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

Friday November 26 2004


A search engine to find Indian restaurants in any part of the world. Not often one comes across a resource as valuable as this one, is it? I did the obvious thing and searched for my home city of Oxford, which produced pretty much every Indian restaurant around the place. Full marks for having them all there, although the listings are not perhaps completely up to date. Still, this tool should get you to a curry most places.

Posted at 11:29 am by Jim Woods

A vast

repository of QuickTime VR panoramas here. Mostly of Slovenia, but some France and a few others. A really good site for spending most of a slow day on.

Posted at 11:14 am by Jim Woods

Thursday November 25 2004

It is widely considered,

and I don't disagree, that one may listen to banging tunes on this site.

Posted at 8:33 pm by Jim Woods

Tuesday November 23 2004

It's not often

I stumble across a software solution to a longstanding annoyance. There are some things I do with my PC that require usage or installation of software which I would never otherwise countenance. By far and away the first amongst these annoyances is RealPlayer. Surely the most intrusive, irritating and downright crap media player ever devised by man or woman. It has the lot: hugely bloated, riddled with ads, utterly invasive of many aspects of your system which it has no business interfering with, and to cap it all about the most pathetic media player out there. I mean, have these people even seen Winamp or Zoom Player or any of the other free media players that boot their sorry excuse for a product into the weeds and carry on merrily upon their way whistling a happy tune?

I even paid for Real's product once, and it wasn't cheap I might add, because I needed it to play their proprietary format. What did this get me? About six months grace before they massively increased the bloat of the thing and wanted paying again for the upgrade. I'd have stuck with the old version, but they pissed about with their file formats to ensure that it wouldn't play content encoded with more recent versions of their encoder. Fantastic. Nothing about the file format noticeably improved for the user, you understand. They just wanted more money to unnecessarily further develop a workable product into a more abusive user experience. These jokers even sell a monthly subscription now. A monthly fee to use a crap media player, and get some junk proprietary content of the sort that you don't want pushed at you for free. Truly beggars belief. I guess there are people out there who subscribe to this "service". I wish they'd come and see me; I've got a load of my old underpants in a pile which I was hoping to get a couple of grand for. I reckon they'd be interested.

Of course the sad truth is that there's a fair amount of content out there which is both worth having and encoded into Real formats. BBC radio stuff for a start. I think the BBC is a great resource and as, like almost all of you, I pay the grasping sods £120-odd quid per year to come up with stuff, I want to listen to it. Quite a bit. Up until yesterday this meant - for me - that I needed to install the accursed devil spawn RealPlayer. Tragic, but inevitable. I'd always hoped that there was another way, bit I couldn't find one.

I was obviously looking the wrong way, and in the wrong places. Yesterday, though, a breakthrough occurred! I was just updating the RealPlayer software. I was being asked to register, and the sods were doing their level best to confuse me into clicking through to a request for payment, and great flashing ads were aggressing me from the "browser" bit of the thing. I'd had enough of their bullshit, frankly, and I was in the mood to take a firm line. I fired up the dear old Google and I typed "RealPlayer crap". Almost the first hit took me here, where I noted that I am not alone in my opinions. Real - jokers beyond any reasonable doubt. And what's this I see? Can it be true?? An alternative product! Oh happy day! I immediately installed it, f*cked the RealPlayer off back to never-again-land, and checked out how Real Alternative works.

Ladies and gentleman, it works good. It's free. It's lightweight and quick. There's a good media player interface redolent of the old junk-free Microsoft version 6-odd one. It really is the answer to my prayers. Everything I need to do involving Real formats works well with this software.

This is the best thing I've seen all year. Get it and use it. Really do.


Posted at 6:40 pm by Jim Woods


for whatever reason, that my Hotmail accounts work again in Firefox. So that's either a plus for MS for sorting out whatever was the problem or a minus to me for being unwilling to spend about half of the rest of my life figuring out what the problem was and consciously rectifying it. It's so confusing...

Posted at 4:10 pm by Jim Woods

There is now,

and you'd be right in getting a sinking feeling that I'm about to go on about browsers, an MSN toolbar. Needless to say it only works in Internet Explorer, making it useless to all but the most drooling and disinterested of cretins, but it is free. It blocks pop-ups - which I rather thought IE was supposed to do anyway these days - and gives easy access to MSN Search and so on. It has a button to take you to the various lairs of MSN, because of course we all want to read a load of superficial "news" and "lifestyle" shite while simultaneously being bombarded by some of the largest ads to be found anywhere. You have to admire any site which will give you advice on reducing debt (pay it off and spend less than you earn, in case you were wondering. Scintillating, priceless advice is everywhere these days...) while flashing bastard great credit card ads all over the shop.

Erm, what else?

Oh yeah, I remember. You've probably got the Google toolbar already. In fact if you're an IE user you've probably got a zillion wanky toolbars all over it, many helpfully installed without your consent while you were checking what the lesbian lavatory lust sites were up to (it's purely an anthropological hobby). Well, now you can have one more. MSN toolbar, as far as I can see, is Google's toolbar but with the word Google replaced by MSN here and there. That'll be why they took a few years longer to come up with it then. I am so pleased that the web is full of new interesting things.

Posted at 3:59 am by Jim Woods

Monday November 22 2004

Electronic music, eh?

To me that means, or meant, Rick Wakeman or Tangerine Dream or some such pontification. Oh yes, that new lad Jean-Michel Jarre has been doing terribly well too. Okay, I'm old. If like me you have a sketchy grasp of acid house and the way it relates to other similar strains of modern electronica then you need to look at this site. I just love anything that has diagrams, and there are some nice "family trees" there. The real killer is that you get samples of the sounds when clicking on the multitude of sub-genres. Great stuff, and highly recommended for the senescent rocker looking to get with the program.

I do like to stream a bit of vocal trance, that's for sure. Great when you're in the bath, I find.

Story today on Dixon's ditching the VCR. I have three, and at the price they are now I may acquire more, because I love them and I won't buy a DVD recorder until they're also fifty quid. New technology? Pah, rapidly exhausting my patience! VHS is far more robust and far cheaper, at least at present. And that's what I want, for recording at least. In any case, I am almost ideologically opposed to anything that Dixon's (or is it Dixons?) do. They may have only now decided to ditch the good old video but they ditched good prices and customer service fifteen years ago.

Posted at 5:01 pm by Jim Woods

Sunday November 21 2004

Spent part

of yesterday evening with key brethren trying to get to the bottom of why my computer is so bloody noisy. This involved taking the beast apart and trying it with various components - the ones with fans - in isolation. There is a great roaring and rushing of winds, and there is an annoying whine. The roaring is louder, but the whine is the most irritating part. This is a great annoyance to me because I have, as yet, only the one computer. I would like a "silent" one, but it'll have to wait for more favourable finances. At the moment I need to work with what I have, and when the thing is driving one up the wall that's far from easy.

Conclusion? The noise is cumulative. Fan noise is basically from the power supply, "silent" though it is supposed to be. This seems to be an inescapable problem. I mean, the power supply is pretty vital :) The annoying whine, though, is a different story. There are two 40 gb 7200 rpm drives in my box, and the Western Digital is polite and quiet. The Maxtor, on the other hand, is a whining bastard. I need to get bigger drives in play in any case, so I suppose it's pot luck again. I must find out what are the quietest drives. Then again, maybe they vary from example to example. Who knows? Time to search the web on this topic I think...

Posted at 4:53 pm by Jim Woods

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