December 31, 2005
Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:37 AM
December 18, 2005
Now hang on a moment...
I know I've not finished writing the cards and everything yet, but my biorhythms tell me that without any question this should have been the Christmas weekend. I even came downstairs this morning falsely smelling the legacy of a roast dinner. This should have been the one.
So what am I doing having to go back to work again tomorrow?????
December 07, 2005
From yesterday's Snowmail:
Lord Steyn declares that American's definition of torture is ridiculously tight (requiring as it does the death or organ failure of the tortured person before it is defined as such)
Jesus, and Cheney won't even forbid *that*...
December 04, 2005
The whole ethos of the Cinea is that you have an individual dvd player, for which you get individual passwords to different content groups through their website. I type in my serial number, am validated, and if I have the right entry in their database am sent back a looooong key that makes that particular player able to view discs in the 'bafta' group. Very tightly controlled stuff.
It's a substantial piece of kit - heavy, good connectors, a power button that latches with a satisfying click. So didn't think too hard about whopping out my old 120-quid multiregion Toshiba.
Now, because they want this thing to reek Trust and Quality to movie execs, they also want to show they take the current business model Very Seriously. So my ultra-secure DVD player...is also region 2 coded.
To be honest, not a huge issue. I only watch a few region 1 discs a year.
But then, one of the very studios that has paid so much for me to have this piece of kit goes and sends me the already-released-so-doesn't-need-to-be-secure Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...
On a region 1 disc.
You have to ask, do they take this stuff seriously or not?
I've had to head down to Maplin and buy a whole bunch of scart nonsense, just so I can now have *both* DVD players connected. The pile beneath the TV is no longer a pretty sight, or easy to use.
December 02, 2005
Listening to the debate on nuclear power on tonight's Any Questions on Radio 4, I was struck by the shortsightedness of the arguments being used.
You can't use nuclear power, because it's hugely consuming of subsidy from our pockets. Better to use oil, gas and coal. Plus some efficiency savings in the home and to top it up with some renewable sources.
It's late, and I've had a tiring week, so I can't be botherd to go into nuance, but I'd say: yes, nuclear is dirty, yes the waste hangs around for thousands of years, yes it may take lots of subsidy, but dammit:
Energy should be expensive
That way the effiency savings in the home and industry will look after themselves.
And there's a bit of me that can imagine my grandchildren one day asking me "Grandad, what was it like when there were still petrochemicals?"
Huge congratulations to Euan, who has just won 'Information Professional Of The Year'.
As he was one of the primary catalysts for this very blog, I hope that didn't count against him...
December 01, 2005
Mind You, CDDB is no better...
If ever you find yourself digitising music - please use the ID3 tags as they are intended, don't stick other random items in fields where they don't belong. I'm getting sick of removing tracks by artists called " - Adagio; Presto; Andante Cantabile" from my list.
(I had to swap the artist, album and track names for every single one of Glenn Gould's Bach 48 preludes and fugues. You gits)
Why AudioScrobbler (and others) Suck
The thing that drives me absolutely bloody mad, however, about all these mp3 discovery and management tools, and it's hugely apparent if you look at my last.fm profile is that they completely and utterly fail to deal with classical music sensibly.
Out of the top ten artists, five are classical pianists.
I have virtually no interest in other works they have chosen to perform.
I have lots of interest in other works by *the composers* of the works they have chosen/allowed by their record company to perform.
Alicia de la Roccha - I'm sure you're lovely, but why won't last.fm let me find other works by composers similar to Albeniz? Rafael Kubelik - I think some of your interpretation is really rather ropey, but it's the only recording of Janacek's solo piano works I could find. I'd really like to find something a little more approachable. (And *jesus* there has to be an alternative to Richter's painfully percussive late recordings of Prokoviev's piano sonatas)
And iTunes is no better - the 'browse' window in the library can only be set to group by artist. I've got piano works by Debussy from about 10 different performers in here, but no I have to go and remember every single one of their arsing names.
I suspect I am in the minority, but it shouldn't be that hard to sort out...
Why AudioScrobbler Rocks
[Beware - seriously suspect taste in music alert - remember I secretly love great pop songs]
So I got all the audioscrobbler things set up on the new (well, recent) mac, and have been bubbling along for a while now building up my profile, but never went much further. Just assuming it would all become apparent, you know.
But because I've recently had my work laptop nicked, along with all the music I listened to when the iPod went flat, I finally got round to installing the last.fm player. Assuming it would all become apparent, you know.
After a bit of tinkering I finally realised that the player doesn't tailor to me specifically, but draws on the pool of data to recommend other music you'd like based on you saying you typing in the name of a particular artist. Not quite what I was expecting, but I'll try anything once.
As one of Dubstar's finer moments (and they did have both extremes of the spectrum) had been playing on the iPod when it went flat, that was the name that went in. An odd selection followed, some of which I already had and like, some of which I had and hate, and a few things that made me reach for the 'skip' button immediately. But then came this track by a band I'd never heard before. It was a bit dated, but it was pure unadulterated magic.
I thought "I have found my new favourite band"
Then I adjusted my perspective, looking round the office at the young folks and their shouty music, and decided "I have found a band that, had I known about them 8 years ago, would have been my new favourite band".
Followed by the thought "I just need to hear that again".
The Last.fm player doesn't let you do that. And I didn't know what any of this band's other material was like, so the spontaneous visit to HMV was off.
So I had to sit and skip through track after track after track until finally, about two days later, it came round again.
Right I'm buying this I decide, but no, all their records are out of stock. Once more, noooooooooooo.
So I dig around online, and find that AnneTenna actually have a website. And that all these tracks are available to download as MP3s.
I duly wallow in the track in question "Extraordinary" for about an hour. Drinking it in, and trying to work out who it reminds me of.
And a day later I discover they are the writing team behind an American band called 'EdnaSwap', who broke up when this song they had recorded about 4 times, and could never quite get to that magical point, was covered by a young former soap star called Natalie Imbruglia.
They wrote 'Torn'. Suddenly everything I was hearing made sense.
It's worth a listen to hear how it could have been - and all thanks the the power of AudioScrobbler.