Monday, 29 May 2006

The Da Vinci Code

I saw the Da Vinci Code yesterday. Having read the book before, I was keen to see how it compared. They had to cut quite a few bits from the book to make it fit, in particular some tense scenes that make the book a gripping tale, so it occasionally lacks pace. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the ending: although it is very close to the book's ending, which I had found very lame, they made it much stronger, meaning that I didn't get that feeling of disappointment I had had when closing the book.

New Ceiling

The flat above mine has had several water leaks over the past few years, most of the water ending up in my flat through the ceiling, to the point that part of it ended up falling down in a couple of places. It took them a long time to find the source of all the leaks and get them all sorted. They finally did and the owner above recently called his insurance to have repairs in my flat done. The builders came today and did a great job: I now have a new ceiling that doesn't look like it's going to fall on my head any minute. They need to come back next week, once the plaster is dry, to paint over it. Then it will be like new! Hurray!

Money For Nothing

Last week, I got a letter from the managing agent for my flat. For people who don't leave in England, when you buy a flat here, it can be as a freehold or a leasehold. If it is a freehold, or share of one, you own the property outright. If it is a leasehold, you own a time limited lease for the land on which your property is built. You can extend this lease by paying some money to the freeholder. The freeholder is responsible for maintaining outside and shared parts of the building while you are responsible for maintaining your own property, which is why it is quite common for apartments in a block of flats. When work is carried out by the freeholder, it needs to be agreed by all the leaseholders and each one then pays a part of the fees accordingly. Quite often, the freeholder goes through a managing agency that does this work for them. In my case, my flat is a leasehold in a Victorian conversion that comprises three flats. For whatever work that is carried out on the main property by the managing agent, I am supposed to more or less pay a third.

As I said, I received a letter from my managing agent last week. I had previously sent them a couple of letters asking them to detail what work they had done so far because I thought my management fees were high considering they haven't done any work on the property since I moved in 4 years ago, although there is quite a lot to do. It was therefore with considerable surprise that I opened the letter to find it was a statement of my accounts saying that I owed them £6,000 and a bit for works that were alledgedly carried out on the 19th of March of this year. Very conveniently, the 19th or March happens to be when I was in Atlanta for work. I know that during that period they did ad-hoc repairs to the banister on the outside stairs and added a wooden door to the passage that leads to the back of the property. That must have cost them a few hundred pounds at most. I phoned the owner of the flat above mine. He has received the same letter, asking for a similar amount of money. I suppose the owner of the flat below has as well. Which means that between the three of us, we are being charged £18,000 for works that:

  • we haven't had the opportunity to approve,
  • we cannot see,
  • don't address the main problems with the property,
  • and were carried out in just one day.

I have therefore sent a nice letter to the managing agency asking for explanations and saying that I wouldn't pay anything until I was happy that the bill was justified. Now if anybody knows of a job where you can earn £18,000 in a day doing something that doesn't leave any record, please feel free to contact me, I'd love to apply.

Tuesday, 23 May 2006


What happens when SimpleBits Dan recommends a good wine to Hivelogic Dan? The two Dans come up with a great website: cork'd. It's brand new and it enables you to keep track of wines you've tasted, the ones you have in your cellar or the ones that have been recommended to you. You can even print a shopping list so that you don't forget anything when you go to the wine shop. And like all the best things in life, it's free.

Sunday, 7 May 2006


I always wondered why 419 scams were called that. I found the answer in this Wikipedia article, namely: after the relevant section of the Nigerian Criminal Code that it violates. The article is a very interesting read.

Monday, 1 May 2006

Crop It


The typical trap for a photographer who is in a place where there are a lot of interesting things to capture is to want to capture everything in one go. Sometimes it can work but often it just produces a cluttered picture with no central subject. There is also the danger that the exposition will be correct for only part of the picture.

Reducing the field of vision and capturing only part of a scene, focusing on a single subject can make a much stronger shot. It can also transport the viewer to a completely different place by removing a lot of the context. For instance, if I were to ask where was this picture taken, what would be your first guess?


It's time England won the World Cup. I can't be the only one who is getting bored of seeing the same old videos of the 1966 World Cup re-appear all over the place every 4 years. Otherwise, football fans who actually saw England win a World Cup will soon become like World War I veterans: you'll need special ceremonies to remember that some are still alive.