Friday, November 17, 2006

Just one of those days commuting

London transport take a bow. Keen to get into work early after a week of travel disruptions, I decided to take no chances and take an earlier train. However, London transport was having none of it confounding me at every turn:

1) Train: not only was it late, but because of earlier delays my usual cherished seat was denied me forcing me to endure the sweaty armpits of fellow commuters before the usual tube watershed.

2) Victoria station: I managed to fight my way down to the Victoria line platform, only for a defective train at Warren Street to bring the whole line to a standstill. Not being able to even get near to the stationary tube train, I headed out to find a bus, as they closed the tube on my exit.

3) Bus: with the mass of commuters seeking alternative transport, the only bus I was able to squeeze myself onto was taking the long route up to the central line. After getting stuck in traffic I decided to jump off early and head off on foot from Green Park to Bond Street.

4) On foot: It started to rain. Sigh.

5) Tube: for some insane reason, escalator works meant I couldn't access Bond Street station.

6) On foot: more sightseeing as I powered my way down Oxford Street to Marble Arch.

7) Tube: fighting my way through the mass of people, I pushed my way through as the doors closed. Tucked amid the mass of commuters I failed to spot my central line train was going the wrong way. Doh. An about turn and finally I was on the right track.

9) Work: I finally made it to work 15 minutes late having set off 45 minutes early.

10) In future: Make plans to work from home. Aren't these things supposed to happen on a Monday? Oh, they did.

Rant over!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Computer says no

Maybe because I haven't updated the blog for a couple of months while working on other blogging projects, but it looks like Technorati is starting to write Netcoms dot com out of the blogosphere history.

Despite links from several different blogs, it now states that this blog has no inbound links from other blogs, nor is it recording my blogroll's links to other blogs.

No fair. So, in the interests of experimentation, I'll update the blog with this post and see if Technorati finds it in its heart to reinstate this venerable veteran of several years and over a hundred posts back into the blogosphere fold.

Update: Some of that link love has been restored it seems, thanks to an update and a ping - now it says that 5 blogs link here, but doesn't list them. Make your mind up!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Stormhoek in a teacup?

There I was wandering around Sainsbury's looking for a bottle of white to complement my cod in cabbage and beer (much nicer than it sounds, I assure you) when a blue topped bottle caught my eye.

After all the hype in the blogosphere about those winemakers from Stormhoek and their blog, there was a distinctive bottle of Sauvignon Blanc actually in the real world, complete with a cartoon from Gaping Void. What's more it was reduced to under a fiver, so it could satisfy my wallet and my curiousity.

I opened the bottle and took a sniff inside. Fruity, fresh with aromas of lemon and gooseberry.

A swirl around the mouth. Hmm. Yes, it did have an original taste, but did it pass muster? Not really. To be honest, I prefer my wines with more depth of flavour and this one, while nice enough, was just too youthful, even for Sauvignon Blanc.

So after all the hype, it was a little disappointing. Did exactly what it said on the 'tin', but just not to my taste.

Maybe I'll try some of the other varieties, next time I'm walking the aisles.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sir Cliff Richard 1 Gordon Ramsey 1

It was amusing to see the boost to traffic that my Sir Cliff Richard does a Ratner piece generated. Clearly the housewives favourite is a serious player on the internet, as he is in the flesh at his concerts with his frighteningly devoted fans.

As the pre-publicity intended, I did actually watch Sir Cliff's appearance on the 'F-Word' and unsurprisingly it failed to live up to the hype. While he might have been trying to make a valid point about how fake celebrity wines are, in the end I found it a rather crude attempt at humiliation as Ramsey tried to coax a swearword out of the singer-cum-viticulturist.

Sir Cliff kept his cool at least while on camera, but the sensible riposte would have been to say 'well, the wine may not be the best, but it's such a perfect match for your food'.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sir Cliff Richard does a Ratner

Amusing story from the Daily Mail also picked up by wine bloggers Stormhoek about the famously mild-mannered British Knight Sir Cliff Richard losing his cool with foul mouthed chef Gordon Ramsey on the F-Word.

Ever one to humiliate wherever possible, Ramsey invited Sir Cliff to do a blind tasting for the show. What he didn't tell him was that he'd be tasting his own wine Vida Nova. Oh dear. It wasn't exactly a fair fight with Ramsey first giving him a £400 bottle to sample.

Then it was over to Sir Cliff to make a memorable gaffe, according to Ramsey: "That's rubbish. I wouldn't pay for that, it's tainted, it's insipid. It tastes like vinaigrette. I'd never buy that."

Ouch. On revealing his duplicity, Ramsey claims Sir Cliff told him 'Young man, go f*** yourself'. While many would concur with that view, the whole episode is highly embarrassing for Sir Cliff.

Unsurprisingly, Ramsey is now milking the publicity with one of his traditionally understated quotes, tailor-made to fill those column inches: "Sirs can't swear like that. It was extraordinary. That was his wine from Portugal. We are now using it for vinaigrette at Claridge's."

(Yes, I'm not entirely sure what it has to do with internet communications either, but just watch this story amplify over the blogosphere and turn up on YouTube.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rooney fit? Pigs might fly

After enduring the tedious weeks of Beckham 'will he, won't he be fit' before the last World Cup, the office let out a collective groan when the Scouse Pele Rooney succumbed to that most fashionable of injuries - the broken metatarsal(s).

In this week of hysterical Rooney metatarsal coverage, kudos to today's London edition of the metro for bringing some humour to the whole unfortunate saga:

"A piglet who broke his trotter on the same day Wayne Rooney hobbled off the pitch with a broken metatarsal has been named after the England star... Farmer James Wainhouse, 47, said: 'He even looks like Rooney.'"
Sigh - Blogger.com plays up again

More hassle from Blogger.com after last week it refused for the best part of a day to publish my thoughts on the transient web and valuable advice from Blogger.com-owner, Google, on avoiding RSI. (I'm not aware of any automated editing algorithm as yet...)

Today it is again refusing to play ball, first resulting in an error page when trying to access the site, then taking an eternity to load not only the CMS, but the Netcoms Dot Com blog itself. There is a worrying note at the bottom of the screen 'Could not connect to Blogger.com. Saving and publishing may fail'. At least the recover post functionalty works.

Some vague sense of loyalty after 2 years of service is keeping me from switching to WordPress, but, Blogger.com, you have been warned!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Computing injuries and how to avoid them

For those of us over-active in the screen time department, Google is offering advice on how to avoid common conditions caused by excessive computer use.

The advice covers everything from regular breaks (naturally, timed by software), posture, even yoga. I'd add making sure you print out long documents rather than trying to read anything over three pages long on the screen.

It also omits that one important piece of advice that our American cousins seem to neglect - taking regular holidays (and that means more than two weeks a year!).

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's a transient web, but some things stay the same

Thought provoking post from Steve 'Barney' Rubel about 'The Transient Web', providing a potted history of the evolutions and revolutions in how we use the internet taking it all the way from the geek to the high street.

From my side of things I have been using the internet for 11 years now, having been brought up trying to get any enjoyment out of an Acorn Electron. I first went online when asking a friend to 'show me the internet'. We sat down and fired up a computer.

"So, what are you interested in seeing?"

"Well, just show me what's there."

"It doesn't work like that. You have to be searching for a specific topic."

That basic premise has remained through to the present range of Web 2.0 services available. It puts the user at the heart of the experience. This principle is evolving into other media, as part of the 'me, me, media' that I've blogged about before:

"Me, me, me media: when you saw your Luddite friends getting to grips with 3G, Sky Plus, IPod, Tivo, Blackberry's, Desktop Search, RSS, and the rest. What you want, when you want it and on what device you want it."

The internet may be transient, but the basic principles remain.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

How NOT to tie your shoelaces

The great 'fun, fashion & science' shoelace experiment has reached a dramatic early conclusion. Within an hour of tieing my left shoe with an 'Ian Knot', against my right shoe's traditional loop, I was surprised to see Ian's Knot give way on my first serious walk down the stairs.

Regular readers will be relieved to hear that I avoided serious injury. My lawyers will not be.
How to tie your shoelaces

As a father to a young child, I'm constantly worrying about all the things I should be teaching him to equip him for the big, wide world.

I tied his shoes this morning, only for him to have untied them in seconds with the laces still an object of fascination. On the walk into work, my shoelaces came undone once again. Hardly satisfactory.

I've tied my shoes up in exactly the same way for as long as I can remember, with the only change being a double knot if I'm feeling particularly diligent.

With my nautical upbringing I've learnt and forgotten countless knots, so why did it never occur to me to try and tie my shoelaces in a different way? Sometimes it pays to look at things through the eyes of a child.

I was interested therefore to read in a several different posts about Ian's Shoelace Site with the amusing tagline 'Bringing you the fun, fashion & science of shoelaces'. I've experimented with the tricky but recommended Ian Knot and in the interests of 'fun, fashion & science' have tied one lace with that knot and the other with a conventional knot.

I'll let you know which comes undone first. Riveting stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

The internet is wonderful for finding this kind of niche information and a reminder not just to keep learning, but to keep challenging what you have already learnt.

A good lesson for youngster and not so youngster alike.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Travel to Mars

Google Earth has released a Google Mars version of its popular mapping software. Google Mars allows you to explore the planetary surface using NASA imagery, showing elevation, the view your eyes would see and what you wouldn't see without infrared.

It fails however to point out signs of life or even rudimentary accommodation details for the casual planetary explorer, an oversight I hope they will address in version 2.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tube 2.0

This blog has been as much a commentary on my troubles in getting to work, as about the work itself if and when I do get there.

Having tried scooter (dangerous, stressful, cold), tube (stressful, crowded, dirty, no views), bus (irregular, slow), I have now found the least stressful, most environmentally friendly and intellectually stimulating route in from Kent to Soho. A 10 minute walk either end of a 30 minute seated train ride has left me fitter, less stressed and with the time to get into a good book.

On the rare occasions I now take the tube, it at least has novelty value for the insights it provides into human nature under pressure and a good test of my skills in survival of the fittest.

I was amused to receive a link to the 'McTube map', an alternative map of the tube if it each station was sponsored by its commercial namesake, with the memorable names of 'Old Holborn', 'Covent Gardeners World', 'iPoddington' and 'Heinz Park Corner'. Genius.

This comes on the back of attempts to put together an anagram map of the tube, or 'Turn herd on old dungeon', that is making the London Underground's lawyers very twitchy. Quite why the lawyers have to have such a sense of humour failure about a Web 2.0 celebration of a cultural icon is anybody's idea. Perhaps because the 'Great Bear' version of the famous map was licensed and these spontaneous versions are not.

Let's hope that the fascinating riffs on the tube map stay free from censure.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Head in the Stars

Today's award for most pointless piece of journalism goes to the Daily Star as reported in the BBC's gossip column:

FA chief Brian Barwick is not ruling out the possibility of appointing an Englishman as the next manager of England. (Daily Star)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

McDeli belly

I was cold. It was raining. I had half an hour to kill and was hungry. Apart from pubs full to the brim with football fans waiting for kick off, the bright yellow 'M' of McDonald's shone out like a beacon amid the gloom.

The only problem is that without some Dutch courage I'm not a fan of their menu, particularly at this time of year when I'm looking to atone for the excesses of the festive period.

Now I've seen the new ads, visited their well produced rebuttal to 'Supersize Me' and heard about the new healthier menu, so decided to give them another chance.

There it was, tucked away on the right hand side, the Deli menu. Freshly baked baguettes, chicken breast and sweet chili sauce. Sounds good to me. With no chips and a drink of Tropicana orange juice, it had the makings of a decent meal.

I ordered my Deli baguette and was told I'd have to wait because none were ready. This could be that no one orders them or it could be that they are freshly prepared. I hoped for the latter and took my seat. Five minutes later my baguette arrived and I opened it curious to see what the new food revolution I'd heard so much about was made of.

Unfortunately, the chicken in question appeared to be one of those breaded chicken burgers that are on the traditional menu, but sliced in half. It was greasy and was complimented by added mayo and the sweet chili sauce. So near yet so far.

Perhaps I should have explored the menu more or perhaps it's not quite as healthy as it might be. Either way, strikes me as a missed opportunity to convert on the brand promise.