Thursday, February 26, 2009

Glorifying the mundane with accessible new media

I've always been of the firm opinion that there's beauty to be found in what most people would find mundane. Too many people rush through live without actually stopping to have a look around. It appears that the users of YouTube may appreciate where I'm coming from. To find out just how easy it is to make a short, relatively mundane set of clips seem interesting I grabbed some of the video I shot using my cheap digital camera whilst on holiday in Dorset and shoved it all in Windows Movie maker. To iron out the sound I got a little help from Sam over at the 200albums blog who found me the perfect track to overdub the video with. In total this video took about twenty minutes to make. Give it a watch and decide for yourself if cheap digital cameras, windows movie maker and YouTube can indeed help find the beauty in the mundane!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

NOFX - Backstage Passport, one of the best bits of telly ever?

I've just had a press release from Fat Wreck Chords announcing that the fantastic NOFX - Backstage Passport will shortly be available to buy on DVD at

This is a fly on the wall series filmed during NOFX's 2006 crazy tour of places that don't 'do punk' traditionally. The series captures brilliantly the sheer insanity and adventure of stepping off the traditional gig circuit. Even if you're not a fan of NOFX (or even punk) this is still one of the most entertaining things you'll ever see. It's brutally honest as well, you'll see just how stressed members get when things start to go very wrong, as well as just how well they are protected and looked after by their tight knit road crew. One of the more alarming factors of this tour is just how drunk their road manager Kent gets on a regular basis, sometimes it's hilarious but most of the time it had me on the edge of my seat, cringing so hard I could barely watch!

I very much doubt you'll be disappointed!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Listener, four kids, one camera and an old editing console

The Listener is a short film made in 1991 (I think) by Dan Foden, Tom Bell, Me (andrew culture) and Matt Bell. A tale of betrayal and heartlessness in the upper echelons of gangland London in the early 1960s.

Filmed in and around Wickham Market (mostly the church buildings) in Suffolk, and featuring my Vauxhall Chevette, and Dan Foden's cool Mini. We made this on just a couple of cameras with little idea of what we were doing, but I'm oddly proud of it!

Oh one last thing, it was supposed to be in black and white but we couldn't figure out how to convert it, so when you see a pool of water by my head it's supposed to be blood! The credits are two fifths of the length of the actual film, but stick with them if only for all the great names we made up! The live sounding track was the band we were all in at the time, we had loads of different names, but when we made this video we were The Benaults.

Because the maximum length of any clip on YouTube is nine minutes I had to cut The Listener in half!

Tele Serve, high pressure 'alternative domain' sales, any why they make my blood boil.

I just got a very panicked phone call from one of my clients following a call she had just received from an urgent sounding chap at a company called Tele Serve (I think) telling them that someone was trying to register one of her companies domain names. This is a old con whereby a company rings you up to tell you that someone is trying to register a domain name that should probably belong to you, then surprise surprise they kindly offer to register the domain name for you to secure it, probably at a highly inflated rate.

I took great delight in calling this company back, and speaking to their representative Michael. He told me that his company had been informed by a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) company that someone was trying to register a variation on my client's domain name. In this instance it was a fairly daft variation, and of course, my clients already own every domain they actually need, along with any relevant TLD variants (net, org etc). Why on earth was an SEO company registering a domain name? I asked Michael, and mentioned to him that the registering of a domain name is a process that takes about thirty seconds, and involves only the agent (Dotster or whoever) and the registrar (Nominet in the UK, ICANN in the USA), at no point will an agent look into whether the purchaser has legal grounds to register the domain name. Michael told me that there had been a problem with the other guy's credit card so they had called him up, and he told them he wanted to buy the domain names to redirect to an 'undisclosed' website. Michael assured me that the SEO company/ registrar won't set up the redirect until the other guys credit card had cleared. I asked Micheal why on earth a registrar would set up a redirect, as it's something done in DNS or by using something like a 301 redirect on a web server. He started to get a bit frustrated with me, and started repeating himself. I remained calm and told him that in ten years of being an Internet consultant I have never know a domain seller to ask a buyer why they wanted to buy a domain, and calmly expressed my surprise that said seller was so insistent about redirects? I pointed out that generally a domain seller will sell a domain to anyone, as I understand it the usage of purchased domains is quite frankly none of their business. I also asked how they would set up a redirect if this mystery third party wouldn't say where he wanted the domains redirected to! Again Michael mentioned the redirects, and I felt the time had come to put this madness to an end. I told Michael that in my experience the only reason anyone would share the information about alleged domain purchases was to sell said domains with the use of a little 'sauce'. Yes, I really did say sauce. Micheal was getting stressed, and tersely declared,
"Fine, if that's your attitude we'll let this person register your domains and you can sort it out with him in court."
Before I had a chance to let Micheal know I was having fun, he hung up on me.

High pressure domain sales craze me as they add to the general foggy confusion that most business people have regarding the legalities and practicalities of domain ownership and registration. They make genuine, transparent and honest Internet folk look bad.

If you are every in any doubt about your companies domain registrations or renewals please pick up the phone to your own IT staff, believe me, they'll appreciate it!

P.S.  If you want to register a domain name then I'd recommend reading this Go Daddy Review

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Curious case of Boris Johnson and the snow

Boris Johnson was just interviewed on Radio 4, talking about the impact so much snow is having on London, and the living Beano character himself came up with a couple of classics;

"This isn't the kind of snow we've seen in London for decades, *pause*, although I guess all snow is the same really"

The man just moves his jaw up and down expending useless energy, like with this gem;

"London might lose some money today with people not driving in and paying the congestion charge, *pause* although I guess most people pay in advance so it won't make any difference."

I'm not particularly, anti-Boris, but it really is like having a PG Wodehouse character as Mayor of London! I may have got the exact wording wrong as the man was on the radio just a matter of minutes ago, and I was busy eating scrambled eggs on toast, but you get the idea!

Check your POP3 mail using Outlook AND webmail.

All you have to do is set up Outlook so it leaves a copy of messages on the server, but removes them after seven days. You'll find these settings in the 'advanced' section of the mail account settings in any version of Outlook. That way when you check mail online you have the last week's worth, but you won't blow out your mailbox quota. I set up all my clients this way, as it's also a really great last resort business continuity failsafe. No matter WHAT happens, you'll always have the last seven days emails. As most people only want to check NEW mail online, this solution works a treat.

A trip down memory lane thanks to a VCR to USB converter!

I've finally bought something I've been meaning to get hold of for ages, I've bought an ION VCR2PC Video Cassette Archiver which is allowing me to trawl through the many VHS video tapes I have in the loft, and archive them onto YouTube! The video I'm really looking for is the short film that I made with friends as a teen, but in the meantime here are three other old videos you might enjoy!

The first video is me being interviewed on BBC Look East in 2001, I'm talking about

Next up is my old band Junk Culture on telly in 2002

Finally is a rubbish fake bike accident I sent into a TV clip show called 'You've Been Framed', at a guess I'd say I was probably fourteen years old, I'm the lad in front with all the hair!

Me, right now!

Current Reading: 'Word of Mouth' by Bill Bryson
Current Music: 'Tail Swallower and Dove' by These Arms Are Snakes
Smells: Fairly clean, but huge cat sat in front of me
Mood: Subdued
Sounds: Purring cat, chuntering radio
Temperature: 10oC/ 50oF (yup, that's IN my office!)
Thoughts: As much as I like the snow, I've seen much more, and recently too!