Daily Archives: Saturday, 21st Oct 2006

Robin Hood – Who Shot the Sheriff?

This weeks episode of the arrows and allusions take on Robin Hood was written by Paul Cornell, who has previously worked on Doctor Who novels and audio plays. It also had most of the dialogue recorded at a very low level, and not just when people were actually whispering. Not sure what was going on there, but never mind. On with the show…

Shortly after meeting Robin and his (dammit I’m not going to say “merry”) men, the Sheriff’s bailiff is shot dead by an unseen archer. We know that it wasn’t Robin, but the villagers are easily convinced that it was our hero. Which is a bit of a problem for Robin, who is determined not to kill anyone at all, having had far too much of that sort of thing while fighting in the Crusade. It’s an even bigger problem when a young boy from the village is killed by an arrow while working in the castle. Gisbourne heads for the forest with soldiers and dogs, while the Sheriff plots with his Sergeant at Arms to generate a little more fear by killing a few more people, blaming it all on Robin.

The contemporary references are laid on even more thickly this time – in a long droning speech, I’m sure I heard the Sheriff utter the phrase “War on Terror”, for instance. And a lot is made of Robin’s distress at the events. As Much puts it “he wants everyone to love him”, which is a bit tricky when people think you’ve been killing their children.

In the end, the real killer is revealed to be exactly who I expected it to be. And Marian showed that there’s more to her than we previously expected -again, this was clearly indicated well ahead of time. It couldn’t have been more obvious if there had been big flashing lights, to be honest. There was a nice scene between the Sheriff and Robin, some chat with Robin’s friends, but not a lot else.

All of which makes me wonder if this series is really going to remain entertaining for its full run. The first couple were good, solid, silly fun. But it really needs to develop more. We need to have more than five words out of the rest of the outlaws. Their names are hardly mentioned, and they get very little dialogue and less character development, which really should be happening by now. I’ll stick with it, because the good bits are good fun. But it needs to work a bit harder than this one…

Oh yes. The title. Very near the end, the killer makes one last try at shooting the Sheriff, and indeed thinks he has succeeded. But the Sheriff has been too clever for him and someone else was on his horse, which led inevitably to this exchange…

I shot the Sheriff

No, you shot the Deputy

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

Never mind, Torchwood starts tomorrow.

Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft’s browser gets upgraded

I don’t know, you wait five years for a new browser, then two turn up at once. Well, almost. I’ve been using Firefox as my main browser for, err, well. Must be a few years now – I started using it at around version 0.6, and was soon converted by its tabbed interface[1] and the huge range of extensions which allow it to be customised and do Clever Things. I upgraded to version 1.5 when that was released, and version 2 is nearly with us. It’s now in the late “release candidate” stage, which means that apart from a few minor bug fixes here and there, it’s almost ready for final release. Woo hoo. One major change that is important to me is improvements to the handling of tabs – which means that extension I used to need are now redundant. I’m having a bit of trouble educating my brain into remembering that each tab now has its own little close button, rather than there being a single “close current tab” button on the right of the window, but it is a more logical and useful place to have the control. And as you’ll see later, it will make it easier when switching between browsers. Another nice addition is that the spell checker extension I used previously is now a standard function. And it’s easier to use, too. The last version did underline words in red, but I had to Ctrl+click to get the spelling options. Now I can just right-click, which is a wee bit quicker. Which means I can type more Losing it[1] nonsense in less time! So far, it seems well-behaved. I’ve had one problem in Gallery, but I think I know what’s causing that, and I can still do what I need to by switching to another browser as a short-term measure. And talking of new browsers…

It’s been five years since Internet Explorer 6 appeared. Five years in internet time is around 5,000 years in human years, and it shows. IE6, quite apart from all its well-publicised security issues, had become a creaking dinosaur. While it was still the most widely-used browser, thanks to being built in to the ubiquitous Windows XP, more people were gradually moving to Firefox – some for security reasons[2], others for the better handling of web standards, or the joys of tabbed browsing[3], or because of general irritation with Microsoft. For a long time, Microsoft’s position was that there would be no new version of IE released for current versions of Windows. If you wanted a new browser, you’d have to upgrade to the next version of Windows. But as the release date of what we now know will be called Vista slipped again and again, and Firefox became even more popular, Microsoft relented. They announced that there would be a new version of IE after all. And in a rare move, they set up a blog and asked for requests. The loudest requests were for better rendering of HTML and CSS[4]. And tabs.

And so, the coders went to work. Betas were released, and waddaya know, they were actually quite usable. I had a play with them, making myself revert to IE on my main computer to see if it was going to work for me. There were some odd changes in the user interface, but once I’d found the right place to click to bring back the normal menu bar, I was quite happy.

IE7 was officially released a couple of days ago, and you can either download it now, or wait for Windows Update to offer it to you. It is a major improvement over IE6, and I think Microsoft should be applauded for moving in the right direction, albeit belatedly. Will it lure me away from Firefox? Probably not. I’ve got used to using Firefox, and there are some things I can’t do with IE at present that Firefox makes easy. But I’m a geek – your needs may be different. Try them both and make up your own mind.

Get Internet Explorer 7

Get Firefox (current version)

Get Firefox 2 (release candidate)

[1] Opera also did this, but I never got on with Opera. Still don’t, though I generally look at each new verison for long enough to decide that I can’t be bothered working out how to use the thing properly.
[2] While Firefox itself has had some security flaws, IE’s tend to be more dangerous because it’s hooked so deeply into the operating system. Firefox also updates itself in a slightly more friendly manner – though I know of some people who have problems getting that to work.
[3] I love this. Rather than having loads of identical icons on the taskbar, I have tabs inside the browser window, which make it much easier to flick between web pages. When I see a link on a page I’m reading, I right-click on it and tell it to open in a new tab. This opens the new page in the background and I can then read it when I’m ready. Much more friendly than a new window popping up in front of the page I’m trying to read.
[4] IE6 has some entertaining bugs -see Explorer Exposed

A singularly good idea…

Now this is interesting. Keane, whose second album I really must get round to listening to properly one of these days[1][2] are taking the singles market to the next step, which I suppose was inevitable.

Despite the growth of downloading, people do still buy some actual physical singles on CD (and even on that funny vinyl stuff in some cases). But now there’s a new alternative: singles on USB memory sticks[3]. For the (expensive) price of a normal single – just under £4 in most shops, you get the single, complete with video on a small memory key thingy. Now that would be a bit pointless if it was just that. But apparently it’s a 512MB device, and the tracks will not be copy protected, so you’ll be able to take them off the stick and use it in the normal way.

While USB memory has been getting cheaper and capacities have been growing, £4 for 512MB is a good deal. And hey, you get some music with that.

Details from BBC News.

[1] That’s the trouble with Napster – I end up downloading so much stuff that I don’t actually get to listen to all of it.
[2] OK, I’ll play it now. That’s the good thing about Napster. While I’m typing, I can pick whatever music I want to listen to without actually having to wander over to the shelves and find the CD.
[3] Or whatever you want to call them. “Thumb drives” seems a popular term in some places

Tyneside Cinema crossing the river

Earlier this month, I mentioned that the Tyneside Cinema was going ahead with its ambitious plan to not only restore the premises to their original glory, but also to expand. Now things are beginning to happen. The cinema is to close next month and will re-open in its new (or is that old?) form some time in 2008. In the meantime, they are shifting operations south of the river to Gateshead Town Hall. The Town Hall stopped being the centre of local administration when the Civic Centre opened around twenty years ago, and has had a variety of uses since – private offices, the temporary HQ for the Sage Gateshead before the glorious curvy thing was finished, and probably some other things too. But now the actual hall inside the building is being restored. Wall panels and false floors have been removed, revealing a respectable size hall complete with stage.

Gateshead Town Hall

Gateshead Town Hall

This looks like good news all round. The cinema continues to operate during the building works, the contractors can just get on with the job without having to work around people still trying to work there, and Gateshead gets a new venue, which will, I hope, be used for other purposes after the cinema goes home in a couple of years.

Details from BBC News.