Playmobil City Life airport security check-in

Playmobil City Life airport security check-in
Playmobil City Life airport security check-in

This evening I’ve been laughing so much at this review of the Playmobil security checkpoint on Amazon.

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said “that’s the worst security ever!”. But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.

The best thing about this product is that it teaches kids about the realities of living in a high-surveillance society. My son said he wants the Playmobil Neighbourhood Surveillance System set for Christmas. I’ve heard that the CC TV cameras on that thing are pretty worthless in terms of quality and motion detection, so I think I’ll get him the Playmobil Abu Ghraib Interrogation Set instead (it comes with a cute little memo from George Bush).

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I think about this toy.

As I write the Playmobil City Life Airport Security Check In, “with conveyor belt to screen luggage and metal detector”, is currently available on Amazon UK for only £437.71.

My albums of 2013

Montage of album covers

This review is a few days late, due to a nasty chest infection that’s been plaguing me from before Christmas.

My annual review of what I’ve most enjoyed listening to during the last 12 months, and my albums of the year.

Continue reading My albums of 2013

Planning Study 2.1

Back in April 2010 (was it really that long ago?) I wrote a post called Planning Study 2.0 showing how I was using a free online application called Floorplanner to work out whether it was feasible to move my study  from the former garage upstairs into bedroom four.

Then we discovered that we were expecting Isaac and those plans were put on hold. Bedroom four was to become Isaac’s room and my study would need to remain in the “garage room”.

Fast forward a couple of years and it became clear to us that Isaac was going to need a larger room. So Jane and I dusted down our plans and we decided to sacrifice the guest bedroom to move Isaac into, then the study would move into Isaac’s old room, and finally the garage room would become a second living room/lounge with the option of a sofa bed or inflatable double-mattress on the floor.

Initial plan — study 2.0

This was my initial plan from April 2010.

Proposed floor plan of relocated study
Initial floor plan of relocated study

Revised plan — study 2.1

My revised plan of Summer 2012, rotated 90° right.

Plan of study
Final plan

And so during the last couple of months we’ve slowly moved things around. Isaac moved rooms first of all, and then the study steadily moved upstairs. Bookcases and books first, then the filing cabinet and Ikea Poäng chair, and finally my desk (which I had to completely dismantle to get out through the former garage’s sliding door and back in through the front door).

So, here are the 3D renderings from Floorplan to compare with photographs of how the actual room looks.

Looking south

Floor plan of study shown in 3D
Floor plan of study shown in 3D (looking south)
My study, showing from left to right: filing cabinet, desk and bookcase
My study, showing from left to right: filing cabinet, desk and bookcase

Looking west

Plan of study, shown in 3D
Floor plan of study shown in 3D (looking west)
My study, looking towards the window, with chair and bookcases
My study, looking towards the window, with chair and bookcases

Conclusion

Floorplanner has been a really useful tool. As I said in my initial review, the free account is limited to only one plan (although you can join rooms together to create, for example, a whole floor) but that has been enough for our requirements.

We are now beginning to use it to plan what to do with the old study (the “garage room”). How can we fit in a sofa or two, and still make it comfortable for guests to sleep in? I’ll report back once we’ve worked it out.

This page is in Czech

20111110-quickbooks

I was reading through the latest PC Pro email newsletter which included a review of QuickBooks Pro 2012, accountancy software.

I clicked on the link, started to read the review, realised that accountancy software really isn’t that interesting so checked out the pictures instead.

Google Chrome confidently told me that “this page is in Czech…”

Surely, if it’s accountancy software that should be: this page is in cheque…! (That’s ‘check’—as in bank check—for our American readers.)

B’boom! Tsh!

Radiohead – Lotus Flower

In Rainbows

When Radiohead’s last album In Rainbows came out on 10 October 2007 I downloaded it, listened to it and…well, I really didn’t get it.

It sat in my MP3 folder for a couple of years, occasionally getting an airing, even playing it two or three times back-to-back to try to get inside it and each time putting it away again disappointed.

A couple of weeks ago Radiohead announced the immanent release of their new album  The King of Limbs. So I dutifully rolled out their back catalogue in preparation.

Suddenly In Rainbows made sense. Like a jigsaw falling into place.

What a revelation! An epiphany!

The King of Limbs

I downloaded The King of Limbs last night having listened to an interview with Andy Kershaw and Alex Poots (director of the Manchester International Festival) on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

The article was entitled “is Radiohead’s new album ‘a grower’?” and introduced the topic with “the band Radiohead has come under criticism after some critics claimed its eighth album, The King of Limbs, which was released this month, was ‘impenetrable’. Others have said the album needs time to grow on the listener.”

Andy Kershaw, who admitted not having listened to it, slated it; I thought unjustifiably.

On my first listen I loved it.

I find it neither impenetrable nor ‘a grower’. For me it was an immediate connection with the music. It’s not The Bends, it’s not OK Computer, it’s not Kid A but it is definitely Radiohead and I can see me listening to this album for quite some time to come.

Review from The Telegraph

I read a few reviews after I’d listened to the album a couple of times. This is my favourite paragraph from Neil McCormick’s review in The Telegraph:

It is reliably unorthodox, a new sonic adventure for the restless Oxford quintet, but, despite its boldness and weirdness, it is easy on the ear, with a mellifluous melodiousness and gentle sonic palette that doesn’t demand huge leaps of faith. Percussive, groovy, spacious, ethereal and melodic, this is late night Radiohead, a stoned, somnambulistic wander through the urban wastelands shared by such post-Dubstep adventurers as Burial and James Blake. Taking the tender intimacy of Radiohead classics like No Surprises and Fake Plastic Trees and cross fertilising them with elements of world music, jazz and ambient, the result is the kind of chill out music that keeps you awake. Highly strung and instinctively contrary, but also deeply harmonically musical, Radiohead somehow finds a space between the sinister and the beautiful, the tense and the meditative. They remain masters of musical dichotomy.