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

Saturday January 10 2004


narrowly survived friends birthday curry and subsequent frenzy of gin and dvd watching. Trouble is that this time of year it gets light so late that nature's subtle "go to bed" signals don't really happen before seven or seven-thirty. Oh, my head. And my throat - I must have been roaring even more than usual. Still, it keeps me young.

This is why I find myself sat here in my spanking new Christmas dressing gown at eight in the evening wondering whether I have the energy to forage for some dinner prior to - yes - going out again. At least I found an offer of some pretty lucrative activity on my answering machine when I got home, so bully for that.

Posted at 8:05 pm by Jim Woods

Thursday January 8 2004

Today's bile

Today there will be no bile. This is not because I have suddenly developed any great love of the world and its contents, but because I don't have the energy. You can't run on bile alone. I need to drink coffee and watch the TV too.

Posted at 7:59 pm by Jim Woods

Wednesday January 7 2004

Bruce Sterling

A nice article here from sci-fi author (and his stuff is well worth reading even if, like me, you're not generally a sci-fi reader) Bruce Sterling concerning a load of stuff. Of principal interest though are his brief thoughts on the impact of the internet and related technologies. It's nice to see something for a change that isn't just a love-poem to new technology or a thinly-veiled attempt to make one go out and buy a load of hardware.

While I'm on this topic, I was reading recently that the market for PDAs (pocket computer jobbies to you and I - like the Palms or whatever) seems to have been woefully misinterpreted by manufacturers and designers alike. Apparently what we want are simple diary and address book type things rather than media-playing colour-screen wonders. No shit. I have a mobile phone for storing numbers, and also a diary and an address book. In fact, most modern mobiles have this functionality built in anyway. Of course if we didn't get free upgrades every year we probably wouldn't pay for upgrades at their true value, leaving possession of the latest kit to those under 15, or in social class "thick as pitch/early tech adopter". Let's face it, it's a hell of a lot easier to write something down on paper than piss about with some sort of device that relies on batteries. It surprises me that there is a market at all for more electronic junk to carry around, replace constantly as it gets sat on or superceded or dropped down the bog and generally struggle with. Unless of course you spend a lot of time on flights where there's little else to fiddle with except yourself and the queue for the toilet is making that, if you'll excuse the expression, hard.

I tend to take the view that, with very few exceptions, anything in the technology line that's really handy is widely adopted as soon as the price becomes reasonable. If that doesn't happen, it's probably unnecessary. Step forward virtually everything except CD players, DVD players and mobile phones. I appreciate that electronics companies are stuffed if they can't constantly sell devices to people, but this endless parade of gimmickry is going to end in tears. Record consumer debt here in the UK has to owe (pun intended) a lot to the ceaseless thirst for more electrickery. I'm not immune myself, but I won't buy anything unless it's actually useful or craps all over what I already have in some meaningful way.

Manufacturers need to give people what they actually want - not simply something that they don't already have. These, in the case at least of the intelligent and discerning punter, are not at all the same thing. Discuss.

Posted at 7:45 pm by Jim Woods

Tuesday January 6 2004

The web - it's not all shite after all

I just swung by the The Urban Exploration Ring, and am pleased to report that there is a lot of new stuff. Have a shufti. Call it your today's support for non-commercial content. If you're more motivated than me you could even poke about in a derelict old building and post photos of your adventure. I do enough of that; I call it "going home".

Posted at 9:36 pm by Jim Woods

Oi, where's my internet?

The commercialization of the internet continues apace.

My key brethren The Hatter was bemoaning that his efforts to look for a television set online have been hampered by a tendency for all his searches to turn up generic electronics shopping sites. I know what he means. I look for online info on consumer electronics stuff all the time, hoping to find decent reviews and tech data or whatever, and pretty much all I get is links to sad home shopping sites. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, maybe I'm tight, but I still regard the internet as a useful resource for finding free information and content put there for the love of it by people like me (perhaps with rather more hair). And in all probability there is still a lot of it about. But how is anyone going to find it when search engines are so inclined to favour commercial links? And the free directories are woefully under-subscribed.

More and more do I find that my response to what comes up on my screen - be it web, email or newsgroup - is to mentally shout "stop trying to sell me things already".

This site will remain resolutely partisan and non-commercial. I really don't see what else I can do to help. I'm deluged with spam to the extent that I am reticent about the whole community thing; if every time I participate in a forum or sign a guestbook the net result is that I receive a tide of crap casting aspersions on my virility (good enough for the use I put it to) or my follicles (am I the only man in the world who really doesn't mind being a baldy?) or my finances (I have more sense than to trust these to some random wanker who spams me), then my response is likely to be to turn off the computer and go down the pub. Of course I need little encouragement to do that anyway, but it's a shame nonetheless. There a a lot of good things we can all do with the net. I propose that we all take a more active part in the good things, and ignore or avoid the pack of screaming pricks who would like to turn our own homes into some ghastly mall. Here endeth the lesson.

Posted at 9:08 pm by Jim Woods

Today's random stuff

I came across a nice article by Jef Raskin, the father of the Apple Mac, about his new interface for the personal computer. Since the interface is always going to be the key to doing the things that we want on any personal computer I find this the most interesting part of the whole shebang. You, of course, may not.

I also found this comprehensive table with which you can work out quite why it's so bollock (if you've got 'em) freezing riding your bike across town to lash it up. But what are we going to do? Stop? I think not!

I've no idea why my counter is being so shy at the moment, as I pay my Pipex subs like a good little chap. So I may be Khmer-Rouging it back to the point of zero visitors. Of course, if more people occasionally send a bit of email feedback or signed the guest book I'd be less likely to use the counter as a way of gauging whether I'm reaching an audience, but whatever. As a very wise man once said, fuck 'em.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of a public service.

Posted at 7:05 pm by Jim Woods

Monday January 5 2004

Wasting time

messing about with computers. An odd thing for someone who just completed a major upgrade of their hardware in next to no time with next to no trouble, but hey - it's nice to slam technology every once in a while just because it's not sex or beer or rock music. So I am mildly amused by this article. I have to say that I don't have a lot of trouble with my setup since I moved to using XP Pro, but then I only really do massive internet use and some light list-keeping and accounting - and the odd game - so there may well be problems I haven't noticed. I don't use a printer, for example, often enough for it to be hooked up permanently. In fact, since I last reinstalled the o/s and everything about four to six months ago I haven't yet had occasion to bung the printer's drivers on. I should get some sort of tree-hugging award really. Maybe I'll apply.

The shrine thrives, but the wealth of telly that builds up on the TiVo still has the depressing tendency to seem like an item on a to-do list rather than a pleasure to be enjoyed. Mind you, I'm lucky enough not to have a hell of a lot I have to do, so resultantly I tend to worry overly about such things as I regard as pressure. It would be interesting, I think, to do a month - or even a week - without TiVo and see what happened. I could program VCRs (I have, typically, three) and wallow in retro teledrudgery.

For now I shall drink tea and look forward very little to tomorrow's dental checkup.

Posted at 1:04 am by Jim Woods

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