All posts by Martyn Drake


Something to cheer me up at the end of a lousy day..

As you may already know, I am a HUGE Studio Ghibli fan.  It is perhaps the finest film studio in existence.

Hayao Miyazaki, the finest writer and director of stories in, perhaps, ever (although not to dismiss Ghibli’s other writer/directors who are also superbly talented – one only has to watch Grave of the Fireflies to realise this – through floods of tears; it’s one of the most superb and most saddest films I’ve ever seen).

Having had a lousy, lousy day at work (which appears to be the norm at the moment – I come home very irritable having often been angry throughout the day), I discover that Studio Ghibli’s original soundtracks are now available through iTunes UK!


Alas, these are not available through Spotify or other streaming services as yet (at least that I can see).  But nevertheless long sought songs and themes are now available to buy individually or as albums.

This makes me very happy.


Our survey said – oh oh

Ah, online surveys.

Complete our survey for a chance to win X, Y, Z“, they’ll scream – enticing you to take 5-10 minutes out of a busy day to answer weird and wonderful questions.

But I’m getting a tad fed up that, when having spent said 5 minutes completing a survey, for the thing to return a stupid error message – never knowing whether the survey results reached their target or whether the web server went mad and threw away my data.

Latest idiotic implementation goes to The Times newspapers for their “enter for a chance to win £250 in our survey!” in the 18th July 2014′s iPad tablet edition of The Times.

I spend 5 minutes answering questions relating to travel cosmetics and brands (mainly regarding sun cream, etc. etc.) only to get this wonderfully helpful web page at the end, telling me there is an error and would I be so kind to email support if I can’t resolve it.



What the actual heck?

I’ve just spent 5 minutes obliging you in a survey (albeit for a chance to win £250) only for your inept web designers or sysadmins (or both) asking me to spend more time reporting errors (and without a chance of winning £250 at that).

The error page does not tell me if the error has already been reported to the development team.  It does not even tell me anything remotely useful other than to report it using the cryptic “genesis survive” keywords.

This is the very epitome of poor error handling in the age of mass consumerism.

A modern re-enactment of the Margret Thatcher vs. Arthur Scargill miner strikes appears in this year's Doctor Who.

It’s not just Time Lords that regenerate..

.. but movie and TV rights too.

Back in 1991 Rachel Talalay starts her directorial career with the final installment in New Line’s popular Freddy Krueger series, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

13 years later New Line announce they had optioned the rights to Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

Sometime in 2011, after a few attempts involving Christopher Hampton and Julian Fellowes, the rights to JS&MN transferred to Amber Entertainment, a production company formed from former New Line studio execs Ileen Maisel and Mark Ordesky.

Shortly after that the rights were acquired by the film division of Susanna Clarke’s literary agent, Curtis Brown.   Cuba Pictures, who announced that JS&MN was to become a 7 part TV show made for the BBC, took on writer Peter Harness to adapt Susanna’s novel.

It was later announced that Peter was also writing for Doctor Who series 8, and Rachel was set to direct two episodes.   However,  I don’t believe their paths directly meet (in that she’s directing his episode – we do know she’s directing Steven Moffat’s finale).

So this series of Doctor Who seems rather special.

A modern re-enactment of the Margret Thatcher vs. Arthur Scargill miner strikes appears in this year's Doctor Who.
A re-enactment of the Margret Thatcher vs. Arthur Scargill miner strikes appears in this year’s Doctor Who. Thatcher is played by the T-Rex. Scargill appears as a space potato.

While Rachel has no direct involvement with JS&MN, her link with New Line, who saw potential in the novel’s adaptation, and Peter’s managing to work miracles on fitting a 1,000 page novel into a TV shaped hole, nevertheless seems rather apt.

(Also JS&MN’s director, Toby Haynes, is an alumni of Doctor Who having directed several episodes of the show himself)

It’s all cool (as the kids say these days).

Doctor Who starts on BBC One Saturday 23rd August 2014 in the UK.  No air date has been announced for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but we do know it’ll air on BBC One too.


Kingsman: The Secret Service Panorama of Police Car Chase (practice)

I’ve already offered a glimpse behind the scenes of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman’s adaptation of Mark Millar’s Kingsman: The Secret Service through the use of video.

But I’d quite forgotten that during shooting the video, I was also busy taking photos at the time same.  The iPhone 5(s) is a ruddy good little recording device.

Anyway, backing up my photos from Lightroom to Google+ for additional safekeeping (and easy online sharing as and when required) resulted in the following photo that was stitched together from the shots I took of the car chase.  Google calls this auto awesome, and it’s hard not to see why.

Click to enlarge. It’s worth it!



BT’s lack of engineers becomes quite apparent!

Photo (above, on site at least): Kitten Kong’s attempt at repairing his BT Infinity problem goes disastrously wrong..

So, a few days on from using the new Draytek 2860+n and it looks as though the Infinity connection is stable, albeit at a lower profile[1].

Super flashy lights.  The green ethernet is my MacBook Air.  I'm using ethernet now - 10m Cat6 flat cable.  Lovely jubbly. (Actually I have a good reason to do this - all will be revealed later.)
Super flashy lights. The green ethernet is my MacBook Air. I’m using ethernet now – 10m Cat6 flat cable. Lovely jubbly.

Over the past few days the SNR signal has dropped and it looks like my IP profile has been reduced to around 67Mbs instead of  the 79Mbs I used to get. That’s quite a drop in speed.

Draytek’s physical WAN status. Yes, I had it hooked up to Virgin Media on WAN2. Works a treat.

So I put in my third request for help from BT.

I received a phone call from BT customer services yesterday evening as I was coming home and they told me that they needed to send an engineer around to sort out the IP profile (it must be done by an engineer as it involves test equipment at my property).

I told them it must be a Saturday.  Due to work commitments over the next two-three weeks I won’t be able to work from home and no, nobody else would be around to see the engineer in.

BT don’t have any Saturday appointments for the rest of July.  Nor, it seems, do they have any appointments for August.

I mentioned that I was seeking compensation for a product that has not been working properly for the past three months – including get half the cost of the Draytek router cost met because their own equipment is just not fit for purpose (and when I mean not fit for purpose, I really do mean it, a router should not reboot during a Skype or Google+ video call).  I was just told that they couldn’t possibly discuss compensation until an engineer visit took place – well, what can you say to that?

Once the IP profile has been fixed and all is back to normal VDSL wise, I’ll be happy.  But I find it extraordinary that BT cannot get an engineer out on a Saturday for nigh on TWO MONTHS.  I realise BT are currently suffering from engineering staff shortages, but come on!

Who is installing new BT Infinity / BT landlines in the mean time?

I want to be a loyal customer of BT, but they’re damn well making it very hard to be so.

With BT currently setting the current record for the most complaints received about broadband services AND having just been voted worst value home phone line provider[2], they need to pull out all the stops now, or face the wrath of shareholders.

[1] Ignore the 39 hour uptime on the screenshots – I was tinkering  with load balanced routing using Virgin Media and BT which required a reboot.

[2] I agree with the lack of access to customer services via phone being awful; your best bet is via social media where it’s much better.  I also agree about nuisance calls, they’re becoming a real problem now.