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April 29, 2004

Too much f***ing perspective.

In the past couple of years, we've been spoon-fed the self-important aggrandisements of blogging as journalism, blogging as diaries, blogging as community, blogging as ; yet to my knowledge, there have never been articles on blogging as gardening, blogging as DIY, blogging as popular TV sitcom or blogging as high art.

Vaughan's off on (a very timely) one.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Garlic and Docs

Well, I hope to be having a night out this Saturday meeting Euan and Doc Searls in town.

(Hopefully it'll be a small gathering and we can decamp to Century for food. But I've gone and blogged it now. Damn.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And While We Are On The Subject of Herbert

Matthew Herbert's new album 'Plat du Jour' will be made entirely from the sounds of food. He wants you to send him recordings of yourself popping bubblegum or chewing gum before May 1st.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pure Brilliance - Eno Cut-up v Ding

I have to admit I was bowled over not once, but twice, by this piece of music made purely from windows built-in noises. Once at the sheer brilliance of the idea and execution, and secondly at the mental discipline involved in tracking what was needed to make the track and then animating the process in Flash. (Okay, so the windows opening music by Brian Eno gave him a headstart but still....)

Worthy of Matthew Herbert this.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 27, 2004

Top Quality Ranting

David Weinberger talking wonderfully about the impact on the web on politics, particularly how some of the 'truths' recently learned are wrong

Click on the link on C-Span and wind to 55 minutes in.

Some lovely gems:
Politics is a subset of marketing where you have to get more than 50% market share.

Every company's homepage is Google.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 25, 2004

Why Records Sound The Way They Do

Lovely piece on the transformations music has to go through as becomes vinyl (as opposed to CD) via Simon MutualMisunderstanding.

They described it as 'to some it may seem very technical, to the technical very simplistic'. I found it showed up that I only have some very narrow bits of technical knowledge, which was, I guess, their point!

Nice pragmatic advice such as:

All else being equal (bass, volume and depth of cut), by allowing the end of the record to finish farther out from the label, instead of spreading the grooves farther apart to fill all the space, will actually make the record sound better. However, I understand the concept of making the record look ‘full’.

And mad science facts for parties like

Power amplifiers (100 to 400 plus watts) are used to drive the tiny coils (one for each channel) in the cutting head. ... The coils are helium cooled but still can reach 200 degrees Centigrade.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 22, 2004


I have spent most of this evening analysing my own server logs.

Yeah, yeah, navel-gazing blogger, you all think.


I'm analysing my own server logs to try and find out what my IP address was on the 24th March.

Because that was the day I paid my congestion charge. Or rather used TfL's website to pay the congestion charge. Only the bloody thing failed. And didn't fail in a nice user-focused way. For some reason it didn't do the transaction, didn't take the money, didn't issue a receipt number - nothing. [Not that I'd have known that, after all, it was my first time at the site, and it didn't come up with a message saying Error108301598:transaction timeout:SQLRollback called or anything nice and ugly like that. It just quietly got on with looking as though the transaction had taken place.

I even remember that 'Start date' on your credit card isn't marked with an asterisk as a required field on the form, but that they make you enter it anyway, for chrissakes.

Anyway, I put all this into a nice letter. It was two pages long, but thorough, charming and articulate.

I got a not-so-nice letter back saying that they've looked through their records, can find no payment, and if payment isn't received for any reason then I am liable for a fine. Which I can't help feeling is slightly unfair, given that I was relying on their system to make that payment.

The not-so-nice letter also tried to warn me off appealling further, as I might get costs awarded against me. [Meanwhile the official form by the independent arbitration people says this is 'unlikely'.] Mmm, threatening. We're dealing with a class act here.

So, I'm trying to find my IP address on that day so I can ask them to check their server logs. (Which they won't, but the fact that I am armed with it might make a difference).

And, do you know what?

I didn't once look at my blog that day. Didn't post, didn't despam. Nothing.

Kids! Remember to blog each day. It could save you forty quid!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

NotCon NotPad

So here are the thoughts so far for presentations I could do at NotCon. Piers kindly tried to shift my powerpoint block, but I seem to currently have rebelled against most of what he suggested. And the one tempting idea he suggest I know I'm unlikely to be allowed to do by my current employers.

There's still something to be got out of my old crusade around 'New Media for the stupid' - but I'm not sure if that's going to be mistaken for a usability talk and leave people disappointed. And I'm also not sure I'm ready or this would be the appropriate forum.

And yes, one day I'd like to work for the BBC again, and I know that if I started on 'a critique of the beeb's internal new media structure' I wouldn't be able to stop. To whit, I've already had to rewrite what was in the quotes because it had too much swearing in.

The sad thing is, I'm probably up to doing a full half-hour on any of these. Or one that fits a whole load of them together. And it would probalby be relatively witty, interesting and inspiring. I just don't know if I can be arsed.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:02 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Today, XPT were everywhere.

I'm sitting in the Carluccio's between Great Portland and Great Titchfield Streets, talking to my Greek Cypriot boss about her uncle and how he runs whole villages back home, when I glance over and see - in a vase - a stunning display of aubergines. I check the specials board, but thankfully they aren't on the menu.

I get back to the office, when who should be on MTV2 - Jemma's favourite band from the Isle of Wight - The Bees. They are *never* on MTV2.

And now, I've got home, and there's a mysterious package that has been delivered addressed to my wife with something metallic inside...

What should I do? Leave your comments below and I'll send you an email when I know...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Parent's Song of Joy

She slept through the night,
She slept through the night,
la la lalala
I don't feel crap in the morning
She's still lying still in her cot
And not because she's de--aad
But because she slept,
and I don't care if it was a fluke,
or early,
Cos she slept, slept through the night.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 07:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 20, 2004

It's all over when someone compares the other to hitler...

Nope, not USENET arguments this time, but a bit of a spat between Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson

Turns out Robert Parker, the wine guru of Maryland, doesn't like the fact that I don't like what I have tasted of Ch Pavie 2003 - and takes the trouble to write hundreds of words attacking my opinion. I suppose I should be flattered but, yet again, all I really want to say is that wine assessment is subjective. Am I really not allowed to have my own opinion? Only so long as it agrees with Monsieur Parker's it would seem. I do wish we could simply agree to differ.

Different world, same flame structure...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2004

Meanwhile, in Emma Kennedy's Marathon...

Lorraine Kelly, that doyanne of daytime telly passed us at mile 21. She was small and looked very red in the face but she was smiling and she was running whereas we were walking. I looked back and caught sight of her as she came through. "Oh Lorraine Kelly," i said to her. "Well done. Keep on going!" She just stared ahead and nodded a bit and laughed in that way you do when you've just run 21 miles of a marathon. After she passed I wondered why I had proffered such ecstatic encouragement to someone who was, let's face it, just doing the same thing as me but there was something about her tiny frame and the fact that she is off of the telly that lifted the cheers out of my body like a big cow being rescued from a ditch in Accident programme 999. Anyway, the point is this. We beat her. Ah hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahaha Lorriane Kelly. You are rubbish.

Emma is, like Richard, still available for sponsoring with money...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Hooray. The fabulous Richard Herring has survived running a marathon

I noticed a lot of people dressed in uniform, holding out vaseline in their hands to us and looking expectant. They were all over the place, and dressed the same, so they were obviously organised. The perverts. I thought this was inappropriate behaviour. Maybe they liked to have anal sex with exhausted sweaty people, but I think this was rather too blunt a way to go about picking up a date. They could have romanced us a little, rather than just cutting to the chase in such a crass way. I gave them all quite an unpleasant look, I can tell you. But I don't think it would have stopped their insatiable desires and I predict they'll be back next year. Wearing their uniforms as if what they do is something to be proud of.

[He's putting together a show about Herculean tasks - perhaps he should next take a rank amateur under his wing to put on a play about himself, Julia Sawalha and Alan Davies. I can even provide a Julia Sawalha look/act-alike...]

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 16, 2004

Simple Pleasures No7

[This is one that isn't in the original list I wrote when I thought this strand up]

A brand new mouse.

You suddenly realise just what you'd been putting up with all this time.

(And it helps if someone else paid for it.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 15, 2004

[this isn't a posting, okay?]

Next Friday, I shall be doing something rather unusual for me. I haven't done it for well over a year, in fact.

I shall be deliberately watching live telly.

Greg Dyke chairing Have I Got News For You is something I want to see so much I'm prepared to organise my life around it. If I can remember how.

[And if I was the programme makers I'd currently be trying to get Michael Grade on as a guest...]

[[Little lyric/.sig/philosophy thought from running some possible conversation scenarios around around my head: Today I may be yesterday's man, but tomorrow I'll be your future.]]

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

Yawn. Standard Blogging Crisis no 4.

I'm thinking of giving this up.

Or perhaps starting again.

I no longer know why this is, or what.

(Writing which may, of course, suddenly give me a new lease of life)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:31 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

April 13, 2004

A Lack of Perspective

I have this niggling feeling that I really ought to stop being a critic for a bit and get off my arse to put together a presentation on *something* for NotCon in June.

But I really haven't got much of an idea what at the moment.

There are god know how many pissed pub conversations floating around in my head, but could I pull together an entire presentation on one of them? Could I even be compact enough to do a five-minuter? Does anyone care what I think about interactive narrative? Management? New Media?

I have a month to make up my mind...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 07, 2004

Simple Pleasures: No7

Stumbling across the elusive emotional or social cue that a particular food so nearly conjures up...

(In this case it was some Keen's Cheddar from Sainsbury's, and it's the smell of cleaning out the underside of a Flymo that has been left uncleaned just a tiny bit too long. The mixture of fresh green, and slightly dusty mouldiness)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


From a gardening products newsletter that turned up:

Your e-mail address will not be passed onto any other company. We dislike spam as much as you.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Simple Pleasures: No6

Wood Pigeons cooing for the first time of the year. The birdsong equivalent of a great big hug.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 06, 2004

I'd forgotten how good hitchhikers was...

Hurrah to Waxy.org for putting together a way of playing classic infocom text adventures through instant messenger

No 'Beauracracy' sadly.

(Thanks Euan)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 05, 2004


No Rock&Roll Fun's blow by blow transcript of the last ever Mark & Lard show does bring a little lump to the throat...

82’ 55” - Fat Harry White turns up to provide a last slew of double entendre - “no problem getting up first thing... i popped inside for a quick nibble... not afraid of offering a man a full spread, is foxy... i spilled my cargo... the whole neighbourhood was watching me shoot my creamy load up foxy fiona’s entrance... me and Fat Larry had the two benders on the left... just a little tiddler to show for it... pulled the zip right down and thrust me tiddler between her flaps... i was sat there for half an hour with everybody looking at my stiff knob... i shot my mess over Radcliffe’s rump...” but, shockingly, at the end, it turns out Fat Harry White doesn’t exist, because it was just Mark Radcliffe with an effect on his microphone all along. How cheated and foolish do we all feel now, eh?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack