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We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!

Saturday July 19 2003

Peel sounds

Ha, a treasure. This site has a ton of legal MP3s of stuff from the John Peel sessions over the last few years, should you fancy some varied and challenging listening. Free music. Can't fault that.


Posted at 1:21 pm by Jim Woods




Google toolbar

Given my propensity for searching for things all the time with Google - well, and Dogpile and Turbo10 and Overture and so on and so forth - I have seen fit to give the new Google Toolbar 2.0 beta a shot.

It integrates nicely into Internet Explorer and gives fast access to all the old favourite Google features. You can search only the site you're viewing, handy when there's no search built into that site itself (like mine, smug smug), see the page ranking of the current site and so on. There's a popup blocker, a translate to English button (I can tell you it doesn't do Russian at all) and various other handy things. As with all software, it'll be quicker to try it out than to pore over the details too much. I like it, and may well make it a permanent fixture of my browsing.

And now I'm going to find out some more about my eucalyptus tree, because that's the sort of person I am.


Posted at 12:41 pm by Jim Woods



Friday July 18 2003

Blinkenlights

Tasty. The Chaos Computer Club, whom sad old gits like me will remember from the eighties as technical pioneers, made an office building into a huge interactive display in Berlin. Go to the site to read all about it.


Posted at 6:32 pm by Jim Woods




PVRblog
A blog all about PVRs here. Of course, if you don't know what a PVR is then you won't care. But if you're into AV stuff, as I am, there is a lot of interesting stuff here. I use a TiVo myself, and I swear by it. It really helps to make sense of the masses of programming coming off my Sky Digital setup. Because I actually don't watch all that much TV, I can catch most of what interests me without having to spend my whole life looking through schedules and mucking about with VCRs. Check it.
Posted at 2:22 pm by Jim Woods



Thursday July 17 2003

Missile silo joy

Well well, what have we here? Men with above-average skills of narration exploring really quite cracking abandoned missile silos in the Midwest is what. And as we all know by now, not many things are more interesting than that. Have a look.


Posted at 12:05 pm by Jim Woods



Wednesday July 16 2003

Global Instant Messenging

Sounds imposing, doesn't it? Should I be afraid?? GIM is another of those free instant messenging clients that interoperates with all the services - well, the main ones like AIM, MSN and ICQ and so on. It also has its own messenging service. I like this one because it's a lot nicer of interface and cleaner of setup and options than the others I've seen. As far as I can establish, since this is not a type of software I use a great deal, the whole plot is together.

There is a sort of browsery thing - a small one - which opens when you sign in to the service, but it's not especially irritating and when you close it it stays gone for the session. No way to completely rule it out, but there you are. I guess to some people it could even be interesting. Also, we have a news ticker and some small ads. All this is very unobtrusive though, and I still love the clarity of the interface enough not to object. Quaintly, the stories on the news ticker are months out of date. Still, it's not the ticker we're after is it?

Overall, I like this program more than Trillian, the other main free interoperative IM client I've found. Trillian has a bugger of an interface, to my way of thinking. Just too much stuff, and many controls not necessarily where you'd hope to find them. Also works pretty well though, and lacks any kind of ads and their ilk. Your call.


Posted at 2:53 pm by Jim Woods



Tuesday July 15 2003

Open Office 1.1 RC1 released

The excellent, and free, MS Office-slayer Open Office has now been updated to include many new and useful features. Read about the changes, and maybe download it here.


Posted at 3:02 pm by Jim Woods




More messing about

Finding myself with a little time to mess about with this site's layout again, that's what I've done. Those whose day was not complete without a look at the small cat's rear view will be reassured to learn that she's on the photo page now. I've gone back to the old skool background because it loads faster and it's clearer, and I've moved a few things about again. Well, it keeps me happy.

The focus of this site, as I never tire of saying, is the content. I really do have better things to do than design some great graphical extravaganza - and I see enough dodgy-looking sites where there's next to no content and the designer has clearly spent hours massaging the only decent picture (s)he could be bothered to look for until they've created a slow-loading mess of little interest to anyone but themselves.

I feel a rant coming on here. I mean, the chief purpose of the web is surely to disseminate useful information. Doesn't have to be useful to me, or necessarily to you. But it's nice if it's useful to somebody. There's not a great deal of point in expecting people to want to look at something just because it's on the web. Being on the web does not imbue the work of jokers with added authority. It simply exposes jokers to a wider audience. It's best to consider a web site as being like a flyer: if it doesn't grip you with what it's saying immediately, it goes in the bin.

Now before anyone gets too upset about my opinions and starts off on a "but the great thing about the web is that anyone can put their stuff out there" tack, let's consider this: When you go to a bookshop you are reasonably certain that any books you buy have some authority at least. Someone with experience of such things has put up the backing to get the work through the whole 18 months or so of the process which gets it out of the writer's head and onto the shelves. Sure, there's a fair amount of crap out there, but the useful-to-dross ratio is good by comparison with the web. And the time it takes to assess paper publishing work is not massively increased by what graphical content there may be; in fact, it's quicker to look at a picture than to read the equivalent area of text. No problems there. But for the most part, graphics on the web are what wastes time and money while one waits for the meat and potatoes.

I'm all for the little guy getting a break, but I do not want to be buried in an avalanche of spurious graphical crap. So let's all try to keep the signal to noise ratio of the medium as high as possible. Let's remember that that the presentation serves the content, and not the other way around. And that many people still have slow dial-up connections, for that matter.

Now I shall sit back and wait for a tide of opprobium...


Posted at 9:36 am by Jim Woods




Recomendo

Kevin Kelly's site has a good section called Recomendo. On it he, well - he recommends, "books, tools, software, videos, maps, gadgets, hardware, websites, or gear that are extraordinarily handy or useful for individual and small groups". Individuals eh? Sounds like me. Have a look - at the moment there's a load of cartographic stuff.


Posted at 8:50 am by Jim Woods



Monday July 14 2003

Don't ask

If you find yourself in the Ardeche region of France, and I assure you that there are many far worse places you could be, here's the local Citroen Deux-Chevaux owners club. Seems they very sensibly have a programme of events involving enthusing about their cars and going on scenic drives and picnics. I'm all for that. Where do I get my 2CV? Why do members of clubs for Nissan Micras seem to spend their time fitting body kits and silly stereos and being a pain?? I demand a return to civilized minimal-motoring values. I propose a Micra Gourmands club. Short drives, big lunches, crippling drinking and subsequent abandonment of Micras and use of taxis for legal reasons. Anyone keen?

I can't keep the whole thing going myself for ever.

Lot of blogging now. Because I said I wouldn't. C'est la vie.


Posted at 6:29 am by Jim Woods




Vegetarians take note

I see, and hear, that one of the nice little pubs where I used to live in Jericho has become a specialist in vegetarian/vegan grub. The Gardeners has always been a pleasant place for a drink, in an attractive setting too, so if you live in Oxford and aren't a raging carnivore it may well be worth checking out.


Posted at 6:00 am by Jim Woods




Tabasco!

Oh look - Tabasco sauce has its own website. I like Tabasco; in the scheme of things it's a great not-very-hot sauce to just use casually. I have much more fearsome stuff than this, as does any chili-head worth their salt, but good old Tabasco's nice stuff to have around a kitchen.


Posted at 4:59 am by Jim Woods




Tomb Raider - Angel of Darkness

I am more than a little dismayed by the generally negative tone of the reviews and discussion about this game, particularly concerning the radically different new control system. I for one was really looking forward to playing it, but must now consider trying to see it in action or try it out first. I'll put up with a lot for the sake of good graphics, but I won't put up with a game I can't manage to play :(

I spent much of Saturday night in conversation with a guy - and I don't think I should be more specific here - who actually worked on the game as a programmer. And he told me that it is, in his opinion, flawed with regard to the controls. A terrible shame when the whole game took three years to develop.

No doubt I'll buy it anyway though.


Posted at 4:31 am by Jim Woods




Resonance FM

No sooner do I say I won't be doing much blogging for a while...

Found this great radio station, Resonance FM, tonight. It's listenable online, as well as on air. Unless you live in London, forget the on-air option :) Described as "London's first radio art station, brought to you by London Musician's Collective", this one's a sure cure for boredom and/or musical turgidity. The Guardian says Resonance is "the best radio station in London", and on my, albeit limited, knowledge I'm not disagreeing. This is the stuff.


Posted at 1:26 am by Jim Woods




Plenty hot

Well, it's been very hot here in Oxford over the last few days - high twenties celsius, mercifully low humidity - and it's set to get hotter. I have reacted to this by going nocturnal, cavorting about the rivers and meadows in the early hours and then lying up in the day. This has been very enjoyable, as I have little else to do. I'm writing a little music and looking for business opportunities, which covers a multitude of sins.

I don't have much in the way of blog entries to make, as hectic social life recently has meant I haven't been poking around looking for interesting stuff on the net. I shall resume at some point soon, but I have a lot of gardening and quite a lot of recording to do first. So it's maintenance doses only now for the blog. Nothing wrong with a bit of a summer holiday anyway...


Posted at 12:18 am by Jim Woods





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