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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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Monday, 27 March 2006


It looks like spring is finally here, then - one day, the temperatures were struggling to reach double figures, and the next, it's almost warm (when the wind's not blowing!)

Returning to 'normal' after nightshifts is always a bit tricky, but I hope I'll be right as rain by tomorrow... this evening I have a bit of a headache, which I think was caused by sleeping too much(!) last night.

In other news - and you'll probably have surmised that there's not a lot of it from the distinct lack of posts of late - I've just about put the finishing touches to our next comedy podcast. I believe it's an improvement on the first, but I can always take constructive criticism!

I've found out how to add a "cover image" to an MP3 podcast - there's a very straightforward Linux-based tool called eyeD3 which, when it's run against an MP3 (and the version of ID3 set to 2.3 - otherwise it doesn't seem to work) will add all kinds of handy tags.

Now that Winamp can encode as well as play AAC+ files (a long-time scratched record of mine!) the next podcast will have a version in that format, too, although I don't know how to add images to it, just yet.

Back in family life, Christopher and I have been making the most of a new - rather unusual - feature of our NTL-supplied internet service. Apparently, we're entitled to something called Broadband Plus which includes, among other things, a whole load of Lego games to download. We've been playing Lego Loco at legopcgames.com and it's jolly good fun. Oddly, though, the subscription only appears to last a month, so I'm not sure what'll happen when it runs out!

That's about it. I've got a busy day tomorrow - not least because it's Beth's birthday on Friday and I've not yet bought her a present! I also want to put some smaller speakers up in the lounge, and get round to some of the housework I've not felt up to doing. Don't I sound old..!

Link of the day:

  • www.wardrive.net/wardriving/tools : a list of tools for scanning for wi-fi networks, some of which are rather terrifying... Rogue Squadron for example, which can give a normal wireless router password caching abilities so that unwitting users/abusers can be caught out. "Be careful out there" is all I'd say!

Posted by james at 10:38 PM

Monday, 20 March 2006

meetings and music (of sorts)

Well, Lenni's chicken pox is a thing of the past; we're all in reasonable health, now, thank goodness. Hopefully as spring approaches, the chill will recede and, so much more importantly, the sun will return.

I've really missed a ramble through the countryside - our trips to Woodside tend chiefly to involve the indoor playbarn, and I'm really keen to take Christopher (and Eleanor!) geocaching - an adventure I think we'll enjoy.

Cowboy boots, champagne and a webcamThe last couple of days have been interesting and entertaining in their own way - Friday night brought a (I was going to say "reunion" but that doesn't really work) convening of a collection of members from the whatshouldiputonthefence.com mailing list, five of whom had come over from the States on holiday, both at the same time. We had a delicious meal at our Indian Restaurant Of Choice (introducing one of our number to such exotic food) and then on to my office social club for St Patrick's Day Guinness and general celebratory champagne, while those across the world who couldn't attend could watch us via webcam. Technology, eh?

Stars at Leonard'sLast night, David from Jude, Suzanne from Monster Gratis and I - from, er, both - went to see Stars In Battledress and William D. Drake performing at the rather neat and quite trendy Leonard's pub in EC1. It was quite an education - the Stars were, as always, intricately divine, but let down by some truly appalling sound engineering and utterly uninspired, pointless lighting (one white and one yellow light on-stage, and a red light in the audience pointing at the stage, each having about five seconds in rotation, meaning that the performers were plunged into rouged darkness five seconds out of fifteen!) which also caused an awful hum on the speakers.

As for the sound... I'm someone who knows his way round live music - hardly an expert, but there's absolutely no way I could have done it as badly as the individual on duty that night. The mixer was a very simple one - not much more sophisticated than mine at home - feeding both the main speakers and three (?) stage monitors. He couldn't get the levels right on any of them, so, rather than subtle nods from the performers that would normally communicate the need for a little more of what they're playing where they can hear it, they had to make requests between songs, requests which seemed to be utterly misunderstood, causing us to be deafened, rather than giving them a little more of what they needed.

(Don't get me started on the acoustic guitar mic, which was billowing like washing, and allowed to be so through at least two songs).

Hmm.. this has turned out to be something of a rant - sorry! Once the two brothers left the stage (one of the songs they'd performed involved a proper footpump reed organ!), William Drake came on and played - quite proficiently - very strange, almost incorrect, songs. Further hampered by even more technical problems (the main speakers almost blew up at one point) we had to leave shortly after he brought the Stars back on stage to sing some more odd songs. Imagine a slightly inflated David Baddiel singing weird folk music, loud and strong. Ooch. To remove that image from your mind, perhaps a brief sample (716kB MP3) of the Stars might help.

Tomorrow night (Monday) brings a set of four nightshifts in a row... that'll be a challenge - especially since Beth and I will be attending our first ever 'parent consultation' (I think that's the modern term) on Tuesday before my second overnighter. I'm young, though, so I'll survive it. It's what coffee's for!

You want links? I've got links...

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 9:51 PM

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

courses, recordings and webcasting (perhaps)

It's been a bit of a mish-mash of days, just lately, with work, one last (short this time) Microsoft course and keeping on top of home life.

Useful bits learned on the course

My current bugbear is 'throwing things away' - with new environmental regulations, disposing of old technological gubbins at work is nigh-on impossible, and on the home front, the house is in a constant state of untidiness because of the sheer quantity of, well, stuff.

On other matters, Lenni's come out in spots (I suppose it was inevitable!) so she'll have to stay indoors for a few days - she doesn't seem to be suffering too badly, but it's still not nice.

I've been doing various bits in the studio, too; I've been working either on music and content for the next North South Divide podcast, or contributing to others.

The podcasting world is a strange one indeed; there is a wide audience out there, but the majority seem to be silent consumers - it tends to be other podcasters that leave audio comments and exchange material (perhaps it's the fact that they've got microphones!)

Enough from me for now, though - it's nearly time to walk Christopher to school in the fairly constant drizzle that we've had over the past few days (is that good for water levels? I know short, sharp showers are fairly rubbish because it drains away too quickly, but that's the extent of my knowledge).

Links of the day:

Posted by james at 1:29 PM

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