standing on the toes of Giants

January 31, 2007

I posted about Feeds plus and I’ve been using it for a few days, it aggregates feeds in IE, it’s great  but it’s really opened my eyes to something I’ve long suspected. I use tabbed browsing to follow the route I got to a particular website hopefully tracking, except these aren’t routes that are developing, they’re far too often cyclical and there’s a hell of a lot of recycling,  very little original comment. Newton is purported to have  said that all science was possible because we see a little further by standing  on the shoulders of giants (although wikiP say’s it’s earlier). blogging far too often seems to be standing on the toes of our giants, it doesn’t get us much further and it just hacks the big  guys off. except when they wallow in self glory that is.



making sense of mayhem

January 30, 2007

I’ve installed feeds plus  which Steve Clayton’s blog introduced me to – Steve used to be a regular visitor at my workplace when my Microsoft involvement didn’t warrant any real dialogue,  a colleague mentioned his blog and to be honest that’s really what opened my eyes to blogging, as our account manager, who was a real person,  had metamorphosed into a general commentator on all thinks Microsoft, IT….  oh and Banksy  :)  he’s pretty often off topic, occasionally off message and provides a fairly UK-centric Microsoft view..

feeds plus is an add on for IE7 which frankly is my RSS feed reader ( I tried it in Outlook 2k7 and hated it) and it provides an easy aggregation which means you get to scan all your related feeds on one page – it’s reduced my blog catch up time from an hour to 30 minutes so well worth  the download.

it’ll also give you little desktop reminders a la  Outlook 2k3 onwards

piccies below

Yum Yum

January 23, 2007

I some culinary info on Venice, on the whole the food was great although it lacks the kick of southern Italian cooking. as landlocked Notts folk we revel in the seafood extravaganza that is Venetian cooking however in January you’re limited to staples. we didn’t have a bad meal, although tourist prices are high. we did have some exceptionally good value meals.

the highlights:

  •  My favourite place we ate was the Da Remigio  my Gnocchi starter was fabulous and I had cuttlefish stewed in it’s own ink, YOU MUST BOOK, or turn up early 7.30 or around 9.30 to get one of the few free tables.   To book you are best turning up early  or going in person the day before and asking to book for the night after, this place is popular amongst locals and the food is very good value for the quality.  
  • just next door  is the Osteria Oliva Nera seems to benefit from referrals from quite a few of the higher class hotels so is in the expected price bracket.   The hostess and host Isabella and Dino are excellent at gauging just how much attention their guests crave or shun. there was a family of Australians on the table next to us and Isabella kept them well informed as to the options and gave guidance for dishes and wine, we were left more to ourselves as we knew our way round an Italian menu. I had liver Venetian style which is treated very differently to the veneration it gets in Rome chopped and fried with onions, it’s delicious  and probably the second favourite dish I tried.
  • the next establishment worthy of mention is the  Trattoria da Roberto touristy and busy but great value pizze

Venice Highlights

January 23, 2007

We stayed at the Villa Igea  sister hotel to the hotel savoie and jolanda and they are both are just round the corner from the Piazza San Marco, great location however at the Igea there’s no view and you have to walk 50m for breakfast so it drops drops a star and 30 euros a night from the savoie but at only 90 euros exceptional value for money including a hearty  international breakfast.

Very friendly staff and very clean throughout and surrounded by bars and trattatoria that are just far enough away from PSM to be affordable and yet close enough to have English speaking waiters.

that said nowhere in Venice is far is far from anywhere as the crow flies or eel swims but it’s a  very different matter as the unguided tourist walks. the main island is quite small and the population of the city is only 60000 or so, so the tourists pretty much outnumber locals for all the year, in peak season it’s 4:1 !

our collection is here

I love Italian food, my wife and I travel a fair bit to Italy although it has to be said we have favoured the south, where flavours are fuller with more Moorish influences and heat from chili but more of the culinary delights later.

Venice is  a bit surreal, there aren’t actually as many canals as you would think, you just cross the ones that are there many many many times, I’d not really considered it before but they’re not actually canals as in the cut my granddad used to talk about they’re inlets of the sea and they follow the tides and have limpets and barnacles and stuff.

The Grand canal is pretty impressive and anything but anything goes by boat, deliveries, ambulances (we saw the obligatory town drunk being decanted from his ambulanza boat into the hospital) and  even hearses which was the most unexpected, it’s the quickest way to get around.

the real highlights were :

  • the accademia : in January we strolled in but apparently there’s a limit to the number of visitors at any one time but fill your boots full of Bellini, Tintoretto and titian if you love icons, there’s plenty to choose from and you can while away an hour or two in here.  
  • the scuola Grande di San Rocco:  quite amazing I’m not going to say anything about this as it’ll spoil the surprise but apparently Tintoretto did the whole job for expenses – downstairs there’s a handful of canvases  but upstairs is remarkable – the crucifixion in the ante chamber is a great place to start when you’ve got your breath back. Ruskin described this as one of the three most precious buildings in Italy – he was probably right.
  • the  chiesa San Giovanni e  Paolo  truly cavernous church  where doges aplenty are buried
  • not there for long but there’s an Albrecht Durer exhibition at the Museo Diocesano – the etchings are amazing, the main collection is an accumulation of bits of old churches, crucifixes and  art and altar pieces rescued from many disused and derilict churches it has some interesting reliquaries as well if you like scattered bits of saints.
  • the basilica ….. gold  gold and more gold mosaic – good but not as impressive as the walk
  • the Friari ( well Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Friari), titians monument a truly stunning reliquary and an altarpiece by bellini, the monuments are well… monumental worth the
  • the Peggy Guggenhein Collection, a fantastic collection of modern art pieces right on the grand canal, there’s a great Klee painting in here as well, great architecture and decent carpaccio :)
  • the Ca d’oro – a highlight because we navigated there without a hitch ( cheating as it’s right on a waterbus stop ) and the painting of san sabastian (the one who dislikes arows) was away for cleaning.

overall Venice is amazing, tortuously twisting streets- NO CARS and the quietest italian city I’ve visited.  

the Venetian perils…. forget technology

January 23, 2007

OK tips for Venice:

  • don’t use multimap or Google maps or Live local to find addresses in Venice – the only people the addresses make sense to are the Venetian postmen. we had a rather entertaining diversion when trying to find our hotel which involved catching the bus (the waterbus) back around the island and then back to walking to within 100m of where we started when the location was described to us by the hotel’s staff. 
  • you’ll get lost, often, and GPS is next to useless as you are essentially wandering around in  the bottom of man made canyons my Fortuna clip on even when using SiRF had no hope. one of the best ways to navigate is to use the sun when you can see it.  when I say lost it’s more of the well how did we end up here I’m sure we were heading to San Marco kind of lost than the OMG where in the hell are we and why are those people staring at us kind of lost, in any case it’s a great way to burn off the gelati calories 
  • if you don’t speak Italian don’t worry everywhere we went there were waiters who spoke English, if you do want to speak Italian you’ll be out of luck and we often had the ridiculous situation of my broken Italian being responded to in broken English and this carrying on for several minutes until I gave up.

Away for a few days

January 19, 2007

we’re off to Venice for the anniversary of our meeting – seven years and counting – should be fun, looking forward to testing out my ever so rusty smattering of Italian.