The Progster

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Magenta Home Release Annnounced

The announcement was made today regarding the forthcoming release from Magenta 'Home'. The great news is that after making the decision to cut what was originally to be a double concept album down to a single (albeit a long 79 minute) CD, there will now be a special edition with a second 40 minute CD titled 'New York Suite' following the story of the main characters time in Manhattan.

Almost 30 minutes of samples from the two CDs have been made availbale, including 2 full tracks. This will surely raise the anticipation level even more for this long awaited release.

The samples and pre-ordering information is available at the F2 Music Site

Friday, April 28, 2006

Pizza (not so) Express

Well, after a night out at Pizza (not so) Express, I learned a new lesson in ordering. I know 40+ people waiting for Pizza is asking for trouble, but with only 2 girls making pizza and 40+ engineers sitting around with no lightbulbs between us, we started working out how long it was going to take and we were pretty close... a LONG time. It was almost an hour between the first and last pizza being served.

So next time I go to something like this and they ask me what I'd like to order, I'll say "Whatever you are cooking first"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ooh Luverly

The credit cards getting nervous again, especially after the bar bill on that last cruise, ouch. I am wondering if my musical productivity would be increased any by replacing much of my ageing sound modules with a decent workstation. The newest things in my rack are the Novation A-Station which hardly ever gets switched on, and the Yamaha EX5-R which still has some great sounds. The D50 just seems to gather dust too and I spend more time playing piano than anything else. Anyway I heard the demo of the latest Yamaha Motif series, and the sounds are superb. Now don't get me wrong, I've been round the block enough times to know that you can write a classic on a beaten up old acoustic that is missing two string if you have the talent and dedication, but those sounds just sound so inspiring . . . . (I just know I'm kidding myself here)

Check them out here especially MR ES. The acoustic guitar even has string squeaks! Or the strings and general orchestra sounds on Folk Theme.

Anyway time to head back to Singapore again for a couple of weeks and a cooling off period. Watch this space . .

Monday, April 24, 2006

G8 World Leaders Cost Me 75 quid!

The culprits (I think Putin was taking the photo)

Damn the G8! After untold chaos around the area we live in last year, we only just found that this year it is to be held in Putin's home town of St. Petersburg. No problem there I hear you cry, but for the fact that we had booked a cruise to the Baltic capitals about 6 months ago that spends 2 days in St. Petersburg right bang in the weekend of the summit!

Talk of possible port closures, which could mean missing out St. Petersburg altogether, or at best several of the buildings of interest have already been closed for meetings and private viewings by the wives of the leaders would mean missing Peterhof and the Hermitage at least.

After missing out on Stika (the old Russian capital of Alaska) on our cruise last year, we decided rather than take any chances, we moved to the later cruise, leaving later in July. The cruise line still had no idea at all about how they would deal with it. 75 quid change fee for peace of mind. Maybe I should ask them for a tenner each and keep the change.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Toot Tone, the answer to Trumpet Trousers

Someone passed me this yesterday, and we all know someone who could use one of these.

I Think My PC Hates Me

I am convinced that my PC has a mind of it's own, and that it has decided it hates me. I have built 4 or 5 PCs so far, and this is the first one that seems to bear a grudge for some reason.
First it started to refuse to shutdown, instead choosing to start-up again each time, much like a dog who one returning for a nice long walk, brings the lead to your feet as soon as you sit down.
Then it started to show random memory problems causing it to shut down, maybe to make up for the fact that it refuses to shutdown when asked.
Then it seemed to forget what speed settings the processor should be set to, and either started up with a 1GHz speed (about a third of the actual speed), or say it couldn't detect a processor which is kind of spooky since what was then displaying the message?
Now it has taken to randomly stop during boot looking for a hard drive.

Time to get the credit card out again and preform some open box surgery.
OK now I've typed this, lets see if the stupid thing starts to behave itself!

Has it been that long?

Wow I must have been having fun, it's been over 2 weeks since my last post as we headed off on our Easter cruise of the Caribbean. I won't bore/sicken you with all the details, just a few hi/lo lights.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the NCL Norwegian Dawn out of New York 6th-16th April
Best Bits
Sailing past the statue of Liberty was always something we wanted to do, and it's kind of humbling in a way to see Ellis island where so many Europeans stepped foot on US soil for the first time in search of a new life after their less than luxurious Atlantic crossings.
10 days of relaxation, great food and drink and generally sunshine. The 'freestyle' cruising concept of NCL suits us very well as a family. None of this fixed meal times, and fixed dinning companions. I coudn't imagine finding on your first day at sea that you are about to spend the rest of your cruise eating with some obnoxious, boring, opinionated, prog loving guy from Scotland :OP
Honestly, the flexibility of 10 resturaunts and 11 bars allows you a huge amount of choice and flexibility. Our 10 year old son loved the Teppanyaki room where two chefs entertained you with flashing knives and juggling tricks as they prepared your food. He loves seafood, so the prawns, scallops and monkfish went down a treat with him.

St Martin, half Dutch, half French was the best port we stopped at. How confused is that, the laid back attitude of the Dutch Vs the rules and stubborness of the French, and the differences in the two parts of the Island highlighted just those traits. No speed limits, no tax and gambling on one side Vs speed limits, taxes and lots of rules on the other. The planes come in to land right over the beach too! They make an excellent rum and flavour it with fruits. One is with Guavaberries, the only place you can get them, and it makes a wonderful pink frozen Guavaberry Collada. Well worth carrying the 3 bottles all the back home to Dunfermline. the bottle of Passion Fruit rum smuggled back to our stateroom didn't last too long either, especially when we found that it went great with the Waitroses fiery Ginger Beer we found in a small shop in Tortola in the BVI run by a woman from England. They also had haggis in the fridge and Irn Bru, can you believe that? The Jimmy Buffet shop "Last Mango in Paradise" on the island was a family favourite too. Lots of parrots and margarittas on them, with the wonderful slogans like "A bad day on Vacation always beats a good day in the office" and "My body may be at work, but my mind is on vacation". I hadn't seen these since I was in Key West a long time ago.

Virgin Gorda, with the water rounded rocks, while roasting the flesh off of us was really nice.
Swiming in the Bahamas off of NCLs private island, though there were way too many people there to enjoy the beach, evey inch was covered in oil soaked bodies.
Watching the lightning storm off the coast of the Carolinas.
The wonderful Fillet Minion with Foie Gras and truffled veal jus in the Le Bistro resturaunt on board with originals from Monet, Renoir, and Matiste on the walls. $1.5 million the waitress said one was worth! No wonder it had 8 padlocks on the cover. Oh and not forgetting the fruit and chocolate fondue afterwards.
Our son having a 'virgin' frozen lime margarita in a glass just like Mum and Dad.
And of course all three of us getting upgraded to business class both ways between London and New York. Some payback for all those business miles each year and the the United Airlines gold card.

The could have been better bits
The slightly in need or repair boat that tool us from from Torolla to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands where I had about 6 mozzie bites on my feet within a few minutes of boarding.
The overcrowding on the private island in the Bahamas, and the hammock hoggers, you know who you are! I've never seen so many towels relax on hammocks in my life.
The cruise could have been a bit longer, by about 15 years!
The so called New York comedian on board, whose jokes only seemed to make the cellphone lady behind us laugh (which was in-between calls, some of them wrong numbers - I guess she didn't know she was on a special ship only network that would cross charge $4.99 per minute to her bill, even for incomming calls - LOL)
The bottle of 'champagne' in our room for sailaway as part of the anniversary package that turned out to be 7% sweet Asti, yeuch. But it was drank anyway.
The all you can eat sushi lunch on sea days was nice, but we learned a few lessons. Never arrive late and sit at the end of the conveyor belt furthest from the chefs, especially when there are a few very large guys 'up stream'. All the good stuff was being stuffed whole into some large gobs, sometimes two handed! The nice waitress did bring some salmon and tuna sushi directly to our end after a while though, when the various 'rolls' that made it to our end were starting to get a bit boring. It became a bit of a game for the ones at our end, to guess if the salmon or tuna will make it to this end. Oh, it's past one big guy, oh and the next, but ahh the third guy nabbed it. Maybe if this was the kind of games in the casino I would have spent more time there.
The bar prices which seemed to have gone up by about 50% since last year when we went to Alaska. Wine coming in around $36-$46 a bottle, but we were on vacation, so we dully drank about a bottle per meal. Interspersed with other bar drinks and cocktails. I think we need a small lottery win to pay the bar bill :O(

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Sailing Away . . .

Well, after braving the snow, then the high winds at the top of the Empire State building in New York City yesterday, we are now ready to join our cruise on the Norwegian Dawn to the Eastern Caribbean. Too much food, drink, Margaritta clincs, Martini clinics, sun, sea, blah blah (sick yet?). Party on !

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Absolutely Wicked !

After over 5 months since paying for the tickets, we went to see Wicked last night at the Gershwin theatre, and it was even better than expected. The stage set is amazing, the music tremendous and the singing excellent. This will open in London in September, and I expect it to every bit as popular as it has been on Broadway, breaking lots of records for ticket sales.