About Me

Resolution Conclusions

A debrief on my New Years Resolutions for 2006.

1: Steve

I wrote [here][] about my resolution to get to know Steve, my neighbour. I did actually talk to him over the garden fence once, on the subject of disposal of garden waste. And then I moved house. And so did he. So I think I’ve done as well as could be expected.


2: Read less

I also resolved to read less. In 2005, I read 33 books. So far, in 2006 I have read 11. Result.

3: Be More Aragorn

This was always a very fuzzy goal, especially as I never precisely defined what the terms mean. It’s going to be hard to know whether I succeeded or not. I have built a lot of flat-packed furniture this year, and I think Aragorn would approve of that, so let’s call it a success.

4: Eat more chilli con carne

We got off to a good start on this one, having chilli every Sunday night. But then with the arrival of Bernard, we were a little less organised, and it’s fallen on our priorities list.

Still, I’m pretty sure that I ate more chilli con carne this year than last. So let’s call that one a success too.

5: Work through the exercises in Fretless Bass: A Hands-On Guide Including Fundamentals, Techniques, Grooves and Solos by Bunny Brunel and Josquin de Pres

I managed to make it most of the way through this book. But hey, there are still a couple of months of the year left, so perhaps it is not too late.

Computing Displeasure

Pipex Taking Their Sweet Time

Here are the emails that have been exchanged between [Pipex][] and myself so far (automated responses excluded). Names have been replaced by initials.


> **Sent:** 14 September 2006 11:53
> **To:**
> Customer Services,
> I have a payment from my credit card to PIPEX INTERNET to the value of £35.19, dated 11 September 2006. This payment for such a high value is completely unexpected. I am concerned that it might not be legitimate, in which case I will have to phone my bank and cancel my cards. Please get back to me as soon as possible regarding this payment.

The reply came six days later.

> **Sent:** 22 September 2006 11:10
> **From:**
> Dear Sir,
> Thank you for your email
> This includes the zone alarm fee which has been charged in error, I have sent a request to my finance team who will have this refunded back to you, please allow 28 days
> I thank you in advance for your patience
> Kind regards
> SS
> Customer Services

All good. Three days later, I noticed another erroneous transaction on my account. The snowball starts to roll down the hill…

Music Music reviews

Recent Listening Time Again

The last one of these was on the [22nd May 2006][]. I haven’t been getting much opportunity to listen to music, so this is probably going to be the last one of these this year.

[22nd may 2006]:

Sam's Town **Sam’s Town** by *The Killers*

This album starts to take off on its third listen (with the exception of *Bones* which, if you have any taste, will make you shiver with glee right off the bat). Oh, sure, you can go through it highlighting the influences (“This one sounds like *Franz Ferdinand*, that one sounds like *Meatloaf*, this one sounds like *Bruce Springsteen*, that one sounds like *Queen*, this one sounds like *The Cars*…”) but that’s just miserable. Let go of your pretentions, and this is actually a most enjoyable collection of songs. It gets off to a good start, and with each song that passes you think to yourself “Yep, I like that one.” And so on until track 5, *For Reasons Unknown*, which starts off dreadfully, but straightens itself out gradually. It then proceeds in good fashion, peaking at track 8 (the aforementioned *Bones*). The remainder of the album is unremarkable, but to be honest, I think that eight consecutive successes is an acceptable result.

Lyrically, for the most part this album does nothing for me. Apart from when their delusions of profoundness make me squirm a little. I recommend that you avoid listening too carefully to them.

Twelve Stops And Home **Twelve Stops And Home** by *The Feeling*

This made a great first impression, but I rapidly lost interest in it. Many of the melodies are fabulously catchy, true, but once you’ve heard them once, the element of surprise is gone. There also seems to be a lack of cohesiveness about the album – by the time you get to the end, it bears no resemblance to the beginning, and there’s nothing to tie it together, meaning that it bursts and squelches about on the floor like a burst paper bag of sausages. There seems to be no depth here at all, no intimacy, no clues indicating who *The Feeling* really are.

I’m most disappointed, especially as initially, songs like *I Want You Now* and *Fill My Little World* sounded fan-bloody-tastic.

Idlewild **Idlewild** by *Outkast*

Before I commence this review, I should warn you that I’ve listened to this once and not paid any attention at all.

This is an album of songs. There are some songs, in a specific order, that comprise this album. It is made by *Outkast*, who are two men. One of them is a man, and the other is also a man. They make music, such as the music that appears on this album. The album comes in the form of a CD, which you put in your CD player. There is also a case to protect the CD against scratches and other such damage.

*(**UPDATE:** Okay, I’ve listened to it a bit more. It’s bloody good.)*

Castaways and Cutouts **Castaways and Cutouts** by *The Decemberists*

This is actually over three years old now, but I’ve only just got round to getting it. I was less than pleased with [Picaresque][], but this is much more up my street. I feel like it has a bit more delicateness, a bit less in-your-face. It’s no secret that *The Decemberists*’ big strength is their lyrics, and sadly I’m someone who doesn’t always listen to music in situations that enable me to give the lyrics my undivided attention.


Under The Iron Sea **Under The Iron Sea** by *Keane*

This grew on me, and I have to say that I ended up liking it more than I expected to. I found the first album to be reasonably pleasant to listen to, but it didn’t have the power to excite me. I think I prefer this one. If you listen to them side by side, it makes the songs on the debut album sound unfinished, like they had a good idea but hadn’t really taken it to its conclusion. This album, however, sounds like a lot more effort went into it.

At this point I was going to write that there are some less-than-memorable tracks. I put the album on so that I could shuffle through and identify them, only to discover that I was wrong. The reason that they are less-than-memorable is that they don’t exist. Every single song on here has the power to hook its claws into your brain and possess you for a while. However, on the flipside, I will say that there isn’t a broad variety of sounds on this album, so your 12 songs do sometimes feel a bit like 8.

If you have the patience, you need to give this album at least five listens for it to realise its potential. I was still most indifferent after two listens, but fortunately I am too lazy to change the CD in my car, so I listened to it a third time and the tables started to turn.


Hollow Man

My dad went to St Petersburg this week. He dropped in on his way back from the airport (while I was at work) and left a little gift for me.

russian doll

That’s fantastic, I thought. A doll inside a doll inside a doll… Russia… the most obvious gift. Well, knowing my dad, there must be some sort of witty underlying pattern, which will become apparent when I start opening successive dolls.


Clearing Out Photos

A while back I spent an evening clearing out old photos, discarding the duplicates and failures. There’s very little after 2001, because it was soon after then when I switched to digital photography, so everything files itself neatly on an arbitrarily large hard drive.

If I could send a message to the 8-year old me, taking possession of his first camera, I’d probably give him the following suggestions.

1. When you receive your photos back from the developers, take out the ones that are blurred to the point which you can’t tell what they are. Take out the duplicates. You can leave in the ones of people that you secretly don’t actually like, but be aware that in twenty years, they will probably get discarded too.

2. Write some information on the back of each one with a felt-tip pen. Though they are all in their correct envelopes in sequential order on your shelf right now, they won’t always be. Put the date on them. Yes, it’s time-consuming, but it is useful information.

3. Don’t worry about names for now. In twenty years, if you can’t remember their name, then they probably didn’t make that much of an impact on you. However, at that point you SHOULD start adding names, because Alzheimer’s is just around the corner.

There is a certain tragedy to the way that photos are no longer something tangible that you flick through and handle by the edges. Much like music, we’ve learned how to extract the data and shift it between different formats at will. Sure, it’s still the same underlying data, but the romance is lost.

Remember to keep making those backups, guys.


Dinner In Prague

A year ago, I was in a European city with Karen for a few days, and it was dinnertime. We were walking through the streets, peering in windows and inspecting menus to find something that appealed.

Sometimes, this kind of thing just slots into place. Interesting eateries leap out at you, or you are in the company of a friend who has a plan of action, or you have an inexplicable confidence that it’s all going to work out okay.

Sadly, the situation in which we found ourselves did not conform to this specification. We were struggling, desperate, hopeless, forlorn. Neither of us had the gusto to take charge of this operation, and there was a lot of Do you like this one? and I don’t know, do YOU like this one? going on. As you are probably aware, this situation should be avoided at all costs.

We inadvertantly meandered into a nice-looking, albeit empty, restaurant. Empty of customers, empty of staff. It was the most promising menu that we’d seen, which seemed like adequate justification at the time.


Rawl Things Bright And Beautiful

I put some metal shoe shelves in the garage at the weekend (the Ikea [REDD][], in case you are wondering).


For years, I’ve found [rawlplugs][] to be an interesting curiosity. They are undeniably clever, and also notable because they tend to be the lone plastic rangers in a toolbox of metal varmints. When I was a kid, I associated metal with grown-up things and plastic with toys. Clearly, rawlplugs had to be a toy of some sort. So what were toys doing in my dad’s toolbox?


Anyway, this weekend marks a transition for me: from being someone who looks at rawlplugs, to someone who has actually used a rawlplug for the purpose intended.

The shelves haven’t fallen down yet. This is impressive.

Blogging Computing Original Software TITGIG

Related post

Weblogs are very time-sensitive, as you probably know. They attempt to capture the *here* and the *now* and the *this* and the *that* and the *wow* and the *yeah* and the *groovy* and the ilk.

There are caveats however. Certain time-sensitive data is just not worth reporting on.

Firstly, the “hey, do you like my new design?” post. You just know that this is going to look daft in three years time when someone is browsing through your archive and they come across it. If you really must publish a post like this, at least have the decency to include “before” and “after” screenshots.

A variation on this is the “I’ve added a small rotating badger to my sidebar” post. Rotating badgers are cool, so I’m going to forgive this particular instance, but as a general rule I feel that if you publish a post when you *add* the small rotating badger, then you should then really delete that post once you’ve *removed* the small rotating badger. Or include “before” and “after” screenshots. Whatever.

The second example of time-sensitive data that’s not worth reporting on is:

> I’ve now had 100 comments on this site!


> I’ve now had 200 comments on this site!


> I’ve now had 307 comments on this site!

…and all the variations like…

> I’ve just checked, and I’ve now written 10,000 words on this site!


> I’ve written 38,000 characters on this site, not including whitespace, HTML markup, links to small rotating badgers and punctuation other than exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And onwards, to my actual point

My **actual point** is that I’ve added a “More from the same category” thing. If you are viewing the [individual entry archive page for this post][], then you should be seeing it at the end of this post ((oh boy, if I delete it and then forget to update this post then I’ll never hear the end of it now.)). It basically digs a random entry out of the archive that is under the same category as the post which you are viewing. I’m quite meticulous ((note my use of the term “quite”: there is still a lot of stuff in “Uncategorised”)) about categorising posts, but generally I don’t make them visible to readers. This changes that.

[individual entry archive page for this post]:

Posts can belong to multiple categories, so it’s theoretically possible to browse the entire site just by following the trail that starts below. It only appears at the bottom of individual entry archives – I could put it at the end of each post on the front page ((or search results page, or monthly archive page… you get the jist)), but I’m currently leaning towards keeping the front page free of clutter.

The “More from the same category” thing is in the form of a small WordPress plugin, which I can make available if you so desire.

Now, my minions – feel free to go back in time, and leave daft comments on old posts. Back when it was good.


Barenaked Matchboxes

Twice now I’ve heard the new [Barenaked Ladies][] song on the radio and thought to myself:

[barenaked ladies]:

*Who’s that? Sounds like Matchbox 20. In fact, that sounds so much like Matchbox 20, that it can’t be anyone other than Matchbox 20. Surely.*

And then Chris Evans or Terry Wogan will say “And that’s the fabulous new song from the Barenaked Ladies, and it’s called [Easy][], and it’s fabulous.”


Click that link to listen to the song, and tell me that it doesn’t sound exactly like Matchbox 20.

And I’ll ponder on how much the Barenaked Ladies’ new song sounds like Matchbox 20, and how ashamed they should be.


Bedroom Antics

Finally, we have managed to get round to “sorting out” our bedroom in the new house.

The rest of the house has been reasonably simple to furnish, but the master bedroom kept getting bumped back for two reasons.

Firstly, Ikea let me down in a big way. They allowed me to order a mattress, pay for it, and wait for half an hour at the warehouse round the corner before finally deciding that it was out of stock. Subsequently I went home without a mattress. There didn’t seem to be any point in assembling our new Leksvik bedframe until we had a mattress, so the boxes remained in the garage for a while.

> Ikea, you are bastards,
> Spreading agony and crises,
> But I continue to buy your wares,
> ‘Cos I’m a sucker for your prices.

Secondly, my sister’s boyfriend said that he could get us a couple of nice wardrobes for free. We held out for those for a while, but at the weekend we decided that they probably weren’t going to materialise, and so we’ve bought our own.

> You promised us a wardrobe,
> Heck, you promised we’d get two!
> But did they turn up? Did they, boat.
> I’m slightly miffed with you.

And that’s why our bedroom will soon be “sorted out”. Just as soon as I build all the furniture. And then, I’m hoping that everything will tumble into place, as suitcases full of clothes can finally be unpacked and awesomeness is restored.

> At last! The dining table
> Can be used for taking supper.
> Well, it will be, when we buy some chairs.
> Off to Ikea again. Bugger.

*Yes, that’s all original poetry. Aren’t I bloody great?*