8:15 From Manchester

I’m sure I’ve used this title before. But hey, it’s a great title, even if I’ve never been on such a train. I came close one Monday, on an 8:14 (I make it a point to leave at insane times. To make things worse, I was up all night watching the Oscars, so didn’t get any sleep until later that night).

As I mentioned before, updates for the rest of the week will probably be sporadic, so I'll leave you with the return of Ian's Dodgy MP3 Discoveries!

  • Hangedup - New Blue Monday
    Included because it's funny. Hangedup are labelmates of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, so you would expect lots of post-apocalyptic instrumentals. What you don't expect is a cover of Blue Monday where the drum track is played by a viola. See? Even post-rockers can have a sense of humour.
  • Life Without Buildings - The Leanover
    At first I thought this was a band from the early 1980s, but further research on the Interweb told me that they're much more recent than that (they split up a year ago). A punkier Altered Images. No! Come back! Altered Images were cool! Bah.
  • ESG - You're No Good
    Remember all those stories about how only forty people turned up to a Sex Pistols gig, but all those present went off and formed bands of their own (last seen on 24 Hour Party People, where we discover that John Lydon is responsible for Simply Red)? Well, ESG are a similar case; about ten people bought their original single (released on Factory Records, fact fans!), but these people were members of The Clash, Public Enemy, New Order, the Beastie Boys, and Public Image Ltd. They seem to have been written out of music history somewhat (heck, I didn't even know they existed until last Sunday!), so have a listen to this, the A-side from their debut single.
  • Panjabi MC - Mundian To Bach Ke
    Ah, the UNC memories…
  • Boo Radleys - It's Lulu
    Okay, so not a recent discovery by any means, but it's one of my favourite records from the Britpop era, and you should all listen to it.

currently playing: DJ Premier - In Deep Concentration

The F-Word's Here, The F-Word's Back

“I am disappointed with your attitude, sir, and I politely ask you to cease and desist.”

Section 11 is a classic. Bonus points for mentioning the Florida Electoral Commission…

currently playing: Modest Mouse - So Much Beauty In Dirt

More American Politics (snore, snore)

The Doctor is in. Now with extra titanium. Good to see he’s back on his feet.

We might be in need of his skills soon, as the Primary contest starts getting interesting. The Dean campaign continues to impress; this weekend it wiped the Vice President's fund-raising attempt off the map, by simply issuing a challenge to the Internet community. And a new poll out today shows that Dean is now tying for the lead in the Democratic nomination race. Of course, the same survey shows that only 66% of people questioned want someone who'll stand up for what they believe in, and 30% would vote for lying scum, as long as he would beat Bush. Sigh. One of these days, somebody should try and run for both nominations, just to see how many votes they can pick up…

Finishing off the US Primary talk for today, the neoconservative-leaning Weekly Standard handicaps the current Democrat contenders, and seems to be quite positive about Dean's chances. It's rumoured he's the candidate that the Bush team would like to face, as Dean is a loud critic of both the Iraq war and the recent tax cuts, and they'd dearly like to peg the Demoncrats as peacenik hippies who want to tax America to the hilt. (The typo was unintentional, but I thought it was amusing, so I left it in)

I really hope there's a department in the Pentagon that's dedicated to making up insane ideas in order to distract people from news they'd rather didn't get a wide airing (e.g. the increasing casualty figures in Iraq). Because, I'd like to think that DARPA didn't get all the way to announcing their terrorism futures scheme without somebody saying "Dude! You're planning to make a terrorist stock exchange? Are you nuts!!?!?"

currently playing: Life Without Buildings - The Leanover

When Did You Realise That Slashdot Had Died?

About three years after all the cool people decided that Slashdot wasn’t the in-place to be anymore and went off to Kuro5hin, it’s finally happened to me. Today’s thread about Nat Friedman’s Dashboard project shows the sorry state that the site now finds itself in; a few years back, this would have been a 100-reply thread full of people discussing the ideas behind the application, congratulating Nat and the others for getting so much done in so little time, and perhaps a little informed speculation about how this compared to the rumoured design of Microsoft Longhorn. Today, however, it’s a 250 comment monstrosity. Hardly anybody talks about the project, and when they do, it’s only to complain that Emacs has a feature like this already (well, yes, it does. As Nat explains, it also sucks at it, but who cares, huh? We don’t want to improve things, do we?).

It's just so negative. Why can't we be positive for a change? Dashboard looks like a wonderful application, full of interesting promise (in fact, it seems only a few steps away from the Apple Knowledge Navigator adverts from a decade ago, which is pretty cool). It uses the openness of Free Software to work with current software, unlike the Longhorn approach which is going to need a complete rewrite of applications and the filesystem, and it works today. We should be celebrating this stolen march over the competition, rather than shouting it down simply because it happens to use Mono.

On the bright side, if I cut down on the Slashdot-reading, I'll be able to get more work done. Hurrah!

Hmm, apparently, the new A Silver Mt. Zion album has leaked onto the Internet, so I'm now going to try and hunt down a copy for my train trip on Thursday…

currently playing: De La Soul - Eye Know

A Week of Light Posting

I’m going to be in Manchester from Thursday, so there won’t be too many postings this week. To make up for that, I promise to take lots of pictures while I’m away, so you can see the sunny climes of the North. Or the BBC Manchester building.

Today, I'm very disappointed in the British record-buying public. Daniel Beddingfield at Number One? Replacing Beyonce? You poor fools.

currently playing: ESG - Moody

Quick! The Sky is Pink With Purple Polkadots!

A report from a UK-based organisation known as the Broadband Stakeholder Group warns that the broadband boom will falter if digital piracy continues unchecked. Hmm. I think there might be a flaw in their logic somewhere…

currently playing: Nico - I’ll Be With Mine

Sucking Helium Through A Straw

My brain feels like it wants to float into the sky again, so no entry tonight. Instead, just imagine an entry that ranted about the House of Representatives passing a bill that overturns the recent FCC deregulation, by a margin of 400 to 21. Public opinion seems to have been a determining factor in this decision; both left and right-wing groups joined forces in the attempt to rollback the new ownership limits. It’s a victory for the consumer.

Except, of course, that The White House has promised to veto the bill. Hohoho.

Right, going to bed now.

currently playing: Soulwax - 2 Many DJs Part 3

Death To Kazaa Users!

The RIAA continues in its absurd attempt to put college America behind bars. Meanwhile, a competitor to iTunes launches. Amazingly, it manages to completely misjudge what makes iTunes great; Buymusic doesn’t offer consistent pricing (prices range from 79¢ to $1.79 per track), or a consistent usage scheme (some tracks can be burnt to disc, some can’t, some can only be burnt a number of times, and oh, you can’t use an iPod with the service, as it’s based around Microsoft’s WMA technology). It’ll be interesting to see how well it performs: Apple sold 275,000 songs in its first 18 hours. Buymusic has a bigger selection of tracks (300,000 vs. 200,000), plus as it’s PC only, it should have a potential audience of 95% of the consumer computer market, opposed to iTunes’s 5%. So it should be much more successful, shouldn’t it? Hmm…

(Incidentally, CDBaby now has a contract with Apple, so the independent music artist now has a way to profit from iTunes without having to be signed to a major label. Seems to be a Factory-type arrangement: the label receives 9% of the profit from any music sold, and the artist retains all rights)

currently playing: R.E.M. - Fireplace

Eschaton Gaming

Wario Ware is many things. It is the latest attempt to milk the Mario franchise. It is a cynical rehashing of old NES games and crudely-drawn Game & Watch rip-offs. It is a witty and biting satire on the state of video games. It is also this: Excellent.

The slim plot revolves around Wario's attempt to break into the games industry, after realising he can make a quick buck like everybody else currently in the business (Wario is some evil relation of Mario, I think). The player's duty is to defeat Wario by beating his games. And there's a lot of them. 213, in fact. They only have one thing in common: they last five seconds. You can be picking a persons nose, racing in F-Zero, cutting steak, jumping sharks, saving penalties, and fighting WWI planes all in the space of thirty seconds. It's completely insane.

The game is broken up into several different stages, each of which have their own peculiarities; one will chide you for not having bought a Gameboy Advance SP yet, while another is set inside a toilet. Completion of a stage will allow you to play the games you have unlocked at any time, and may also reveal hidden features such as two-player activities or extended versions of particular mini-games. You probably won't unlock all 213 games when you first complete the main game, and The Grid will taunt you by showing a series of question marks. You will play, and play, until all those marks have been removed.

Your life will soon devolve into a series of simple verbs:





It commands you. A quickly barked order. A reaction test game. Then another. Then another. And another. You die. You reach the BOSS STAGE! You start again. Jump! Catch! Bounce! It's the greatest video game since, well, Tetris.

currently playing: Al Green - How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?

For The Benefit of People In The Aisle Behind

  • Ali G impersonations ceased to be funny in the UK three years ago.
  • Thank you so much for throwing popcorn in my hair.
  • Couldn’t you have sat outside and talked? It would have saved you £6.20, and we might have been able to hear the film.
  • There’s a special place reserved in hell for people who use their mobile phones in cinemas. A special place.
Anyway, Hulk. A bit of a disappointment: not enough exciting action moments for it to be a good summer blockbuster, and the much-talked about depth is little more than a few repressed memory scenes and Nick Nolte’s incoherent rantings during the rather dull final fifteen minutes. (Also, it may just have been that I’ve reread Animal Man again recently, but the continued animal experimentation scenes were a little unsettling) Everybody performs reasonably enough, and the scene transitions are quite innovative, but it feels dull and lifeless. Rent The Ice Storm or Crouching Tiger instead.

Laura: have a good time in Cuba! You do realise that this will put you on John Ashcroft's List? ;-)

Lisa: I've taped the first two episodes of Dawson's Creek for you. Hope you had a good holiday...

currently playing: New Order - Love Less