Rediscovering an old friend

May 11, 2012

I’ve got more music than I could ever realistically listen to. I have a couple of hundred vinyl LPs, at least twice as many CDs and well over ten thousand digital audio tracks. Many of the digital tracks have been ripped from my CDs so I have probably have 90% of the music I own immediately available to me. Just like the blokes from Nick Hornby’s Hi-Fidelity, I do like to make sure that my music is catalogued and indexed so that I can find the track I want very quickly. However, one of the unintended benefits of having a large collection of digital music is the joy of random shuffle. Read the rest of this entry »


Adapt or die

May 3, 2012

For “traditional” media organisations the Internet is something that they just can’t seem to get a handle on. Instead of taking advantage of the opportunities that the Internet offers, they have been like rabbits caught in headlights. They’re paralysed because their revenue streams rely on a business model that the Internet has made redundant. Whether the media they try to sell is music, video or the written word, their inability to recognise that digital distribution through the Internet had changed the world allowed new competitors such as Apple, Amazon and Google to encroach upon their turf. Many of them are fighting for their very survival. Read the rest of this entry »


Playing in a band again

October 16, 2011

After a long time away from playing the guitar publicly, I have recently joined a local band. For nearly ten years, my job has taken me away from home on a very unpredictable schedule. Because I never knew where in the country I was going to be on any given weekday, it would have been unfair of me to play in a band when we might have to cancel gigs and rehearsals at very short notice. It would have made me unpopular with the rest of the band and the band very unpopular with places that booked us. However, my recent change in working circumstances has meant that I’m more or less in charge of my own diary again. It’s been a reminder what an ineffable joy that shared music can be and how it can bring together people who would never normally have crossed paths. Read the rest of this entry »


Steve Jobs and the shoulders of giants

October 14, 2011
Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie in 1999

The recent death of Steve Jobs has hit the headlines all over the world. His near-deification by all forms of media and the almost “Diana” levels of public grieving have raised him to being hailed as the most important person in IT modern times. That is utter nonsense. Steve Jobs was clearly a talented and ambitious person. He was an outstanding marketeer and managed to sell over-priced mass-produced hardware as something people should aspire to owning. Fair play to him. But Steve Jobs would have been nothing without the contribution of Dennis Ritchie, a man largely unknown outside of the world of IT.
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A horrible experience part 10, and a (mostly) happy ending

October 3, 2011
MRI Scan from the top

My MRI "before" scan from the bottom

I started this blog soon after I had undergone surgery which took place when a sizeable lump was discovered growing inside my head. It appeared that the lump was squashing my brain and was that cause of some major headaches and dizziness and various other unpleasant symptoms. After surgery I started the blog for a couple of reasons. Firstly, in my rather delicate post-surgical state I was sick of telling people the same story over and over again. Secondly, I knew that this was actually going to be a major event in my life and I wanted some sort of record of it. Recently, I’ve been for a follow-up MRI scan and it seems the news is good. I also took the opportunity to request electronic copies of my scans so I can finally see what was causing the problem. So this post is a sort of bookend to my blog pieces about the whole unpleasant, yet somehow enriching, episode. Read the rest of this entry »


The Soviet Union and my part in its downfall

September 22, 2011

Tanks outside the Kremlin

Humans have a fascination for boundaries and targets. Look at cricket for example. Really, what’s the difference between scoring 99 and scoring 100? In terms of your average it means nothing, but psychologically it means everything. I recently reached a twenty-year anniversary and it never really crossed my mind until I got on an aeroplane to return from a family holiday in Russia. Read the rest of this entry »


Super-injunctions and how not to get caught

May 29, 2011

The recent super-injunction furore has generated more comment than almost any other issue in Britain recently. As with so many events related to privacy and identity there is a strong flavour of IT. I can’t pretend to understand all the legal implications of the CBT story, but I do understand how the technology works. I can be pretty certain that if I were ever break a super-injunction over the Internet, I wouldn’t get caught through the technology I used. Read the rest of this entry »


Mobile phone scares and the reinforcement of ignorance

May 18, 2011

Mobile phonesI’m a fan of technology. I can’t deny it. The advance of technology through human ingenuity has made us what we are. Thanks to technology, whether it be biological, agricultural or industrial, I have a one in five chance of living to 100. However, technology makes people nervous and leads to recently publicised fears of vaccine-related autism or mobile phone-induced brain cancer. This is nothing new. Through the ages, because they don’t understand it, it threatens their way of life or are they are looking to place the blame for some unfortunate happening,  people have protested about new technology changing their way of life. Read the rest of this entry »


Becomings vs Beginnings and why we don’t understand the Big Bang

May 14, 2011

It’s not often that we can actually manage to get our teenage kids to sit down and talk rather than their running off to play computer games/go on Facebook/go out with friends etc. Recently we watched the brilliant BBC series “The Wonders of the Universe” with Professor Brian Cox. In talking about it with my son afterwards, who has a good scientific mind, I ended up trying to explain the Big Bang and the difference between how something “becomes” compared to how something “begins”. Read the rest of this entry »


RIP, My Stolen Guitar Sound

May 3, 2011

I recently renewed, albeit briefly, an old acquaintance of mine. Simon Campbell used to sing and play guitar in a band I followed in the early 1990s. He played in a couple of bands, “The Method” and “The Disciples”. Both bands had two guitar players and shared lead and rhythm guitar between them. I met up with Simon when my wife and I spent a weekend in the Isle of Man where Simon now lives. He was doing the sound for a gig on the beach and before he rushed off to save his gear from a sudden downpour, he mentioned his website and his recent album. I read some of his blog and he had written a series of posts on achieving his perfect guitar sound. My best guitar sound was stolen from me. Here’s the story. Read the rest of this entry »