Archive: May, 2002


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Thursday, May 30th, 2002

Too busy to blog

I’m afraid updates are going to be scarce over the next few days. My mother is here in Brighton for a visit so Jessica and I are showing her the sights.

We’ll probably be making a trip or two up to London, hopefully avoiding the worst of the congestion from the Jubilee celebrations.

So apologies for the silence. I’ll give short updates when I get the chance. For now, though, I’m going to take it easy.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2002

Glad to be back

Finland was… quiet. I almost wished I had a more stressful lifestyle so that I could appreciate the peace and quiet more. As it was, I was looking at my watch by the end of the weekend.

It must be said, Jessica and I were staying in a particularly quiet town.

Imatra was actually designed by Alvar Aalto. He must have been tripping at the time. In fairness, the town was designed for about 70,000 people. There are 30,000 people living there so the town has feels empty… almost desolate, some might say.

The town used to have a quite famous tourist attraction. The Czars of Russia would visit the waterfall there (and leave their names carved in the rocks). Now there’s just a dry riverbed thanks to the dam that has been built. The dam is opened once a week during the summer so the waterfall briefly returns.

So Imatra wasn’t up to much. But we did get out to Savonlinna, home to the beautiful Olavinlinna Castle, the oldest castle in Scandinavia. The weather was great and after viewing the castle, we enjoyed the local speciality of little fried fish. Ah, lovely.

With the exception of the castle, I was surprised by how modern most of the buildings in Finland are. They’re modern in that 1950s council-flat bunker kind of way.

I guess if you’re going to spend most of the year in darkness and snow, it doesn’t matter how your buildings look.

When we there, though, there was surplus of daylight. Gorsharn kept telling us how happy the people are now that Summer is here.

I’d hate to see them when they’re unhappy, then.

The Finns seem to be defined by who they don’t like (Russians, Swedes and Gypsies), a feast or famine attitude to alcahol and, of course, the ubiquitous sauna.

I didn’t get the chance to experience a sauna. I don’t think I need to make a return trip just for that, though.

The countryside was nice. Gorsharn described it as like "being in a painting". It was a painting with a rather dull composition. The trees and lakes were lovely but a nice mountain or two, or just a hill, a hillock even, would have been nice.

Eat your heart out, Holland. Finland is the true cyclist’s paradise.

Helsinki was pleasant; St. Petersburg on the Baltic. Before catching our flight back, Jessica and I took the time to stroll around the town and eat some reindeer sausage, fish and cherries.

See for yourself. You can pay a virtual visit to Finland right here by checking out the pictures I took. As good as, if not better than, the real thing.

Thursday, May 23rd, 2002

Hei Hei

I’m taking off for the weekend.

Jessica and I are going to…

"Finland, Finland, Finland,

the country where I want to be,

pony trekking or camping,

or just watching TV."

We’ll be visiting our friend Gorsharn who’s been there for the better part of a year teaching English in the town of Imatra, seven miles from the Russian border.

This will be the furthest east I’ve ever been…

"You’re so near to Russia.

so far from Japan,

quite a long way from Cairo,

lots of miles from Vietnam."

We’ve quite a long day’s travelling ahead of us tomorrow: a walk to the bus station, a two hour bus ride to Heathrow, a three hour plane journey to Helsinki, a bus to the train station, a three hour train ride to Imatra.

Then we’ll be ready to see all that Finland has to offer…

"You’re so sadly neglected

and often ignored,

a poor second to Belgium

when going abroad."

If I find an Internet cafe, I’ll post an update or two here. Otherwise, I’ll fill you in on everything once I get back on Monday evening.

I’ll be sure to take plenty of pictures.

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2002

Spamming for spam

Here’s an article, written by an idiot, called "Why I love spam".

The idiot asks the question:

"Am I crazy or what? I love spam! "

No, he’s not crazy. The real reason behind this idiot’s wayward fetish is not his mental health. Just take a look at the "about the writer" blurb:

"Barry Dennis is president of Netweb, an Internet and offline marketing and public relations agency."

And this from a site with the word "news" in its domain name.

Tuesday, May 21st, 2002


10 songs from REM’s album "Reveal" have been re-mixed. You can download the MP3s for free from their website. You can even download artwork for the CD you burn.

Share and enjoy.

Monday, May 20th, 2002

This really, REALLY! stank

3 Stench Ridden Days…

"All of my house mates and I were convinced that there was a rotting mouse either under the floor boards or in the wall. Well I say all my house mates except for James William Ascroft-Leigh, who suggested the smell was coming from my computer."

Building a Life-size Millennium Falcon

The Online Documentary:

"The script called for a life-size Millennium Falcon. The big question was where were we going to build it.  We thought that the perfect place would be Southern Johnson County.  And so our journey began."

Sunday, May 19th, 2002


In case you haven’t seen, I’ve been making some changes over at Jessica’s site. In fact, I’ve rebuilt it completely.

The whole thing is now based around XML files parsed by PHP, much like this site.

Best of all, though, Jessica has officially joined the ranks of the blogger army. Expect thoughtful, well-written posts to be the norm.

I’m still not too sure about the design of the front page, but the articles within the site are definitely more "usable" now. I’ll probably change the front page design over time as it becomes clearer exactly what’s needed.

The nice thing is that, now that the content and design are completely separated, tweaking the design (or even changing it completely) will be quite easy.

If you haven’t read any of the stuff at Jessica’s site, set aside some time and have a nice leisurely browse through some great writing.

Share and enjoy.

Friday, May 17th, 2002

Even more Attack Of The Clones

Jessica and I went to see Attack of the Clones again today. Here’s my (spoiler-free) review.

Remembering my experience with The Fellowship Of The Ring, I wanted to wait until seeing the film a second time before sharing my thoughts.

I have to say, though, that the experience of a midnight viewing in a cinema packed with fans was thoroughly enjoyable. It really helped to get into that little-kid frame of mind which was so condusive to enjoying the film.

Anyway… the film itself. Personally, I love it. Then again, I’m such a Star Wars fan that I enjoyed The Phantom Menace (yes, even Jar-Jar Binks).

Attack of the Clones is Fun with a capital F. George Lucas has never disguised his love of saturday morning serials like Flash Gordon. Well, this film really captures the excitement of those popcorn fueled adventures.

In some ways, Attack of the Clones feels more like an Indiana Jones adventure than a Star Wars film.

But it isn’t just thrills, spills and joyrides. There’s a really great plot to be enjoyed here. From the devious machinations of the villains to Obi-Wan’s detective story, everything rolls inexorably towards the mother of all climaxes.

And here’s the weird thing… I actually prefer the first half of the movie, before the climactic clash of the final battle.

Don’t get me wrong, the battle is an absolutely amazing spectacle. But it is a spectacle - something that is there to be looked at. It didn’t involve me or suck me in like the rest of the movie.

In some ways, Lucas has made two movies. For the first half, he has a story to tell and he tells his superbly. Once he’s done that, he rewards the audience with the ultimate cinematic rollercoaster.

There’s a general consensus, even in the bad reviews, that this final battle is a great piece of cinema. It is, but… the first half of the film is a great piece of storytelling.

The weak point, as most reviews point out, is the love story. It is kind of forced and there’s some particularly clunky dialogue. Personally, I don’t mind. What bothers me is when the rest of the audience titters, chortles and makes inappropriate comments…

Yeah, I’m one of those stuck-up types that likes to enjoy a movie without a running commentary from the seat behind.

Ah, well; each to his own. Unless you’re one of those commentators - in which case, each to his own horribly painful death.

Anyway, to sum up my feelings on Attack of the Clones: if you don’t like Star Wars, you won’t like this. If you like Star Wars, you’re in for a treat (or, more likely, you’ve already had your treat); it’s a great Star Wars movie.

Great story, dodgy dialogue, some great performances (especially Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen), sloppy love story and fantastic action. In short, it’s classic Star Wars.

A couple of final thoughts…

Having a simultaneous worldwide release was a gift from heaven. I’m so glad I didn’t have to wait weeks or months to see this. I know it was probably done to avoid clashing with the World Cup, but I’m thoroughly grateful.

I can’t wait for Episode 3. I’m going to try to spend the next three years avoiding spoilers (something I didn’t do for Attack of the Clones) but I don’t know if I have the willpower.

Now let the blogging reviews commence. Jessica has already written her review.

Thursday, May 16th, 2002

Attack Of The Clones

I saw it. I loved it. I can’t wait to see it again.

Wednesday, May 15th, 2002

Attack of the Clones

I got my days mixed up yesterday. I’ll be seeing Attack Of The Clones sooner than I realised - midnight tonight.

Just over twelve hours, then. I am, to use the modern parlance, psyched.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2002

UK awaits Star Wars première

I’ve had my ticket for over a month now and I’ve resisted the urge to turn this journal into one long countdown. Now, though, the excitement is official.

In just over 60 hours I’ll be watching Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones.

Sunday, May 12th, 2002

Web services, Weblogs and Wired

Here’s an excellent article in The Guardian by all-round good guy, Ben Hammersley all about web services.

John Dowdell concurs.

John Dowdell is one of those Macromedia employees who are now blogging. This was reported recently in Wired. The Wired article states:

"Macromedia asks only that its bloggers keep their postings relevant — no blogging about what they ate for breakfast, in other words."

Well, I’ve got one up on everyone else then. I happen to know some non-Flash related things about John Dowdell. I know for a fact that he, like me, plays Irish traditional music.

Two of the discussion lists I’m subscribed to are about web design and one is about Irish traditional music. At some stage I noticed that there was only one other individual subscribed to all three lists: John Dowdell.

So, to me, he’s not just some faceless Macromedia employee. He’s a concertina playing faceless Macromedia employee.

Friday, May 10th, 2002

Campaign for Digital Rights - Copy-protected CD information

Just in case anyone thinks my whinging about the "copy-protected" nature of the soundtrack to the new Star Wars film is over the top, I think it’s worth pointing out that these "copy-protected" CDs also won’t play in car stereos and DVD players.

Except for Sony’s DVD player, funnily enough.

Thursday, May 9th, 2002


Here’s a great site I found in my referral logs: Jonathan Macy Biggs. Behold the beautiful design and validating pages!

In a recent journal entry, he points to a neat little application designed for bloggers with Macs. iTunesTrackInfo uploads a small text file to a web server. This textfile contains the title of the current song being played in iTunes.

I’ve decided to incorporate it into this page for a while. The app tends to make my Mac a little sluggish but it’s a nifty idea.

$95,000 Adventure @

I’ve just finished reading this incredible but true story:

"In May of 1995, I suddenly found myself smack in the middle of a very unusual ‘life experiment.’ I deposited a junk mail check into my ATM and to my absolute dismay, it cashed. Thus began the wildest adventure I’ve ever been on in my life."

Tuesday, May 7th, 2002

Attack of the 50 foot iMac

If you go down to the centre of Brighton, you’re in for a big surprise.

The clocktower, like all important monuments, has been covered in scaffolding for a while. Now the scaffolding has also been covered.

There are giant pictures of the new iMac facing north, south, east and west.


Salter Cane

It’s time for me to unveil a site I’ve been working on for a while now.

It’s a website for my band, Salter Cane. It’s my first Flash site so don’t expect anything too cutting-edge.

I’m pretty happy with the way the site has turned out. I think it manages to convey a strong atmosphere. I even managed to get it to validate.

Anyway, see what you think for yourself:

Salter Cane.

Monday, May 6th, 2002

Soundtracks of my tears

Dear Sony Classical,

I was in a store today where I saw the newly released soundtrack to Star Wars, Episode II.

I was about to buy the CD on the spot when I noticed the "will not play on Mac/PC" disclaimer.

I guess you don’t want my money, then.

You’ve lost my custom.

How dare you dictate on which devices I may or may not listen to music?

You are effectively forcing me to somehow get hold of the music through other, possibly illicit, means.


A very disatisfied (potential) customer.

u l t r a m i c r o s c o p i c

My new favourite ‘blog is Ultramicroscopic.

Great design, great writing.

Google bombing Verisign

The Hoopla debacle still shows no sign of being resolved.

It’s time to Google bomb Verisign. It’s Verisign who are responsible for this so let’s get Verisign’s attention.

Don’t know what a Google bomb is? Just try doing a Google search for Scientology.

Let’s do the same for Verisign.

That’s Verisign.

Friday, May 3rd, 2002

åsa & malin proudly present...

Local Flash heroes Kerb have relaunched their website.

I had a sneak preview of the site at the last Silicon Beach event and it really is quite a remarkable and fun way to use Flash.

It’s a hefty download but I think the wait is worth it. Have fun…

The World According to Student Bloopers

Students say the funniest things:

"Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. When Lincoln was President, he wore only a tall silk hat. He said, "In onion there is strength." Abraham Lincoln write the Gettysburg address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope."

"Bach was the most famous composer in the world, and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this."

Thursday, May 2nd, 2002

No Macs need apply

Jessica and I have thinking about getting some of our stuff insured (the computers, musical intruments, etc.). Jessica spent some time today comparing insurance policies online.

One insurance broker we definitely won’t be using is Lloyds TSB.

They obviously care about their online presence - they snapped up the domain "". Yet, when Jessica or I attempt to actually find any information on insurance policies, we are confronted with a screen telling us that Macs can’t access the site.

All we wanted was some information - just text, that’s all, nothing fancy.

Jessica was kind enough to write them a quick email to tell them that they had lost our custom.

They did write back. They sent a generic "we apologize for the situation" message suggesting that we ‘phone one of their agents "…who will be able to assist you further".

Hmmm… how do I know if I’ve got a compatible ‘phone?

Wednesday, May 1st, 2002

Tom Waits

With most of the music industry running scared from the Internet in a moral panic, it’s great to see a record company that embraces the medium and uses it to its full potential.

ANTI-records is streaming two new albums by Tom Waits, Alice (presumably music from the Robert Wilson play) and Blood Money.

If I may indulge in a moment of pure fanspeak, I’d just like to state for the record that Tom Waits rocks my world.

ANTI-records also adds sideways motion to my planetary abode.

Petition Decision Derision

At the time of writing this, 997 morons believe this idiocy about The Lord Of The Rings:

"Peter Jackson has decided to tastelessly name the sequel "The Two Towers". The title is clearly meant to refer to the attacks on the World Trade Center. In this post-September 11 world, it is unforgiveable that this should be allowed to happen."

Even when the website added this note:

"The Two Towers is the title of the JRR Tolkien book originally published in 1954, as part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy: 47 years prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center towers."

All is not lost, however. There is a counter-petition. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, only 200 people have signed it.


It’s political correctness gone mad. You do realize that this is why the Roman Empire collapsed, don’t you?

May Day - the Real Labor Day

Happy May Day.

If you’re working today, shame on you.

If you’re marching through London, know your rights.