Piss in a pot, win a holiday!

Life cycle of Chlamydophila psittaci

Image via Wikipedia

In an initiative that I think is a good idea, but I’ll still take the piss out of, health execs in the North East are offering entries into a draw to win a raffle in exchange for 16-24 year-olds taking chlamydia tests. Depending on which article you read, different health authorities are taking credit for it but I believe the overall aim for all of them is to reach government targets – I assume for numbers tested, not for number of positive results.

I don’t know why Chlamydia is specified, perhaps as it’s an easy test – the actual “piss in a pot”. Other tests can be somewhat more… invasive. From blood samples to having a whacking cotton bud thrust down your Jap’s eye. And you can think yourselves lucky I picked the picture I did to pop at the top of this post. There’s a nice one on Wikipedia of a penis with discharge coming out of the top of it.

But what do you win if you don’t have Chlamydia? A booby prize? A ceramic Dusty Bin? And isn’t offering a holiday for 4 to Ibiza to a 21 year-old effectively saying “bad luck, you’ve not got an STD… But here’s your chance to get a whole fucking boatload!!!!”?

Either way, get your “entries” in quickly as the competition ends on the 30th of May.

GMail losing functionality?

I use Gmail. A lot. I like it. It’s reliable, it works and they keep adding functions to it.

Only today I’ve noticed that two functions I’ve had for some time have both vanished for no apparent reason. The first is something I’d waited ages for and was quite pleased when it arrived – the ability to view Powerpoint presentations online as slideshows. Handy as I can’t be bothered installing the part of OpenOffice that I’d need to open them.

The option’s gone. The bottom of my emails just doesn’t give me the facility any more. I just have “View as HTML” which gives me a message that if I want to see the images, I have to download it. And the option to download it.

Secondly, and even more bizarrely, I can now only search my contacts based on email address and name. I can’t search on Notes, addresses or phone numbers. I could do this before. I know I could. While travelling, I meet a lot of people in hostels and the like. I usually put a couple of notes for them so I know where I met them due to my poor memory.

Also, it’s useful if I know I’m travelling somewhere. I can search my contacts on their address or location and email the people I know who are there. Easy.

Only, again, this functionality has gone.

At the top of the page, next to “Help” is a link to “Older version”. I tried this. And the features have returned.

So I have to decide. Do I want coloured blobs for my labels – which is nice but hardly necessary – and a Google Talk box down the left which I never use and wish I could get rid of… or do I want to be able to search my contacts properly, and view files I’m sent?

Hardly a brain-aching decision. I’m only glad Google allow the option of skipping back to the older version. But for how long?

Review – Iron Man

Tales of Suspense#39 (March 1963): Iron Man debuts. Cover art by Jack Kirby and Don Heck.

Always nice to have something to write about so why not my first trip to the cinema in months? Talia and I popped out to see Iron Man when I was over in the UK at the weekend, and a worthwhile return to the theatres it was for me. Talia knew nothing about the character, and I’m vaguely familiar courtesy of a handful of Marvel comics from when I was a nipper.

It’s the latest in a long line of comic adaptations, a line set to continue as licenses are being bought up left, right and centre. Fortunately, most seem to be pretty good and this one definitely falls into that camp. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s the best Marvel adaptation since the first of the recent Spiderman films.

The way the scene is set kicks the film off well. Is the central character nice, or a bit of a twat? Shoudl we feel sorry for him or feel he’s getting what he deserves? Either way, a ton of bullets and a huge amount of explosions is just how an action films should start.

Robert Downey Jr is, simply, fantastic as Tony Stark. He’s dry, unassuming, completely straight-faced when dealing out some very witty lines and his timing is spot on. The only crying shame is that just about every one of these classic moments of dialogue is in the trailer.

Jeff Bridges was the other standout cast member for me. Apart from one other person, who I can’t name for fear of spoiling the post-credit sequence. Yes, folks – don’t miss the last 60 seconds after all the names have rolled!

There are a gazillion better film sites out there that can review this better than I can. But from a middle-of-the-road fan’s perspective I can definitely recommend it. The plot’s a little “by numbers”, but the effects are superb, the acting top-end and the whole look of the film just spot on. All the little things like the incidental graphics and hardware that Stark uses add to the whole thing without making it seem over-the-top.

Go see. Definitely worth it on the big screen.