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Eric Johnson

December 14th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Tonight I turned on Vintage TV and there was some virtuoso guitarist playing. It was a bit like Jeff Beck in places or Steve Vai in others, but I didn’t recognise him, so waited for the caption at the end to find it was somebody called Eric Johnson. The name didn’t even ring a bell, which is more my fault than his, since he has apparently been playing music professionally since the late 1960’s.

Obviously I went to Wikipedia to find out about him and I have to say that the start of the section about his early life did make me smile as it sounds a bit like a trying-to-be-quirky Twitter bio.

Born into a musically inclined family, Eric and his three sisters studied piano and his father was a whistling enthusiast.

That is now one of my favourite Wikipedia lines, nearly as good as the description of Tanzwut that says:

Tanzwut are known for their heavy use of bagpipes, an unusual instrument for a metal band.

Now having a listen to some of Eric Johnson’s back catalogue on Spotify and I am finding a lot of it impressive but not in a way that really does much for me –  bit like a lot of Jeff Beck’s stuff makes me feel.

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Dirk Gently

December 12th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I see that Netflix now has a US-made version of Dirk Gently’s Holistic detective Agency available. I saw some odd bits of it while Jayne was watching it on her PC and although there were a few good gags I can’t say that I was tempted to watch it myself, despite (or maybe because of?) being a fan of the book and the BBC Four adaptation. I think Jayne bailed out before getting through the first episode.

I think that the BBC really nailed it with their version, so anything else is going to suffer in comparison.

What is really annoying is that the BBC version was discontinued because of funding. When Netflix and BBC America came up with some funding for a whole 10 episodes they should have tried to get Stephen Mangan, Darren Boyd and the original writers to continue in the same vein instead of trying to shoehorn it into an American setting.

Also, spreading it across 10 episodes might also be the problem.

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Time lapse

December 7th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

Well this is fun! But also frustrating because we are now used to quite high resolution satellite imagery and obviously the whole time lapse thing can only be done to the resolution of the worst  in the dataset.

If you zoom in to Crawley you can see the major changes, like Maidenbower springing up, but you can’t get enough detail to look at individual streets or groups of streets.

One of the best places to look is Sharm El-Sheik, where you can see that the place was just desert in 1984, then an airport in the desert and then a huge resort spreading from it.

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The Oxygène of publicity

December 7th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I see Jean-Michel Jarre has a new album out, a second follow-up to his 1976 breakthrough album Oxygène, called Oxygène 3. The tracks are called Oxygène Pt 14, Oxygène Pt 15, and so on up to Oxygène Pt 20.

Jean-Michel is not someone to waste a lot of time thinking about titles for things.

I have a had a little stream of it and it is OK. Better than Chronologie but not as good as Zoolook, Revolutions, Rendez-Vous, Magnetic Fields or Waiting for Cousteau. Pleasant enough to listen to, and I will probably listen to it on Spotify tomorrow while I am putting the finishing touches to a bit of VBA I have been working on, but if you really want a late-career masterpiece then best to seek out the recent releases from Metallica or the Rolling Stones.

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Stop the year, I want to get off

December 2nd, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

As if the whole Trump/Brexit thing wasn’t bad enough, this year has seen a lot of celebrity deaths, the latest being Andrew Sachs. Of course this happens every year so I am not sure why it feels worse this year. Possibly because a few of them were absolute A+ list celebrities like Bowie, Prince, Ali, or Leonard Cohen.

There have been a lot of big names going this year: Fidel Castro, Keith Emerson, Leon Russell, Vilmos Zsigmond (a big name for those of us who had to watch a lot of 70’s movies as part of film studies), Alan Rickman, Cruyff, Wogan, George Martin, Garry Shandling, Papa Wemba, Gene Wilder and Oleg Popov, who I am sure I saw in the 60s when the Moscow State Circus came to London and he did his slackwire act.

It has certainly kept the professional obituarists busy and even more so the keen amateur obituarists. You know the types. They feel compelled to write Facebook posts or tweet when just about anybody dies, saying what a sad loss it is and how great they were, but you suspect that half the time they hadn’t really heard of them before. Even more so you get prolific bloggers writing huge articles about the death of Zaha Hadid and yet they have previously never mentioned her or shown even the slightest interest in architecture.

Perhaps they should show a bit of restraint and only publicly mourn those they have previously publicly praised? I know you sometimes you only realise how much you liked somebody when you hear that they died, but not on an almost daily basis.

Anywyay, I am going to take a little time out to think about those people who are still alive. Partly to celebrate the fact that they have (so far) survived 2016 and so that if they pop their clogs any time soon I won’t sound like a complete hypocrite.

Living legends that are still living legends:

  • Aretha Franklin
  • Elton John
  • Bob Dylan
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Nicholas Parsons
  • Tom Baker
  • Madonna
  • Van Morrison
  • Phil Collins
  • Woody Allen

Other people I am glad are still around

  • Trevor Brooking
  • Rick Wakeman
  • Debbie Harry
  • Ralf & Florian from Kraftwerk
  • Manu Chao
  • Booker T
  • David Gilmour
  • Liam Neeson
  • Jackie Chan
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Neil Diamond
  • Kevin Smith
  • Scott Adams
  • Dave Barry
  • Angelique Kidjo
  • Robert Rankin

If any of that lot go before the New Year then I really will be pissed off with 2016!

 

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Solving the Southern Fail problem

October 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Politics

During my daily commute I congratulate myself on transferring away from London to the local branch of my company and replacing an expensive, overcrowded, uncomfortable and unreliable train journey with a 5-minute walk, and even more so on strike days. Mind you, I hear that even non-strike days are now pretty dreadful and for the last few years have been a lot worse than whe I used the service regularly and complain about it all the time.

So it is not my problem any more, but I do have two potential solutions to the ongoing mess. [Read more →]

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The Trump taxes

October 5th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I was not greatly surprised to hear those revelations that Donald Trump declared losses that could have led to him paying no income taxes. I am a little surprised that all the emphasis has been on the not paying taxes bit rather than the making a loss bit.

Trump’s main claim has always been that he is such a successful businessman and would run the US like one of his successful businesses and a lot of Americans seem to find that compelling even in the face of his erratic behaviour. I would have thought that $916 million losses were not really an indication of success.

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No more ‘Chinese friends’

October 5th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Technology

The news today is that Amazon are banning ‘incentivised reviews’. What that means is that you can’t accept anything in return for reviewing a product, not even a free or discounted product. It has always been the case that you can’t accept payment in return for writing a review, and especially not for writing a positive review, but now they are classing a free product as payment, except in the case of books. [Read more →]

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Trouble adapting

October 3rd, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

Why is it so hard to find an adapter that lets you plug a 3.5mm TRRS jack into a 3.5mm TRS socket?

The reason this is a problem is that it is getting harder and harder to find headphones with an old-fashioned TRS jack to plug into my old mp3 player. They are all TRRS-style now, so they can work with smartphones, but sometimes I just like to use the old kit. It would be nice to get some decent headphones and use them with either the mp3 player, the phone or the tablet.

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Stormy Weather

September 10th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

DSC00489

A long way from home!

Well we are back from our second honeymoon. Our first one was a few days in Paris. This one was a bit more exotic: two weeks in the Dominican Republic.

A nice place, but to be honest we were looking forward to the flight almost as much as the holiday. After suffering the bum-numbing experience of EasyJet A320s to Egypt for the last couple of holidays we were going for the comfort of a 787 Dreamliner this time, and even paid extra for the premium thing, since it was supposed to be a holiday of a lifetime. [Read more →]

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