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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Thursday, 23 February 2006

ripping irony and spots

I've long had a wholly internalised feud with the established music industry - more in argument than as an activist - but, having ranted about the unfairness of the recently published 'fair use' article in the previous entry, I was pointed to the FAQ section of the RIAA website. This unambiguously condones ripping CDs to MP3, which sets itself poles apart in position - I wonder how that'll play out. (thank you, Sunshine, for the link)

Despite my attempts to eschew the mainstream, I have to concede that I have pandered to it somewhat, by publishing the The North South Divide podcast in iTunes. My attempts to justify this would involve the word "free" and the phrase "trying to reach the widest audience" - ask for written details and I'll blither my way through a poor justification. Probably.

In other news, poor Christopher has been beset by chicken pox. He's not especially uncomfortable at the moment (thank heavens); we're waiting to see if Lenni's in the three week incubation period, or has managed to avoid it. Beth's brother Rob's suggestion that we should rub her up and down her brother to make sure she gets it over with, though practical, isn't that pleasant a proposition!

Well, as the sleet comes down for the third morning in a row, I shall sign off - it's the last of my four shifts this week, and I'm looking forward to a fairly relaxed weekend (JB's coming up, so we'll probably be tinkering with Playout and the children will be being cheeky to him).

Oh.. and does anyone know where most of February's gone?

Links of the day

Posted by james at 8:03 AM

Sunday, 19 February 2006

changes, rage and podcast

We're gently coming to the end of a pleasant weekend - Beth's visiting some friends in Newcastle, so I've enjoyed some time playing with and caring for Christopher and Eleanor.

One thing that's evident, wherever we go - certainly around the near vicinity - is that work has already started on, well, practically everything! Trees have been cut down alongside the motorway, up to junction 10 (for the planned widening scheme) and similar croppage has been wrought on the single-carriageway 'airport approach road' which, once they've built new bridges over the railway and Lower Luton Road, will continue the dual carriageway almost as far as our house.

Then there's (what used to be) the Luton Vauxhall factory. It's been shrouded in white (tarpaulin?) while the demolition takes place, before the Napier Park project commences, which will really change the area nearby us.

Then of course, there's the airport expansion, the Power Court redevelopment, and the much needed railway station move! Luton won't be the same in five years time, I'm sure of that!

I read a couple of articles that really riled me, this week. The first is this one:

how can the PRS be so petty? I have fairly mordant opinions of the music industry in general, with their approach to 'marketing' the musicians who'll bring them success (often for a short time), and leaving the majority to struggle, but I'm a firm believer that having a radio playing a familiar song is more of an advert for that song than a 'performance' to be charged-for. That's why it's on the radio, for heaven's sake!

I'm particularly annoyed that the new coaches that take me into London aren't fitted with radios for exactly the same reason. It's a pointless idea.

Next, the American music industry are stirring up the legal melting pot regarding creating MP3s from CDs. Slashdot report that they've concluded that 'backups' are essentially new copies, so should be separately paid for. OK, so to the letter of the law, they're right, but it's - yet again - solely intended to make money. (thanks for the link, Ed)

Then there's the rather troubling governmental pressure to put a 'backdoor' in the new version of Windows, so that the security can be circumvented in the case of 'criminal investigation'.

Hmm.. all a bit doom and gloom, really! Well, why not cheer yourself up a little, with my first ever venture into the world of podcasting - I've been working with a northern bloke called Trev to create spoondance.

It's the first North South Divide comedy podcast (the website's a work in progress!). It's got no rude words in, but may contain jokes that might be considered a little raucous.

That's quite enough from me for now... I've got no idea where all the time is going (I think there might be a leak) but the majority of next week's not going to offer much opportunity to do anything but work and sleep, so I'd better resign myself to it!

Still, the band rehearsals are happening, I'm spending a fair amount of time doing daft things in the studio, and it's been a fun half term with the children, so I have no reason to complain. :)

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 12:22 PM

Monday, 13 February 2006

weddings and videos of uniqueness

Argh! Strange things coming out of their heads!I don't get to go to many weddings - the most recent was, as I recall, celebrating the marriage of Ed and Kate. This was until yesterday; Beth and I were invited to the wedding of Keith and Karen - a pair of fellow Luton residents, and save for the standing around (a feature of all such occasions) and the bitter cold, it was jolly nice.

What was noticeable (to me, at least) was that the day of the big-brimmed hat seems to be over; a lot of the ladies who attended sported bits of ribbon, feathers and sticks poking out of their carefully coiffeured hair-do's. Stylishly odd (or vice versa).

The course is over, now, and I'm going to have to consolidate the knowledge I've picked up so that I can take the exam in, er, a few months' time. I had a day at work today, to catch up with the emails and sort out a few things that have needed some attention while I've been away; I've got tomorrow, Tuesday and Friday off, which is great, because it's half-term, so plenty of time with Beth and the children (oh, and a dentist appointment on Tuesday).

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 3:36 PM

Thursday, 9 February 2006

courses, dinnerbells and content filtering

I keep thinking of things to write about, but either the opportunity is missed, or I don't think it's worthy of bloggage.

Take, for example, the second day of the course I'm on this week. I got off the coach a stop earlier, because I saw a Waitrose nearby and wanted to look for some special chocolate to which I had been introduced (at surprisingly, the last course I was on), before walking, with the help of my lovely GPS thing - I maintain that Milton Keynes is almost impossible to navigate without it (certainly on foot), to the training centre.

This took me past McDonalds which, I have to admit, tempted me because I do enjoy a sausage McMuffin or Big Breakfast - until I realised that what was attracting me to it, causing my mouth to water, was simply the brand trigger- that big yellow "m" that can be seen from some distance. Obviously, if you can't stand McDonalds (I know far too many people who refuse to darken their doors, and in a lot of respects I can understand why), you would probably walk on without a second thought. I, however, having spent three years on the road, and regularly given myself that little rush of endorphins to send me on my way, am now subject to this subconscious message. But now, at least, I'm aware of it, and can resist; how many people don't realise, though, and, like Pavlov's dogs, find themselves munching away at, well, OK, so it's not petfood...? To be honest, I wasn't even hungry.

(Asda is another fine example - with their in-store bakery aromas, and Christmassy smells)

The lecturer we've got on this course is easily distracted - which is not necessarily such a good thing). One of the things he does - often when we're trying to concentrate on a practical example - is to tell us about an interesting or useful website.

However, to his credit, I have found one that might be quite useful for normal family life. Now Christopher's getting older, he could easily inadvertently click on something he shouldn't, while he's playing on the internet. To counter this, someone has written an application called Dan's Guardian - a content analyser and blocker that sits between the local network and the internet. It will, I think, be the next thing to be piled onto my Linux box, and I'll let you know how I get on. Fortunately, there's a fairly straightforward How-To guide available, so that should make life easier.

(as a footnote, it's interesting to note that the Fedora Core 4 RPM is maintained by a Catholic priest... now that's what I call a sideline!)

Link of the day:

  • www.worstcasescenarios.com : How to cope in almost every emergency. Probably. (Another recommendation from Lecturer Of Irrelevance)

Posted by james at 12:58 PM

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Britain, Britain, Britain...

The past 24 hours have been rather "Tom Baker"-centric; last night the team had their Christmas curry (I can heartily recommend it - I've been to Bengal City twice now) when who should pop in and descend to the basement of the restaurant, but Tom Baker? It was, erm, Tom Baker.

We were in high spirits, but didn't think to bother him; he's actually doing remarkably well for himself, having ascended to cult status since his days as the fourth Doctor Who, becoming the voice of Little Britain and several similarly surreal adverts.

Now, though, BT have snapped him up as the voice of their text service. It's great fun, but - if I'm honest - I cannot think of any practical application for it. But if you fancy sending a text to a land-line, this is the most entertaining (and only?) way to do it!

Our house.. in the middle of ourGoogle Maps have come on in leaps and bounds in recent times - it wasn't long ago that Luton was merely a fuzzy blur, and you could just about see our road. Now, though, it's improved to the point where our house, wilderness-style garden (oh, and "Big White", since the photo was taken a couple of years ago) is clearly visible.

Unfortunately, some areas still haven't had a closer view. It's not ten years, though, since you could order a photo print of the aerial view of your house - now, it's available free!

Before I go, just one more bit of news - I have had an article printed in the department newsletter. Having read it back, I'm a little over-critical, since there are brackets everywhere. I think I'd need a lot more practice before I embark on a career in journalism.

Link of the day:

  • www.pipelinecard.org : An interesting proposition, this - if they have enough subscribers to a free card, they'll negotiate cheaper petrol. I have no idea how that works. Perhaps the organizers will use the addresses they've ammassed to pop round and siphon off the petrol.
  • www.menwholooklikekennyrogers.com/gallery.html : Just what I need! A gallery of.. oh, never mind. (thanks, Beth!)

Posted by james at 9:49 PM

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