Press: looks like I'll be banging on about Press Gazette yet again, as the new monthly edition plopped onto my mat yesterday. Despite me cancelling my subscription recently, it turns out that PG has a 30 days' notice policy. So, here it is. What's it like? It's now an A4 64-pager with a snazzy new design which looks good at first glance. And yet, flicking through the pages it seemed lacking in substance despite the plethora of lengthy features. The freelance section, one of the main reasons for buying the old weekly, has shrunk and what's left is, frankly, not interesting - 5 short interviews with a bunch of freelances on coping with challenges and an advice column on making it in Australia. Fat lot of use that'll be to most PG readers, who work in the UK. I'm glad I've seen PG in its new format. It's convinced me I was right to cancel my sub and I'll be using the website to trawl for interesting snippets.
Blogs: we are clearly still in the thick of the holiday season. The blogs I follow are irritatingly quiet apart from one or two. I hope things are going to perk up soon. I shall reserve tonight's comment for a quick rant about my RSS reader, Bloglines, which failed me earlier today. One minute I was reading new feeds, the next my entire list of subscriptions had vanished off the menu. I deleted cookies, logged out and logged in again, to no avail. The help section didn't cover the issue at all. I did discover I could still export my feed list, though, so I did and imported it into Google Reader as a back-up. Then I emailed Bloglines to ask how to fix it. Worryingly, after hitting Send the page told me I'd get a reply after the next two business days. Suddenly, I was looking at a minimum 4 days with no RSS reader and as I dip in several times a day that's no use to me at all. I panicked even more when I discovered that Google Reader had also gone blank on me - I mean totally blank. I was looking at an empty page devoid of anything. But then one of my Firefox plugins updated itself and I rebooted my browser - result! Normality restored. Sometimes a PC just needs the equivalent of a spot of percussive maintenance (I also ran the Dyson over my keyboard this afternoon to suck up the cat hair and then vacced my USB ports while I was at it. I definitely need to get a cleaner).
TV/radio: The Archers, so good over the last few weeks, has gone off the boil again. There was Will trying to murder his brother for dating his ex-wife and it was all rather thrilling. Then the scripties packed him off to Gloucester for six months to work on someone else's shoot. Feeble. Now we''re back to Tony and Brian arguing over Tom's pigs, like anyone gives a toss, and Alan and Usha's horribly right-on wedding (Usha is the only Hindu in the village and thus the focus of all matters PC). Over on the telly, I watched a rather good profile of crime-fic writer Val McDermid, whose books I've been buying since her first was published in the mid-80s. Then I made the mistake of not watching Maestro so I could see the first episode of Mutual Friends, which turned out to be a lot of froth. Despite a good cast and a rather funny premise about the death of one of their crowd, Mutual Friends was a triumph of style over substance. It seemed quite good as I watched, then after I found I could barely remember any of it. Very unsatisfying. Programme of the week was undoubtedly Who Do You Think You Are?, with chat-show host Jerry Springer who learned how both his grandmothers were murdered in the Holocaust. It was almost unbearable to watch as Springer stood alone at the railway memorial in Lodz, Poland, where one of the two matriarchs was shipped out to be gassed in a van at Chelmno. The camera drew back from him as he stood in contemplation but his mic was still on and his sobs were clearly audible. It was brave and compelling TV, and I cried too. And there were more tears at the end when as Springer finished exploring the ghetto of Theresienstadt near Prague, where his other grandma died, he was introduced to a long-lost cousin from Israel who was also a descendant of this grandmother. It was a fabulous ending to a heart-breaking programme and I was overjoyed that Springer had some positive closure.
Books: Over the last week, I've read only slightly more of The Blair Years. It's been a week of late nights where I've flopped into bed and gone straight to sleep. So, I'm still reading the introduction. Only about 800 pages to go...