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Even apart from the concerts, it's been an interesting week, a;though not a brilliant one for everybody. Neon last Sunday with Mark and Lauren, a train to London on Monday, a work course on the various administrative sections (libraries, door security, and so on), what they can do for us and for people in general, who to talk to, and so on. I have pages and pages of notes, which I'm supposed to type up for the benefit of orkers. Back to Ayrshire on Thursday, which actually meant pounding the pavements of the deprived and brutal lower east side of Millport. In the blazing sunshine and gentle sea breeze. Oh, the humanity!

I hadn't been on Great Cumbrae in twenty years, and it's quite delightful. Lots of little tenements, of course - closes and deucharies everywhere (whatever a deuchary might be).

It seems to have been more honestly brutal back here, though. Monday is, of course, Beltane and two of our torchbearers have been attacked in the last few days. One was beaten up on the Meadows on (I think) Thursday and had his jaw broken (hors de combat, of course). The other, also nearby, was stabbed a little on Friday, but he seems to be maintaining that it's only a flesh wound and is soldiering on. You're a better man than I am, &c.


Nov. 23rd, 2005 02:39 pm
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The Today program this morning was enlivened by Andy Kershaw's incredulous "NO?!" on hearing that Bob Dylan's set in London on Monday included a version of London Calling.

I spent too long today looking for a drive-bay USB hub that takes power from the PC's supply and attaches to a motherboard header rather than the back panel. I think I may be asking for a bit too much. It looks like a different lead should be possible, though.

A bit of a shock about Tal. I only met him a few times, but he seemed like a really nice bloke.
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Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] technotom for pointing out that this man could perhaps be the brother of yesterday's sleepwalking airline smoker.

And, passed on from a different source ([livejournal.com profile] kixie - thanks), a little article about, including a short chat with, Bill Drummond. Aren't we good to you?

Clive Stafford Smith's a top bloke. Michael Winner's an arse. See their contrasting views on the death penalty here. I mean, having directed Death Wish does actually make you an expert on criminology . . . doesn't it?

The Beeb reckons we'll have heavy snow showers on Friday. The sleet forecast for Saturday will probably get rid of it all, though.

I've spent most of this morning staring at Epson's screen colour-matching software. Now, I'm told that there are fairly severe limits on how much you can do with LCD panels . . . still, nobody can blame me for the purchasing policy, as I wasn't here at the time.

The BBC reports that there's a rumour Bowie's being considered for a part (Nikolai Tesla) in the film version of Chris Priest's "The Prestige".

Finally, I must share with you - well, those of you I haven't already droned on about this to - the Sleeve Pic I Must Have. I saw this in the window of a secondhand shop one evening lots of years ago and thought "I need that on my wall." I've not seen it since at a reasonable price (ie, fuck-all - it's a pitiable record, I'm sure). I speak, of course, of no other album than everyone's least favourite God-bothering poodlerockers STRYPER's album To hell with the devil.

The original, withdrawn sleeve (for being controversial, apparently - I can only imagine that people couldn't decide on a word emphatic enough to describe its breathtaking awfulness) shows the members of the band, depicted as implausibly-muscled angels with eighties-metal big hair, their modesty "tastefully" preserved by wisps of cloud, casting the chained devil into hell. And if you look closely . . . you can see . . . as he falls . . . they have broken his guitar!

Priceless. And yet, simultaneously, worthless.

Piccy )
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My boss, Nick, has the same sound card I do, an M-Audio. He's been having problems getting it to work, so some time ago - a year, maybe - he asked if I could have a look at it. Of course, I said I 'd be happy to (and I was even telling the truth when I said it). He's not happy about leaving it with me because he does a lot of work from home, so the plan has been for him to bring it in and me find time to fix it during the day. This has only just happened. It was finally here today. Now, I know that he got this card in particular for his daughter to record and play stuff. She's a jazz singer. I think she may now be off at some college or Uni in Paris, though, so it's probably outlived that purpose without making it into use.

I didn't have the right lead or the login password, so I mailed him about the latter and went for a walk to buy the former.

So when I got back he was out of his meeting and had logged in. I connected it all up and sat down, at which point he walked in and asked how I was and how I was getting on. We chatted a bit, and then he left the room. I looked at the control panel, saw an M-Audio control program, pressed a click-box on the routing tab and opened the door to let the B-52s out (Private Idaho, of course).

Total work time - about five minutes. He seemed very impressed. I'd thought he'd said that the systems bods had had a quick look, but I don't see that they'd have missed something so obvious. Still, at least he'll remember me as having been useful for something.
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Well, Samhain was good. Read more... )

I even made work by Tuesday lunchtime, as planned.

Tuesday night was a quiet one in, I think, but Wednesday was our own little postmortem in the Holyrood (the larger general postmortem is on Sunday, I think) and then to the Hoose. Thurday was Cthulhuing at the Saunderses' place. Tonight I'm not sure about. I actually felt like I'd done some work yesterday, as I've managed to extract prices for kit from people. Surprisingly reasonable prices, too - do you know that we can get a really really good stereomicroscope for 15 grand? I still don't have definitive prices for those lightbulbs, though.

I'd also like to draw your attention to this pome by Oliver-Michael and these posts by [livejournal.com profile] anonymouseth.

There's also this remarkable silly subwoofer for any of you that are interested in such things and have a medium-sized castle to put them in.


Oct. 21st, 2005 04:33 pm
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Well, I've got that bloody application in. As usual, it was a painful procedure. And as usual, Edinburgh University's jobs website is an utter pile of arse. Still, it's done now and all I have to do is wait for the rejection and find other things to optimistically put my name forward for.

One thing I was meaning to add earlier is how much it amazes me how little credit Justin Sullivan gets as a songwriter. Personally I think he's bloody brilliant. Admittedly it's easy to underestimate his range because of the sheer number of very angry songs he's written over the years, but if you set them aside it leaves a lot of very good songs with other tones.

When I was at the Sanger (yes, yes, Graham, when you were at the Sanger . . . shut up about it already, it was years ago . . .) I occasionally put some NMA on to listen to. Dave At The Next Desk had heard a few of their singles (they're his sort of thing in a general sense, but he'd never really concentrated on them), but hadn't listened to their albums before. He borrowed a couple, and when I got them back he said that in some ways it was like listening to someone like Billy Bragg playing with a really good band. So why is it that Billy is (rightly) recognised as an excellent songwriter and Justin isn't?

I guess it's just because NMA aren't very fashionable, but are very easy to pigeonhole. Depressing. On the other hand, it does mean that people like me can get down to the front at the garage rather than having to travel to the Manchester Enormodome to watch five flyspecks half a mile off. So I suppose it's not all bad.

At one point New Model Army took the Clash's record for having the largest number of singles having been in the UK top forty without getting one into the top ten. I don't suppose anyone knows if they still hold it?


Oct. 6th, 2005 04:29 pm
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Lawyer pokes tube up own nose. In a good cause, though.

Significant fraction of US geeks get knickers in twist.

We've just had an engineer in to realign a laser, raising its usable power by 0.4 milliwatts. Go us!

To do this, he had to come up for the day from Welwyn Garden City. Personally I consider this an excellent use of his time.
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Paul Nizan, apparently.

I got another Interpol album over the weekend, and it's very good. About as different from the two I already have as they are from each other, and just as much fun. For some reason it doesn't say "Interpol" on it anywhere, but instead is labelled "Editors". Even so, I've no idea how they managed to sneak it out with so little publicity1. And a package arrived yesterday which I thought was a bit small for an Illuminati expansion, but it turned out it was a couple of Gin Palace CDs. I'd forgotten about having ordered them, but happily the band themselves hadn't.

Ordered another half-gig for the PC. Thirty quid for half a gig? I can remember when it was that much for four megs. And it wasn't all that long ago, either.

Very tempted by a cheap LJ5. And possibly by an OM2000. I've been thinking I'd like spot-metering, and it turns out there's a camera which is almost exactly like what I have, but with spot-metering. And a lot cheaper than an OM4. And almost indescribably cheaper than an OM3. But I'm buying too many records and concert tickets already and some evil evil individual has just told me that the Young Gods are touring soon too, so spending on anything very much may have to wait a while.

Peter denies all knowledge of the other lens, which leaves us at an impasse.

I'm tempted by the ten-songs-I'm-not-ashamed-of thing, but I'm stalled at six. I can, on the other hand, manage ten Things I Love About Where I Live, but could I manage to stop at only ten?

Zotz in Serving Years in Tibet
[livejournal.com profile] zotz (Adrien Brody) has made the worst career move of his life. With that familiar conspiracy theory ring, his ability to persuade his party is not what it used to be, and [livejournal.com profile] batswing, his secretary (Neve Campbell), is in a mess of her own. [livejournal.com profile] kisin (Burt Reynolds) devises the pizza. It is said that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. That utterly fails to be true in this instance.
Produced by ianiceboy

1: Yes, actually I do know. No need to explain to me.

Not good.

Sep. 8th, 2005 12:11 am
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Well, the only piece of work I did today concerned some upcoming meeting which will decide whether my job exists come January. All the figures on how much the hardware, software and me cost the Uni have to be added up. By me, of course, because I am actually paid enough to be an administrator as well as the rest, oh yes. And the figures on how much the microscopes get used. And, it was implied today by one of the local team leaders, on how much the darkbox is used, a figure I don't have because he supposedly handles that. And he also says he doesn't have the lens for the camera on the other darkbox. Now, I remember him saying that he had it and I don't remember ever seeing it, but he says he gave it to me some time ago. He gave me the other one, certainly, but . . . what the hell. It's only a thousand quid. What are they going to do, take it out of my wages?

Don't answer that.

I don't really want this meeting to decide that the job should continue, but I can't really have it fall through because I've not got them the figures (or got the figures right) either. Can you tell that my heart's not really in this?

Still, NS tomorrow, so maybe there'll be an ad for something I can do. The Uni's job website is slightly lacking in that respect this week.

In other news, I'm not feeling significantly better than I was at the weekend and I just saw evidence that I might be more ill than I thought. And no, I'm not going to expand on that.

On the upside, Uncle Tungsten is an excellent book and everyone should read it.

Mmm. Banana.


Sep. 2nd, 2005 03:25 pm
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Well, mostly better. And back at work, because it seems that somebody has to be here who understands the monochromator's little idiosyncracies. It has, I should say at this point, been working very well for the last few months, and I think people are now very pleased with it. A while back I mailed Till to thank them for whatever they did the last time they had it back, because whatever it was it certainly did the trick. There's a (very) slight problem with the control software, but I suspect that that's the fault of the software company, who are unconnected. There's a very simple workround, anyway. That was what Kirsten's call on Wednesday was about. Tom called me at home yesterday about another issue - he just couldn't get any illumination from it. I couldn't think of anything that might cause that, and when I fired it up this morning it worked perfectly. So it goes.

It was pointed out to me (thank you to [livejournal.com profile] sneerpout) that the man convicted of killing Mia Zapata has had an appeal upheld, not against his conviction but against the severity of his sentence. But even if he gets a decade lopped off the previous 36-year stretch, he'll still likely die inside.

There have been some interesting studies out too. That one on male bisexuality has apparently been printed now, as has one allegedly claiming that men are clever than women (difficult to prove using a tool like an IQ test, for only very slightly technical reasons) and also one on the worthlessness of homeopathy. I should probably drone on about each of these . . . and I may if I get bored.

What I probably will do sooner or later is spell out at unforgiveable length when and how I think the animal rights movement lost the plot. I mention this now rather than at any other point because A Prominent Local Scientist (not me or anyone I know personally) has had his van vandalised and his house threatened recently, and someone else from the same institute had had their house vandalised shortly before. A few years ago, of course, the Roslin Institute was firebombed, as was a building at the Bush Estate (part of Edinburgh University). In the latter case, the wrong building was actually bombed (stupid fuckwits), as the lab that was burnt out (destroying many years of work by a good number of people) was actually a tropical botany lab. You can insert the usual "vegetable rights" jokes here if you like, of course. Still, at least nobody was hurt. Or, alternatively, at least nobody's been hurt yet. All fun and games.

I don't have anything exciting to report about my life and travels, as I've been mostly sitting in the house for the last couple of days, stroking the cat and bringing up phlegm. I'm not downcast, though. New Model Army have a new album out very very soon (and I'll get to go see them on my birthday), Leonard Cohen has one out RSN, there's what looks like a very promising club on tomorrow and a big firework display on Sunday.

Finally, I'd just like to pass on a quotation about the Old Man of Storr, lifted from the NVA book:
"Had this rock been on the plains of Hindostan instead of the mountains of Skye, it would have been an object of greater devotion than the Jaggernaut Pagoda." J Macculloch, Geologist, 1819.
zotz: (southpark)
Today I have mainly been sitting around the house feeling sorry for myself. The slight cold I had yesterday afternoon had become a cold sweat and a trembly weakness by the time I got home. I didn't sleep well last night and made up for most of it this afternoon, either side of fielding a call from work about one of the monochromator's more endearing oddities. My boss said I sounded terrible, but that might have been partly because he'd woken me up. I'm feeling a little better now, and have done something that's more like cooking than my usual efforts. I'm not very hungry, though, so it'll probably mostly be kept for tomorrow and the next day.

In between sleeping, I've been reading a book of Dave Langford's SFX columns, which is now done so I should choose something else . . .
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Edinburgh, one week before the solstice. 11 at night. The sky over Fife is a pale blue a few degrees above the horizon, and a pale pink closer to it. It's really good being so far North.

A busy day at work today, and not just because I've been off for two either. All the Novell clients had to get taken off the PCs because the Novell server's being retired and replaced, so I had to log the Computing Services people in . . . repeatedly. This reminded me that nobody can remember the Administrator password for one of them. I have to remedy this, and also be more of a fascist as concerns the machines generally. They were very impressed by the microscopes, even though I didn't tell them how much they cost. I also got to play with one of the scopes for a bit, which doesn't happen often enough.

I just saw Sin City with [livejournal.com profile] gingiber and [livejournal.com profile] anonymous_seth. We bumped into Ian McLennan on the way over, saw the film (on the really big screen at the UGC) and came back again, bumping into Ian at the same point on the return journey. The film was mostly very good, although Bruce Willis was excellent. I don't think I've seen him that good since 12 Monkeys. Suffering suits him (and I mean that in a good way). I can see why it got bad reviews as well, though. It's never going to be accused of being a well-rounded film. But there you go - the things I didn't like are the things I don't like about Frank Miller's stuff generally, so I guess it was indeed a very faithful adaptation.

Got home, checked who it was that was that was at school with who . . . OK, I'm impressed.

It was a lovely day today, which made a nice change from yesterday, which was a little chilly (i.e. extremely chilly for June). I got up, got ready for work after my day off ill, and then realised that it would still be a bad idea to venture too far from a toilet. Ho Hum. Mailed my boss, who mailed me back to wish me well and point out that he's got slight pneumonia. I can't even be best at being ill round these parts.

Later, when I was feeling rather more together, I went to Pancho Villa's with [livejournal.com profile] gingiber, [livejournal.com profile] anonymous_seth and Victoria WINOLJTTBOMK. BWHI. I got to play with L&S's new E-300, and even take a couple of quick snaps with it. Rather nice, and much smaller than the other DSLRs I've handled. Still vastly larger than an OM, though, and while the lens is a superzoom, I'm not sure about getting a camera with nothing faster than a 3.5 . Food, company and surroundings excellent, although the next table had a whole shedload of blokes chatting, and therefore making more noise than I'd usually expect from the place. Very nice Dia del Muerte poster on the wall. I should have taken a picture of that, actually, while I had a camera in my hand.


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