Posts tagged: XBMC

XBMC The Return – Tablet Edition

While I love my Asus Nexus 7 from Google, it has limitations as an all you can eat media device. I quickly hit a wall, particularly when trying to view HD footage. In same cases, the video would play with no audio. In other cases, the media file would refuse to stream from my server and want to copy itself to a local directory. In most cases, even once copied across (if space would allow) the movie, music video or television show would not play. I was happy to live with these limitations, even on my rooted device. Several months back I downloaded the Drippler app. I thought this would give me additional hints and tips on getting the most out of my first ever tablet. An article appeared explaining how to enable the Nexus to play every format of media. I read up on the article, which took me to a webpage via Chrome. The answer was my beloved XBMC. I knew it had been ported over to Android but was unsure of how well developed it was on the platform. I was about to find out, while not available in the official Play market, I was able to download directly and install on my rooted device. Within a moment or two, I had it linked to my server locations and it was scrapping the internet to pick up all the information on my movies, television shows and music videos.

While I am committed to building a media centre with XBMC as the operating system on top, that is many years away. I am happy to have XBMC back in my life, even if in this limited form on my tablet. Sure, there are some bugs and teething problems you would expect. The most promising development that XBMC has arrived on Android with a bang and development continues on various fronts.

While some people may wonder what the point of having media centre software on a seven inch tablet, it is great to now have a single media source, rather than multiple applications with various degrees of usability. I hope XBMC lands on Google Play soon.

Goodbye XBMC! You shall be missed!

I had never heard of the Freecycle online service, although I knew some sort of community based on giving away your old items existed. It was my sister, Samantha that mentioned the website to me back in April. I had just moved into my flat in Slough and had an old TV combi unit to get rid of. Her friend Kirsty had used the site before and been able to kit out a flat in next to no time! I posted on the site and within a few minutes, the item was taken. Great! I have now used the site on many occasions to get rid of items no longer required. It was particularly useful in the summer when my parents were re-decorating their lounge and needed to get rid of an old TV and home cinema system. Gone in seconds! Yes, I know I could have put them on eBay and perhaps made a few quid but it was just not worth the hassle and with any commercial sale, the buyer will always have a recourse to come back to you if anything goes wrong. Do you really need the extra hassle? I did not!

I have had an original XBox since 2003, when my sisters bought me the console as a Christmas present. I believe the console was discontinued a few months later. Do I play video games? No, so why did I request such a console? Well I had heard about the media centre software, XBMC through my dearest friend Hussein. With his expert help in August 2004, I was able to mod my XBox to install the custom media centre. I now had the media player I craved in the lounge, not only to play music video, movies and games but for so much more besides. I could view movie trailers direct from the Apple website. Hussein had provided me with an optical audio output lead, which fed directly into my home cinema system. Movies looked and sounded awesome! Not bad for a CRT based television that was coming up to six years old. The software was constantly being tweaked by a friendly band of users online. A plugin repository was also created to include a number of features such as, audio scrobblers, YouTube and weather applications. Remember this is the time before “App Store” became a trademark of the Apple Corporation. With the launch of BBC iPlayer, a plugin was soon made available, which meant you did not have to watch episodes from Albert Square you had missed on the small computer screen but on the biggest screen in the house. I know this may sound rather old school, if you already have a PVR. We did not get Sky+ until 2009, and even though we had Sky, the majority of the television we watched was from the Beeb. Even though Aunty did constantly try to block the service and add in additional security to their streams, someone out in the XBMC Community would put together a new release of the plugin with a workaround. This included a complete rebuild of the XBMC software at one stage but the plugin worked a dream for both radio and television streams. It had started off as a download service of the iPod / iPhone feed, which had to be downloaded before being played. A few months later, an instant stream option was added which worked a treat. The quality being close to broadcast television, not bad on our Sky Broadband pipe of 1.5 meg at the time!

The XBOX was the media centre for my family home and in 2008, I had moved out to my flat in Newbury. At one stage I was considering building my own media centre from an old PC donated by Pav. In the end, I was gifted an old crystal XBox by Pav’s younger brother Rav (he had been given a 360 by his parents for his birthday in March 2009). It was late March when I finally had the time to set it up and install the latest version of XBMC. This device had already been modded with a custom dashboard. Two days later I was downloading and watching a music video by Keri Hilson.

With the advent of high definition services, the place for the XBOX was limited. It could show limited 720p video and to date there were only one HD video I had watched on the device. The first high definition video I ever saw (would not actually play on the device) All Night Long by Alexandra Burke and featuring Pitbull. Unfortunately the music video in question is Knockout by Lil Wayne featuring Nicki Minaj. Hardly outstanding contributions to the art of music videos and perhaps a poor reflection on my music video collection, which is close to the one thousand mark. (For reference the majority of music videos I download now are in HD, with only older archive or live performances in standard definition). As time went by fewer videos would play on the device which is a shame because up to that point in time, the software was extremely versatile and would download any codecs it did not have stored locally from the web.

When I moved back in wtih my parents in October 2009, I had two XBoxes and decided to gift one away to my dear friend Sippy. I met up with him for the first time since I had left Uni in 2004, some six years ago! I do hope he appreciated the gift. I had driven all the way up to Birmingham to deliver by hand myself. I wonder if he is still using it? I know he had an older XBox but was that on it’s way out?

My parents now have a 50″ HD plasma TV and the XBox is surplus to their requirements. I brought it back to Slough yesterday afternoon, on my return from seeing Mission Impossible with my Dad. I then spend today clearing the personal photographs and video before giving the device away on Freecycle. I did have to make it clear this was the original XBox from 2001, not a 360! (Who in their right minds would give a working one of those away?). It went to a good home in Slough, to a younger brother who was trying to get a game on his older brother’s 360! Just a shame I could not find the original DVD remote and will have to list that separately on Freecycle another time! It was emotionally moment for me, giving the device away. I know it has gone on to an extended life with another family but for the past seven years it had served my family extremely well. Every dog has his day and the time has come to move on. I suppose this gives me a chance to appreciate my new media centre (the Humax HDR-Fox-T2) but also plan the media centre for my family in the near future. Subscription satellite will have to go!

Sunday 3rd August 2008

Yesterday was a rather lazy day, I did not do much really. Even though it started with so much promise. I got up very early and went to the Esso garage to check the pressure on my tires and then went over to ASDA to buy some toasties. I bumped into my old school friend Ryan on the George stand, putting out new stock of jeans. I had bumped into him a year ago and we had arranged to meet up but never got around to it. So I promised to text him when I got home and arrange something for the end of the week. When I got home, I watched TV for a while (Sonia Deol on BBC News) before jumping on my computer at around 10am. By midday I was tired and decided to have a little afternoon nap. I did not get up until 2.30pm and then in a mad panic, decided I had to get ready and actually make up for doing nothing for most of the day. I watched episode four of John Adams and then afterwards remembered that it was the weekend of the second ever Emirates Cup. I switched on the television to see Van Nistelrooy score the opening goal for Real Madrid but decided to come back later for he Arsenal match. The last match I had seen on the television of my beloved team was against Everton (the final home game) on the penultimate weekend of the season. It had been a long wait. You can read the match reports over on ArseBlog or Arsenal.con.

Before the game finished, I had to get ready and head out the door. I wanted to leave by 6pm and I was a few minutes past this deadline. I drove across to Reading and parked in The Oracle. I then walked across to the Hope Tap (when I eventually worked out where it was but was surprised to find no one in there). So I text Pav and decided to wait for him to arrive before headed up the road to Xen. He text me that their ETA was three minutes and twelve seconds, how more precise can you get than that? Everyone else was already there and had even ordered their meals and had been served their starter. We had the long table to the side of the restaurant and the only seat left for me was at the end. Next to Nicola’s twin brother, Dan and opposite Toni. My first time in this triple header restaurant (they do Indian, Thai and Japanese food) and it was a very good experience. Prompt, attentive but discreet service, that is how a restaurant should be run. I hate to be over pestered. After the wonderful meal we headed downstairs to the bar. We had a few drinks here before headed over to Bar Mango. As we walked past Bar Risa, they tried to get us in with the temptation of free entry. Andy (quite drunk already at this point) said, “Sorry, on the guest list at Mango” and we all burst out laughing! There was a bit of confusion in the queue when we did get over there, we left Eddie to deal with the bouncer. We were on the guest list and pay only a fiver to get in. They could hardly turn us away, the place was dead. Eventually after a phone call, mobile phone with text message confirmation and explaining that we our birthday boy with us. Once this became clear, that we were a birthday party, we were allowed in. At the bar, Eddie was very generous, he bought two bottles of champagne and we headed to the side of the dancefloor. We were here for awhile before venturing outside onto the terrace bar area. I had never been here during the summer months and the area is quite restricted in window as the smoking area. However, now there was a bar and small dance area, with tables and chairs. Plus an area on the side for a barbeque. It was like I had come into a new club with a new room. It was here we spent the rest of the night. If I am honest, I was not hoping to make it too much of a late night, but the tunes just kept getting played. Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics was a particular highlight. Every moment I thought I would leave, another cracking tune was dropped by the DJ and I had to stick around for a little dance. I eventually left at around 1.30am and got home at 2.15am. Great night out, just a shame I had to rush off but I knew I had so much to do on Sunday.

Somehow I dragged myself out of bed and got to the gym around 7.40am, I was the third person through the doors and spoke to Matt briefly before starting my program. The issue with the dedicated news channel has changed once again back to Sky News. Not sure why they have done that but never mind, perhaps they just fancied a change for a week. My weight programme is hard but I am slowly getting used to it, particularly the new machines and the new routine in terms of the order, to make sure I do not work all my upper body muscles too quickly. My next review will be in about a month but I think I will just increase my cardio programme but leave my weights as they are and perhaps add in a free weight programme.

Have you seen the Sky Sports trail for the new football season featuring Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists eScalla? My friend Terry has a big crush on one of the blondes. Must say it is one of the better adverts in recent years, just consider the recent cast. Rachel Stevens, with “More More More”, Elton John with “Are You Ready For Love” are the only two that come to mind instantly. Can you remember any others recently?

I watched Vantage Point tonight (I was not in the mood for Wall-E but perhaps made the wrong decision). It was a good movie but I expected more. It was similar to the movie Go, which I saw during my first year at Uni. Interesting and a good way to burn away my Sunday evening. The plot was clever to begin with but then eventually you realise what is going to happen and then you do not really care for the ending. In fact you do not really care about the characters that much either. Plus, it was annoying to have scenes in Spanish with no subtitles. Come on people, sort it out! I remember seeing the trailer at the cinema, earlier this year and although the action scenes looked impress the story was pretty pathetic. (They should not have revealed the main twist in the trailer, big no no Mr. Director and Mr. Producer!)

I got a lift back home with one of my colleagues in his black 55 plate, Mazda RX8. It was my first time in this type of vehicle with the unique rotary engine. I was extremely disappointed, yes it was quick but when my colleague put his foot down, it sound tinny electronic and fake (even worse than the V-Tec you find on Honda Civic Type-R. In fact, I was more impressed with the digital dashboard display, the LEDs shown the speed. I have something similar, but far less elegant with my Micro RoadPilot.

Development continues to bring streaming option to the iPlayer script on XBMC. RMTP support is available on XBMC on Linux and Windows but not yet the device the media centre was designed for. I keep a regular, almost daily check on this thread to find out the latest news. While I wait for that to be released, I found a Windows based application that enables you to download iPlayer video DRM free to watch at your leisure (beyond the thirty day limit). It can be found over on the fantastic blog Po-Ru. I have tested the software and it is quite reliable, you get the Programme ID from the iPlayer website, enter it into the dialog box and hit download, set the file location and job done. The files are saved as mov (QuickTime) and the quality is acceptable, after all the files are designed to be viewed on an iPod or iPhone. I think this will do nicely while the geeks and nerds sort out the script or plugin for the XBox.

Wednesday 9th April 2008

I have been using the BBC iPlayer since launch on Christmas Day but had a request. A killer script for the XBMC (the product formerly known as Xbox Media Centre – great new web site) to enable the programmes to be downloaded (or streamed) to my television screen. I had a hunt around on the various forums and although there was a lively request thread (started on 28th June, during the beta testing) nothing had materialised. I thought I would check again today, during my lunch hour and low and behold, a genius has created the script and put it live for anyone to download. So, of course I downloaded the zip file and loaded it straight onto my machine when I got back from the gym tonight. It works a treat! Sure, you have to wait for the video files to download (4 odd minutes for a 15 minute episode of Torchwood Declassified) but it is worth the wait and the quality is not too bad (although nowhere as good as Apple Quicktime trailers.) The video quality from Albert Square is never something that will bother me, even when I watch catchup episodes streamed on my PC. The king is making sure you follow the plot, not the sparkle on Pat Butcher’s earrings. Check out some screen shots a lovely chap has uploaded to FlickR. On a similar topic, the Nintendo Wii now can stream content from the iPlayer. I am sure it will only be a matter of time, the XBMC community work out a way to take a look under the hood of this avenue and port it over to the Xbox. Apart from the delay in waiting for programmes to download, this has to be one of the best scripts to have been released for XBMC. Now, when I miss a show, I can get my XBox to download it and watch it later.

What else have I been up to? Well it is week two in my new get fit routine. It is going well, not too bad. I feel a bit better but I believe the dramatic improvements will come over time. Particularly as my programme will be reviewed every two weeks. It was quite scary this evening to see a big bulky guy spend over thirty minutes on the rowing machine at level 10, while I was set to level five and struggled to complete my ten minutes (still a few meters short of breaking the 2000 barrier). Then, while on my final piece of equipment, the treadmill, I looked across at a guy wearing the Arsenal away shirt (very brave considering last night) and his time was ticking past fifty-five minutes. I just about manage fifteen minutes, I do not think I could stomach a whole hour of running (at quite a high speed). I am a long long way from reaching the physical peakness of these fellow gym users but I am on the right track. Just remember, making it to every session is a victory in itself. I have another session tomorrow night and then a fitness test Sunday lunchtime. Based on my performance, my programme will be adapted. Then I think I will have to spend a least a month building it up. Beyond that, I just do not know.

My weekend plans did involve Tazza coming over from East London and spending the day in Wycombe with him but he has to attend a TA weekend. It is a shame, as I have not seen him in over a year as we both have been really busy. No trouble, I think it will be a quiet weekend, I will get a few books from the library and also enjoy watching Doctor Who. Oh, and then I get back from the gym, there is the small matter of a football match in the North West.

Monday 29th October 2007

I brought the XBox back to life on Saturday afternoon. It had not been working since June, perhaps a little earlier when I screwed up the upgrade of the Xbox Media Centre. It has taken me so long to get around to fixing it, as my attempts in mid September failed miserably. For a time, I had an Evox Boot CD (created by MightyMouse back in August 2004, when we modded the XBox) but have lost it now. I took the ISO into the office and had it sitting on my desktop machine before my colleague deleted the file with my permission, dear I say! I searched the net and created one but it failed to work. I tried to search again and found a great bit of software built by a member of the community. XBINS-TIRC. It fully automates the process of connecting to IRC (Internet Relay Chat), connecting to the right channel, getting the password for the Xbins distribution FTP site and then opening built in FTP client (FileZilla) to connect you onto the site. Magic. Everything done right on your screen with no user interaction required. I downloaded the Evox Dash and burnt the Xbox ISO to CD-Rw. However as expected it did not work. I set up my laptop and downloaded the latest T3CH release to put on, along with all the videos I had downloaded over the past few months. I had to get the Xbox Media Center loading again, so by chance still had an old version from April 2006 on the drive. This used an old XML configuration file, which thankfully I had kept in the root of the drive. Copying to the two files off the Xbox, renaming them and placing them back onto the root of the device. Then the moment of truth. Reboot. It worked! Fantastic. I cannot explain the full technicalities, but if the Xbox Media Centre does not load as the main dashboard, the XBox goes into a recovery state. You can still login via FTP but not all the drives are available. F: changes to Q: but you cannot see anything about from the main files in the root. So the only alternative is to use the Evox Boot CD or get some form of dashboard running off the device. I copied over about over a gig worth of music videos. Then I upgraded to the latest version of the XBox Media Centre, carefully following the instructions on the wiki. We were back in business! Now, just to get that YouTube script downloaded and working!

Both the Admiral and Pav have been pushing hard for me to mention the events of Saturday night. It was a good night, we went to Cafe du Sport first, then headed over to Mango. The VIP lounge upstairs had been pre-booked for the birthday party. It was relatively quiet to begin with around 10.30pm, when we got there but slowly filled up. It was a Halloween themed night with a handful of people dressed up. Pav arrived around 11pm. Foxy soon followed with some friends. Then the party really started. Had a good time, but it was a shame that not more of the usual crowd were out. Then again, perhaps it was a good thing that they were not!

Snowdome Ski Pass

Went to the Snowdome at Xscape today for my first ski lesson. I had booked two sessions at the beginning of October and taken the week off to fit them both in. The fast track lessons seemed ideal, as it was three hours on the slope to get used a hang of the sport. However, I think I should have opted to take single hour long lessons per a session and build up my progress slowly. I took my sister along and we got into MK quite early, a few minutes after 8pm. Having left Wycombe in the dark at 6.45am. My session was not until 9am but I thought getting there early would give me a chance to suss out the place. I got changed and grabbed my ski equipment and then waited for the instructor to arrive. He was a few minutes late but no matter. There was four of us on the course, Claire, Martin and Mark, all beginners. Our instructor was John, in his early twenties and seemed to be quite knowledgeable. We headed onto the slope, walking under a bright blue sign which says, “This Is It…”

It was soon quite clear that progress was going to be slow for this three hour fast track session. To begin with I struggled to climb up the slope, sliding down several times and having to have John come down, take my hands and help me get up. I got the idea of balancing and the right stance, but it was the snowplough that I failed with. After a few short runs down the lesson slope, we were put onto the ski lift and told to ski down but in the snowplough position to come to a steady stop at the beginning. This took me some time to get used to. My positioning was wrong, too much weight was at the back of the skis, causing me to fall on my backside a few times. Other times, I would just not be able to stop and would end of up heading towards (and into) the red barrier. Progress was slow, I was getting frustrated and tired. By now, it was clear that two members of the group (Mark and Martin) were picking everything up quite quickly, were as myself and Claire was struggling. We had a quick ten minute break, I grabbed a drink before we headed out back onto the slope. This time we went up higher and after a few bad runs, John handed us over to a different instructor. He had given up, so this elder gentleman (who was already teaching two other women) decided to help Claire and I. He took us up half way and then came down with us, coaching on us step by step as we come down the slope. This helped, not just a little but a great deal! I got the snowplough and actually started working on my turns. I was growing in confidence and even with a few more crashes, some quite dramatic. However time, was not on my side and just as I was getting comfortable, it was time to exit the slope.

I had failed the Level 2 stage and would need to re-take this so I could progress onto the Fast Track Levels 3 & 4. The Snowdome people called and left a message on the voicemail during the afternoon. I will call them back tomorrow. So, how do I sum up my first ever skiing experience? Scary, inscillerating and tiring. So tiring, that I went for an afternoon nap when we got back home. Due to the strange shape of my right foot, I had scraped it against the inside of my ski boot and sliced a couple of layers of skin off. It sounds more painful than it feels or looks but I bandaged it up quite well. It will take a while to heal. Looks like I will be back at the Snowdome sooner than I expected.

Sunday 30th April 2006

Finally got around to cleaning up and updating my XBox this morning. Well when I say XBox I mean the software, XBox Media Centre. The last release of the software was dated Christmas 2005 and I uploaded it on 4th January this year. So for the past four months, I have left the software from T3CH running and it has been one of the more stable releases. To be honest I have gone off the console in recent months and give it little attention. This was perhaps only the second time in my modding history that I loaded on the new release with no problems whatsoever. In the past, it would take me at least a handful attempts to get the software working, with my mistaking usually centering around the incorrect spelling of a directory. It felt good giving the console a spring clean and that bug would come back to haunt me later in the evening.

After watching Jimmy Hill’s Sunday Supplement, I tuned in for the first twenty minutes of Goals on Sunday. I wanted to see the goals from the Chelsea game plus José and the boys celebrating at the end. Watching another team win the League stirs strange emotions in me as a football fan. It spurs me on to wish my team onto greater things in the coming season. I had been out last night at a friend’s house, so missed out on watching MOTD. Looking over the cause of the season, Chelsea deserve their title and I admit Arsenal were never really in the title race from the off. You could clearly see the big gulf between the two London sides at the Community Shield in August last year. (Feels like a lifetime ago now, looking back). All I can hope that Wenger can completing the rebuilding over the summer and after this season of transition, we have a season of great domestic success. They saw football is far to predictable these days, but it is never just about the winner whom crosses the line first. It is about the drama on the track on the way. The champions may have been crowed but there are plenty of things to be fighting for further down the table. I was hoping Tottenham would falter against Bolton this afternoon, opting to listen to live commentary on Five Live only to fall asleep a little after the first half. Earlier this afternoon, I was looking at Radio Times online to see if any good movies were on. Bill &amp Ted’s Excellent Adventure was beening screened on ITV1 at 13:50 and I watched some of the ending. Such a cheesy 1980s teen movie but still entertaining as it was when I first saw it back in 1989. Whatever happened to Alex Winter?

At 9pm, after dinner I came back to my room and wondered what to do. There was nothing worth watching on terrestrial television and my Mum had already booked her time with Sky so I had the evening very much free to do as I pleased. I decided do some housekeeping. I put Romeo Must Die DVD on my computer and with perhaps only 40% concentration on the movie, pulled out my document drawer and took out all the paperwork. It was time to clear this chunk up. Generally speaking I am quite a tidy and organised person but I tend to fall into lapses of laziness. For examples, most of my statements were together in date ordered but then my car documents, ISA statements and other store card statements were all thrown into the same file, completely a mess. I had opted not to label up all the files before, when I got them back in January last year, because I thought I could work without them. How stupid was that? What has been happening to date is all my important mail would be kept in a drawer until the weekend. Then, usually on a Sunday morning I would organise what I would be keeping filed and what would be shredded and file these away. While this system does work, having a “catch all” file that slowly gets stuffed with all the unsorted junk just makes the job really difficult over time. This had to be done and I had just been putting it off for months. It took me just over two hours, a little longer than the movie in fact, but it feels great to have everything filed away in it’s rightful place and two big bags of paper that can be shredded and recycled. It is amazing how much chunk you can actually throw out and there were a few surprises I found. Including my university computer login password sheet which is coming up to nearly six years old. Generally speaking I am a hoarder, I like to hold onto things and rarely throw things away. Those things I do trash, I have to think long and hard (for a few minutes at least) whether I will actually need the letter, document or manuscript. My Dad always believes it is better to throw it away, if it is important you can always get a duplicate copy. I prefer to be in control of all my paperwork. The paperless office is purely a dream.

Friday 11th November 2005

Been over a week since I last added an entry. To be honest, there has been little going on to warrant a posting. Although, Friday has always been my day to look back and reflect on the past week. DG over on his blog has been doing some heavy analysis on every aspect of his online journal. This got me thinking. Do I really still need a blog? Although my popularity has been growing steadily over the past year, my personal enthusiasm has been at times waning.

My one and only Carling Cup match (Worthington Cup, as it was known then!) was in September 1998 at Adams Park. Wycombe entertained visitors from the North East. The Middlesborough side including Paul Gascoigne, the main draw for the crowd full of families. Towards the end of this month, I will be going to my second League Cup match, Arsenal v Reading. Thankfully tickets went on sale to Red members this morning at 9.30am and I was lucky enough to secure my seat. I am looking forward to seeing some of the younger players on the fringes, knocking on the door for first team action.

Another weekend, with very little planned. There are of course, various international friendlies taking place and no top flight domestic football until next weekend. Upgrading the Media Centre software on my XBox, although, as Sippy has already told me, there is little difference with the release from early October. The most annoying aspect of the handful of recent releases has been that I have not been able to access the Internet via the black box. Those of you not familiar with the technology will be intrigued to know that Microsoft have finally placed a computer at the heart of the home entertainment system. You can view the latest movie trailers direct from Apple, read movie synopsis on IMBD and check out the forecast for the next four days via the Weather Channel. Hopefully, tomorrow I can fix this problem and get my connection online!

Last night, for the first time in ages, I turned my back on the computer and went to read a book. I have neglected reading, ever since I left college and while at University, just read the compulsory set texts. When I was growing up, particularly in my pre-teen years I was constantly reading. Perhaps not the quality literature that my English teacher would have liked, but nevertheless engaging my mind. Since I left college, I have become rather lazy and the only reading I do is e-mails at work and websites. How pathetic is that! I did try to start reading again, in June last year, but soon gave up. Preferring to sleep on the train into London, rather than concentrate on reading at such an unholy hour.

Friday 21st October 2005

It felt like any other Friday, in any other week from the past ten months or so. Yet, there was a strange feeling hanging in the air. It started around 11.30am, inadvertent I had left my mobile on. Something I religiously avoid, but it was ringing and I did not want to answer, particularly as I was not expecting the call. As it happened, a Scottish man, from a garage in Aberdeen had left me a message about my car, currently in for repair. How wrong did he get the number he was trying to dial. My colleagues laughed, when I explained what had happened and they thought I should call back and authorise all work to be carried out, no expense spared, but my conscience and strong English accent told me this was not going to happen. Not sure how anyone could get my mobile number confused with another, it is far too easy to remember.
To begin with, I did not know what all the fuss was about and thought Chelski had just spent more stupid money on a player that would be spending most of the season on the bench. How wrong could I be? Essien has done everything (apart from score) and even though in my opinion does not justify his big transfer fee, has that special sparkle that makes him and Chelsea entertaining to watch. As a football fan it is great to see a young player bubbling with so much energy. The Guardian put it ever so well, the midfield maestro, pulling the strings and turning defence into attack. I look forward to his performance against Everton. I just hope the blue half of Mersey side can do better than the Liverpool collapse.

My Mum is not a football fan. I think she actually personally holds a deep hatred for the sport. Whenever midweek games are on, I have to pry the Sky remote from her, to be able to watch the Champions League. My Mum, of course would rather be watching the engaging and supposedly over melodramatic soap operas on Star Plus. Yet, to her credit she is able to sit through a full ninety minutes and ask intriguing questions about the game (i.e. which country are Arsenal playing today!?) As TH14 become a record breaker writing his name into the history books, my Mum’s face was a picture as I tried to explain that he had just scored 186 goals for the Gooners. While there are those that will say we are a one man team, the fear of losing our main striker is unthinkable but not unimaginable. I remember when Petit and Overmars left for Barcelona and how I felt Arsene had made a mistake, yet in time he has proved that those were shrewd business moves. The statistics will tell a different story from the ball on a pitch on a Saturday afternoon. The moment this Frenchman picks up the ball, there is suddenly an air of expectation that the impossible is possible and you can feel (briefly) that sigh from the Highbury faithful.

A few years ago, I mentioned the DMU commercial spot, shown on ITV with the tag line, “Get DM Used to It”. The marketing people have now released a completely puzzling commercial, featuring lego men (and women). I saw it last night during the ad break for Hollyoaks first look on E4. Someone should really sack the marketing man.

Several months ago, I requested an XBox game from my friend, Sippy. Tonight, I finally received it in the post. Why it had taken so long only Mr. B can explain. Firstly there was the lack of media. Then, house sitting and other activities meant he was unable to go down to the post office. Suppose I better do the decent thing and play the game. Just a shame, that a family friend told me it was rubbish last month and would take a few days to complete. Then again, we are talking about Teg here. I doubt it will ever see the inside of my XBox. If it does, it might a short lived experience, I will get bored after a few minutes.

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