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

Saturday January 1 2005


new year, people. I celebrated so thoroughly that I have little alternative but to carry on...

Posted at 4:47 pm by Jim Woods

Friday December 31 2004

Messing around

with Blogger, where I run my link-dump-blog Inchoate Satellite, I was suddenly filled with the urge to see how many of the other blogs on this enormous site were based in Oxford or nearby. Yeah, I'm a geographer. I don't know why I'm obsessed with maps and physical locations, but I am. Anyway, the obvious method would be to search profiles. I discovered that Blogger does not as yet support searching profiles, although their FAQ says that facility will come soon. I realize that where someone is based is fairly low down on the list of things one might want to search for in a profile (unless you're a stalker I suppose) but not having the ability to do any kind of profile searching is a bit of a limitation. That's how you'd get in touch with people with similar interests and so on, after all. Roll on that facility on Blogger.

Apropos of this I was thinking that what would be really nice would be some sort of map of the world on which people charted their physical location, thus allowing browsing of web content on a geographical basis. I've seen all sorts of stuff that sort of does this a bit, from NeoTrace (mapping ping) to - oh, loads of stuff. None of it really does the trick overall though. So I'm thinking along these lines, and what I come up with is that of course the whole point of "cyberspace" (a dreadful term that nonetheless serves well as a description of the net) is that physical location is, or aims to be, irrelevant. Therefore what I'm doing is applying a physical mode of visualising geography to a medium which supercedes that type of visualization. Further to this is the realization that wanting to be able to actually kind of reach beyond the screen and get some tangible sense of locality is a pretty forlorn hope. My continuing interest in webcams is another facet of this urge. The conclusion is that perhaps I should just get out more. The net is a great way to waste time or access information, but a real human community it is largely not. Peoples behaviour in it is subtly different to their behaviour in real life, and I'm not talking about just those who use it as a way of projecting an image of who they'd *like* to be. Mostly the net fulfils the function of a souped-up telephone directory-cum-encyclopedia, with elements of role-playing and pen-palling built in. What makes it so seductive to those with lively imaginations is the ease with which one can virtually travel the globe, without needing the vast reserves of cash and spare time necessitated by doing this for real. But I'm beginning to think that this is a double-edged sword really.

With which profundity I'm off to experience the physical world a bit more by fearlessly travelling to my lunch, and perhaps to the shops.

Posted at 12:59 pm by Jim Woods

Thursday December 30 2004

Having a merry

old time tweaking my guitar rig in anticipation of a relatively heavy work load in the new year. I've borrowed the odd nice guitar on approval, and I've been doing a bit of sonic pest control with them. I have two overdrive pedals, and two amps as well. I've been working through it all trying to find the best combination of tones, and frankly the conclusions are a little surprising. Surprising, at least, in that unexpected things make a lot of difference and things which I thought would be very important are not. Of course, having a detached house rather helps; I couldn't see getting away with the kind of levels one needs to really get an idea of how something will really sound on a stage in any previous dwelling of mine. So hurray for periods of affluence. People, there really is no substitute...

Wonder where it all went?

So what were my conclusions?

Guitars and overdrive units sound subtly different. But only subtly in the scheme of things.

Amps are where it all lives or dies.

Big amps sound better. Not louder necessarily, but better.

I will want a bloody big amp, and soon.

And, to wax cod-philosophical, after a quarter of a century trying to put over a certain tone I now find that I do it subconsciously. Whatever equipment I set up, I manage to impose my will upon it. Decent guitar, decent overdrive, decent amp = hallelujah. Decent guitar, decent overdrive, little 1x12" equipped amp = two sounds available:

1. hamster apologizing.

2. hamster very cross, and taking it out on player's ears.

So there we have it. I'd have thought that the front end of proceedings would have made more difference, but then again the front end is the fingers and the strings. And that's personal. The role of the amp is not to get in the way, and they mostly do. Can't fit a lot of shock and awe down a small-bore pipe I suppose.

I guess you're mostly wondering what I'm on about, actually. This has been a public service announcement on behalf of the not terribly penitent.

Posted at 12:20 pm by Jim Woods

Monday December 27 2004

Well, that's that

with the Christmas for another year. Of course the jollity of the new year awaits, but the principal festivities are behind us for a while. Hang on - if the new year is approaching I must be due to tax the old dwarf Cadillac. Double-edged sword, the festive season.

I gave a lot of nice stuff away, and it was well received. I received some nice stuff, which was, well, nice. There was a great deal of good grub, and I've basically done exactly what I wanted for the last fortnight or so; this cost a fortune, but then again you can't have the crack night and day without paying for it. Back to sanity now. I hope you all had a good time over the last few days, and I'll write again soon.

Oh yes - I also got exactly what I wanted musically, which was probably the best thing of all.

Posted at 1:23 am by Jim Woods

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