Week from Monday 2nd May 2011

Mayday, mayday, m'aider! A significant sense of achievement, as I've been helping the my[_____] community understand and solve the problem of "HOW TO POST PICTURES IN COMMENTS". It appears though, that many of those ANGRY VILLAGERS who have been baying for "HTML COMMENTS" are now admitting that they don't ACTUALLY understand HTML... and what they REALLY want is a simple WYSIWYG approach that DOESN'T involve 'all that tedious mucking about in hypertext'. Ah well... you can't please everyone. I've also rewritten some of my STYLISH scripts in the wake of  my[_____]'s latest changes to the homepage.

- "I say, I say, I say... I've been updating some of my Stylish plug-ins."
- "Javascript?"
- "No, I mostly improvised..."

Bank holidays naturally mean a CAR BOOT SALE or two, so I went for a morning stroll across the fields to Titchfield to see what useful booty I could glean. I got some replacement ADSL filters, a shiny newish boxfile, my next SOOKIE STACKHOUSE story, and a trio of precious precious seedydisks (MARK HOLLIS, taking the skeletal sound of the last Talk Talk album to an even bleaker level; The first and best OZOMATLI album; The first and best FISH solo album). All for under a fiver in total.

Monday morning, I'm keeping one ear on the BBC news about Osama binLaden...

On Tuesday, I had a appointment to keep with the DENTIST - a wee repair job to a filling, so no anaesthetic needed, just a gob full of cold water and vacuum cleaners. 'HEALTH & SAFETY' now decrees that you (as well as the dentist and his assistant) have to don protective eyewear when having your mouth tinkered with. 

Then I walked from there to Portchester for a SECRET MEETING. Having had the secret meeting, I walked back again, this time taking 'THE PRETTY WAY'... I saw and heard some rather noisy goldfinches, a couple of mangy foxes, a rat or two and a flock of egrets being spooked by a helicopter.

This week we have a REFERENDUM, the only one we've ever had in this country, apart from the one in - ooh, when was it? 1975? - when we voted 'to stay in Europe'. Blowhards are still banging on about that lil'doozy even today, so THAT turned out well then...

This time, we get to decide between (a) an old electoral system that nobody wants, except those who have a vested interest in keeping it that way, and (b) a new electoral system that nobody wants, but at least it's not the old one. The electoral system that people DO want, some sort of proportional representation, is not on the cards. Isn't democracy wonderful?

Week from Monday 9th May 2011

In the wake of New Zealand being used as guinea pigs for the WORST my[_____] "UPGRADE" EVER*, I wrote what I hope will be a useful BLOG, teaching the world how to unclutter their my[_____] homepage using STYLISH. My own homepage is now EMPTY of all those adverts, promotional items, SLEB GOSS links, unhelpfully misleading statistics and... well... EVERYTHING really, except the stream container and a way of interacting with it. This has also been coloured in pleasant shades of blue and the font is less eyewateringly small and grey. Let's see how long it takes before my[_____] 'move the goalposts' YET AGAIN (they seem to be on a seven-day tampering cycle at the moment!) and I have to rewrite the code to fit. I've already made some adjustments to suit FIREFOX 4, which is now out of BETA, free of most of the quirks it had a month ago, and is the BROWSER OF CHOICE once more. 

*I urge everyone to temporarily change their my[_____] locale to NZ, open the homepage and see just what they're trying to land us with now! ah, the horror...

While I teach OTHERS to do all THAT, I'm trying to teach MYSELF a few things as well - like how to build an e-commerce site, something I've managed to avoid having to learn until now! There's a lot of this that I don't understand AT ALL. My brain hurts... 

"She asked if I wanted to see 'Disney On Ice'... 
 I said no, but I'd pay good money to see 'Disney On Fire'..."

[...so somewhere in the middle, there must be "Disney On Luke-warm Water"...?]  I having a GENESIS afternoon. Must be the weather. I must go to the library next week to borrow "JOOMLA! FOR DUMMIES". Because, when it comes to this server-side app stuff, I am certainly one of THOSE. It's got me baffled, I don't mind admitting. Perhaps I'm jumping the gun somewhat and all will become clear[er] when I have a real server to work on.

I went over to Southampton for a bit of a break. Walking through the park, I was approached by someone who I presumed to be a media student from Solent Uni. He was armed with a video camera and he wanted to ask my opinion about Manchester United. I told him that I didn't have an opinion of ANY sort about Manchester United. I know that they are an association football team of some repute - and that is the total extent of my knowledge. Probably not what he wanted to hear.

Week from Monday 16th May 2011

It's a lovely morning, so I'm on my regenerative stroll, making my way downtown... when who should pull up in front of me but that ne'er-do-well SHELFY LE BEAR. He is about to set off to deliver some lumps of metal to Yorkshire on behalf of the turntable people.


It's probably safe to say I won't make it to the library THIS morning then... I don't see Shelfy THAT often these days, but when I DO bump into him, it's usually an adventure. It's a good old drive - five-and-a-half to six hours each way, non-stop - so if I can go along for the ride as navigator and DJ, then that'll keep him 'energised', as I believe those colonials say. Besides, it's a larf. And a chance to catch up. There are lots of funny signs and lorries and place names to chuckle over. There are unusual species of woodland creature and exploding pigeons. There is scenery and dead industry to look at. There is sunshine and grey skies and a full moon. All accompanied by THE WORLD ON A POD with a ten hour battery life. 

It's true though, it is a bit "GRIM OOP NORTH". You can tell you're a few degrees closer to the Arctic circle. Forks loooked at us sootherners in our shorts and t-shirts and woondered where wi'd coom from (Sorry, but you can't help adopting the vernacular, the farther oopcoontreh tha' gaws...)

Of course, when we get back, it is WAY past my bedtime. I shall pay for this tomorrow!

On Tuesday, I complete my intended task of visiting the library to borrow "JOOMLA! FOR DUMMIES", but I am nursing one of my famous teetotal hangovers, so I don't feel like immersing myself in MySQL and PHP and Apache today.

The rest of the week is mainly spent swimming in JavaScript, trying to build a dummy "Shopping Cart" page, broken by occasional visits out for supplies (oh... masking tape, post-it notes, marker pens, a cover for a newly compiled LITTLE FEAT download, that sort of thing...). I briefly tried out JOOMLA!, but for the purposes I had in mind, the words 'sledgehammer' and 'peanut' spring to mind. My new DRAWPLUS software, bought online via one of those convenient 'upgrade' offers, arrived from those delightful folks at the SERIF concern. 

The RAPTURE is supposed to happen on Saturday, according to some... Have a good one folks!

Week from Monday 23rd May 2011

DREAM DIARY... I was in London, having attended some college event or other... I went to catch a train, but realised that I'd left my wallet somewhere... 'Doesn't matter', says a colleague, 'I know how to get you home'... He has words with someone and I am whisked off to a hidden room, where I am greeted as Mr Jenner... This is apparently a secret network of plasma tubes that the government uses to move agents around the country... I am made very welcome and prepared for my journey. I have to be immersed in liquid so that I can get used to breathing underwater and then, as it's my first time, I do an invigorating test run... While waiting for my turn in the tube, the real Mr Jenner arrives and I am seen as a phoney. They throw me out of the window, whereupon I float in slow motion to the ground. It is now daylight. I make my way back to the station, but then remember that I have lost my wallet... 
EARWORM UPDATE... I have a head full of LITTLE FEAT songs at the moment, but that's not too surprising, as I have rather been overindulging in same...

There is another new version of the my[_____] homepage. It is not dissimilar to the New Zealand one, but, being specifically aimed at "MUSICIANS", is even LESS USEFUL. I spent an afternoon playing with STYLISH only to conclude that this one is UN-DESIGNABLE. The new my[_____] pages are clearly meant for folks who browse the internet with their thumbs. For those of us who have acquired actual keyboard skills and a proper monitor through which to interact with the world, they are a major step backwards in terms of DESIGN. 

Functional, well maybe. Typographically pleasing, definitely not.

It defies Stylish customisation at the moment. As long as they give us the choice of which version we have, I hope I won't have to dig TOO deeply. They'll change it again before I get the chance to figure it out, in any case! Meanwhile, I will stick with the [customised] existing one - as will MY NEW STAR PUPIL 'C'C.' who, since following my blog, has taken to this Stylish lark like a duck to water! I've honed my own homepage to something DEFINITIVELY STYLISH and I have now published the finished script on USERSTYLES.ORG for the entire Firefox/Chrome-equipped my[_____] community to enjoy. Fourteen people have installed it already... no, make that nineteen... and thirty-three people have 'liked' it on Facebook, if that means anything.

Last week, I watched the darkly amusing Australian claymation feature "MARY & MAX". I have subsequently been having a 'craze' for the PENGUIN CAFÉ ORCHESTRA, whose music was heavily featured on the soundtrack.

Sunday morning, and with the prospect of an extra day-off tomorrow (SPRING BANG COLLAR DAY), I went for a long long walk. Actually, it was a business trip-cum-pleasure stroll. I had to deliver some boxes to Portchester and collect some cheques, so I went there transported and then walked back at leisure, via the 'pretty route'. There is quite a wind blowing and I am walking against it most of the way home, Marcel Marceau stylee. But I somehow managed to keep up my customary BOLERO marching tempo ("Bonk tiddly-pish, tiddly-plink, tiddly wah-wah, Bonk tiddly-pish, tiddly-plink, tiddly wah-wah...").

This weekend, we mourn the loss of the great GIL SCOTT-HERON. He was a fine writer, a real poet and a spokesman for numerous causes. But above all, he was a compelling performer who led a top-notch funky band. THIS is how I will remember him. Forget all that "Influence on Modern Hip-Hop" guff, which misses the point entirely.

Week from Monday 30th May 2011

DREAM DIARY... I was working at a radio station somewhere in America... friendly crew, plush spacious studio and the opportunity to play anything you want - I got to play a really long Brand X piece in its entirety while we sat around chatting... it probably resembled no ACTUAL radio station that ever existed... at some point there was a big on-air discussion about the Tour de France...

A bit late this year, but this week I'm finally making a start on the ANNUAL-BIKE-RIDE-O-PRINT-&-COLLATE-A-DELIVER-O-THON stuff. At long last! Just goes to show, the merits of setting a deadline... Today, I'm having a SHREDDING session, destroying some bags full of old receipts. Well, I don't believe the Tax Year 2001-02 will ever come around again.

C.C. "To all 996 of my friends. I have not deleted anyone. If there is an error message that claims we are not friends when you try to comment on my statuses, it is probably a MySpace glitch due to all the crap they are reinventing, including Wonder Bread & the Wheel..."

P.P. "[MySpace] would probably try to sell you the idea you that WHAT YOU REALLY WANT ARE WHEELS MADE OF BREAD. Then they would beta-test their bread wheels on everyone, ignoring any complaints that the wheels don't go round anymore now that they are made of bread... all the time convincing themselves that bread wheels REALLY are the way forward. It MUST be true, because they conducted a proper market research survey (selecting a panel of dough manufacturers and white bread-consuming wheelwrights as a representative cross-section of their user-base). Just to be on the safe side, they will then put a celebrity face on every bread wheel, their grinning plastic rictus GUARANTEED to persuade you that anaemic white bread wheels really ARE the most efficient form of futuristic transport system, much better than those functional (but dull) old wooden and metal ones that SOME "social wheelwright" sites might be offering... HONESTLY, if you just bear with us... You think THIS is good? You're gonna LOVE the new Wonderbread 3.0 wheels that we're trying out in New Zealand..."

It's a hot sunny Friday, with everything in glorious high-definition. I take a break from the churchcounting and lifeshredding for a while and go out for a LEG STRETCH. I find myself rooting around in the charity shops of old Eastleigh town. I found a copy of Tim Burton's superb "ED WOOD" on deeveedee as well as a new copy of ZAKIR HUSSAIN's wonderful "Making Music" album (this time with fewer scratches and a proper cover!)