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March 2, 2005

The Joys of Moving

naked ikea
I got to Finland just in time to help Carita move into our new flat in Espoo so the last week has been spent moving boxes, visiting Ikea of all places, and putting furniture together. If I didn't like Ikea before that ordeal then I absolutely loathe it now. Hours spent trying to figure out where all the spastic designed bolts and attachments go and then it turns out they go into corners that are too small to get your fingers into unless you're the retarded five year old that designed it. Then, after ripping your hand open on a razor thin slice of veneer and your girlfriend trying to dig the splinter out with a potato peeler (don't ask), you find that you've put the nearly identical screws in the wrong place, or there's one missing, or that part of it is damaged and you have to take it all apart again, get it back into the car, and return to the centre of evil to get it exchanged and ruin another day of your life.

March 3, 2005

Flickr Moblog

One of the reasons I bought a Nokia this time was because their cameraphones included an upload program that could be hacked to send photos directly into the gallery software I run on the site. The 6630, ironically, turns out to be the first phone that doesn't have this functionality (instead just letting you upload to Kodak online) so I've been trying to figure out how best to upload photos from the phone to the site in realtime. Although I prefer to keep all the photos on my own site, I've decided to try Flickr, one of the best photo-sharing applications on the web, for the moment and see how it works out.

March 4, 2005

How to Swear in Any Language

Ever been abroad and wanted to swear at someone? No, me neither. But just in case one day you do, then The Alternative Dictionaries is the site for you, including one big, happy book of how-to-swear-all-over-the-world (892kb pdf). My Finnish teacher tells me there are some typos in it but she was still impressed when I told her to "Go ski into a c**t!"

March 6, 2005

Join Me

join me
I'm currently reading Join Me by Danny Wallace - the true story of a man who started a cult by accident. It follows the growth of the 'collective' from humble beginnings as Danny sits in his flat watching films in his underwear until it's members multiply across the globe doing random good deeds, and he attempts to hide the entire thing from his girlfriend. A very funny read containing essential advice and guidance for anyone who's ever considered setting up a cult.

Apparently, the group is still very much alive and kicking at the Join Me website.

March 8, 2005

Tweel - The Wheel Re-invented

Michelin have announced a totally new design of wheel. Dubbed the tweel (tyre/wheel), it comprises an airless integrated tyre and wheel comprised of metal spokes that bend to absorb shock and rebound back, rather than a traditional pneumatic tyre. Apparently, handling and performance were better than conventional wheels when tested on an Audi A4, but most of all, just think, never having to replace another tyre.

March 10, 2005

Vice Magazine

In Glasgow last month Colin and I stumbled across free copies of Vice Magazine in a clothes shop in the city. Upon returning to the flat and studying it we soon discovered that this is no ordinary mag, with some of the most depraved, disturbing, and educationally rich content you've ever seen in print within it's laminated covers.

Even better though is their website. Full text of the stories, back issues, and pictures are all there, giving the enlightened web surfer masses of factual information and advice for life in these challenging times, answering questions such as why are single women with cats nuts?

March 14, 2005

Antonov AN-2

antonov an-2
At the weekend I flew across the frozen Baltic to Estonia with a couple of guys who were bringing back an Antonov AN-2, the world's biggest biplane. After flying into Tallinn airport and clearing customs we took off for Amari, a military airfield in the middle of nowhere. It was bitterly cold, about -10c, as we hung around the airbase which used to be home to one of the USSR's MiG squadrons but now mostly consists of empty, bunkered hangars.

The Antonov turned out to be less than manoeuvrable, however, as they attempted to taxi to the runway and slid off the apron into deep snow. It took three of us to push it out, and ten metres later it once again frustratingly turned and slid into the snow. Once more we pushed to turn it into the right direction as the pilot revved the engine, causing so much airflow from the props that we were blown off into the snow! This repeated itself over and over again until my fingers felt completely frozen and I expected to see they had black tips when I took my gloves off. Finally the aircraft made it out onto the main runway and majestically lifted off the ground after only about fifty metres.

March 16, 2005

Guernsey Bass

Mark sent this link to a petition to pressure Guernsey to introduce a closed fishing season to conserve Bass fish stocks.

The intention of this petition is to force Guernsey's Sea Fisheries dept. to declare a 'close season' or much tighter catch quotas for bass between January and April. This is to allow the slow-growing bass to spawn and ensure sufficient stocks for future generations.

Building in a Bag

buiding in a bag

Two British engineers have come up with a building in a bag intended for use by aid agencies in natural disaster zones. The cement impregnated fabric building arrives in an easily transportable sealed plastic bag which you add water to and then inflate. Twelve hours later the structure has cured and is ready for use.

March 18, 2005

Supersize Me

The other night we watched Supersize Me a documentary of epic proportions following Morgan Spurlock on a month long McDonalds only diet.

The rules were:
1) No options: he could only eat what was available over the counter (water included!)
2) No supersizing unless offered
3) No excuses: he had to eat every item on the menu at least once

As you gradually watch his health deteriorate, the film looks at America's obesity and lack of dietary knowledge - exploring a country where the majority have been educated by fast food advertising, take no exercise, and eat mammoth portions.

During the time I spent in Florida I was shocked on a daily routine by the size of American arses and surprised to find that almost all of the food prepared in diners came straight out of tins and cardboard boxes like instant egg mix instead of real eggs.

Morgan Spurlock is funny and likeable, though the final outcome of the film surprises everyone - making me regret the time I once ate six McDonalds cheeseburgers in one go, or my one time quest to visit every McDonalds in the world. Like cigarettes, who would have thought that junk food could be bad for you?

March 22, 2005


So this guy gets stopped on the street in New York by a crazed crackhead selling a laptop for $200 - and he buys it.

What he thought was a new Powerbook, however, turns out to be made of cardboard and rubbish bags spray-painted silver with an Apple logo painted on the front!

When Addicts Create

March 23, 2005

Name That Tune

Now complete strangers can judge how trendy you are from the music you listen to. iTunes makes it possible to share your music library over the local network you're connected to, allowing anyone else connected to the same network to look at your collection, listen to those songs, and decide for themselves how cool you are.

The cafe I regularly come to in Helsinki seems to be a big Apple hangout - attractive people with Macs outnumber pc users just about any day of the week. Sitting with my latte and using their wireless network, I was sifting through iTunes today when I noticed a shared playlist connected - Kinoma Soi. Clicking on it I could see it obviously belonged to a big heavy metal fan, with lots of Metallica and Iron Maiden, but there were some interesting tracks I used to like so I listened to a few.

iTunes allows you to stream the music to your machine but won't let you copy them so I quickly downloaded OurTunes, an open source program designed to get around this, downloaded a couple of WASP and Van Halen songs I used to listen to at school, and continued looking through the collection which probably belonged to a Hell's Angel somewhere downstairs.

But do you want everyone to be able to form an opinion on you by the music you listen to? What if you listen to shit? On college campuses where hundreds of students are connected to the same network it's now spawned a new form of discrimination - Playlistism. Close on the heels of that, Flirting by iTunes has begun. Maybe the time has finally come to clean up your music library.

March 26, 2005

Going to Japan!

I've just booked a flight to Tokyo for next weekend. Japan's somewhere I've been wanting to go to for years so I'm really looking forward to it! I was going to book the flight from London, which was pretty cheap but the Ryanair flight to connect to it cost half as much as flying to Japan so I managed to get a scheduled flight from Helsinki for less than it would have all cost (and no sleeping in Stansted airport!).

March 30, 2005

Trip Planning

Haven't written anything for a few days as I've been really busy trying to research and organise things like accommodation, rail passes, and figuring out where to go, on my sudden trip to Japan on Saturday. I will make up for the lack of writing, honest...