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June 30, 2004

It's on the tip of my tongue...

Over at LiveJournal, lyrics quizzes have evolved into the much-less-googlable Intros Quizzes. Basic model -- a zip file somewhere contains 21 intros, points given for title, artist, and creative interpretation. Or something like that.

Here's one by my ex and his girlfriend, and here's another and another.

Some of the songs in these were very hard. So we decided to do an intros quiz that everybody should be able to get a decent score on, designed to encourage people to feel good about the amount of music they know! And here it is: Alison & Steven's Easier Intros Quiz for the Musically Challenged.

Posted by Alison at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

Silver Linings

Things I discovered today:

1. Deciding to catch a train a half hour earlier to give myself more time to get to Hammersmith in the absence of the Underground will not work if it turns out that the 6:53 is the first train.

2. I really really should have plugged in my iPod and PDA when I got home last night, because neither had charge this morning.

3. There is nowhere anywhere near Walthamstow Queens Road station to buy a newspaper.

4. Or a grande skinny latte.

5. Or any other sort of coffee or anything for breakfast.

6. Whereas normally, the exact details of one's train journey are of little interest to one's colleagues, at today's Senior Managers Conference it appeared to be something of a pissing contest.

7. As I went on not one, but three train lines that most people don't know exist, and, due to (1) above, took 2 1/2 hours over the process, I scored rather well.

8. Under normal running, taking the Gospel Oak to Barking line to Gospel Oak, changing to the North London Line to Willesden Junction, and then taking a weird spur train is by far the most efficient way to get from here to Olympia. This is Inherently Implausible, but will be handy for the Great British Beer Festival.

9. What's more, today this route came with a free, while-you-stand, fully-clothed, Turkish Bath Experience.

Posted by Alison at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2004

Sammy the Red Pixel

This is entirely a Plokta in-joke ; this is a picture of Sammy the Red Pixel, taken while on holiday at Centerparcs in Whinfell Forest, which has a flourishing colony of red squirrels. I had to reduce the size of this pic to make it sensible for the web, too.

OK, it's a perfectly recognisable picture of a red squirrel
either that squirrel's very very big, or very close to us

Posted by Alison at 08:46 PM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2004

Inching towards the New Content Distribution Model

So, the iTunes Music Store has launched in the UK, allegedly with 700,000 songs. There are a lot of things missing -- the very first thing I searched for was the Richard Thompson iTunes exclusives, and they're not there. The next dozen bands I looked at had no tracks. They're seriously weak on small-label music, and most music I buy is small-label or even self-produced.

It's not terribly surprising that they don't have much stuff I want. After all, I own much of the stuff I want, and many of the things I don't own are seriously rare. Even if they have 700k tracks, which I don't believe, that's only 50 times the size of my collection -- and I have no interest in at least 95% of popular music. I suspect that for the music I collect, eMusic is a better source than iTunes. Of the albums I chose for my eMu list Ten Best English Roots Music, iTunes has none. I could not have put an adequate list of modern English folk music together from iTunes; they don't sell any.

Eventually I started finding stuff I wanted (for example, I own nothing by the Clash), but ran into other oddities -- eg you can buy The Clash, London Calling or Combat Rock for £8 each, or the Clash/London Calling/Combat Rock box set for £25. Mmm; complete with virtual box and sleevenotes.

There's no wishlist function -- obviously, I want to tag the things we want, go to Fopp & see if I can pick them up for no more than £8, and return to iTMS if I can't. I can make a playlist of 'iTMS wishlist' but it has to be a playlist of tracks; what I want is an album-wise playlist like the eMusic 'Stash' list, of albums I might get round to buying sometime.

The arrow links from iTunes to the store are seriously excellent, though -- even if mostly they come up to links like "Kate Rusby did not match any results; did you mean Nate Pussy?" At least eMusic has thought through this and provides links to 'music like' bands they don't have.

Meanwhile, we've given our vinyl away as part of the Great Tat Clearout and want to pick it what's available on MP3. Some of it's on iTMS, sure, but I'm unsure if I really want DRM-ridden music for this purpose.

So, no, I haven't bought anything yet, but I'm sure I will.

Posted by Alison at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2004

I'd like Michael Howard's bollocks, please...

Government website security continually amazes me. On the one hand, there's a nine-step process to sign up to do your tax return online. To buy a tube ticket, you have to pick a password so secure that I can never remember mine; turning a 12-second in-person transaction into ten minutes online. There's progress.

Fortunately, one government agency has done away with all that petty virtual bureaucracy. As Andrew Ducker points out, you can sign up to give all your internal organs away with no form of User ID or password whatsoever. Or, indeed, anybody else's internal organs. I'm sure you can think of somebody.

Posted by Alison at 08:55 PM | Comments (3)

June 07, 2004

Is This a Record?

I spent the weekend sorting out piles of vinyl, into those we have on CD, those we can easily get on CD, those we can get on CD but only by spending stupid amounts of money, and those that have never been released on CD. In the LPs, that last category is tiny (perhaps 40 LPs out of 250, of which we care about 30), but for the singles, there are plenty. I had never realised just how strong my collection is in 'novelty one-hit wonders of the seventies'.

The plan is to give the vinyl to a friend with a more serious clutter problem than us, in return for which he'll mp3 the stuff we can't get and want.

But one of my one-hit wonders is missing! Does anyone have an mp3 of "Zambezi", by the Piranhas? It's a complete earworm and still runs through my brain despite my not having heard it for decades. Update: Thank you, Dr Plokta!

Posted by Alison at 10:42 AM | Comments (9)

They Work For You

From BoingBoing I learn of the public beta of They Work For You, a site which delivers a commentable, RSS-able version of the highlights of Commons Hansard. It's a marvellous, shiny thing; allowing people to comment on practically anything that an MP says in Parliament, to search effectively for their MP's contributions, have an RSS feed for your MP, and so forth.

Posted by Alison at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)