Clerks II

Clerks II - Movie PosterI had been looking forward to seeing Clerks II and was planning to go to the cinema to see it, but I gave in and downloaded a copy.

I had a choice between 2 TeleSyncs: a 1-disc Xvid and a 2-disc SVCD. It was a close-run thing but I thought that the SVCD copy was (maybe) slightly better in quality and anyways, it would give me an opportunity to play about with DVD-lab.

Firstly, I fired-up VCDGear and extracted the MPEG-1 goodness. I found an easy to follow tutorial and proceeded to add the .mpg files to my project, DVD-lab demuxed the audio and video successfully, but choked when it came to transcoding and resampling the audio for the first disc, so I had to play around with BeSweet and managed to create a pair of 48KHz .wav files without too much hassle.

I hadn’t used DVD-lab before, but it was easy to add chapters and compile a “no-frills” DVD. I didn’t reencode the video and the resultant DVD actually comprised 2 titles (1 for each SVCD), but after creating an image and burning it, my DVD player never knew the difference. My only complaint was a slight click in the audio, but I was happy with the fruits of my labour.

Clerks II - Screen Shot

The movie itself was excellent and as far as sequels go, I’ve see a lot worse. Nothing could have been better than the original Clerks, but Kevin Smith definitely gets my seal of approval for this one.

One of my favourite scenes was Jay parodying Buffalo Bill dancing to Q Lazzarus’ Goodbye Horses in Silence of the lambs. And there was even some Inter-species erotica near the end, what more could a deviant ask for? If I could get that song out of my head and off my hard-drive…

Jason Mewes’ character, Jay, wasn’t the same this time around though. But what do you expect, the lad is now in recovery (Bill W, hell yeah!) and looking good for it.

Sell a kidney if you have to and go see this movie and if you have any money why not buy Silent Bob’s coat?

Snootch.

And There Are No Diamonds In The Mine

Coffee!!1Oh the joy! The office has gotten in the coffee supplies again. Imagine my surprise when I opened the cupboard to discover row upon row of bags of the stuff.

I’ve been reading through the archives of a blog I stumbled upon a while back and came across an entry about coffee which mentioned it’s procurement via the internet. I love my coffee and have been a heavy consumer of it for many years (especially since I got into recovery) and when choosing a bean I always go for the strongest available, avoiding the different “blends” or “styles” that most supermarkets offer.

I love that different coffees come from different parts of the world and have sampled the produce of a great many countries, but I’ve never gotten into the wide range of specialist beans available as most supermarkets just don’t stock them. A bit of searching returned a few sites that look promising. Old Brown Java, Hawaii Kona, Jamaican Blue Mountain (£35.99 per 500g!) the names alone make my mouth water (but the prices make my wallet tremble.)

Maybe someday when I’m feeling rich, with a debit card in my hand and the need for more I’ll put an order in.

I think I’m due another mug of joe…

Syd is Dead, Long Live Syd

I’ve been visiting my family for this week and on the journey from the bus station to my Mother’s house I heard on the radio that Syd Barrett had died.

His death occurred on friday 7th (as a result of complications due to diabetes) and was reported on tuesday 11th and I can definitely say he will be missed, goodness knows I know I feel a sense of loss.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Album CoverSyd has been a musical hero of mine since I was a teenager and I got turned onto the Pink Floyd. Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall and Animals were the first few albums of theirs I had and I decided that I wanted to get more into their work, starting from the beginning. The first time I heard the 1967 masterpiece The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was amazing; from the mad slide-guitar on the opening track “Astronomy Domine” to the wonderfully spaced-out “Interstellar Overdrive” and finalizing with the whimsical “Bike” (a song I am fond of strumming and singing when the muse takes me), the whole album fitted in so well with the lysergic-state I was in back then.

The Madcap Laughs - Album CoverI got his first solo-album, The Madcap Laughs and read some biographies. I progressed to his second album, the out-takes and his session for John Peel. I learned to play some of his songs, the first domain I registered (ahsydbiscuit.co.uk) was a nod in his direction and when I updated the design of this site last month I included an image of the Great Man himself.

Syd’s descent into madness and his status as the archetypical acid-casualty always rang true with me, especially when I ended up having to go through a similar process myself and up until I got into recovery God only knows the number of times I thought the insanity had me for good. It always saddened me that Syd had went further than myself and never came back.

So now we know that Syd’s seclusion will never end, that he has reached the end of his journey. Random Precision indeed.

Wee Me

I was sorting through my bookmarks in Firefox and I found a link to this site which allows you to create a miniature clone of yourself (in colour!) Here’s what I (mostly) look like today:

Mini-SteveMini-Steve in Y-Fronts and a Trenchcoat Pretty much a Regular John, huh?

I should really get back to some “proper” work, instead of creating things like this:

Google Maps here I come…

New Docs

I put in my monthly expenses claim yesterday morning and decided to follow through on a plan that had been on the back burner for a while now: getting myself some new footwear.

After sorting out the new firewall at the office I strutted my way down to the Doc Shop and bought a new pair of 8-eye Doc Marten boots. Here they are fresh from the box and laced up (photos from my phone unfortunately):

New Docs

They look so new and alien to me, unlike my last pair:

Old Ox Blood Docs

My old ones have moulded themselves perfectly to the form of my feet and ankles and feel more like an extension of myself than mere boots, any other footwear seems uncomfortable in comparison.

It seems unbelievable that my old docs were once the exact same shape as my new ones and it feels like I’m having to learn how to walk all over again! I can’t remember how long it took to break-in my last pair in but I can certainly recall going out dancing in them and returning home with my ankles a bloody mess (it’s all about the imagery…)

My old docs held out for well over a year and a half (even though I felt a tad self-conscience wearing red boots) so here’s hoping I get the same wear out of this new pair! I’m off to abuse myself at the gym.

Revolution Now

Symantec FirewallUp until a few hours ago we had a Symantec firewall appliance protecting the office network from script kiddies and the like, but unfortunately it was prone to crashing and required regular rebooting.

As I was returning from my coffee break I passed Kev who was leaving the room to go reboot said device.

IPCopI was in an impulsive mood and when Kev returned I offered to build a new firewall. Unfortunately I didn’t get an opportunity to use any empty fairy liquid bottles or stick-back plastic, but I did grab the latest release of the excellent Linux-based IPCop, an old 450MHz Dell Dimension desktop from the stack we have in the corner of our room and a spare network card that had been lying on a shelf, gathering dust.

I’ve been using IPCop at home for a while now and this site is running on a cobbled together machine sitting behind an old Compaq box running this fine piece of software. I used to use a commercial hardware router and the thought of running another pc just to route traffic seemed extravagant, but I haven’t looked back since I first installed Smoothwall, which IPCop is based on.
Being familiar with IPCop’s installation and configuration proved beneficial and before I left for my lunch break the new firewall was in place and running like a champion.

So far this is the only Linux box on the network, but I like the idea of an ancient Linux box protecting all our windows desktops and dual-Xeon Server 2k3 machine (can Windows Server be run on anything less??), don’t fear the penguins!