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

Saturday November 1 2003

Boing Boing - splat

I see Boing Boing, a staple of my morning browsing, is back up - albeit maybe temporarily. Server problems, apparently. Ah well - normal service to be resumed shortly.

Posted at 4:14 pm by Jim Woods


A rather well-presented blog here, with a fine aerial photo of Amsterdam Centraal Station; this is in disarray due to construction work at the moment.

In the sandwich shop below the station concourse you can buy the best sandwich in the world - pastrami and dill pickles and sour cream and chives, on dark bread.

I may shortly need to go and get another, which presents certain practical concerns.

Posted at 4:06 pm by Jim Woods

Friday October 31 2003

TIME magazine

I see that you can get access to the entire archive of this for - bugger, lost the info. Well, it seemed pretty cheap to me at any rate. Often when I'm researching stuff I'll end up finding that there was an article on it in TIME.

This has been a tremendously useful post on behalf of the "keep information to yourself inadvertently through incompetence" blogger.

Posted at 5:31 pm by Jim Woods

Recording saxophone

Putting some saxophone down on nearly-finished-recording tonight. This we will do by our usual painstaking method of sticking a cheap condenser microphone in front of it and huddling in my kitchen. The only thing in the world worse than recording is elaborate recording.

The results will be nice though.

Posted at 5:25 pm by Jim Woods

Thursday October 30 2003

Good things bad things

Good thing: JVC Super VHS vcr - 400 line resolution instead of the normal state-educated VHS 250 lines.

Bad thing: TiVo's save-to-vcr output quality seems to be about 3 lines. And not good ones either. Spank.

Good thing: Guinness

Bad thing: the state of it almost everywhere I drink

Posted at 9:28 pm by Jim Woods

Here's a funny one...
Posted at 8:05 pm by Jim Woods

Tuesday October 28 2003

My, I have the writies today

Tesco's coarse cut orange marmalade is cheap, but surprisingly good. Up yer bum, Tesco. You're a winner.

My Dualit toaster cost more than pretty much any other electrical gewgaw I own. But it WORKS. Haaaaaargh. And it looks beastly beast. "Ah", I hear you say, "it's not sensible to pay nearly 200 quid for a toaster". To some extent that's true. I paid a fifth as much for my toaster as I paid for my elderly-but-still-virile-lord-emperor-of-the-universe-state-carriage (Micra). But unlike many things of an electrical bent - and you'll be sensing a theme to my recent writings - my toaster works like a bastard, and has for years now. Actually my Micra's pretty good too - it, well, it makes me look like a retiree. Then again, I bought it to express my unfocussed rage at the world and all its contents so it does a pretty good job. You sit in it, it makes noise and risks the lives of all nearby in subtle ways. You go somewhere you don't really need to go, and achieve nothing. The world creaks a little closer to toxic death. I pay the government a fortune at every turn for the privilege, and they lie to me and cheat me and plain don't care about me in return.

It's a good car.

The Dualit's a good toaster.

Not everything is good however, as I've said. And no doubt I'll get to ranting more about that soon enough. But just because I'm really pleased with some things, I'll be positive for a bit now.

Veda Park are good. Having been to their recent album launch and seen them play again, I can categorically tell you. Veda Park are f good. Go and see them, buy their album for the trifling fiver. Stop listening to that shite you're listening to, and substitute Veda Park for it. Go on. And if you don't like it, have the maturity to realize that it's because you - and not they - are deficient.

Only joking. That last bit, I mean.

My Yamaha APX 4A electro-acoustic guitar is good (that'll be why they discontinued it then). It stays in tune, it records well, it's there for me. It was as cheap as an electro's going to be and work. It's slim, so when I wear it we are average-sized between us. Gawd bless yer, Reggie Yamaha. I've never had occasion to vent my spleen over you. I hereby largely forgive you for your attempts, partially successful, to make my male relatives extinct sixty years ago.

Forgive and forget, that's the way.

Philip Pullman's books are pretty good. On balance I think I still prefer J.K. Rowling, but that'll be because I'm more considered and mature and bubbly.

Earl Grey tea is good. Very good. Hurl the Earl. You must. Drink it in pints. It'll save us all.

I bought some Scotch in France for a fiver or something. It's called "Pure Malt". It's better than you'd think. It's an industrial solvent, but it's a better industrial solvent than you'll get for a fiver most places. You drink it, you kick off. QED. If you're going to France buy some. Trust me - I'm a drunk. It's much better than the "Three green black women from Aruba" brand rum I bought in France for a similar sum. No-one would drink that; not me, not Howard, not even Alan the Hat. Imagine - Alan the Hat wouldn't drink it. In the end Lloydy drank it (see the photos page for a warning). And nearly died. True. If you're going to France, don't buy that. Just don't. It's wrong.

Jazz is good. You listen, you don't understand, you can't tell one number from another. You feel somehow more sophisticated, more discerning. It's good. It works. It does exactly what it says on the tin. I love it.

Bed is good. You stay in it, things go well. You get out and hellhounds cluster around you with slavering jaws, the government lies to you, everyone sends you at least one bill and your fingers go white and shrivel up. You get back in, all is calm. It's good. Keep others out of it if you've any sense though. Make a mess in theirs and then go home, that's my advice. Don't wipe your dick (if you have one) on their curtains unless you're up for a heated discussion though; I'm not sure why anyone would, but I keep hearing about it so it must be a popular pursuit. Not something I've tried. Let me know if it works for you.

Tomb Raider is good. You run around, you jump and swing. You ice baddies, you find items which you hoard. You stop playing and find it's nearly time to die. You're ninety, sitting in a pool of your own filth; it's cold and dark and the yoof have desecrated yer Micra. You can't open the door, because the credit card applications have solidified into an impenetrable wall over the door. Your friends and relatives have all died, and the phone's been cut off. Wow, you think, that certainly passed the time. And you die alone.

So why on earth not buy an expensive toaster?

Eat yer toast - it'll make you big and strong. And young, and attractive and successful.

Tesco's coarse cut orange marmalade is cheap, but surprisingly good.

Posted at 10:26 pm by Jim Woods

I don't know if this is for real,

but it is extremely - perhaps unintentionally - funny.

Christina Blogs for Jesus.

Posted at 10:18 pm by Jim Woods

TiVing troubles

Hmm. Came down today to watch a spot of the old idiot box and found that my TiVo, a doyen of stability thus far, was crashed. Crashed as in displaying a fixed image of satellite TV. This should not happen. The beast runs Linux, and it's hard to imagine what eventuality would result in it throwing the towel in altogether. It wouldn't respond to any pressing of any buttons, so I applied the ultimate sanction - I yanked out the power cord and left it for a bit and then plugged it back in. This resulted in it coming back to life, and (fingers crossed) it seems happy now. It's rigged up to a surge protector, so it should be as well fortified against power events as these things can be.

Looks like I'll be back on the support forae tonight, which are thankfully excellent.

I hope this doesn't herald a new era of electrical unreliability; I get very angry when electrical unreliability strikes.


Posted at 8:44 pm by Jim Woods

For the love of Mike

What is it with the web and electrical stuff these days? I have this Sanyo vcr which my Dad gave me as he'd got a tape stuck in it. I may have mentioned it. He was trying to get a tape out of it with a kitchen knife when mother intervened, probably saving his life. I popped the lid, removed the tape. Video works well, in fact better than my existing Toshiba - "hello tosh, want a w*nker?" or whatever the ad was springs to mind. Three years of really quite light use is not really good enough from a fairly expensive major brand video. I digress.

Sanyo's a good 'un. Have remote, but no manual. I fancy setting it up, so I think of the web first. The handy web where I have obtained manuals for much techno-porn in the past. The home of the brave and province of those who, bless, really don't have anything better to do than type up arcana like manuals for video recorder. The salt of the earth without whom we'd all be double-plus buggered in situations like this.

I search for every conceivable combination of "Sanyo", "790", "vcr", "video", "manual" and more likely terms. ALMOST ALL I GET FROM GOOGLE IS SITES WANTING TO SELL ME LARGELY UNRELATED ELECTRICAL GOODS. Bastards have ruined the web by making every possible electrical-goods type word a search term in their sites. THE WHOLE WORLD IS SELL-YOU-STUFF-CRAZY. Argh.

Words cannot express the cold rage I feel when I cannot get to information of a useful nature because not-even-directly-relevant advertising is getting in the way and consuming all the bandwidth. I'm looking for a site run by some friendly hippie who wants to share information for the benefit of all. And all I'm getting is the online equivalent of one of those horrid little men in a cheap suit with body odour who calls his dinner "tea" and his lunch "dinner" and knows squat about any of the mass-market shite he hawks in Vomit/Dicksons/Slurries shouting in my ear.

"Oh yes, the Sonachi Torremolinos is our best model! Oh yes, whatever it is you're asking about is great! It's all great! Everything we can't shift is greater! The only thing that's not great is the things we haven't in stock, which will be great when they're back in stock! But they're not great when we don't have them because if we say they're great you'll want one and then we'd have reveal that we have nothing much in stock so this one's greater because we have one! I get a commission you know! I'm so proud that this is what my life has come to! My grandfather fought a war so I could be a prick! It's great!"

"You read a dire review of this model, and in fact of all the crap we sell? You don't want to believe everything anyone with a mind and a technical background says - I have an ID bracelet with my name, Daymien, which I classily spell differently from the other toad-rivalling Vauxhall-Nova-performance-modifying-well-I-have-an-air-freshener-made-of-fake-carbon-fiber intellectual pygmies, and I've worked here for eight minutes and will one day die among the Hoovers, having stitched up and misadvised every poor trusting sod I've served".

"Give me half the cost of this item again and we'll sell you an extended warranty worth nothing! Yes yes - I love to imply to every dribbling drone that I am selling them something so crap, so palsied, that it will last precisely one second longer than the sale of goods act protects them for! And they don't just leave, like a human would! Better safe than sorry! Better servile than sentient! Better rayon-bedecked than classically educated! Why make the tiniest effort to pronounce foreign words? Did you see the football?"


Sanyo's site is nice. They even tease with a "manuals in PDF format for download" section, to make you think that there may actually BE manuals in PDF format for download. But there aren't. Not for any of their videos at any rate. Not the old ones. Not the current ones. There may be for - let's have a look then - oh no, false alarm. Not for a f*cking solitary thing. Thanks Sanyo, nice customer support. There is a FAQ section. Strangely, it doesn't include "oy Sanyo, what's the matter with you people anyway? Isn't having arguably the wankiest name in consumer electronics enough for you? Do you really need to taunt your customers by having a whole help section with nothing in it?" Obviously an oversight.

In the end I just figured it out myself. It took ages, and I'm good with this stuff. C'est la vie. It took nearly as long as I spent trawling the Googlesphere of ads for consumer electronics.

World, you're a sick puppy. Service is dead. Knowledge is laughed at. The Dwaynes and Darrens and Damiens have won. It's all irredeemably f*cked.

Where can I get a proper home entertainment setup? One with fake wood end-pieces and lots of lights to say that circuits are engaged which make matters worse. One with a recess for my eight track cartridges. One which projects a rotating holographic image of the entire sales force of an electrical superstore, heads only, on sticks. Aflame. Around my garden fence. As the devil pisses on them.

Because that I will buy.

Craving piss he redly stalks the night.

Posted at 5:53 am by Jim Woods

I've tarted up

the electronica page; which is to say that it's pretty much up-to-date now.


Posted at 3:24 am by Jim Woods

Monday October 27 2003

Orifice World

I've spent some time playing about with OpenOffice and 602PC SUITE over the weekend, when I wasn't doing useful stuff like swilling beer or (incredibly) playing my guitar. Regular readers, aided presumably by high amounts of fibre in their diets, will recall that I tend to mention these two from time to time. Both are file-format compatible with MS Office and both are free although some bits of 602, like the thesaurus, require registration. Nonetheless, you can do your word processing and spreadsheeting in it without paying anything, and there's a photo editor and gallery too. Of the two packages it definitely feels faster as well, but then it's a fair bit smaller. Horses for courses really, and a full comparative review is beyond me at the moment. You can freely download both and try them out should you be interested.

What I was doing was loading one of my more complex - but not actually ridiculously so by business standards - spreadsheets into OpenOffice, where it was very cheerful and complete for something that grew up in MS Works Norman Conquest Edition a long time back. So that was cool. Nowt wrong with the import side of OpenOffice for my purposes. I had then been using this sheet in OpenOffice's native format, also with no trouble. I wanted to play with 602, so I needed a sheet in an Office format. I saved my sheet from OpenOffice in the most recent Excel format, and then imported it into 602. It was bolloxed. Little worked, and the dates had gone mental. Which package was responsible? I don't know. With only those tow available there was no easy way to find out.

I'm sticking with OpenOffice in any case. It's bigger, but it's a more heavyweight app in general and it's totally non-commercial - open source, in fact. I also quite like its HTML editing side, although I generally just bash up my pages in a text editor. I write this entry purely for those who are inveterate converters of data from one format to another, to say: "It's true - the whole process is still not half as transparent as you'd like".

This is why legacy apps and their maintenance are such big business, and why many people and companies will stick with what they use at all costs. And in some respects I agree with them - better the devil you know.

Posted at 4:50 pm by Jim Woods

Sunday October 26 2003

A couple of technical bits

I've found a couple of unlikely and intriguing technical bits in my web wandering; here's a guy who reckons a wooden box is a good solution to a noisy PC, and here's a cartridge to attach yer old Atari 8-bit micro to a PC to get the benefit of the peripherals.

The struggle to quieten my own PC continues, but I'm having to face up to the fact that it is an inherently noisy brute, with its two fast hard drives and so on :(

Posted at 5:38 pm by Jim Woods

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