Archive: November, 2002


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Friday, November 29th, 2002

The Session

I’ve had some free time this week and, in typical geek fashion, I’ve been spending it coding PHP.

I’ve been tweaking the code over at The Session to make it leaner and more elegant.

I was also planning to improve its search engine friendliness by making “clean” URLS with Apache and .htaccess (as outlined in this article). But then I noticed that its search engine placement couldn’t be better.

A lot of the time, if you type in the name of well-known Irish jigs and reels into Google, the first result will be a link to that tune at The Session.

In fact, using Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” button often works better than using the tune search facility at The Session.

Observe: “The Bucks Of Oranmore”, “The Pipe On The Hob”, “Out On The Ocean”, “The Boys Of Bluehill”

Google likes me.

Tuesday, November 26th, 2002

whoRepresents . .?

Monday, November 25th, 2002

Jim Roll

I went out on Friday night to see Jim Roll play at a local bar.

It was a revelation. His three piece band managed to get a fantastic sound together. It was intimate but it was rockin’.

Jim Roll managed to save himself some money on the tour costs by hving his drummer, Neil Cleary, also open the show. He got the crowd warmed up nicely so that Jim Roll played to a happy, attentive audience.

A lot of the songs were from Jim’s newest album, Inhabiting The Ball, which has the support of McSweeney’s behind it. It’s quite a literary affair that has collaborations with Denis Johnson and Rick Moody. Who says country music can’t be smart, too?

It’s not often that I buy CDs at concerts, but I knew that this was one I wanted to have after hearing the show-stopping “Eddie Rode The Orphan Train”. It brought a lump to my throat and a moistness to my eyes. Of course, if anyone noticed, I’d just blame it on the smoky atmosphere of the room.

The concert was another production by the wonderful Gilded Palace Of Sin who also did their bit for local music after Jim Roll had finished by playing the newest song from Salter Cane. Yay! Download your copy now.

Saturday, November 23rd, 2002

MacExpo 2002

The MacExpo was fun. Crowded and noisy, but fun.

There wasn’t any new hardware for me to drool over this year. I still found myself drooling over the iPod though. One year on, and it’s actually become even better. Seeing an iPod work together with iSync to transfer calendars and addresses was very impressive indeed.

The most fun part of the MacExpo was the gaming alley - a phalanx of G4s running all the latest first-person shooters and strategy games.

To offset all the hi-tech modern gadgetry of the MacExpo, Jessica and I paid a visit to The British Museum. Even though it was a miserable wet day, the covered courtyard of the reading room still felt bright and fresh. It’s the Mac of the architecture world.

crowds at the expo

Wednesday, November 20th, 2002

MacExpo 2002

I’m off to London to check out the goodies at the MacExpo.

‘Tis well I remember my excitement last year at seeing the iPod for the first time.

This year Jessica will coming with me, now that she has been well and truly converted to the true path of computing excellence.

I’ll be sure to snap off plenty of pictures. I might even send an on-the-spot report from my iBook if I can find an airport network.

Sunday, November 17th, 2002

Bringing Entertainment Home

After a long week of staring at code, I finally had some time this weekend to sit back and enjoy my new computer.

It was time to take the superdrive for a spin with some DVDs.

As previously reported, a branch of Blockbuster has opened up just down the street. On Saturday night, Jessica and I went down there to find a nice mindless piece of popcorn entertainment.

We rented Starship Troopers which fit the bill perfectly. One the one hand, it’s a shallow, mindlessly entertaining movie about soldiers fighting giant insects. On the other hand, it’s a delicously clever satire on youth, the military and how war makes fascists of us all. That’s how I like my popcorn.

To rent the movie, I had to become a member of Blockbuster. I filled out the form and got my little piece of plastic. As I was putting it in my wallet, I noticed another, older piece of plastic in there: my library card.

It stared at me from the forgotten depths of my wallet and seemed to scold me for my shallowness. I’ve been a member of the Hove library for months now but I’ve never actually gotten around to going there and taking out some books. And now, here I was in a branch of Blockbuster that had been open for less than a week and I’m not only a card-carrying member but I’m renting DVDs full of explosions and mindless violence.

I slipped the Blockbuster card over the library card so I wouldn’t have to see its accusing plastic face.

Thursday, November 14th, 2002

Apple Pro Keyboard Redux

I go through keyboards like the Skywalker family goes through hands.

Thanks to a comedy of errors, I now have to fork out for another Apple Pro Keyboard. This time, the keyboard is less than a week old.

I was getting up from my desk when I tripped on the power cord of my iBook. This gave me my first scare because it sent the iBook crashing into my printer and my printer crashing to the floor.

As I was cursing my stupidity, picking up the printer and checking the iBook for damage, I noticed that there was water on the desk. I realised that the reason there was water on the desk was because I had, in my haste and stupidity, also knocked over a glass of water.

It was time for my next scare. I noticed that there were water droplets on my iMac’s keyboard. Remembering my last experience of spilled liquids on an Apple Pro Keyboard, I started frantically mopping up, turning the keyboard upside-down (in the process clicking some buttons that shut down the computer - probably a good thing).

I began to worry that mopping up wasn’t going to do the trick so I grabbed a hair-dryer, plugged it in and started drying the keyboard with that.

That’s when I looked around to see my empty glass on the floor and water splashed on my guitar and bouzouki. That was scare number three: the prospect of rusty strings and warped wood.

I left the hair-dryer on, close to the keyboard, so that it could continue to do its work while I took care of the instruments.

I managed to get both instruments cleaned and dried pretty easily.

That’s when I turned back to the keyboard and received my last and biggest scare:

The hair-dryer had melted some of the keys!

I had no idea that a hair-dryer could emit so much heat.

So, for now, I’m using the keyboard I had packed away with the Ruby G3 iMac. It’s a good thing that I didn’t ship it off to my mother straight away. Of course, that computer still needs a keyboard so there’s no avoiding the fact that I’ve got to cough up the cash for (yet another) new keyboard.

Mind you, I can see the funny side to all of this.

Monday, November 11th, 2002


Now that I’m running Jaguar, I decided to download iCal and give it a whirl.

I opened it up and started entering my schedule for this week. That’s when I realised just how much of my time is being taken up with music.

Yesterday, there was band practice from for three hours; I was in the studio today for eight hours and the day after tomorrow, the band will be playing a concert, opening for Menlo Park at the Hanbury Ballroom here in Brighton.

Somewhere in-between all that, I have to find the time to work. What I’d really like to is just spend some time getting to know my new computer better.

I’m not complaining, though. All the practice and studio time pays off with the satisfaction of having a well-recorded song and the gratification of playing a good gig.

I could get used to spending all my time making music.

Saturday, November 9th, 2002


When I got up yesterday morning, Jessica asked me if had dreamt nice dreams.

This isn’t something she normally asks. Slightly puzzled, I answered quite truthfully that I couldn’t remember what I had dreamt.

“Why do you ask”, I added.

“Because”, she replied, “in the middle of the night, you quite clearly and distinctly said: ‘Wow!’”.

That must have been some dream. And I have no idea what it was.

I have a theory, though. I may have had a precognitive dream and experienced the arrival of my new iMac in my sleeping state one night before it arrived.

This theory makes sense because the next day when I took my new iMac out of its box, my exact thought was “Wow!”.

I’m in heaven. This 17 inch movable screen has to be experienced to be believed.

All my applications and documents were backed up onto my iBook so I’ve had a relatively painless time getting the iMac up and running with all my MP3s, photos and websites.

The real clincher came when I installed Photoshop 7 and opened up some graphics files. The speed, the size and quality of the display…


Thursday, November 7th, 2002


Even though I already own an iBook, I can’t help giving the newly released models a longing look. Their bang to buck ratio is incredibly high. The bottom of the range model has twice the memory and hard drive capacity of my aging model.

But my trusty iBook is serving me just fine. Sure, I’ll probably need to get a new battery (more of a problem with the battery than the iBook) and I’d really love to upgrade to a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive but it can still do just about everything I need it to.

I’m not the only one to feel an attachment to an obstensibly out of date model: Todd Dominey had an epiphany in an Apple Store.

Now, for the love of God, somebody get Tom Coates an iBook.

Dark Side Switch Campaign

"My name is Anakin Skywalker and I’m a Sith Lord."

If Star Wars humour of the more infantile kind tickles your fancy, you may enjoy this deleted scene.

Tuesday, November 5th, 2002


Adam Greenfield’s website just got even better. It now uses a lean mean combo of XHTML and CSS.

Visit for the design, stay for the writing.

Lost Weekend

It’s been a wild weekend of music.

On Saturday, the band I play in had an outing to Dorset. We didn’t go there to play; it was more of a busman’s holiday.

We stayed in the little village of Swyre with the family of our drummer, Catherine. It’s a beautiful place and we took the opportunity to go for a stroll down to the beach. The stroll turned into a mud-caked adventure after we got lost in the waterlogged fields on the way back from the beach but the home-cooked roast chicken that awaited us on our return more than made up for that.

That night, we went to see John Parish play the warm-up gig for the start of his tour. Catherine’s sister, Clare, was playing violin in the large (nine piece) band, fresh from her stint playing with Beth Gibbons. The John Parish band was ably supported by local heroes Pop Parker and Citrus Boy, both of home we had heard on our previous West Country outing. All in all, it was a great night out.

We didn’t have much time to linger the next day as we had to get back to Brighton to play a gig ourselves. We left in the morning, got back to Brighton and headed out the door to The Freebutt where we opened for Kentucky rockers, My Morning Jacket.

It wasn’t the most well-attended gig ever, but the people who were there enjoyed themselves and My Morning Jacket rocked.

Now the long weekend of loud guitars is well and truly over and it’s back to the grindstone for me.

Sunday, November 3rd, 2002


In anticipation of the arrival of my lovely new iMac with with its 17 inch screen and superdrive, I decided to pre-emptively stock up with some DVDs.

Like an African nation leapfrogging over landlines straight to mobile ‘phones, I’m going to own a DVD playing device without ever having owned a video.

With fortuituos timing, a Blockbuster branch is opening just down the road from me. They were still stocking the shelves today though, so I continued down to HMV where they having a “two for the price of one” offer.

I picked up two of my favourite science fiction films: Ridley Scott’s Alien and its sequel, James Cameron’s Aliens. I figured they’d make a nice pair.