Whilst waiting for the next series of Breaking Bad to start (just 2 months now), someone (Orion Pax on Flickr) has obviously been busy. I love the detail on this, especially the bullet holes in the door. It reminds me that, “this is my own private domicile and I will not be harassed….bitch!”
Archive for the 'Television' Category
…and for those wanting to cancel their cable/sky packages. Here’s why:
I’ve been a member of the Boxee Alpha test for a while now and it showed a huge amount of potential. Boxee is, at its most simple, a media player that draws content from the net (Division3, iPlayer, Blip.tv etc.) and from your local network (ripped DVDs, your music library, downloaded tv shows). This content is then presented in a wonderful ‘made for big screen’ (read: your tv, not your 15″ laptop monitor) easily navigable interface. A rather gorgeous interface too, I might add. Well, certainly in the Alpha, I’m a little unsettled by the new beta interface but it is well ahead of the rigidness of the AppleTV and the ugly mess of any recent Microsoft efforts. Boxee is based on XBMC, a brilliant Open-source media player with a similar, but not as ambitious, desire to take over your tv. Boxee adds web-content to XBMC’s marvelous local network media management. I’ve been running XBMC on a hand-me-down 1st-gen XBox (thanks Ed!) for a couple of years now and it kicks the ass of Windows Media Centre and the like. It just works. No codec bullshit, no delay, no fiddling.
This alpha potential has been realized in the form of the newly announced beta and the Boxee Box. Although Boxee is quite intuitive to use, it can be a total bugger to setup, as was XBMC before it. Your options are hack your Apple TV or build a Linux machine and dive into a bundle of .debs and Pulse audio problems. Oh, and good luck on 64-bit Ubuntu, it’s a bloody nightmare! The Boxee Box removes all these headaches and essentially makes Boxee suitable for non-geeks. It’s built by DLink, who in my experience seem to churn out reasonable rooters/modems, and we’re promised it’ll cost a quite reasonable $200. This investment will open up a world of couch-accessible online content. There is a growing amount of independent media available online and bringing it from tiny laptop screens and onto that new 37″ monster you have in your living room could be the shot in the arm that many indie shows need.
I was going to blog about how stupid the case design was. “Don’t they understand that people are still going to have audio equipment/a DVD recorder/etc under their TV?”, I prepared myself to rant, “don’t they realize that such a bizarre shape will make it impossible to stack and fit under televisions?”. But as further details have emerged, it seems that the Box is so small that none of this should be a concern and as the remote control is RF then you could even hide it behind your flat-screen if you want.
The closest thing we’ve seen to this has been the Apple TV, which like Boxee could view web content. But being Apple, you were tied into the Apple iTunes marketplace, and thinking. No thanks, Jobs, no DRM crap for me. The Boxee Box’s design, cost and potential have lead to a very desirable little product and it is a testament to the Open-source projects that have gone before it. Put me down for one.
(More details on the Boxee blog)
Like most new BBC television programs, Design for Life takes its name from a 90s pop song. The Manics, durrr. Like ‘Life of Riley‘ and, erm, I’m sure there is something else… well unlike most Caroline Quentin vehicles, Design for Life isn’t shit.
As is the norm now for most new BBC television programs, it takes about 7 minutes to get started. Those first 7 minutes of the show are catching up, explaining what happened in the previous episode. In this day of Sky+, HDD recorders and (more importantly) iPlayer, is this necessary? I know it makes the show cheaper to make, but for crying out loud. Just make it a little shorter if you’re going to piss around so much.
It’s shot beautifully well and we get to see plenty of the beautiful bits of Paris, as apposed to the hours and hours of shots of that bloody Gerkin thing in London that anyone who watches the Apprentice has forced upon them. When talking about this show, I’m going to compare it to the Apprentice, because the similarities are obvious (and I’m lazy). It features a team of designers (business men?) who fight to show they are the best designer (most shouty business man?) to prove they can work with designer extraordinaire, Philipee Stark (Suralun?).
Participant Nebil is the most ‘Apprentice like’, because he patronizes everyone he gets to talk to. This probably is an attempt to look better than everyone else but at least he does know his shit. I’m sure that to anyone who actually has their design game-face on, his “let me just explain this too you, thicko” tone will probably make him look like a bit of a dick. Still, he gets a lot of screen time because he has a lot to say and even his dick-ishness is minor compared with the mega-cocks that rut around in any given episode of the Apprentice. He gets his come-upance tho, which is another reason why I love this show. It’s obvious that the shows producers set him off against the other stand-out, Ilsa, because she’s got a pretty good set of claws and will bite back.
I guess a large part of the show will boil down to “do you like Philipee Stark”. I do. Him and his bloody chairs, or whatever the hell he’s supposed to be most famous for. He’s pretentious, but y’know he’s a brilliant designer so he can afford to be and after all, this is design. You’re supposed to be pretentious. He also dismisses the participants easily, based on some seemingly whimsical idea he has. Again: he’s a designer. I’ve had designers happily shit on my ideas in the past and non of them were exactly Phillipee Stark. At least when he drops people he’s really nice about it. I’d love to be sacked by him. None of this catch-phrase “You’re fired” crap. I also like his attitude towards ‘wasteful’ design. He’s green without being sickly. Personally Alan Sugar really gets on my tits because turned Amstrad into crap (I love my old CPC6128) and I tire of his attitude and his stupid Labour ‘business-tzar’ beard.
Further contrasts to the Apprentice are easy to highlight. The participants are young, attractive and probably smell quite good. They are also very, very white. And middle class uni-graduates. They actually get very visibly nervous, which makes you feel a little more sympathetic. Hell, in the 2nd episode one of the participants has a genuinely great idea: Polly and her water-level meter. What have the Apprentice chimps ever done, but chuck crap at each other? Design for Life actually talks about design. Pitching, ideas, briefs, presentations and all the bullshit in-between. That’s some real genuine content from the BBC.
The show is at 9.00pm on BBC 2, Mondays but you can follow the show here, on iPlayer.
As an aside; it’s narrated by Adam ‘Adam + Joe’ Buxton. I look forward to the DVD release where Joe does a funny-man voice-over.
Stewart Lee isn’t just good at pissing off Christians, he’s also a very funny stand-up comic. Now he might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s great to have a comedian on that early in the evening on BBC2 who doesn’t insult my intelligence. Especially as he spends most of the time slagging off the BBC staples of Moyles, Clarkson et al. It’s not even a one off. He’s got a series out of it. God knows who let that happen. Presumably the same person who allowed the classic TMWRNJ with Richard Herring. It’s even produced by Armando Iannucci for crying out loud! What more do you people want?
Last nights show focused on ‘Toilet Books’, or rather celebrity hardbacks. Leigh deals with the whole thing not with anger, or angst but with a lofty disapproval. He’s cleverer than all of us (and of course much funnier). That’s just something we have to deal with.
And yes, it’s got the actor Kevin Eldon in it, obviously.
I finally got around to seeing the Simpsons film recently. It was on a ferry and as such there wasn’t anything better on offer. It was the very definition of mediocrity. The same can be said for most recent Simpson’s episodes, however at least now there is a reason to watch the latest seasons offering. A ‘guest’ appearance from the finest ‘Daily Show’ escapee, but still better featured than previous guests have been. Is there nothing Stephen cannot bring a little light to?
Everyone should be pretty much aware of not only the musical Genius of Mark E. Smith, but his unwillingness to co-operate and knuckle down for (usually feckless) presenter-led interviews. This Guardian arts blog round-up of the most horrid interviews is a perfect way to celebrate. It includes, of course, the infamous Newsnight appearance after Peel died.
One of my favourites is a recent interview by the lovely, if not a bit soft in the head, Lauren Laverne. So uncomfortable, yet enticing, to watch. Her poor treatment wasn’t very surprising. She introduced him by reciting the same old boring tale that the Fall wouldn’t have been stirred into action, were it not for the famous Sex Pistols Manchester Free Trade Hall gig in 1976. Shockingly, there was actually music in the North of England before the Sex Pistols came to play to a couple of hundred Mancunians. So I heard anyway.
That’s not a typo. This is a new comedy about a folk-pop band composed of two New Zealanders in New York. Wikipedia tells me that the act was created before the HBO show, but it’s so hard to tell what’s genuine these days isn’t it? I blame the internet. You can see the 1st full episode in lovely streaming flash video here. It features the oldest Fleetwood Mac joke ever, mockery of the New Zealand tourist board and peripheral ‘Peep Show’ actor Rachel Blanchard. Watch for hipster-friendly music references and cringe-worthy relationship development and a promise of Welsh legend, Rob Brydon.