I Have A Wii!

I’m slowing becoming a gadget princess! It’s the beauty of “buy now, pay July 2010”. This is DEFINITELY my last gadget purchase of the year!

I got a Nintendo Wii yesterday with Wii Sports included. I also bought Animal Crossing: City Folk, but that doesn’t arrive until Thursday.

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Wii Sports is FUN! But it really DOES give you a workout! There are several sports to play: 10 pin bowling, tennis, baseball, golf and boxing. The bowling is fun. I started on that first. Then I attached the numchuck to the Wii remote and tried boxing. Man, that WAS a workout! I was getting right into it and was buffed out. I lost my first fight – I was KO’ed. Em says to me “let me have a go?” and handed over the equipment to her. She floored her opponent in seconds!!!

I played tennis and that was pretty hard as well. Then I played golf last night.

My arms are KILLING me this morning! I can hardly move them! I can see that I’ll get good exercise from it. I’m really, really loving it so far 🙂

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My Pavolva Success!

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Home Made Pavlova, originally uploaded by Larelle_M_R.

It was an accident, Gov!

On Wednesday night I was looking to make myself a little treat. I thought of meringue nests. I knew all I needed were egg whites and castor sugar, of which I had (eggs needed to be used up as they were going out of date).

I looked on the ‘net for the correct ratio of sugar/egg and then saw that the oven had to be SO low to avoid burning it would take 1-2 HOURS to cook the meringue. There went my sweet snack for that night!

I still wanted to make the meringue though, to use up the eggs, etc. So I planned to make them the next morning. One recipe I saw said you could cook the meringue for 10 mins, then turn the oven off and let them cool in the oven to finish off baking. Sounded a good idea to me! So I went for that one.

I pre-heated the oven at Gas mark 3 and fluffed up 4 egg whites and a teaspoon of vanilla essence and slowly added 250gms of castor sugar. I didn’t realise it was going to make so much! It made TONNES. I’d scooped out about 10 or 12 meringue nests and still had loads left. So I lined a little sandwich tin with grease-proof paper and filled the sandwich tin with meringue.

I left the oven on for about 20-25 minutes (had it on Gas mark 3 for the first 15 mins, then turned down to GM 2), then turned the oven off and let them finish cooking.

Two hours later, I got all the meringue out of the oven. The nests had crispy tops, but fluffy innards. The shell had a crusty top and a spongy, soft bottom. I transfered the nests on to a plate, and put the shell on a plate, still on the grease-proof paper. I put both plates in the fridge.

At this point I thought “the shell would make a GREAT pavlova base!” and decided to get Em to go to the supermarket and get some strawberries and cream to fill the shell.

Later, I inverted the shell (so the crusty top was now a crusty base) on to the plate, added whipped cream, sliced strawberries and then sat four of the meringue nests on top.

ZOMG! It was LOVELY! The meringue nests gave it a chewy top, then the shell was all spongy and fluffy in the middle and crusty on the bottom. Oh, it was just like pavs you get back home in Oz. NOT what is classified as pavlova here in the UK, with crunchy hard meringue all over and a few token bits of fruit and crappy bits of cream.

It was the pavlova I’d been dreaming of for a LONG time, and all put together quite by accident. It was like an orgasm in a bowl! I just sat there savouring every spoonful. I can’t believe I actually made it!!

Kookaburras.

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Kookaburras, originally uploaded by Powerhouse Museum Collection.

“Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree. Merry, merry king of the bush is he. Laugh kookaburra, laugh. Kookaburra gay your life must be.”

Saw this picture going through a photo collection that the Powerhouse Museum has on Flickr. Too irresistible not to use 🙂

File-Sharing, Not Such A New Phenomenon.

I’m sorry if I am coming across as naive, but music file-sharing isn’t a phenomenon that has cropped up in the digital age.

This post was spurred on by a conversation on Radio 5Live with Richard Bacon talking to Feargal Sharkey who is now, these days, head of UK Music, an umbrella organisation representing the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry (info, Wikipedia).

They were talking about people sharing music files on the Internet. But while the conversation started I was thinking “this is NOT a recent phenomenon”. We have been file sharing for many years. Okay, it might not be on the scale it is now, due to the way the Internet has allowed people around the world to interact with each other, but it has been going on for a LONG time.

I lived in an age where the vinyl record and radio ruled. Many people who bought an album preserved it by making a cassette. And if they had a friend who was into the same music, they’d make a copy for them.

The top 40 would play on the radio on Sunday afternoon and if you had a cassette recorder and a blank tape handy, you’d record your favourite hits from the top 40 off the radio.

Then the CD player and CDs came along. Copy the CD on cassette for your friend, then the PC came along, but the Internet was a bit too slow for mass file-sharing, so we exchanged CDs via mail swaps.

And then finally high-speed Internet came along and we were not only able to share files, but buy MP3s from reputable music sites like iTunes.

The law of balance has turned round. Music sold in its millions in the 1970s and into the 1980s. Songs like Do They Know Its Christmas sold millions. It wasn’t really shared by anyone. It would be utterly frowned upon to share it, it was a charity record after all. No one would have been seen DEAD trying to get a copy for nothing – still, if you were determined, you’d have taped it off the radio. I’m sure some people did.

All the millions belong to “illegal” downloading now though. It’s turned from lots of music sold and not much music sharing going on (although it WAS happening back then), to millions sharing, and not much music selling. Boo hoo!

The horse has bolted. People have a different and much lower value on music these days. The music industry just needs to be more innovative and come up with alternative ways to sell their product.

Welcome to the world…

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Welcome to the world…, originally uploaded by Larelle_M_R.

Lilly Maree Dowdell. Born 10.28am, Australian Eastern Standard Time August 7th, 2009, weighing 7lb 10oz.That means her birth date will be 07/08/09!

Congratulations to Lisa and Adrian.

I have a great niece!
🙂

Crime Against (Supposed) Crime.

Please explain to me WHY so many people seem to be so anti-BBC?

Is it because people believe it to be a monster? Do people deem it too big for its boots? Do people believe there’s a lack of quality programming? Is it the whole Ross/Brand “Sachsgate” scandal? Are BBC bosses and controllers overpaid? Are BBC entertainers overpaid?

The debate arose again last night as I was listening to radio station LBC and Clive Bull. He started to talk about the TV licence. More to the point, trying to see if he was able to talk to one of the reported 200,000+ people that evade paying their TV licence. This figure has increased in the last financial year and he wanted to eke out whether it was purely financial reasons as to why people were no longer willing to pay their TV licence or whether something more underlying was accounting for TV licence dodging.

Clive wanted to know whether there was anyone out there happy to pay their TV licence. If it had not been so late at night and I was not so shy to make the call, I would have called in to say “me”! I WANT to pay my TV licence, because I can see what I’m getting for my money.

One man called in to say that he didn’t pay his TV licence as he no longer watched any live TV. He used his television to watch DVD’s via his DVD player. So cautious was he to evade getting grievance from the TV licensing body, that he severed his coaxial cable from the aerial on his roof. Clive pointed out that this move would be unlikely to be enough as the man’s TV would still have a tuner within it and therefore the ability to receive live television. That what the man would need to have is a computer monitor with no TV tuner within the screen.

So the man says “Right. This is where I am confused. So even though I don’t actually watch live television, because I have a TV with a tuner, I can still be deemed to be breaking the law?” Yes, says Clive. “Oh”, says the man “but that’s unfair and unclear”. In my mind I was thinking “Well, to avoid confusion or potential prosecution, I suggest you buy an LCD monitor with no tuner”, which Clive sort of went on to say himself. The man finished his conversation with Clive by saying “I’m quite anti-BBC really, but I do like their news web site. So if I’m on there and I see a link that says “watch now”, I’m breaking the law if I watch the clip?” Yes, says Clive.

The fact that the man begrudgingly confessed to using some BBC content wasn’t enough for him to think “Well, you know, maybe I should pay my TV licence?” Melon!

Do these people not think of the content that is provided to them for what amounts to 38p a day? That’s the price of a Kit-Kat! So, for the price of a Kit-Kat a day, you get advertisement free TV across eight BBC TV channels, a multitude of radio stations, including the BBC World Service. You have access to the wonderful BBC iPlayer (a chance to catch missed programmes via an online service that allows you to watch and download TV programmes and listen to radio shows for one week after original broadcast). You have online content via bbc.co.uk, including a news web site that is second to none. You also get a wealth of stunning programmes from documentaries, to drama. A lot of my favourite programmes are produced by the BBC including Doctor Who and Torchwood.

How on earth can you argue with getting that amount of content for 38p a day?!

There are so many who argue why they should pay a TV licence when they are on something like Sky. Get some perspective! Sky charges MORE for its basic service at £16.50 a month (and who, quite frankly gets Sky for its basic package? No one!), which is NOT advertisement free for that cost of subscription either, than the TV licence does. And with Sky’s basic package you are getting LESS content. Why anyone would pay to have Sky is beyond me!

Please! For those people who are hell bent on BBC bashing, please stop and think about what we have here in this country. A multimedia service that is revered around the world for providing quality and excellence and costs us all (well, those who pay it) a Kit-Kat a day.

Clive asked last night “So if people aren’t paying their TV licence, what are the consequences? I can see the consequences of people not paying car insurance, premiums go up. Does this mean TV licence dodgers will make the TV licence go up? What *ARE* the consequences?”

Well, surely the consequences would be programming and services will suffer. That perhaps something like Doctor Who would not have been put back on the screen, and certainly not with the love and financial backing it has received to make it more popular than ever.

The BBC news site would just be like some other ramshackle news site where you have to tread through mud to see content that is most relevant to you.

Things like the BBC Action Line would get cut. It’s there for people who may need to seek guidance or advice from seeing story lines in dramas or topics in documentaries that affect people greatly. Discussions on rape or medical conditions, cancer, mental health issues, etc, the BBC Action Line is a point of call for people to turn to if they want to discuss with someone how a certain subject in programming has affected them.

Funding for things like that would just cease to be.

I just urge people to please think about what they get for their 38p a day before they slag it (the BBC and TV licensing) off.

Who’d Have Thought Watching Cricket Could Be So Hard.

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I really wanted to watch the cricket this summer. I’m not into it much these days, but when the Ashes is on (England v Australia test series) I like to be able to watch.

Last time it was on, four years ago, I got to watch all but one test in Australia, as I was over there while most of the the series was on. The Aussies don’t have to pay anything to watch it, as it’s on Free-To-Air TV (aired on SBS).

I can’t remember what happened with the last test, but my memory is that I was able to watch the days play on TV, not have to resort to waiting for highlights in the evening. So this time I was REALLY peed off when I realised the only way I was going to be able to watch it live was to have Sky.

I couldn’t afford to commit to a 12 month contract to have Sky in the home. The minimum outlay of £35 a month was enough of a put off, but most likely it would cost around £55 a month. Just INSANE! The only other option was to use the Sky Player online. At £34 a month it was a better option. No 12 month contract, so you could use it just for one month, as it would be charged on a month by month basis. From July 1st, Sky had a special where you could have Sky Player half price in July and August. At £17 a month, that sounded a good deal.

Sky Player requires you to run a Microsoft-based Adobe Flash alternative, Silverlight. Things like YouTube and BBC’s iPlayer are flash-based – they work on Linux run machines – Silverlight doesn’t. Silverlight only runs on Windows and Mac based machines.

So, I bit the bullet and singed up. As we had a Mac, threre was a good chance it would work well. And it did. On the Mac it was good. The picture quality was nice and fluid, and there was rarely any interferance or disruption.

I got to watch the first test with a minimum of problems. Come the second test, Friday morning, day two of the second test, we suffered a lightning strike which struck some of our equipment, including the Mac. No cricket watching then.

Before this test started (the third test), we ordered a replacement machine. It’s a killer spec. which has given us a 2.66gh Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 4GB of DDR2 RAM. But because Sky Player uses Silverlight and there is no version of the that works for Linux (I’ve installed Moonlight – but it DOESN’T work!), we are ruduced to using a version of Windows XP (it would hardly matter if it were Vista OR Windows 7). Sky Player doesn’t work properly on its “native” platform (IE: a Windows machine with Silverlight installed). Sky Player just buffers ALL the time. By comparison, on the Mac it might have buffered maybe three or four times all day. On a Windozes [sic] machine, it can buffer as much as three times in 5 minutes!!

I might have a little leeway and it might not buffer for 10 minutes – but that’s the most it’ll play continusly without trouble. Most of the time I rectifying buffers that happen every 5 mins or so, rendering it almost unwatchable.

Today, in frustration, I’ve given up. I’m just listening to the radio now.

As we came up to August 1st, I said to Em it might be best if we just cancel the Sky Player subscription as I didn’t hold out much hope to be able to watch anything if we were moving away from a Mac. I wish I had now. We might not have been able to as I think the deal with the £17 a month special was to have it for a minimum of two months, but I would have liked to have tried to cancel the account and not waste another £17.

Can I just say, Rupert Murdoch is a count! (take off the “o”)

So thank you Sky, thank you Silverlight, thank you Microsoft, but most of all, thank you lightning strike for making my summer of watching cricket a living nightmare!

ARGH!