One of my photos

Lenovo fanboy

June 19th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

I bought a new mobile phone last week. After several Sony Xperias I went for a new Moto G6 after finally acknowledging that my eyes and fingers don’t cope so well on a compact phone I wanted something bigger, but the big Sonys are a bit pricey.

When I turned it on I was greeted with “Hello Moto” and at the side of the screen it said Lenovo. I had not realised that Lenovo had bought out Motorola’s phones so I now have a Lenovo desktop PC, a Lenovo tablet and a Lenovo phone, which all makes me look a bit of a fanboy. I’m not even a big fan of Lenovo. I can’t stand the Thinkpads and was so glad when the work one got upgraded to an HP.

But I suppose they must be good for something because each decision was based on a compromise between capabilty/features and price and in each case the Lenovo hit the sweet spot. Having said that, if I decide to replace my home laptop I will be amazed if I end up completing the set.

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Motorcycle emptiness

June 1st, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Well Jayne and I did our CBT yesterday and it did not go well. Apparently we are not yet at the standard where we are not a danger to ourselves and the rest of humanity if we go out on a motorbike. Fair enough. Neither of us had ridden a geared motorbike before and trying to get the hang of a totally new thing in your 50’s in just a couple of hours is a bit of a big ask.

On the plus side, we both really enjoyed it and I am thinking about getting a ‘proper’ motorbike instead of a bigger scooter. As I was only intending to get a 125 scooter I and have been riding my 50cc scooter on the roads for months I could have got a CBT on a twist-and-go with no trouble but I thought it might be more fun to have a challenge, but also keep my options open.

It turned out that when I was not in the wrong gear, riding a bike was good fun, and it was easier to work up through the gears than I expected. I also found it easier to get my leg over (oo-er missus) and get on the bike than I thought it would be. So now I am parking the plans to get a Peugeot Speedfight 4 or Honda PCX scooter and thinking about a second-hand Honda or Yamaha bike instead.

Having said that, I intend to keep using the scooter around town a bit until such time as the oldest grandson is old enough to use it in about 5 or 6 years, but it will mean that I will have a car, a motorbike, a scooter and a pushbike which is a bit OTT considering that I do my daily commute by walking.

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Goodbye 70s

May 28th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Its a sad week this week, because Absolute Radio 70’s has stopped broadcasting on DAB. Sad because that has been my go-to station for playing music to fall asleep to on the bedside DAB radio. It is a well-established fact (in my mind) that the 70’s were when music was at its peak and everything has been downhill since then so I can’t understand why this would be booted off DAB, leaving no station specialising in the 70’s but several stations of religious and Asian programming.

I’m really not sure what to go for now. My favourite station is Radio 6 Music, but that can get a bit avante garde at the time I want to go to sleep. Jayne is OK with the mainstream 70’s music but would kick off with some of the stuff on Nemone’s Electric Ladyland or the Freakzone. Planet Rock would be my next choice but while I find rock music soothing, Jayne might not agree, which would rule out Kerrang as well.

I can’t face Heart, Smooth or Magic so I worry that I might end up with Radio Two.

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Parliament back in business!

May 28th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I was a little surprised to see an album by Parliament listed in the new releases section of Spotify. I can’t claim to be any sort of expert on the band, and could never really keep track of all the various combinations of Parliament, Funkadelic, Parliament-Funkadelic, and P-Funk, but I do like a bit of bit of funk.

I had a look on Wikipedia to see if the album Medicaid Fraud Dogg is new stuff or just some re-hash of old stuff and it is actually  a new album – the first in 38 years!

I was more than a bit amused to see right at the top of the Wikipedia page it says “Not to be confused with Funkadelic or Parliament-Funkadelic”. That is a big ask. In the second paragraph of the band history it says how George Clinton formed Funkadelic as a group of 5 musicians with 5 singers from his old band, The Parliaments,  as guests and then re-launched The Parliaments as just Parliament with the same 10 people, concluding with “Clinton was now the leader of two different acts, Parliament and Funkadelic, which featured the same members but were marketed as creating two different types of funk.”

But don’t get confused! As for the album itself, it is 107 minutes spread across 23 tracks and I think you could edit it down to a brilliant 45-minute album.

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What the fip?

May 23rd, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I’m not sure what to make of the new ‘listening report’ feature on

Generally I am happy to just listen to music without analysing it all, but it is sometimes fun to look into the statistics and get a few surprises. For example, I was a little surprised to see that last week I listened to 62 different artists on Spotify but the one I listened to the most (16 tracks) was Simian Mobile Disco.

Most surprising was the map of genres listened to. A lot of it was as expected: krautrock, rock, punk, grime, classic rosk, synthpop, indie, new wave, ska, but very surprised to not see reggae, rap and soul in there – unless some of it counted as “70s” because I tend to stick to the old stuff. Amongst all those genres there was one big surprise though: apparently around about April 20th I listened to a fair bit of fip.

Surprising because I have never even heard of it. In fact I went to look it up on Wikipedia and I still don’t understand what it means. FIP is a French radio station, and the genre seems to be defined as the sort of music played on FIP, which plays various genres.

Somehow I feel that I know a little bit less than I did yesterday.

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Busy weekend

May 7th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Life

We have had a busy and eventful weekend, by our standards. [Read more →]

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Mouldy Old Dough

April 17th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Today’s suggestions for me on Spotify included an album by Lieutenant Pigeon called “Mouldy Old Dough and other hits“. I do hope the title is tongue-in-cheek or it is re-defining the definitions of “hits” and “other” as well as the concept of plurals.

I was interested enough to look them up on Wikipedia and found that they did actually have one other hit after Mouldy Old Dough – Desperate Dan, which reached number 17 in the charts. I wasn’t interested enough to actually listen to either on Spotify though, not when there are Tom Tom Club remixes and a new Manic Street Preachers album to play instead.

Not that I stayed completely in my comfort zone. I also came across a new album collaboration between Sly & Robbie and some Norwegian jazz musicians called Nordub. Who knew that dub reggae and jazz trumpet would work so well together?

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Debut LPs

March 13th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Music

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I saw a comment in the music press this week by Alex Kapranos about the B-52’s album The B-52’s. He said:

Is there a debut LP that can match this one? I’ve not heard it. From another planet. Called Claire.

He does have a point. It was something that really stood out, and you could listen to it all the way through – nothing that you always skipped. It got me thinking about other debut LPs that really announced a new band in a big way, sometimes to the extent of overshadowing everything else at the time, but also everything that act did subsequently. Incidentally, Alex’s own Franz Ferdinand LP could be a contender for that. Here are a few of my own favourite debut LPs, in no particular order, except the the first one is the absolute best. [Read more →]

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On the road again

March 12th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Life

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Today I arranged to take my scooter in to get the seat lock sorted out. I went down to the lock-up to get it and tried the key before going out and of course it worked first time. It was inevitable really. I still took it to the shop because they had a top-box to fit. So not only am I mobile again, but I have loads of extra storage space.

Also inevitable was the miserable weather, so while I was there I got myself a pair of waterproof over-trousers, which I probably should have done in the first place, but at least now I have plenty of space to keep them. The weather forecast for tomorrow is a lot better, and I have another day off work so maybe I’ll take a spin out in the country to put some miles on the clock so I can get the first service done.


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The Usual Suspects

March 9th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I spent a large part of today listening to The Usual Suspects by Jah Wobble & The Invaders of the Heart on Spotify. If you like dub basslines with krautrock and world music influences then I can’t recommend this highly enough. Apart from those juicy basslines, there is also some brilliant-sounding drumming on it. The album came out last year and somehow I missed it, but I’m making up for that now.

I am still finding Spotify great for discovering stuff that I would otherwise not have heard, a lot of which becomes a firm favourite – like Public Service Broadcasting, Information Society, Jane Weaver and Sleaford Mods. I have lost count of the times I have come across something that is years old but totally passed me by at the time – like Cymande.

And let’s be honest, if I was relying on buying CDs, listening to the radio, and getting recommendations from the music press I really doubt I would have ever heard Les Ogres de Barback or all those German punk bands.

But for all those obscure delicacies, I see that the top five artists I have listened to in the last month includes Motorhead and Bananarama. MAybe I just like living in the past.

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