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News, funny stuff, Notable stuff

Wednesday 2nd February

First a confession, as of 1:13am Tuesday 3rd of Feb I have yet to visit the cinema to see Return of the King.... Sorry i'll try harder :)

Strange day today, when out at lunch to find a snack but noticed when I wandered passed the discount bookstore it was more packed than normal. REASON: Closing down sale, as much as you could fit in a carrier bag for a fiver (£5).
Of course I didn't see that notice, just the one that said everything £1 today only, it was only after seeing this women trying to pack more books into an already overflowing bag that I twigged.
Result: (26 books) One of each Star Trek book they still had on the shelf, a couple of Dr Who books and a Sarah Michelle Gellar calendar which is still showing January's pictures as February's pic isn't particularly good.

Snow everywhere, well a bit here and there but back home they even had decent sized snowdrifts, when I went home but it had all gon

Its currently $1.8 to the pound (Graph of £/$ rates) so it would be silly not to take advantage of it, American DVD's come out so much earlier than ours :)

Spending spree time again
Noir Volume 5 DVD coverAnime
Noir - Vol. 6 - (Amazon, sendit.com) - Release date: 15 March, 2004 - Noir nears its end, with more revelations about Kirika, Mireille and the Soldats
Cover graphic: Excel Saga Volume 5Excel Saga - Vol. 6 - (Amazon, sendit.com) - Release date: 15 March, 2004 -
Other recent anime releases include:
Last Exile Volume 2: An amazing series that thankfully has come to DVD although currently only available as a region 1 DVD from pioneer.
Hellsing: ADV Films recently released the final volume in the decent series (I just want more) (R1 Boxset was nice and cheap)

The small rouge one, funny fish and a teaspoon of comedy
Red Dwarf Series 4 - (Amazon, sendit.com) - Due for released 16 February, 2004 - The crew are back in action dealing with Pleasure Gelfs, vindaloo monsters, prisons, cats bad jokes, Rimmer in a wig and Mother Terresa with a machinegun. ( 1. Camille, 2. DNA, 3. Justice, 4. White Hole, 5. Dimension Jump, 6. Meltdown).

Finding Nemo - (sendit.com, Amazon) - Out Now - Those fishy adventures finally come to DVD in a double DVD set giving both wide screen and full frame version of this amazing film. (I admit bought the R1 many moons ago :(, fine film, pity Disney and Pixar are parting ways (BBC News Link)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - (sendit.com, Amazon) - Surprisingly good film based on a disney ride and recently at a decent price.
Saving Private Ryan [1998] - (Amazon) - Award winning War film, now at a reduced price.

Best British Sitcom tie in's, the BBC are currently running a poll to find the best british sitcom in recent times.
Blackadder - The Complete Box Set Series 1 - 4 - (Amazon) - More Baldrick and Blackadder adventures than you can shake an amusingly shaped vegatabke at.
'Allo 'Allo - Series 1 And 2 - (Amazon, sendit.com) - Possibly the best reason to have UK Gold on SKY, But as I can't get UK Gold anymore I have to resort to the DVD's :) (BBCi Guide to Allo' Allo)
'Allo 'Allo - Series 3 And 4 - (Amazon, sendit.com) - More fun with Rene, the Resistance and the "Fallen Madonna"

Thursday 30th October

Spending spree time again
Pay day again, although after looking at last months bank statement I really should stop buying stuff.
However, what's the point of earning money if you don't get some enjoyment out of it.
Excel Saga - Vol. 4 - Episodes 14-17 (DVD) - Released: 17th Nov 2003
Noir - Vol. 4 - Episodes 13-16 (DVD) - Released: 17th Nov 2003

Monday 29th September

Strange and wonderful
Dead like me (official site / fan site) which just started on Sky in the UK (2nd episode broadcast last friday) looks like it going to be a decent 14 episodes of fun and death. - Looks like there will be a second season so all is good.

Stargate SG1 season 7 starts up again this week on Sky One.

Spending spree time again
First on the list is HomeWorld 2 which if first two games are anything to go by should be quite wonderful.
Alias - Series 1 - Finally available to buy. SD-6, CIA and more hairstyles and cloths than you can shake a stick at.
Babylon 5 Series 3 - Strangely taking it's time to arrive after the season 2 box set.
The Indiana Jones Trilogy (4-disc set) - Time to replace the old VHS copy from the TV with a nice crisp DVD copy.

Wednesday 27th August - Yikes, Must update more often (rather than once every 3 months)

Life, the universe and stuff
First the boring stuff, I graduated from Uni with a 2:2 in Information System aka Computer Studies, which whilst not brilliant isn't too bad :).
I'm back to working for the Uni full time again doing much the same as before but for more money. Currently everything is in chaos trying to get everything coded, tested, fixed and retested for the new intake of student this September.
I'm currently quite happy as i've got two new SQL servers to play with. ok, I'm really setting up load balancing (traffic/load shared between 2 or more servers) and replication (Data is keep synchronized over multiple server) for all our databases so that even if one campus blows up, the Learning portal would still keep running. (You get the idea, a bit of fault tolerance.

DVD's and other shiny objects
Pay days = more DVD and as such here are a couple of DVD's that have caught my attention.
Bewarned, I've rediscovered my love of Anime hence a sudden influx of strange titles :)

Anime titles

Spirited Away - (IMDB) - A hard one to describe without giving away to much... An unhappy 7000000065086 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by witches and monsters, where humans are changed into animals. After her parent changed into pigs she is befriended by a strange boy who helps her take her first step in this strange world to survive and free her parents from the spell.
I actually really like this one and would recommended it to anyone although as my brother pointed out I have a strange taste in Movies.
Princess Mononoke - (IMDB) ( Buy from sendit.com, or Amazon) - directed by the same person as Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki) - After becoming poisoned whilst saving his village, Prince Ashitaka sets of to discover the source of the demon to prevent anymore being created, this leads his straight into the middle of a war between the emperor's riflemen, the samurai clan, Lady Hiboshi's brothel girls, the boar tribe, and the wolves; led by San (Princess Mononoke.) Ashitaka stands as the only person between all these factors who must bring peace before the very heart of the forest is destroyed. .
Kiki's Delivery Service - (IMDB) ( Buy from sendit.com) - Same director and a more normal plot, Not as good as Spirited Away but enjoyable none the less.

Friday 30th May - Not long to go until my second exam

General rant mark II
As you probably guessed the exam last Saturday went quite well in that I think I answered the questions correctly and even had time to draw a few diagrams to better illustrate my points which is unheard of for me, unless of course the question specifically requires an example of my abysmal drawing skills :).
It was a case of straight out the exam hall to go buy a cinema ticket for Matrix Reloaded which I found to be a little disappointing, too much fighting and not enough plot, hopefully the 3rd one will be better.

I'm just finishing up my revising for the project management exam which is in about 14hrs (9:15am Saturday 31st), but the example papers suggest it should be a reasonable exam paper i.e. I'm not too worried yet, whether i'll still be calm tomorrow is another matter :(.

Bit of Harry Potter News
First a quick Harry Potter fan fiction update of what i've been reading when I should of been revising:

After the End by Arabella and Zsenya and others (SQ link, GT link,Yahoo Group) - Chapter 40 was added this morning and is once again a brilliant addition to this must read fictions, Congratulations to all those involved.

The Long Road Home by Ashwinder (SQ link, GT link) - Sequel to " Ginny's Gift" (read that story first). Chapter 28 of this wonderful fictions was added today and truly heart warming.

Beloved on this Earth by Chary ( SQ Link) - Snape/OFC romance. When Harry is injured and taken to a Muggle hospital, the nurse caring for him feels a strange connection to the injured boy, and certainly doesn't trust the Professor who claims he has come to return him to his school. (Chapter 19 added this morning) - I'm not sure why I didn't start reading this one early as its funny and amazing.

And of course its now only 21 days until "Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix is released"

Random(ish) strange sites of the week
The BBC Cult TV section recently added Episode 5 to SHADA, an animated Dr Who webcast. Starring Paul McGann and Lalla Ward. Written by the late Douglas Adams. - Well worh a watch

Another decent story/web animation from the BBC's Cult TV section is: Ghosts of Albion: London, 1838. As Demons swarm across the land, William and Tamara Swift must fight to find the wound in the Heart of London - using magic, intelligence, and the help of some long-dead friends

And last but not least... BBC Two Videos Real Media clips of retired BBC2 Idents

Friday 23rd May - 1 day to go until my first exam

General rant
I'm busy revising for my final set of exams, Tomorrow is Multimedia systems (an exam on a Saturday, what were those evil people thinking), Project Management is on the next saturday(31/5) with GIS (Geographical Information systems) on the Wednesday (4/6) but once they are done i'm free once again.
I nearly made it to the cinema to watch Matrix: Reloaded but after looking at the queue I though i'll wait until after my exam to go see it as a kind of reward. (Is it bad when you have to bribe yourself into revising?)

I don't know about anyone else but i'm finding it very hard to concentrate on revising, maybe its the sunshine or i'm just educationally burnt out.

DVD's and such
Hopefully my copy of Babylon 5 season 2 should turn up in the next week, just in time to distract me from revising. :)

Saturday 19th April - Happy Easter

The Official Red Dwarf site has load of new stuff about the up and coming Red Dwarf movie including reasons for the move from filming at Shepperton to filming in Australia, info about the RD Movie flyer which has been reported about on a few sites.

Bits and Bobs
I'm still busy trying to write my Final Year project/Dissertation for my uni course and trying not to think about all the impending course work and exams hence the updating my site rather than doing what i should be (I have got "Word" open in the background so I am trying, just finishing off chapter 5 and 6 then onto the appendices).

I'm still trying to work out what to do after I finish my degree, the current options are either continue to work for the university, go traveling or do teacher training and become a ICT (Information Communications Technology) teacher which basically means teaching spreadsheets, databases, word-processing, computer ethics etc.
The scary thing is; even after arranging and visiting a selection of schools (1 primary and 2 secondary) i'm still seriously considering it as an option which makes it one of my more bizarre schemes.

Movie Time
Its been a while since i've been able to afford to go to the movies or more precisely its been a while since there has been anything on I wanted to part with money to see. However The Core(imdb) and Final Destination 2(imdb) managed to tempt me.
Firstly "The Core", true its not exactly a thought provoking movie but I wanted something to just watch with a strange plot and quite decent special effects plus the trailer looked quite good.
Secondly "Final Destination 2", ok I admit it I quite liked the first movie and wanted more of the same and wasn't disappointed, the deaths are just a gross as in the first and often just as sudden.
Although none of the deaths are as disturbing as the bit in the first one where one of them gets hit by the bus, that had me excising my green cross code for quite a few days afterwards. :)

Random strange site: CELEBDAQ is a celebrity share-trading game: sign up and we'll give you a cool ten thousand pounds (that's Celebdaq pounds, I'm afraid - not real cash!) http://www.bbc.co.uk/celebdaq/

And finally, those shinny DVD's OR the What is John buying with his wages this month section
Babylon 5 - Series 2 ( Buy from sendit.com, or Amazon) - Finally the 2nd Box set is here, I was begin to worry that Warner had decided that the first one hadn't sold well enough and cancelled the 2nd set.. Silly me.
Extras include: Introduction and audio commentary on 2 key episodes by series creator J. Michael Straczynski. Audio commentary on a key episode by three of the series' stars. 2 documentaries: 'Building Babylon - Blueprint of an Episode' and 'Shadows and Dreams - Honours of Babylon'. From The Universe of Babylon 5 - audiovisual archive, access data files, personnel files, tech files plus historical timeline and episode previews.
Farscape Series 4 Volume 1 DVD Boxset
Farscape - Season 4 - Vol. 1
( Buy from sendit.com, or Amazon) - Crichton Kicks, What Was Lost Part One: Sacrifice, What Was Lost Part 2: Resurrection, Lava's A Many Splendoured Thing, Promises. Plus Interview with star Anthony Simcoe. Gallery of stills. 'The Story So Farscape...' featurette. Farscape facts. Deleted scenes.

Farscape - Season 4 - Vol. 2
( Buy from sendit.com, or Amazon) - Episodes including Natural Election, John Quixote, I Shrink Therefore I Am, A Prefect Murder, Coup By Clam.plus deleted scenes. Farscape facts. Interview with Claudia Black and Dave Elsey. Stills gallery. Swearing feature - learn how to swear in alien!

Farscape - Season 4 - Vol. 3
( Buy from sendit.com, or Amazon) - Deleted scenes. Farscape facts. Interview with Wayne Pygram. Make-up tests. Moya's Menu feature.

Friday 14th March - Red Nose Day

I just checked the amount of commission and it came to under £50 (£35.34 from sendit.com and £8.24 from amazon) so I've just rounded it up to £50 anyhow and donated using my Visa card ("John Spence - Silicon Hell" should appear on the Galaxy of stars in the next few days).
If you enjoy tonight's Comic Relief TV please give.

Monday 03/03/03

Its nearly Red Nose Day so...
Red Nose day day / Comic relief logoRed Nose day day / Comic relief logoFor anyone who hasn't heard of Red Nose Day or Comic Relief here is a bit of history:

Comic Relief was launched in 1985 from a refugee camp in Safawa, Sudan. Since then, over £220 million has been raised primarily through Red Nose Days, for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people across the UK and Africa.
Comic Relief supports long-term projects, helping people to help themselves. It's about giving people a leg up not a hand out.
Comic Relief also aim to tackle the root causes of poverty by raising awareness around some of the key issues, such as unfair terms of trade and debt relief. (Click on the Red Head either site to goto http://www.rednoseday.co.uk)

Red Nose Day - 13th March 2003
Red Nose Day is a UK-wide fundraising event organized by Comic Relief every two years which culminates in a night of extraordinary comedy and moving documentary films. It's the biggest TV fundraising event in the UK calendar. On Red Nose Day everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is encouraged to cast inhibitions aside, put on a red nose, and do something a little bit silly to raise money - celebrities included. It is an event that unites the entire nation in trying to make a difference to the lives of thousands of individuals facing terrible injustice or living in abject poverty.

P.S. All of this outstanding commission (from sendit.com and Amazon) earnt by this site (SIlicon hell) during the period of 1 Jan to 14th March is going to goto comic relief as usual. (Hopefully should be 50+ quid, not much I know but better than nothing)

Harry Potter Stuff plus more Comic Relief related stuff
A month has passed and i'm still slightly HP obsessed, so here is a few fan fictions that have caught my eye and mind but first two Harry Potter books that were written by JK Rowling for comic relief.
Click here to read more about them and view the Interview conducted with J K Rowling.

Fantastic Breasts and where to find themComic Relief: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Link to Amazon)(Link to Bloomsbury) -
As Albus Dumbledore says in his introduction, this set textbook by Newt Scamander has given the perfect grounding to many a Hogwarts student. It will be helpful to all Muggles out there too.
'I have always had a secret hankering to write these two books, so when Richard Curtis [of Comic Relief] wrote to me, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to be involved with a charity I have always supported.' — J.K. Rowling
Quidditch Through the ages - Did you know that there are 700 ways of committing a foul in Quidditch? Have you ever wondered how the Bludgers came into existence or why Wigtown Wanderers have pictures of meat cleavers on their robes? This copy of the volume in Hogwarts School Library contains everything you need to know.Comic Relief: Quidditch Through the Ages (Link to Amazon)(Link to Bloomsbury) -

Did you know that there are 700 ways of committing a foul in Quidditch? Have you ever wondered how the Bludgers came into existence or why Wigtown Wanderers have pictures of meat cleavers on their robes? This copy of the volume in Hogwarts School Library contains everything you need to know.

A few good fan fictions
First two important links: www.sugarquill.net and www.gryffindortower.net - Within these two sites you can find more HP fan fictions that you could even read, although I am trying hard at making a reasonable impact :)
Now back to my current favorites, beware reading these may result in many many hours of enjoyment and sore eyes from reading and ...

After the End by Arabella and Zsenya and others (SQ link, GT link,Yahoo Group) - It's the summer after seventh year, and Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and the rest of the wizarding world must learn to live without fear (VERY VERY GOOD!, DISCLAIMER: This story will be rated R for mature themes, some violence, angst, and language, at intervals. Harry, Ron and Hermione are now eighteen, and will be acting their age.)(In Progress, but well worth reading)

Alpha and Omega by Imogen (SQ link, GT link) - The Sequel to Imogen's(author site) wonderful Carpe Diem,The Seventh Year at Hogwarts provides one of the most difficult decisions that Harry ever has to make, but is it enough? (Complete)

Nil Desperandum by Imogen (GT link) - Hope Potter begins her time at Hogwarts, dealing with fame, unexpected revelations and some very mysterious goings on. (It keeps getting better and better, In Progress)

Ginny's Gift by Ashwinder (SQ link, GT link) -Ginny gives Harry a present for his seventeenth birthday, but the consequences are unexpected (Beware: Heart breaking ending ) (Complete)

The Long Road Home by Ashwinder (SQ link, GT link) - Sequel to "Ginny's Gift" (read that story first). Harry must learn to deal with the aftermath of Voldemort's defeat. (Even more heartbreaking but adictive, In progress)

Fawkes In The House by amulder (SQ link, GT link) - Fawkes spends the summer with Harry, and has a mind of his own... (Short but sweet) (Complete)

Brother Wands by amulder (SQ link, GT link) - Immediately follows "Fawkes in the House". Why did Dumbledore loan Fawkes to Harry? Is there more to Harry and Ginny's relationship than what meets the eye? (In Progress)

Hungry Eyes by Anione Graton (SQ link) - During a very confusing Christmas break, Ron and Hermione have to finally confront the feelings they've been having for each other. (Complete)

Of Poems and Quidditch by Anione Graton (SQ link) - Sequel to Hungry Eyes. After Ron and Hermione have admitted their feelings for one another, Harry is left to his own thoughts. However, a certain brown-eyed Chaser seems to be occupying these thoughts. How will he ever get her to take notice? (In Progress)

Other News
I've just got my Semester One results and the marks are:
Computer-Aided Learning - Agg 62, cw 73, ex 50
Advanced Analysis and Design - agg 62, cw 62
Human-Computer Interaction - agg 60, cw 60
Sofware Quality - agg 59, cw 59
Which gives me an aggreate of 60.8, which isn't great but better than I expected :)

And finally, those shinny DVD's
cover Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - ( Buy from sendit.com, or Amazon) The books are still better in my opinion but the films have grown on me, so i've finally decided to part with my cash and get decent versions of the two films :) - Here the amazon descriptions :)
Disc one offers the film in all its surround-sound glory along with trailers and links to the Harry Potter Web site, but, disappointingly, there's no commentary.
Disc two is where the real wizardry can be found, with a vast and beautifully designed selection of special features. Entering the Great Hall a mysterious voice invites you to explore and find the secret hidden within.
Various options let you tour around Harry's world: from Diagon Alley to a virtual 360-degree tour of Hogwarts. The interactive component is excellent, with real thought having been put into ensuring that, instead of just the standard behind-the-scenes stuff, there is material aplenty to keep children and adults alike entertained for hours.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets...( Buy from sendit.com , or Amazon - Due for release 11 April, 2003 - (description stolen from amazon again) 19 additional/extended scenes, including more Dobby mischief (Jar Jar has competition) , more flying car adventures, a frightening encounter with the Malfoys in Borgin and Burkes and much more!
Crystal-clear, self-guided tours, which for the first time include background characters, let viewers have an up-close experience, allowing them to explore the details of the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore’s office and Diagon Alley – including places never shown in the film such as more Diagon Alley shops, the sitting room in Dumbledore’s office and more! Interviews with Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), Emma Watson (Hermione) and other cast members
An exclusive interview with author J.K. Rowling and screenwriter Steve Kloves letting us in on how the adventure was brought to the screen Fun-filled activities such as allowing viewers to escape the Forbidden Forest and sneak into the Chamber of Secrets Visit Lockhart’s class, and get a closer look at his photos and memorabilia through the use of still galleries

coverDog Soldiers - ( Buy from sendit.com, or Amazon) - Out Now - Basicly think of the movie Aliens but with werewolves instead, Basicly the soldiers are on a training exercise in Scotland, already fed up because they are missing a vital England-Germany match (Quite rightly), come across the wounded survivor of a special ops team that has been attacked by monsters. End result is the troops taking looses and having to run like hell, get taken to a deserted house where they make a stand. (I really liked it a the cinema plus it doesn't show the monster to early unlike some films)

Farscape Series 4 Volume 1 DVD BoxsetFarscape - Series 4 - Vol. 1 ( Buy from sendit.com, or Amazon)- Out now - The first 5 episodes of what will proably be the last season of Farscape, extra include deleted and extended scenes, Interviews, profiles and galleries.
Farscape - Season 4 - Vol. 2 - Due for release: 7th April

The Time Before - All the Old News

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