Feb 23 2008

118 Video

Category: In The Media,VideosChrisM @ 2:29 am

To my UK readers, this has nothing to do with pretend marathon runners with dodgy 70s moustaches…
I was watching one of the Swiss satellite TV channels, when a strange advert came on. It was a music video, with some a very distracting women, and some firefighters. All singing un un huit. Back in Britain, numbers starting 118 are the replacements for our old BT directory enquiry service; as it turns out, there was a connection.
Anyway, more on that later, for now, check this out…

As it turns out, since France followed the European trends to have 118 (or at least 118 xxx) as the directory enquiries number, the Swiss Fire Service has been receiving a lot of calls for people wanting phone numbers, rather than report a fire. So they made a video 🙂

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Nov 29 2007

France Gets Innovative

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,In The MediaChrisM @ 2:26 am

Whilst I am against the punishing of Peer To Peer users in general, it is interesting to see that France has tried a (slightly) different route in persuading people to stay legal when it comes to music, movies, games and applications. Check out the BBC’s article on it here. Monsieur Sarkozy has announced a scheme where ‘casual’ pirates will receive warnings, and eventually have their internet access removed if they continue to download copyrighted materials. The manner in which they catch these people is a little worrying though, making the ISP’s role a lot more pro-active, rather than simply serving them with requests to trace IP address and date/time combinations to customers, the companies will be expected to actively monitor what people are doing, and report the customers.
No financial or prison sentences is a move in the right direction, but the method of getting there is what worries me greatly. If ISPs accept this new policing role, who knows where it will end. Although different companies definitely have differing policies on this sort of matter, I can’t help wondering if it is the beginning of a slippery slope into an oppressive future.

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Aug 04 2007

Nur Otan Event In The Park

Category: Kazakhstan,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 11:52 am

Woke up this morning, and when we looked out the window, we saw something going on, over at the entrance to Astana park.
There were a lot of old Kazakh buses, so it looks like some companies bussed in their workers for some reason.

NurOtan Astana Park 4th August 2007

Then we saw a couple of flags flying and a guy started speaking over a PA system. People in white shirts started milling around, and then a cycling team turned up. I don’t know if it was the Astana team that recently made an early exit from the Tour de France, as I recently blogged on, over at Kazakh Cyclist Shames Astana Tour de France Team Out Of Competition. Anyway, it appears that the political party organized an event for people to see the cycling team, and the event was well attended.

Cycling Team NurOtan Astana Park 4th August 2007

Around 30 minutes later, everyone had gone from the park, and there were no more flags being waved.

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Jul 25 2007

1K Posts At ChrisMerriman.com

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 3:20 am

On a slightly more positive note than the Kazakh cyclist from the Tour de France team, this is my 1000th post on this blog. I know, it it actually numbered 1304, but I guess there are 304 posts that never made it to being published for one reason or another.
The following screenshot was taken just before publishing this one thousandth post, I’ve removed the two e-mail addresses that were visible.

999 posts at ChrisMerriman.com

A little while ago was the one blog’s year anniversary, so it looks like I am averaging around 2.6 posts per day. As my alexa rank has stabilized just over the 300,000 mark, it would appear I am not losing readers either, so thank you to anyone and everyone who checks in here 🙂

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Jul 25 2007

Kazakh Cyclist Shames Astana Tour de France Team Out Of Competition

Category: In The Media,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 12:05 am

Kazakh cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov has tested positive for blood doping (the transfusion of another person’s oxygen carrying red blood cells) in the Tour de France. The entire Astana team has now withdrawn from the competition. He has of course requested for a second sample to be tested, but it is incredibly unusual for a second sample to be clear…
At the time of writing this post, his website ( www.alexander-vinokourov.com ) was working, however the news page was unavailable. As far as I can tell, there is a Dutch news snippet regarding the doping allegations on the front page.
Now the entire site is down. My guess is that as it is currently a few minutes past the hour, many news programs will have mentioned his name, so a lot of people will have been visiting his site; perhaps the server could not take the strain?

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Jun 21 2007

Vodka Not Equal To Champagne

Category: Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 7:59 pm

At least in terms of exclusiveness, according to MEPs (Members of the European Parliament to my American readers). They have judged that spirits made from different ingredients can still be called vodka.
Why the champagne reference? Well here in Kazakhstan, the situation is the same as it was a while ago in Europe – pretty much any fizzy wine can call itself Champagne. However, in Europe at least, the grapes have to come from a certain region, and strict rules apply to the production process before a wine is allowed the pretige of having champagne on the label.

MEPs from the Nordic and Baltic states had asked for the legal definition of vodka to be tightened even further than originally proposed, to only include spirits made from potatoes or grain. The manufacturers will need to note on the label what the drink is made from, if not spuds or wheat, but there will be no minimum font height/percentage.
Vodka producers in Western Europe (Britain, Germany and France mainly) will be very happy that spirits made from grapes, citrus fruits and sugar beets can still be called vodka.

Russia is of course the world’s largest producer of vodka, but if the Nordic definition had been applied, Britain would have been kicked out of second place.

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Jun 16 2007

Cornwall Nationalists

Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,PersonalChrisM @ 12:53 am

Militants in Cornwall (where my brother attends university) have issued a statement warning two celebrity chefs that their businesses are at risk.

There is history of rebellion in Cornwall, reaching back centuries. In some areas, there also strong ties to the Brittany area of France. Around 1500, a protest march was taken to London by Cornishmen unhappy at the extra taxes King Henry VII was imposing, in an attempt to finance the struggle in Scotland. (Any fans of the movie Braveheart might want to actually check what really happened sometime.) Anyway, needless to say Henry was having none of it, and sent his troops out to defeat the Cornish.
The rebellion was put down, and all the leaders executed. Why all this explanation? Because one of the executed was Michael An Gof, and the An Gof group are believed to have combined with the Cornish Liberation Army to form the Cornish National Liberation Army. This group has threatened both Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver’s businesses, complaining that the ‘newcomers’ are responsible for a surge in house prices in the locality, causing true locals to not be able to afford houses in areas that they have lived in for generations.
A couple of apparent flaws in their logic though – 1) Stein has lived in the area, on and off, for a long time, and both he and Jamie Oliver bring a lot of business to agricultural and dairy farmers in the area, not to mention fishermen. Both chefs are proud of the produce they use being locally reared/harvested/caught 2) Jamie Oliver’s business was setup to help dis advantaged youths in the area, with the idea of training them up to be professional chefs themselves.

Neither people really seem to be fairly targeted, perhaps it is simply because they are high profile, and so will bring publicity to the Cornish Independence cause? Either way, I’m hoping the restaurant Nick is currently working in is safe from such threats…

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Jun 15 2007

Whatever Happened To…

Category: Personal,VideosChrisM @ 1:45 am

the characters from Street Fighter II? OK, I have to be honest, and admit I hadn’t really thought about the SNES (I think it was called a Famicom in America?) game for almost a decade now, but I came across “Street Fighters: The Later Years” over at a collegehumour site…

and the memories came flooding back. Mainly of two weeks wasted in an Annecy, France flat, on a foreign exchange program, doing nothing other than playing games, because Fabrice had decided to not entertain his guest.
ahem, not that I’m bitter or anything 😉

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Apr 12 2007

John Needs A Poke

Category: Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 10:02 am

It has been almost 3 months since John has posted a new entry at his blog.
It could be because he recently acquired a new car.
OK, I say a car, but to the average UK resident, its a behemoth. Whilst my American readers may well look at it and think, OK it is a motorhome, so what… in Britain (more specifically, Wales, with its narrow twisty country lanes) this vehicle is massive.
John’s New Motor
I’ve been reliably informed (HI MUM :>) that they now have a little Smart car as well, to tow behind the motorhome.
They are both in France right now I think, unless they’ve already returned, so I’m sure it won’t be too long before we get to read more about their trip on his blog.

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Aug 18 2006

A Little Later Than Intended

Category: Kazakh Driving,Kazakhstan,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 3:12 am

OK, as promised, here is some more info, from Mum & John’s perspective.

This is basically a cut’n’paste job from an e-mail they sent to family and friends (with permission I hasten to add ;>)

“”For those of you ancient enough to Radio 4 be familiar with Alistair Cooke’s “Letter from America” this is likely to seem a pale comparison. Certainly less erudite and not as well crafted – but hopefully it will inform and maybe even amuse, though the political comment will be markedly absent!

This is Carol’s second visit to this amazing country and my first. As we flew in at night the lack of any settlements for hundreds of miles prior to landing in Astana was perplexing. It was hard to comprehend such vast tracts of land without population. Then Astana appears on the Kazakh Steppes resembling a modern Emirate city. Disney could not have bettered it! When Carol was here last she arrived through the back door, via the old capital of Almaty, then a twenty three hour train journey across a hot and dusty terrain. She made the trip for her son (Chris) & daughter in law’s (Irina) marriage. Jokingly she had said as she left to Irina’s father that he was to have a new airport built on her return. He did – and a pretty impressive airport to boot! It is so refreshing to see architecture which is not afraid to be adventurous, particularly in the teeth of such extreme weather conditions. Thankfully on this trip it has been kind to Carol & me, between 21°C & 30°C. The temperature can famously vary between -30°C in the winter to +40°C during the short summer months.
Continue reading “A Little Later Than Intended”

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