Showing posts from 2015

Christmas Quiz

Answer as you see fit. No search-engining allowed.
What were the skies like when you were younger? Why does it always rain on me? Tell me why. Do you know the way to San Jose? Why do birds suddenly appear? Is she really going out with him? What are words worth? Who let the dogs out? Why does my heart feel so bad? Do you really want to hurt me? What is love? Where did you come from? Would you hold it against me? How many roads must a man walk down? Will you still need me?

Brian Eno goes on the internet

Insert discussion of the original meaning of the word meme and what it now means here.

Memes are supposed to be understood by lots of people without explanation. This one fails.

I've been visiting Universities with one of my sons, looking at their Music Tech courses. (Insert link to blog post about thoughts on that when it's written.) At Portsmouth they had an analogue mixing desk that used to be used by Coldplay. The guy showing us round made some disparaging remark about their music. I wish I'd been quicker off the mark and asked, "Couldn't even Brian Eno" have saved them. For Brian has breathed on music by U2 and Coldplay and probably other people and made it more shiny.

There was a BBC documentary a few years ago about him and I remember a bit from it where he said that he doesn't go on the internet as he would find it too distracting. I can't remember the exact words, but it was along the lines that it would ruin his creativity.

Picture from Joe…

Music and critics

Is there a song that you could listen to over and over again for the rest of your life without getting fed up of it? Is there a song where you think, "I want to live in this song. I want the intro to be my porch. I want to walk on the bass, to sit on the synth line and watch the melody. I want to sleep on the repeat to fade until it all starts again."
This quote from Laura Potter has captured a nagging feeling I've had for a while:
A significant amount of time and money are spent exploring ways to increase our emotional ‘attachment’ to products, yet we become attached to what objects signify, or to whom they refer, not directly or materially to what they are. I’m not convinced there is any point trying to actively design attachment into things, because the conditions under which objects become personally significant are highly subjective: either contextually dependent or serendipitously evolved. I'm taking it out of context, and it goes on to talk about making things…

PR for pirates

I admire the PR firm that took on pirates. I imagine it went something like this:

"Ahoy!, we're pirates, we'd like t' improve our image."
"Just so I can understand how best to help you, can you tell me what your core business is?"
"I see. How would you define piracy?"
"Stealin' from other people."
"Any other related activities?"
"Kidnappin' sometimes, sinkin' ships, fightin'. Surprisin'ly always a bit o' fightin' with t' stealin'. Sometimes a bit of killin'."
"But stealing is your core business?"
"Hmm, that is generally what most people think of when they think of pirates. You haven't given us much we can go on really if you want an improved image."
"Some people say our accent be charmin'."
"You're right, that is maybe something we can work with."
At this point a second person from the …

Font pocket fluff

(Or pocket lint for my US readers, I don't know what the Canadians say). Here are some font related things front the depths of the pockets of my mind.

Is the hashtag for Kerning Conf really #keming? If so, *that* is genius! — Tom Lloyd (@TomALloyd) May 3, 2013 Just my Type - a book about fonts by Simon Garfield. It's full of useful information, but light-hearted enough to say that there are worse sins than using Comic Sans inappropriately.

I'm old enough to remember Sans Serriffe.

Review of "Secondhand memories" by Takatsu

My review as a Librarything early reviewer:

The first thing to talk about with this book is the form. Normally it doesn't make much difference, but this is a cellphone novel turned into a book turned into an ebook (I read it in PDF). So small chapters are turned into nicely laid out pages which are then put onto a screen. I think it would be nice to own the paper book. As the chapters are so short I think it's a good coffee table book which you can leave lying around and pick up to read bits and pieces from.

I read it in several bigger chunks and I found the pace of reading quite intense. There are a lot of line breaks, rather than longer paragraphs, which I took a while to adjust to.

The story itself takes a couple of unexpected turns and then follows a fairly predictable path, though you do need to keep reading to see if what you think might happen actually does. I couldn't really relate to some of the things the main character did, though perhaps it's because I'…

Personal thoughts on Terry Pratchett

I thought about writing some thoughts on Leonard Nimoy after he died, but I wouldn't have said that much. I was genuinely sad when I heard the news about Terry Pratchett, so I feel I have to write some stuff down.

I met him once. He was patron of the Friends of High Wycombe Library and he gave a talk at their inaugural meeting, at our church as it happened. From the circumstantial evidence I think it was 2003 or 2004. After the talk he was doing signings and I gave him a list of the BBC top 100 books to sign, which he had five books of his in it. He looked bemused at signing this, rather than a book of his. I don't know where that piece of paper is. It isn't lost - it knows where it is.

He was born locally, in Beaconsfield, which is probably why he agreed to be patron. In his talk he said how tolerant librarians would let him take out a couple of hundred library books at a time. I thought I was a prolific reader as a child, but he wins. He also talked about his days as a r…

Fan fiction

Yesterday I had one of those moments, which is like opening a door in a wall in a garden and finding a country on the other side. In the uncommon newsletter there was a link to an article on how stories change us. I followed a link to stories are waves, which was much more interesting. It talks about how story telling is getting a bit more like pre-Gutenberg days. It mentioned the Organization for Transformative Works and I found the project, Archive of Our Own which has 1.4 million bits of fan fiction. That's a lot of storytelling.

The Singularity and worms

I read SF pretty much exclusively as a kid and then as I grew up I read more widely. In recent years I've read more SF than in the previous twenty or thirty or so. One of the things that I heard for the first time when I came back to SF was the Singularity, the idea that one day we'd be able to upload our brains into a computer. I heard it first being talked about on Charlie Stross's blog, probably this entry Three arguments against the singularity in 2011 (this blog post has been brewing for a while). He also wrote a book called Singularity Sky. If you read the wikipedia article I've linked to then you'll see it's been around for a while, since 1958. Probably the reason that it's being talked about more recently is because as computing power increases it become more believable.

As neurons are more complicated than bits you can't measure the capacity of the human brain in terms of computer storage, but there are as many networked computers as neurons in…