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Random nostalgia

August 30th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

Today I remembered, for no particular reason, Serif PagePlus. With the benefit of hindsight I think it may be my favourite bit of software ever. At the time it was truly remarkable. It seemed to do just about all the things that high end DTP software would do, or at least all the things a normal person would want to do, and it cost peanuts. It ran on a 386 or 286, or whatever primitive PC I had back in those days and it came with a whole disc full of extra fonts. [Read more →]

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Mind the gap

August 25th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Music, Technology

Most of the famous gaps in Spotify’s library have now been filled, with Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, Metallica all becoming available with a lot of publicity, and the Prince back catalogue reappearing after his death. I think Jay-Z is largly unavailable because he has his own rival streaming service, and a few artists like Taylor Swift and Adele may or may not be missing but I noticed a few other unusual gaps, and I know I have gone on about this before.

Slade is the biggest and most frustrating gap that I know of, but yesterday iI fancied listening to Alberto y Los Trios Paranoias and they are completely missing. Not a single track on there.

What other black holes are there in the Spotify library?

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Radio 6 Music

August 21st, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I tend to leave my car radio and bedside radio tuned to Absolute Radio 70s, but Radio 6 Music was the real reason I wanted to have DAB available to me. Well, that and Planet Rock.

The main reason why I do not have R6M on when I want to sleep is also the reason why I like it. The sheer unpredictability of it. Tune in and you can never be quite sure whether you will be hearing thrash metal, jazz, folk or anything in between. Tune in Absolute Radio 70s and you know you have a 50% chance they will be playing More Than A Feeling by Boston.

That is the sort of predictability you probably need when you are sleeping. All of this is because the other day I decided to just listen to the radio for a while. Not while reading a book, doing the crossword or checking Twitter; just listen to the radio. So I put on Radio 6 Music and the first two tracks played were Captain Beefheart, followed by Abba. Is there another channel that would dare to do that?

It would have been a better story if Radio 6 had been playing Boston when I turned it on, as I am sure they do sometimes.

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Sweet Sixteen

August 21st, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Today Jayne and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. It was really strange because we practically eloped when we got married, and last year we renewed our vows and had the party we didn’t have fifteen years before, so this year felt more like a first anniversary. We didn’t really think at all about the actual wedding but about last year’s renewal.

The good news is that, having taken stock of everything, we have decided that we are now even happier than we were before. If I knew what the secret was I would pass it on, but I suspect it is just a matter of extremely good fortune.

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The Loving Hut

July 30th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

The Loving Hut sounds like it should be something to do with psychedelia and the swinging 60’s, but it is actually a new-ish eating place in Southgate that has an entirely vegan menu. While I am not vegan myself, or even vegetarian, some of the family are and they have been raving about this place ever since it opened. [Read more →]

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Sociable Crawley

July 2nd, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

We went along to two events this weekend that really capture the sociable side of living here.

On Saturday there was a lot of activity in the Memorial Gardens in the town centre as part of Crawley festival. There was entertainment on the main stage and various stalls all around. There was Runway Radio piping out music, a bike workshop, cookery displays, a fire engine and of course food and drink. With organisations like the Crawley Campaign Againt Racism having stalls and the entertainment provided by lots of local groups the vibe was a bit like a freshers week, with people finding out more about groups and signing up with them.

Today was a bit more local because it was the annual Eid party in Langley Green. We had the grandkids with us today so it was the obvious place to go – a selection of bouncy castles, ice creams and slushy drinks for them, and a big spicy chicken wrap for me.

Both events were greatly helped by the hot sunny weather. In both cases the numbers were boosted by families sitting out on the grass and chilling. My default position is to be a miserable, unsociable curmudgeon, but even I enjoyed myself.

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New ways to spend money

June 17th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Technology

It seems like each new advance in technology just gives you more opportunities to spend money buying stuff you already have. The advent of CD led a lot of people to buy new copies of LPs they had on vinyl – a trend that is now getting reversed to an extent. The advent of DVD got us buying films we already had on tapes – a trend that is not likely to ever reverse because video tape is objectively worse in every way possible. Blu Ray didn’t get many people replacing DVDs but there must have been some.

I have even bought some e-books that I already have as paper copies, but only if they are on a really spcial cheap deal of the day or something.

All that is fine I suppose, although getting to be a bit moot given that we can choose to not own that stuff at all and just stream it on demand now. But it is down to choice. You can choose to keep the old hardware and media and not get sucked into buying replacements.

The exception is PC computer games. I tried to take a trip down memory lane today by installing Age of Empires II which I still have the CDs for. It just won’t work on Windows 10. Something to do with the Safedisc DRM that these old games use being removed because it was a security vulnerability. Sure I could keep an old Windows XP machine just for playing games, or I could set up virtual machines with old OSs on them but that is a lot of hassle.

If I really want to play AoE, and probably Rise of Nations, Caesar II, Zeus/Poseidon, I will have to buy them again through Steam. Or not try playing games that are nearly twenty years old I suppose.

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Silent crossing

June 15th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I learned a new thing today, while I was crossing London Road.

The crossing by the junction with Martyrs Avenue has pelican crossings, or maybe they are puffin crossings, anyway they have the little buttons for pedestrians to push, and the bumpy pavement bits so that blind people know there is a crossing there, but it occurred to me the other day that there is no beeping when the man goes green.

Today there was an engineer working on the signals so I asked him if the crossing was supposed to beep and he told me that it does not, because the two halves of the road are not green for pedestrians at the same time. So I asked him how blind people, having determined that there is a crossing because of the bumpy paving, know that it is safe to cross.

He showed me that there is a little button underneath the control panel, and when the little man turns green the button rotates. How clever. Mind you, the way car and lorries stop across the crossing in heavy traffic or run the red lights in light traffic it can be pretty dangerous crossing there even when you can see, but I am still chuffed about learning this tiny little new thing today.

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One-wheel drive

June 15th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I think I have done my bit for increasing the general level of happiness in Crawley this week, because when is a fat bloke on a bicycle not funny? And if he is puffing away, even though not going very fast it is just funnier.

The thing is I have had early meetings in the town centre for three nights running. It is less than two miles and the weather is dry so why not blow the cobwebs off the bike and use that instead of driving? Well maybe the shock to the system of actually exerting myself could be a reason. By the time I get there I feel like a heart attack waiting to happen, but I’m sure it will be OK when I get used to it again.

Apart from anything, if I am going to be part of the decision-making process on cycle route provision I might as well get more familiar with just how it all works.

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Only an idiot

June 13th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

At the council today I gave the go-ahead to a change that only an idiot could object to. I have been down to Corals to place a bet on how many councillors will complain and who they will be. Just wondering what to spend my winnings on.

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