Daily Archives: Sunday, 30th Mar 2008

Doctor Who – The Complete Third Series DVD

Yes, I’m really late with this one, but at least I’m getting it in before the next series starts. I’ve already muttered at some length about the individual episodes, so this is more about the extras and the presentation than the main content.

There are six discs packed in two folders which fit into a tidy slipcase – no big boxes this time, but I believe there were several versions of the slipcase. Mine has a lenticular picture of John Simm as the Master, which is quite nice. Apart from some cool pictures on the folders and the discs, there’s a fairly basic booklet listing the contents.

In addition to the thirteen episodes of the main series, there’s the Christmas Special The Runaway Bride,which stands up well to repeated viewing, and is of course much better in DVD quality and surround sound. It was good to see Catherine Tate again before she joins the Doctor next week. Seeing how her character developed as the show went on suggests that she’s going to be interesting.

Sharing the first disc with that is the special edition of Doctor Who Confidential about the Children in Need concert held at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre. Good stuff, with lots of Murray Gold’s music, David Tennant presenting the show in his native Scottish accent (and being quite wonderful at it), and guest appearances from assorted monsters, including a lovely Dalek voiced by a madly ad-libbing Nick Briggs.

Extras on the first disk include a tour of the studio presented by Freema Agyeman, out-takes and deleted scenes, plus some trailers. Scattered over four of the discs are David Tenant’s video diaries. These are great. You get a real feeling of just how much David is enjoying the role, and what people go through to make the show (The early starts!! The rain!!! The cold!!!).

And of course, every episode has a commentary. These are a mixed bag – some seem to be quite unfocussed chats that hardly notice what’s happening on screen, which seems a bit pointless. But the ones with Russell T Davies and David Tennant are quite lovely. And that quiet, shy and retiring chap John Barrowman was persuaded to make a rare public appearance[1] and joins David and Freema for the final episode commentary, which is, not to put too fine a point on it, a hoot.

Watching all the episodes again in quite rapid succession has reminded me of just how bloody good David Tennant is as the Doctor. They way he can switch from the apparently inane babbling to moral outrage in the blink of an eye is a joy to behold, and he really gets across the feeling of his immense power. Or to put it another way

He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and he can see the turn of the Universe and – he’s wonderful.

And what a joy it was to see Sir[2] Derek Jacobi as Professor Yana – a quite wonderful performance from one of our finest actors, who was delighted to be there. He’s actually said that it’s been an ambition to be in Doctor who since the 60s.

Freema was quite wonderful as Martha – we’ve seen her since in Torchwood[3], and she’ll be back for several episodes this year. I hope we’ll see a lot more of her in future.

John Barrowman brought a different angle to Captain Jack, and John Simm did some of the best scenery-eating Master madness ever seen. It’s all quite excellent stuff, and well worth having on DVD.

Wrapping up the set is a disc of cut-down versions of the full series of Doctor Who Confidential – only about ten minutes each, but they do contain some good interviews and background information. Not essential, but nice to have.

[1] Standard John Barrowman gag #1
[2] But don’t call him “Sir”, he doesn’t like it, apparently
[3] You may have noticed that I haven’t been babbling about Torchwood this year. Stay tuned for that.

High-speed Googleage

OK, I suppose I knew that Google’s index is updated constantly and with remarkable speed, but I was quite alarmed by its speed today. I posted my bit about the PTI Europe credit card oddness at around 17:50 today. A couple of hours later, I did the same Google search again. And I was quite surprised to find my post at the bottom of the first page of results. It’s currently showing as the tenth hit, but as there are some multiple hits from forums, it’s actually the seventh unique hit, which is quite good for something I knocked out a few hours ago.

Am I showing signs of age if I reminisce about the time when it took months to get stuff in search engine lisitngs? Or certainly weeks. None of this instant updating stuff! Kids today, etc… [1]

[1] Hi Alex! :wave:

Big Banking Boo-boo

Like most people, I keep a reasonably close eye on my bank and card transactions. My current account offers the quite useful facility to download transactions directly into Microsoft Money[1], so I generally know what’s going on.

So when I saw a transaction labelled PTI Europe Region show up, I had a brief moment of concern. It was the right amount and date to match a payment I was expecting, so I figured it was either a name change or some kind of intermediate payment service or some such.

A few days later, I checked a credit card statement, and saw more transactions for PTI Europe. Only these had “Amazon” in the “location” field, and they all matched purchases I’d made. So I figured it was all some new payment company that various companies were using for their payment processing.

Then a few days later, all those payments were credited back to me. Now that did strike me as odd. What with one thing and another, I didn’t get round to querying the oddness, but this afternoon I was checking a different account, and saw three interesting transactions:

  1. A payment of an amount I was expecting (eMusic, as it happens), but listed as PTI Europe Region
  2. A credit of the same amount
  3. The correct transaction

Now that did seem strange. Three separate companies, accounts with two banks all having the same issue. So, I gooooogled “PTI Europe Region” and found that the most prominent hits were loads of forums full of people weeping, wailing and indeed gnashing their teeth over precisely the same issue.

It would appear to have been a processing boo-boo somewhere. We may or may not find out exactly where in due course, once the dust has settled and appropriate heads have rolled. It seems some people were, quite understandably, alarmed by apparent unauthorised transactions and had their cards cancelled.

At least some of the banks affected were a little lacking in information, and gave their customers advice that was not entirely accurate. People were told that PTI was a new name for AOL, for instance. That seems to have been caused by more complaints coming from AOL customers than anyone else, so it’s an understandable error.

The companies who collected payments had no idea what was going on either – apparently at least one Amazon customer was told that PTI was an internal name used for processing. That one sounds like a wild guess to me…

Apparently the actual PTI Europe is a company making security systems. Their website (last updated in 2004) has probably never been busier. The only thing that seems even remotely certain about this quite substantial boo-boo is that PTI didn’t have anything to do with it. So I’m sure they’d be very happy if people stopped phoning them. Assuming they’re still there….

[1] One of the remarkably few things I still use under Windows XP…

Weight Report – 30 March 2008

Humph. No change since yesterday, which either means I’ve turned into a bloat monster, or my weighing scale is stuck.[1] Or it’s been confused by the clocks going forward. Yes, that’s it!! My weight is an hour behind, or something.

I think it’s a cunning plot to make tomorrow’s expected end of month round-up look bad. Yes, that’ll be it!

[1] I’m sure fancy digital thingies can do that. :yes: