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

Saturday April 16 2005

Something of a head,

this lad. Do read the last two lines of the article!


Posted at 10:00 pm by Jim Woods

Don't forget

your new Firefox update to 1.03, a security fix...


Posted at 3:04 pm by Jim Woods

Thursday April 14 2005

Rip them streams.

So you have your Winamp, or whatever it is that you use to listen to Shoutcast streams (internet radio), and you're thoroughly besotted with all the cool stuff you're getting to listen to. No way of easily recording it to your computer though... Double drat. I've been looking for something that would do this for ages, and now I've found it. Check out the excellent Streamripper, available free under the GNU. And you may also want to take a look at StreamRipper32, which despite being described as dead and unsupported works very nicely too.

<Sound of fresh warm streams a-ripped>

May well be technically illegal though, I'm not sure. I'm never entirely sure whether most of these little amateur web radio stations would be likely to have the clearances to broadcast the stuff in the first place...


Posted at 9:58 am by Jim Woods

Wednesday April 13 2005

The plan to enjoy more music

in more different formats took another big leap forwards today, as I managed to shoehorn my ancient Hitachi direct drive quartz locked (because this is terribly important) turntable into the rack which holds my living room setup. I likes a bit of analogue, so I does. I celebrated this return to form by checking my nets up the Cowley Road charity shops and availing myself of some cheap mad dance vinyl of a cheesy / jazzy persuasion. I'd tell you what, but it's downstairs playing and I'm upstairs typing and never the twain shall meet. It's my policy to first listen to things with a small house between me and them, only getting in the same room with stuff when I'm suitably impressed. Maybe it's years playing in rhythm sections, but the thumping needs to be righteous before I want to know about what overlays it upwardly. I'm liking what I'm hearing so far.

Not all life is analogue though. I draw the line at having to do a cassette transfer of stuff I want to listen to on the move. I fancied one of those hard drive based walk-things, but apart from the two hundred notes necessary to get a good one being problematic I know from long and sometimes bitter experience that anything that expensive and fragile will get dropped or nicked if I carry it about. Or sat on. Sat on is a perennial favourite. Thirty-five quid to the ever-useful House of Arg and I have the weapon. Philips Expanium 2300/02 personal CD player, you are now made my bitch. This is an ideal tool in all but bulk, and I always carry a messenger bag when seriously moving about in any case. It doesn't weigh much, in any case, so portability is very satisfactory. Assuming that the creature does not prove defective - and it works so far - this will have many good things to offer.

Let me enumerate them for you. Oh yes.

The lid of this unit is the most beautiful dark metallic blue colour. It doesn't quite match my eyes, but I wish it did.

It has anti-shock thing, unlike my other very-cheap-from-Tesco personal cd. Trust me, it's bugger-all good not having this if you want to walk, cycle or drive your chariot. So hooray.

It plays MP3 CDs. In layman's terms this means ten albums of mid-period Miles Davis goodness racket on one CD. Killer.

Battery life is pretty fair, given that I have a load of NiMH rechargeables to bring to the party.

Apart from a huge cost and worry advantage, this unit has a real killer blow to deal the hard drive brigade. I'm in town drinking coffees and rooting around in the cheap sections of music shops. I buy media, because I do. With this unit I get to listen to it right away. No taking it home and ripping it to the unit before I can enjoy it. Great.

It's all good. Three-speed bike is cracking along now too. Chain needs tightening, which is oily bits operation, but it's a small price to pay.



Posted at 7:06 pm by Jim Woods

I've got two bicycles.

I'm a capitalist bicycling pig, it's true. One is a curvy-looking creature which I picked up in Cycle King for a little over a hundred quid a few months ago. It has a Shimano gear mechanism - a seven-speed hub gear, which has an imprecise, flimsy, largely plastic twist-shift thing I don't like; I don't like the fact that although there are low gears to enable one to climb the bloody wardrobe the highest gear is also pretty low. Too low. The mountain bike-type brakes are great though, and it's light and fairly comfortable. Nice riding position, mudguards to keep the crap off. That's as much as I want to talk about it though, since I want to go on about my other bike. My baby.

I've had the other bike for, oh - ten years probably. It's a funny thing. I bought it new just when Raleigh were deciding that they might as well not bother to make a dark green gents roadster with a Sturmey-Archer AW three speed hub any more. Everyone was on mountain bikes. Well, a few were on racers too. Only very old people or mad people, so the trade thinking went, want an upright three-speed bike these days.

What shall we do, thought Raleigh and other Western bike companies?

"I know", pipes up some bright spark in the decision-making chain, "f*ck 'em! Let the old and mad eat cake! Cake with derailleur gears, and lots of them""

"What a good idea", agreed all in marketing.

And so it was written on the wall for the three-speed bike. But in the transitional year of what must have been 1995 or so a strange beast emerged. It was appointed as a dark green three-speed upright gents bicycle. But the bastards had already abandoned manufacture of the appropriate frame, so it had a great big heavy cheap old steel mountain bike frame - sloping top tube et al. Strong as, and as responsive as, a five bar gate. Which is great around Oxford with its busy and shocking roads. And my friend Neil Ashdown who worked in Denton's Cycles in Summertown, before it closed down, told me that if I was to get such a bike then it was pretty much last orders. For what seemed like a pretty fair hundred and twenty quid I bought one then and there. Until three months ago I'd been riding it for ten happy years. And I will be tomorrow.

The mountain bike it replaced I'd had for three hours when it was removed from my possession by some little scrote. Two d-locks holding it down, and it went from outside my busy local in daylight three hours after I'd paid £250 for it. First trip. Abandon that for a game of soldiers, I'd thought, I want something no-one will steal. It's the three speed upright gents roadster, dark green, for me from now on. So I bought one.

I put such a big pothole-weatherer of a rear tyre on it that I had to remove the rear steel mudguard because there was never going to be the clearance. Never really did anything else to it though. No need. My only criticisms would be that the handlebars are a bit low, since the mountain bike frame doesn't go too well with ordinary steel handlebars and stem, and that I have to tighten the headset and bottom bracket bearings rather more often than you do on a modern, or expensive, bike. Three months ago the bottom bracket was loose and it was a cold wet miserable day to be out cycling and then the three-speed cable snapped. No bike shop near me had an appropriate cable and in what was I suppose a fit of pique I bought the new cheapy seven-speed bike. Rash, and on the plastic where the sum and much more still resides, but I was getting a lot of machinery grief - still am - and couldn't bear to be stuck without a bike while scouring the world for a cable.

Anyway, it's handy having a spare bike. And the other one's a lot easier work for any distance. Much lighter. But now thanks to Halfords of all places (home of old-fangled spare parts) I've sorted out the older bike. Cool. I thoroughly serviced it, and although it'll need a new rear tyre soon and the back brake's a bit crap it's now in fine fettle. No-one nicks it, touch wood, and I'll be out a-drinking on it tomorrow night.

Slowly, slowly I'm fixing all my broken stuff. Or doing without it. The journey's under way.


Posted at 1:03 am by Jim Woods

Monday April 11 2005

Mind you,

I'll tell you what does work. My dinner, that's what. It worked because olives are the incendiary device. My friend Tommy (who for some mad reason has just set the spell checker all agog) procured me some olives in London. They're from Turkey, and they're as black as the Earl of Hell's waistcoat. They're sold whole, with the pits in, and they're marinaded in oregano, thyme and chilli flakes. They're not too big, and they're not insanely hot, but they really are the top-level domain. I toasted up - Dualit stylee - a couple of slices of Kingsmill wholemeal bread, slapped in some olive spread and some Canadian cheddar from Tesco, and filled up the remaining space with these great olives, halved and de-stoned. Makes a really good sandwich. I like my sandwiches. "Cookery", I call it. Fantastic. Top banana. As an accompaniment, this crazed Twinings tea I've found. Tea with coconut, vanilla and cocoa pods. Much, much better than it sounds. Coconut in particular is great in tea.

Listening to some streaming music off the web, catchy little station called, and thinking that after four hours of kip in the last, oh - too long, I should get my head down.

That was a fairly un-electronic post, wasn't it? Miraculously, nothing broke or annoyed me while I was writing it.

Olive power. That's where the future lies.


Posted at 11:24 pm by Jim Woods

Victory, vengeance, whatever you want to call it.

It's mine. I know I said I couldn't afford a new monitor, but that was before I went to see Sinoco. They always manage to sort me out with face-to-face service at mail-order prices. I bunged them £135, and in return waltzed off with a 19" Liyama CRT. And it's just wonderful, especially after Hansol hell. I spend so much time working at a monitor that I really thought I'd better not piss about. The old one was becoming so ill-focussed that I could scarcely read text on it all.

Now, I just need this new monitor not to prove defective...

About time I wrote about something that was nothing to do with technology, really. Bought a new cable for my old 3-speed bike today, so the towpaths will resound to the sound of my missile drill before long. Now that was proper technology. Talk about a service life.


Posted at 7:40 pm by Jim Woods

Monitor all blurry now.

F*cking marvellous. Does nothing work? Does nothing ever work??

Well, there's no dosh in the kitty to replace a monitor right now. When I do I'll get a bigger one, which means a 19". Which means £200. Which means not yet. In the meantime it's blurriness and moire left, right and centre. Oh, and up.


Posted at 10:17 am by Jim Woods

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