Daily Archives: Sunday, 18th Mar 2007

Slightly later than I thought

I previously stated that series three of Doctor Who would start next Saturday. It seems that I was misinformed by Doctor Who Magazine, who were probably misinformed by someone else.

According to all the sources I can find, the start date will actually be:

Saturday 31 March

Start time is expected to be the usual 7pm.

We have to wait a whole extra week??? :wah: :wah: :wah:

Take that, Sky!

With no sign of any resolution[1] to the customer-unfriendly Virgin-Sky argument, the saga rumbles on. Not surprisingly, companies who’ve paid for advertising are a bit miffed that their messages are being ignored seen by rather fewer people than they expected, and they are reported to be asking for some money back.

In other good news reported in the same BBC article, it seems that Sky’s plans to remove their channels from the Freeview terrestrial digital TV package and replace them with some subscription channels may not go quite the way they planned. Oh good. :lol:

[1] Other than both parties resolving to be as idiotic and self-serving as possible, that is

Crumpler Daily XXL

When I bought my Canon 30D last year, I got a little Crumpler bag for it. It wasn’t a bad bag, but it’s a wee bit too small to be really useful, as it has room for the camera with a lens fitted and not a lot else. Not bad if I want to go out with one lens and want to protect the camera, but I’ve only used it a couple of times.

I also have a Lowepro backpack, which is a bit more useful, as it has a padded lower section with room for the camera with a lens fitted, one or two more lenses and a few bits and pieces. It has a separate top section, which can hold a few things – a sandwich, a book or magazine or two, but not much else. Not bad for taking your camera somewhere, but not really much use if you want to be able to get your camera out of the bag quickly, being a backpack. And I don’t really like backpacks when walking around – too easy to accidentally bump into people.

So, I decided I needed a more suitable bag, and after much looking and thinking, I settled on another Crumpler bag – their rather versatile Daily. This has a padded sleeve for a laptop, a section with moveable dividers for camera kit and more compartments and pockets for bits and pieces than most people are likely to fill. It’s available in a range of sizes to accommodate various amounts of kit, and after a good look in the shop, I eventually went with the biggest one, variously referred to as XXL or Sevenfifty. And what a big bag it is:

Big bag

Big bag

It’s heavily padded, and made of very tough nylon, which isn’t going to rip, tear or indeed get damaged in a hurry. The strap is wide, and looks like it’s made out of the same kind of webbing as seat belts. The padded sleeve makes it quite comfortable to wear, and slides freely so that it’s always on your shoulder, however you turn the bag. It’s also reversible, so you can make sure the logo is the right way up, whichever shoulder you put it on. There’s also a second strap supplied, which they call a “third leg”. It’s only useful if you’re wearing the bag much higher on your back than I do, and makes it more stable in that position – probably good for cyclists. Not being a cyclist, I removed the extra strap, as it kept getting in my way. Nice to have options, though.

Once it’s opened up, you can see just how much room is available. The laptop sleeve is nicely padded, and in the case of my big bag, can hold even a 17″ widescreen beast. In front of that you’ll find the photo pouch, a very padded section with lots of dividers and flaps which firmly attach with Velcro, and can be repositioned or removed, depending on what you’re carrying. It easily swallows my Canon 30D with a lens fitted, and with my other two lenses in other sections, there’s still tons of room for more toys that I’ll probably add in the future.

Opened up

Opened up

Even that quite large Sigma zoom vanishes into the big compartment. Next to the lenses is a handy little accessory pouch which slides out. Unless you’re carrying a huge amount of kit, there’s room above all this for other bits and pieces – books, odd bits of shopping, whatever.

Protection

Protection

At the front of the bag, above the nice bright reflective strip, is a large zippered compartment with pockets for memory cards, batteries, guidebooks, manuals, maps or indeed anything else you might want to shove in there.

Front pockets

Front pockets

But there’s more. Inside the flap is another compartment hiding behind a zip. Open that, and there’s room for all your laptop’s bits and pieces – cables, a power adapter, and anything else you can think of. Useful. I leave my work laptop’s bits in there permanently, so if I need to take the laptop somewhere, I’m already packed.

Room for cables

Room for cables

Another nice feature is this little hole. It allows you to put your MP3 player or some such device in the front compartment and feed the headphones out of the bag. It’s covered by the top flap, so your equipment is still nicely protected. To the left of that is one of the chunky handles – if you just want to grab your bag off a luggage rack on a train or some such vehicle, this is ideal. Strong enough to carry the bag and wide enough not to slice your fingers off.

Headphone hole

Headphone hole

Now all of that would make this my ideal camera and laptop bag. But it’s got another trick up its metaphorical sleeve. The padded photo section can be removed.

Removable

Removable

This involves disconnecting some Velcro and a bit of jiggling, but it’s not too fiddly, and probably gets easier with practice. Once you’ve removed the photo section, all its flaps close up to seal it into a bag which has a small carrying loop. You’re probably not going to want to carry it around like that, but it does mean that your camera kit is nicely self-contained when you’re not carrying it in the main bag.

Photo Pouch

Photo Pouch

And once it’s removed, you’ve got a nice large bag, ideal for short trips. Short trips without your main camera gear, that is. I like this – it means that when I go to London or Leeds on business, I can get away with carrying one bag rather than two, which makes life much easier. And talking of trips, although it is a large bag, it does easily fit onto the overhead racks on trains, which makes it easier to carry around than the last laptop backpack I bought.

Lots of space

Lots of space

OK, this is not by any means a cheap bag. Full price is around £130, with discounted prices on the net from various people. But it’s a good, practical, hard-wearing bag that carries everything I need to carry with ease. Since I’ve had it, my camera has gone to work with me nearly every day, which is great for when I get the photographic impulse at lunchtime, or when the weather unexpectedly improves and it’s suddenly perfect picture time. If you’re not a large person, you’d probably be better off with one of the smaller bags in the range – the next one down (XL or Sixfifty) holds lots of stuff and might be more appropriate for a lot of people.

I actually bought the bag nearly two months ago, so I have given myself time to get used to it before writing about it. I’m still sure I bought the right bag for me.

Life on Mars – A little bit of politics…

It would make my life so much easier if they’d have episode titles. Anyway, the latest episode of the really quite remarkable lost in time police show was as intriguing as ever.

When a woman is found murdered with a red geranium in her hand, Gene has a rare moment of doubt. Five years earlier, he caught a killer who placed a similar flower in the hand of each of his victims. Could he have got the wrong man?

After a bit of investigation, Sam comes to believe that a local businessman is involved. He and Annie go undercover, using the names Tony and Cherie Blair (as you would, of course…) and manage to get invited to one of his dubious “wife-swapping” parties[1], which naturally gets crashed by Gene, who’s introduced as their friend Gordon Brown…

All the usual fun and games follow, and in the traditional manner, the killer turns out not to be who everyone expected. Sam meets his favourite aunt, though she unaccountably fails to recognise him :eek: And he’s still getting messages through the phone and the TV.

Next week, it seems things are going to get a lot more interesting for Sam…

Best line of the week was this little interchange between Sam and Annie

I’m bloody sick of 1973

Never mind, it’ll be 1974 soon

Still good fun, though this episode wasn’t quite as mind-boggling as some.

[1] Car keys in a bowl, that kind of thing…

Primeval – Episode 6

And so we come to the final episode of the first series of Primeval. Yes, I did say “first series”, as I’m happy to say that a second one has been commissioned, and a good thing too, as we shall see…

The fun starts when the strange sparkly thing anomaly[1] in the Forest of Dean that we saw in Episode 1 re-opens, and something comes out. Something that leaves no traces other than a bit of a hole in a security fence.

Later, a lion disappears from Abby’s zoo. Connor suggests that it might have

Run away to join the circus

but the amusement is short lived when some blood found at the scene is found to be mostly from the lion, but also from some kind of bat with very unusual DNA.

Meanwhile, Cutter’s been getting closer to Claudia, who’s been having some disturbing dreams, mostly involving Gogonopsids in the office.

Helen Cutter shows up again, and tells the team what’s going on. It seems that an anomaly from some point in the future opened back in the Permian period, and a creature – some kind of rapid-moving all teeth and claws intelligent predator came through then followed Helen from the Permian to the present.

It’s decided that the creature is too dangerous to study, and that it must be killed. So off everyone trots to the woods, where the predator bounces around in the trees and nibbles on a few of the security guys. Eventually working out that it might be using sonar (hey! that’s where the bat DNA comes in!), Connor goes back to the car to collect an oscilloscope which will let our heroes pick up its beeps. And yes, he narrowly avoids being killed. Once the creature has run off again, Cutter tells Connor he can go home, but Connor declines, saying

Han Solo – he wouldn’t have given up before the job’s done

Cutter replies

I always thought of you as more R2-D2 myself..

Anyway, the creature is tracked to its lair, where the team find lots of little baby predators. How nice! When “mummy” comes looking for the babies, Cutter runs off with one of them to draw the creature away. In a conveniently located greenhouse, he confuses the predator’s sonar by shooting lots of glass before killing it.

For reasons that made perfect sense at the time, Cutter persuades the government that it would be a good idea to take the baby predators back through the anomaly to the Permian, and to use their supposed homing instinct to find the anomaly leading to the future.

Cutter and Helen go through with Tom Ryan and the rest of the special forces guys. Moments after they leave, Connor gets a phone call with some disturbing news. The predator that Cutter killed was male. So where did the babies come from? Could there be another one about? Well, of course there could, and it dashes through the anomaly.

In the Permian, Helen persuades Nick to take a souvenir picture. As he takes it, he realises something. The camera he is holding is the one found with the remnants of a camp and a human skeleton back in the first episode. They’re further back in time and clearly in deep trouble. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realise this in time to avoid the predator, which is a bit annoyed about having its babies kidnapped. It mangles the special forces guys quite thoroughly, leaving Ryan badly injured and the rest dead. Fortunately for Cutter and Helen, a Gogonopsid arrives and has a slight disagreement with the predator, which results in a slightly dented Gorgonopsid, a dead predator, and some eaten baby predators. What we see and that Cutter and Helen don’t, is that two of the babies have escaped…

Back in the present, Cutter and Helen give everyone the bad news. Helen, having failed to persuade Cutter to join her in going to the future, turns her attention to Stephen, revealing that they’d had an affair years before. Stephen declines and Helen goes back through the anomaly. And it’s only then that Cutter realises that something’s wrong. He asks where Claudia is. Nobody has ever heard of her. She doesn’t exist. Cutter realises that something has fiddled around with time – couldn’t be those little baby predators lost in the Permian, could it? As he comes to this realisation, the anomaly seems to expand around him, and all he has time to say is

Oh my God

before the credits roll, and we’re left in suspense. Yup, a series end with a cliffhanger. :rant: Mutter.

All in all, a nicely done series. Not particularly original, not spectacularly brilliant, but good enough to keep me watching. If you missed it, the whole thing is out on DVD tomorrow. And it’ll probably be repeated on one of ITV’s digital channels a few times if you don’t want to buy or rent the DVD. Good fun, nice monsters, moderately appealing characters.

[1] OK, that’s the last time I’ll do that. Probably :cheesy: