Everything, Everything - September 2007

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What Do You Get
Monday 24th September, 2007 12:49
When you combine the sound of Regina Spektor and Lily Allen? It probably sounds a lot like Kate Nash's new single Mouthwash (I wonder how long the YouTube link will work for). It's on the radio quite regularly, I'm not entirely sure if I like it yet. If anything, it makes me want to listen to Regina Spektor's last album (I just noticed that it says she wrote the track Fidelity while watching the movie, High Fidelity, based on the excellent book [better than the movie] by Nick Hornby).

Ooh, just noticed that lots of other people have said the same thing:

"Two artists Nash is most often compared to are Lily Allen and Regina Spektor"

"You can successfully argue that Kate Nash is an annoying singer-songwriter cherub whose much too self-involved and that her cavity-inducing chirpy voice and piano-pop quirks sounded much better when it carried some edge and was delivered by Regina Spektor"

"While I may not crown Nash as the queen of this genre inhabited by Regina yet, I feel the need to emphasize that if you enjoy Regina Spektor (and would like Lily Allen’s music if she weren’t such an attention whore), you will absolutely love Kate Nash"

"The first single, Foundations, really does sound like Lily Allen. Another single, Mouthwash, does sound like Regina Spektor. It's weird but interesting. So here's the conclusion, if you like Regina Spektor and Lily Allen then you should watch the video for Mouthwash, you'll fall in love. If you don't like Regina Spektor and Lily Allen then don't waste your time."

"The Kate Nash debut gets better with each listen. Regina Spektor and Lily Allen's love child has created a winner with this incredible album!"
Windows Live Messenger 8.5 Beta 2
Tuesday 18th September, 2007 09:29
It seems to have lost most of its BETA status, and gained a 2008 name (normally WLM goes live about 3 months after the last BETA, most people expected 8.5 to be ready now, but this new beta version (came out in August?) should push things closer to a mid November rollout, with promotion happening across December (perhaps in time for everyone getting their new Vista PCs for Xmas?). So I tried installing it (using a setup file from mess.be, as my wireless connection briefly died halfway through the installation using the proper WLinstaller.exe) onto one of my XP machines over Remote Desktop. I had used \\\\tsclient to access the setup file that was on the desktop of my laptop and it was all looking fine until up came:

Silly Windows Installer Remote Desktop Connection Error Message

So I thought to myself "bugger" followed immediately by "I wonder if..." (as I didn't want to have to hook up a monitor, mouse and keyboard just to install WLM) and it turns out I was right. All I had to do was copy the setup file onto the desktop of the XP computer and run it from there instead. For some reason trying to run the setup file over a terminal services network share produced that rather odd looking error message. I've installed it now, and everything looks fine. Messenger Plus! Live also seems to be happy.
Monday 17th September, 2007 12:19
If, for example, I wanted to include some music on a podcast or video and make it available on my website, I would be breaking the law unless I found a way to acquire a non-exclusive licence for that music. I decided to turn to the BPI's website for guidance on how to licence British music, such as tracks by The Chemical Brothers, for use in a semi-hypothetical podcast/videoblog. Their website is full of information on piracy, their anti-piracy efforts, peer to peer software and a lot more. But their website's not so hot on how to do it legally. The best I could find was their legal page, which says:

This page is under constuction - call the BPI on 020 7803 1300 and speak to the BPI legal department for details of forthcoming legal agreements and documents.

BPI members should call Carole Lampard and ask to be added to the emailing list for regular updates.

With over 30 years' experience in industry negotiation with broadcasters, collecting societies and numerous other bodies, BPI's legal team is well-placed to offer independent support and advice.

BPI members can seek advice on a host of legal issues, such as:
- MCPS terms (e.g. DVD, AP1/2, online rates)
- Equity & Musicians Union agreements
- BBC & other broadcasting rights
- UK Copyright law
- Licensing arrangements

What a great website. Perhaps if they spent more time and effort on how to do things legally, they wouldn't have to worry so much about people breaking the law. So it seems my option is to call their legal department to discuss what should be a frequently asked question (sadly missing from their FAQ page, which they link to from their homepage with "all you need to know about music online here"), or perhaps to do my hypothetical podcast/videoblog and stick it on YouTube (until it gets pulled?) or perhaps on MySpace (who have agreed some expensive deal that should just about cover my back, I think).

So perhaps if the music industry spent more time helping us do things legally, they'd be able to spend less time trying to fight copyright infringement.
Foot And Mouth
Saturday 15th September, 2007 22:24
The BBC were reporting how the disease has been found in two locations. I turned to my brother and said "The foot, and the mouth". Well it made me smile.
Spinning The News
Friday 14th September, 2007 15:36
Headline: Top Gear Crash Caused By Nail In Tyre

First sentence: The high-speed tyre blowout that almost killed Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was probably caused by a nail that safety experts missed

Body: A penetrating object such as a nail, probably picked up during the course of the day's events, punctured the side wall of the tyre.

I find the terms "penetrating object" and "punctured the side wall of the tyre" useful and factually correct. What I don't like is the blatant lie "caused by nail in tyre". And I find "probably caused by a nail" to be a bit misleading, as "probably" suggests a certainty that doesn't appear to be present in the report (which presumably used nail as an example, I suspect a screw or screwdriver or even a metal shard of some kind are all equally likely). The second "probably" is better as it seems the tyres weren't "checked between earlier test runs", which suggests that they were checked at the start, which only leaves foul play or something picked up during testing.
Have A Nice Day
Friday 14th September, 2007 10:18
After finishing my report, I had a fairly quiet day at work, sorting out the little things. I could feel myself finally starting to relax. I got home and - for the first time in ages - felt like cooking. Okay, so it wasn't something elaborate like shepherd's pie or a cake, but it did involve two items of food, instead of a pizza in the oven or a bowl of soup or running across the road to McDonalds. I cooked myself a delicious curry, using a can of Co-op chicken curry and a pack of Uncle Ben's Express Pilau Rice. It was delicious, and required very little effort (heat contents of can in saucepan, microwave the rice) and made very little mess.

Feeling very bloated and very tired (I'd had about 12 hours sleep since the weekend) I climbed into bed and slept for a staggering 10 hours. I'm starting to feel more like my usual self. And the (relatively easy) work I'm doing today seems to be going well.
Friday 14th September, 2007 09:11
I finally tried the 4.22SOC6 win32 build of nmap and noticed it was crashing when you try and run a Connect() scan. It turns out it wasn't just me. I'm actually quite surprised no one had noticed it sooner, as TCP Connect() scans are quite important. The developer mailing list is great for quickly diagnosing things and helping out other people, it's a nice little community.
Shift Happens
Thursday 13th September, 2007 02:38
I stumbled across an interesting slideshow and spotted something (assuming that it's true, as there aren't any references):

China will soon become the number one English speaking country in the world

Why is this a good thing? Because at this rate I won't have to learn another language. The Chinese will be able to speak English, many call centres are English speaking Indians (so they're clearly doing a good job at mastering our language over there), most Americans are close enough (sure, they spell things funny and have no idea what we mean when we say things like brolly or shag) and - despite their resistance - even French people can speak English. Hopefully there will be a time when everyone speaks English.

Except by that time, it'll probably be some hideous txt msg based way ov talkin dat no1 else can read. Or hopefully not.
Just My Luck
Monday 10th September, 2007 23:32
(13:11) Vicki: need to tell u something
(13:11) Rob: ok :S
(13:11) Rob: that sort of statement is always ominous
(13:12) Vicki: i know u will hate me for it
(13:12) Vicki: but i have to tell u
(13:12) Vicki: here goes... and for wat it matters i am sorry
(13:14) Vicki: i have a boyfriend and i love him to bits, i know i should have told u and i didnt mean to lead u on but the truth is we were having troubles and i thought it would make things better to find someone else for company, if u know wat i mean.i hate myself for being a nob head darl and i do like u, but ...as a friend

I'm really starting to lose faith in women.
Sunday 9th September, 2007 20:49
I haven't watched this in years (I used to watch it all the time when I was at university), and I was worried that I'd be rubbish. It turns out that I'm a bit rusty/rubbish on the words, but when it came to the number I managed to work it out with plenty of time. The two contestants were close to 219, Carol was spot on, but she used a different way to me.

The numbers: 100, 25, 10, 1, 8, 6

They got 217 and 215. Carol came up with:

x 100
= 200
+ 25
- 6
= 219

My way works out as
x (100 + 10)
= 220
- 1
= 219

At least I haven't lost my touch on the numbers. And perhaps I can improve my words now that I have 4oD installed.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Sunday 9th September, 2007 19:09
Why is Leonardo the leader of the turtles, leaving Donatello as the one that does machines? Leonardo Da Vinci was also an architect, engineer, and scientist (including things like hydraulics); but Donatello, although impressive, was only a sculptor and I don't believe he had any scientific or engineering background.
Friday 7th September, 2007 20:41
Finally! You can now officially watch Channel 4's programs on Vista. Although my first attempt at installing it didn't appear to work (it failed to register/install the KService correctly), probably related to UAC issues. So I ran the setup file again, right clicking and telling it to "Run as administrator", and repaired the installation. Everything's worked fine afer that. So now there's no excuse for not watching The IT Crowd.
Friday 7th September, 2007 13:01
Should I be worried that my office currently has Shreddies, Quaker Oats and a Kellogg's variety pack of 8 cereals? Ooh, just spotted that they have Honey Loops (weren't they originally Honey Nut Loops? Ah yes, they were!), I've not had them in ages, mmm.... My breakfast usually consists of coffee, which probably isn't good for me.
BBC Radio
Friday 7th September, 2007 00:47
For the last few days I've noticed that I've been unable to listen to BBC Radio 1 when I'm at home. But it works fine if I test it in the office (using my laptop in both locations, for consistency, to rule out any other issues). So I decided to investigate the issue earlier tonight and I've come to the conclusion that they've started blocking my IP address, presumably because they think I'm outside of the UK (even though the free "IP to location" services happily tell me that I'm based in the UK). I've used netcat and nslookup to confirm that I can talk to the web servers okay and correctly resolve the IP addresses of the servers involved. The biggest giveaway is that I can play the international version of the Five Live stream, but I can't play the UK version. I've contacted the BBC using their web form (with possibly the world's smallest comment box), hopefully they'll change the setting back so I can listen to the streams again.

I've finally been updating my UKRP gadget again, which is why I noticed that the BBC streams had stopped working at home. In version 1.3.5 I've now added a little homepage icon in the flyout that lights up if I've stored the URL of a stream's homepage, and clicking on it will load the site in your (default, I think) browser. The default theme should now be Common (Presets) and I must remember to add some warning text if they try to store a preset but haven't selected a theme that will display the preset buttons. I've updated a few of the station logos, and I've added two themes that were kindly provided by Abid (I must remember to credit him when I update my UKRP page). I've also started adding an array to keep track of the type of stream that's selected (currently they're all marked as WMP as they use the WMP ActiveX control, but I hope that the next version after 1.3.5 will support Real Audio streams, which would make a lot of people happy). I'm a bit annoyed with myself that I'll have gone nearly 3 months without any updates, but the current version seems to be working pretty well.
Thursday 6th September, 2007 21:29
I think I was at the cutting edge (not bleeding edge, but that's unsurprising as I don't like the sight of blood) when I started writing my blog back in 2002. I called it a diary back then, although I believe that still counts as Wikipedia says "The modern blog evolved from the online diary". But times change and technology moves on*. More specifically, bandwidth is cheaper, codecs are better, broadband is faster, and so is my computer. There's also a wide variety of open source/free software that can help people create videos and "podcasts", and a handful of sites that'll let you host these files for free. I'm not really a fan of podcasts (listening or creating them), but I am tempted to try and create short movies. Perhaps I'll surprise you lot someday with something interesting to watch (how vague was that?!). Until then, I'll stick to watching movies.

* And you can get away with starting sentences with "But" or "And"!
The Valet
Thursday 6th September, 2007 20:59
I typically avoid movies that are in black and white, aren't widescreen, and/or require subtitles, but I decided to give La Doublure a chance (admittedly, seeing Virginie Ledoyen was in it did sway me a little - if anyone thinks they recognise her, it's probably from The Beach). And I'm glad I did. It's not an amazing French film, but it's entertaining and it has several nice moments (the ratng of 6.5 on IMDb seems fair). It's out on DVD in the UK (and US) later this month, but you can order the original release from Amazon.com right now.
Wednesday 5th September, 2007 13:56
On my way back from the shops, I was slowly catching up with two young women (as I tend to walk fairly quickly). Due to parked cars and a narrowing pavement, I thought I'd get stuck walking slowly behind them, but the brunette on the right was quite attractive so I didn't mind too much. It looked like she had a wedding ring, although it was hard to tell with her hand swaying back and forth. And as I came closer (with a couple of bags of shopping), she evidently heard me (or her sixth sense realised I was trying to see her ring finger), glanced back, and then moved to the side as she began to make a call on her mobile phone. As I walked past I looked across at her and she made eye contact with me, and I quietly said "thanks" with a small smile as I walked past. I'd like to think that in a parallel universe somewhere there's a single version of her and a clean shaven version of me that ended up swapping phone numbers. But I live in this universe, and all I said was "thanks" and this polite and attractive young woman is probably happily married to someone else. But at least her act of random kindness has renewed my faith in people a tiny bit, and encouraged me to encourage others to perform acts of random kindness. If you're not sure why I'm suggesting this, try watching Evan Almighty.
Sainsbury's All Day Long Blend
Wednesday 5th September, 2007 11:47
According to Sainsbury's, their All Day Long blend of coffee is "a selection of high quality coffees from around the world, carefully blended for a soft, mellow flavour with a hint of sweetness. Perfect for drinking during the day".

All Day Long blend

When I saw the words "All Day Long" I could hear alarm bells ringing in my head, warning me that it wouldn't taste very nice. And I was right, it's quite bitter, about as bad as the French stuff we had a while back. It's not terrible, it's drinkable, but there are far nicer coffees around. We'll hopefully break into the Costa Rican stuff tomorrow, which is good timing as Siobhan's off to America (one less cup to fill)!
Wednesday 5th September, 2007 03:27
My sojourn in Cheltenham last month coincided with Jessica's birthday, so I thought I'd pop a card through her letterbox to let her know that I hadn't forgotten about her. I tried to pick a decent card, not one of those funny/colourful ones that were cool to give to friends when you were 15 years old, and I wanted one with a nice message, partly to save me from having to write anything more than our names at the top and bottom (my handwriting is terrible nowadays). She was a really great friend to me last year, and although we haven't spoken in ages, I still consider her a close friend (which is quite amazing, given our history). Her comment last month put a smile on my face, and I really wanted to reply, but I wasn't sure if she'd get to read it and I wasn't sure what to say. I still don't know exactly what to say right now, but I'm glad that things seem to be going well for her. It sounds like her baby is due any day now, and I hope everything goes well. She'd better have plenty of photos to show me whenever we get to catch up!
Outlook 2007 Search
Wednesday 5th September, 2007 01:18
For ages I've just assumed that it was broken. I saw there was a convoluted hack to reinstall Windows Search on Vista, but I decided against it, and hoped I wouldn't need to do much searching in Outlook. But then I decided to do a quick search on Google and I think I've found a solution. It's not a bug, it's a quirk. It's because, somewhere along the way, I had set my main machine to use the High Performance power scheme but I had also apparently selected the Power Saver option for the Indexing service. It seems that Windows will not do any indexing if it's in Power Saver mode. So a few clicks later (thanks to UAC, which I genuinely don't mind), and my setting is now set to Balanced:

Power Saving Kills Indexing

And now I can search my emails. Or at least some of them, as it's still got tens of thousands of files/emails/whatever to index. Thank you Quent!
The Mirror
Tuesday 4th September, 2007 21:41
During Big Brother 8, I subscribed to several RSS feeds to keep up with what was going on in the house. After Big Brother 8 had finished, I spotted a few new posts on them. One of them was the Digital Spy feed, which pointed me in the direction of an article published by The Mirror. It claimed that Big Brother faced the axe, saying that the "ailing show would be relaunched in 2009", despite Channel 4's advertisement for BB9 contestants. So I was unsurprised to see a few hours later that Big Brother is NOT being axed - despite struggling to get viewers, because "it's still popular with teens and those in their 20s - main targets for advertisers". You do have to wonder why they bother publishing rubbish like that. The second article exists purely because of their first made up one. No one else appeared to think it'd be postponed for a year, especially after it was announced on the official Channel 4 Big Brother website that "Big Brother auditions are coming to a city near to you and earlier than ever before. If you want to be a Housemate throughout the summer of 2008, you need to go to an open audition". This was published over 24 hours before Brian won BB8, well before The Mirror's first article was published.
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