.

What surprised Arthur is that he hadn`t smelled or seen it before over the previous weeks (or months even) as the liquified remains had clearly been there for quite some time. Arthur will probably leave it there a bit longer for the birds to nibble on, then bury what`s left in his flower bed one weekend.

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Hospital Take 2

 Wednesday 6 Feb 2008, 10:27 AM

Arthur went to the hospital again today for a follow up appintment about the probelm with his eye that he had just before Christams, but they aren`t exactly filling him with confidence at the moment.

Having lost any record of him needing a follow up appointment (they were supposed to contact Arthur about it but never did), he arranged one with the hospital himslef and even that took 2 weeks and 4 phone calls to achieve/

When Arthur actually got into hsi appointment and the nurses spent some time speaking together in hushed whipsers before asking "why are you here?". Not exactly a great start. When they eventually find Arthur`s notes from his previous visit, the doctor began her examination to see how the retinal haemorrage in his right eye was doing. Which would have been great apart fromt he fact it was Arthur`s left eye that was the problem...

His previous blood tests all came back normal, with the possible exception of slightly higher than expected Albumin which the doctor didn`t really know what that meant (Arthur has since looked this up and online resources seem to indicate it comes from dehyrdration which isn`t that surprising since Arthur had been fasting, as requested, for the previous 12 hours when the blood was taken)

However the doctors now want to do some more blood tests to check for weird, rare stuff. They sent Arthur to get it done that day but having waited, was told it had to be another fasting blood test (i.e. noo fodd for the previous 12 hours) and since Arthur had consumed breakfast a few hours earlier, and so that was a watse of time too.

Arthur is now going back tomorrow morning, having not eaten anything after 8pm tonight. This time they are due to take at least 8 little tubes of blood! Arthur suspects he will whither away to nothing if they take much more!

And hopefully he will get to the hospital without incident tomorrow as this morning Arthur was side swiped by a car whislt cyclying up the hill from his house. He wasn`t hurt which was rather fortunate as the car driver just drive off without stopping. Arthur has since reported him to the Police who will be having a word...

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 Tuesday 5 Feb 2008, 8:39 PM

Soooo... many.... pancakes....

Arthur is feeling sick. Very sick. Once again he has consumed too many pancakes. Not to mention the apple fritters he also cooked as well (basically apple slices dipped in pancake batter and fried - as apples are a fruit this meake them a delicious, healthy meal and one of Arthur`s five-a-day!)

In fact Arthur consumed so many pancakes he just couldn`t force the last mouthful down even though he chewed it repeatedly. There was literally noweher for it to go so it unceremoniously ended up spat into the bin. What a waste of a good pancake.

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