Week from Monday 2nd January 2012

HAPPY 2012... mmm, 2012 eh? Weren't we supposed to be living on the moon by now? Where are all the MONORAILS and HOVERCARS then, eh? Here in Hampshire, it still takes ten years of planning and millions of pounds-worth of  "consultants" fees before they can get around to building a dedicated "transit" route that no one's ever going to use...

Back to "WORK"... but the weather is appalling (we had gates and fences downed in the night) and I've got another cold coming, so I'm staying in today... I had a DATAPANIK yesterday, when the ADSL signal suddenly stopped working for no obvious reason. I checked the cables, I checked the software, I checked the sockets, I checked the phones, but still my modem would not display that vital second green light. I thought I was going to have to go out today and buy a new modem. But no. On returning to the pooter in the evening, everything was back to normal as if nothing had happened. GO FIGURE, as they say. This morning I'm doing an extra thorough virus check, just to MAKE SURE.

I've made a start at archiving all of my previous BLOGS on a new GOOGLE BLOGGER blogspot. Although my blogs are TECHy and LINKy in nature, rather than glorious examples of CREATIVE WRITING like some's as I know, they still represent a huge chunk of LIFE ITSELF. The consensus is that no one trusts my[_____] to look after their ART anymore, and it is prudent to back it all up. I have also closed down my rather dead LiveJournal account, so the contents of that site are also saved as HTML text files, ready to find a place on the new site.

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER... I now find myself setting up a BLOGSPOT for my friend's jewellery concern (for whom I previously spent a busy couple of months building an e-commerce site). I'm loving GOOGLE BLOGGER, it's just so damn TWEAKABLE!!! You can start with one of their templates (many of which are stunning 'straight from the box') or create your own... but then the sky's the limit as to how you bend the layouts and CSS to suit your every evil whim. You don't even have to "embed" graphics using HTML if you don't want to. GOOGLE is so bloody big that they'll let you UPLOAD the pictures directly into your blog. One SpaceFriend has created a site that looks EXACTLY like the old blue and orange my[_____] Profile 1.0 layout. It doesn't quite FUNCTION in the same way yet (he's working on that), but it's an interesting, obsessive project nevertheless. I've now finished "archiving" all the my[_____]-related scripty blogposts onto one page. I shall probably start another one for the DAFTER stuff sometime... and I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before I sync 'em all with a GOOGLE+ account as well!

This morning, I had my first (telephone) session with my new PSYCHOTHERAPIST lady. Like anything else with "therapy" in the title, it feels like a relief at the time it's happening, but I'm not convinced there are any long-term benefits. You have to "BELIEVE" in it. I don't. I'm a cynical bastard. Besides, all the psychologists I've ever met are bigger loonies than the rest of us...

Week from Monday 9th January 2012

Having gathered all the "TUTORIAL" stuff together into one new BLOGSPOT, I'm now attacking all the OTHER gubbins (music or 'art'-related), collating that in another one with the working title of "MINTY'S MEWS". It's a bit of a nostalgia trip in some cases - I find myself stumbling over things that I'd almost forgotten about!

This week, I am only listening to music that was originally released in 1972. It's a project...

Week from Monday 16th January 2012

I had a fun Saturday afternoon endlessly TWEAKING one of the BLOGSPOTS, messing about with images and stylesheets, until I ended up with something that looks original and DESIGNED. I'm loving Google Blogger (or GOGGLEBLOOGER, as I accidentally keep typing, until it ends up sticking!). 

Meanwhile in another part of the GOOGLEMPIRE, I've just uploaded a new video to that YOUTUBE... I first downloaded a montage video that CC used to accompany her original rendering of "STRAIGHT NO CHASER" and then re-montaged and stretched and looped and generally mucked about with it, recutting it to fit the CC:PP version of same ("Now With Added Monk!"). I'm not making any ART STATEMENT or anything, merely exploring THE PROCESS INVOLVED. Seeing What I Can Do. With a goodly dose of that ol' Cagean, Aleatoric, Leaving Things To Chance situation. The results are kinda dreamy...

I don't particularly want to dive in and invest actual money in this VIDEO lark, as it's not something I take particularly seriously (I'll leave all that to the ODD-POP concern). I'm just dabbling and that's probably all I'll ever do. I'm not even that good at it. There are so many variables concerned and it's so difficult to convert everything to a format that will work with the software that you have, that you end up concentrating on THE PROCESS rather than actually GETTING CREATIVE with the ART. You end up so buried in concerns about compatibility and all those troublesome codecs and aspect ratios that you forget to have ACTUAL IDEAS! Having said that, next time the SERIF concern offer me MOVIE PLUS at a cut-down price, I might seriously consider it. I tried the free download version and I liked what I saw (apart from the fact that the resulting video has Serif's branding all over it, so you wouldn't let your friends see it). I still have a really old version of Movie Plus, but it's very limited. I also have an old version of Adobe Premiere, but I can't get along with it. The phrase "SLEDGEHAMMER TO CRACK A PEANUT" springs to mind. I like the way that MAGIX works with video, but I can never convert the files to a format with which it WILL work (I keep getting those "file format not supported" or "this AVI file does not contain sample data" messages, which means that the converters that I have are also inadequate for the job). And so it goes, and so it goes...

Once again, I found myself with two weeks' worth of HARRY SHEARER's "Le Show" podcasts sitting there on the desktop until I got A ROUND TOOIT. So this Monday morning, I'm listening to the SUNDAY-BEFORE-LAST's broadcast... not too jarring, but one has to bear this in mind while one listens to it.

Some new found ideas about opacity and "RGBA COLOR SPACE" have now been applied to the as-yet-ongoing MINTY BLUE MINIMALISM 2.0 script, making it that much BLUER STILL!

Aha! a new 1974 KING CRIMSON recording has just become available via the DGM concern, this one from a final-week show in Montreal... GIMME GIMME GIMME!!!

I had another of those days where I suddenly had no internet connection. This previously happened a couple of weeks ago. While half the online community was on 'strike' in protest against the US government's SOPA and PIPA proposals (Spanish for 'soup' and a Chinese 4-string lute respectively!?!), I found myself having a BLACKOUT of my own (of the involuntary kind). I loudly blamed the modem, but in hindsight, it might have been the cheapo USB hub that I've been using. Anyway, after a panicful couple of hours, I treated myself to a new ADSL router/modem from the Novatech concern and all is well with the world. It was an absolute doddle to set up - I had scheduled for an evening of FAFFING ABOUT, but that proved unnecessary. It'll take a while to adjust to the idea of an internet connection that turns itself on automatically (Ooooh! how futuristic!) and there's no longer a little picture of a computer flickering in the notification tray when it does so, but I've created a shortcut to the 'DSL STATUS' doobry so that I can be reassured that everything is doing what it's supposed to do.

I just found the COMPLETE "TWIN PEAKS" DVD box set in the HMV sale, for a mere twenty of your Earth pounds. Wooo! That'll keep me entertained until well into the summer! It's been a good few years since we originally followed the show (Blimey! we were still having 'Club Nights' at Gold Lamé's gaff then!) and, curiously, it's never had a repeat showing on any of the Freeview channels... Cant wait!

Week from Monday 23rd January 2012

Chuffed to bits with the new ADSL box. Now if only the ISP and phone company would stop moving the goalposts at THEIR respective ends! Yes, SUPANET and BRITISH TELECOM, I mean YOU! There are certain times of the day when I can't log into MySpace or my Google 'dashboard' (or the 'dashboards' on other more 'important' sites, for that matter) or send outgoing mail, because the connection to the ISP server(s) has ground to a standstill. The new ADSL box means that I have instant access to 'the network', but TOO often, that network is not actually connecting to anything...

I've been keeping a "SLEEP JOURNAL" in time for my next shrinkydink telephony on Wednesday. My nocturnal sleep habits are running at no more than 66% efficiency. In other words, if I want to achieve a good eight hours of kip, I have to TRY to sleep for twelve! Except that no 'pattern' has yet emerged, because no two nights are similar. Admittedly, it's early days yet - I haven't been keeping track of numbers for a long enough period of time to have sufficient data to work with... 

Hey! perhaps I SHOULD be working in market research after all! I could do that! I could come up with all those (probably invented) statistics that they are now obliged to post in small print on every TV commercial. "Statistics" like "215 people were asked, 78% agreed". 

I wouldn't like to have been the interviewer who had to drag SEVEN-TENTHS of a member of the public in off the street for those numbers to make any sort of sense. 

By expressing response as a percentage, they know that Darren and Sharon Public looking at those numbers won't question them. They are (statistically!) too lazy and stupid to take time out from their evening of "CELEBRITIES DO THE STUPIDEST THINGS" to do the sums. Percentages sound like something that has actually been "worked out" by "experts", and therefore must be more "convincing". Wouldn't it have been easier just to say "167 people out of 215" if that's what they mean? Croutons!

The 'new' KING CRIMSON download is rather spiffing. As I've mentioned many times in this here journal, you'd be hard pressed to actually find a BAD concert by the 1973-74 KCrims, even the 'off-nights' have their merits. This one does have a few CLUNKERS - nothing in the "Eskimo Blue Day" league, but noticeable nevertheless. Of course, the real MEAT is in the "IMPROVS", which, being completely different every night and full of surprises, are what make these downloads so essential, however many you already have. The original tape (soundboard) was lacking the opening bars of "Schizoid" and the end of "Starless" so, before I committed this concert to a CD-R, I 'restored' the missing bits with edits taken from another show a few nights earlier.

Having claimed that I was "chuffed" with the new ADSL router, I've now gone back to using the old one for a while, until I can sort a few things out. There APPEARS to be a clash between Windoze Firewall, Mozilla Firefox 9 and the box's own quasi-firewall technology which causes certain things to "NOT WORK PROPERLY", to use a technical term. Firefox grinds to a standstill while the software does its thing, and it is near impossible to log into certain sites, especially Google. I've plugged the old modem back in while I search the net for documentation. I need to dig deeper. The leaflet, containing advanced set-up instructions, that came with the box is so small that it is impossible to read for us old-timers. I've found a few PDFs that spell it out clearly and I've found some FAQ message boards on the subject. A "PROJECT" for a future weekend. m'thinks...

...That is, after I've done this week's HOMEWORK for my shrinkydink... I'm keeping diaries and charts of my sleeping habits and I have an enormous questionnaire to fill in for next time. That's ONE way to make me sleep, I suppose...

Week from Monday 30th January 2012

Today's listening is Virgil Howe's "YES REMIXES" album, which I've had stored in my iTUNES for months, but hadn't got around to listening to yet (my iTUNES folder is jamtuckerful of stuff like that!). Not all of it 'works' musically, but it's a LORRA LORRA FUN! I've burned it onto a disk, along with a CASSETTE-via-LINE6 DIGITISATION of the legendary "ZTT REMIXES" of 1983-84.

I finally succumbed to SERIF's offer of a cheap download version of their MOVIE PLUS application. And not just for completism's sake! I've written at length about how TAKEN I've become with it, over on the BLOGSPOT. It matches all of its brothers and sisters with its ability to produce professional results with maximum userfriendliness, while cleverly not putting a strain on the hardware. Thus solving at a stroke all the issues that I'd previously had with video editing gubbins, as mentioned above (see week of 16th January). My first TEST PIECE was to 'remix' and atmospherically-enhance one of CC's webcam recitals, which has gone down a treat with my 'public'.

And it was while frolicking around with the VIDEO FAIRIES, that I noticed a BUG in my "MINTY BLUE MINIMALISM" Stylish script for my[_____]

In seeking to remove yet another item of UGLY GREYNESS from the foot of the Spacepage, I'd accidentally hidden the UPLOAD buttons from the "My Videos" and "My Photos" pages (on the ARTISTS' version of the site)! Whoops! 

Now if there's a mistake in MY coding, I'll put my hand up and admit it, unlike some's I could mention! 

Long story short, I fixed the 'bug' over the weekend and tidied up the rest of the script while I was at it. The bonus result of this was that the last vestiges of CORPORATE HARDSELL have now been purged from my version of my[_____]. It may not help me generate advertising revenue for young Timberlake... but f*** him, that's not MY concern! Adverts are for OTHER PEOPLE. If you want to attract MY dollar, then try to sell me something that I'M interested in. Reappraise your belief that the typical internet user is a Californian teenager.

However... just as I have got everything fine'n'dandy, I'm back to the old "ONE BROWSER FOR my[_____], A DIFFERENT ONE FOR EVERYTHING ELSE" situation. Suddenly overnight, my[_____], or at least the version I have, appears incompatible with several flavours of FIREFOX. The profile pages appear to have been emptied of their content and there is no Status Share box with which to complain about it! Once again they have found a fascinating new way to defy the laws of logic. So here am I, back in THE LAND OF CHROME. I would abandon Firefox altogether, but for the fact that I still need it to watch "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART"!

And then, while I was out on ONE OF ME DAZE OUT, wandering aimlessly about and lost in my own thoughts, it suddenly occurred to me. It was all the fault of my employing an over-zealous AD-BLOCK plug-in! 

You really do have to be careful. That's twice in the last week that, by tidying up something on one page, I've accidentally made something else disappear on A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ONE, on account of my[_____]'s peculiar and lazy "SYSTEM" of element-naming. The panel on the homepage that contains the "What's Happening...?" status update form, the main content body of the profile pages and the large box (full of adverts and pictures of "celebrities" that I don't recognise) in the centre of the log-in page ALL HAVE THE SAME NAME! So apologies to my[_____] and MOZILLA for jumping to conclusions. It wasn't your fault this time. Full story and veiled apology in another blog somewhere.

February is almost upon us and, as if by magic, it's once again time to think "RIDE & STRIDE"...