Warning: Mac Owner Will Ramble About Keynote Address

That was a let down wasn’t it? The Internet rumours were just too good to be true: a small-sized 4GB iPod for between $100-$200. The announced iPod Mini is 4GB, and yes it’s small. But $249 seems a little steep, considering that Steve Jobs announced that the entry-level normal iPod would have its storage increased to 15GB, and it costs $299. Seems a little strange to me, but then that’s because I quite fancied the idea of a sub-$200 iPod. Oh well.

Also: quite impressed to see that they're charging for updates for previously-free programs. No, really. Okay, okay, $49 for a photo book, music player, DVD application, movie editor and music creation program isn't that bad, I suppose. Although if you buy an iMac from today it comes free, so they're only after money from the loyal userbase.

The Pepsi promotion sounds cool, though. If nothing else, it'll help the person who has currently spent $29,500 on the iTunes Music Store. That's a lot of music (Around 90GB, in fact). Interesting point for the music industry (especially those in Europe dragging their heels over licensing details): iTunes sells 2 million songs a week. Which is greater than the combined sales of the Top 40 for almost any week since the mid-1990s. The single is dead. The album is looking a bit poorly. The next few years are going to be very interesting…

currently playing: J Xaverre — Bingo

This Is Not An Obsession

KenickieMillionaire Sweeper.

And yes, if anybody was listening, I did get my name read out on her show…

currently playing: New Order — Sunrise

I Collect Links

I scored 1921, which says many things about me, I fear.

Ooooh. Ooooh. OOOOOOH.

Ah, sensible political discussion then. What next? "The Democrats Stink, Mummy!"? "George Bush is a Sissy! and Other Discourses on Third World Economics", or just getting right down to the root of it all "Yes, This Book Reinforces Your Political Opinion. Read It and Feel Good."

SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM!

It just can't catch a break at the moment, can it?

The Wikipedia. A free encyclopedia edited by the Internet itself. Very cool.

Actors and actresses making fools of themselves in Japanese adverts.

currently playing: Saint Etienne — How We Used To Live

Take a Break, Flight 223

As you can see, the site is now back to something resembling normality. I suppose I should give it a new look for 2004, but I think it looks fine as it is for the moment (This is obviously a flimsy attempt to cover up the fact that I have no new layout ideas at the moment).

And now for an instrumental-heavy Friday…

  • Jim O’RourkeNot Sport, Martial Art

    Instrumental No.1. When I bought this single back in 1999, the nice people at Piccadilly Records in Manchester decided to put the album in the case as well. I returned it after the weekend, in a very quick I’m-rather-embarrassed-and-I-hope-you-don’t-think-I-stole-it
    -so-I’ll-give-it-back-and-leave-the-shop-swiftly fashion.

  • Courtney LoveMono

    Um, yes. I have something of an irrational soft spot concerning Courtney Love, so even though I know that this is little more than an updated version of ‘Violet’, I like it. Feel free to hurl abuse in the comments…

  • ManitobaHappy Ending

    Instrumental No. 2. This song reminds me of the General Election back in 2001. I was away in London on a course, and Lauren Laverne played this record many times on Xfm during that week.. By a sheer coincidence, Lauren’s radio show begins on Monday, and I encourage you all to tune in. That’s Monday, 5 January, 1600 GMT / 1100 EST, and for everyone outside London, you can go to the Xfm website, and listen to their Internet stream.

    What?
currently playing: Guided By Voices — The Official Ironmen Rally Song

Happy Public Domain Day!

In Canada: if an author passed away in 1953, his or her works have now passed into the public domain.

In the US and UK: if an author passed away in 1933, her or his works are now free for all to copy, modify, or adapt.

(extra UK info: all sound and TV recordings from 1953 or before are now common property, and all published articles from 1978 have also slipped into the public domain)

currently playing: Joss Stone — Fell In Love With A Boy

Welcome Back, Y'all!

Welcome back everyone! Hope you had a good Christmas.

Now for a Public Service Announcement.

Do you have a 2000-2001 series iBook? One with two USB ports, and imaginatively dubbed the “Dual USB” iBook?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it appears that there’s a design flaw with this machine. In order for the machine to send information to the screen, there’s a series of wires that pass through the hinge. Unfortunately, the wires aren’t strong enough to cope with the stress of repeated opening and closing of the cover; each time the hinge is moved, you wear out a wires a little further. After a year of this (just after the warranty has expired, naturally), you may notice a weird occurrence when you put the machine to sleep. As you pull the cover down, the screen blacks out for a second when the cover is 30? from the vertical, and then reappears as you continue bringing the cover down.

Again, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your iBook is living on borrowed time. The backlight cable has a break, and you will lose the backlight completely in a short while. If you have AppleCare, that congratulations. Phone Apple, get a replacement. Hurrah!

For those of us not on AppleCare, and not caring to spend > $500 to repair a faulty cable, then there is a way to repair it yourself. It’s not for the faint-hearted though, as it involves taking the iBook apart. Completely.

Okay, first you’ll need a copy of the iBook Service Manual. Lots of helpful diagrams, detailed instructions, and a list of all the screws used in the computer (this will become important if you don’t take care of where you put the screws when taking it apart!). In order to get at the backlight wires, you need to remove:

  • Bottom Case
  • Airport Card & Extra RAM </li>
  • Keyboard
  • Top Case
  • Top Shield
  • Display Module
  • Display Case
  • Clutch Cover
Yes, really. Keep the screws in separate groups, as this will make putting the iBook back together a less frustrating task, I assure you. When you’ve taken the machine apart, use a multimeter to determine which of the wires has broken if you can’t tell from looking at the cables (the cable that appears to be the most common to fail is the black wire that goes to the backlight to the right-hand side of the LCD panel). Get a responsible adult to cut the wire out, and replace it with a new length of wire that he just happens to have lying around (telephone and earphone wire appear to be popular choices); it helps if the new wire is longer than the old one, as this might help the stress issue when you rebuild the machine. Huzzah! You have just fixed your iBook. Now all you have to do is put it all back together. You did keep the screws separate, didn’t you? Oh dear.

(a word of advice: the clutch hinge has two plastic covers at both ends. These covers look quite small and could contribute to the stress that the cables undergo when the cover is closed. So don’t bother putting them back in)

An hour or so of reassembly later, and your backlight should now be as good as new. Curse Apple’s name for such a silly design error, and be on your way.

(more information can be found at Apple’s discussion forums, where Mac owners are not-so-quietly fuming about this problem)

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - A Quarter to Three

"It was Christmas Eve, babe"

Time for one final entry before I disappear for Christmas.

Today's theme is, well, "all the junk I meant to post and would forget if I didn't do it now".

All Girl Summer Fun BandMillion Things

Rumours from Apple's Shiny Things Department.

I discovered yesterday that Tolkien started work on a sequel to The Lord of The Rings. He only managed a chapter or two before he abandoned it, but you can read it in the last history of Middle-Earth book, The Peoples of Middle-Earth, if you're interested. (It does sound rather dodgy, to be honest)

A website showcasing the work of a Japanese design company, with lots of fun images and free fonts.

The Onion is on a roll, with the Least Essential Albums of 2003, and a feature on toys your kids don't want.

Christmas music generated from old 8-bit computers.

Santacon!

Lauren LaverneIan

Happy Christmas everybody!

currently playing: The Pretenders — 2000 Miles

Best of 2003: Belle & Sebastian — Dear Catastrophe Waitress

“Step Into My Office, Baby” steals the drums from Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow; “Stay Loose” is New Romanticism writ large. Apart from that, though, Trevor Horn’s production is less intrusive than some people had feared (and the aforementioned songs are great anyway), just making the band sound tighter and louder than ever before. “If She Wants Me” is my favourite track from the album, with its lament of “If I could do just one near perfect thing I’d be happy” and the dismissal of such melancholy thinking with “On second thoughs, I’d rather hang about and be there with my best friend”. “I’m A Cuckoo” is pretty good as well, even if it does rhyme Thin Lizzy with Tokyo…

Early Christmas!

One of the benefits of being part of the R.E.M. fan club is that they send a Christmas present out to all members. Today, I got a calendar, a book of tour photographs, and a live CD featuring R.E.M. and Wilco singing “Country Feedback” and “It’s The End of The World…”. Cool.

currently playing: Cat Power — I Don't Blame You

Best of 2003: Lost In Translation

This still hasn't gone on general release in the UK yet. Grr. When the distributor finally decides to get a move on, go and see this, a beautiful character piece focussing on two people who can never be together, and their travels in the mysterious and contradictory city of Tokyo. I defy anyone to not have a tear welling up as The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" plays over the film's final sequence…

Jefferson Says We Should Be Talking

Terror Alert Level

Reports that the current terror alert is due to intelligence murmurs about a man clad in red who claims to have access to every home in America and promises to give the children "a surprise" this Christmas remain unconfirmed at this time.

This weekend, if nothing else, proved that Saddam Hussein was something of an idiot. You can indeed be a dictator of a Middle East country, have a history of opposition to Israel, a list of human rights abuses, confirmed links to various terror organisations, and even have a fully active nuclear weapons programme, but still be called a "statesman", and welcomed back into the international community. He should be kicking himself.

(oh, and by the way, have any of you heard these rumours that seem to be going around; that the Kurds captured Saddam Hussein, drugged him, and called in the Americans? Making his capture something of a PR stunt? Would look rather bad for the Bush Administration if it was true, I suppose…)

currently playing: The Beach Boys — I Just Wasn't Made For These Times

Best of 2003: The Crew — Christopher Priest

It was A Black Book. Only it wasn’t, of course, but it had a black character and it was written by a black man. That was enough to doom this inventive comic which could have been Marvel’s answer to DC’s popular “Losers” if only they had given it a little more time. Or promoted it. Or let Priest promote it himself. Now that Marvel’s “trade anything that moves” program has been flung out of the window along with Bill Jemas, this series will probably never see a trade collection, which is a great shame. If you’re looking for an action-adventure full of twists and turns, start going through the quarter-bins and find this gem (see also: Xer0, The Ray, Steel #34-#52, Quantum & Woody, and Black Panther).

The Ultimate in High Concept

At last! Spitfires and Giant Robots, together for the first time!

currently playing: The Clash — Lost In The Supermarket

Best of 2003: Joss Stone — The Soul Sessions

In a world of Pop Idols, Academies, autotuners and backing tapes , this album is something special. “I only meant to love you.” - the first line of the album is delivered with no accompaniment, just the bare sound of a 16-year-old pouring her heart and soul into the Joe Simon classic “The Chokin’ Kind”. Yes, it’s a short album, and yes it’s all covers. But the covers aren’t the usual standards, and the one song that you’re likely to recognise, The White Stripes’ “Fell In Love With A Girl” has been disassembled beyond all recognition, transformed into a soulful groove. This is an album that makes you remember that the music world is not just what Simon Cowell, Pete Waterman, and Lou Pearlman dictate to us…