(What’s wrong with wanting another FM though? It was a fantastic
album out of nowhere, and I’d quite happily have more Utopias
thanks very much. I was immensely impressed at how well it all used to work live, too; anyone
seen the new show? Any cop? I do hope the unfathomably scary thing she
does with her voice and an effects mic in Lovely Head is still present...)
So, as I was saying, there are some more parasite things. Namely two
new ones (InternetWasher and
ShopAtHomeSelect), one really
really old one (SVAPlayer) and new
variants of FavoriteMan (MPZ) and
Oh, and back on the annoying but obligatory subject of war, The Guardian
has an amusing compendium
of dodgy reporting on Iraq. I too had wondered about what had happened
to that supposed chemical weapons factory that mysteriously vanished from
the news without comment, but I guess it’s a bit much to ask newspaper and
TV reporters to file an item admitting the previous front-page splash was
been wrong, when there’s all sorts of exciting new unverified stories to cover.
Oh and one last thing, can we please stop saying “shock and awe”
now? I know it sounds cool and kick-arse and everything, but it’s not actually
the current strategy the US is following, never mind the crass
insensitivity of the phrase. So how’s about quietly dropping it, hm?
21st March 2003
So farewell then, Cre@te
Magazine. You impressed us all with your in-depth coverage of purposeless Flash
doodlesites from the Bright Young Things of Modern Something-or-the-other.
You surprised us with your two-page spreads of what appeared to be
completely random lines and polygons. (This had something to do with
web design, somehow, I think.)
You kept us well informed on the state of the job market with your
ever-shrinking Situations Vacant section. (Well, page. Half page.
And of course you embarrassed us with your crappy name.
(It’s got an at-sign in it! Because it’s the Internet you
see! Hey, how clever!!!!!!!!11.)
But now you have published your last ever issue. Which in a way
is a shame because you did occasionally have some good
bits. Sometimes. Like when you did articles about typography or some
other subject you actually knew Things about.
Cre@te probably limited its audience rather, by concentrating so
heavily on the artier end of web site creation. The pretty, the
experimental, the trendy and the just plain pointless; stuff that
doesn’t even really count as ‘design’ as such, because
it serves no particular user need.
Interesting concept pieces, or, at worst,
this sort of stuff is of interest mainly to the same relatively
small circle of designers who create them. The rest of us just get
on with making sites that actually do something, and Cre@te didn’t
serve us quite so brilliantly. Even when it did start talking about
databases, it would be talking about how to make databases work with
Flash, for God’s sake, as if that were any kind of sensible idea.
Whilst I’m whingeing about stupid uses of Flash again, it’s
worth mentioning the great new Macromedia
site, which has been redesigned with some sort of idiotic
browser-sniffer that shows at least Opera and Konqueror a completely
blank page. Unless you tell them to lie and pretend they are Internet
Explorer, anyway. Macromedia showing once more just how much they care for
accessibility, there — nice.
So anyway, in the last few weeks there’s been another skipload
of unsolicited commercial software. We’ve got
plus new variants of
HuntBar (MS and BT),
BrowserAid (ABCSearch) and
MySearch (MyWay). I’m quite
tired now after all that, so if you guys could just stop writing
these tedious parasites now, that’d be really great. Okay? Good.
Oh, and I believe there’s some kind of
thingy going on too. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It all
sounds a bit strange to me.
I mean, going to war to enforce the decisions of a body called
the UN, when the UN itself doesn’t want us to. Giving them an
‘ultimatum’ along the lines of “declare yourself irrelevant by
rubberstamping our plan, or we’ll declare you irrelevant by going
ahead anyway”. Staging a massive intervention in a foreign
land in order to destroy some weapons we’re not sure exist (but ones
half the rest of the world has, including us), and some other weapons
that were going to be destroyed anyway. What’s it all about eh?
We keep saying all this has something to do with terrorism, for
some reason, but I’m not entirely surely what the connection is
supposed to be. Maybe I’m missing something there.
Maybe I’m not.
And so it begins. It’s weird feeling to dislike this war, because the
immediate objective — removing a first-class
git with guns from a nation in desperate need of
help — is beneficial, even laudable. But no-one believes
we’re doing it for the good of the Iraqi people or the world in
general, because our actions and pronouncements so far have been
incompatible with those aims.
This could surely have been handled better, if the US Government had
wanted to. Their every statement has been made with seemingly deliberate
contempt for the opinions of the rest of the world. If the aim is to
weaken international governance and induce fear and hatred of America,
its power and its willingness to use that power for its own interests,
then it seems to be going pretty well. Hooray!
I can do without the weapons-fetish war-porn from the UK press, too. Weird
the way much of the media is so heavily backing a conflict a lot
of populace don’t care much for. No, Mister Editor, wanting our side
to win (ie. Supporting Our Boys™) is not the same thing as unquestioningly
agreeing with Government policies, but thanks for the thought
and being called a traitor and that.
I’m not a professional soldier, but I believe that when one is engaged
in a military struggle halfway across the world from Chipping Sodbury,
it doesn’t actually help that much that Mrs. Pepperpot at number 23
has put a “Support Our Boy’s!!!1” poster up in her front window.
So if you could kindly stick it up your arse, The Sun, that’d be just
I know — I should probably try having fewer opinions. Sorry.
8th March 2003
All right, it came out last summer, but I’d still like to put a word
in for Shivaree’s last disc, Rough Dreams. It’s really terribly
pleasant, and even has a song namechecking Thundercats, which makes it totally
the best thing ever.
It does seem, like so often, a bit of a front-loaded album, though.
It must be a musical tradition to put the best songs at the start,
with usually one other good one at about track 7 or 8. Like always having
to start your symphony with the catchy Allegro movement (that’ll get used
in a pretentious advert in a few centuries’ time).
(Drawing analogies that are really relevant to the youth of today,
Good though the start of Rough Dreams is, it’s marred a little by
yet another flippin’ ‘maybe’/‘baby’ rhyme. Come on,
songwriters! Don’t plump for that easy-option tired rhyme again!
There are any number of great alternatives you could try! Like —
- a bee
- labia (for songs about gynæcology)
When I’m finally voted Supreme Leader of Andtopia (as I expect the planet
to be renamed), any compound rhyme involved ‘schools’, ‘rules’ and ‘fools’
will be banned too. There’s just no need for this embarrassing cliché, when
these superb alternatives go unused —
- bool (for songs in C++)
Any infraction of the no-crap-rhymes regulations will be punishable by
custardisation (the rather grisly form of capital punishment employed
New stuff today: there’s a new draft of the PXTL
specification for Python web people to argue about, and, inevitably, loads
more unsolicited commercial software. Namely: eStart,
ZeroPopUp, and — finally! — a page on
Gator (though the script here can’t often
detect it). Plus new variants of Xupiter
(OrbitExplorer), MoneyTree (NSLite,
Dyfuca), Searchex (Hotlink),
WurldMedia (MShop, MPohs)
and SubSearch (HighTraffic/B).
Funny how that stupid ugly ‘No Spyware’ logo (you know, the profile of a
bloke wearing a hat in a red circle with a line through it, that one) seems only
ever to be used to promote software that does indeed install spyware or other
unsolicited commercial software, eh?
12th February 2003
Hullo, all! Just time before I rush off to the UK for a bit to tell you
that (a) there are the new parasites AccessPlugin,
SubSearch, and (b)
I’m joining the Web
Why web standards? Because we still don’t know the potential of
the medium. There is massive promise in new types of device, new
ways of using the enormous information store of the web, and new
ways of empowering people to interact. But it can only work if
the medium is accessible to all. And that means open standards.
More waffle later, I suspect.
3rd February 2003
“More useful everyday”, indeed.
You’d think Microsoft, being as it is, like, one of the biggest
companies in the world and that, would manage, using its enormous
resources, to come up with a slogan that didn’t have bugs in it.
When can we expect MSN Slogan Service Pack 1 to be released with a
patch for this issue?
I mean, there are only three words in it, surely Microsoft could afford
to have someone with an O-Level in English go through each of them and
perhaps notice that the last one is hopelessly, embarrassingly wrong.
It’s an everyday mistake*,
but one you’d normally associate with the type of establishment that
offers “Fresh potato’s” for a pahhnd they’re lavverly,
not the world’s richest software concern.
(Tip for non-native English speakers, cockney greengrocers and Microsoft
marketing creatives: ‘everyday’ is an adjective meaning ‘commonplace’
or ‘mediocre’, and does not mean the same as doing something
‘every day’. Also, ‘CDs’ ‘potatoes’ and,
God help us, ‘he buys’ do not
contain apostrophes. That’s all, thanks.)
Anyway, sorry about that grammarak ranting. If you’re looking for
information on the ‘invasive toolbar’ BBCi were talking about,
try the Xupiter information page.
Sorry if you couldn’t get through to this site over the weekend -
my hosting providers had a bit of a routing problem and dropped half my
packets on the floor. (Again. Always seems to happen just after
being linked by the mainstream press. Blummin’ typical eh?)
In other parasite stuff, there’s some new search-hijackers:
CrackedEarth, plus lots
more dialler-related tomfoolery from
and a new variant of OnlineDialer
cheap DVD fun! Can’t endorse Mr. Benson’s as such, as I’ve never
bought anything there before, but thirty quid for the whole Prisoner
has got to be good. If you haven’t ever seen The Prisoner and haven’t
a clue what it is (and no, it’s not Cell Block H, thankfully),
you’ll just have to rent out the first disc or something, because most
sites tend toward the inpenetrable.
PPS. And I can’t quite work out now how I stumbled across
of The Two Towers (caution: swearing and naughtiness and stuff), but it
really does go to underline The
Monkey Hypothesis: merely mentioning Monkeys invariably increases mirth.
15th January 2003
It has come to me attention that most of the entries in this update
log are me complaining about things being really crap. I wouldn’t
want you to get the impression that I’m a relentlessly negative
curmudgeon (though I am, obv.). So I shall attempt to balance this
tendency by mentioning some things I’ve encountered recently that are
Firstly, FM4. Which is just superb.
It’s an Austrian radio station whose musical policy seems to cover
all of pop, rock, indie, dance, hip hop and more without ever falling into
the trap of playing rubbish. You won’t hear the latest act from
‘Popstars: the cash-in’, but you will hear more fabulous
new music in a week than you’d encounter in a year’s output of any
of the homogenous poo-pop stations Bavarians are used to. FM4 is a bit
like the UK’s Xfm, except with
much more varied music, fewer adverts, and with extra just better
What I don’t understand about FM4 is its mixture of languages.
Some shows are mainly English, some mainly German, some a random
mixture; even the news on the hour tends to use different languages
for the headlines, main stories and interviews. Having a target
audience of English-speakers is slightly unusual for an Austrian
radio station, but expecting the target audience to be bilingual
is totally crazy, surely?
I don’t care, though, it suits me. In fact FM4 seems to be designed just
exactly for me, and I’m damned happy I can now listen to it. (Unofficial
FM4 live stream; you’ll
need an OGG player to hear it, but
it’s worth the download — the audio quality is excellent, far better than anything
I’ve ever heard from a RealAudio stream.) I mean the first record I heard
when tuning in was Mon Amour Tokyo by Pizzicato Five, which I’ve
probably played on my radio show more than any other song ever. P5 are
a Japanese band who are obscure in the UK, and quite unheard of in
Germany, so what’re the chances of that, eh?
The second non-really-crap thing: Marble Blast.
It’s a budget game at ten quid, and that’s got to be worth encouraging to
start with. Not to mention that it’s also really good fun.