My move to TES Global

by on November 29, 2015

Having re-designed the UI for MailOnline’s content publishing systems (currently producing close to 1,000 stories daily), my work there is now done. I’ve always been interested in how organisations work, and it was a great experience doing UX at the world’s biggest news site. I worked daily with journalists and editors of all kinds to understand how […]

10 Years of Blogging

by on July 10, 2014

On this day in 2004, I wrote my first post here on Webtorque.org As with all things Internet, 10 years seems more like 50. Tim O’Reilly had just started popularising the term  “Web 2.0“, and the digerati were people who did things like blogs – before Twitter came along and made everyone do it, sort of.  For me, […]

On Bulding an Extension

by on August 21, 2011

For personal reference, and in case it helps somebody else, here’s a summary of how we built our single-storey rear extension on our 1900 mid-terraced house in North London, completed March 2010 (some photos are here). We’d not undertaken any building work before, other than having a replacement kitchen done a few years previously. Because […]

An Internet Mirroring Protocol

by on December 12, 2010

What I know about Internet protocols can be written on the back of a postage stamp, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering about them. Wikileaks’s recent call for mirrors (link may be down, obviously) got me thinking about the general possibility of a web site mirroring protocol that would make automatic the distribution and […]

Putting the ‘P’ Back Into VPN

by on November 22, 2009

It’s now clear that the government wants to control people’s use of the Internet, ostensibly on behalf of the media industry, but more likely in the longer term because (to paraphrase William Burroughs) control always needs more control. For a while now I’ve been thinking whether it might be time to tunnel my Internet traffic […]

Security’s First Mistake

by on July 1, 2009

Earlier last week, the mighty Joshua Kaufman brought my attention to Jakob Nielsen’s latest alertbox about removing masks from password fields. This sparked some interesting debate, and it got me thinking again about passwords and security in general. It has often seemed to me that the first mistake people tend to make in applying security […]

Sticking up for books and paper

by on June 20, 2009

“To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet. It’s distracting. It’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere.” Ray Bradbury (90) doesn’t explain why he doesn’t like the Internet, but I think I can make a good guess based on the “it’s in the air somewhere” remark. […]

What is it with Americans and Swearing?

by on June 11, 2009

What, exactly, do otherwise intelligent Americans find so objectionable about the effective use of swearing? Here’s Seth Godin, marketing guru and otherwise all-round sharp cookie, upholding the grand US tradition of wondering more than seems even remotely reasonable about somebody who likes to put swear words in their books. Who cares? You may as well […]

It’s ‘Internet’ – with a Capital Eye

by on May 5, 2009

The campaign starts here. The word “Internet” needs to be capitalised. It needs to be capitalised out of respect for its importance and the fact that it’s a proper noun. We don’t write about “the pacific” or “oxford” or reading “the times newspaper.” We should not  write about “the internet” for the same reason. I’ve […]

Demolition Man

by on February 28, 2009

Headphones are wonderful things, and I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been hearing through them recently. In a fit of nostalgia, I decided to sit down and re-visit Grace Jones’s version of Sting’s Demolition Man (mp3, 5.6Mb). Leaving aside its merits as a pop song, I think it’s one of the greatest feats of studio […]

Administrivia II

by on May 18, 2008

Server upgraded, Webtorque will be looking rather sqiff for a while until I work out the WordPress theme that I heavily hacked up and forgot to note any changes to… Enjoy. [LATER] Pretty much done now. Wish I could work out a way of removing that pesky horizontal line beneath the header image.

Administrivia

by on May 16, 2008

Webtorque will be down this weekend for maintenance while I try to upgrade the server. It went wrong the first time, so here’s hoping. My Tiscali hell is also continuing though, so the downtime may be longer than it needs to be. Think of it as a rest.

I Had No Idea

by on April 27, 2008

My god this is awful. The entire weekend my net connection with Tiscali has been so slow that YouTube, podcasts, BBC news and even Gmail have been pretty much unusable. I tried running a speed test just now and it timed out! I now realise why I’ve always found broadband hell stories so boring – […]

The No Net, No TV Challenge

by on April 19, 2008

For the past two weeks, and coincidentally at exactly the same time as my family have been away, I have had no Internet access, and very little TV reception at home. I count myself as a pretty intense Internet user (although I watch very little TV), so was interested to see what would happen without […]

Waste

by on March 29, 2008

For some reason I’ve been noticing a lot of greenwashing recently. At work we have plastic recycling bins along with receptacles for waste paper and cans. This is good because we get free bottles of water, juice and other modern comestibles. So, at least by recycling we can do something to offset the wanton destruction […]

Exiled from Plaxo

by on March 5, 2008

I ‘ve had a login on Plaxo for about two years now and have only received a couple of invites from people I know, but I’ve had a several in the last couple of months. Maybe it’ll be the next Facebook? I won’t be there if Plaxo does explode though. Plaxo is so far my […]

Serves Me Right

by on February 21, 2008

Regular readers will know that I had a free mobile phone last year, thanks to a 100% cashback deal. This year however, I’ve not been so lucky. After hearing nothing from Phones 2 U Direct.Co.Uk Ltd after my first cashback claim in September, I served them a court order to get a response. They replied […]

Administrivia: Site Move

by on February 12, 2008

Webtorque will be moving servers soon (maybe this week… maybe next). I’d be delighted if anyone actually notices, but we may be down for a day or so while I get the web server back up. There’s a chance I might delete everything in the process – indeed sometimes I want to do that anyway, […]

SingStar Plug

by on December 19, 2007

I’ve not worked on an FMCG site in ages, so I’m taking the liberty of plugging this one, which we did for Sony Computer Entertainment this year. SingStarGame.com went fully live in all territories last week. I’m on there too if you look hard enough. It’s running at about 1,000 registrations a day right now […]

Byrne/Eno Pean Again

by on September 18, 2007

I’m very rarely inspired to write about anything. When I do, it’s usually in reaction to something from outside. It doesn’t come “from me” in the artistic sense. Admittedly, I don’t write much uplifting stuff though – it’s mostly boring. This post is different however because I don’t know where it came from. I was […]

Administrivia: Comment Posting

by on June 30, 2007

I’ve been told that comments aren’t working. I think this might be related to a relatively recent upgrade to WordPress that might have broken the theme I’m running (I’m hoping it’s not to do with the very low version of PHP the server’s running). I’m going to see if I can fix this, but if […]

I Was Mugged By Wolff Olins

by on June 6, 2007

I now realise that I hated the logo for the XXX Olympiad* because I was meant to hate it. Wolff Olins grabbed me by the throat, shoved me up against a wall and made me. At exactly the same time, they forced everyone else to take a stance on it too. Now the Sun has […]

Wise Guy, Eh?

by on May 15, 2007

Until yesterday, I’d not tried Any Questions Answered (AQA) – the old-school (as in not P2P) SMS-based answer service. For a mere £1, they will answer any question you have. I’d heard good things about them. Their website allows you to ask one free question, so I did: “Since 1950, how many people have been […]

Life with Linux

by on March 25, 2007

There are some posts that no real blog can be complete without, and that is some opinion about Linux. I’ve been using Ubuntu for over a year now and it occurs to me that I should write up something on it. Not that anyone’s asked, but then that’s what blogging is all about really isn’t […]

Julian Cope Rarity

by on March 12, 2007

I was going through some stuff at the weekend, and found a CD I bought in the Los Angeles from a shop in Melrose several years ago. Fans of Julian Cope will of course spot why it found its way into the bargain bin with a hole punched through the barcode. If you’re not a […]

Blimey – It Worked!

by on March 10, 2007

I took out one of those incredibly dodgy-looking “100% cashback” mobile phone deals last year. Much to my surprise – it seems to have worked. £35 a month for a 12-month T-Mobile contract with 200 free any time/any network minutes per month. The handset was free too – a K700i. I didn’t go over my […]

Roundly Confusing

by on January 21, 2007

Having taken this photo while waiting for our kid to chomp through a McDonald’s Kids Meal at new year (mea culpa – but it’s the winging, really), I’ve just noticed another frankly amazing example of a nutritional content “explanation.” This time, it’s on the cardboard sleeve of a pot of Sainsbury’s Cornish clotted cream (again, […]

Google Jamming

by on December 17, 2006

I’ve recently been using StumbleUpon more, and although it’s fun, it’s not as fun as putting interesting strings into Google to see what turns up. For example, using this: “parent directory ” MP3 -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums and this: ?intitle:index.of? mp3 Brings up all sorts of interesting stuff.

Goodbye Drupal – Hello WordPress

by on September 2, 2006

Welcome to a new Webtorque – now running WordPress. Drupal had fallen victim to the vagaries of software versions. For the geeks: I was running Webtorque on Drupal 4.4.2 (the current version is 4.7.3). This web server runs Red Hat Enterprse v3.2, which has PHP 4.2.2. Red Hat will not move RHEL 3 to a […]

Weird World of Appraisals

by on July 19, 2006

One of the less wonderful things about working as a permanent employee for a company larger than a certain size, is that you have appraisals every six months. And every six months both you, your line manager, and anyone you care to talk to about the appraisal system agree wholeheartedly that the experience is awful. Having passed through several companies, each with their own interpretation of what makes a good appraisal, I have the somewhat dubious pleasure of being able to compare and contrast different systems. Having had my first appraisal at my new company today, here are my findings.

Technorati

by on July 8, 2006

After years of trying to remember to give Technorati a go, I’ve finally now remembered. They make you put a link to them on your blog in order to get your blog listed. And so, while trying to ignore the snobbishness of all this, I hereby post my Technorati Profile.

What Price Pop (and classical)?

by on June 4, 2006

I made some online music purchases today from AllofMP3.com. This was mainly because if the USA has its way, then the site may be taken down in preparation for Russia’s entry into the WTO. If you’ve not been there before, AllofMP3 is everything you ever wanted from Internet age commerce: dirt cheap goods sold legally (according to Russian jurisdiction), massive choice and as a finishing touch, stunning typos. Not surprisingly, a whole album for a dollar (or any combination of tracks you like) has been making the RIAA and its international puppet organisation the IFPI see red. Ha!

Bush of Ghosts CC Reprise

by on May 24, 2006

As previously observed here, David Byrne and Brian Eno have not only recently re-released their My Life In the Bush of Ghosts album, but have also made all of the multitracks of two of the songs on the album free for re-mixing under a Creative Commons licence.

Things are getting really interesting in this area. Eno and Byrne are the first artists of significant stature to do this as far as I know. This is what I think it might lead to at some point.

Adminstrivia

by on May 24, 2006

An announcement from the management: I’m getting so much comment spam now I’m going to have to turn off the anonymous posting or I’ll start missing the real posts. If you want to post, please create an account.

I’m pretty sure this won’t matter since so few people read this blog anyway, and for those lovely people who have accounts – let me take this opportunity to say thanks.

Moving On

by on April 8, 2006

After two years at Framfab UK, my clutch engages on another gear shift in the cross-contry rally of life on Monday, when I start work at Wheel.

The Pleasure Principle

by on March 24, 2006

Music is like drugs – if you have a relationship with it at all it tends to be at its most intense when you’re young. But in common with most people of my age, I suppose I’ve drifted away from music as a passion to it being merely an occasional pastime. A CD on a Sunday afternoon, some backing music to a kids party… I feel this does most of what I like a huge injustice (and Axel’s friends must be amongst very few toddlers who have played pass the parcel to Killing Joke’s Democracy). I certainly don’t play music any more (well, I was a drummer that couldn’t drive and didn’t own a van – my days in bands were numbered). And in the past five years, it’s all fallen victim to the Three Hour Tyranny.

Barnes Tilney

by on February 27, 2006

I heard today that somebody I knew at Oyster Partners died a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t really know him, but I’d like to write something about him. I don’t know if this is the done thing or not – I hope his family and friends will excuse me. His name was Barnes Tilney.

Shamisen Trouble

by on February 19, 2006

Somebody at work was asking what they might be able to buy in Japan for £100-200 as a birthday gift. Gagetry of various types was suggested, but I chipped in the idea that for that money they could get a reasonable shamisen. At least, that’s what some friends bought me for my birthday once and I’ve always counted it as one of my prized possessions. It’s a wonder of wooden engineering: collapsible into a small case a bit bigger than a shoebox, and wonderfully made. Kumi doesn’t like Japanese stuff lying about, so the days when it was propped up casually next to the Bang & Olufsen are long gone.

It’s been shut away in its box for at least a year or so, and it occured to me that I’d not given it a pluck for a while. So, while Kumi was at Tescos I took the box out of the cupboard and – horror! It’s warped!

A Month is a Long Time

by on February 15, 2006

Blimey. You take your eye of your blog and what happens? More than a month goes by and you’ve not done a thing with it. I had an excuse: a pathetic new year’s resolution to only blog about positive things. And lo, I could think of nothing.

But I’m not going to completely throw that out with the Christmas tree, because one of the undoubtedly good things that’s happend recently is Framfab’s blog.

2006 – A New Leaf, etc.

by on January 6, 2006

The holidays now over, and even the first week at work done, I can now return to some good ol’ blogging now that we’ve bought a new car, almost tidied up our files (well, my files anyway – Kumi still just chucks all her papers under her desk and mumbles shoganai…) and packed up the plastic Xmas tree.

My new year’s resolution (on my blog at any rate) is to think about more positive things. Too many of last year’s posts were cynical, negative rants. Writing about happy, nice things sure is going to be as dull as ditchwater but I’m going to make a fist of it.

Ubuntu Linux for Me

by on December 13, 2005

Well I finally did it. I had no particular stimulus other than me being on holiday and saw a Slashdot post about a recent review of Linux distros for the desktop. They’d rated Ubuntu highest, so I went along to distrowatch.com and did some reading up. After downloading and burning the (single) ISO, I’m now running it. I always find descriptions of Windows to Linux migrations pretty boring, so I’ll lay off the details about how I got my printer working, etc. but after about 48 hours hacking about, I’ve now got almost everything I need and Windows seems long gone.

Men In Black – The Conspiracy

by on October 13, 2005

Coming home from work seems to be a time when I can think slightly creatively. This is a pity, since I’m paid to do that while I’m at work, but the sheer cacophony and chaos of the office I work in kills that stone dead about 20 mins after the morning coffee. Today, for instance, somebody’s PC fan started running in emergency cooling mode. This, combined with the telephones, keyboard tapping, seemingly constant car alarms and the (yes) children’s’ playground outside, made it feel like we were all riding a Boeing 747 to hell. None of us did anything about it of course, and least of all IT. If I were managing a company that supposedly traded on creative thinking, I’d… oh, never mind.

Link Candy Mountain

by on October 1, 2005

In an effort to make a visual change around here, I thought I’d start a collection of links to stuff in my new “Links” section on the right hand side. In true 1995 style, I’ve just saved the images out of a couple of sites. So say konnichiwa to Magnatune (and while you’re at it Brad Sucks), as well as the blog of my mate Kaoru – without whom none of this would be possible (probably).

Update: I’m now being a little more sophisticated, having just discovered www.bannerart.org.

Moat Construction Problem

by on August 1, 2005

WHY do I do it? Perhaps I’m being governed by the GIFT, but for no apparent reason this evening I posted the following to uk.d-i-y. Readers may recall my equally inexplicable posting on uk.legal a few months ago that produced a very witty set of responses far funnier than my original post. This is one is equally weak, but I hope it’ll both fish in some suckers and spark some funny replies. Lets see if it works…

Why Are They Bombing London?

by on July 7, 2005

This post is political – no apologies. Look away now.

All my life the forces of evil have been embodied by “terrorists.” The IRA, Abu Nidal, Tigers, FARC, Al Quaida, the list is endless. All my life, the foreign policy of governments have been ranged around the war against terror, supported by the war against drugs and “organised crime.” It just goes round and round and round. It’s reached the status of a culture of our times and it’s making me sick.

Consuming the mainstream media to find answers to why people are committing acts of terror is a bit like trying to get a hearty meal out of candyfloss. The “analysis”, “commentary” and sheer weight of verbiage that pours forth about “policy” and “countermeasures” is completely disorientating. You can’t look into it for more than a few hours before you keel over with media-induced vertigo.

Should I Blog It?

by on July 1, 2005

I’ve been having to edit my urges recently. There have been various little things happening to which my almost instant (and in my view unhealthy) reaction is that “I should blog that.”

MIT Weblog Survey

by on June 26, 2005

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

This is apparently helping to finish somebody’s PhD, but it was mainly out of curiosity that I filled it in. He doesn’t give you the option of listing Trillian as your IM client, so he’s obviously a bit stuck up in his ivory tower. The results page is down at the time of writing, but it promises to be quite interesting.

Japan Retro Blog

by on June 12, 2005

Ah, Japan: land of individually-wrapped bananas and toilets that squirt warm water up your bum.

Ten days in Nagano (Ena City) with the in-laws followed by visits to other relatives and friends. The food! The technology! Even the interminable shopping trips for kids clothes were interesting. Japan qualified for the world cup against North Korea in a match that nobody could attend (so they did the whole thing on video screens by proxy), Takanohana died (at 55) and there was some really weird stuff in the news for ages about roadside guard rails and the mysterious vicious spikes attached to them.

Japan!

by on May 24, 2005

A holiday for three weeks in Japan, starting tomorrow! It’s been a while since I last went – the sushi, the traffic, the in-laws and the partial lack of understanding of what’s going on. I’m looking forward to all these things and more, starting with airline food (Korean Airlines! A kimchi wagon in the sky!).

The First Thing To Go Under Pressure

by on May 17, 2005

Observers of the date stamp will note that I’ve not posted for… weeks!

This is not for lack of subject matter, of which I hope to expand at some point, but due to the fact that I’ve been working on a project with deadlines which anyone would be excused for thinking were some kind of Guinness Book attempt: two people writing a 200-page specification in three days and nine (nine!) other deliverables over three further, not to mention numerous updates of issue logs and all the attendant noise around that has left little room for sleep, let along blogging.

Hope to provide something worth reading soon, but we’re off to Japan for three weeks come the 25th May, so it might have to wait a bit.

Language, Chiasmus and Communication

by on April 24, 2005

It’s been a while since I had a foray in the genre that I call “half-formed ideas,” but here’s a good one that I’ve been brewing for a while.

For no good reason I can recall, I was reading this essay about spontaneous use of chiasmus in contemporary English and it got me thinking. Not so much about chiasmus, which is of course fascinating in its own right, but about language and communication in general.

Letter Writing

by on April 19, 2005

My uncle Julian, Bagpipe Maker to the Stars (Warning: sound samples are not work safe) wrote me a letter the other day. It struck me that people writing to me by hand is now an immensely rare event, and that I myself have not written a letter to anyone in about fifteen years. The last may have been during my gap year in Japan.

Exploding Cow Problem

by on April 7, 2005

For some reason last night I decided to post a rather late April fool to uk.legal. It was a bit rough around the edges, but only took about fifteen minutes to do (and spookily time-stamped at exactly 00:00hrs). I’m quite proud that it seems to have at least partially hooked one person in, while producing some pretty good replies from others. Nobody picked up on the the first line about “giving me a steer” though. (The better replies are on the “next 10” page at the bottom of the listing).

Enough of the April Fools!

by on April 2, 2005

It’s obviously a by-product of collaborative websites like Slashdot and Kuro5hin that April 1st generates so many fake stories. One or two might be funny, but there were about ten on Slashdot yesterday: EU to ban Macs, UN to outlaw Internet, Opera inventing a new P2P system called “SoundWave” etc. etc.

Back On Line

by on March 20, 2005

After almost two days off line while we made the changeover from Plusnet, we’re now with Homechoice. It’s TV, phone and broadband down your phone line, so no dishes or cable laying. You get a nice brushed aluminum STB which looks very much like a Mac Mini only it has a large soft blue light on the front – very large. A bit too large. There’s also a disconcerting lag between hitting a button on the remote and the interface responding, which makes you unconsciously puuush the buttons really hard. I find it remarkably difficult to stop doing that as well.

Moving to Homechoice

by on March 6, 2005

We’ve decided to move from our current ADSL provider (PlusNet) to Homechoice, the London-only provider of broadband, TV and telephone packages. They do all this via the little copper wire that runs from the BT telephone exchange to your house – impressive.

End of an Era

by on March 1, 2005

I sold my old bike on eBay this evening – £320. That’s more than I thought I’d get. I can’t help feeling a little sad to see it go. 45 people had it in their watch lists, which was a bit like having a crowd of anonymous mourners at a funeral: a mark of some respect I hope. It’s been a part of me for almost a third of my life; longer than I’ve known my wife and many of my friends, and I’ve ridden every single one of those 30,619 miles. It may have only been a CB250, but for me it always flies sideways through time.

Thanks.

Away with it!

by on February 19, 2005

At last I’ve got round to doing something about that lame home page with the spinning pipes on it. It is now no more – and the blog page is king of the castle. Well, as far as I can tell, anyway. It was actually quite tricky to do in the end (I had to learn what ^ and $ mean) and pedants will note that things that link to “home” now link here. Hmm.

Still Waiting….

by on February 1, 2005

"It is impossible that old prejudices and hostilities should longer exist, while such
an instrument has been created for the exchange of thought between all nations of the
earth."

The Times, about the invention of the telegraph, 1858.

Blood, Sweat and Nothing

by on January 22, 2005

Amazing. I get in to work on Friday, and the senior PM comes in to say that the client has decided to go for an ecommerce deployment so that £250,000 they’ve just given us to redesign their site along non-ecommerce lines (because originally they weren’t up for that) is canned. Well, maybe about 20% of it can be salvaged for re-use, but all the work I’ve been doing for the last three months (along with two other IA’s, some graphic designers and a PM) is definitely never going to see the light of day.

Well such is life. Good for our balance sheet, crap for job satisfaction. It’s the off-shore developers I feel sorry for though. We only handed them our designs at Christmas!

Mince Pies and Annihilation!

by on December 25, 2004

Just thought I’d check Slashdot after one last brandy and a mince pie (made by me: Ainsly Harriot BBC Top 100 recipe, the one with the grated orange peel in the pastry). I love Slashdot. Not that I understand half of what gets talked about there, but the responses to this Christmas day story are wonderfully heart-warming.

Ridiculous Ideas Dept.

by on November 30, 2004

I was playing with Axel this afternoon while we listened to what I used to think was a rather boring album that seems to have grown on me even though I’ve not listened to it for about three years: The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld. I was surprised by how many “rather British” samples there are in it. Churchbells, leather on willow, lawnmowers, that kind of thing. But for some reason I got thinking about what to do with that dusty old PC I have.

Holidays!

by on November 29, 2004

I’m off! Two weeks of something-we’ve-yet-to-decide lies ahead. Motorbike meddling and shower rail fitting beckon, as does some time at last to play with Axel after spending night after night doing all that Freehand malarkey over the last month. I’ve not looked forward to a holiday this long in ages.

Oh – and it was my birthday today as well. The company intranet’s birthday script did it’s job (scroll down to bottom), even if the other content was rather, er, stale. Not that a single person noticed the news and wished me any happy returns mind you, but then what are intranets if not to be utterly ignored by everyone? After all, being a busy digital solutions development agency, paying attention to web-based systems is hardly… wait, no, something wrong there.

The eBay Phenomenon Continues

by on November 28, 2004

In my continuing adventures through the looking glass that is eBay, I have made a profit on a mobile phone sale. This is getting pretty weird. Who are these eBay buyers who are willing to pay so much?

eBay Madness Part II

by on November 28, 2004

Well, I bought a Yamaha YP125 Majesty on eBay, picked it up in a van, got it serviced and am now waiting for the insurance to come through on it. I still can’t quite work out if I did the right thing or not, but it was fun. You only live once, etc. etc. For those interested in the details, read on.

eBay Madness

by on November 14, 2004

That bike crash has shaken me up. I’ve been riding my trusty Honda CB250N for over 12 years and it failed the MOT last year, and it’s going to have to have some repairs as well this time. So, I getting new wheels.

Bike Crash

by on November 14, 2004

I fell off my motorbike last week going in to work. I’ve done it before: pottering along at about 30mph you come up behind some stationary traffic. If you then use the bus lane, you stay relatively safe but run the gauntlet of the cameras (I’ve had two fines for that in the last five years), so I usually try to squeeze down the outside against the oncoming traffic and risk it. And no, you can’t stay in lane and wait with the cars. On a motorbike that’s morally wrong.

How To Be An Artist – part II

by on November 12, 2004

The performance of Bill Drummond’s “Seventeen” went flawlessly last night. Although Kumi and Axel couldn’t stay for my actual performance (way past bedtime), the place was standing room only as we mooed and whooped our way through the “score.” Mercifully, it was only a few minutes this time, although I could see one woman’s toes visibly curling as we sang.

John Peel

by on October 28, 2004

My dad went to school with him and remembers him as a bit of a loner. I didn’t like all of the music he played, and I can’t really say he changed my life as others have claimed he changed theirs, but he sure did have a hell of an influence on my musical taste. Listening to his shows was like panning for gold – you found wonderful nuggets, but you had to work hard. It was fun, but it was hard fun.

Spam Report

by on October 14, 2004

Just run another spam report. Things are about the same as they were three months ago. Odd how the two addresses get quite different amounts and show such separate patterns. Not sure what to make of that.

How To Be An Artist

by on October 7, 2004

Well that was interesting. Last night I became one of North Finchley’s “Seventeen” at the soon-to-open Arts Depot. This is part of Bill Drummond’s latest project entitled “How To Be An Artist” and involved seventeen men (well, it was actually fourteen I think) recording an improvised vocal performance accompanied by the sound of Bill’s Land Rover engine and a C minor chord.

Why does fruit….?

by on October 2, 2004

This has been worrying me for a while: why does fruit get juicer as it ripens? If it’s off the tree, then it’s not got any source of water, so why doesn’t it just dry up? Why does it appear to have less water in when it’s not ripe?

Hmmm. Ahmmmmm.

Spaceship Design Masterclass

by on September 29, 2004

Axel’s been showing quite an aptitude for making cubic structures. While most of his peers are content to pile up bricks repetitively, perhaps with the occasional asymmetric flourish, he prefers to create a base, then build Guadi-like cathedrals using the properties and shapes of the materials rather architecturally. Last week Kumi showed me something he’d made that was actually a little spooky in its complexity (remember, Axel is only just four).

Kaze no tani no Naushika

by on September 25, 2004

I watched the DVD of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime epic today with Axel, who was (almost) glued to it throughout. It’s a spooky film, and I was worried he’d get nightmares, but he seems OK.

I didn’t realise the film was made twenty years ago. The first thing that struck me was how much The Matrix (and in particular Reloaded) plundered it for ideas: the sentinels are in it (well, as huge insects) and some scenes are extremely similar. There’s even a bit where Naushika is wrapped up in tendrils just like Neo is for the big showdown.

The Mystery of Chip and PIN

by on September 19, 2004

The fact that millions of pounds a year are lost to credit card fraud makes the whole “chip and PIN” thing more mysterious by the day. When’s it happening? Why did it happen years ago? How will it be introduced? There seems to be a veil of confusion over it all, but most people seem either not to know nor care about it. Hmm. Well, maybe it’ll all be OK.

But I began to worry when I got a flyer from Barclaycard entitled “Answering your questions about chip and PIN.” It must rank as the single most confusing and self-contradictory piece of customer communication I have ever received.

Let’s Make It Illegal: That’ll Stop It!

by on September 8, 2004

I am not, and never have been, a smoker, but sometimes I find myself thinking things are far worse than I thought. This week was one of those times.

In an echo of a flabbergasting report frome the BMA that tobacco should be made illegal, there comes a survey that shows that a large proportion of people in Britain think it should be banned as well. This opinion says more about misplaced belief in the rule of law than it does attitudes to smoking, and it illustrates why I’m convinced that in hundreds of years time people will look back on The War On Drugs (and perhaps the War on Smoking?) as baffling as the obsession with witchcraft, alchemy or religious schism in ages past.

Milano!

by on July 30, 2004

Blogging from abroad is sooo trendy. But I forgot to pack my camera so no piccies I’m afraid. We’re doing user testing (I facilitated the sessions in London, and sitting in on the ones in Milan – more about that later).

Spam Report

by on July 24, 2004

I’ve been totting up the amount of spam I get per day on my two email addresses over the last few months.

It’s pretty depressing really. An average of about 120 a day on each address. Odd how one address gets quite different numbers from the other one. Luckily, I only ever see about three or four a day, as I’m using Spamassassin, but the thought of all the junk pinging around the email system…

Useless Fact

by on July 19, 2004

Guinea pigs are highly allergic to egg white.

How I bumped into this is a complete mystery, but it’s one of those things I like about the web – bumping into things.

First post!

by on July 10, 2004

Standard issue first blog post:

It’s taken me about six months longer than I thought – but I’ve finally got this site up and running. I had some rather grander plans for it before, but after much reflection, I’ve decided to start small and just blog. Thanks Kaoru – you gave me that advice, so I took it.

I’ll be expanding Webtorque according to my Secret Master Plan… later.

Meanwhile, have a look at the Articles link.