Week from Monday 1st April 2013

A fairly non-eventful EASTER weekend (isn't it a bit earlier this year?), and absolutely no APRIL FOOL'S DAY pranks to report... Mind you, I read "THE ONION" a couple of times a week and I get all MY 'news' via satirical programmes like America's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" or our own "The News Quiz" and "The Now Show", so I probably wouldn't have 'spotted' any spoofs that snuck onto the "REAL" 'news' anyway. It's all ONE BIG COMEDY ROUTINE to me! By the way, are we at war with North Korea yet?

I tweaked a few things on the mon espace PROFILE PAGE (brackets: "Classic", for the use of) and did a spot of VINYL RIPPING. A couple more shiny black twelve-inch JAZZY oldies received the digital clean-up treatment... Oh! and plenty of time for reading - I've just started the second volume of STIEG LARSSON's Millennium trilogy, which is just as "CAN'T-PUT-DOWN-ABLE" as the first.

I finished off a mad instrumental piece called "ALLEGRO ARANCIO" (Let's see if Shelfy 'gets' that title...?) and also did some VIDEO experimenting, subjecting my recent "POINTING-THE-CAMERA-OUT-OF-THE-TRAIN-WINDOW" footage to some nice swirly arty treatments, making it resemble a hand-painted animation... some real 'ACTION PAINTING' to go with yet another new piece of SPACE MUSIC, one which has the rather silly, last-minute title of "SHE-WOLVES OF GANYMEDE" (well, I had to call it something!). It's on my YouTube channel for all to see.

I'm giving the mon espace nouveau music player a good thrashing this morning. I reiterate, it's jolly good at its sole job of replacing the bolted-on afterthought of a music player that we have on old mon espace. It will quite happily play music at you in one browser tab, while you go about your daily tasks in another. This morning's 'office ambience' is therefore the entire contents of our old chum ZEPHYR HAPPENSTANCE's mon espace nouveau catalogue.

DREAM DIARY... Adventures at the Vicarage with Shelfy... I was reviving a couple of mid-eighties AppleMacs that we "found in the attic" - a 'pizza box' model, rather like the LC-II that we did have in REAL life, and a strange little grey laptop with a tiny black and white LCD display. "Link them together! It'll make a good word processor!" says I enthusiastically...

I mentioned during my description of my trip OOP DZAT LOONDIN, that there was some major re-landscaping going on in HYDE PARK. Now I hear the news that the ROLLING STONES are to once again play there this year, some forty-odd years since they last did so in 1969 (extremely badly, in most people's view). BUT IT'S HARDLY THE SAME THING. This time, instead of an historic FREE CONCERT at the "Cockpit", with people climbing trees to see over the huge sprawling crowds, there will be VIP seating and corporate hospitality suites and the whole thing will cost you at least ninety-five quid for a ticket. Quite a few of those trees have been cut down now, by the way. Most crucially, you won't get to hear KING CRIMSON play "21st Century Schizoid Man" or "Get Thy Bearings" either...

Listening to that historic KC performance again now, I hear another 'sign of the times' - You don't hear big jets fly over central London nowadays, not like they do throughout this short, sweet and extremely "atmospheric" recording!

Week from Monday 8th April 2013

...of course, the REALLY BIG news this weekend is that HMV has been saved! Hoorah!!! It remains to be seen what they've been 'saved' as, but it's welcome news for those few of us who still like to go into REAL record shops and buy REAL music in REAL tangible formats. I'd LIKE to believe that they have learnt a lesson from all those months - nay! years! - of mismanagement and that the branches will once again dedicate an appropriate amount of floor space to selling actual CDs and DVDs, instead of all those tacky iPhone accessories, ugly t-shirts and shitty, overpriced 'designer' headphones. But, as I say, it remains to be seen...

It's the start of a NEW FINANCIAL YEAR, so I've been doing some sums and totting up the interest on my bankin's, as well as chasing down some people who haven't yet paid me for work carried out during the OLD YEAR.

I've been trying out a couple of different versions of my namesake operating system LINUX MINT. I feel another blog coming on...

DREAM DIARY... On a 'school trip' to an unnamed island off the coast of Wales (although the climate and architecture look rather more Mediterranean). There is a huge 'town square' on the way to the harbour, which is like a maze of gardens broken by roads full of busy traffic (lots of ancient buses). The 'hotel' is like a big defensive fort...

Week from Monday 15th April 2013

I love this country's CIVIL SERVICE and its nutty ways... It's time to fill in my TAX FORM. For as long as I can remember, I've filled in the short-form Self Assessment doobry and posted it to them. It takes no time at all, although they do trick you into paying for the postage yourself. This year, for the first time, I've decided to file it ONLINE. This, as the government reminds us via lots of expensive advertising, is THE PREFERRED OPTION. It'll save paper, save time, save on postage, save the planet, it's all for the good of the country, etc, etc. Okay then, let's go for it. I've used the hard copy of the form to "DO MY SUMS" and to keep my own record of what I'm doing, then I go to the website where I hope to enter those details into the online form. Shouldn't take more than ten minutes, once I'm registered. All well and good so far.

But before I can actually USE an online form, they have to send me a special ACTIVATION CODE number, to make sure I'm SAFE & SECURE (for them as well as me). The nutty thing is, Civil Servants being what they are, they still do this ON PAPER, BY POST and it takes "UP TO SEVEN DAYS". 'Save time'? 'Save paper'? Did it not occur to anyone to use the email address I just gave them?

In any case, if the object IS to save paper, then why do they still send everyone a printed copy of the form with an additional OPTION to do it all online? If you DO then choose to file via the website, then that form (which they've ALREADY gone to expense of printing and mailing) is destined for the shredder bin anyway.

Twits.

Today, it's the EMAIL/MESSAGING bit that doesn't work on my version of mon espace. This HAD previously worked just dandy for me, while all the time OTHER FOLKS were telling me it was broken. Now those same people are complaining that it's the COMMENTS BOARDS that are faulty (and they are constantly getting "We are unable to post your comment at this time" messages, even when the comments DO eventually get posted). Yet the comments still work for me without a glitch. It obviously depends on which version of "CLASSIC" you have, as to what goes wrong on any given day. Wot larks eh?! No good expecting "THEM" to fix it though, because they won't. The "OOPS! SOMETHING WENT WRONG!" screens are coming thick and fast now.
INSPECTING THE ELEMENTS... On the email/messaging page, below the entry window, there is a section that contains three buttons (I'm sure there WERE more in the past). One of them, "SAVE AS DRAFT" has been removed by the previous regime... the tell-tale sign being that the code for the button is still there in the page's HTML, but there are gaps where something has been disabled (That's how they did things around here in the old days!). The second, "CANCEL" is still intact(?) This one DOES seem to have all its functions, as far as I can see. The third and most important is "SEND". The code for the button's APPEARANCE is there, but there doesn't appear to be any sort of javascript 'REF' to make it do anything... so it doesn't. The javascript itself has got references to 'VALUES' that don't exist anymore. Timberlake Towers said that they wouldn't fix anything on "Classic" that they inherited from the previous regime, but this is a NEW glitch which has happened SINCE they took over...
Thursday morning. Still waiting for the postman... Thursday afternoon. Postman arrives, but not bringing that cheque that I was told was posted "first class" on Monday afternoon in Winchester. I did however get TWO envelopes containing TWO DIFFERENT ACTIVATION CODES from the Inland Revenue. So I did my TAX RETURN. Did some blogging. Ranted about things on other people's. Played FreeCell. Played Tetris. Toyed around with a quirky new RHYTHM TRACK, but it doesn't suggest any new musical ideas just yet. Played FreeCell. Played Tetris. Switched off the computer.

Friday morning. It's my BIRTHDAY, as an email from the SERIF FORUMS has just reminded me. Among those with whom I proudly share this day:- Eliot Ness, Dudley Moore, Dick Sargent, Jayne Mansfield, Bernie Worrell, Mark Volman, Kate Hudson, Hayden Christensen and Ruby Wax (what a motley bunch!). Still waiting for the postman...
LF - I have a hunch... I think that they do this purposely (hide comments, prevent people sending comments etc.). I think this is their way to force people to move to the "New MySpace". What a brilliant conspiracy theory, lol!
PP - I'm not one for conspiracy theories - there's USUALLY a logical explanation for cyberproblems of this kind - but I'm beginning to feel you're not far from the truth. Timberlake Towers say they are NOT going to fix any problems with 'Classic' that they inherited from the previous regime... but that doesn't explain the new problems that have appeared SINCE they took over.
The fact is they WOULD like everyone to change to NewMySpace, because they have this mistaken agenda that it is a new and improved upgrade/replacement, while I've argued that it's nothing of the kind.
I have both MySpaces and, to my way of thinking, that is the best arrangement. NewMySpace is an addition to the MS experience, not an alternative. This one provides the "social" hub and the New one offers an much-improved music player, should you require such a thing. But while I continue to log into this "Classic" site several times a day (sad!), I will probably log in to "New" maybe once a week. And that is usually in response to a notification that someone has posted on a Help Forum thread after me.
There is NO social aspect to NewMySpace. They've convinced themselves that this is what folks want from MySpace now, that we Oldies are merely "afraid of change" and that we are "still stuck in 2005". And they also steadfastly stick to the excuse that New MySpace is still in "beta", so WE should be patient while they get it right. But NewMS really has nothing to offer to OldSpacers who want to continue doing what they do here. Take it from one who has been there and come back to tell the tale :-D
DU - If MySpace WANTED the poets, bloggers, story tellers and all their respective readers, they would have included a blogging utility in the New MySpace. They didn't. They are discouraging the artsy-fartsy folks a blogger at a time...
PP - They DON'T want you on NewMySpace. They want to make it appeal to seventeen-year old Justin Timberlake fans, to the exclusion of all others. That's where all the advertising revenue is.
They swear blind that "when it's out of beta" NewMySpace will become a thriving community of musicians, visual artists and photographers, but it's not designed in such a way to appeal to ANY of those folks.
They have a narrow Hollywood-centric definition of a 'musician' or 'artist' as someone who aspires to become a branch of the entertainment industry. There is none of the joy of self-expression for its own sake. There no sense of community where artists can exchange ideas and collaborate (and make friends). It's all about "selling yourself" to blindly consuming "fans".
The overseers of the NewMySpace occupy this Hollywood-centric world themselves and have a firm belief that THAT is what everyone else is looking for. As far as us OldSpacers are concerned, they couldn't be more wrong...
They simply don't GET anyone being creative for the love of it. There has to be a commercial motive. As I said, their definition of an 'artist' or a 'musician' is someone who aspires to "succeed" in the entertainment industry.
Listen, I have two ongoing Classic MySpaces and have contributed to numerous others over the years (see that hyperlinked list of "collaborators" in the bottom right-hand corner of my profile page?). That's a lot of different music that also spills over onto New MySpace, where I also have an account. I have four ongoing blog sites on which I regularly rant at length. I have two OTHER streaming/download sites on which I post music. I also have a Google+ account. Hardly anyone (besides on MySpace) EVER comments on what I say or do, so I have thus concluded that what I do is of LITTLE INTEREST to anyone else but me. That, I long ago decided, is EVERYONE ELSE's problem, not mine! Some may say that makes me a 'loser'. I do it anyway, because I have an inate compulsion to CREATE something anything. I'm not in the business of accumulating and counting numbers of "FANS". That is what NewMySpace is about, and that is the difference between what we want to do and what they THINK 'artists' want...
Of course, if the intention WAS to "force people to move to the New MySpace", then they are shooting themselves in the foot. The knock-on effect is that it drives people AWAY from MySpace (of ANY flavour) and on to OTHER networks. That is what has happened throughout MySpace's history. Do these silly 'businessmen' EVER learn from the mistakes of the past?

I HAVE FUN WITH THIS STUFF (SAD, EH?)... I've been trying out a couple of OTHER versions of LINUX (or should that be "LINUCES"?) I didn't like the latest version of UBUNTU at all, it seems obstinately anti-Windows... features like putting the 'close' and 'minimize' buttons in the 'wrong' corner and all those scrolly icons down the side, it's like they're deliberately trying to be different for its own sake. It's a bit like using an AppleMac, only back-to-front and sideways. I also tried FEDORA 17 which is a little TOO minimal in appearance for me (it requires a lot more self-assembly to get it how YOU want it).

WHY AM I DOING THIS? The way I see it, there is going to come a time when I will need to buy a laptop (in addition to my desktop 'workstation'). This might be a good time to buy, because all the FASHION VICTIMS are now choosing TABLETS and other touch-screen lifestyle accessories with which to access the interweb, rather than trouble their pretty little heads with any of the working features you might want on a REAL computer. Proper grown-up PC laptops are being discounted (in every sense). The problem with that is, unless you're nonchalant about paying Apple prices (maybe I should point out for my American friends that, in this country, an AppleMac costs around four times the price of an equivalent PC), or you're happy to work within the limitations of Chromebook (anything you want as long as it's Google), laptops now come with the excremental M****soft Windoze 8 preinstalled. No way hosehead!! So I look forward with eager glee to the day when I can ritually cleanse a computer of that hideous, impractical, Toytown-looking operating system and install a Linux-based one of my own. And I'm chuffed to find that, of all the 'LINUCES' that I've roadtested, the one that I feel most at home with is called LINUX MINT! Hoorah!

Week from Monday 22nd April 2013

Waiting for the postman again...

I was digging around in the deepest recesses of my hard-drive (looking for "THE PEDESTAL", as it happens) and I came across some backed-up bloggins from 2007, which shed an amusing light on our early days on MySpace. What a busy life we led then! Oh! how we blogged!
Subject : Six Songs!?
Posted Date: : 22 Nov 2007, 10:43

"Viz zis SIX SONGS, Monsieur MySpace, you are spoiling us!" - Thank you to my friend THE DARKENING SCALE for drawing my attention to this exciting new phenomenon. I have [re]posted "SATIE DRIFT" on the player - that seemed to go down well last time! During the meanwhilst, over at RABBIT SHOW REJECT, there should be interesting new developments afoot, any time soon... STOP PRESS... Well, there SHOULD have been 'interesting new developments afoot'. Having declared that he was bored with his page, I had intended to help Shelfy (RABBIT SHOW REJECT) give his MySpace a total makeover. But, as you will see above, he has put the kibosh on THAT little plan. He lost all his passwords and invalidated the e-mail address that would have enabled me to retrieve them, so it is now impossible for either of us to do anything to the page except just let it lie...

Subject : That elusive creature, the External Lynx
Posted Date: : 19 Oct 2007, 22:33

My online diary, for many months OFFline because I didn't have a functioning internet connection of my own (it's a long story) is now ONline again. Click on the link in the "About" box. Thank you to the fella that sent THIS link on their bulletin posting recently (I think it was the loop-y MATT STEVENS). I've been wanting to embed this somewhere for a while - 'cos it's ruddy superb... ENJOY!
SORRY FOLKS, VIDEO CLIP NO LONGER AVAILABLE
(It was a Zappa video, by the way) Does any American 'friend' recognize the source of this clip? Is it "Saturday Night Live"? It definitely dates from late 1976, featuring as it does the full "Zappa In New York" band, so it would probably be around the time that John Belushi appeared with them doing his BE-BOP SAMURAI routine? Incidentally MATT STEVENS also posted an almost-DEFINITIVE essay (by Barry Cleveland, "Guitar Player" magazine) on the art of 'LIVE LOOPING' on one of his bulletins... a MUST-READ if you get the chance.

Subject : TFTWE: The Missing Episodes
Posted Date: : 15 Oct 2007, 09:09

...in the event, (RABBIT SHOW REJECT) Shelfy recorded quite a lot of voicover material for the "Tales From The Winged Eyeball" project, much of which never got used for the 'album'. The same is very much true of the backing music. I churned out hours of the stuff. But I've already got bored with that. So, I'm thinking, why not pick a few more unused recititive items from the stock of CD-Rs and wrap some NEW music around it?! Taking advantage of the fact that, if one pretends to be interested in the Intel-sponsored MySpaceSearchForASuperStarThingummy competition, one gets an extra fifth slot on one's music player, I've now upchucked a total of three new pieces, embedding the Shelfwords in strrrraaaaaannnnngggge new settings.

Subject : Nostalgia? Is that anything like neuralgia?
Posted Date: : 21 Sep 2007, 03:34

So, another week, another new pile of old toot... today, I bring you three OLD THINGS from the last decade of the last century, spiffed up for the new-fangled digital medium and your listening pleasure:-
THE BUDGIE (PART 1): (November 1995) Another "episode" from the "ballet" "suite" of that ilk. This is the full-blown 'chorale' section, with a touching libretto by the RABBIT SHOW REJECT's The Entire Top Shelf.
THE BIG OL' ADAGIO: (September 1990) This is but a mere smidgeon of a much longer (twenty-odd minutes) piece, very much in a neo-classical, slow-proggy, major-to-minor key sort of vain. In fact this mostly-improvised piece had the working title of "Frank Bridge Joins The Tangs".
THE NEW TURTLES: (November 1996) aka "All This Should Have Walls", a totally bonkers piece from when I was going through my "Jazz From Hell" phase.
The sound quality, variable as it is, is due to its origins on good old-fashioned analogue tape (What is this 'tape' of which I speak? Ask a grown up!) Enjoy!
PS... My remix/reconstruction of RENALDO & THE LOAF's "Absence" is now [on the Flash MP3 Player] over at THE MUSIC IS TABOO, the page dedicated to remixes and cover versions of RATL songs.

Subject : Having a bit of a clearout.
Posted Date: : 07 Sep 2007, 12:37

I've been having a bit of a tidy-up on this here page, as you can probably see.
1) I've removed the third party MySpace Editor's colour scheme and reverted to the default MySpace page style. A bit boring, I know, but on some computers, the page was taking longer and longer to load and part of the 'band profile' box was missing.
2) I've added an excitingly surreal new logo pic.
3) I've got rid of the World Map. It's innaccurate, meaningless and I don't have any friends who live in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa.
4) I've cleaned out my "Friends's Comments" message board. I agree with one of my Japanese friends who complains about people sending you enormous pictures more than 600 pixels wide - it spoils the look of the page by pushing the columns apart and off the screen in some cases. It also slows down page loading and scrolling on some computers. I won't post messages from people who use the "Comments" space to advertise their own gigs/recordings/downloads/pets' birthdays etc etc. The correct place for that is the BULLETIN BOARD. I've discarded many of the old messages except the ones that are amusing or have say nice things about ME.

Subject : A Bit Of Nostalgia For The Old Folks...
Posted Date: : 30 Aug 2007, 12:22

Wall-to-wall nostalgia on the old media player this week, with the arrival of yet another piece [re]constructed from archive performances from the last century. I've added a piece of HEAVY ELECTRONICA from 1990: all of the sounds you hear (apart from the piano) were generated on my trusty Commodore Amiga! "THE BUDGIE" was another in a the long series of high-fallutin' concepts that Shelfy [RABBIT SHOW REJECT] came up with, which I proceeded to do the music for, only for the completed project to remain in existence in the confines of Shelfy's head (There was an opera or two, a 'Shakespearean' play, a ballet, numerous novels-set-to-music, not to mention several video ideas). BUT NOW, THANKS TO MySPACE, THE MUSIC CAN LIVE ON ALONE...

Subject : Archive Fun
Posted Date: : 23 Aug 2007, 02:37

Further delving into the Mint Archives... Throughout the last century, SHELFY [RABBIT SHOW REJECT] and I lived and worked in a semi-abandoned [but supposedly still operational] VICARAGE. The huge and acoustically-challenging basement provided a very useful space for rehearsals and recordings of the spontaneous kind. An ongoing series of improvs throughout 1988 went under the banner of TEASET BODY REVUE. The improvs then formed the basis for some heavy heavy monster electro-acoustic cut 'n' paste work - one such example has just suddenly appeared on this here page...

Subject : Clabberashaan!
Posted Date: : 08 Aug 2007, 10:44

As suggested by TONY LEVIN, I like to 'rotate' my FRIEND SPACE so that it throws up interesting combinations. I keep my Top Friends list to eight because - well, it looks tidy! The top line is now more or less fixed - RABBIT SHOW REJECT has, of course been a 'friend' for twenty or more years before MySpace even existed and is my main musical collaborator! For reasons that should be obvious, I proudly wear my TEA APPRECIATION SOCIETY badge at the top of my Friend Space. JAMES JOYCE is there for reasons equally obvious to anyone looking at my page (or anyone who knows me at all), as are KING CRIMSON. The second line is the one I like to 'rotate'. Yesterday I decided to have a Japanese theme, listing admired artists from that far and fair land. Today has been a day for initiating collaborative projects. You may already know about ZEPHYR's reworking of one of Shelfy's (RABBIT SHOW REJECT) tracks, loosely based on the Johnson's Gridling Band classic "Larry The Haddock". I have submitted my own remix of HERSCHEL KRUSTOVSKY's singing bus-driver recording for consideration. ERIK SATIE is there because the RABBIT SHOW REJECT track "Pantomime Hearse" is based on one of his Gymnopedies (the piece "Satie Drift" which WAS on THIS page was, in turn, based on THAT track - are you following this, kiddies?). THE DARKENING SCALE is on the list because of something that I HOPE will be happening shortly (and because I like his music).

Subject : Insanity: A Doctor Writes
Posted Date: : 27 Jul 2007, 05:42

Saturday was A GOOD DAY. Not only did I buy a new Sony Walkman (yes I do still listen to discs!) and the team Astana got three of the top four positions in the time trials at the TOUR DE FRANCE, but I received a comment from one of my all-time jazzheroes DJANGO BATES. This seems to be a bit of a coup, given that DJ Ango makes it perfectly clear that he doesn't have a lot of time for all this MicePace doodah. He thinks we are quite insane. I shall wear this as a badge of honour.

Subject : That darned HTML kerfuffle
Posted Date: : 17 Jul 2007, 00:10

As you can see, I've applied some of my HTML knowledge to this here site, with a bit of creative typography here and there and, of course, hyperlinks to RABBIT SHOW REJECT. What I STILL can't do is find somewhere to enter the code for changing the page background to a tasteful shade of blue. I have the code, I just don't know where to stick it (no rude responses please!) I tried out a couple of those third-party "Pimp Your MySpace" sites, but the results were somewhat lacking in subtlety. I made a mess of RABBIT SHOW REJECT's blog page when I tried to demonstrate how to insert hyperlinks (like so). The code appeared on his page incomplete; instead of the nice neat links there should have been, there was a string of gibberish. At first I blamed the MySpace text editor - you may have noticed that the Rich-Text version has been a bit ON/OFF lately. Then it twigged that this might be a security guard to stop you inserting malicious code on other people's webbos. You can only do these things to your OWN page... By the time you read this you will have noticed the tasteful new background colour scheme courtesy of THOMAS' MYSPACE EDITOR - The MySpace Editor That DOESN'T Get In Your Face!

Subject : Noo Toons
Posted Date: : 12 Jul 2007, 04:28

I've added the magnum opus from "No Wings... No Eyes..." (a collection of instrumental tunes recorded for "Tales From The Winged Eyeball", but not necessarily used) "VESTIGIAL RATOONS", as well as the "Eyeball" version of "The Unfeasible Guitar Part" known simply as "WASPS" and an exclusive Strumpfen remix of "NINETEEN DORIAN RACQUETS" (aka "He's Going Through His Dorian Mode... He Might Go Atonal In A Minute" - Thanks Rabbithole!). You will at various times notice some crossover between this page and the RABBIT SHOW REJECT one. That's because RSR and I have been collaborating on various projects for twenty five years now! RSR will tend to focus on the "Spoken Word With Musical Embellishments" side of things, whilst THE PEDANTIC PEDESTRIAN will concentrate mainly on the instrumental side of our oevre (ouvre? ouevre? how DO you spell hoover?)

Subject : Video Ahoy!
Posted Date: : 12 Jul 2007, 04:37

My low-budget CONCEPTIUM of what a trance video should look like, a 'readymade' accompaniment to RSR's "Nantucket Flea Ride", is now online over at the RABBIT SHOW REJECT profile doodah. It's 'readymade' in the sense that the "ZERO GRAVITY ZEBRA" animation was sitting around on my harddrive with nowhere to go and I added some groovy FX using software from the fabulous MAGIX concern (they get a 'Made with Magix' logo at the end of the clip)...
You will have by now noticed that they are archived in reverse order, most recent first! Interesting to see that SOME things never change though. I still spent an awful amount of time getting my hands dirty with HTML, in order to make the 'Space more habitable. And of course, SHELFY was always losing the passwords to his websites... (and after all that nostalgic digging, I still haven't found a digital copy of "THE PEDESTAL". I was hoping to present some excerpts to the public to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday, but the moment has passed...)

This morning (Wednesday), I went for a yomp down the hill to Titchfield, mainly so that I could be paid some [over]dues, but also to help put the finishing touches to a POWERPOINT presentation. Jolly good 'training' and all that, but I did drink FAR too much coffee in the doing of... it's later in the afternoon, and I'm paying for it now!

Finally took the plunge... A gorgeous sunny day wandering around Southampton city centre, and I found myself drawn into 'window shopping' for laptops. I looked in several stores, taking my time comparing specifications and prices (within my budget) and finally decided that a LENOVO G585 from Argos would give me the most bang for my buck. Needless to say, it comes with the hideous WINDOZE 8 pre-installed, but that won't matter to me, because this is for my LINUXMINT PROJECT. Out comes the plastic, thank you Mr Man...

"SAY HELLO TO NADIA FROM BRATISLAVA..." - I was a happy little bunny as I got it home, but I was determined that I should take my time and check a few things on the forums and message boards first, to make sure there are no potential disasters on the cards... No reported compatibility problems... so the following day, I put the penguin-emblazoned Linux disk in the drive, ready to start my adventure. There were a few heart-plummeting moments at first, as the lappy is not set up by default to boot from the disk-drive - it is determined that I should enjoy all the pleasures that Windoze 8 has to offer and goes straight to the hard-drive instead. Groan... But a bit of fiddling about with the BIOS put an end to all that nonsense! Great satisfaction was had when the installation dialog finally asked me if I wanted to install Linux ALONGSIDE Windows or to REPLACE it altogether... Go on! reformat its ugly plastic LegoLand ass out of here!!!

It's a WORK IN PROGRESS... I now have a working laptop loaded with LINUX MINT 14 (Nadia) CINNAMON EDITION 64-bit (Catchy title, Bob!). We have Firefox. We have an office suite. We have a whole bunch of other stuff that I may or may not need. Let the tweaking begin!

Week from Monday 29th April 2013

This HAVING TWO COMPUTERS lark is a bit handy, ain't it? On Sunday, my DESKTOP BEAST was preoccupied as usual with its SECURITY SCANNING concerns, while I was preoccupied with "WATCHING THE DETECTIVES (Swedish style)". But of course, I was now ALSO able to use the new laptop to "surf the net", as you young folks say, without disturbing all that AVG and Spybot and Malwarebytes and Avast-ing that was going on. Another great joy of LINUX (apart from the fact that it isn't made by M****soft) is that you don't NEED to do all this antivirus kerfuffle on a regular basis. Yer penguins and gnomes and all that CAN'T CATCH any of those Windoze-targetting viruses. The most you need on a laptop running Linux is a FIREWALL and a MALWARE SCANNER to check over any disks or flashdrives that are shared with Windoze computers. Bottom line, YOU can't catch a virus, but you COULD be a carrier, so you're doing that to protect OTHER people. Don't you just love the CARING SHARING WORLD of 'OPEN SOURCE'?

This also gave me an opportunity to see if the WI-FI worked. Which it did, straight away. I enjoyed the novelty of being CYBER-NOSY, having a look at what networks all the neighbours are using...

While down in Gosport 'doing my rounds', I took the opportunity of finding out what the FREE WI-FI is like in the PUBLIC LIBRARY. Short answer, it's crap! Because of all those concrete mezzanines, there is only one "SWEET SPOT" in the entire building. It's on the first level, in the middle of all the (wired) public computer terminals. This also happens to be the NOISIEST and LEAST COMFORTABLE part of the building, because it's also right next to where they've put the kiddies' play area and crêche. Look for somewhere more conducive to quiet study and you can't get a ruddy signal.

Oh yes... that problem I was having with the outgoing email not working on MySpace, which meant that I couldn't reply to messages? Well, that's only on M****SOFT WINDOZE peecees running Firefox. It works perfectly well on the LINUX version. As Django Bates says, "YOU LIVE AND LEARN (APPARENTLY)..."

NEW MYSPACE (yes! enough with the quirky typographical conceits - I'll just write it in capitals from now on! It's hard enough getting use to this keyboard and scrollypad as it is...) NEW MYSPACE has gone public! Although they STILL say that it is in 'beta', you can now give people a link to your NEW MYSPACE from outside of the site. Curiously the addresses still begin with "HTTPS". I was therefore able to let Shelfy have a peak at the JOHNSON'S GRIDLING BAND NEW MYSPACE PRESENCE for the first time, and suggested that he put together a "SHELFY'S CHOICE" 'mix' to go with the "MINTY'S CHOICE" one that has been there for a while. As it turns out, he chose well, because only a couple of the tunes do NOT appear in the MYSPACE catalogue: he couldn't have "Kashmir" because there is no official LED ZEPPELIN product therein (Quite right too! Bloody kids today expecting to get their music for nothing!); I had to substitute a different tune by COCOROSIE (I liked their version of "Surfer Girl", but didn't really warm to anything else they had on offer due to my aversion to people who sing like ICKLE BABIES). I also included a couple of surprises that he DIDN'T think of...
"CHANGE IS HARD"
This is a rather weaselly mission statement that seems to have originated 'ON THE COAST' (no offence meant to my Californian friends who AREN'T 'in the industry') but is slipping into every aspect of MODERN LIFE (which, as we now know, is RUBBISH). Media companies make amendments to their services in the name of "PROGRESS" and then, when their existing customers complain that it doesn't suit THEIR needs, they are answered with the stock phrase "CHANGE IS HARD", as if to suggest that it is the CUSTOMER who is WRONG for not 'GETTING WITH THE PROGRAM[ME]'.
MYSPACE are a pertinent example - they are determined that their 'NEW' flavour is the right way forward, regardless of what their members want. "We sympathise with your problem, but CHANGE IS HARD, you know?" is something that I read with annoying regularity on the so-called 'help' forums. Every time I see a website get a makeover nowadays, it has clearly been [re]designed to suit Windoze 8 or those little plastic lunchtrays that the young'ns are using to surf the web. The upshot being that, when viewed on more 'conventional' hardware, the aspect ratio is all wrong, element sizes are exaggeratedly large and, more often than not, the pages don't fit on the screen properly. As graphic design, it's a step backwards - but hey! that's progress! I also hear of RADIO STATIONS who have scrapped their analogue service entirely, meaning that a large part of their audience who might habitually listen to their shows in the car or on portable FM 'trannies' have been cut off without warning. "You want to continue listening? Go to our website or buy a new digital radio, it's YOUR fault for not having one..." Then there are the periodicals who are dumping their popular print editions, because online magazines are more 'cost effective'... or 'DAILY' newspapers that now only get published three days a week, because the owners prefer to put all their effort into the electronic edition...
I find this insidious culture of 'ENFORCED PROGRESS, WHETHER YOU ASKED FOR IT OR NOT' all rather sinister, and I'm seeing it more and more on both sides of the pond. When someone comes up with a reasonable idea, it doesn't take VERY long before the new entity then becomes the ONLY option available, rather than "here is a new alternative that you MIGHT prefer". It's disrespectful of the customer, but it's all about the bottom line, of course. At least the BBC gave us several years to get used to the idea of changing over to digital telly.
...right, that's my "GRUMPY OLD MEN" moment for today...

Today, I traipsed up the hill to vote in the COUNTY COUNCIL ELECTIONS. I voted for Mr & Mrs GREEN PARTY... but this being Hampshire, it is a foregone conclusion that the majority vote will go to either the Tories or the Liberals, because that's the way it's ALWAYS been throughout living memory. The "Acceptable Face Of Xenophobia" party UKIP are sure to split the vote this time around...