Week from Monday 4th November 2013

Apparently, of all the other HALLOWE'EN "traditions" we've imported back from across the pond, foremost of these is the use of PUMPKINS as hand-to-hand weapons in the street. No, I'd never heard of it before either... but if the state of the pavements the morning after was anything to go by, then this is clearly what happens. Every gutter between here and the town centre was BESTREWN WITH SHARDS OF ORANGE-COLOURED RIND...

Anyway, why do we even need to import additional 'holidays' from the funny foreigners, when we already have one of our own at this time of the year? What's wrong with the good old-fashioned celebration of SETTING FIRE TO CATHOLICS?

Down to lil'ol' Gozzy today, to take care of some PRINT DELIVERY BIZ... This afternoon, by way of some OFFICE AMBIENCE, I find myself chillin' with some so-called 'HOLY MINIMALISM' (John Tavener, Arvo Pärt), before settling on "MAKE A JAZZ NOISE HERE" (quite a contrast!)...

DREAM DIARY... I composed (and sang fairly convincingly, as it happens!) an original ten-minute prog epic, several contrasting 'movements' complete with rather nice string arrangements... of course, I couldn't remember a single note or word of it when I woke up! I do however have a strong recollection of someone repeatedly asking "Excuse me, but have you got any ears?"

FAREWELL NADIA, HELLO OLIVIA... Today (Friday) I've been updating my laptop's LINUX MINT installation to version 15, known to all as 'Olivia'. I haven't noticed any major differences yet, if the truth be told, but we'll see once I've got everything back the way I like it...

The main reason for doing this now was because they've discontinued one of the Ubuntu repositories, and things were beginning to behave rather strangely everytime one runs a system update. Some things just don't 'fix themselves' like they once did. Icons will mysteriously disappear or change size. Something weird just happened to the 'panel'.

It might be that the Mint people have got something entirely new in mind for the NEXT edition, due already in a month or so (they're calling v16 'Petra'). They've shown signs of distancing themselves further and further from the 'parent' operating system anyway... but in the meantime this is a transitory fix for me, until I can download a brand new ISO file and start over. Of course, there's still a chance that I'll be totally dissatisfied with the 'new' versions and roll it back to 'Nadia' again... wot larks, eh?

Can anyone think of a girl's name starting with 'Q' and ending in 'A'? (quoth the sphynx)

Catching up with the week's telly... and enjoying the URI CAINE ENSEMBLE doing unspeakably jazzy things to the music of Mozart and Mahler. I love the way they bring out the 'jewishness' in Mahler's music: substituting cantor vocals on "Der Abschied", or giving the folksy elements of "The Titan" a bit of good ol' klezmer swagger.

Week from Monday 11th November 2013

On Saturday night, the BBC broadcast the whole of the recent semi-staged performance of FRANK ZAPPA's "200 MOTELS" at the Royal Festival Hall. It sounded pretty good 'on the night' (I suppose that all rather depends on what you thought of "200 Motels" in the first place), but it's far too much for me to absorb in just one sitting, so I've also 'taped' it and added it to the queue for later 'study'...

DREAM DIARY... very late at night, running around the deserted, moonlit streets of Haslar and Clayhall, with none other than Michael Stipe of REM...

Willy's website is down... The man himself was on a train hurtling across Belgium, so I must 'take care of it', but the Hosting Company (Under New Management) are not exactly aiding my understanding of the problem. They APPEAR to have shut us down completely, but won't explain why. I first noticed this when I was sat in the hairdressers' chair and I borrowed my chum's iPhone to see (and show off!) what the new website looks like on those new-fangled mobile doobries. All I saw was a "404 - Page not found on this server" message instead. I thought little of it at the time, thinking that her phone service might be a little ailing. But when I got home, I found that the whole site had disappeared, along with the '/stats' page and my ability to access the pages using FTP. At time of writing we are in the limbo of "Thank You For Your Enquiry - We'll Be In Touch Within 24 Hours"...

An email this morning (Thursday) makes everything clear... the daft bugger hadn't renewed his web hosting contract back in September and so "the service has now been cancelled". That explains that then.

I found another URI CAINE ENSEMBLE seedy in a charity shop, again one 'based on' the music of GUSTAV MAHLER. But I found this one ("Dark Flame") to be not entirely as delightful a listen as the other two Mahler projects. It's impossible for me to listen to it ALL the way through... and it's that old bugbear THE VOCALS. Track two has me diving for the 'skip' button almost immediately, as it's a GOSPEL number, with all the melisma-laden vocal aerobatics that genre insists upon. Several other tracks have a rather strident male voice intoning poetry in darkest Deutscher. On the other hand there ARE some tracks which are just as 'delightful' as the other volumes in this series, being more closely based on Mahler's own "Ruckertlieder" settings. Maybe I should try out the programme selection capabilities of that new CD player of mine...?

DREAM DIARY... Under the ticket machine at the railway station, I found a carrier bag containing a bundle of receipts and a sizeable roll of cash in various denomination bills... followed much moral and ethical deliberation about what I should do with it...

Week from Monday 18th November 2013

A quiet weekend, spent catching up on the week's telly and a couple of DVDs along the way. The weather's cold and damp and blowy and none too inviting... Not quite the kind of hurricanes and tornadoes that are slamming the American mid-west currently, but a merest flick of the tail of the same weather system.

I found out that there's a LINUX MINT Community on GOOGLE PLUS, so now I'm getting daily notifications about all things Linuxy and Minty. I'm now eagerly awaiting the full release of PETRA at the end of this month, as I read early evaluation reports (currently it's in 'final pre-release beta'). I was particularly amused at the Brazilian community's logo - a football-playing version of the penguin, in native headdress. It seems to be pretty big down there. One big cheese at Ubuntu has said that he doesn't think that Linux Mint is very secure, but that seems to me to be just sour grapes - both distros are based on the same code after all! Besides, I think you'd be taking a biggish risk using a wireless laptop or mobile to access your online banking, WHATEVER the operating system. I wouldn't.

While out and about today, I found a copy of RUSH's "Snakes & Arrows Live" 3-DVD set in a charity shop for £3! The middle disk of the three needs cleaning, but apart from that... Beauty, way to go, eh?

...and while I was out, the BURNING SHED fairies have been again, bringing me both of HENRY FOOL's progtastic, somewhere-west-of-Canterbury styled, jazz-rock items, fresh from the KSCOPE concern (the 2013 album "Men Singing" and the reissued first album from 2001). Just too late to appear on the "PICK O' THE YEAR" list that I've just posted on the blog... D'oh! (I've now added a "STOP PRESS" box at the bottom of the article)

Down to Gozzy today... Tomorrow (Wednesday), I have a morning meeting at Hamble Sailing Club with the latest intake of CHARITY-BIKE-RIDE-A-THON people. It's far to early in the 'season' for ME to be thinking about such things, but I'll try to appear keen and make encouraging noises... ;-)

...and after that, a bus into Southampton centre for a moochabout. Good news everyone! The 'PureHMV' points cards are active again! HMV's bounceback from the brink progresses further - now, with any luck, they'll start to stock up on decent music! Maybe when I visit London in the Spring, the 'megastore' (particularly the JAZZ department) will actually have something on the shelves again.

The Dave channel's new comedy "CRACKANORY" is too bloody good. Bastards! They've come 'THIS' close to "The Story of Darren" or "Tiger Jim's Holiday" on several occasions... but now I want to hear Jack Dee or Sally Phillips read "A Christmas Ghost Story".

That new "MINTY'S PLAYLIST" popup thingy (see the button in the bottom left-hand corner) was something that I was trying to incorporate into my Our Old Space profile, but the code isn't compatible with his ever meddlin' robots... so I decided to put it here instead (where no one will see it?!?). I was playing around the the appearance of the thing, trying to make it functional but tasteful (as y'do), but the button that makes it go looked far too intrusive and SORE-THUMB-LIKE for my liking. Then at six o'clock this morning, I woke up with the idea of styling it to look like a 'tab' on the bottom of the content iframe... Nice!

Off down to Gosport for the second time this week - my 'print' customers are baying for stuff all of a sudden. About time too, says I!

According to BBC 6Music, this Friday was National "Wear Your Old Band T-Shirts To Work" Day. Of course, for me, EVERY day is a "Wear Your Old Band T-Shirts To Work" Day. Just for the record, today I'm wearing a black TOTONHO E OS CABRA t-shirt under a STEVEN WILSON hooded sweatshirt.

Week from Monday 25th November 2013

It's not quite in "LTS" yet (Long Term Support), that is to say it's still waiting for a proper COMMERCIAL RELEASE date... but I now have LINUX MINT 16 (64-bit CINNAMON 2.0) on my laptop, also know to its friends as PETRA. In fact, it's still in what is know as "RC" (Release Candidate), which means "it MIGHT be ready to go, we're not sure yet..." in layman's terms... but I've heard such good things about on the forums and communities, that this weekend I took the plunge! I downloaded the ISO file, burned a DVD of it and did a fresh reinstall on the Lass From Bratislava. I'm now going through the process of putting all my STUFF back where it belongs - backed-up files restored; downloaded apps downloaded again; passwords and shortcuts put back on Firefox; finding a desktop background that I can live with; getting the antivirus programme to behave itself... you know the drill!

Verdict so far is favourable. It seems a bit faster to load and the appearance is a lot nicer... The only snag I hit was with the antivirus program and getting that to reinstall, but that's mainly ignorance on my part!

Off to Gosport this morning, then I'll have another fiddle this afternoon...

'DID THE FORUMS', and I found that the problem I was having with COMODO ANTIVIRUS is a widely reported one. There APPEARS to be a file missing from one of the archived folders ("drivers.tar") on the Linux version of the software, so that the 'post_setup' script doesn't do its job properly. Bottom line is that REAL TIME ON-ACCESS SCANNING is not an option here. Now, it could be argued that 'real-time on-access scanning' is not something you actually NEED on Linux, only the ability to MANUALLY scan any disks and files that come into contact with WINDOWS PCs. This is what I've had for the last six months and I've felt perfectly secure in the knowledge that I have it. But having reinstalled EVERYTHING ELSE successfully on m'laptop, I thought I'd have a crack at getting this to work PROPERLY. I put some feelers out on GooglePlus' Linux Mint Community, but as so many of the forums I've perused dwindle away with "Has anyone found a solution to this?", I don't hold up much hope. It seems I'm not alone. Ah well, I tried...

At some point in the last twenty-four hours (it's all a bit of a blur now), I ended up reinstalling the whole ruddy caboodle from scratch again, because my ikons had all got changed, or had disappeared in some cases, and the desktop had the appearance of some ancient version of Windoze Classic... back where we started before I decided to upgrade from LM14 in the first place! I've now taken the precaution of also creating an alternative (MATE) installation disk, just in case it turns out to be the new version of Cinnamon that doesn't agree with me. This morning it all SEEMS to be stable, albeit with a 'straight out of the box' installation. I haven't PERSONALISED it in any way (perhaps that's where the trouble starts?)... I NEED A DAY OUT!!!
"...All this multiple user/multiple session/multiple login kerfuffle is, in some ways, over my head. I get it, but I've never had to think in those MULTI-DIMENSIONAL terms before. In some ways, the [Linux Mint] operating system is offering far more options than I actually need for my own purposes. This is, after all, a single-user laptop we're talking about, not some company intranet! I'm more LINEAR than that - switch it on, do a SEQUENCE of tasks (surf the net; interact with my Google or social sites; play a card game or two; maybe a little bit of HTML-ing or blogging) and then switch it off again. No multiple 'sessions' for it to recall, no "Login as..." - heck, I don't even let Firefox remember my internet history once I've done! And that's all I require of a laptop. Anything 'heavier' and labour-intensive - I have a perfectly good desktop PC 'workstation' for that. It's news to me that I might accidentally trip over and fall into a completely different dimension while going about my biz!"
CURRENTLY LISTENING TO... Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt's STORM CORROSION album. IT AMUSES ME NO END that HMV always file this one in the racks labelled "METAL", just because there's a member of OPETH involved (Porcupine Tree are in the "ROCK & POP" section, by the way). One listen to it will reveal that it's anything but! There are obviously some ties to Wilson's own solo ouevre, or the singersongwriterishness of Steve Hogarth's latter-day MARILLION. Then I'd think more along the lines of the sparse acoustic soundscape of late TALK TALK or some of DAVID SYLVIAN's more abstract work. I might even mention the "R" word (RADIOHEAD) at certain points. But sharing a convenient rack with Megadeth, Tool, Sabbath, Slayer or a frightening number of interchangeable filth-merchants with names straight out of the Ikea catalogue? Nah...

Now, about that 'day out' I mentioned... I first went for a walk to the bus station... just missed the slow bus to Winchester... didn't want to wait an hour for the next one... nearly caught the bus to Southampton instead... but remembered that I went to Southampton LAST week... walked to to the railway station to see what was due in... don't fancy Portsmouth... looks like I'm going for a ride to BASINGSTOKE and back today.

Just the other side of Eastleigh, we passed a field full of ALPACAS, that most delightful (and least spiteful) member of the llama family. Then I began to notice that some of the woolly beasts only had two legs. There were a number of OSTRICHES sharing the field too! Someone in deepest Hampshire has got seriously into farming EXOTIC SPECIES and no mistake!

DREAM DIARY... First day at a new college... lots of wandering around, a typical scenario of finding unfamiliar buildings and having to be in certain places at certain times for enrolment or "introductory slide shows"...