Derek

A couple of weeks ago I took out a 30 days trial of Netflix. It’s been great fun watching TV shows, stand-up comedy and films on my PC, on my phone, and streamed to our television. I stumbled on a seven-part TV series called Derek, written by and starring Ricky Gervais.

I remember when I first watched The Office. I actually had no idea it was a comedy at the start. It felt so awkward and uncomfortable until I cottoned-on that this was a comedy. So I was perhaps more than a little apprehensive when I began watching Derek.

Ricky Gervais plays Derek Noakes, a 49 year old care worker at Broad Hill old folks’ home. Derek has been described by some as high-functioning autistic, by another as ‘learning disabled’, or ‘of low mental acuity with impaired language skills’. Gervais himself seemingly maintains that Derek is definitely not mentally disabled. He is, however, extraordinarily kind.

Gervais said, apparently, that the show was inspired by family members who work in care homes and with children with learning difficulties.

There is so much that could have gone wrong, so many potential opportunities to be cruel. And yet I found it one of the most profound and moving programmes I’ve watched for a long time. It moved me to tears more than once. The final episode especially, and Kev’s monologue in particular where he talks about his regrets. It’s an astonishing piece of drama, tremendous writing, and beautifully acted.

It is funny, it is sad, it is awkward, it’s rude, it’s vulnerable, it’s touching: it’s filled with the reality of every day life. I’m looking forward to series two.

AWESOME! Christmas ident for E4

What do you mean you don’t know what an ident is? Are you like one of these people who has friends and goes out, and stuff?

Weird!

Anyway, come back after you’ve read up all about station idents on Wikipedia… That was interesting wasn’t it. They sure mentioned ‘FCC’ a lot, didn’t they.

My colleague @stepreo (not his real name, obviously) showed me this Christmas ident created by Treat Studios for E4. It’s called ‘Reindeer’ and has to be one of the most amazing 6 seconds of animation in the history of ever.

The app ideas on The Apprentice were rubbish… how hard can it be?

20110511-apps

I’ve just finished watching the second episode of the current series (series 7) of The Apprentice on BBC 1 during which the challenge was for the two teams to design, launch and promote their own mobile phone app[lication].

The boys created a border-line racist app with annoying voices. The girls an app with annoying sounds.

If I’d been on The Apprentice I’m sure I could have come up with better ideas. In fact, I’m going to prove it by blogging my ideas live. Right now. Watch:

  • IDEA #1: Often you’ll be out and about with your phone. Maybe you’re running late, perhaps for an interview or a meeting. Maybe you’re just tired. Why not create a mobile phone app that’s also a bike, so you can just sit on it and it will allow you to pedal yourself to your destination!

Genius! See how easy that was?

  • IDEA #2: An app that makes the most out of the accelerometer (motion sensor) built into a lot of mobile devices these days. So it’s an app that helps you tie your tie. You first attach your mobile phone to the end of your tie, using bulldog clips or elastic bands or something, then the app talks you through tying a tie: “That bit over and then under and then through…”

Wow! I’m on a roll.

  • IDEA #3: Jane and I like our toast to be different levels of cooked-ness. Jane likes hers to be very brown, I like mine to be borderline hot-bread. How about an app that you run, tell it what colour brown you’d like your toast to be, then you pop your phone into the toaster (beside your slice of bread) and it will play an alarm when your toast has reached the right level of brown. Obviously it would need to use the camera for that.

Practical! Although, I suspect like a lot of apps that’s one that will not be used very often. Presumably because it would help educate folks about how long bread needs to be in the toaster until it reaches their ideal state.

  • IDEA #4: How about an app that you run when you’re standing next to a busy road. The interface would be nice and simple. First you enter your average walking speed in (metres per hour or fathoms per second), then you press a “check now!” button which activates your device’s in-built camera which you point first one direction and then the next, pausing for a minimum of 7 seconds each direction. Then… and this is the really clever bit… the app will play an alert of your choosing (from the three available: a horn; the sound of a gibbon slurping ice cream; or the same horn, but played in French) so you know when it’s safe to cross the road.

I imagine that that’s the kind of app that could save lives.

See! Not a single idea there that involves racist stereotypes or annoying sounds.

The downside of having children

mr_tumble

When you ask people what might be the downside of having children they might say sleep depravation or a diminished social life.

But it’s not! It’s waking up in the morning with children’s TV theme tunes going around your head.

I woke up this morning with the Something Special theme tune from CBeebies in my head. I stumbled, bleary-eyed to the bathroom at 05:30 while in my head I found myself cheerily singing “Hello, hello, how are you? Hello, hello, it’s good to see you you….” Arrrrggghhhh!

They don’t tell you about that in the books.

The 24 game, part 3

24

The following takes place between 22:38 and 22:48

Remember the 24 game that Jane and I played during previous seasons of the show?  As I said in my original post:

There is one simple rule of the game: guess at what time the clock will resume after the break. That’s it. It’s harder than you might imagine.

Well, we’re currently galloping through the final season, season 8, on DVD before Baby 3.0 makes an appearance next week…

24 season 8 on DVD

…and Jane has already correctly guessed two of the resume times after breaks.  I’ve been one second out on a couple of occasions, but that just doesn’t count in this game.

I think Baby 3.0 is helping her, to be honest.  I’ll ask him after he’s born next week.

More Daisy…!

Upsy Daisy from In the Night Garden

Upsy Daisy from In the Night Garden

I think it would be fairly safe to say that Reuben and Joshua are currently mildly obsessed with two BBC CBeebies TV programmes at the moment: Balamory and In the Night Garden.

In fact, whenever they see a pad of paper and a pen they will pick up the pen and thrust it into my hand with the instruction “More Daisy!”

Upsy Daisy is a character on In the Night Garden. I’m getting quite good at drawing her, to be honest. Until I realised that Reuben and Joshua don’t really care about details.  As soon as I’ve drawn Daisy’s oval head and added some Medusa-like strands of hair Joshua will steal the pen back: “No! My!” and start to scribble over what I’ve just drawn.

Jane looked at my pad the other day and laughed.  “What on earth would a psychologist make of that picture?” she joked.

Sketches and scribbles in the key of In The Night Garden

Sketches and scribbles in the key of "In The Night Garden"

What indeed!

That’s a very crude depiction of Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy with erm… additions by Joshua (red, blue and green) and Reuben (black).

Igglepiggle looks more like a sad Panda king!

BTVision to get a software upgrade

BTVision digital tuner and PVR

BTVision digital tuner and PVR

Great to see that the BTVision box (the V-box™) is getting a software update this month.  The update focuses on three main improvements:

  1. Recording
    All new recordings you set up will add 5 minutes to the end.  This is great news, as the current setup often loses the last couple of minutes from the end of programmes.
  2. Restarts
    On a number of occasions we’ve returned to our BTVision box to discover that for some reason it’s rebooted itself and thinks it’s doing a first-time install.  The new update will “reduce this from happening”.
  3. User interface tweak
    The UI is getting a tweak, making it “a bit more clear”, we’re promised.

All that said, overall as it is I think it’s a really great system.  I need to blog about it at the other place … maybe once the update has gone through (sometime between 6 – 20 October).