In The News Music


> Music retailer Fopp has announced it is shutting down its 105 shops, as the firm becomes the latest victim of the slump in CD sales.

This is terrible, terrible news. Fopp was the only music store that sold desirable CDs at a reasonable price. It was the only place where DVDs were priced at £7, rather than all being on a “3 for £21” offer. It was the only chain music store that I could get enthusiastic about.

I feel a bit lost now.

*UPDATE: Bobbie Johnson feels exactly the same way as I do.*

Music Original Music

Everyone’s Got Piles

More than seven months ago, I claimed to be feeling the distant aroma of inspiration. Well, what happened? I uploaded one song, then wrote a couple of others for another project, and then somehow found myself in a five-month slump. A number of factors have been responsible: the desire to live in a clean, tidy, well-maintained house; lots going on at work, leaving me ‘xhausted at the end of the day; spending time with the fambly.

But then I started to fear for my creativity, which is blatantly atrophying, so on one Sunday morning a month ago, I pushed myself to record this song that I’d been developing over the previous couple of weeks. I came to the realisation that all this sitting around in front of a computer is going to catch up with me soon, and if I don’t start taking better care of myself, I’m going to hit 30 and have the body of a 40 year old. The only option that I can see is to find time in my schedule for regular exercise, but as I am no longer a person with ample spare time, that will mean sacrifices elsewhere.

Anyway, enough mithering, here’s the song, and I think that it’s a cracker. It features an extra uber mega special guest on piano and backing vocals, Nathan, who was absolutely honoured to work on this prestigious project, I’m sure. He added his contribution yesterday afternoon, and we can finally consider the song to be finished.

Listen at



The evening started as an innocent one. Myself, Jeff and Bob in the pub, discussing ways in which we could improve the world. As you do.

And then someone suggested that we go out clubbing, there and then, and it has already been established that I am easily swayed (well, I don’t think that’s strictly true, but my motto is “don’t say no unless you can think of a good reason why”) so we found ourselves in a nightclub at 10:45 or thereabouts.

Nightclub was dead, vacant save for about half a dozen people, so we grabbed a table and got comfortable. We supped our drinks, chattered about this and that, and went to the toilet every now and then. On one such visit, I bumped into a chap from a nearby town who had brought his compadre over in search of the craic, only to find our humble little town wanting. I explained to him that he had made a big mistake, and should have stayed in his nearby town, for our humble little town has little to offer the thrillseeking clubgoer.

As the night progressed, the nightclub filled up, and I made an experimental excursion onto the dancefloor. I am certain that the entire world was laughing at me, but hey, no change there.

I returned to my seat and nursed my pint. My bladder was full again by now, so I hit the bogs. Once again, I bumped into the chap from the nearby town, and he was increasingly irate because the evening was just not improving, and I reminded him that really, this was a bad idea, and we all agreed.

Back in the main room, with the music playing at an inappropriately loud volume, as it does when you are old, like me, I sat down in a leather chair and nursed my pint once again. Jeff was at the DJ booth, requesting some Bon Jovi. Bob was out on the dancefloor, acting like the 40-year old that he is. And a slightly rotund blonde girl was strutting towards me.

She lowered herself onto my lap and rubbed herself against me clumsily. I, being British, tried to pretend that nothing had happened, and she soon left. Bob and Jeff returned, having seen what had happened, and started probing me for an explanation.

“What the fuck, Pete?”

“Uh, no idea. I kinda assumed that you guys had set that up.”

Had you been there, witnessing their body language, as I did, you would realise that they had not. This was just one of those out-of-the-blue clumsy lap dances that just… happen. Sometimes.

Bob and Jeff disappeared again, to the bar, this time, I think, and rotund blonde girl reappeared and gave me a second showing of her performance.

“Who are you with?” she asked.

“Those two wankers over there, ” I replied.

“No,nononono, ” she said “who are you WITH? Y’know, do you have a girlfriend?”

Chubby blonde lass was leaning in quite close to me by now, ready to slurp up my tonsils.

“Sorry, but yeah. And she’s fanta…”

Whoosh. My lap was empty. I breathed a sigh of relief, picked up my cagoule, and set out to find Bob and Jeff. Jeff was at the bar, engaged in conversation with some utterly drunken chick half his age. Bob was hovering nearby, clearly envious of Jeff’s situation. “Fuck this, ” I thought, shook their hands, and left the building. The night was going rapidly downhill, and I did not want to be a part of it.

Critters Top Photos

Stag beetle

Stag beetle

As promised, a stag beetle.


A sartorial problem

Recently I’ve noticed that my wardrobe is homogenising, and there’s a very definite blue theme emerging. I wear a blue t-shirt almost every day, probably for a combination of the following reasons:

1. I have lots of them, so there’s always a clean one in the wardrobe
2. It’s a safe choice – I know that blue t-shirts work on me
3. It’s an easy choice – I don’t have to consider aesthetics, because if I bung on a blue t-shirt, it will go with pretty much anything.

It’s fine for the practicalities of day-to-day living, but due to lack of practise I seem to have lost the ability to judge whether a randomly generated outfit looks good or not – in short, I haven’t got style.

Blogging Computing TITGIG

Precondition Failed when trying to leave a comment on WordPress

A reader emailed me a little while back to tell me that he’d been having difficulty leaving a comment on my site – he’d get the error “412 Precondition Failed”.

I did some investigation and found that sentences such as *”However, its a far cry to be able to create a food sample from scratch.”* and *”As a computer programmer yourself, you’d probably find it easy to program a computer to create hit songs from scratch, right?”* were causing the problem, and if I reworded them, the comment would be allowed through.

I did a bit of digging around and came to the conclusion that these sentences were being rejected because they looked like an attempt to hack the site. I consulted my web hosts, 34sp, and they confirmed that mod_security was rejecting them because they took the format “create blah blah blah from”, which could be construed as an attempt at a SQL command.

Leaving aside how unintuitive the error was (surely 403 Forbidden would be much more appropriate than 412 Precondition Failed?), there is a solution. You can disable this particular rule by putting the following line into your .htaccess file:

SecFilterRemove 300013

The side-effect of this is that you will also lose additional protection against SQL injection attacks, so use it at your own discretion.

*UPDATE: I realise now how much of a misnomer this post’s title is, as this problem has nothing to do with WordPress.*



Best Doctor Who episode ever. I was so scared.

But what happens if the light in the basement goes out?


An idea for an email hoax detector

I’ve had a nifty idea.

I propose a piece of software that automatically scans messages as they arrive at your email server. It attempts to find a match between the text of the email message, and any article on Snopes.

If a sufficiently good match is found, and the article in question is marked as “False”, then the email is rejected, with a message explaining why.

If some of the big webmail providers could implement this facility by default, it would make the world a much better place.


Back fence mended!

After my previous attempt ended in bloodshed, today I managed to complete the task and fix my rear fence.

It had been leaning at a worrying angle, so some time ago I purchased a concrete spur to reinforce it. Today, the planets finally aligned, and I was granted the (a) time, (b) weather and (c) lack of exsanguination that I needed to do the job.

I cut back all overhanging roses before attempting this task (actually, I did that a week or so back). I started at about 9am, heading out with my spade to expose the concrete. I used an old fence post to prop the fence up throughout the process.

I borrowed a small but potent hammer from the guy across the road, as he had promised some time back, and then realised that I didn’t have a suitable chisel. One quite trip to Focus later, and I was equipped with a rather beefy looking 4″ chisel, with a plastic handle and a guard to stop me mutilating my own fist. Similar to this, only four times the size.

I set to work.