Week from Monday 4th February 2013

...which means another week of "Blimey! It's Wednesday already and I haven't done the diary yet!"... Having finished off all the 'hectic last-minuteness' for Uncle Willy, and visited Gosport to take care of my 'other' customers, I treated myself to a Tuesday afternoon trip to Southampton to buy that USB TURNTABLE I'd been promising myself for a while now. Yes! that's right! VINYL!!! I figured that, what with all the record shops closing, I'd have to take my OLDIES in whatever format I can find them in now. This device enables one to turn the contents of those twelve-inch slabs of liquorice into the new-fangled DIGITAL FORMATS we now insist on. I've already done some test 'capturing' of some well-cared-for treasures (the first LOOSE TUBES album, which I have in near-mint condition, and ROBERT FRIPP's LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN album, purchased at a 'Frippertronics' PA at the Oxford Street Virgin Megastore in 1981 and autographed by the man himself. Priceless!). The only little fault I've found so far with the ION PROFILE PRO TURNTABLE is that the hard-wired-in phono lead is ridiculously short - I was unable to plug the apparatus into my hi-fi or computer speakers so that I could actually HEAR what I was recording as I recorded it! So the theme of my NEXT trip to Maplin's is a PHONO-EXTENSION LEAD to connect the deck to the hi-fi amplifier across the other side of the room.

HMV is still there, which is a pleasant surprise every time I visit town! How much longer? I daren't ask! I took advantage of their "25% OFF NEARLY EVERYTHING" offers and upgraded (from cassette to CD) some more items in my TODD RUNDGREN collection - "Todd", "Back To The Bars" and a three-in-one set comprising of "Hermit of Mink Hollow", "Healing" and "The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect", all of them brimming over with the poptastic tunes and psychedelic wigouts you expect from THE TODD, but now without the 'filtered through mud' sound which I have personally been listening to all these years!

Week from Monday 11th February 2013

Speaking of things being "filtered through mud"... Over the weekend, I have been stricken with the full-on INFLUENZA (as opposed to the imaginary "MAN FLU" that those of my sex are often accused of having)... so I have cancelled all my appointments and am staying in (or at least near) my bed for the rest of the week.

On Thursday, I forced myself out for a bit of fresh air while the opportunity presented itself. I went for a walk into town (and worked up a muck-sweat) to take a bag of stuff to the OXFAM SHOP - lots of books, some vinyl records (some in near-mint condition, others.. um, markedly less so), plus a handful of 'swapsies' CDs.

I tried out a website called BETTER INTERNET which, from what I can make out, has been set up by some of the originators of good old USERSTYLES.ORG. It allows one to take the idea of using CSS to modify websites "to the next level". Instead of 'hacking' your own browser (reasonably safe), you instead redirect folks via a proxy address containing all of your stylesheets and javascript (possibly not safe at all). I picked up a couple of 'new' coding tricks along the way and was cured of a number of bad habits I'd picked up - but I'm certain that this method would contravene the "TERMS & CONDITIONS" of just about any website under the sun (MySpace included), so I'm not going to stick my neck out any further. Besides, as I learnt when I tried to add a splash of colour to GooglePlus a while back, it seems the REALLY ugly websites have introduced secret algorhythmic countermeasures to STOP people 'improving' the appearance of their sites. Big Brother knows best. Trying to make the doubleyou-doubleyou-doubleyou LOOK nicer? It's like peeing against the wind.

Week from Monday 18th February 2013

But you see before you one side-product of all my exploratory mucking about on BetterInternet, that new-improved "DATE STAMP" bar at the foot of this page. The archaic bit of script that I'd used previously (easy to apply, but inflexible) displayed the date and time in that backwards American format (with the numerical month before the day before the year). I've now introduced a combination of two scripts which do it "IN ENGLISH" instead. That's right folks, I've been dipping a toe into the wonderful world of JAVASCRIPT! I've also improved on the bar's 'shiny' gradient-fill style, by including CSS definitions which SHOULD work across other browsers (probably not INTERNET EXPLODER though, there's really no hope for THOSE people!)

The confusion about NewMySpace continues. Several people posted that they couldn't find their way around, or they couldn't 'find' their 'friends' or couldn't find out where the blogs go...
"You can't do any of those things on NewMySpace. It's not really "New" "MySpace" at all, it's a music streaming site, pure and simple. In my opinion, it should be considered an ADDITION to MySpace, NOT a replacement or alternative. They really should have given it a less misleading name to avoid confusing the punters. "MySpace Music" or "MySpace Radio" or even "MuSpace" would have made its purpose clearer..."
The mass exodus this time around (the kind of thing that ALWAYS happens when there is panic and confusion in the MySpace village) seems to be in the direction of the blogging site WORDPRESS. Now I've previously gone on record as stating that I think that MySpace's own blogging tools are no longer "FIT FOR PURPOSE" and that, if you are serious about creative writing, you do need the tools that a proper dedicated blogging site can provide to do it properly. Nevertheless, you also NEED a "SOCIAL" site to actually connect people with your latest opus. Those folks who say "MySpace is crap now, I'm going to Wordpress INSTEAD..." are missing the point. YOU NEED BOTH! You can't set up a 'community' on a blog site, you poor deluded fools... so it's no good saying to all your MySpace friends, "I'm off to Wordpress! Come and join me! We'll start afresh and it'll be just like it is here...". Take it from one who has TRIED all the alternatives. MySpace, despite its quirks and foibles, despite its misguided management, still works the best as a SOCIAL HUB for ALL of your activities. It really doesn't matter which websites HOST your content - you can, in this day and age, have separate, FREE sites for your blogs, your music, your photos, your videos, ANYTHING you want to share with the world. But the key word there is 'share'. What's the point of keeping it all to yourself? No one can FIND you on a hosting site (again, I speak from experience), you need the SOCIAL HUB to tie it all together and point people in the right direction.

Okay, I concede that FACEBOOK strives to do this, but friends who have used both tell me that MySpace does it better (it's that old "lost in the crowd" thing that makes Facebook so uncomfortable for me to use. It's just too BIG to be effective). GOOGLE PLUS also serves this purpose reasonably well, but it is mainly full of "industry" people and looks like a fridge.

SOME CHOICEST TIDBITS FROM THIS WEEK'S MYSPACE COMMENTS BOARDS... Please allow for an occasional dash of my sub-editor's blue pencil. Ordinarily, I might have started yet ANOTHER new posting on Blogspot for this topic, but I figured it might just as well be "archived" here on the MintyDiaryBloggyWotsit as anywhere:-
EP - "I may tease Wordpress users who are coming on here to tell everyone Wordpress is the place to be, but I really have nothing against anyone using it to blog. But Wordpress is not designed as a social network. It is strictly a blogging platform. And that's fine. It certainly gives more options to stylize the blog. It would seem to me that the emigrants who have moved there are finding out that their network of readers has diminished... The thing I find very odd is that this latest small exodus of users is not because of anything MySpazz itself has done (the New MySpazz will have no effect on how the Old functions), but [because of] user claims of INACTIVITY. MySpazz, even with its many faults, is still set up as a social network 'en toto' and not just [as] a blogging network..."
PP - "I've no problem with Wordpress, it does the job it is supposed to do. As does any other 'made for purpose' blogging site. I put my blogs on one because IT WORKS PROPERLY. But without a 'social' element they are all just sites for HOSTING your content. They don't SELL themselves very well, you have to 'advertise' yourself on social sites to draw attention to their existence. That's what MS has always been good for. Once upon a time it was a self-contained "everything under one roof" social site. That model, admittedly, has got broken, as the owners 'change things' to appeal to those who they PERCEIVE TO BE their niche market (getting it wildly wrong and alienating the actual folks who DO make up the core populace in the process). But, regardless of its quirks and foibles, MySpace DOES still function as a social hub for linking all your cyber-interests together and updating your chums about what you're up to..."
CC - "It's true. MySpace provided all the elements one needed to be both entrepreneurial and social in one neat little package... People were too idiotic to learn how to use the new tools provided (though, granted, they were inferior in some respects to 2.0, they are still FAR superior to those proffered elsewhere, Facebook included). The problem with MySpace is that they still never fixed the notification system. It is very disjointed. How hard can it be to actually take you to the status being commented on? That is one thing Facebook does very well..."
PP - "...The sad thing is that they will never TRY to fix the obvious problems on Classic MySpace now (problems obvious to you or me, that is), because they are determined that "New" MySpace is the answer (somehow forgetting along the way what the actual question was!)... which brings me back around to my point about learning to live here AT ONE WITH THE QUIRKS and creating a cybervironment that is comfortable for you..."
L - "No matter where I go, this always feels like home!"
There's another one gone then... This week, we said goodbye to Canterbury's very own Mr Bad-Hair-Day KEVIN AYERS, a fine British eccentric if ever there was one. His ultra-laid-back lifestyle was reflected by the fact that he managed to fit the word "wine" into nearly every song he ever wrote.

Week from Monday 25th February 2013

I treated myself to STEVEN WILSON's new album "The Raven That Refused To Sing & Other Stories" (Have you ever heard a raven "sing"? Believe me, he's doing us all a favour by refusing!). It's exactly a week until I hear and see it in the flesh, so to speak, so I thought I'd better familiarise myself with the new stuff before I go. I'm already intimately acquainted with the opening track "Luminol", which was played live on last year's "Get All You Deserve" and appeared as an album preview on the coverdisk of a recent edition of "PROG" magazine. The rest of the CD will, of course, be on continuous play until it sort of lodges in the brainpan in readiness. It's a grower.

(I've also bought the new Esoteric expanded reissue of "MATCHING MOLE'S LITTLE RED RECORD", but I haven't got around to that yet!)

I've now completed the task of serialising the whole of "ANARCHAEOLOGY" on my SpaceBlog, having just posted the last episode of "...And Ruth Creased The Yellow Curtain". It seems to have gone down well with the populace at large and has continually amused a handful of people in particular. We've been told that WE ARE VERY TALENTED. Which is nice. Of course, people might just be saying that to be polite - I would imagine they are also, in equal parts, baffled. I know I am. I'm thinking of doing something with "MRS McVITIE: THE OPERA" next. I have cleaned up the recording enough to post it on YouTube, just as soon as I can type out all the words. I took advantage of the new-fangled digital technology to fix a few obvious bummers (and some edits that had been 'DONE THE 1980s WAY' using a tape recorder's pause button). It's still pretty rough, but I've heard worse. Folks will have to follow the libretto on screen to understand what is being sung, but then that's always the case with opera, ain't it? Our version of 'opera' does score over Wagner or Puccini in one important way. It's only eighteen minutes long.

Off for a yomp into town to buy some new WALKING BOOTS. The old ones are starting to come apart at the seams. I find I replace them, on average, once every eighteen months... after all, they ARE my primary means of transport!