Junk calls, doctors and herbs

I had to take my car to KwikFit yesterday as my exhaut was hanging off by a thread; I was irritated to be phoned up by them the same day. How was the service, they asked? Could we have done anything better? Well, the exhaust hasn’t falled off in the half mile from the garage to my house, and can you reduce the cost to 20 quid, please. Free would be better. Turns out they didn’t care, they just wanted to try and flog me car insurance. No, you can’t give me a quote, and no you can’t call me back next year. I’ve been reading "Medicine balls" by Phil Hammond; fine stuff. He repeats the old ear, nose and throat gag: never put anything in your ear small than your elbow. This makes me wonder, how to explain the stethoscope? I’ve also added a new Si…

Prat of the day

I’ve never stayed in the conference hotel at Manchester before. I was a little surprised to be kept away by a bunch of chortling idiots in the corridor at midnight last night. As a result I woke up pretty dazed, then almost brained myself on the handwash basin which has been clever placed in that part of space your head naturally inhabits while sitting on…well, I’m sure you can work it out. It looked like the prize for prat of the day was going to go to room service. Leaving the floor mat over the edge of shower tray is not a great idea — most people turn the shower on before getting into it; how could this been beaten for being stupid? Five minutes later, I took my spare pair of shoes out of my luggage in preparation for the new day. Both of them for my left foo…

Ontogenesis

Am in Manchester for an Ontogenesis meeting, which is focused on tools and APIs this time; perhaps less exciting than previous meetings, but also potentially most useful; spanners are not interesting, per se, but where would we be without them. Sean Bechhofer started off talking about the OWL API — it’s taken a long time, but this seems to have been a bit of a slow burn; it was started in 2002. It’s starting to get a lot wider use now, and a bit of a community around it. Originally published on my old blog site.

Wubi and Hardy

Installed Hardy Heron today on some laptops I have at home — I had decided to try and rip my entire CD collection again with consistent naming and organisation, and the best tool for the job — ripit — is linux based. The wonderous wubi makes a quick installation for a single purpose possible. There is not risk to your machine, and no painful partitioning to be done. Hardy worked pretty well. X worked fine, as did the new resolution switchers. They have moved the location of the "no, no, no, don’t autoplay the CD, not under any circumstances, just don’t do it" dialog from removable devices and media to the file browser. They need to rename something—a CD is "removable media" in my book. I couldn’t get the wireless to work whic…

Night Listener and Northern Exposure

I have finally finished reading the Night Listener. I’ve always had a fragmented relationship with Armistead Maupin; I keep on getting half-way through a book, then stopping. I borrowed More Tales of the City from a friend, for example, and was half-way through reading it, when I found the copy I had bought 3 years before and then stopped. In that case, I had moved house in between and it got backed at the bottom. The Night Listener got caught by my move from Manchester. I’ve tried to start reading it again several times, but mostly while travelling; I think it’s been around the world at least twice. For some reason, I picked it up a few days ago, and read the second half in two days. My conclusions: it’s great, nicely paced, gentle and engrossing; the writer-wri…

Worse lines ever

Went to see a for sale flat at the weekend. At one point, the estate agent said "I dreamt last night that I owned this flat; when I woke up and found that I didn’t, I was devastated". Really, it’s true. I am not making this up. Originally published on my old blog site.

Iplayer

Just tried the BBC’s iplayer for the first time. Pretty good, actually. It basically works, the image quality is good, download speed is fine. The download manager is pretty clunk and limited — you can’t control how many things it downloads at once for instance. The DRM is a pain because you have to use windows media player to watch stuff back; normally I am a VLC man, and I miss having the keyboard shortcuts. Shortly after downloading a few things, my download speed plummted. I think Virgin have chocked me for blowing my download limit, which is the first time this has happened. I managed to get a "0" reading on a download speed diagnostic; strangely, it also showed I have a 2MB upload which makes no sense at all. Is cable not asymmetric? Update Take it all …

Third Account

Yet another post has appeared about Ade Wolfson, this time from a parent of one of this kids, this time in the public media; it’s could that a counter-opinion has appeared in the mainstream media: not everyone is internet-centric. Originally published on my old blog site.

Second Account

A second account of the death of Ade Wolfson has appeared online now; I’ve never met the author, but it’s a good write-up. More information in it than mine. Originally published on my old blog site.

Gilberto Gil and Monica Vasconcelos

All a bit mad, having been on the road for a while, so just a quick review here. When he started, I thought he was well past his best; probably because he was singing in a strangulated falsetto when we got in. Anyway, this turned out to be wrong; he was just warming up. The singing got better and the guitar was wonderfully rhythmic. Afterwards we squeezed into the little hall for Monica Vasconcelos, who played mellow jazz, and samba tinged music. Good voice, excellent band. And all for 7 quid, in the cheap seats which I quite like. No complaints there. Originally published on my old blog site.