Pop Will Eat Itself

The special edition of Hail To The Thief is a wonderful thing. The design is based on the style of McSweeneys, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and of course, the venerable and setter of trends that is The Weekly. And it has a fine gatefold poster, plus a Book of Lyrics that Gentlemen (or Ladies, if they so choose) may wise to peruse whilst listening to the audio recording.

Amusingly, however, the CD is not a proper CD. Instead, it is a Copy Controlled disc, that is intended to prevent people from ripping it to MP3 (a rather pointless move, considering that the album has been available on the Internet since March, but anyway). I discovered this after cdparanoia had happily ripped every single track. Back to the drawing board, lads…

Okay, who's with me?

currently playing: The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?


Yesterday was a computer day. I’ve upgraded the installation of Movable Type to version 2.64, and I spent the rest of the day working on an AppleScript program that allows me to upload and post pictures simply by selecting them in iPhoto and pressing a button. It started out as a simple idea, but of course took the best part of five hours to get working. Computers. Love them.

And no, I have absolutely no idea what the comments in the previous entry are going on about.

currently playing: Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Moya

Blowing Bubbles

currently playing: Mint Royale - Don’t Falter

Scenes From A Barbeque

currently playing: Saturday Looks Good To Me - Ultimate Stars

Idle Time


currently playing: Ultrasound - Floodlit World

Gregory Peck: 1916-2003

I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house. And that he’d rather I’d shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted, if I could hit ‘em, but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird. Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don’t do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat people’s gardens, don’t nest in the corncrib, they don’t do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us.

Coding Towards Infinity

Three years ago, I wrote an extension to The Gimp, an open source image editing program, allowing users to create text representations of their images. For example, here’s a picture of the Linux mascot, Tux:

And here's the same image after my extension has created an all-text version (you might need to look at the enlarged image to actually see the text):

The script had a few fancy options, like being able to select different fonts and sizes, plus it could read huge amounts of text (say, if you wanted to paint a picture of Hunter S. Thompson with the words from Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas). It only took me an afternoon, and I was fairly pleased with how it worked.

Being one of those no-good Free Software types, I placed it on my old web site under a license known as the GPL, which gives anybody the right to use, distribute and modify the program, providing that they continue to allow access to the source code (and any changes they may have made). I added it to a website which lists various different additions for The Gimp, and promptly forgot about it.

Today, I was searching through Google, and came across a link to my code. Only it was on a different website from my old one. Curious, I started another Google search, looking for references to my program. It seems to have spread far and wide across the world. People have made additions and changes to my original work; updating it to work with the new version of The Gimp, and bundling it with a bunch of other programs and selling the collection on CD.

Scattered across the world, in thousands of different places, my name still resides in the source code. It'll remain there until the CDs biodegrade, roughly a hundred years from now. I'm not quite sure how to deal with that.

currently playing: Mercury Rev - Delta Sun Bottleneck Stamp

Was I Being Persnickety?

A scary moment from yesterday: my sister and I are having a conversation about a wall. About a minute into the conversation, we stop in horror as we realise that we’re talking like Aaron Sorkin characters. The scary insane ones. The moral of the story? Watching too many Sports Night episodes in succession can do strange things to your mind. We’re now taking a little break.

My final cheque from Chapel Hill arrived this morning, so I'm $600 richer today. After working it out, it seems like I left America $1,000 worse off, as I took $6,000 with me last August, and I now have roughly $5,000 in several different accounts on both sides of the Atlantic. Of course, I still have several thousand pounds of student loan debt from my time at Manchester, but let's not think about that, shall we?

Weather forecast for Saturday's barbeque: 22˚C and sunny. Come one, and come all…oh. Well, it did say earlier that it was going to be sunny. I promise. Still, 19˚C isn't too bad, I suppose.

currently playing: Ghetto Boys - Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster

Up And Out In Oxford

Another trip to Oxford. Last time I went, they were digging up most of Cornmarket street. Obviously, they thought that this wasn't acceptable, so they've started work on the front of the Waterstone's bookshop as well. The jackhammers are a nice touch.

They say never judge a book by its cover. I am really bad at this, as I've bought many books simply because the cover caught my attention (Thomas Pynchon's V popped out of a bookshelf in Manchester one day, and I spent the next six months buying every one of his books). I'm also fascinated by changes in cover design when books are reprinted. Today in Oxford, I saw two horrible new book designs: The US edition of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay has a wonderful period cover, evoking the book's pulp comic themes. The UK version has a picture of a tied-up man. Even worse is the new printing of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. They've dropped the classic Ralph Steadman art and replaced it with a horrible late 1990's medicine bottle design. Ugh.

My feet and legs are now killing me. I'm still breaking in my new boots. Yes, for the first time in almost six years, I'm wearing boots that aren't black. They're a bit smaller than my old ones, so my leg muscles need some time to get used to the change. Ow ow ow…

currently playing: Black Box Recorder - The Facts of Life

I Believe In Donovan Over Dylan...Love Over Cynicism

One of my current projects is to finally watch the whole of My So-Called Life, having spent close to $200 on getting the DVD release (long, long, long story). Two observations from watching a few episodes: firstly, Angela has worn the same shirt in several episodes so far, which is somehow cute and endearing (considering that in most TV shows, people wear an outfit once only). Secondly, it seems that even MSCL (as all the cool kids are calling it these days) wasn’t completely immune to the phenomenon that is the “magic teacher” episode.

It seems to be a staple of drama and film; a teacher with an unconventional method of teaching arrives in town, causing chaos in her or his wake. The students are inspired, but the parents and the rest of the teachers plot to remove the new teacher. Ultimately by the end of the film or episode, the teacher is run out of town, but the children Have Been Changed. Cue end credits.

Did anybody actually have a teacher like that? Is it more of an American culture difference? I have many teachers that I remember fondly, and yes, they were unconventional, but they stayed. The teachers that left after a term or so tended not to be very good. So I've never really understood film and television's obsession with this idea of a rogue teacher (okay, I understand to the point that it's a good way of creating conflict, and easy for a a TV show to cast the role for a one-off performance, rather than keeping the actor on the staff).

Happily, the episode in question did its best to make things as ambiguous as possible; the teacher turned out to have an outstanding arrest warrant for failure to pay alimony, and he ran away at the first hint of trouble. Hurrah for subtly subverting teen drama clichés!

(Oh, and the dance Claire Danes does in the middle of Why Can't Jordan Read? Simply magical.)

currently playing: Super Furry Animals - If You Don’t Want Me To Destroy You