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July 31, 2002

Baby, what turns you on?

I've noticed that I don't get a lot of comments on this blog. I'm not sure if thats because noone reads it, or because I always close my own arguments, or if my prattling is 'faintly endearing but not worth talking about'.

So come on, dear readers, what bits of what you've read so far most ignite your passions? What should I tell more about? What should I shut up about? Aside from a feeling of connectedness...*why* do you read this thing?

Just curious...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A bit more on this 'redundancy' thing

I've done some fairly harsh probing on this subject and, to be honest, it turns out to be a really good deal.

I get six (paid) months to find myself another job. Bargain.

Unfortunately, at my level, not a huge number of jobs come up that fit. So there's always the chance that I may get to the end of the six months and not have anything. But at least I'm currently employed and can move house with impunity.

(I've also had three people talking to me about future opportunities, but am trying to find a way to take some serious time off to recuperate before any of them start. Get some fight back into my soul...or at least some songs written!)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The time flies by...

It's strange doing your CV after 3 years of the most traumatic experiences of your life.

I've done a huge amount, but it also doesn't seem that much. In a lot of ways, the biggest changes are things I can't write down.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Even Broader Band

I'm sitting here at home on gardening leave, playing with my new NTL broadband connection. Well it's sort of medium-band really. They've got a try-128K-for-free deal going, but hey it means I can use the computer in the living room, whereas the ADSL connection is confined to the studio.

I must say it's hardly the most painless process I've been through. The installation scripts only run under MacOS9, seemed determined to confuse my airport and ethernet ports, and it took about 18 reboots, but hey I'm in. And it doesn't seem that much slower than ADSL by the time I've done it all.

If I can get a router to talk to the thing I'm away!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2002

Thanks to all

I can't get over the large number of supportive and "fuck the lot of them" emails and messages on email groups I'm members of.

Thank you all.

If I seem distant and coy it's because I'm trying not to cry too much. Yet. There will be a time, and it'll be soon.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You're not from Brighton

Having a lovely day in Brighton with Simon from Mutual Misunderstanding. Listening to lots of old records - even though we ought to know better.

It's been really good to talk through a lot of the stuff that's been going on. There's obviously an upside to all this (which I'll get round to talking about at some stage soon) but there's definitely a large amount of grieving to be done.

About 7 years ago I was working for a large UK oil distributor - selling kerosene to Granny Biggins in her country bungalow - and was royally shafted. I spent most of the time I was there pretending it was all okay, and that I was fine.

It took me about 3-4 years to actually get over it. My poor wife was still having to unbundle and deal with bitterness from 3 jobs ago.

I'm determined not to go through that again.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2002

The News

Okay, all the people at work now know. I can tell all.

I've been given notice of my redundancy.

Bugger.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Online Drama - Watford FC stylie

This is just fab. A story with highs, lows, STDs, death threats, a second wave of love interest and it's all real... go readbigwatfordlove.com's Messageboard!!!!!!

Via Glanville. Who's not a blogger.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2002

To blog or...

It's very strange, particularly in the light of all the house-move bollocks that's currently filling these pages, to have something happen that's *so* big, and *so* traumatic, that you can't blog it.

(The 2 of you who know, please don't blab in the comments board)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2002

I Get There In The End

Big fan of Matt Jones' warchalking, and blogchalking, and even plasticbag's whorechalking, so I can't believe it took me so long to stumble across Gary Turner's Chalkchalking

It's got a beautiful logical simplicity to it - very Armando Ianucci.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sexy Beast

Sitting on my desk is a lovely new Motorola V60 mobile phone. It's kind of odd how few triband phones there are - and how few of those are either attractive or affordable.

But this is definitely an improvement on the old one. Losing it may be one of the best things I've done.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:04 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Eye of the Maelstrom

It's very strange, after all that frantic effort, to suddenly be sitting doing absolutely *nothing* about our house. Solicitors and surveyors are all ready and waiting to do their thing, but are hanging on for bits of paper to swap over.

We still appear to have a house to buy.
We still appear to have a person buying our house.

Um, why was this so stressful again?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2002

Blogchalking entry

Google! DayPop! This is my blogchalk: English, United Kingdom, London, Walthamstow!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 17, 2002

Whose Silence Is It Anyway?

Unbelievable. Absolutely unfuckingbelievable.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Poor Euan

Euan at The Obvious has been having a spot of bother with his international travel...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2002

Wireless Disconcertion

Matt Jones and I were discussing wireless and how cool it is, and we both agreed that by far the *wierdest* thing is running instant messaging with no visible means of support.

It's just not right.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 15, 2002

Wireless Void

There's something very strange about sitting in Earls Court, almost deserted, while connected to a wireless network.

I once set up the backstage webcast of NetAid, and it felt similarly strange. A mixture of huge connectedness, utter desertion, and huge anticipation that enormous things were about to happen.

(Mind you, I met Bowie then. This is just an arsey corporate event!)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:58 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 14, 2002

Microsoft ups their security

Wonderful MS Error message report, from haddock via Tom@plasticbag:

Your Password Must Be at Least 18770 Characters and Cannot Repeat Any of Your Previous 30689 Passwords

See for yourself

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Live Flash Animation - Pure Genius

The other night I went to see the edinburgh preview of Howard Read new show Words and Pictures. Howard is 'famous' for having done the animations of 'Bird on a Wire' that used to be available on the hahabonk website. Before it went gaga.

He's hugely charming, and there's great ideas in what he's doing. Sketches where one of the characters is on screen in Flash, and he's the other. Flash animations with prerendered sections that he triggers with an IR mouse between his bits. And the bit of pure genius...

Live Flash Cartoon Animation

He's set up a branching narrative system in Flash so that he can get his on-screen character Little Howard to say almost anything - within quite a subtle sentence structure.

It's very odd to have a flash character onscreen saying 'you there, the man, in the front, with the curly hair, and the t-shirt that is the colour of my dad's car, green. what do you do for a job?'

Go see, go see. He's got another preview coming up, where he'll probably have done more practice at using his keyboard UI. Or go and see him in Edinburgh

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A quick reminder

Have you paid for your Movable Type yet?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It takes a brave man to cry...

and a braver man to laugh at him.

I've hugely admired -and been slightly humbled by - the work that Matt Jones has been doing with warchalking, the hobo language for wireless bandwidth.

So it made Tom Coates and Cal Henderson's new scheme of whorechalking even funnier.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 07:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hideous, just hideous...

God, I've just looked at this blog in Netscape. Hmmm, stylesheets are really portable aren't they?

(There was a reason we used to use tables in my day, all you junior coders!)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Key To Innovation Is...

I've been spending a lot of time trying to work this out on my own, and I've spent a lot of time talking to people both high up in organisations and at the grass roots doing stuff. Having a diguised version of the age-old fanboy question 'so where do you get your ideas?'

The key to innovation appears to be 'external influences'.

The key to innovation in a large organisation appears to be 'have a small team that spend all their time having external influences, who are good minglers and storytellers, with no ambition to be producers themselves, and understand how to pick the right one of their experiences for someone else who's stuck'.

Now, I've just got to flesh that out to 20 pages of convincing powerpoint - preferably with graphs - to keep my job.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vertigo

One of the reasons I'm up this early (7am on a Sunday for chrissakes?) and rambling on here is because I've been wide awake since 3:30.

I think I've got to find ways to deal with, rather than disguise, the utter terror I feel at my situation. Having this many dreams (well, wide-awake middle-of-the-night surreal thoughts - I never have dreams I can remember) about being at the top of really high glass-sided buildings with only one of those suckery things to hold on with is hardly healthy. My palms are going tingly and sweaty now just remembering the vividity of the 'dream'.

Okay, I've taken out an obscene loan to buy a house (joyous though that is in many other ways), and am running a team that's trying to sort out the future of interactive narrative (something I'm woefully underqualifiied to do - it's just that everyone else was even more underqualified). Why can't I just deal with that?

Thoughts on any suitable strategies or war stories would be greatly appreciated. It's lonely hanging onto the sheet glass, with London spinning below, waiting to be rescued.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My Dream Gadget

I've also been thinking a lot about how music might work in a distributed environment in the home. Some of you will remember my rants on the pros and cons of iTunes if you're not using it for purely personal consumption and have 11GB of (legit) MP3s on your machine, so I'll skip over that.

What I need is a gizmo that does the following:

Input: Ethernet port for connecting to network. It'll talk Appletalk/TCPIP/whatever and connec to multiple directories on multiple servers.
Output: high-quality soundcard leading to stereo pair.
Control: cd-player start/stop/pause/skip/repeat controls, an lcd screen and cursor/return keys for using and manipulating and building playlists
Innards: an bit of software to understand networking, mp3 decoding, sound playback and a bit of file management.
Upgrades: via CD from any computer over the network.

Oh, and it would be ideal if it had a remote control and looked as cool as an iPod.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stop the rollercoaster...oh, you did!

We now have a house to move to again.

Severe financial finagling involved, as it was quite a bit more than we were hoping for, so our bank lost out, but key features include:

Bizarrely the usually wonderful First Direct didn't come through for us. After a bit of poking around on a mortgage broker's site we found this lot. Mac un-friendly their site may be, but their generosity with money was the complete opposite. They'd lend us truly scary amounts. I mention this purely so fellow oh-fuck-how-will-I-cope Londoners know of this escape route.

We're going off to see the current owners at 2pm today to talk everything through. No doubt there will be more over-excited posts after that...

PS NETWORK!!!!!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More stuff, vicar?

Finally created an amazon wish list. I now feel utterly acquisitive.

The only wierd thing about the whole process seems to be their determination not to give you a direct link anywhere on their site. You have to email yourself and then view the source of the email to get the 'everyone else' version that doesn't contain your own details. Mad eh?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2002

Greenaway Goneaway

Okay, I can understand that he's not everyone's cup of tea, and to some he's more their cup of cold sick, but I still find it unbelievable that the works of Peter Greenaway still haven't made it out onto DVD.

I mean, releasing 'The Pillow Book' in 4 by 3 and that's it? And in 4:3 - hadn't the person *seen* the film?

What about 'Drowning By Numbers', 'The Cook The Thief....', 'A Zed and Two Noughts'. And then the masterpiece - 'Prospero's Books'. A film crying out for DVD release. Those lustrous colours, that wierd multimedia feel, that stuff you want to pause the VHS to read, but know that the tape quality wasn't up to it.

It's just a huge great injustice.

If you know any DVD distributors, give them a kick for me will you?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 07:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A summary

So I return from Banff at the end of a long and confusing emotional journey, only to find another long and confusing journey beginning. More later about that, but a quick roundup:

I've started to find my art again.
I'm looking for new things to say as me, so I can say them as my employer when the technology allows.
I have a huge need for some fresh vegetables.
I run screaming at the thought of eating any more red meat.
I've had the best meal of my life and thanks to the miracle of the exchange rate it only cost me 55 quid!
I now know what to do when I lose my plane ticket. (Answer - check in your suitcase before you start paying to get a replacement)
I'm knackered.
I've got a lot of ideas for ways to keep my staff inspired.
I'm finally dealing with the loss of the house I was buying.

As far as the ongoing emotional journey is concerned - we've found, and been turned down by, two houses already. Bugger.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2002

SMTP Tricked

Pah. The Mac.com SMTP thing didn't work at all. I have to use my mac.com email address.

Yeah, I can get things forwarded from it, but it's not really the same, is it?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Recent Influx

There's a lot of new people starting to look at this blog now. So it's probably worth pointing out a feature of it.

It's kind of my alter ego. The place where I can say things the eternal optimist and cheerful-in-the-face-of-adversity Tom never gets to say.

Perhaps it's one of the features of the net that I get to try out aspects of my personality that aren't particularly good at expressing themselves. As a result I tend not to balance them with any up side.

I've yet to work out if the blog is the true me, and I'm good at hiding it, or if there's a balance between the two that I still need to find.

Or whether I'm just thinking too much.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2002

Alcoholic Bifurcation

I've got two modes when I'm drinking.

In one mode I'm extremely overexcitable - a conversational scattergun - taking random thoughts and flights of fancy with the people around me, getting passionate and involved in the issues at hand.

Or I just shut down completely. I'll sit there like a sponge, peoplewatching, and getting increasingly frustrated and depressed at the widening gulf between me and the people having fun around me. 'Join in, have fun!' my whole system is crying, but there's something crippling me - a lack of anything to say - that makes it impossible to do.

The second one happens at the parties I really want to, or it's important that I, enjoy.

i.e. last night.

After a week of being a life-and-soul, I'm fallen into a trough of depression, and I'm having huge problems getting out.

Part of it is the fact that we've got to start trudging around estate agents all over again, waiting for somewhere to become available. Another part of it is the tiredness, both emotional and physical as a result of the session here. And I think I just really really want to go home.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 06, 2002

As the saying goes...Bollocks

We lost the house. Really don't know what to think about it at the moment.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 05, 2002

Another MTer!!!!

Yay! Euan @ The Obvious? has now upgraded to MovableType.

Unfortunately this now means that everyone can now see I've done nob all work on my templates. Curses!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

And now for other media...

Street Performer Protocol may solve some of the same problems for indy film-makers.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Outsider Art?

The Gallery of CSS Descramblers is really interesting. Particularly like the steganography section where the source code is made into art!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GPL Music

I must spend a lot of time reading the Future Of Music Coalition site...

Only briefly seen this on a projection screen as part of someone's presentation but the resources they're looking at seem to be doing some really good thinking about what the music industry (given that most of the work is done by the musicians, we can exclude labels here) may turn into if it embraces file-sharing rather than just trying to crush it.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ever been roaming and needed a SMTP server?

Ever away from home and, rather than using your modem, your hosts have given you access to their network - but they don't have an SMTP server? (public web spaces etc)

Obviously you can try the list of public SMTP servers, but you'll soon get tired of typing config in for where they've been used to relay spam.

Go to mac.com, subscribe, and they give you an SMTP server you can get to from anywhere on the net if you're prepared to do authentication.

Worth knowing.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 04, 2002

MovableType Upgrade

Well there's a new thing that pings other MT sites so they can say "someone is talking about this entry on their blog" and essentially blogging in reverse. Cool eh?

Thanks to Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Finding The Man Within The Job

It's been a revelation, the last day or so.

I've seperated myself from my job. I'd somehow trained myself not to like things I wouldn't be able to produce.

This has put the heart back into me.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Much improved

Thanks to all those who sent encouraging messages, either here or by email. Things are now a little bettter, though I still want to be at home.

Having got both my presentations out of the way kind of made a big difference...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:56 AM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2002

Punk Parentage Shocker

Vaughan, you're a very silly man

Meta Keywords: Siouxie Sioux, Pussy.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:41 AM | Comments (3)

Dislocated No 2 - 3pm local time

Iíve decided to be selfish. This is a big big deal for a Ďdoing the honourable thingí person like me.

Iím not going to go to all of the sessions. It may be a small group and my absence will be noted, but Ė to be honest Ė Iím not going to get a huge amount of a session on online interface design or budget planning.

Iíve also spotted an evening off on Thursday, which is a godsend,

At least I wonít have to keep the smiling face going all the time now.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:33 AM | Comments (2)

Dislocated No 1 - 12:00 local time


Iím feeling incredibly disconnected today. The room with the internet connections has been locked and so Iím not able to send and receive emails, update the blog, or have AIM conversations with my nearest and dearest.

Suddenly itís all got too much for me and Iím absolutely sick of being on show. People wanting to talk to me more about things in my talk rile me, so I retire to my room and sit in high dudgeon.

I look through the programme of events and realise I have seven days more of this. Which I donít know how Iím going to survive. Despite today being a Ďday offí we are meeting at 8pm tonight for drinks and Ďbonding gamesí.

Nothing fills me with more horror at the moment.

Despondent I sit on the bed, knowing that I canít even SMS my wife for company as sheís on a tube back in London. Iím suddenly feeling like a 7 year old on a school holiday they didnít want, and tears flood up. All the adrenalin and excitement have gone, and Iím now just utterly utterly homesick.

I look at the schedule again Ė weíre not even halfway through this visit and already Iíve had enough. Some people get to go home today Ė lucky bastards. Another wave of emotion hits me.

I wait and ring home Ė thereís a chance someone will be there by now Ė but I just get the answerphone. I canít even stop my voice cracking as I leave a message.

Eventually I manage to get through to my parents Ė hang the expense. Good advice manages to give me a bit of a lift, but it all comes flooding back out when Iím rung on the back of the earlier answerphone message. Normally either of us would respond to a situation like this with ďdonít worry Iím getting in the car nowĒ

Oh, for a magic wandÖ

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:31 AM | Comments (0)