Sunday, December 30, 2007

podcast 168. The pant wettingly funny balti challenge

Download the MP3 of the show (podcastpaul) 168 here

Adam and Paul , Sue and Louise explore the best balti houses of South Birmingham.

Ordering as a french bloke, bloke with a lisp, camp bloke and Welsh chap the four balti houses are pitted against each other.

Lager thrown in, this is destined to be another podcast classic... no, really, honestly.

Actually, it is really very, very funny - especially the phone ordering.... go on, you know you want to...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

bed...

It's 9am and I really don't want to get out of bed.

How weird is it that your bodyclock adjusts so quickly when you're away from work? I'd have been sat at my desk for nearly two hours by now if it were a workday.

I think I'll get up, shower, eat and then have a lazy day on the sofa. I may even go back to sleep. Great plan!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

making things a bit more interactive....

I'm looking at ways to make the podcast show more interactive. I'm actually thinking about adding some software so that you can join in live, give listener comments, talk in real time as I record and adding a listeners phone in line.

I'm looking around at software and plug-ins at the moment. If you've any suggestions, please let me know, particularly with regard to the phone line. All comments are very welcome - or feel free to email me: paul@podcastpaul.com

Would anyone be interested in joining a live show as I record? You would all be very welcome...

Thoughts from bed

Don't worry, it's not a rude post. I'm just browsing the web from bed..

First off: I hope you all had a wonderful time yesterday. Christmas is, I think, a time mostly reserved for kids. I'm sure I enjoy Christmas by proxy as I love to see my kids faces light up when they open their presents. Christmas is, sadly also a time when divorce lawyers see a rise in business. Families sadly argue at Christmas - they're flung together for a week or more hurtling up and down the country seeing folks they'd rather not at a time when finances are stretched. Apparently 7th January is the most popular date when the decision to divorce is made, clients deciding to 'get Christmas over and done with first'. I love being here with Sue and the kids and not at all looking forward to going back.

I'm determined to have a great time with the kids and to make the most of this break.

As I'm browsing the web on my Touch, listening to podcasts via my sound asleep' pillow I reflected for a moment as to whether I was becoming a geek. I think the answer has to be no. I'm still a bloke that likes gadgets. I don't get obsessional about operating platforms and still don't understand much of what my contemporaries talk about. In IT terms, I have learning difficuties. Put another way, I enjoy the art of what I see and hear, I just can't get excited about why it works. It's similar to enjoying driving, but not caring less about the inner workings of the combustion engine. I just about get Twitter. I hear about Joost, Joomlah and Seesmic, but I can't seem to muster up any enthusiasm to check them out. I feel I have enough to keep me occupied, and that's the answer I think as to why podcasting has remained static. If I'm not a geek, Joe Public is positively a disinterested Luddite. I'm sure podcasting is simply seen as video taped radio. So what? Those wishing to promote podcasts need to see behind the science fiction and concentrate on the promoting the content of 'indie radio'.

I'm back off to browse now. A geek with IT learning difficulties? Good label...

Monday, December 24, 2007

I love this time of year. The office door closes at 12.30pm and doesn't open again until early January of the New Year.

I aim to spend as much time as possible with my family. They're a great bunch and I'm looking forward to spending time with them all.

Have a lovely peaceful Christmas and prosperous New Year.

God bless


Paul

Saturday, December 22, 2007

podcast167 - happy christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year to you all

Download the MP3 from this link here
podcastpaul podcast 167
Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year
Porter Block - Happy Ending ; New York
The Evesham Hotel - blimey...
Paul Rose - Modern World
The Ipod touch - I'm hooked..
40th birthday bash in Bromsgrove...
Hollow Horse & Paul Rose - Sometimes things get worse before they can get better
Benjamin - Joy To the World
What was 2007 like for you? Make 2008 even better - New Years resolutions?
Ayla Brown - Know you better

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More updates

Great!

I've found how to update this blog on my iPod touch. That means more updates...and probably from bed..... Shudder...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An honest review of the Ipod touch.

In a few words: it's great, even better than I imagined, but with a few more features and tweaks it could be devastatingly good and blow the market apart. So why isn't it as good as it could and should be? Let me rephrase that - it's wonderful, but it's not the counsel of perfection, and I think the decision not to make it so was deliberate.

It's not an Iphone, and I'm glad it's not. The Iphone is a tremendous and without doubt even better piece of kit, but having Apple gouge me for an extra (minimum) £35.00 / $70.00 a month, no thanks. I can't be bothered to google around to see what Apple's share of the O2 contract is, but I can guess it's a right old wedge.

Apple seem to me to have compromised the Touch to such an extent that many will shrug their shoulders and pay the extra monthly contract fees for 18 months and grab the Iphone. Having a work provided phone, that makes absolutely no sense to me, and knowing that the phone is locked to a provider makes me positively not want to purchase the phone. I hate being told what I have to do and if I am, I end to walk away. This is a real shame, as the Iphone features are amazing. That's why you have to shake your head when you look at the limited features of the Touch - even as good as it is without them.

The memory capacity isn't great - I've 16gb, and I need to be conservative with what I'm storing. My old 5th gen Ipod has 60gb. Why 16gb? That's just mean. 16gb these days is ok, but it's not great and it's certainly not big enough.

The exceptional photo viewer on the Touch is something to behold. Being able to tilt the Touch through 90 degrees and watch the picture angle change still makes me smile. Expanding the picture on screen by touch is another very cool feature. Why then hasn't the Touch got a built in camera? That's another daft obvious missing feature. I take my Touch everywhere, so why should I take pictures on my phone / camera and spend tie mucking about transferring them?

The player is great, and the ability to shift through the album art is again a great cool feature. So why no external volume button? It's on screen, sure, but that's just fiddly, especially if you're out an about or at the gym.

The browser is fabulous, but misses a march by not having a widget feature. An inabiity to download on screen to memory (unless I've missed something), or miss such obvious features as flash is also a bit of a pain.

Not being able to email is also a bit of a pain, but I've circled that square by using the webmail service.

The calendar is a real delight to - and a recent 'bug fix' to now allow you to on-screen add an event quite user friendly. Many thought the 'pre-bug fix' was yet another obvious omission to push you to buy the phone

The one sad aspect is still Itunes - yes it's a great money spinner for Apple and yes, it's superficially easy to use, but how unuser friendly can a service be like that in this day and age? The answer is easy - as unfriendly as it wants to be, as you've no real alternative choice. I abhor being tied to one pc and have suffered hugely by having my home pc hard drive crash. Thank goodness I've got my old Ipod and have been able to use Yamipod to transfer my stuff, I'd be stuffed otherwise. I purchased the music in the first place, so why should I have to muck about transferring the stuff out? Conventional cheap Mp3 players drag and drop - and I wish Itunes would follow suit. Yes, I know ou can drag and drop - but it ain't easy.

The Touch is, for all its missing features at such a high cost (£270 / $550) still something to marvel at, I love mine and it's a fantastic asset - add some more memory, sort out the flash / widgets and add a camera and it'll be an even better seller. I'm impulsive I wanted one and got one. If I were you, I'd wait just a little while and wait for the extra... er... bug fixes.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Evesham Hotel

I had a wonderful weekend staying over at the Evesham Hotel in Evesham, Worcestershire with Sue. This beautiful old place started life in 1540, playing host to John Wesley, he of the Methodists, a few hundred years later. John Jenkinson and his staff run the place now and I'm sure John Wesley would turn in his grave.

The hotel was like nothing else I'd ever experienced. In my job, I get to travel a little and stay at some pretty nice hotels once in a while. But they're so.... corporate. You usually get a trouserpress, a TV a large bed and a bath / shower with an over priced mini bar.

At the Evesham Hotel, voted for having the best loos in Britain (!) You get a huge shovel full of eccentricity. Basil Fawlty has nothing on this place, though the owner bears some incredible similarities. The whole place is British eccentricity at its best.

I felt I was on the set of an Ealing cinema film circa 1958. If you have kids, they will absolutely love this place. Themed Alice in Wonderland bedrooms and excellent free wifi fit in alongside the telephone box (?!) that sits by the side of a lovely pool. Board games, sofas and ...stuff.... just seems be crammed into every conceivable place. The whole place seemed to have been designed by Enid Blyton, Billy Bunter and a host of public schoolboys after lashings of ginger beer and marmalade sandwiches.

The rooms are beautifully set with the most comfortable beds and well maintained two acred gardens. The whole hotel is crammed with memorabilia, mostly teddy bear themed, though you can see a magnificent array of whisky locked away in a cupboard next to a lifesized dennis the menace figure and a skeleton propped on an armchair. Your key ring is fastened to a conventionally sized teddy bear and the owner; John Jenkinson is a wonderful, eccentric lunatic.

Sue and I didn't realise that we were in for a Christmas Party for the hotel residents. In the dining room, lots of older folks were about and we sat down to enjoy a quiet evening.

At the table, we had a load of small coloured balls, party hats, long balloons with an inflater and funny glasses. Everyone started to let off the balloons around the place, and the elderly guests started throwing the coloured balls. Eh?! The frivoloty went on into the evening. It was a perfect way to spend a 40th birthday. If you're not British, and you want to see England at its most beautiful and eccentric, you absolutely must put this place ono your list as something to do before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

After pudding, cheese and biscuits and coffee we were later treated to John walking in to the dining room dressed as a fairy with a megaphone for some Christmas carols that everyone had to join in with. The food was fabulous, the wine and cider I ordered absolutely beautiful and the whole weekend just a brilliant, wonderful experience. Lunch every Sunday is a fabulous buffet at just £10 a head - Sue and I will definitely be returning.

If ever you're looking to go somewhere really special - even just to visit the nationally famed toilets then visit the Evesham Hotel - you will not be disappointed.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A short post

Hello folks - just a quick note to say hello, I'm at a hotel in the cotswolds with Sue, celebrating my 40th birthday today.

Sue bought me an Itouch - what an incredible piece of kit! I just can't work out how (or if) to download Flash so that I can make the unit more functionable. If anyone knows, please let me know!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kicking the class system.

I have just seen this article on the BBC TV News, what a wonderful, inspiring tale.

Sammy Gitau, living on a rubbish tip in Nairobi, found a Manchester University prospectus. Today, Sammy graduated with an MSc, a long far cry from his drug dealing days in Kenya following the murder of his father.

By chance, I heard a Radio 4 article this morning that suggested bright children from working class families generally fail to increase their standing, yet less intelligent public schooled children advance. The article can be read here

I grew up in a rough council estate area of South Birmingham. The school I attended was little more than a toilet bowl for the passing of kids to borstal. Teachers were disinterested and largely contemptuous of the kids they taught. One of my teachers didn't even turn up for 9 months of lessons just prior to taking my O levels. I recall distinctly having to speak to the Headteacher about the fact that we were sitting, week after week, without a teacher whiling away the two hour period. He was clueless.

I remember too, with less than fond memories the following discussion with our careers teacher

Teacher: So what do you want to do when you leave school?
me: I'm really interested in law
Teacher: (mock laughter) Well, pupils from this school don't go into law, but I can give you a leaflet about the car factory; Rover. (shoves a pamphlet about the factory my way)
me: (shoving the leaflet back) Really? Well I'm not, I want to go into law
Teacher: (shoving leaflet back) Well, call the number on the back of the form. You could work your way into management.....

It's odd to recall the low expectation that the teachers had. I distinctly remember my old maths teacher; Mrs Bradburn telling me I would only ever "scrape by". She was a vile woman with breath that smelt of cheap coffee and plaque with a tangle of frizzy unkempt hair. She would often get angry when the bristles on her legs would pierce her 40 denier american tan tights.

I couldn't complete my A levels, mum and dad said I would need to fund myself - great news after a years study. My dream of university faded and I fell into law, quite by chance right at the bottom, making tea and running errands. 12 long years of part time study followed. 8 years at the start, and the next 4 to finish in June of the new year.

I still shake my head in disbelief at some of the posh public school boy twits that populate law, though, I'm pleased to say that demographic is changing, and the firm I work with have some great characters.


I'm glad there are Sammy Gitau's out there as role models to inspire 'normal' kids. It's atrocious in this day and age to see the class system still alive and kicking.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sound Asleep Pillow

I don't generally follow that many blogs, but I do float around and tend to see what's about. Something on Twitter from podcastjunky_uk caught my eye.

Ever heard of the sound asleep pillow?

Have a quick look at the review on pjuk's blog by clicking here - and drop him a note to tell him I sent you!


This actually looks to be a really good idea, and if the review is anything to follow, it seems a fantastic idea for a Christmas or Birthday present.... cough... er Sue.

thoughts at 5.30am.

I sometimes have difficulty sleeping. I have a condition that causes me to wake every few minutes and never get restful sleep, the condition is severe. I stop breathing and my body spasms to get me breathing again, this happens every few minutes.

At hospital a few years back, I had a sleep conduction study and was disturbed to be told I'd clinically 'died' three times in the night. I now have to sleep with a mask to force air pressure into my lungs to keep my airways open. It's cumbersome, but when it works, it's great, when it doesn't - I just don't sleep.

They say you should live your life to the full - I think I'm doing more than that.... I was at uni until 9.30pm yesterday, straight from work. I got to bed at 10.30pm and woke after a terrible night's 'sleep' at around 2am. I started work at 2.50am. I've done a stack of dictation and will go until I drop around lunch, grab some sleep, some lunch, watch Harry in his nativity play and then start again. Sometimes don't you wish the merry-go-round would stop for just a short time?

On a cheerier note, it's probably a normal person's lunchtime now, so I gave myself 10 minutes to write this blog. I've seen a cracking little gadget I'd love to get my hands on - have a butchers at this. Neat eh? It had a very good write up by Steven Fry. I may well see if I can get one of these.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Life nearly begins...

apparently... as I'm 40 on Saturday.

It's been a busy time over the last few weeks and at the time of typing, I've just returned from church where we're in the middle of rehearsals for Christmas. We're singing just two songs that are chalk and cheese - one's a soulful gospel song with a great soul back beat and beautiful jazz piano, the other a medieval carol.

Those who have listened to the show know how wide my listening tastes are. I'll listen to jazz, ska, rock and choral music in the space of quarter of an hour. I love the sound of choral voices though - you can't beat a full black gospel choir, male voice tenors or even madrigals sung in traditional fashion.

Tonight we nailed the four part soprano, alto, tenor and bass sections of the 'Coventry Carol' - a cheery piece sung by the mothers at the time of the birth of Christ just before their children were slaughtered by Herod.....

If you've never heard decent, proper choral music, just look out for anything by the Cambridge singers or anything arranged by John Rutter or John Tavener.

..and last, but not least, my old mate Ken Little from Glasgow band; Hollow Horse sent me a fantastic couple of tracks, they just get better and better. Listen up for the podcast within the next few days.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I'm sitting in the main room of my house surrounded by Christmas decorations. I can't stand Christmas decorations and all the clutter.

There's a palpable excitement when the decorations are taken out of the loft from Sue who seems to spend an age positioning plastic angels, santas and lanterns.

Our Christmas tree, with its tinsel arms, always leans to one side. I'll be spending every day of the next month moving and propping it back into position and at least two days picking it up from the floor.

I'm just looking forward to the break, spending time with old mates and family and putting my feet up. Ironically, in a time of rest, the busiest section of life is church. I usually get involved in helping with the programme. This year there will be traditional carols sung, something that always makes me feel warm and seasonal.

But, for now, I'll sit and stare at the plastic decorations..