30 November 2005

Listen to your music anywhere

OK, just one more. Now, how about you are at your parents fixing their computer and you fancy listening to that track that's been driving you demented with happiness these last few weeks? Or you are at work and want to hear Man on the Moon? Well now, it appears that what you have been waiting for is this - mp3tunes.com (via Boing Boing). Basically an online vault for all your music (yep, all of it - unlimited storage). Currently a paid for service (though how long this will last is anyone's guess), the music lawyers will no doubt be down on this with a vengeance. Still, the idea is out there - it can't be long now before it gets to stay.

Update: Downloaded the free version but can't really see the point - seems to have zero storage capacity - can that be right? I have emailed the site and will post an answer here when I get one, though I am warned this may take from 3 to 5 days. With zero storage online, what is the point of a free option? Something about "sideloading"?
To quote from the FAQ:
The Basic MP3tunes Locker [i.e. the free version]includes webloading, sideloading, MP3tunes Oboe Software Suite, and streaming inside iTunes on the Internet at a medium quality bit-rate (56k).

[So if you don't use iTunes you get another means of playing your music through Oboe, you get "sideloading" and you get "webloading" - is that right?]

So what are "sideloading" and "webloading"?

Webloading allows you to input a URL of a song location from another site to your MP3tunes locker. The file will be saved and you can then stream it from your locker.

Sideloading is done via our Sideload Partners websites. These websites provide a link next to a free mp3 available for download so you can easily load the track with just a click to your MP3tunes Locker.

So webloading means you can stream from your locker without returning to the original site - reasonably handy I guess, though hardly worth jumping for joy about. And sideloading seems to be a way of saving a download online rather than to your computer - woopee dee.

I hate to be a party pooper and one shouldn't knock something that is free, but basically the only decent option seems to be the paid for one...I will post more here soon about this as I love the concept and hope the execution is better than it sounds. I'm tempted by the pay option but have been burnt before by online services (such as Wippit music downloads - Elvis and Frank Sinatra anyone?).

Update#2: Seems some scepticism is in fact merited - over at Lifehacker the poor press is building up...

Update#3: If you are going to "sideload" or whateverTF they call it, be prepared to wait. And wait. Have just tried to load something into the locker but given up as the wait was too long. So farewell, then, mp3locker - may you come back in another form (anything but beta).

Update #4: Working a bit better today - well, just working I suppose. Anyway, the little arrow next to tunes you can slip a link into your locker for is useful - a bit slow at first, but that may have been my getting used to it.

Fursuit Mania

OK last one this evening I promise (sort of). Do check out this link to an old (last century) story from Marie Claire regarding people they call Furries but whom we, gentle and educated reader, know should be referred to as Fursuiters. Scroll down for the pic of the couple on the sofa (watching TV?) - most definitely worth a 1000 words.

Poetic Leanings

While we have some visitors here, what say you to a bit of poetry? No, I thought not. Embarrasing for all concerned, including, in most cases, the poet themselves.

World's First Face Transplant

As reported here by the BBC. Well yes, it would be an interesting story, but without the face itself we're all left wondering.....

Update: Yes I know, privacy and all that. Of course she isn't going to want any publicity. Nonetheless, however, be that as it may, notwithstanding, regardless and whatever you may say, I still contend that without the face the story isn't up to much. What we need is a before and after. And no, that isn't an invitation to the paparazzi, more a comment on human inquisitiveness (is that a word?).

Interesting

Five minutes after posting the p0rn entry and traffic is growing . Sorry if you are one of the disappointed - leave a comment and I shall respond.

Lost Items Found

Here's a nice piece of what could be vapourware: a device that locates your lost wallet / keys / cat / whatever. No details on how it works (RFID anyone?) but it looks interesting. The device begs the obvious question of course (all together now): what happens if you lose the Locator itself?

Porn

Just checking to see if the above post title has any effect on traffic....
And now, to take things as far from the title as possible (sorry if you are here for real p0rn, try googling "latex," "spanking" or "trouser monkey"), I have to announce the sad demise of the aforementioned pedometer. Five quid was clearly only enough trouser weight to garner a machine that would last six weeks. Still, I'll have a look at the figures soon and give you the averages (steps, mileage, weekend vs weekday, work vs time off and so on and so forth - admit it - you can't wait). Giddeeup lad!

404 Not Found

From the Firefox download page:

Not Found

The requested URL /products/download.html was not found on this server.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Apache/2.0.52 (Red Hat) Server at www.mozilla.com Port....


Presumably 1.5 is a success then.....

29 November 2005


A while ago at Erdigg Hall. Did I show you this already? Apologies if so but I have altered the contrast since to do the flower justice. And a quick q: why can't there be this level of detail in all the pictures I take?  Posted by Picasa

A short while ago... This pic captures the quiet loneliness of Stockholm as winter approaches.  Posted by Picasa

Terror Bites

There is talk (and there is Talk) of the effects on society and the individual of enabling said individual to walk around said society with terabytes of personal storage at their instantaneous disposal. "Where were you today at lunchtime?" says your wife / the friendly policeman. "Why I was here dear / Sir," (fumbles for Start button on Omnipresence MediaPlayer and keys in 1332-1407hrs). "As you were Sir / that's nice dear. I was here, saying goodbye to Martha."
The thing is, with the current shower in power, the OMP will, ere long, be obligatory. All in the name of "safety" and "you're with us or against us" of course, just as there are no bins at stations any more, flying is a chore, this website is monitored and stored, and there are 2.1 million CCTV cameras in London.

27 November 2005

Fine Wine

The trouble with Oyster Bay (beware - music-equipped flash intro)is it is so dang pleasant to drink - cut grass, melon, a hint of mint... before you know it you are half way down the bottle and wondering if Sainsbury's is still open.

Not Lost in Translation

I missed this when it was first out, but it seems that sunglasses with the ability to translate what foreigners are saying to (or more usefully, about) you into your own language are on the horizon. As that man said, the future is here, its just unevenly distributed. So from now on, no more going into bars in Wales (and it is always Wales for some reason) and being unable to understand the comments being made about your big-city-ways when the locals slip into their mother tongue. No, from now on you'll understand everything, including such phrases as "why is that fule wearing those ugly-looking shades in the nighttime?".

Snow isn't falling

Despite what you might read elsewhere (500 motorists - are passengers also "motorists"? - trapped by 0.5 inches of snow on Bodmin moor in Cornwall), the whole country isn't snowbound. Indeed, I'd love to see some snow here in west London - just for a coupla hours, you understand, enough time to get some shots at Kew Gardens then a quick thaw and back to global warming.
Now, as you were.

25 November 2005

Land of the Unfree

Aren't you glad you don't live in the States where you can't ride a bus without showing your ID? And I don't mean if you haven't got a ticket. Nope, you need ID just to travel to work. How long before it is like that here? A single raised middle finger to terrorism is rapidly having to encompass Government in its scope.

Boris Johnston

After his performance tonight on Have I Got News For You, I think we have seen the next Tory Prime Minister. No, no, honestly. Think about it - a genuinely funny and intelligent PM - not something you'd normally consider of course, but then look at history - maybe it is time for a change.

Aural Wonder

If you haven't already, your appointment with Stabiliser is well overdue. Do listen - they are fabulous.

24 November 2005

Fursuiting.

Because I haven't had anything on here about fursuiting for a while, I thought I'd give you this link. Honest to godless, it is bizarre isn't it? And recently I've even begun to wonder if it isn't a little sinister. But then perhaps I need to get out more.

What Trouser? Magazine

With a USA version, "What Pants?".
Really. Trousers. They are the bane of my life. Some of the well know problems include length (too short normally), strangely decreasing waist size, shallow pockets and too tight a thigh area (I'm talking men's trousers here btw - no clue what goes on for mes dames). Some of the lesser known problems involve them being too hot, having too short a zip (go figure) and stain resistance treatments (which not only make them look cheap but add to the aforementioned heat problem - interestingly, as far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as a pair of trousers that are too cold). What is needed for the perfect pair is as follows:
1. Correct waist size (obviously) - tending towards the generous is the best.
2. Correct length (tending towards the too lengthy is the rule here).
3. Deep and plentiful pockets.
4. Loose around the nethers and thighs.
5. Toe end shape is fashion-dependent - i.e. a slight flare fine at the right time, ditto straights.
6. Correct temperature - cool is best.
7. Dark in colour is good, light less so (they tend to highlight any sequelae to the heat problem).
8. Natural fibres of course.
Now, you'd think that it wouldn't be that hard to meet these requirements but believe me, a lifetime of looking hasn't provided me with anything like a stable supply. Generally I end up wearing about two pairs for months on end, interspersing them with other less successful purchases that after a short time head off to the charity shop with a cry of "don't darken my trouser draw again!" So if either reader has any suggestions viz Trouser Heaven they'd be very welcome.

Much maligned

It appears I may have been a little unfair on my phone-radio (phoneradio?). It has been functioning relatively well of late and tonight I was able to listen to a marvellous programme on R4 where guests suggest to that comic whose name I have forgotten (who went round the world meeting others with the same name as him - you know the one I mean) their invention ideas. The winner tonight was a guy who suggested that your microwave is connected to your music collection and it randomly picks a track that lasts exactly the same time as that you have set to cook your meal. If the time is too short (say, 30 secs), then it does a "beat the intro" quiz; alternatively, if you are cooking something for 20 minutes it would choose four or five tracks that add up to exactly that length of time. Quite brilliant. It would save you continually turning off the microwave and testing your food only to eventually get fed up and nuke it way beyond sensible limits by turning the power on full and eating a large tub of yoghurt while you wait, muttering "serves you right" to your fisherman's pie as it bursts into flames inside. C'mon, you know you've been there...

22 November 2005

Stomach Flu

Just what is "stomach flu"? Is it the trots by another, SFW, name? I think we should be told.

Dog, World's Ugliest, Dead

It is true - you can read about it here. And, truly, he was ugly. So RIP then Sam - may your post-mortem form be more comely.

Guantanamo Bay

If you live in the UK and can get a copy of the New Statesman (not one of my normal reads I'll grant you), do have a look at Clive Stafford-Smith's piece on Guantanamo. Very well written and raises many questions Bush and dear Tone have failed to hear, let alone answer. The prisoners there have been held captive now for four years without trial. One of a number of interesting ironies Stafford-Smith points out is that the soldiers in Cuba greet each other with a little homily about their first duty being to defend freedom.
Surely these prisoners should now either face a trial or be set free? Holding them forever is, of course, only going to increase the terrorist threat the world faces, not decrease it. But then Bush thinks he needs to look strong I guess. It isn't working though George, is it?

Rm 101: 31 to 51

British Gas. I thought I'd give them a sizeable chunk of Room 101 all of their own because they are used to operating like that. I am sat here at 1250hrs having been in my cold house all morning waiting, you guessed it, for an engineer to call. An engineer who was to call between 8 and 1 today. Five hours. On a work day.
I phoned their number a few minutes ago to see if I could find out what was happening. I was annoyed but remained, I like to think, polite. Points arising:
1. The operator took my name and address and then said she couldn't update me because her system was down.
2. Despite her system being down she somehow knew that the engineers in "[my] area" (Surrey? London? England? Western Europe?) were delayed owing to an "exceptionally high level of calls" (read: we overbook routinely as it saves us having to pay engineers to sit around doing nothing - customer scum can go swing).
3. I asked why it wasn't possible for someone to ring to say the engineer was either (a) running late or (b) not going to come. She said that she was sorry no one had done this and that it was probably due to the large number of calls they had received (suggestion to British Gas: go look up tautology). I have an alternative suggestion: could it be that you neither want to ring because of the expense nor care to bother because customers are scum and are your last priority?
4. I asked to speak to her supervisor. She said that this wasn't possible until after 1300hrs when the engineer would actually be late (NB: as I type this it is 1258hrs and you'll be astonished to learn the engineer still isn't here).
Right, time to post. 1300hrs on the nose and, good heavens, the engineer isn't here. Anyone take any money at 10,000,000 to 1 that the engineer will appear this afternoon? I thought not.

21 November 2005

Dean Gray's "American Edit"

The Dr Who theme here should almost certainly be no. 1 at Christmas or there is no justice. From a mash up album based on American Idiot by Greenday. Fantastic.

Update: Cease and desist notice passed on to site by record company and links gone - anyone wanting a copy can email me and I will send (copy of the track that is, not the C and D notice).

20 November 2005

Low Tide at Richmond


19th November 2005.

Blogger Buggered

It's all gone to c**k hasn't it? No service from "Hello", no service from Blogger in terms of uploading pics, and all bookmarks on Firefox have disappeared. No way of knowing who or what is to blame but I suspect the ever-slowing Firefox browser. Once again I am off to search for something reasonable that runs faster than a tortoise on mogadon and is safer than downtown Baghdad.

Fox Goes Free in Charlton, Sussex


Stayed here last night and would strongly recommend it - very good food and good value. Also, a "pub" pub, not just a restaurant that happens to look like a pub - while the food was superb, there was also a pub atmosphere with people drinking at the bar and so forth. Then today a short walk in the Sussex Kush - sunny, no wind, sheep and laughter, in particular at the thought of "Duvet Days", with A. and I saying that we would have taken our yearly allocation (we were imagining two days) by Jan. 3rd....

17 November 2005

Not been to 101 for a while...

Number 30 "Portable personal radios". Yep, the new phone has one. Nope, of course it doesn't work. Why I ever thought it would is my own damn fool business. Once burned sometimes doesn't apply when you have an optimistic (hey, bear with me - poetic licence and all that) outlook and less memory than you average guppy.
Here's the drill: Walk to station - not too bad, some static, but you get the gist of what people are saying. Platform - static mostly until you move to a spot with better reception ten minutes walk from where your train comes in. Train - nada but noise. Turn from radio to music and sigh. Fiddle with phone - wonder for the fiftieth time why Sony won't allow you to delete the crap they put on it (music, pictures, games - some will go, some won't. Why they think anyone would want to listen to "Sunshine" for more than a nanosecond is difficult to fathom, and surely none but the dumbest would use the pictures...). Settle down and stare out window (non-opening of course - the dumbest rule the roost here too).

15 November 2005

iPods (well they haven't been mentioned in a while)

Saw an original iPod today - the white cased, low-screen res number - and it looked like a brick. How time flies in the digital world.

UN summit on the internet.

From BBC news, more about China and others wanting the US to give up "control" of the internet domain naming system.

"The rest of the world doesn't want to see US hegemony here, in large part just for symbolic reasons," says Jonathan Zittrain, Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University.

"So there's one set of countries, anchored by Iran, Cuba and China, that would like to see some process by which governments of the world have a much larger hand in controlling the shape of the internet."


Check out the list of countries who’d like control – fun eh? You can imagine what sort of internet they would create.

There is more here about the fact that Tunisia, where the summit is taking place, is hardly the most suitable country in the world for such an event given its own history of censors

13 November 2005

90 Days posting: an apology

What can I say? I was a bit annoyed. Apologies if you were offended. Liberties have to be taken seriously however.
10th Nov 2005. Also at the Southbank, these are some of the cables supporting the London Eye - beautiful.  Posted by Picasa
10th Nov 2005. Near Waterloo. Orwellian, I thought, and yet in a good way... Posted by Picasa
6th November 2005. Near home. One of my first pics with new phone and not really noteworthy except as a record of the ongoing convergence of various digital devices - in a few months / couple of years I'll look at this as a relic of a primitive age no doubt.  Posted by Picasa
11th Nov 2005. No, it wasn't really cold enough to merit the hat but I didn't feel able to leave it behind as we were in Sweden in November. Besides, global warming will make such an item an historical relic ere long, I'll be bound...  Posted by Picasa
11th November 2005. One of the must sees in Stockholm - the imposing and ghost-like Vassa. Beautiful. This is the stern viewed from beneath the water line.  Posted by Picasa
11th November 2005. Stockholm in b and w.  Posted by Picasa

10 November 2005

90 Days

For what? Decoding? Well get some more computer experts, get them better programmes, more up to date machines. To translate stuff? Well get more interpreters. To wait for people to break and give false statements? We know these are counterproductive and, of course, immoral and a betrayal and denigration of the whole of our society. What, EXACTLY, are the 90 days for? If you don't have enough people working on the case and it is taking too long, GET MORE PEOPLE. Why is it that the only solution is the one that panders to the effing Sun and it's horrific ilk. We live in a land already commandeered by sad sacks and f**kwits who read the mail and think that a comic has the right idea about how to go about getting by in the complex modern world. Thank non-existent god that sense at least prevailed in this instance. WE DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN A TOTALITARIAN STATE THAT IS WHY WE ARE AGAINST ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM IN THE FIRST PLACE TONY. LISTEN TO THE COUNTRY. Of course there are likely to be more bombs in the future - what will be a true example of the phlegmatic and stoic nature of the British people will be a sticking to the principals of freedom and democracy, not kowtowing to the lowest, thickest peoples opinions because that is what Murdoch says we should do. The next terrorist outrage won't be a sign that we should have gone for 90 days, it will be a sign that the Islamicists are still scared of freedom, still scared of dying and passing into what the sane understand is a godless void.

9 November 2005

Terrorists in China?

From BBC news:

Chinese police have warned that Islamic militants could be planning an attack on luxury hotels in Beijing in the coming week, the US embassy has said.

The authorities pledged to investigate the threat and take appropriate action, the embassy said in a statement.

The warning comes 10 days before US President George Bush visits Beijing.

China is often accused of exaggerating the threat of Islamic militancy to justify its crackdown on groups such as its Uighur minority.


Now, that sort of thing would never happen in the UK would it? I mean, today's question to Emperor Blair about whether there was evidence of a single case of a terrorist who would have been convicted on evidence found after ninety days in custody and his failure to answer it - nothing there indicative of exaggeration of the terrorist threat being a problem in the UK. No no no. Tone is right, lock 'em up, don't bother with any of that time-consuming trial nonsense. It is the freedom of the state to lock up innocent people that we need laws to defend. How I bet Tone wishes he lived in the good ol' USofA where, of course, you don't even need to test the principle in law, just cart off your suspects (including minors) to Cuba where you can do what you like with them.

8 November 2005

French Goats

From a story in today’s Guardian about the riots in France come questions about whether the riots are a result of the French political model:

No matter where they come from, all French citizens are identical in their Frenchness.

It is a fine principle born of the ideals of the 1789 revolution. But it has practical drawbacks. For example, statistics based on ethnicity or religion are illegal in France; no one knows how many residents are of Arab or African origin, how they perform at school compared with white pupils, or what percentage are jobless or in prison. If analysing a problem is halfway to solving it, it is not a good start.


Apparently those in government, including the now infamous Sarkozy, Minister for the Interior, who had suggested before the riots that affirmative action was needed for certain groups, were shouted down as promoting “un-French” and “anti-republican” ideas. Nothing is straightforward is it? I’d have been all in favour of the illegality of collecting stats as it appears a wonderful idea in the abstract; however, in practice it does appear that maybe it isn’t such a good thing, not least because when things improve, if you are not already collecting data you cannot show this to be the case.

Anyway, if you needed further evidence that nothing is simple, take another story from the same paper about the goats that everyone is giving for Christmas / birthdays / weddings and so forth. Apparently this too is far from a simple, feel-good win/win scenario. Who they are going to, lack of vets, lack of large farms, jealousy …. Apparently you can’t just airlift a few flocks (herds you fool, herds!) to Uganda and let them loose. “Getting it right involves detailed, local, committed investment of time and resources and an almost masochistic appetite for a challenge.” It all makes one tired of being human sometimes - Sarkozy isn't a right wing fool, giving goats to poor people doesn't guarantee anything, and treating everyone the same isn't always a good thing. Ah well, back to the drawing board.

6 November 2005

What to Watch on TV

Fantastic. To take the grind out of choosing what tv to watch, the Parents Television Council (a US based organisation but here in the UK we do get some of the same programmes so it is worth us checking it out too) has a guide of the best tv and the worst. Of course, being as they are a sort of collective Mary Whitehouse on steroids, it is the latter you should be taping, the former avoiding. Nip Tuck and The Family Guy come in for particular opprobrium so do make sure you stay in for those (the last episode of the Family Guy I saw was in fact very moralistic, outlining the perils of cocaine abuse - very funny too, of course, but moralistic as well - I'd have thought the PTC would have given it some credit for this but apparently not). Something called Supernatural currently heads their list of worst tv - not heard of this myself but then I spend most of what was formally tv time on the web so that isn't surprising - if I get the chance I'll check it out.

Alternatively, there's Michel Houellebecq's view:

"As a teenager, Michel believed that suffering conferred dignity on a person. Now he had to admit that he had been wrong. What conferred dignity on people was television." (from Atomised).

del.icio

Do go here for a fine new service whereby you can listen to interesting remixes and the like without having to actually download them or start up the dread realplayer or WMP (you know, that software you downloaded some time ago and now cannot delete?). I'd strongly recommend GWB doing White Lines, so to speak.

less legacy, more innovation

It sounds as if Robert Scoble has got a little frustrated with his employers of late what with this blog entry . He's worrying on about how MSFT doesn't thrill those people who are using the web to change their lives and find new things to do with their time, new ways to make money and interact with others. I don't know if he is right to worry just yet - Apple and Linux and the rest, though still there, aren't yet eating away at the OS userbase in a meaningful way: people will use diesel cars, but petrol still rules the road in most circumstances. What might be galling for someone with his vision is working for a company that is dull and safe when there are so many other interesting things happening elsewher. However, there is a need for dull and safe in the computer world at the moment. There will be a time when "innovate or die" will come true and when revolution will cast out the old guard, but is that time now when there is still a generation for whom computers are scarey and to be avoided? These people own a lot of the world's capital at the moment. Maybe it won't be until they move on and the new generation, the one that understands the freedom and power that the atomisation of society and the digitalisation of culture / knowledge brings, come truly to the fore that MSFT will have to change or face its vanquishing. How far away is that? Ten or fifteen years? If things go exponential with Web 2.0 maybe not that long.

4 November 2005

Crack Mad Squirrels

So, they are in Brixton, right? The squirrels that have lost the plot and with it their sense of propriety - finding discarded wraps of crack, they eat them and quickly become crazed mammals in search of their next hit. Urban myth of course...
Well maybe not - a colleague at work was telling me today about a squirrel jumping all over her as she walked through a park near Kings Cross earlier this week. A young lad nearby told her that he had witnessed this behaviour on more than one occasion, telling her that he believed they ate crack they found stashed in nearby gardens. The beauty of the tale is that apparently the dealers, finding their supply deleated, then go out and shoot each other suspecting their mates of theft.....

3 November 2005

An interesting story by Bobbie Johnson over at the Guardian which mentions our old friends Yahoo! and their delightful habit of helping to jail Chinese journalists. He points out that a few years ago Yahoo! kicked up a bit of a fuss about having to stop selling Nazi paraphernalia because it happens to be illegal in France. Apparently Yahoo!'s defence was that freedom of speech supercedes local laws. Try telling that to Shi Tao when and if he gets out of jail. Please remember - do not use Yahoo! until they sort themselves out viz human rights abuses.And give thanks to the non-existant that you don't live in Shanghai or it's environs.
3rd November 2005. On Waterloo Bridge no. 2.  Posted by Picasa

2 November 2005

The Map

I don't like it - it is too big, it is too garish and it has to go. When I have time it will be removed and discarded. In the meantime, why don't you have a look here where I guarantee this little Ruskie will cheer you up no end you miserable lot.
2nd November 2005 Near Fenchurch St station, 6ish.  Posted by Picasa

1 November 2005

Sometimes old ones are the best.  Posted by Picasa

New Addition

The map on the right of Mrs Lemon's was added today (link beneath should you want your own) and shows in red those countries I have visited. I have included Mozambique despite having only been driven through a part of it (the Tete (sp?) corridor) because it was a very long drive, whereas I haven't included Belgium because though I was driven through there too it was a short drive at night.
I'm told the countries I've visited constitute 14% of the world's total number so there is scope for plenty more travelling in the future. Years ago I vowed to do one country for every year of my life but I'm afraid a love affair with Italy has put paid to this recently and Vancouver Island may do for a few more countries next year (can it really be so expensive to stay at the Wikaninnish Inn?).
Anyway, the map is in lieu of the fact that I cannot write and I am trying to make up ground yet at the same time undermining my own self-esteem by suggesting that travel somehow makes one a more interesting individual. It doesn't of course - character, personality, spirit and courage do that and of those I am finding myself a little lacking at present.

In the Woods