Archive for February, 2010



I get asked a lot about favourite free media software, so I thought I’d do a post article on the subject. At the very least, it records the here and now and might provide laughs in years to come.

To begin, let’s say you wanted to download albums, books, or movies on the peer-to-peer network.  There is a nice wee free (and open source) bit of software called uTorrent (micro torrent).

It is really easy to use, you fire up the program and then use the search panel, it opens your browser at a torrent site. You select the torrent you want, agree to use uTorrent to download the torrent, and it downloads your selections in the background, resuming if you break continuity or even switch off.

Sometimes torrent downloads are in a strange format.  There might be several files that comprise a RAR compression.  What you do here is find the actual *.rar file in amongst the list, and simply right click and select “extract here” if you have 7-zip installed.  The result is a single *.avi file.  You can now bin all the other files.

Now that you have an *.avi movie file, you might want to make a DVD disc that can be played on home and car DVD players.

This needs DVD Flick, and open source bit of free software that converts the file and burns the movie — with customisable menus.  I have used various other ones, some better, some worse, but they have now gone by the wayside by introducing charges. They were only free long enough to get you hooked.

Sometimes you just want to copy *.avi files as data files, either as a back up or with the intention to play on a laptop or some-such.  To quickly copy data files (and that means anything from *.avi files, and *.mp3 files to *.jpg and *.gif files), simply use the free and open source InfraRecorder software.

A great way to surf the web is to use Firefox’s tabbed browser. It is free and open source too.

You can customise this browser in all sorts of ways using the free plug-ins. A good plug in to get is Video download helper.

So now, when you are watching a video on something like YouTube, you can download the file.  The Download Helper can be configured to download and convert to a suitable format (the original YouTube format is *.flv).

On the other hand, you can just get a video player that can handle just about any format… VLC.

This can also make *.mp3 files from videos (separating off the audio from the movie), and even take snapshot stills of movies, or turn home movies taken with the camera turned on its side.  Seriously, it does AMAZING things, yet it is free and open source.

VLC is so much better than Window media player; it plays very odd formats and you can even slow down playback — which is great of learning guitar licks from youtube clips.

Hope this list helps someone out there! Enjoy!




[Picture of strewn art works from a 1976 portfolio]Isn’t it fun to look through mementos?  I had a laugh looking through an old art class portfolio, and was amazed to find copies of Tamara de Lempicka’s work. Who knew!

I miss painting, but it is so difficult with a wife and kids around.  I mean to say, one cannot do nudes, can one!

[picture of paintings strewn] [Picture of oil sketch copy of madonna and child by Raphael Buonarotte]

[Picture oil pastel study of Raphael madonna and child] [picture of oild sketches from 1979] [Picture of oil sketches made by dave devine in 1979]

I was only 18 when I did these, and now they do seem distant — and I am remote from them.  I look at them like anyone — anyone other than the artist.  I cannot recall my intention, my frame of mind or much else.  How weird is that?  How weird is the mixture of influences — Raphael and Tamara de Lempicka! odd!  The face and the straw figure are clearly my own.  I think thi3 Madonna was done on several sheets to made a bigger picture.  I seem to remember doing a very large set of Madonna and child oils on canvas around that time, and I think I was trying to progress from the Raphael peak to some modern approach to the Madonna and child.

Frankly, I still think there has been no advance in religious or church art since secularisation — and that is a shame; in my opinion I would love to see cubist or more abstract Madonnas.  maybe one day I will get my act together and attempt to address this myself.




We have been loving ASDA’s Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, but this is possibly even more gorgeous: The Chilean Merlot.

Again, it is under four quids English money-pounds, but it is slurplicious!  It also has a weird label —  a couple of buses are drawn on in cream and red. It is more spicy that the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, but equally wonderful. Loving the Merlot!

Oh my! This is so delicious! By the way, some say mer’lott — others say Mer’low — hey as long as you get it, eh?

It is not on the ASDA website, (again), and it is also 12.5%vol/9.4 units/bottle.  Very drinkable on its own.

For more info about the extraordinary Chilean wines:




[Picture of Stewart Francis]I first came across Stewart Francis on “Mock The week” on TV. It seemed to me to be so refreshing to hear a comedian tell jokes again.  Just wee jokes — one-liners.  He is one of the few panellists who could stand their own against Frankie Boyle.

Stewart Francis is a superb dead-pan stand-up joke-teller.  I think audiences like to be able to remember the odd joke and tell it a dinner party or at the bar or at work.  A joke is a joke and it belongs to everyone.  Maybe one-liners have a better chance of being remembered for being so short.

I once saw Bernard Manning live in Manchester years ago, and he was “out of favour”, and jokes were out of fashion with the new “alternative” comedy scene.  But, and I hated myself for having to admit it, he was extremely funny; jokes just wear you down in the end.  They are so silly, and delivered so quickly.

Stewart Francis does one-liners, and most of them are clean and fairly PC as well — but he can still make connections and links that lifts the act from disjointed individual gags, to an actual proper routine. In that respect he bridges the gap between Bob Monkhouse/ Jimmy Carr/ Steven Wright / Chic Murray and Mitch Hedbergisms gags and paraprosdokians and the likes of Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly.

[embedded clip from]




Ah, for those innocent bygone days!

[Picture of Vitamins poster from the old days]

Pass me some vitamins!




I must say that I laughed out loud when I saw this old TV clip on

[embedded video clip from]

What I loved about “Candid Camera” was that it was both funny and true — the psychology behind our behaviour is solid and so we are very predictable in what we do when faced with set up situations.

The fact is that we all have to face the same way in elevators, and we even have to remove hats! Hilarious!