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Thieves Like Us

February 24, 2007

Thieves Like UsI’m an unabashed fan of a lot of British comedy, but every once in a while you stumble onto one that’s a cut above average.

Thieves Like Us is a perfect example. A classic buddy act, with Bex (Tom Brooke) as a glib but not overly bright burglar, and Ollie (Fraser Ayres) as his far more bumbling partner. Mix in Mel (Jessica Harris) as Bex’s tolerant-but-not-too-tolerant girlfriend (she’s also his lawyer’s assistant, so she doesn’t have any illusions about what Bex does), and Belinda (Chereen Buckley), who is shagging Ollie when she’s not sleeping with everybody else, and you’ve got a great little ensemble cast.

The writing is tight, the chemistry is great, and the show is well paced. Unfortunately, it’s only up for six episodes in this series, and five of them have already aired. With any luck, maybe it will get another go soon.

Thieves Like Us is currently airing on BBC Three, and will hopefully turn up on BBC America sooner or later; if you can’t wait, you probably know the usual places to look..

Spaced (Review)

February 4, 2007

Spaced - Definitive Collectors Edition DVDI’m a fan of a lot of British comedies, but this one has to be in the thick of a tough competition for a spot in my five or so all-time favorites.

Spaced, written by and starring Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) as Tim Bisley, struggling comic artist and Jessica Stevenson as Daisy Steiner, a terminally-blocked aspiring writer who meet by chance and end up pretending to be a couple in order to rent a surprisingly cheap flat together after Tim’s girlfriend shows him the door and Daisy can no longer stand squatting with a group of assorted low-lifes.

The story lines center around the two of them, and an eclectic collection of characters including Brian, the bizarre and frustrated conceptual artist downstairs, Marsha, their drunken and man-hungry landlady upstairs, Tim’s gun-toting, soldier want-to-be best friend Mike, and Daisy’s best friend Twist, a pretentious fashionista.
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Doctor Who coming to US after all

January 12, 2006

Well, it looks like there’s a little Doctor Who love for American viewers after all.
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Doctor Who 2005 in the US?

December 31, 2005

Doctor Who’tis the season — for not much worth watching on TV. From Thanksgiving until the first few weeks of January, there just isn’t much on TV. Reruns, reruns of reruns, recycled old holiday programs and end of the year retrospectives.

If TV is a vast wasteland, the holiday season is ground zero.

Me? Well, lately I’ve been watching the return of an old favorite – Doctor Who.

Doctor Who, the venerable BBC sci-fi potboiler originally ran for 26 seasons, from 1963 through 1989. I spent a few years in the 80’s watching Tom Baker’s run as The Doctor, late nights and weekends on PBS.

This year, the BBC dusted off the old series, updated it, and started a whole new run.

You know what? It’s brilliant.
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Downloadable TV from the BBC

May 17, 2005

According to Ars Technica, the BBC is getting ready to offer much of its TV programming as downloadable media, beginning with a trial in September.

Initially, users will have access to 190 hours of television programs and another 310 radio programs along with some feature films and other content.

The bad news is that you must be a UK resident, have a paid-up UK TV license, and the content you download is deleted after seven days.

Users of the BBC’s interactive Media Player (iMP) will download the files from a peer-to-peer network, and some sort of DRM will be used to ensure that only those who pay the license fee will be able to access and watch the broadcasts.

Hopefully one of these days they’ll make it possible for the rest of us to participate as well…

Link to BBC Press release on the new service trial.

The Perfect Cuppa?

March 20, 2005

Tea
photo credit: MyTangerineDreams

Apparently George Orwell set down 11 ironclad rules for making the perfect cup of tea. Unfortunately, the BBC doesn’t much agree with him.

Dr Andrew Stapley, a chemical engineer at Loughborough University, has brought the weight of his scientific knowledge (and shameless personal preferences) to bear on the question of the perfect cuppa, and found that Orwell was wrong on a number of points.

Check the article for their whole point-by-point refutation for how to make a modern British perfect cup of tea…

I actually rather agree with Ol’ George on a number of points. I like my tea strong, and I don’t like sugar in it. They can keep the milk, too.

Reach new audiences with Podcasting

February 9, 2005

Podcasting has yet to hit the mainstream, but the process has started — in the past two days, USA Today has covered the phenomenon in two different articles.  If you have (or can produce) audio content, there is still time to reach a major new audience as it grows.

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Download Mangers Rock…

November 11, 2004

I vaguely remember download managers, back in the bad old dial-up days.  At that point they were usually tools to resume downloads if your connection died before it all trickled in (a not too uncommon occurance).  I’ve ignored them since then.

The other day I happened to run into Speed Download 2, a download manager for OS X.  For some reason, I looked at it long enough to figure out that it actually rocks for broadband users.  By opening up simultaneous connections, it downloads large files much faster than normal—right to the edge of the connection speed, if the pipeline in between can be driven that fast.  For a test, I downloaded an hour-long MP3 from the BBC site, and it managed to come in at about 4 megabits per second—which isn’t bad on a cable connection rated at 3 megabits.

Speed Download 2 plugs into FireFox and Safari and intercepts downloads of filetypes (well, MIME types, actually) that you choose.  By default, it includes all of the common compressed formats.  It took about 2 seconds to add MP3 to the list.  When you click to download one of these file types, Speed Download is launched and takes over the download instead.  It also provides a nice little download management front end, prioritization and queuing, restarts, history, etc.  It even will automatically share a download folder via Rendezvou for you.

Very nice, and well worth the $20 registration fee.  Check it out. 

Pirate Violence On The Rise

July 26, 2004

According to the BBC killings by pirates are on the rise.  No word yet on how the ninjas are liable to react.

(via kuro5hin. Yar!)

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Spirit is willing, but the code is weak…

January 23, 2004

Good news, of a sort anyway—Spirit isn’t entirely dead after all (insert Monty Python clip here).

Apparently it gets part way through its boot sequence, and then reboots… Engineers are talking to it in what seems to amount to “safe mode”, at the blazing speed of 120 bits per second attempting to figure out a way to get it back in operation…

Meanwhile, Mars Express is sending back some amazing pictures.  No word yet on whether they can see a prompt on Spirit reading “Press Any Key To Continue”

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