Writing from May 2003

Set beats-per-minute in iTunes

So I'm in deep with my Mac. I've turned my back on Mozilla and Camino and am loving Safari; I'm slowly turning to the bubblesome cuteness of iChat over Fire; I'm loving iTunes 4 and new improvedness; I've just gone wireless; my ageing PowerBook seems faster than ever; I'm drinking Steve's Kool Aid in huge splashy gulps.

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In Mac on 1 May 2003. 14 comments. Permalink

Toy shop

When I was a kid my family used to spend occasional summer weeks in London, house-sitting for some friends. Not far from the local adventure playground, where taller, harder boys played rough games on the painted wooden architecture, was a toy shop. It was a small shop, even when I was small myself, and I remember it being the kind of magical place that could only exist in a film, run by a smiling old woman and her sleepy cat. The toys filled every nook and most of the crannies and were wholesome un-marketed products that would never be rude enough to shout at you from a Saturday morning TV screen.

Amazingly, the place still exists, and my sister has written an article about it. It sounds like, for once, my little childhood memories are accurate.

In Personal on 1 May 2003. 2 comments. Permalink

Two reasons to avoid using Safari with Movable Type

Having finally settled on using Safari as my standard web browser, I've now discovered two reasons not to use it when editing weblogs using Movable Type. The first is very bad...

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In Movable Type on 5 May 2003. Permalink

Learning biotech

Matt mentioned he's been looking into biotech a bit. A while back I was wondering how best to learn more about it. Not for a job -- hell, regular expressions can be hard -- but so I don't end up as some out-of-touch fortysomething hunched over his internet while everyone else is busy cloning and grafting and evolving and whatever else people will be doing when biotech is still the next big thing. I am, however, hindered by my teenage-level of science education, so a couple of years ago I read a biology textbook as a start. But that seemed to require more chemistry knowledge than I had. And then I thought some basic physics would be a good foundation. And, of course, at some point my maths would need brushing up...

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In Personal on 9 May 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

Paris photos and Kyupi Kyupi

Last weekend we went to Paris for a few days and I took some nice photos.

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In Personal on 11 May 2003. Permalink

Snow crash

A few days ago, just round the corner from Hackney police station, I noticed a car abandoned, straddling a bus lane and half the pavement. A day or two later, also from the top of a bus, I noticed someone had painted the entire car -- body, windows, tires, lights, the lot -- completely white. Given the level of obstruction I was surprised the car hadn't been towed, even in Hackney. But the white car looked very cool, beautiful even, and I was pleased by this temporary exhibit. I wondered if it was connected with the people Dan saw painting over flyposters with white paint last week, some kind of mass cleansing of London.

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In Personal on 11 May 2003. 3 comments. Permalink

Eudora 6 beta fights spam

There's a beta version of Eudora 6 out for Macs (Windows coming soon). I've been using it for a day so far and it's working OK for me. It features:

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In Mac on 13 May 2003. Permalink

Once in a lifetime offer! Employ today!

Roll up, roll up, today's your lucky day sir! We all know how hard it is to find decent staff these days don't we. Yes madam, I know what problems you've been having! Well today I can solve your problems. Because we have not one, but two, yes sir, you heard me right, two of the nation's finest, no, foremost and first-class, interweb folk available for work. Yes, you could take them away this very day!

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In Personal on 13 May 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

Cartographic Congress Show and Tell

Here's my brief notes from the Cartographic Congress Collaborative Mapping Week Show and Tell. Apologies if I have any names or other details wrong... My thoughts are in square brackets.

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In Web Development on 13 May 2003. 2 comments. Permalink

Soon, it will be over

I hadn't realised how few lyrics Low's songs have. I guess you don't need many words if you sing slowly.

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In Personal on 14 May 2003. Permalink

Someone’s having fun…

Back in 1660 Pepys has just landed in Den Haag in the Netherlands. Knowing nothing about the diaries before I started the project, it's been interesting to read the ship's slow journey down the Thames and over to the Continent, and now Pepys' experience of a foreign country. A nice change from the familiar streets of London. The diary's also currently full of news about the reinstatement of the monarchy in the shape of King Charles II.

In Pepys' Diary on 15 May 2003. Permalink

So, it’s over

Rate it "10"

Phew.

In Personal on 16 May 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

Fly away UpMyStreet, be free!

So, yes, I am "provisionally" redundant, which is all well and good and a welcome relief. It's an end to watching the UpMyStreet management perform endless reorganisations that make no difference to the "ground troops." An end to the months of "we're still looking for investors and can pay you for the next x weeks," that began late last summer. An end to the recent weeks of occupation by humourless administrators as yet more deadlines are extended and the office gradually runs out of supplies (hand towels, printer paper, etc.) like a place under siege. So far the buyers, uSwitch, have shown a remarkably clear-headed determination to get things on track, making half the staff (post-the administrator-lead cull) redundant and packing the remainder off to the company's cheaper, "cosy" offices in the less salubrious Victoria. So this is how profitable companies are run!

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On 20 May 2003. Permalink

Auntie Phyl’s fruit cake

When out of work one of the many things to do is bake cakes. This week I've tried my great auntie Phyl's fruit cake recipe for the first time and it went down well at our first redundancy tea and cakes morning.

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In Recipies on 21 May 2003. 4 comments. Permalink

The all@ rite of passage

One of the things that fascinates me about dotcom-esque companies is the balance between being a fun little gang and a serious grown-up company. At some point during the journey from being three people in a cupboard to an Aeron-chaired corporation with a swanky board room a certain amount of "growing up" takes place. The UpMyStreet senior management, for example, were hell bent on wrenching the company into what passes for adulthood while many employees were content with a state of easy-going adolescence. In my limited experience there is always one rite of passage that marks this painful growth: the sanitisation of the company-wide email list.

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In Misc on 26 May 2003. 15 comments. Permalink

Especially lovely Richard Herring thing

Richard Herring's weblog/diary thing is one of my favourite daily reads. He writes so much each day and it's all funny, interesting, lovely, or a mixture of the lot. Yesterday's entry, in which he thinks about the man ahead of him in a queue for fried chicken, was especially wonderful:

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In Misc on 28 May 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

As the Apple Turns

I have a slight addiction to Mac rumour sites. Nothing life-threatening, but I need my fix of lustable yet mythical hardware and software every few days. The sites all seem much of a muchness, but As the Apple Turns is a more substantial and fun read. It's not Old Man Murray funny, but it's refreshingly sarcastic and thoughtful after all the po-faced "we're a real growed up news site" attitudes of the rumour peddlars.

In Mac on 29 May 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

Buy comics NOW!

Fantagraphics, who publish the best comics, have just announced they had some bad luck, made a mistake, and now need to sell a lot of comics to survive intact. I'm not a comics afficionado, but throughout the nineties I'd always be looking forward to the next issue of Hate or Eightball (from which came the wonderful Ghost World movie). They also publish the impossibly gorgeous and sad Acme Novelty Library by Chris Ware, the long-running Love and Rockets, and stuff by Jim Woodring, Robert Crumb, Joe Sacco and many more. So go and buy a load of great comics and make someone's day better! (via Haddock)

In Misc on 29 May 2003. Permalink

Social sausages

Last night saw a little gathering at The Wonk Foundation for the launch of their report cunningly linking social capital and social software (see what they've done there?). It was mostly fun because afterwards I could chat with friends on a sunny terrace overlooking The Mall while a woman fed us cocktail sausages. There were, of course, the expected "oh please" moments ("Virtual community is an idea whose time has passed"), a lot of blindingly obvious things that people have been saying for years and a few precious moments of sense.

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In Misc on 30 May 2003. 14 comments. Permalink

Smoke: A London Peculiar

After seeing 2lmc mention it earlier in the week I went and bought issue one of Smoke yesterday. It's as pleasing as I hoped, free of Hoxtonian style-mag nonsense, and with OK writing too (aside from a predilection for overly-long and unfunny similies). The contributors are excited about living in London, about its history and its fictions, and have a refreshing lack of sarcasm and cynicism. And it has a photo of the Temple of Mithras bus stop.

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In Misc on 30 May 2003. 2 comments. Permalink