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

Friday January 27 2006

There always seems to be something interesting

on WFMU, so if you find yourself at a loose end...


Posted at 4:08 pm by Jim Woods

Thursday January 26 2006

Having not yet recovered from the shock of having my antique runabout certified fit for human transportation,

I am sitting around in my dressing gown (it's a corker) waiting for recording work to resume and creditors to cough up. I have been flirting with the idea of a Mac, not as an alternative to a dressing gown but as an alternative to a PC. There are many, many good reasons why a Mac would be a better bet:

- more secure, as not properly targeted (yet) by viruses and malware

- vastly more attractive and quiet

- probably quicker and more stable (than my PC at least)

- LCD display. Never had one, but want one

Unfortunately, there are also compelling reasons against...

- I have expensive software on which I rely, which is not available for Apples

- desk space is limited, so running a PC and a Mac side-by-side would be inconvenient

- PC would still be needed for a lot of things

- Mac costs a grand

Now, the way I work is simple. If I want something for years, I buy it (funds permitting). Mac falls into this category without a doubt. On the other hand, my computing environment is somewhere that I spend a lot of time, and is therefore vital to me. I am not a great user of the kind of applications at which the Mac excels, and I am not an iPod owner. I am slightly worried that my traditional practice of simply shuffling two hard drives in my machine around so that the smaller one gets replaced from time to time is not cheap or practical with a Mac, but I haven't checked this out carefully enough yet. I am, in short, divided.


Posted at 2:12 pm by Jim Woods

Tuesday January 24 2006

Off to get renewed resident's parking permit today.

This is hardly thrilling news, I appreciate, but it does represent today's total chore load. So you could consider this a gloat. This puts me in town, where I can indulge in all my favourite urban pastimes - chiefly drinking a lot of coffee, taking in the Modern Art and poking about in record shops. Yes, I'm back on the record buying. The recent(ish) tendency for the record shops to knock out all their back catalogue stocks cheaply is one to be applauded. The only thing that takes the edge off the whole operation is that it is bloody cold. Really, horridly cold. Not Novosibirsk-stylee life-threatening cold, but colder than I am happy about. Actually, anything under about fifteen degrees is colder than I am happy about.

Anyway, with a hiatus in work and money owed to me still it's time to hang. And maybe get stuck into clearing up the garden.


Posted at 12:46 pm by Jim Woods

Monday January 23 2006

Hah. Passed!

Excellent stuff. Now I can drink the contingency fund...


Posted at 7:18 pm by Jim Woods

Today the state Scirocco

goes in for its MOT. Always a fraught time with a new (to me) vehicle. Although I have persuaded it to stop in a rather less leisurely fashion, one can never be sure what else might be going on. It drives fine, but then so did the state Micra with - as it turned out - no effective rear brakes. Of course those of us who grew up driving bangers from the sixties and seventies are probably rather more forbearing than the yoof of today when it comes to cars. I can all too easily remember when I used to be delighted if anything much at all happened when I pressed any pedals on the cars I had. Highlights included an Allegro which had to be stopped by judicious use of hand brake and gears (local use only) and a Reliant Robin van which failed its test because the steering was apparently not really connected to the wheel; with handling like those things had it was hard to tell really. I always thought the prevailing wind was more of an influence than anything the driver did in any case. There was less traffic in those days. You had to tack, but then I knew how to sail. I had a Fiat 128 which had such severe structural corrosion in the front that the bonnet would fly open under hard cornering. Today they would put you in prison for driving something like that, and angry parents would campaign outside the wire with placards. Back then, you loaded all your friends in and cornered very hard indeed so that everyone could enjoy the show. It had a current MOT though, so no problem. Mind you, at the time an MOT was more like a job interview. First impressions counted. Either the tester liked you and the car when you rolled up initially, or they rapidly developed an irrational hatred. This largely determined what happened with the granting of the ticket, or permit to offend as it may as well have been termed.

I remember the days of ghastly old Eastern Bloc motorcycling too. I would turn up at a location that will necessarily remain nameless, and demand an MOT test. This would consist of the following: the tester, that high priest, would ask for the lights to be turned on, and standing in front of the bike the abilities of the headlight would be debated for a short while. The rear light would usually be deemed rather too much of a step, so one had to take responsibility for that oneself. Next, there would be a highly technical seize and waggle manoeuvre of the swing arm to make sure that the bike was not articulated unduly. The most critical stage of the inspection, though, was the third part. Looking me dead in the eye, the tester would say "good bike is it?". This was the point where the whole thing could go badly wrong. The approach was to smile and say "it does me". Incredibly, I knew people who lost their wheels just by launching into some kind of bitter diatribe at this stage. Strutting about the testing station and making extravagant claims for your steed could also be intensely prejudicial. It was all about the person, and to some degree their economic status. Oh that it still was. The humourless, unjust, po-faced nanny state has now completely done away with that kind of individual leeway in these matters.

If I were in charge of MOT testing, and road users can probably relax considerably that I am not, I would train the people who do the tests rather differently. I would place much higher priority on the attitude of the vehicle owner and on initial impressions of the vehicle. Vehicle a decrepit Nova with Max Power stickers akimbo and alloy wheels? Fail. Driver cocky? Fail. Cocky causes accidents. Owner serene? Conditional pass. Straight roads only. Filthy hippy? Pass - festivals are only accessible by motor vehicle, in the main, and it is not the function of the MOT test to be an instrument of social policy. Motorcycle? Two wheels mandatory; any sign of causal relationship between the two wheels should be additionally considered cause for congratulations and roll-ups all round. In fact, I would forbid anyone who does not smoke roll-ups from carrying out the test at all. Now more than ever it is vital that we encourage the right sort of person and discourage the wrong sort from holding positions of responsibility. This is definitely not the best of all possible worlds.

Anyway, back to this afternoon's main event - the testing of the Scirocco.It handles very well indeed, stops decently, and has lights. Any failure will be on obscure grounds. I have my fingers crossed, and I know that whatever happens it is not vehicles that cause accidents.


Posted at 1:08 pm by Jim Woods

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