May 2007

XFM's coup de gr?¢ce

by Suw on May 23, 2007

I've put my follow-on post about Xfm axing all its daytime DJs over on Strange Attractor, partly because it seemed a bit out of place here, but mainly because that blog has a different audience, one I think should read about this.
I'm so sad to see what XFM is doing to itself, and I can only hope that listeners are disappointed enough at 10am on Tuesday 29th May when the new DJ-free schedule kicks in that we'll see a revolt akin to the post-Capital reformatting protest of 98.

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I have so much I want to blog about at the moment, but I've just been up to my eyeballs in stuff, and by the time I get to 10pm, I really don't want to be on the computer anymore.
I have to take my Macbook in for repairs very soon and it's causing me a lot of pain – I have to make sure that everything I have on this machine is available to me when the machine itself is not. This isn't just about convenience – my entire ability to do my job is wrapped up in the data on this chunk of plastic and without it I am totally screwed. Yes, I have a back-up, but it's non-bootable except on another Intel Mac… which I don't have. So I'm preparing my old iBook to act as my spare machine, which is far easier said than done. It would be so much easier if I just had another Intel Macbook, so that I could simply replicate this machine and not have to worry about it all… but I don't, and I am not likely to suddenly have the money to buy one any time soon.
Meantime, I want to blog about that really appalling Panorama program on wifi last night, and the bloody stupid decision XFM made to sack all its daytime DJs. But both those will have to wait.
How is it that I am always so busy? I think I may have to put a lot more effort into employing the 'N' word over the next six months.

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Finally and at last, Steph and I have managed to get our latest episode of Fresh Lime Soda: the one where everything is related… not least dictation, guilt, and shitty first drafts. No really, it'll all make sense if you listen.
You can, if you like, grab the MP3 (12mb, 35min) or there's an embedded player over on the FLS site.
Enjoy our podcast. If that's not an oxymoron.

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10.20 on a Sunday night

by Suw on May 13, 2007

Probably not the best time to be blogging, but I am trying to blog more these days, so I'm going to anyway.
Next week will see a shift from blogging here to blogging more at Strange Attractor, as I'm off to Xtech in Paris on Tuesday, and not back til late Thursday night. I've a lot to get through this week, especially as I actually haven't yet written my presentation that I'm giving at the crack of dawn on Thursday. I need to bring myself up to date on evoting and copyright term extension, but that shouldn't take me long. Hopefully I'll have time to do it tomorrow.
Although frankly, tomorrow might get eaten up by dealing with email. I still loathe email. I wish there were a way to ditch it completely, but I've yet to figure out a way to do that which is actually feasibly. Meantime, I just have to put up with it. Bloody stuff.
Haven't seen the mouse since Wednesday, so hoping that it was a one off visit and that said mouse discovered nothing worth coming back for.
Meanwhile, progress is being made in all sorts of areas. I will blog about it, but just not tonight.

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New bookshelves make for a happy Suw

by Suw on May 12, 2007

I will admit that the flat has really been getting me down lately. It's very easy for such a small space to descend into untidiness very quickly when you've got too much stuff that doesn't have a specific place to live. And of course, working from home doesn't help matters – you just end up with heaps of papers on every available surface.
At last, today, we bit the bullet and bought a set of shelves with two drawers, and Kevin spent all afternoon putting them together whilst I provided him with essential advice from the couch. They are now standing proudly on the only bit of wall that was free, and are full of books and DVDs. The flat is much tidier, and will be even more so once we've finished sorting out all the random piles of crap that have accumulated.
It makes me very happy to have a proper bookshelf for my books. I should imagine it makes them very happy too.

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XFM's losing me

by Suw on May 11, 2007

For nearly ten years now I've been a fan of XFM. I remember the excitement I felt when they got their license and I finally had a radio station that played stuff I loved. And I remember the sense of loss when I moved away from London and could no longer get XFM on the dial … then the delight when I found them on Sky Digital and when they started broadcasting over the web so that I could listen no matter where I was.
Indeed, Kevin bought me my DAB radio last Christmas specifically so that I could listen to XFM without having to deal with the nasty artefacts left by whichever crappy codec they were using for the live stream.
(Of course, their stupid decision to make you have to register to access their live stream and the change to a Window-only codec really screwed their internet listeners. That was a totally idiotic thing to do.)
But now, well, a lot of the joy I used to feel has dissipated. In the last month or so they've lost Richard Bacon, Lauren Laverne and Iain Baker. They'd sidelined Iain for a long while, so I understand why he left, but they gutted their daytime line-up too, leaving only the fabulous Ian Camfield on the drive time show. The replacement DJs, Marsha, Tonks and some bloke called Graeme, are really weak – whilst I am sure they are all lovely people, they just don't have the charisma or style to successfully pull off a daytime show.
Worse than that, the playlist has gone from being nicely varied with lots of new indie bands to the sort of heavily repetitive and limited list that makes Radio 1 tedious and boring. (Of course, shitty playlist decisions, a hideous desire to be 'down wiv da yoof', and godawful DJs also makes Radio 1 tedious and boring.)
I hate to say it, but I'm on the verge of deserting XFM completely. And you know what pains me? The fact that the best station I can find on my DAB radio is bloody Virgin Xtreme. Virgin. Xtreme. Gah. That's like suddenly realising that you like the music on Radio 2. But the truth is that their playlist is more interesting – in just a few hours yesterday I heard lots of new stuff by bands that I've never heard on XFM but which would fit it stylistically, and only one song that made me want to stab the DJ.
The trouble with Virgin Xtreme is that it's almost like internet radio – almost no DJ interaction at all. I don't really listen to the radio to discover new music – although a varied and new playlist is important – because if all I wanted was to find new music, well, there's for that.
I listen because I want to be entertained by the DJs, I want to hear people who I think are like me, who talk about things I'm interested in, who care about their listeners. I want my day given shape by the changing of DJ shifts, by the news and weather, by Paul Anderson's Movie Minute, by the X-List. I want Music: Response to be the signal that 7pm has arrived and that dinner will be late tonight. I want to hear human voices.
But XFM is failing its listeners. It has lost its sheen, lost its joy, lost the very people who made it special. The only reason to tune back to XFM now is to catch Camfield at 4pm.
I can't believe it's come to this. I feel betrayed.

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The video episode

by Suw on May 11, 2007

So a while back, Steph and I did this video episode of our podcast, Fresh Lime Soda, but the video was too long for YouTube so Steph hosted it for download only. Well, we recently stumbled across the really quite fab Viddler, so now for your delight and delectation I can present to you our first video episode!

You can leave comments that are tied to the timeline, which is really neat, so please do feel free to comment all you like!

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Kitten, gym and mouse updates

by Suw on May 9, 2007

It's not been quite so easy to blog every day over the long weekend – I had imagined that our time would be fairly free, but it didn't quite work out like that.
Not a small amount of time was spent attempting to locate the kittens, Castor and Pollux, who appear to have become escape artists of the highest calibre. So many times in the past we've had cats who've been killed on the road or who've been attacked by other animals, sometimes fatally, so my parents are a wee bit overprotective. But despite my dad's best efforts to strategically place chickenwire to prevent escape, Polly especially seems to be always able to get out (although then less able to get back in again), although it was Cassie who caused all the trouble on Monday. Cue much walking round the block, rattling the cat treat container in an ineffective attempt to lure her home.
Also got a fair number of chores done whilst I was there, including throwing out a ton of papers from my filing cabinet which still resides in my Mum's room (no space for it here, so she's going to empty it and flog it). Threw out a whole load of old client papers and research materials, which made me feel a bit odd. Kept all the stuff to do with the old business. Lots of dark memories in that filing cabinet. I'm glad they're not here in London with me, I don't need them.
Then yesterday was a flurry of going to the gym and dealing with email and client work. A good, productive day, but a day that passed way to fast. I barely realised that I hadn't blogged before the chance to was gone. I need to try harder this week though, not to let myself slip again. It's really hard sometimes to find the time to write, but it's got to be at the top of my priorities again.
The gym is actually going well. I never thought I'd enjoy it this much, actually, but although it can be hard to haul my ass out of bed that early, I do feel good once I'm there. Of course, the fact that I weighed myself down in Dorset and discovered that I've actually put on half a stone did not go down so well. I'm now the same weight I was at 19, after putting on 3 stone in Australia. That's enough to make me swear off Coke and chocolate until I've lost a stone.
Also need to put a bit more effort into ensuring that I get my five portions of fruit and veg a day, although yesterday's consumption of twelve medium sized tomatoes in the form of soup was probably a bit much. I had intended to freeze half of it but, well, I was hungry.
Regarding what I'm doing at the gym, I had my second session with the 'personal' trainer last week, who added a few more machines to my agenda, including a steppy army swingy thingie, and a calfy squeezy thingie. She attempted to add some more machines that exercise my arms, but as I started pulling against the weights I could feel my scar going taut – not good.
Kev and I have about 40 mins each morning to do our workout, which I think is quite enough, but we can't fit in all the machines we've been given to do. I suppose the smart thing to do would be to rotate them, but instead, I'm just dropping the machines that make me use my arms. The scar twinges sometimes, and I'm still rather paranoid that if I use it too much I'm going to end up with a huge red stripe – it's already widened a bit but not too much. I don't want it any wider.
Plus I loath the steppy army swingy thingie (the crosstrainer, for those that know). I have fuck all co-ordination, and the damn thing nearly makes me feel seasick, so I'm just not going to bother with it. I'm quite happy with the treadmill, bike, and the machines that focus on my legs. It'd be nice if I could keep up with Kevin when we go out walking, instead of me holding us back.
Meantime, we have a guest. As I was sitting on the sofa this morning, slowly waking up, a small mouse ran out from under my feet, heading for the space under the fridge. I'm not scared of mice, but I will admit it did surprise me, and I may possibly have let out a rather strangled yelp. Unfortunately, this nearly gave MrA a bit of a heart attack.
Whilst I was yelping, a part of my brain was watching with amusement as the poor mouse struggled to gain traction on the slippery laminate flooring, its little legs going all ways. I have no idea where it was – I still have Mr Neil's keyboard in its box under my coffee table as I've yet to get to meet up with its rightful owner – so I'm wondering if it was in that, looking for food or nesting material.
Either way, this explains the godawful stench in the bathroom when we got home Monday night. There's no doubt in my mind that that was the smell of rotting mouse, probably under the bath or cabinet. From memory – yes, I've been through this before – it takes about 3 days for a rotting mouse to stop smelling, so I'm betting it died on Saturday.
Time to break out the human mousetrap, I'd say.

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Enjoying the countryside

by Suw on May 6, 2007

Kevin and I have been out and about yesterday and today. Yesterday we were in Ringwood buying various birthday pressies and then chilling out at the Sheaf of Arrows in Cranborne. Today we went to Corfe Castle and then Lulworth Cove, along with a lot of other bank holiday weekend visitors.
i took my camera but forgot the newly charged battery, so managed to snap one photo. Guess I'll have to wait until Kev uploads his.
Meantime, I'm feeling rather full after making fabulous tomato soup (that's the second time that soup's come out well!), and rather tired after much walking up hills and over beaches. Further updates will have to wait for me to feel a bit more energetic.

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Save Penryn! (part two)

by Suw on May 4, 2007

On the way home last night, Kevin pointed out an article in a copy of the Times that someone had left behind. One headline really caught my eye: 'Intel wipes Cornish traders off the map'. Sadly, I can't find the article online, which is a bit crap really, but the gist of it was that the Cornish town of Penryn is slowly disappearing from search results because 'Penryn' is the codename of one of Int*cough*el's new chips.

Since Friday, the town's online ranking has diminished from the top spot to third on a UK search using Google. Sites boasting historical and tourist information about the town have been superseded by websites about the microchips.
Businesses that have spent time and money ensuring their websites appear high up on the search engine's rankings have been pushed down the results – with only one now appearing in the top 10 on the all-important first page.
Search engine specialists have also warned that those local businesses advertising against search results for 'Penryn' could be priced out if Intel's chip suppliers start bidding for the word.
Kevin Pick-up, managing director of Truro-based search engine optimisation firm i-webmarketing, said: “This is going to be a huge problem for Penryn businesses.
“Although the chip is not even on the market yet, there's already a huge buzz, and web pages relating to the Intel Penryn are starting to displace local businesses in the search results. As people who search the internet rarely look past the first couple of pages of results, the Cornish websites will effectively disappear from search engines.”

Right now, a guide to Penryn appears to be third in, but on, the results are already dominated by Intel. Of course, us bloggers have the power to save Penryn! That is, the Penryn in Cornwall, not the one in California… the one with Penryn AFC, Penryn Surgery, and Penryn Plastics, not the one 12 miles away from those chip designers in Folsom.
Apparently Chris Hogge, head of marketing for that chip company, “absolutely guarantee[s]” that Penryn won't be the product name for the chips when they are launched at the end of the year. Nah, it'll be something distinctive like the Core 3 Trio.
Meantime, I urge you all to save Penryn!

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Save Penryn!

May 3, 2007

(Details tomorrow.) …. ok, so I cheated. Bite me.

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My darkest secret*

May 2, 2007

I was sitting on my couch this afternoon, slaving away over a hot laptop, when I heard this amazingly loud chirping. It sounded for a moment as if some bird had managed to get into the flat and was, quite possibly, sitting on my shoulder, cheeping. I was pretty sure that there wasn't a small […]

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Flagpole Sitta

May 1, 2007

I don't know if posting videos is sort of cheating on my whole 'will blog daily' thing… but this one is so fab you really have to see it. (Thanks John!) Lip Dub – Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger on Vimeo Later… Whilst I was googling for Harvey Danger to see if it really is […]

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