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I'm enjoying Snow Crash on the Shuffle as Mali and I continue our perambulations around the Avenues. The down side is that my podcasts are queueing up in the background, but this hardly constitutes the end of the world - at the moment, I'm just on the single book per month plan with audible, and re-acquainting myself with just how much iTunes sucks under Windows (srsly, everything grinds to a complete stop when I fire it up), but Ione isn't the most powerful of beasts, so perhaps some of the blame needs to be shared there.

Was insanely jealous to receive a text from [personal profile] carolanne5 informing me that she was in the pub sitting one table down from Peter F Hamilton - actually, having just been over to his site to check the URL, I note that The Evolutionary Void is now semi-complete, with a projected publication date of September this year. That definitely counts as good news :-)


Feb. 4th, 2010 07:58 pm
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Work's pretty busy, and looks set to remain so for some time to come. Nothing about the set-up's really working very well at the moment, but here's hoping that we can get our act properly in gear by next week :-/

In other news, I finally succumbed to Leo's wheedling, and have signed up to Audible, picking Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash as my first book. I figured that I listened to a lot of podcasts, so audiobooks shouldn't be that much of a jump (well, that and having listened to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom last week).

Bone Idle

Jan. 29th, 2010 08:16 am
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I drove in today - normally, of course, I walk, but I'm still feeling pretty flaky, and I also wanted to take a detour via the Sorting Office to double-check that a missing eBay purchase wasn't languishing in the Royal Mail's dungeons sans Castle Fox notification card.

It wasn't :-/ So I'm chasing up the eBay seller at the moment. Joy.

I finished watching Edge of Darkness last night - good, good stuff from the 80s; quality drama, good storyline, excellent acting, but perhaps a little slow-paced compared to today's fare. On the other hand, I had a great time geeking out over all those 80s cars. The music is an Eric Clapton/Michael Kamen combo, and those two brought in David Sandborn to do the soundtrack to the first of the Lethal Weapons. The wheel turns full circle when you note that Mel Gibson was the star of Lethal Weapon, and he's again the star of the Edge of Darkness remake being released this year.

I've also just finished reading (well, actually, listening) to Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, mainly because that's the current discussion book for the Sword and Laser podcast. It had some nice touches, although I have to confess that I suspected whodunnit rather early on (perhaps as a consequence of the book's rather limited cast). Still, some interesting stuff therein, particularly about the psychology of a post-death society, and in a world of near-infinite resource, how they get around the money problem.
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At the desk three days this week, and then for Thursday and Friday I'm on a training course off-site. This in turn means that Mali gets checked into his Happy Holiday Home on Thursday morning, picked up on Saturday morning, because I can't get back to him at lunchtimes.

It was a very static weekend on my part - it wasn't the snow so much as the ice: the ice was lethal. Put it this way; when Mali, with four-paw-drive, is falling over, you know conditions are dicey. However, the rain started on Sunday and has made substantial inroads on the ice/slush, such that one can walk along with some fair degree of confidence, for the most part, that you'll manage to stay upright.

Finally, Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte were talking on Security Now last week about ShadowServer, a site that tracks botnets across the interwebs. From the graphs, it looks like there was some massive cut-off on New Year's Eve...
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The Galactic Watercooler Podcast is a new one I'm trying that I picked up via the Podcast Awards site, as I'm trying to branch out from my monoculture.

It's basically three geeks (two guys, one girl) talking about Sci-Fi/fantasy kinda stuff. To be honest, 1½ episodes in (199 and 201, because 200 was a retrospective 'best of' that I decided to skip), I'm not wholly convinced of the hosts' credentials (they couldn't remember which was Merry and which was Pippin), and they unreservedly love everything about Avatar, but I'm giving it a whirl nonetheless, to see how it fares over the longer term.
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Leo Laporte announced on last week's Windows Weekly that he was going to stop drawing a salary from TWiT's advertising revenue, and instead only take funds via the network's listener contributions.

I really like TWiT, and I've mentioned before that I make a monthly donation to the network basically just to demonstrate my appreciation of the service that Leo and the crew put on, and to reward high quality, well produced, entertaining and information discussion.

As Leo himself states, he can still make a living from the income off his radio show, so although it's a ... bold move, the stakes here aren't exactly riches or ruin. Nonetheless, I think this is an interesting experiment on his part, and I hope that it works out for him.
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Day off tomorrow. Serious w00tage imminent... I kinda feel like I need the break.

Currently listening to Paul and Leo on Windows Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Weekly, which is definitely shaping up to be a good 'un.

Rather oddly, in what could almost be a moment of cross-podcast contamination, Leo's eating the same Chicago sourced brand of popcorn as the guys in FlashForcast.

I finished Haruki Murakami's After Dark, which, on the whole left just about every key issue raised in the book unresolved, although not in an unsatisfying/frustrating way, but more in a kind of reflective manner. I'm not sure I'd rank it as one of his better tomes, although I did like both Mari and Takahashi, and I thought that it caught that 3am feel to the night rather well (in what must've been a nightmare decision for typesetters everywhere, the chapter titles are all times displayed on an analogue clock).

Having failed to resist the urge to succumb to Waterstones' evil '3 for 2' again, I'm now reading (the late) Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was starting off relatively so-so, until Blomkvist is having his conversation with Vanger, and Vanger reveals the real reason he's commissioned him, and I can feel the gravity starting to suck me in.

Mali and I are just back in from the post-dropping-P-off-at-The-Farm walk - we went for a good hour or so, up and down the Avenues, and he's now curled contentedly up on his chair, looking settled for the evening. There are two other Mali-types about the place - both spaniel/collie crosses, and we met one of them in this morning's walk; 'tis amusing to see how similar their mannerisms are.
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Well, I managed to get a mention on this weeks FlashForcast episode - 'Ralph from Hull' was indeed this fox of celebrated slowness.

I'd emailed in to expand upon my vague kernel of a theory that the FlashForward was transmitted back in time, at Lloyd's request, in order to save Mark. However, what the presenters chose to concentrate on was that the three men in masks after Mark in his FlashForward might not necessarily be involved in the FlashForwards themselves.

Still, that makes the Grauniad's Science Weekly and FlashForcast 'casts where I've warranted a mention, but lasting kudos seems to continue to elude me.

Ah well, fame is a fickle friend...

In other news, a new toner cartridge I collected yesterday during lunchtime turns out to be the wrong one - despite the shop specifically ordering it in for me. *sigh* I had wanted to get some printing done for tomorrow night's meeting of the Residents' Association, but it's looking like I'll have to pass on that, now.


Nov. 10th, 2009 05:34 pm
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Not much to say - busy couple of days at work, more of the same coming up.

Have managed to exhaust my dog-walking podcasts for the day, though, so I need to find some more listening material to pad out the week (tend to get a glut of things in the later half of the week, but given that I tend to go on something of a listening/Mali-walking splurge on Sunday evening, by Tuesday I'm all out).

Got a note through the door of Castle Fox from a courier company - they couldn't deliver a parcel today, so I contacted them to arrange picking up from the depot.

Except, I discover, that the depot is in York, and is only open from 9am to 7pm. No way can I get there in that time frame, so I'm going to try postponing the next delivery attempt to next Monday, and take said day off. All the time that the courier depot is in Hull, home delivery's not too much of a hassle, but trekking out to York and back isn't my idea of 'home delivery', somehow :-/
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Flash Forward 1x05 )


Oct. 15th, 2009 08:44 am
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Prompted by [personal profile] carolanne5's reply to a comment elsewhere, here's the current list of podcasts to walk dogs by:

  • Americana from Radio 4 - quirky storyettes from the colonies

  • Discovery from Teh World Service - various sciency type documentaries

  • Documentary Archive from, again, Teh World Service - slightly more wide-ranging series of docs from the Beeb

  • Dan Carlin's Common Sense - American Politics by a self-styled 'independent' commentator.

  • Gadgettes from CNet - Molly Wood and co take a kinda girly look at the week's tech news.

  • FLOSS Weekly from the TWiT network - Free, Libre and Open Source Software podcast, which takes the format of a weekly interview with a package/system of choice, rather than being an open-discussion of all that's happened in the open source world in the previous seven days.

  • Football Weekly from The Grauniad which, logically enough, is published twice per week. Various Gruaniad journos discussing all of import in the footballing world.

  • Friday Night Comedy from the BBC - currently it's The News Quiz, which I find much more palatable than The Now Show, which I tend to skip

  • From Our Own Correspondent from the Radio 4 (there's a World Service version too), a collection of short vignettes from different postings, all monologues from the Beeb's reporter in $far_flung_place

  • Mac Break Weekly from the TWiT network - and I don't even have a Mac! The TWiT shows are always well produced, though, and the discussion format is suitably rambling enough for it to be entertaining, and there's always something that's worth picking up during the show

  • A Point of View: David Attenborough's Life Stories from Radio 4. 'Sir' isn't high enough an accolade for the absolute consumate skill of David Attenborough's broadcasting. Short snippets from a man's life in natural history.

  • Security Now from the TWiT network - concentrates on Windows Security issues, with side digressions into science fiction and vitamin D. Good stuff, though, although I have to work hard to keep up with some of the more technical bits

  • Stephen Fry's Podgrams from, obviously, the man himself. Always listenable, but lamentably infrequent

  • This Week in Google, the full title of which is 'This Week in Google and the Cloud', but TWiGatC was harder to anacronymise than the shorthand. Weekly discussion, heavily Google biased, of events happening in the Cloud. Can get a bit heavy, but as with all the TWiT stuff, well produced and informative.

  • This Week in Tech, the show that kicked off Leo Laporte's TWiT network, a weekly free-for-all discussion of the week's tech news. Can blow hot, warm or cold, but usually pretty good.

  • Ubuntu UK Podcast - exactly what it says on the tin - a UK-centric podcast covering all things Ubuntu.

  • Windows Weekly the TWiT network's Windows show, which tends to be good stuff {although Castle Fox is Linux-based, work sadly isn't, so it's helpful to keep up to speed with all things Microsoft). Plus it's not just windows, they cover XBox and other things too

  • Major Nelson's Podcast Major Nelson is some big marketing droid for XBox from Microsoft, and the podcast keeps up with releases, interviews game developers and such like

So that tends to keep me more or less soundtracked-up with the dog-walking. But the problem comes when you're in the middle of something really interesting, and decide to do another lap before heading home, just so that you can hear the ending...
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Following up on the washing machine stuff, I kinda took it apart last night - not hugely, mind, but after some subtle hints on the interwebz, I did manage to find the filter - hidden beyond the wit of any thief, naturally, and pulled it out and cleaned it. Not that it seemed to need it much. Hmm.

Anyway, the dry run (no oxymoronic pun intended) seemed to remain dry, so am going to risk running a medium-ish load this evening and see what transpires.

As keen scholars of these pages will recall, I tend to load up on podcasts for dog walking (and the commute to work). Principally these are sourced from The Beeb, Teh Grauniad and TWiT. I've also started re-listening to Dan Carlin's Common Sense, which I'm finding a compelling listen, even if it is mostly concerned with US politics from a domestic perspective.

Anyway, even though TWiT and Common Sense are both available free, I pay a monthly subscription to each, because I think they're well produced, entertaining and worth supporting. Something similar, indeed, to the rationale that prompted me to initially support LiveJournal, Back In The Day™, and, currently, that ensures that I have a paid account here.

I think we're approaching a difficult point with the web - there's an expectation that so much of the content we access should be free (to the user), but obviously it costs money to create and host it all. Now, DW adopts the Freemium model for funding, relying on the assumption that the dedicated users who pay for a paid account will be sufficient to fund the architecture to host the entire community. Other places rely on advertising and marketing, but with an increasingly ad-aware/ad-immune userbase, I do wonder if present advertising rates can be sustained. If not, then funding from advertisers must surely drop, which, in turn, means that what can be provided on the basis of ad-funding must also drop.
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This Week in Tech is an excellent, slightly rambling podcast hosted by Leo Laporte, where he gets in a few fellow geek luminaries and they discuss, er, the week's technology news. Episode 208 for the week just gone was an absolute scream, and meant Mali had to do a few extra ups and downs of the Avenues so that we listened to it all in one sitting.

As part of the 'cast, we learnt that Alive in Joburg was the YouTube film by Neill Blomkamp that convinced Peter Jackson to be the producer of District 9 (which I'm most definitely looking forward to). HBO are making a mini-series of [ profile] grrm's Game of Thrones, and that there's going to be a reboot of V...

The 'cast also started waxing lyrical about Pandora's Star: "Peter F Hamilton is a god," quoth Leo, and I'll be waxing lyrically about the two books very shortly.

Anyway, if you're a tad geeky, and don't mind the rambling nature of the discussions - they range from the insanely dry techy to, as above, geekfests as above, or conversations about spaceship design in Star Trek - it's a 'cast well worth subscribing too.
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Gold, a BBC World Service programme about Gold, and man's obsession with it through the ages. It's available via the Documentary podcasts archive, should you choose to subscribe (it's a three-parter, apparently), and seriously, it's well worth a listen, if you've got c20 minutes to spare: from Jo'burg in SA to panning for the stuff in a Scottish burn, and from Alexander the Great to the obsession of contemporary 'collectors'. Interlaced, too, with a reading of Ovid's tale of King Midas.

Documentary blows a little hot and warm (never quite cold), so not every instalment of the podcast might be to your taste, but hey, that's what the 'skip' button's for on the 'pod, right?
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I'm not normally a fan of Ginny, but sometimes she's good value (TTK: Ch 48):

"Percy! Percy!" Ginny's voice cut across the still air of the cold December morning.

Percy, in front, stopped and turned round, irritation etched across every feature of his face, "Yes? Miss... Weasley?" he asked, feigning only the barest of acquaintance with his sister.

Harry was desperate for his captors to turn around themselves, so that he could see Ginny (and Dean, Seamus... hell, everyone seemed to be there), but their hold remained resolute. He'd tried looking over his shoulder, but a not so gentle prod with the third hit-wizard's wand, stabbing him right at the top of his spine, told him that such aggressive moves were uncalled for.

"Don't you 'Miss Weasley' me, Percy, you miserable git," snarled Ginny, of whom Harry now felt insanely proud, "this is wrong and you know it!"

In his mind's eye, Harry had a distinct image of Dean physically restraining Ginny from leaping at Percy and clawing his eyes out with her bare hands.


It was pouring in another of Hull's special summer cloudbursts this lunchtime. I'd let Mali out into the yard, where he'd taken up his lounging position on top of his kennel. Then the rain started falling, but rather than come back inside (the back door was open), he decided - shock! horror! - to actually use his kennel, and had curled up inside, out of the elements' reach. This is actually pretty unusual for the hound - the only use he generally makes of the kennel is to sunbathe on its roof.

One of the problems with the Shuffle, which I've mentioned before, is that it's possible to brush the control wheel and skip to the next track... this is a pain when you're listening to a 2hr podcast, for example, and have to fast forward through to the point you were at prior to the unplanned navigational jump. The player gives you snippets of audio to let you know where you are as it zips along the mp3, and it's quite a surreal experience, hearing these disconnected words from the studio discussion (This Week in Tech, a bit geeky, but a fun listen).


Jul. 17th, 2009 08:08 am
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It's pouring.

So I walked in this morning, with Radio 4's Americana on the Shuffle.

This week's cast had three topics - Al Franken joining the US Senate, Mountain Top Removal Mining in West Virginia and how the CIA's morale's bearing up In These Times.

The Mountain Top Removal Mining thing is something I've read about on and off for a while, now. It stuns me that people can think that there are two sides to the issue: permanent destruction of nature to mine a non-renewable* resource to maintain unsustainable levels of consumption versus... erm, money.

* well, technically coal, gas and oil are renewable - just not on any kind of timescale that's of use to us humans...

Too Morning

Jun. 5th, 2009 06:54 am
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Blech. I know I was still awake at 1am, and that I was awake again from 3 until at least 4.

To be fair, I do feel more awake now, after having walked Mali, than before we set out, so that's something, but my eyes feel tired already.

The current podcast is taken from the LSE's catalogue of public lectures, and is pretty good fun: the journalist David Aaronovitch is talking about his book Voodoo Histories, which is apparently about how and why conspiracy theories arise. The Q&A is rather entertaining.

Whilst we're on podcasts, I thought that Gillian Tett's Lecture Fool's Gold was another interesting LSE download, talking about the rise of the use of derivatives and other such things in the financial world, and how these led to the Credit Crunch.

Another excellent 'cast is Dr Albert Bartlett talking about the exponential function, and how this relates to population growth and energy consumption. I've only ever listened to the audio, so am presumably missing out on some of the slides and stuff, but there is, apparently, a Real Player (ick) stream.

More politically, WGBH Forum (why do American radio stations have names that are a scrabble bag selection of four tiles?) has Norm Chomsky introducing Robert Fisk's lecture War, Geopolitics and History. That page is a video stream, but from there you can download the MP3.

Another political cast that I liked was Michael Klare's discussion about the prospect of depleting energy resources fostering increased global conflict. I liked Klare's book Blood and Oil, but was less whelmed by his later tome, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. Still, I thought that the lecture (if that link points to the one I originally downloaded), was good.
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I came home yesterday lunchtime to a package from those nice people at amazon: Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan.

So, obviously, once Mali-walking duties had been completed, I settled down last night and read it. In a single sitting. Y'know, I only read the first instalment (The Lightning Thief) last summer (it proved a spectacularly well-judged present from a friend), so I like to think that I got myself up to speed pretty quickly, all things considered.

Anyway, PJ5 is a decent read - at times I feel that it's trying too hard, but there are other moments where things are tied up rather neatly. And Clarisse rocks :-)

Switching subjects, I spend at least 2 hours a day walking Mali, and rather than spend those two hours listening to the same music again and again, I try and load the phone up with podcasts (mainly from the Beeb and the Grauniad), or else I download MP3s of public lectures. Sometimes these can prove spectacularly ill-judged, but hey, that's what the 'skip' button's there for. So that's why the 'Music' field on these entries may sometimes prove to be somewhat unmusical, as it were.

And finally, stretching the boundaries of those BBC2 light entertainment links, work is busybusybusybusy* at the moment. This has its plus points, but I do end up feeling pretty tired by the evening. Summer, for me, tends to be like this, as various seasonal demands kick in - hopefully I'll keep my head above water,though.

* see Music for very stretched connection


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