Week from Monday 5th August 2013

BBC 6 Music's "CLASSIC CONCERT" this week was the legendary 1969 "One Night Stand" show by LED ZEPPELIN. This was the 'pilot' episode for what became the "RADIO ONE IN CONCERT" series. I was familiar with NEARLY all of the music, of course (much of it is on the "BBC SESSIONS" album), but it is many a year since I'd heard the entire hour-long programme, complete with the ALAN BLACK intros and the interview segment.

NOTE FOR MUSICAL TRAINSPOTTERS: The only thing they edited out of THIS broadcast was a short comedy sketch by the LIVERPOOL SCENE (Adrian Henri, Andy Roberts et al) who, along with BLODWYN PIG, were supporting the Zep on their UK tour of the time.

I finally retired my ailing DIGITAL TV RECORDER and replaced it with a new one... The old beast was developing symptoms of hard-drive failure and the glitchy old "TOP-UP TV" software was no longer supported or updateable. The new beast appears to have far more dependable and up-to-date software, and there is a DELAYED START-UP sequence in place that stops wear and tear on the hard-drive when you switch the box on.

DREAM DIARY... A giant statue descends from the heavens, in a floodlit encounter with the Earth's forces. At a given signal, it folds in on itself in a flash of special effects, leaving a beautiful priestess (probably played by Tia Carrere), hell-bent on world domination, who then proceeds to... Wow! Pretty good premise for a night's entertainment so far, right? Except that, after that, I spent my allotted dreamtime dwelling over the minutiae of getting to the airport, in time to 'deal with the situation'! I really should have a word with my brain's scriptwriters...

Week from Monday 12th August 2013

As this BLOGGYDIARYWEBBYTHING hurtles towards its tenth anniversary (less than a month away now!)... and we're trying desparately to promote Our Old Space to the outside world, the time is right for a new look for THIS site. The fabulous nebulous "LITTLE FLUFFY CLOUDS" scheme matches that of my Our Old Space profile, and I've added a hyperlink pointing folks back in that direction. What is more, I've dumped nearly everything about it that still screamed "Serif WebPlus" (especially the rather pointless reliance on JAVASCRIPT) - the new 'index' page has been coded from scratch, HTML, CSS and all! (tut! Now he's just showing off! dot-dot-dot-ED.)

No! You'll not see THIS page take on any of those Windoze 8-approved touchy whizzy wanky sideways-scrolling effects that are all the rage with the wee ones... This is READING MATTER, so you start at the top (or where you last left off), read each line left to right and work your way DOWN the page, like any sensible grown up!

I've just been thumbing through a magazine article called something like "THE TOP TEN BAD HABITS IN CSS". It made me consider what I've been up to, but it also made me chuckle a bit at the 'political correctness' of the whole thing. Apparently, inline 'style=""' mark-ups are considered a 'NO NO' - you are SUPPOSED to keep the content and the design elements completely separate. And overuse of that all-important '!important;' is definitely frowned upon! Well, that may be true if you're building a website from scratch, you're out to win GOOD HOUSEKEEPING points and you have the benefit of PLANNING AHEAD... but a lot of what I do these days is creating 'hacks' and bolt-ons for pre-existing websites. There's no 'right' and 'wrong' when you're doing that - "WHATEVER WORKS!", is what I say...

Off into town to buy toiletries...

I'm catching up with one or two items from the most recent BBC PROMS via the i-Player... NISHAT KHAN's Sitar Concerto "THE GATE OF THE MOON" was premiered in Monday night's Prom, and it proved to be rather delightful. It's more than a little influenced by RAVI SHANKAR's work with PHILIP GLASS (bound to be!) and there's even a touch of the "CONCIERTO DE ARANJUEZ" in the final movement... it's a colourful piece indeed!

Week from Monday 19th August 2013

Whoops! It's Wednesday already... I thought I had a really neat idea for a way to incorporate that "OFFICE AMBIENCE" playlist into my Our Old Space page that DOESN'T leave it buried away halfway down the page (on my M*Sp*** profile, the list of music I'm listening to currently was in a prominent position at the top of the page. I believe that it tells people a lot about WHO I AM, rightly or wrongly...).

My idea was to have the list scrolling in a little marquee on the footer bar, making it look a lot like the WinAMP player does when it's mimimized. The old HTML [MARQUEE] tag is not considered 'de rigueur' or universally compatible anymore, so I figured early on that it wouldn't suit my purposes on Our Old Space. Instead, I thought I'd teach myself how to do it 'properly', using CSS ANIMATIONS and 'keyframes' and all that. I wrote the code using my good friend the COFFEE CUP and tested it offline successfully (it WORKED on three different browsers INCLUDING Internet Exploder!!!) I have screengrabs to prove it!

CURSES! THWARTED BY ROBOTS! ...but when I cut'n'pasted the tried'n'tested code into the Our Old Space editor, I was unable to recreate my succesful experiment online. I discovered that the 'autocorrect' robots had struck again and garbled my script. They don't recognise nested {{ }} brackets - instead they split each of the '@keyframes' lines into two separate nonsensical entries. In short, it won't work on Our Old Space. Which is a pity, because I figured other people might like to use it too. I used mine for my music playlist, but it could just as easily be used to wish people a happy birthday, announce events, tell jokes or all the other things that scrolling marquee display boards get used for.

Ah well, never mind, that's another one in the "SAVE IT FOR LATER" file.

I came up with a neat way to catalogue all of the PRESENTATION SLIDES I've done over the years for 'Uncle Willy'. The originals are in ALL SORTS of different formats: PowerPoints and PDFs, PNGs, METAFILES of various flavours, from Ye Olde COREL DRAW to SERIF's handy little tools... so I created JPEGS of all the graphics and then used my favourite graphics viewer (IrfanView) to generate an HTML 'contact sheet' of all the JPEG 'thumbnails'. The only downside is that the complete package is far to big to send via the electronic mail, so I've burned it onto a disk ready to drop it through his letterbox!

Why don't I have a morning out 'CHARITY SHOPPING' in Cosham, then I can pop round while I'm there?

DREAM DIARY... A field trip to "Bristol" (although this one has a fine seafront promenade with a good view of the Tall Ships Race)... tried using some sort of archaic 'divining' technique to find a particular location... there was a row of near identical pubs, all with their doors 'on the corner'... went to see a movie (might have been a "Harry Potter"?), but I was dissatisfied with the ending, so I refused to leave until they came up with a better one (How many times have you wanted to do THAT in real life?)...

I just caught up with the BBC4 PROMS broadcast from last week, featuring NIGEL KENNEDY's latest interpretation of Vivaldi's "THE FOUR SEASONS", that staple of hotel lobbies and call centres everywhere. I'd given it a miss when it was on the telly, understandably thinking "Boring! Who wants to listen to THAT all over again?". But then I saw a snippet of it on the 'PROMS REVIEW' programme, heard Nutty Nige and the kiddies mixing it up with jazz and middle eastern flavours, and I reconsidered. "Hmm... I've missed something here - Let's give it a go after all!" Isn't the BBC i-PLAYER a boon?

Semana del Lunes 26 de Agosto 2013

La Vuelta a EspaƱa ha comenzado. Tengo un nuevo «rutina» para la hora del desayuno...

whoops! I mean... LA VUELTA A ESPAÑA has started, so I have a new breakfast-time 'ROUTINE'. I'm trying out the 'SERIES RECORD' facility of my newish DIGIBOX... It SHOULD capture the hour-long 'highlights' programme at whatever time ITV4 decide to broadcast it (usually at 7pm, but sometimes not, depending on the football and other 'more popular' sports) and then deliver it to me every morning over the muesli when I WANT to watch it. The LEOPARD TREK (or rather, RADIO SHACK LEOPARD TREK, soon to be TREK SOMETHING ELSE) team were narrowly pipped by a margin of mere seconds in the opening day's team time trial, but it's early days, as they say. This is a PROPER RACE, with proper time bonuses and everything, so it's exciting to see ANYONE actually CONTEST the winner's jersey on a day-to-day basis, instead of all that 'finishing in the peleton and leave it to the sprinters' nonsense that has made the TOUR DE FRANCE less interesting to watch.

AWE GUST BANG COLLAR DAZE... What to do??? What else but to visit a CAR BOOT SALE, of course! I found a big box of SEEDYDISKS that numbered many an old favourite at a mere QUID EACH. In fact, I was hard pressed to limit my choice to just a fiver's worth! I grabbed a handful, some of which were on my "WANTED LIST"... Bowie's Fripp-tastic "SCARY MONSTERS", a couple of JETHRO TULL things, a cheapo collection of YES live tracks (most of which I probably already have, but still...) and a two-disk set gathering together a couple of BBC "In Concert"s by FISH. I was slightly disappointed when returning home to find that the second disk of the Fish set was scratched beyond repair (luckily I still have a tape of the original broadcast... so that'll be a "PROJECT" sometime, to try to reconstruct it). And one of the Jethro Tull CDs was not in its jewel case, so I have a nice clean copy of the insert for "MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY", but not the album itself! Ah well...

That does of course mean that I'm having a "CRAZE" for JETHRO TULL in the 'office' today. I'm doing a copy of "A PASSION PLAY" without that tedious kids' story in the middle, because the original CD is not indexed in such a way that you can skip over it.

I tried out GOOGLE's new "STEP-2 VERIFICATION" for an added level of security, but it turned out to be a pain in the botty. The basic idea is... when you log into your Google account (in any of its myriad forms), as well as using your standard username/password combo, they TEXT you with an additional six-digit code so you can verify who you are. Simples!

I was slightly cagey at first about giving Google my phone number, but I realised I'd already done that previously when I upgraded my YouTube account. The phone verification method works smoothly and automatically and, if that was all there was to it, I'd be perfectly content.

The trouble came when I tried to set up THUNDERBIRD on m'Linux laptop to handle the mail. In order to use GMail with ANY 'client' software, you now need an ADDITIONAL additional code to allow it access. Thunderbird, however, flatly refused to log-in and the notice (that says I need that extra password to allow it to work) doesn't stay on the screen long enough to be able to click on it and set it up!

Given that it required two A4 pages of notes in order for me to get Thunderbird to connect with GMail in the first place, I've decided that Google's little scheme does not co-exist comfortably with MY working arrangements, so I've switched it off again.

I am, after all, the ONLY person who uses or has access to MY computers, so there's no one else who will ever see my passwords. The laptop already HAS a kind of 'double-level security', because my Linux Mint set-up requires me to use a fiendishly clever master password whenever I try to do anything with it. My Google password is itself so obscure that I often forget it myself (Aha! no, I'm NOT going to tell you where I keep it!)

Google's "STEP-2 VERIFICATION" is a clever idea and I can see that there MIGHT be times when an extra level of security is A VERY GOOD THING (e.g. when using a mobile device on an unknown foreign network). But NOT all the time, every time I log-in from home!

I had a bit of a CODING FRENZY, trying out some ideas for a fresh look for Uncle Willy's website. I think it's about time it had one! I sent him some screengrabs last night, so it remains to be seen whether he approves. I've really only got as far as doing a master page for the site content to slot into... I'm using a rather pleasant blue and orange colo[u]r scheme, similar to something I used previously for one of his training courses. I'm currently deciding whether I should go with the shallow but wide three-column layout I've coded (which fits in with current trends, but might have a tendency to get too LETTERBOXY on 'proper' larger monitors), or whether I should change to a more conventional two-column layout which will allow me to 'lock' the page width... Let me sleep on it...
TODAY I'VE FINALLY DONE IT...

I've shut down the JOHNSON'S GRIDLING BAND site on NewMySpace, my last remaining ties with that... oh! whatever the hell it is now?!?

I very much doubt that anyone will notice.

It was doing nothing and going nowhere. The INEPT MUSICAL COMEDY STYLINGS of a bunch of old scruffs from deepest Hampshire are NEVER going to register amongst all that contemporary mainstream 'MUSIC OF BEIGE ORIGIN' that gets shoved into the front window. Yer average MySpace GAPING MAW nowadays expects an unhealthy diet of SPOONFED FAMILIARITY.

Belch!

I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating. NewMySpace has a narrow, Hollywood-centric definition of a 'musician' as "SOMEONE WHO ASPIRES TO BECOME PART OF THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY". Like ReverbNation before it, I don't see that NewMySpace has anything whatsoever to offer the NON-COMMERCIAL artist. You're wasting your breath.