Archive: January, 2004


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Thursday, January 29th, 2004

Just plain wrong

Seeing windows apps running on OS X kind of freaks me out but not nearly as much as seeing what this guy did to a G5:

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure G5 is a great computer, but I wanted a Dell for Christmas. I don’t have any programs for Apple and didn’t feel like waiting for them. I thought about selling it, but my parents would be upset with me. After all, this was a very expensive gift and it meant a lot to them to give to me…

When I showed my friend, who happens to love Apple, he looked sick. He did not say anything to me. He just put his hands on his head and was in shock. I wish I had a picture of that.”


An iChat transcript with my friend Diarmaid who I am supposed to be meeting in Dublin right about now:

Me: Good morning Diarmaid.

D: did you miss your plane?

Me: No plane to miss.

D: are you here?

Me: Nope. I’m at Gatwick. The flight was cancelled. I’m afraid I’m going to have to cancel our lunch appointment.

D: sorry to hear that. what’s the story?

Me: I’m booked on a later flight. It leaves here a bit after four.

D: no worries. is it bad weather, terrorists? Seagulls? drunken Pilot?

Me: I’ll take a wild guess and say it’s the weather. They get a little bit of snow here and suddenly it’s “arctic conditions” this and “sub-zero” that.

D: lol poofs when i were a lad…

Me: So now I’ve got 5 hours to kill. Luckily, there’s Wi-Fi and BT are doing a ‘free wireless week’ promotion.

D: cool. though i can’t think of a more bleak place to kill time than Gatwick. as douglas adams once wrote..

Me: Gatwick’s better than Heathrow IMHO. So anyway, we figured that we’d get into Dublin centre at about 5:30/6ish. Shall I just give you a call once we’re there?

D: yeah, absolutely. whenever you get in we can arrange to meet city centre area then!

Me: Okay. Sounds like a plan. No worries then. I’d better leave you get back to your hectic work schedule. While I go in search of second breakfast.

D: yeah. good idea. cos if conditions get worse and food runs out, it’ll be Cannibal Chaos at Airport Horror! see you later dude.

Me: Bye.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2004

iBook blues

It’s the twentieth anniversary of the Mac and my iBook has decided to celebrate by popping its clogs.

Weird black lines suddenly appeared down the side of the screen and the computer became unresponsive. After that, every time it’s turned on, after a couple of seconds or a couple of minutes, it freezes up with more weird lines.

Luckily, it’s still under warranty. I’m sure the good people at Apple will be able to fix it up… once they sort out this "new system" they’ve put in place for repairs which required me to fax in a proof of purchase.

The timing isn’t the best: I’m off to Ireland for a few days from Thursday. If there’s one time I really appreciate my iBook, it’s when I’m travelling.

Luckily, Jessica also has an iBook (my old model). Thanks to the wonder of fast user switching, I have it all set up just like I want with all my addresses, calendars, mailboxes, photos and websites.

In fact, with fast user switching, it’ll be just like travelling with two laptops. It’ll just weigh less.

Sunday, January 25th, 2004

The blog entry that wasn't

Things have been very quite here in my online journal lately.

Generally, when a blog falls silent for a while, it’s safe to infer that the signal loss is due to a corresponding increase in offline activity. That’s partly the case here. I’ve been very, very busy at work.

But fate, it seems, is also conspiring against me.

I was going to link to a series of old but very useful Photoshop tutorials over at Apple’s website that Andy pointed out to me. When it came time to blog them though, there was nothing left but a 404 page.

I was also going to link to a site that ripped off Andy’s design but the offending pages have since been removed.

Then I was going to write about an amusing quip of Andy’s when we were having a debate on the merits of finding out something on Google versus just finding it in the real world. I said:

“I’m not arguing against empiricism.”

To which he replied:

“Prove it.”

But then I realised that it was only amusing in that funny-at-the-time, maybe-you-had-to-be-there kind of way.

So yesterday, I thought I would simply write about my day. On closer inspection however, it turned out that I spent yesterday doing precisely the same things I did last Saturday: I photocopied flyers in preparation for tomorrow’s Salter Cane concert and handed them out in cafes and bars.

Which brings us to this Seinfeldian entry. It’s worse than a metablog entry, which would be blogging about blogging; it’s metablog vapourware - blogging about the possibility of blogging but then not blogging.

Tuesday, January 20th, 2004


I’m going to have to get my hands on iLife pronto.

Updates to iMovie, iPhoto and iDVD are, of course, completely overshadowed by GarageBand. Reports from Dan, Steven and Jason would seem to indicate that it’s not only very powerful but also a heck of a lot of fun.

It has also prompted a spurt of legal filesharing as bloggers share their creations. Most of these are made with the loops and samples provided with GarageBand (although I have to admit that I’m more interested in using the program as a quick and easy recording studio).

It’s only a matter of time before some young prodigy storms the music world with GarageBand the same way that Jonathan Caouette has wowed the film world with iMovie.

Oh, the humanity!

Coca Cola today launched an online music download service that aims to compete with the iTunes Music Store.

I don’t think Apple have much to worry about.

If you go to, you will first be presented with an eye-searingly garish red page. Clicking on the single graphic in the centre of the red, red page spawns a pop-up window.

The pop-up window contains, get this… a Flash intro.

Luckily there’s a “skip intro” button which spawns yet another window that contains… well, in my browser, it contains absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip.

Viewing the source of the page reveals a horrible browser-sniffing piece of JavaScript that promises to keep many other browsers from proceeding any further.

All in all, it’s a dreadful user experience.

I don’t normally bother doing critiques of websites but serves as an example of just how easily a high-profile site can get it so completely wrong.

Unless, of course, they’re far cleverer than I’m giving them credit for and their plan all along was to create a website that feels like Coca-Cola tastes: sickly and unsatisfying.

Saturday, January 17th, 2004

Rock'n'roll dreams

It is with a certain glee that I have been forcing friends and colleagues attempt the "spot the head replacement" game with the band pictures I put online.

If anybody is still trying to solve the puzzle, look away now because I’m about to reveal the culprit…






It was in this picture and it’s Catherine, the drummer, on the left.

In related news, it turns out that I don’t have to dream about Salter Cane becoming successful because Guy Carberry is dreaming for me:

"Want to hear something weird? I work at the Open University in Milton Keynes. We’ve got loads of clubs etc for staff here and on of them I belong to is a CD Library. Well, last night I dreampt that I loaned out a Salter Cane CD with a Nick Drake CD (we’re only able to loan two at a time). I could picture the Salter Cane one perfectly - packaged in one of those cardboard sleeves that are much better than the plastic jewel case. The design was similar to that on you band site too.

I remember thinking (in my dream) - this is odd, didn’t know this existed. I’d already downloaded the four tracks available from the site but was pleased to see that the CD was a full album."

Cool! If only dreams came true. *sigh*

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Salter Cane will be playing a concert in Brighton’s Pressure Point on January 26th.

In preparation for this, and spurred on by my recent bout of Photoshop fever, I whipped up a design for a flyer last night, printed it out and photocopied it this morning, and spent this afternoon depositing bundles of paper in the cafes of the North Laine in Brighton.

The concert is at a fairly big venue and, as the headlining band, we need to get all the bodies in there that we can. If you’re in Brighton on the night of the 26th, be there or be a plane rectangle with four equal sides and four right angles.

a concert flyer for Monday, January 26th at The Pressure Point, Brighton

Thursday, January 15th, 2004

Shooting the band

I spent the wee hours of last night honing my Photoshop chops.

Salter Cane needed a decent band photo to send out to magazines, record labels, etc., so we convened an impromptu photo shoot.

We went to Catherine’s house (she’s the drummer in the band) mostly because her place of abode offered the most atmospheric setting. The staircase in particular has a slightly gothic feel to it.

We took about fifty photographs. I’d set the timer, run back to the rest of the group and try desperately to look casual. But not too casual. Sort of intense, too. Casually intense.

Out of those fifty photographs we were able to find a few that were halfway decent. After that, the Photoshop work began.

I tweaked levels, moved curves, blurred, sharpened, adjusted brightness, contrast, saturation…

I came to realise that adjusting digital images wasn’t very different from mixing a song: after a few hours, I could no longer tell if what I was doing was improving the pictures or not.

Looking at the pictures afresh (after some sleep), I think they turned out okay. See for yourself.

See if you can spot whose likeness has undergone head replacement in one of the pictures.

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004

Geek gossip

Andy has beaten me to the punch on this little exclusive: I found out at work today that my co-worker/employer’s brother, Martin Freeman (of The Office fame) has been cast as Arthur Dent in the upcoming film of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

It’s funny: I was thinking about Arthur Dent just the other day. Terry Gilliam’s wonderful Time Bandits was on television and it struck me that the kid in that film is basically a miniature version of Arthur Dent. They’re both pulled out of their usual, humdrum existence and taken on fantastic adventures through time/space whilst wearing a dressing gown.

It’s probably just coincidence but, as any anally retentive geek worth his salt will tell you, Douglas Adams and Monty Python have collaborated in the past so maybe there was a bit of cross-fertilization going on.

It’s all part of the interconnectedness of all things.

Friday, January 9th, 2004

And they said it wouldn't last...

Jessica and I yesterday celebrated four years of marriage.

We marked the occasion with a sumptuous meal at Brighton’s Seven Dials Restaurant.

We had been there once before for Jessica’s birthday and the food was superb. Last night it was possibly even better. It was definitely the best meal I’ve had in Brighton.

A happy anniversary indeed.

Thursday, January 8th, 2004


The big announcement at yesterday’s Macworld keynote address was, of course, the much anticipated introduction of mini iPods.

The response has mostly been one of disappointment. The general consensus is that it’s overpriced without much bang for your buck.

People have done the math and realised that for an extra $50 they can get a regular iPod with far more storage capacity (15GB instead of 4GB).

In some ways, this is quite a coup for Apple: the only competition for the iPod Mini is… other iPods. Almost nobody is comparing it to other MP3 players that may be cheaper but still can’t match it for style, storage and, the big factor, size.

The size of the iPod Mini is its most striking feature. Mind you, I don’t recall anyone ever saying of the regular iPod:

"Well, it’s nice but it just seems so big and bulky."

No doubt it’s the small size that’s responsible for the price tag of the iPod Mini. It’s like desktops vs. laptops… really tiny desktops vs. really, really tiny laptops.

I’m holding off judgement on the iPod Mini until I actually have one in my hands. If Apple’s track record is anything to go by, all logical arguments about pricing can vanish in a puff of calm bliss as soon as I use their products.

The price is disappointing. But then again, everyone was dismissive of the price of the original iPod when it first appeared. I’m assuming that by the end of the year the price of the iPod Mini will drop below the psychological barrier of $200. At that point I probably won’t be able to resist buying one.

I will, however, have the good sense to wait to purchase until I’m in the United States instead of paying British prices.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2004


I’m back in Brighton. I’m over the worst of the jet lag and back into the routine of work, band practice and wet weather.

During my stay in Arizona, I didn’t take quite as many pictures as I normally do. I have, however, been organising the photos I already have.

My iPhoto spring cleaning was prompted by seeing what a great job my mother-in-law has done with her iBook. She switched to the Mac last time I was visiting and since then she has becoming an iPhoto pro: organising pictures into albums, adding titles and comments, burning CDs and, with the acquisition of a rather nifty printer, printing out 4x6 photos.

iPhoto is notoriously slow at scrolling large-sized photo libraries so I’ve been using a neat little app called iPhoto Library Manager to switch between smaller sized photo libraries that I’ve organised by year going back to 2001.

Of course, now it looks Apple have fixed the slow scrolling problem in iPhoto. It was only a matter of time.

Some of the other Macworld iLife announcements look quite interesting too. Garageband in particular looks like just the incentive I need to finally get down to doing some home recording. I think I’ll be investing in an iMic to plug my bouzouki into.

I know some people were disappointed by the lack of any new hardware announcements at Macworld. Personally, I think Apple are doing the right thing by focusing on powerful, cheap, easy to use “digital hub” apps. If my mother-in-law’s experience is anything to go by, it’s an area where the Mac beats Windows hands-down.

Anyway… the coolest new piece of hardware for the Mac isn’t even made by Apple.

Sunday, January 4th, 2004

See you on the beach

My holiday time here in Arizona is coming to an end.

I’m heading back to Brighton where work and wet weather awaits.

Friday, January 2nd, 2004

The Return Of The Return Of The King

I’ve just come back from seeing The Return Of The King for the second time.

As happened with the other films in the trilogy, the second viewing was even more enjoyable. I was able to immerse myself in the film without constantly comparing it to the book and wondering if the next scene would compare to my imaginings of Tolkien’s world.

In short, the film is pretty darn near perfect. It’s also an incredibly intense, almost physically draining, experience.

I must respectfully disagree with the naysayers who took issue with the film’s ending(s). I just love the fact that the film has a hollywood ending… but doesn’t end there.

I think the problem lies not with the film but with the expectations of the audience. It’s not often that we get to see what happens after "they lived happily after".

Speaking of the audience, they were pretty well behaved. I did feel kind of bad for the lady behind me who was practically whimpering with fear and revulsion during Shelob’s Lair.

There were a couple of guys in the audience, though, who were so pathetic as to be laughable. When the on-screen action involved two men in close physical contact, they felt the need to utter some homophobic slurs.

I didn’t notice until Jessica pointed it out to me afterwards but these two teenage males had gone to the cinema together and proceeded to sit with an empty seat between them.

It was rather sad and pathetic to see people so uncomfortable with their own bodies. And yet, after the movie, these guys would probably stand in the toilet together and empty their bladders in unison.

Apparently, this seating arrangement with the masculinity protecting empty chair isn’t an unusual occurrence but that’s the first time I’ve come across it.