From The Comments, Part 2

The Distractions are back with their 'Black Velvet' EP available for digital download with a limited number of CD promos. See Occultation Recordings website (http://www.occultation.co.uk) for details of how to order, and keep an eye on www.thedistractions.co.uk/home.html for news of the forthcoming 12" EP and CD album due in 2011.

The Distractions wrote FAC12: Time Goes So Slow, one of the greatest singles on Factory Records. Go support them!

A New ZX Spectrum: <canvas>

"The computing A-level is about how computers work and if you ask anyone how it works they will not be able to tell you," said Doug Abrams, an ICT teacher from Ousedale School in Newport Pagnell, who was one of the first to use the machines in lessons.

(BBC — Tech Know)

Having had some experience with teaching a Computing A-Level (and by experience, I mean sitting in a few classes and helping to describe the basics of DS programming to a group for a couple of weeks), I think he's selling the course a little short (though it might be from a different exam board). I also think the idea of using digging out BBC Micros isn't particularly practical, but a lot of today's programming languages do lack the immediacy of programming back in the days of Acorn and Sinclair, when every computer came complete with a BASIC interpreter and children spent many an idle hour issuing drawing commands to draw obscene things on the screen.

However, a similar simple coding environment exists right now, on every computer running a HTML5-compliant browser.

The <canvas> element allows you create a 'screen' on a web page of arbitrary dimensions, and through a JavaScript interface, it lets you draw lines, curves, rectangles, circles, and access each individual pixel in the canvas display.

So rather than forcing students the hardships of the BBC Micro, why not give them a grounding in JavaScript and allow them to run riot in the browser? Just as much fun, a little more forgiving, and actually useful in the real world!

(admittedly, I am currently building a recreating of BBC Mode 7, so I can appreciate playing with the retro machines. Though if we really want to get tough, we should try and get them producing something for the Atari 2600…)

101 Ways To Use A Blackcurrant - Marshmallows

A bit of a change in recipe format this week. The Internet is all very well and good, but it doesn’t beat a good bit of Teletext.

Yes, while I should have been doing more important things this weekend, I instead built a Teletext simulator. Complete with FASTEXT and REVEAL support (it has a few glitches, and there’s hardly any pages in it yet, but I’m working on a markup tool…anyway…). I’m quite proud of page 999 (Teletext purists: yes, I know).

The page you’re looking for is 531!

Blackcurrant Marshmallows (teletext version)

(you might need a computer though - Mobile Safari is not playing ball with a few things)

Microsoft&#8230;er&#8230;guys?

Look, I know you’re upset about the recent surveys that indicate that college freshmen are switching to Macs in droves, but really, is this the best you can do?

You can't get a Mac that ships with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. You can with PCs running Windows 7.

Translation: Good, strong opening. Of course, you can buy most of these things separately, but definitely a valid point.

Most of the world's most popular computer games aren't available for Macs. And Macs can't connect to an Xbox 360. PCs are ready to play.

Translation: NOBODY MENTION THE WII. WE WILL CRY.

Most Macs can't hook up to your TV unless you buy a converter dongle. Many PCs running Windows 7 are designed to connect directly to TVs, so you can watch movies and see photos on the big screen.

Translation: Yeah, this is a bit weak. But it's just a throwaway - we've got plenty of material!

Things just don't work the same way on Macs if you're used to a PC. For example, the mouse works differently. And many of the shortcuts you're familiar with don't work the same way on a Mac.

Translation: Yes, we are really trying to claim that switching to the friendliest GUI in the current era is going to be a struggle. You have to admire our brazenness. Now, go away…we're trying to put one more option onto the Start Menu for SP2…

Windows 7 was designed to make it simpler to do the tasks you do every day, with features that the Mac doesn't have. For example, the new Snap feature makes it easy to view two documents side by side.

Translation: We're really hoping you don't squint at the non-sequitur here.

Unlike Macs, many PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can browse online newspapers, flick through photo albums, and shuffle files and folders—using nothing but your fingers. PCs with a fingerprint reader even let you log in with just a swipe of your finger.

Translation: Multitouch? Never heard of it, mate.

If you use Apple's productivity suite, sharing files with PC users can be tricky. Your documents might not look right and your spreadsheets might not calculate correctly.

Translation: iLife can import Office files, but we suck at importing iLife ones.

You'll have to buy a separate hardware dongle to plug your Mac into a standard VGA projector. Most PCs with Windows 7 hook up easily.

Translation: We're really fixated on this dongle thing. Say it with us: 'dongle'. Yeah, it's a strange word, isn't it? Buying a Mac will make you say 'dongle' in front of others! JUST SAY NO!

On a Mac, out of the box, you can only encrypt your home folder. With Windows 7 Ultimate, you can encrypt your entire hard drive and even USB drives. So your stuff can be safer wherever you go.

Translation: Come to our pricing page where we'll charge you $220 for the privilege!

With a Mac, it's harder to set up secure sharing for your photos, music & movies, documents, and even printers with other computers on your home network. With HomeGroup, it's easy to connect all the computers in your house running Windows 7.

Translation: "You can join a homegroup in any edition of Windows 7, but you can only create one in Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise" It's easy! Just follow our wizard!

On a Mac, you have to manually set up photo sharing, manually set up music and movie sharing, manually set up file sharing, and manually set up printer sharing. It's easy to automatically and securely network with all the computers in your house when they're running Windows 7

Translation: Just wait for the first zero-day exploit! [seriously, is ticking a box in iTunes that difficult?]

Apple's productivity suite file formats won't open in Microsoft Office on PCs. This can be a real hassle for Mac users sharing work documents with PC users.

Translation: Somehow, this is Obama's fault, too.

If there's a Mac version of a program you need, you'll have to buy it again and relearn how to use it on a Mac.

Translation: If anybody mentions Final Cut, we're revoking your Windows 7 Ultimate Enterprise Professional key.

You can't get a Mac with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. PCs running Windows 7 often come with features that aren't available on even the highest end Macs, including Blu-ray, eSATA, multi-format card readers, Touch, and mobile broadband.

Translation: Sometimes, they even work! [I can seem to buy eSATA cards for the Mac Pro, and every Apple laptop comes with a multitouch device, but I may be missing something here]

Macs only come in white or silver. PCs are available in a full spectrum of colors across a range of price points.

Translation: Seriously, we're desperate. Did you know you have to get a dongle to plug them into a projector? DID YOU?

With PCs running Windows 7, you can play the videos and music stored on your home PC while you're on the go, for free. Apple charges $99/year for its online service.

Translation: Apple's online service doesn't let you play music or video either, come to think of it. We should probably have mentioned that. Did we mention the dongle thing yet?

I Can't Wait Until Popular Gets Here

101 Ways To Use A Blackcurrant - P&acirc;te de Fruit

#alttext#

Blackcurrant Pâte de Fruit

Jon Stewart, Do The Decent Thing!

http://www.hasjonstewartshavedhisgoatee.com

101 Ways To Use A Blackcurrant - Blackcurrant Vodka

When all else fails, turn it into alcohol.

Blackcurrant Vodka

London Village - It's Not Blood, It's Cherryade

I may have made two mistakes. The first (in fact, the second, chronologically-speaking, but I didn’t discover the first until after the real first, so it comes first. Okay? I can draw a diagram if needed…) was that I stopped moving. Having been up since 6am, walking all over London for five hours getting through my list of things to do, I thought I’d reward myself by checking in shortly after two. Yes, that was a mistake. After falling asleep, I didn’t drag myself out of bed until five, requiring a short trip to Waitrose to pick up a few things for a quick dinner.

(they have borage leaves! I can make a real proper authentic Pimm’s! But I’m getting ahead of myself)

The second mistake was bringing my iPad charger instead of my iPhone one. “I can charge both, if necessary!” Well, my iPhone has been sitting on charge for about an hour now, and the battery indicator hasn’t moved at all. And of course, knowing that I could charge it up in the hotel, I’ve been using it today with impunity, meaning that I currently only have enough power to last me to the Garage and back. Luckily, my plans for tomorrow mean that I don’t really have to use it for navigation, but still, I wanted to take pictures and things! Pointless Twitter updates!

Anyway, today. After getting into London, I decided to head to Buen Provecho, as I’d been reading that they often run out of certain items during the lunch rush. It was supposed to open at 11am, so I, being fashionably late, sauntered up at 11:05…

…and then spent the next forty minutes wandering up and down Lower Marsh market waiting for it to open. I should have gone to the South Bank, I suppose, but I didn’t want to run the gauntlet of the charity debit debit task force out on the streets, so I wandered, explored a park, came back, wandered some more, went into a rather bleak second-hand bookstore, came back, wandered some more, until at last I got to sample what’s been called the best Mexican in London.

I really have been spoiled by America. It was good, yes, and better than anything else I’ve had in Britain, but you could pick any taco truck in Durham and get something that would outclass it considerably. Yes, I’ve turned into one of those people. I’m sorry.

Then, back to Oxford Street to do a little bit of shopping. Or rather, trying desperately to hold onto my willpower in the Apple Store. The iPhone 4 was screaming to be bought, but I was strong. It hurt putting it back in the holder, mind you. So shiny. So bright, such a wonderful display, and luckily for Apple, you can’t make any calls on it inside the shop, so you can’t try and short out the aerial.

Running away from shiny pieces of technology, I turned to another of the reasons for coming to London: checking out a few of the chocolatiers in the area. I had three on my list, and made it to two: Rococo and L’Artisan Du Chocolat (but, given the giant reset button that got pushed on my visa application yesterday, I’ll be back to cover the one I missed and perhaps a few others another time).

Rococo’s design draws on the classic British sweet shop style, with lots of different sweets on offer as well as just their organic chocolate bars (chocolate coins, boiled sweet roses, etc.). I left with six 20g sampler bars (hey, it was buy 5 and get 1 free!), of which I can already tell you that the Earl Grey bar is pretty tasty. I’m also curious about how their violet and blackcurrant bonbon tastes…

L’Artisan Du Chocolat, on the other hand, is all white and modernist. And located in an even more expensive part of London (Sloane Square!). I’m guessing that they enrobe their chocolates rather than using a mold - they’re so tiny! Their presentation boxes need a bit of work, though - by the time you got to the 50 piece box in the shop, they were just filled with chocolates in a rather unattractive higgly-piggly fashion. I got two fusion bars: white chocolate with lumis, and a dark chocolate bar with orange blossom & orchid. I should have got some of the sea salt caramel balls too. Still, there’s always next time.

And now, I should probably make a start to get to the Garage. Los Campesinos! awaits!

You! Me! Dancing!

See you in Carrboro, LC! Promise I won’t ask for either of those two songs again. Not that I did anyway, but it was good to hear them live!

More, much more later. About a band I love almost more than any other (and I’m sure Gareth won’t mind too much coming in behind Kenickie)

You could never kiss a Tory.