Merry Christmas one and all!

Posted by Chris Green on Sunday December 24 @ 9:13 pm
Christmas in Ruislip

Well it is finally Christmas – I’ve done all the shopping, I’ve finished driving around playing Santa to drop off presents, and I’ve just come home from a Christmas Eve lunch at Blubeckers. So before I fall asleep for the afternoon, I had better wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, though I am sure I’ll be posting again before the end of the year.

Plenty of clearing up to do still, and even have a couple of presents to wrap that I forgot about this morning (when I did the main round of last-minute wrapping. Oh, and a few nice tech toys to play wth. More on that in my next post.

Yabba Dabba Dooooo!

Posted by Chris Green on Sunday December 24 @ 7:18 pm

A little pic from the Dennis Christmas Fancy Dress Party earlier this week. The theme was Hollywood. Can you guess who I went as?

Fred Flintstone

I’ve got a new TomTom

Posted by Chris Green on Sunday December 24 @ 6:26 pm
TomTom One

The new TomTom One is very good indeed!I was fortunate to be given one for my birthday, and have been busy loading it up with Points of Interest (POIs), updates and configuring the premium TomTom Plus services such as real time traffic and speed camera updates, and weather reports.

I’ve also replaced the supplied windscreen mount with a more robust aftermarket one, which will make the insertion and removal of the TomTom into the car much easier, as well as prevent it from moving around when I press the on-screen buttons too hard.

Channel 4 and Teleport: A damaging combination

Posted by Chris Green on Saturday December 16 @ 12:23 pm

Teleport

I’ve been playing with one of Telewest’s brand new cable boxes for about a month now. The reason for having had it installed was that 1) it was free and 2) I wanted to have access to and play with Telewest’s video-on-demand service, called Teleport.

Teleport has impressed me a great deal over the last month, offering a large quantity of pay-per-view movies and TV shows in a true on-demand environment, and with pause, fast forward and rewind capabilities, all controlled in software and with no local hard drive storage.

My only beef is with the Teleport Replay part of the service, which gives you access to a small selection of programmes from the BBC, Channel 4, Bravo, UK Living and Challenge for the current day and the week preceding. The BBC and the Telewest-owned Bravo, UK Living and Challenge offer a great deal of content from the week just past, and make the stuff available within minutes of the show’s original transmission ending. Channel 4 on the other hand offer a very small amount of content, and can often take days to put a show up after transmission, if at all.

Take for example Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. This show airs at 9pm on a Tuesday evening. This week, it did not arrive on Teleport until Thursday. The previous week it didn’t appear until the Friday. The week before that, it didn’t even make it on to Teleport at all.

Come on Channel 4, if you are going to feature a multi-part series on an on-demand playback service such as Teleport, you need to be consistent, either make all the shows available, and soon after original transmission, or don’t make any of them available. Doing some episodes and not others, and having such a hit-and-miss approach to when you do put stuff onto the service will not help viewing figures, and will damage the credibility of services such as your own 4oD and Telewest’s Teleport.

In memory of Craig Hinton

Posted by Chris Green on Tuesday December 12 @ 10:51 am

Late last week while attending a press event I received some truly shocking news. My good friend and colleague Craig Hinton has passed away.

Craig and I had been friends for the best part of nine years, having first met when I joined Computing all those years ago as a lowly technology staff writer. At the time, Craig was the deputy editor, and then editor of another VNU magazine, an excellent business networking monthly called Network Solutions.

As well as being an outstanding IT journalist, Craig was also an extremely talented author, having written several books, most notably a collection of Doctor Who books. My favourite is The Quantum Archangel. Craig also wrote several Doctor Who radio plays, and some more colourful books outside of science fiction.

We soon became very good friends, sharing many common interests including technology and of course science fiction. Craig was a huge Doctor Who fan and a well-known figure in Doctor Who fan circles as a result of his writing and his involvement with various fan clubs and conventions. He was also one of the few people I have met who could actually appreciate how much better Babylon 5 was compared to Star Trek, though we both agreed that Deep Space Nine had the better ending of the two. I remember how excited he was when the news broke that Doctor Who was going back into production after years off our screens, and this time with decent budget and no dodgy special effects. He really was like a kid locked in a toy and sweet shop overnight.

As well as being an accomplished author, Craig worked on and wrote for numerous technology magazines and publications including Network News, SC Magazine, Computing, Data Business, IT Network.com and Computerweekly.com. We had been talking for some time about getting him working with us on IT PRO as well; doing a column and working in the office helping us get the reviews and features into shape. Sadly this didn’t come to fruition in time. He was without doubt one of the best magazine editors I have ever worked with, and I was fortunate to learn a great many things about being a good writer and editor from him. I owe much of my career success to his guidance. Craig spent a great deal of time early on helping me to meet useful people in the world of IT, and thanks to him I made a great many contacts, many of whom have become good mutual friends outside of work as well.

Craig had an uncanny ability to make even the most boring piece of technology sound interesting, an important skill in the world of IT journalism. Few of the writers in this industry really understand the technology. Even fewer can articulate that knowledge into copy that is interesting, thought-provoking and insightful. Craig was one of the people who could.

In recent years, Craig struggled with several personal challenges, but was working hard to overcome them, showing the same determination and attention to the task as he did with his writing. Most recently, he was preparing to start a new career as a teacher.

Craig’s funeral is taking place this Thursday.

Goodbye and thank you Craig. Sleep well, and may you finally find peace.

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