Week from Monday 3rd June 2013

I finally got all the "BIKE-RIDE-A-THON-O-THON-A-RAMA-LAMA-DING-DONG" stuff to the printer this morning, so we might actually be getting somewhere at long last...

Yes, it's here, "OFFICIAL BOOTLEG #3" - the third night of The CRIMSON PROJEkcT's Tokyo residency has now been purchased, downloaded and burned onto a seedy. It has very some fine moments indeed, including some 'suz-staynz' soundscape interludes that seem to say "We do this stuff pretty well without Robert, don't we?". The real gems - what makes me keep downloading all these shows with near-identical setlists - are the drum-heavy, semi-improvised numbers. This set's a lot longer than the other two though, so a couple of the "Here's The One We Do On All Our Albums" songs (that's right, you guessed it - "Dinosaur" and "Frame By Frame") have been left off my CD, along with some of the 'dead air' between tracks. That way, the rest and best of the show fits neatly on one disk. The missing tracks will be added to the next "Hot Tickles" compilation, so nothing gets thrown away.

...and "THE VICAR SONGBOOK #1" has finally got here too! I pre-ordered this delight just after Christmas, but the release date kept being pushed back due to 'technical problems' (with the DVD mastering and wotnot).

I was, of course, already familiar with the songs. I'd heard all those DGM demo versions with Alex "Stormy" Mundy impersonating Emperor Rosko over the intros. When it was first announced that the album would be late coming, they sent us free MP3 downloads as a temporary stopgap.

But nothing prepared me for the lush sonic experience that came tickling out of my speakers the first time I put the DVD on the deck. They've certainly been putting in some overtime out in Wiltshire to get it 'right' this time!

How can I describe this music to anyone who HASN'T heard it? Hmm, I feel like one of those annoyingly pretentious wine 'experts' on telly, trying to convey tastes and smells... but I'm getting "Odyssey & Oracle", I'm getting Van Dyke Parks with just a hint of early 10cc, a nose of Sufjan Stevens, maybe? But it's all VERY VERY ENGLISH and all quite beautiful. And infuriatingly catchy. And great for people who don't like drums and cymbals.

Tuesday... hot and sticky... I went on a nice long bus journey, once I'd got everything safely to the printer of the morning.

End of the week and, after a few muggy days, we're now in the middle of a THUNDERSTORM (when I first typed that I accidentally wrote "THUNDERSTROM"... who, of course, is a Scandinavian super-hero with the power to leap fjords and who makes jolly nice open sandwiches... hmm, maybe a couple of accents to make it more authentic...? "THÜNDERSTRØM", yes, that'll do...).

NEW TOYS! NEW TOYS! The lovely CC drew my attention to a newish MYSPACE-CLONE site that looks like it might actually be worthwhile for once. It's called "MY OLD MYSPACE" and it describes itself as "JUST LIKE THE GOOD OLD DAYS". It certainly bears a passing resemblance to the old MySpace (with a few Facebook-like features thrown in) and, with the aid of our old chum the CASCADING STYLE SHEET, it appears to have plenty of scope for personalisation and artistic self-expression. I've just spent hours fiddling around with my CSS and HTML, getting it to look JUST SO! If "The Administrator" can get his new-improved BLOG EDITOR up and running (the current one is a little limited in its formatting abilities), it could be just the thing that all those disenchanted 'angry villagers' in the MySpace blogging community have been screaming for, and he could definitely have a winner on his hands.

Week from Monday 10th June 2013

Today, I brought home some more boxes of stuff for collating (the last batch will be available for collection late tomorrow), so that much-anticipated awayday to the ISLE OF WIGHT grows ever nearer! In the meantime, I'm living in something that resembles a storage locker...

I published my first blog on MyOldMySpace... and then reformatted it all again, because "The Administrator" has now finished the new-improved editor in record time. Inevitably, the purpose of my article is to reveal unto the community a few of my CSS 'tricks of the trade' to help them along the way. I then had another styling frenzy over the weekend. I customized the buttons to match my colour scheme, put some external hyperlinks within one of the "Interests" boxes and set the profile pic at a jaunty angle. There's a few things you CAN'T do with your CSS on this site - the ever-popular script for making things go away, "DISPLAY:NONE!IMPORTANT;" is not recognised, and I was unable to use CSS gradient fills on my menus and buttons (I had to create a bitmap instead). I bet you anything you like that some of this code doesn't work at all on M****soft's stubbornly non-compliant INTERNET EXPLODER (Nah! what the f&@%, that's someone else's problem...)

Well, they did it, the bloody fools, they finally did it.

After months of me telling anyone who will listen that users of MySpace Classic couldn't be 'forcibly upgraded' to the New site, I woke up to find they'd done exactly that.

Made me look an idiot, I can tell you.

For months I'd tried to reassure the 'panicking villagers' that they had nothing to worry about.

The old MySpace was broken. We knew that. They knew that. The only way forward was for them to build a completely new site from scratch. I get it. But at the same time, we were promised that Classic MySpace was 'safe' and I believed them.

All along, the new owners of MySpace followed their own path without taking into consideration what the existing occupants thought about it. In fact, they made it virtually impossible for those 'Classic' MySpacers to stay informed about what they had in mind for the long term.

Then they switched everyone overnight to the new site without so much as a by-your-leave. That is despicable.

So do they expect current users to embrace this exciting new move with open arms and blindly join a site that doesn't have anything to offer them as bloggers, poets, musicians and artists?

No, I don't think they do actually.

Behind closed doors they're probably calling this a successful cull. In one fell swoop, they've got rid of all the folks who didn't welcome 'change' and they can now go about the business of repopulating MySpace with twenty-something R&B fans.

Timberlake Towers clearly have absolutely no idea what folks outside of Beverley Hills expect of a 'social media' site. They don't appear to care. They have their own agenda about what they want the site to be. The existing users were getting in the way of those plans.

I wrote in my blogs that there were probably technical reasons why people couldn't be 'switched' to the New site without having a choice in the matter.

I was wrong, apparently.

I also argued that there are ethical reasons why it shouldn't be done.

The site is full of user-created content, particularly a huge catalogue of music owned by the people that put it there.

MySpace don't own that music, but they want to control who gets to hear it and where it's kept, regardless of the wishes of the copyright owners.

Much of that music was posted on old MySpace profiles years ago, when only the artist could decide who got to share it, hear it, download it. It's still there in the catalogue unless the artist decides to remove it themselves.

The New MySpace site has been created as a means of exploiting the sad fact that much of that music was abandoned during a previous exodus of disgruntled users.

That catalogue contains a broad mixture of every kind of music. But it is quantity rather than quality that matters to them. First and foremost, that entire catalogue is a tradeable commodity. That is how 'social media' sites are viewed by the business community now, as we witnessed recently when Tumblr founder David Karp sold his company to Yahoo for $1.1 billion. There's another nice ready-made site full of other people's creativity.

I have absolutely no moral objection to sharing my music or other media freely on the internet. I already do exactly that, across several sites. But I have no wish to relinquish control of that content so that a few marketing executives can profit from it. I've personally never made any money from my own music. I'm not so naive as to believe that my music has any marketable merit. It's always been just a bit of fun to me, but I recognise that there's no point in doing this stuff unless someone else gets to hear it, and that's why it's "out there". But not to be exploited for the gain of others.

I therefore choose to remove my music from the MySpace catalogue and to close my account.

Farewell MySpace. You've been my favourite waste of time for seven long years. But you betrayed a lot of people this morning and no one is going to forgive that.
The last of the boxes are cleared away, COLLATING is complete, and Shelfy and I plan to do the DELIVER-O-THON next Wednesday (or "Neck Stwensdee", as he put it). The trip to the Isle of Wight is currently "WEATHER PERMITTING". As it's now FESTIVAL season, the weather has taken its traditional turn for the worst (and the ferries and roads will be packed with people who have paid several hundreds of pounds for the privilege of getting caked in the finest Vectis farmland mud).

NewMySpace has been purged of all my 'solo' material... but there is the not-so-small matter of all the 'band' and 'collaborative' projects in which I've been involved, still nestling there in the catalogue. The only legitimate NewMySpace page, that of JOHNSON'S GRIDLING BAND, remains open for now as a sort of central access point. The contents of some of the other old pages are locked in forever, because the 'keys' have been long lost. Others I DO have passwords for, but I can't just wipe them clean and close them without 'consulting' the co-owners. I respect GOOD MANNERS even if MySpace don't! I suspect that, by the very nature of their abandonment, the pages hold even less value for my fellow collaborateurs, but I have to respect m'colleagues' wishes before doing anything drastic. I should point out that, by doing nothing at all, they can relinquish control of all their MySpace music to Specific Media and Justin Timberlake, if that's what they'd prefer.

I have to say, I'm really enjoying watching JOHN OLIVER as guest host for "THE DAILY SHOW with[out] JON STEWART". The interview with fellow Brit-emigré ARMANDO IANNUCCI was particularly good value this week.

Week from Monday 17th June 2013

I'm no longer compelled to go to the ISLE OF WIGHT on "business", because I've now delivered the parcel that WAS destined to go there, to an address a little closer to home. I still intend to go over sometime for my OWN pleasure, probably on the spur of the moment, but I least I won't be burdened with a rucksack full of paper products when I do.

I prepared all our navigation aids for the trip on Wednesday. What DID we ever do before GoogleMaps? (Answer: we had things called 'books' and quaint old 'maps' that [this'll make you laugh!] were printed on paper!). And as for SATNAV... phhh! I AM the SatNav! This time, we will probably be getting lost in the PETERSFIELD and ROMSEY areas, as there are a few 'new' addresses to visit there... Of course, the REALLY vital task before any Deliver-O-Thon is the compilation of ROAD TAPES (yes kids! TAPES!).

MY OLD MYSPACE* is readying itself for an influx of disgruntled MySpace refugees (they're coming thick and fast now!). "THE ADMINISTRATOR" has already upgraded his server capacity. I really hope the site generates enough advertising revenue to pay for it - this is an enterprise that DESERVES to succeed, albeit in a keep-it-small, nice, friendly, 'family' business sort of way.

*I thought I might start referring to the MY OLD MYSPACE concern as My Oh My! for short, just to see if the name catches on. But I've now discovered that there is a fashion outlet in Finland and a website specializing in home-fitness videos that already have similar names. Never mind...

WE HAD A NICE DAY FOR IT AND IT WAS FUN... we got lost a few times; cursed 'village folk' with their annoying habit of not having house numbers or visible signs on their gates (Who'd be a postman in rural Hampshire?); badmouthed rich people in general; badmouthed rich church people in particular; listened to lots of good music; got stuck down narrow lanes and had an argument with a nettle bush; received one instance of "Thanks, we appreciate all you do!"... When I got home and added up the bill, it occurred to me that after all those months of faffing about, my profit margin is approximately the same as what these folks would consider one day's salary. No one can claim I'm 'ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY'...

The My Oh My! administrator might be forced to change the name of the site already... it has come to the attention of the 'real' MySpace and they are objecting to the inclusion of 'their' name in the URL. As if anyone could possibly confuse the two? Suggestions are welcomed for new names... but it is (perhaps not surprisingly) apparent that most of the good variants on 'MySpace' have already been taken. I suggested that he might use his existing "JUST LIKE THE GOOD OLD DAYS" tagline as the basis for something, or to find out if MySpace still 'own' the phrase "A PLACE FOR FRIENDS", given that they haven't used it since July 2009.

This afternoon, after another flurry of PowerPointing for Uncle Willy, I purged some more of our stuff from the NewMySpace catalogue. I took down the Shelfy & Minty sites 'RABID SOW REJECT' and 'TEASET BODY REVIEW', as well as 'BLUE WAILS ON BLIT STREET' and 'THE FUTURE OF ROCK & ROLL?'. Most of the latter is musically duplicated on the JOHNSON'S GRIDLING BAND 'official' site anyway.

Week from Monday 24th June 2013

On Sunday, THE SITE THAT IS JUST LIKE THE GOOD OLD DAYS officially became Our Old Space. It hasn't got a 'fav-icon' yet, but the URL and onscreen 'logo' have been changed to suit. That should put a stop to all the squinnying coming from Timberlake Towers. I don't think even THEY could claim copyright on the single word 'Space' when it is not used in conjunction with any other distinguishing marks. Specific Media do have registered ownership of the made-up word 'Myspace' (now spelled everywhere with a lower-case 's') and they appear to be getting spiteful with a number of other Nostalgia-based Clone Projects who chose to reference the M-Word... so be careful how you use it! Incidentally, THE BEST forum suggestion that I saw for a new domain name was youbroughtthisonyourself.com

A very spritely yomp into town and back this morning, to visit the bank. Weather is fine, but no longer in the "What A Nice Day, I Think I'll Go To The Isle of Wight" league. May have missed my window of opportunity again.

This afternoon, I find myself giving lessons in PROFILE CUSTOMISATION to the Our Old Space regulars.

DREAM DIARY... WELL, SORT OF... I've been taking antihistamines for the HAY FEVER season as usual. Whether they successfully keep the sneezes and itches at bay is questionable. But they do make for a good night's sleep - don't let them tell you they are "non-drowsy"! However, the dreams during this particular chemical state tend to be mundane REPEATS of 'real' life situations or obsessions, completely lacking in fantasy (or any kind of imagination whatsoever!). Currently, that means going OVER AND OVER the same bit of CSS, or solving Linux-related puzzles, while an 'earworm' soundtrack of just one or two bars of JEFFERSON STARSHIP plays in an endless loop...

At 8 o'clock on a glorious Wednesday morning, I decided that this would be a good day to go to the OILER WOYT to get away from it all... a day to sit atop various modes of public transport and watch the world go by, occasionally stopping for a brisk stroll around a town to peruse the charity shops, or along a bit of coast to take in the ozone. So that's what I did... If you buy your Wight Rover ticket at the ferry terminal, you can have a damn good cheap day out, stopping off when the fancy takes you (or when your bum gets numb from bouncing about on some of those Vectis 'alpine' roads)... then throw in a visit to a seaside chip shop and you've got yourself a delightful way to waste time...

"OWL and MONKEY Haven"? What unholy alliance IS this?!?

And so, as we come to the end of June, two things dominate the weekend's television schedules... first GLASTONBURY (Only one band, NILE RODGERS' CHIC, had the chops to hold my attention for their full allotted time, with a well-constructed non-stop set of pop-funk classics... although the female vocalists had a tendency to get SCREECHY in that way they do these days. The ROLLING STONES were generally hailed to have been the greatest thing to have happened to the festival in forty years. To these unbelieving ears, they still sounded as WRETCHED as they EVER did! As for the rest of the line-up, I didn't know or didn't care who they were)... and then, of course, the one hundredth TOUR DE FRANCE begins...