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blogonblogoff - side b

'everything is nothing if you've got no one'

Monday, March 31, 2003

Ain't that the truth
There is something about my Dad's car that creates a nauseous feeling whatever the length of the journey. It might be the way that my Dad drives as I always got symptoms of travel sickness in his old car too. Home life isn't too bad but the small niggles soon build up to big ones and become annoying. Spending far too much time getting the look of my online portfolio right. Frustrating stylesheet time again.
Posted by Edward @ 11:23 PM GMT
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Sunday, March 30, 2003
What a mess
So back in Manchester and not sure what to make of it. My Gran's house where I am staying with the family temporarily is like a Wunderkammer. Every little space is stuff with something weird, wonderful or downright silly. I'm lucky to have a bed to sleep on. Still everyone seems to be okay at the moment and although the dark clouds are coming over it's been less hectic than if I was in Bath. Still agonising over the design of the portfolio though.
Posted by Edward @ 12:12 PM GMT
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Thursday, March 27, 2003
Local music not from here - Music that sounds foreign?!?
Was about to write something then my Mozilla went totally funny in that all the characters I typed went to the start of the text box meaning a reverse. Anyway I was going to say that although I was working today it was quite enjoyable. I managed to miss the entire day of sunshine due to a very late lunch. I surprised myself that I could get the SQL Server/ASP stuff working.

Anyway currently enjoying the BBC World Music Awards on Radio 3 with the Gotan Project playing. Looking forward to my current favourites Orchestra Boabab to play. An award ceremony that I enjoy, that's a first.

Right back to Manchester tomorrow. Better shake of this West Country accent before I get back loike!

Posted by Edward @ 08:53 PM GMT
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Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Something stupid
It seems like my university has the worst configured firewall ever. For the second time in a week the firewall has been hacked into and pounded into pulp rendering the external college network access useless. Supposedly the damage was so bad they are restricting access to outside too. Doesn't make it easy for the students who need to go on Internet to get their email and do research. Kind of made me feel angry that I couldn't do any work, then Paul said 'you are only ever angry at yourself' and I guess he's right. I shouldn't be mad at the inadequacies of things out of my control, you just need to take it as part of life.

Did some abstract painting and swirls today to get into a creative mode. I haven't done any for a long time and although most of it was rubbish I got a few good ideas from them. Hopefully I will be more inspired to think of something to do for my personal project. It's too difficult thinking of ideas for every module we have on the course as I have exhausted the ideas I had alreadyu early on. Maybe I should have kept one of them till the end. Anyway I really want to do something more abstract than the ideas I had before, don't think the fruit stickers are that inspiring for getting the creativity in there at the moment. Doing a Bembo's Zoo is something I can only aspire to. Maybe a grown up version?

Posted by Edward @ 08:55 PM GMT
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Nice island
Good article on the Lonely Planet guide for UK. Not so random quote
'Manchester has reinvented itself as one of the most exciting cities with top-class museums and nightlife.'

We've always known this haven't we?
Posted by Edward @ 12:06 PM GMT
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Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Oranges and apples
We have to do a major personal project in the final term of the PgDip part of the course. So I thought I better start thinking of some ideas. Most of the projects I've done for the course so far has been quite middle of the road, stuff to do with my record label, lomography, Zhan Zhuang, food co-op etc, so I am trying to think of a project that is abstract. I was going to do a Fruit stickers of the World website where people can upload interesting fruit stickers from around the world. I have been fascinated by some of the designs on the little sticker on fruit for a while. They had nice Looney Tunes ones when I was in America and my personal favourite are the Mona Lisa stickers that come on oranges, they must have got permission to use the image to promote oranges. Anyway I shouldn't have been surprised at all that it's quite a big thing with people having thousands of different stickers. I must admit that it's a bit extreme. When you were small and collected Panini stickers that was a pain to find the last sticker you needed, but the fruit stickers are an endless collection and is more of an obsession from I can tell by the Web sites I've seen. Anyway, here's a good write up explaining the reasons behind one persons fruit sticker collecting habits. Anyway have decided that I probably won't do this idea unless I could think of an original way of presenting it online. Guess this is highlighting another bit of weirdness in me.
Posted by Edward @ 07:20 PM GMT
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Monday, March 24, 2003
The state of being identical
So it was my housemate's birthday today and the Party Cake I made went down a treat. I don't usually blow my own trumpet but it was really good. Even better was the actual making of it. Complete messiness involving chocolate and cream.

So having been quite perked up making the cake and taking in the relative good weather I went into university to check my colour project on the Mac's and as usual the stylesheets messed little things here and there in the browsers which was annoying. Paul, an MA student was stuggling with some other stylesheet problems with little squares appearing on the side of his images. Roll on the day that everyone will be using a standardised renderer. I guess this leads to the undesign movement that I read about.

I'm not even going to write about the war because there is so much warblogging out there that the Guardian did a feature on one blog today. It's very interesting the points of view coming from different sides yet the hypocrisy surrounding this war is disturbing. That's enough.

The danger of having unknown email addresses was brought to my attention. I didn't realise that I had an email address with my ISP but I found out after attempting to configure my housemate email client tonight. I entered the wrong mail server and username info and a stream of dodgy spam and stuff came up. Quite embarrassing.

Posted by Edward @ 11:58 PM GMT
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Saturday, March 22, 2003
Looking at the people go by
I do so like waking up on Saturday mornings to volunteer at Oxfam. A great sense of getting into the community and displacing all your worries for a while. This morning whilst walking through Green Park Market here in Bath I pass a tea stall. It was appropriately named The Tea Man and the guy was asking a customer, "Do you like tea?" which I thought was a silly question at the time. Now I think about it they could be buying for someone else I suppose. Anyway the Oxfam shop at the corner of Gay/George Street is a great place for people watching. There was fantastic scene of a little boy clutching onto his Dalmation shaped helium balloon by the legs running. If only I could freeze that into a snapshot.

Now I'm back home it's work again. Hmmmmmmm.

Posted by Edward @ 03:29 PM GMT
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Thursday, March 20, 2003
Not so heavy metal
Does Magnesium Alloy rust or degrade. My computer is made of that substance and it is showing signs of rusting. It's almost like breakout of a virus. The coating is flaking off a little and it looks like it's being eaten away. I wonder if it is just the top coat but it is a little disconcerting to a have a little tarnished patch on it. I've never spilt any liquids on to it so it's a bit bizarre. According to this it has general anti corrosion properties but I guess it depends on the type used.

The return of Er was just fantastic. Romano the chief of the hospital get's his arm cut off entirely by the rear rotor of a helicopter. The build up of storylines from last seasons finale with Abby and Carter (tensions still there), Courday(back to Chicago although the portrayal of British doctors seemed a bit cheesy) sets the scene well for the rest of season. I am guessing there will be a lot of changes and rough rides along the way. Look forward to the rest of the series.

Posted by Edward @ 07:13 PM GMT
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Tuesday, March 18, 2003
What a way to go
One down, three to go. The hand in for the Java project was relatively painless. There was lots of things I could have done but didn't because if I did one thing it would lead to another being require. I created a simple ordering system for a local food co-operative.

Having looked at other peoples Flash projects I guess the main problem I have is I am not creative enough when it comes to thinking outside the linear and rigid structures of technology. This leads to my designs and ideas being quite the same. I need to expand my thinking when it comes to the final personal project and maybe create something that is totally abstract and mindblowingly pointless. Guess that's what it's all about.

My hosting server has been hijacked so I can't uipload files to my webspace for some reason or another. Just when I wanted to test things out too.

Posted by Edward @ 04:36 PM GMT
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Monday, March 17, 2003
I don't want control of you
What type of day an age are we living in when parents are so easily shouting abuse and threatening violence at their kids? Yesterday my housemate was riding along the Bristol to Bath cycle path. A family of two adults and two children were riding together and as it became busy along the path the father shouted "Don't ride two abreast you tw*ts!" (that's an 'a' and not a 'i'). Yes that's right I couldn't believe it either. This morning out of the bathroom this morning I heard a mother was shouting on the street "If you do that again I'm going to slap you right on the face!". I couldn't believe that either. I know that being a parent is difficult and stressful sometimes but if you can never justify threatening abuse of this sort in public or private. The kids are not going to learn if it's forced into them what the difference betwen good and bad. Everything is violence and abuse, just like the war.
Posted by Edward @ 06:51 PM GMT
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Saturday, March 15, 2003
Did the lead make you angry?
Okay my long running battle to discover why sometimes the economies of scale in food (especially in utterly irresistable Milky Bars) doesn't get passed to the consumer, is over. Not sure if Masterfoods has found the retail prices they are putting on Milky bars just silly or whether I just found places that sell them cheaper. Anyway if you visit exhibit 1 at the bottom of the page is the issue I have. Double Milky Way packs used to cost about 5-7 pence more than just buying 2 single Milky Way bars. Anyway recently the recommend price for single Milky Way bars has gone up to 16 pence and I have found places selling double Milky Way packs for 30 pence. This is more sensible. My friend Adam told me once that he saw toilet rolls costing more for the bigger packs than buying multiple small packs. I think supermarkets just see their customers being a bit dim. I'm not being a miser but I just thought that the previous price difference was quite mad.

This week should be good as my favourite television programme returns to terrestrial TV in Britain. Er is probably the only programme I've watched religiously for the past eight years, I don't watch much TV but the series has been consistently brilliant even when major characters leave. The ninth season is promised to be just as good and I hail Channel Four for spending the huge amounts they did to get the rights from Sky. At least it will get me away from working on my projects.

Posted by Edward @ 07:02 PM GMT
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Friday, March 14, 2003
No matter which way I walked, it stayed with me
The joys of putting together content for a website, especially when you are repurposing existing content from an old site. It was like back in the old days putting everything together at the last minute and pushing the client back as much as possible. Good old Editplus saved the day for the powerful search and replace functions sorting out the dud links.

Although it was a little chilly the sun was out and sitting in the Abbey square at lunchtime was pleasant. The busker was going through the busker favourites like 'The Drugs Don't Work', 'Wonderwall', 'Maggie' etc. All of a sudden about 100 school children surrounded the square shouting 'No war, make love' or something of that nature, observed by two police officers. The busker stood in the middle of the square just stopped playing wondering what to make of it. I didn't know either. Then on the way back home a load of people playing the drums outside the supermarket certainly made enough noise for Comic Relief.

Posted by Edward @ 09:49 PM GMT
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Thursday, March 13, 2003
Head away for something
Went to Bristol for the BBC Vision Design question time. Basically some people from the BBC tell potential design graduates what areas they can work in and that in order to get anywhere you would need to be willing to work from the bottom up starting as a runner or tea boy without getting paid. It is quite disheartening for a lot of graduates with no experience and it was focused on people with art and design backgrounds. If you come out with so much debt these days, you are sometimes under so much pressure to pay off your debt that you will take anything that pays. I do understand that there are so many graduates coming out with similar skills that there is a need to find the best. As with much of these events it over ran by a long way and I got a headache from just sitting for 2 and a half hours without a drink and then getting lost around Bristol's one way road system didn't help.

I would need to really get my design output increased by ten fold if I am to work as a dedicated designer in the area.

Posted by Edward @ 09:28 PM GMT
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Wednesday, March 12, 2003
I came down faster than I went up
So only one more week to go until the term ends. It really does go by too quickly and with the amount of work to complete, it's best not to think about it too often. We went through a few bits of sound and the process of synching sound with video which was very interesting. Only problem is that we don't have the software at university to try it. This seems a bit silly. We will be informed about it but without trying it out it's not exactly that much help. Sometimes I really like what we get taught on the course and then others I think 'this is a bit silly'.

The usability tests we did on some of our prototypes revealed one thing - drag and drop interfaces are useless as most people don't read instructions. We will be doing a group project for the Bath Museum Of Costume next term which should be interesting. Especially since we will be writing the brief rather than the client. Bet the spec still changes though.

Posted by Edward @ 11:18 PM GMT
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Monday, March 10, 2003
It ain't easy being flashy
After yesterday's rant about Flash and some of the problems I have been having my brother sent me some Flash links for me to look at. Although a lot of the sites tend to be animation based this one was nice Zapdramatic. Basically a series of animations with choices you have to make based around negotiation in different scenarios from hostage to arbitraton. I tried the detonator man one and was intrigued. Although quirky in style and very reminiscent of late 80's adventure games I really liked it. It made me think about the choices you have to make in those situatations and the real skill involved, say the wrong thing and everyone is dead. The other sites I looked at are the real show-offy fashion designer sites like Yohji Yamamoto. They tend to be impressive for looking at a designers collection but are far too weighty for normal dial-up users. I guess their target audience of magazines/style guru's etc. will have access to high speed connections.
Posted by Edward @ 05:47 PM GMT
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Sunday, March 9, 2003
And that has at least as much to do with entertainment as with truth
Another Flash in the pan, sometimes I just don't know why Flash behaves erratically. The Actionscripting reference is quite good but if only what it describes would work. Instead I have to spend time writing workarounds for Actionscript that shoudl work in the first place which isn't all that good.

I am debating about the file sizes of my Flash project. At the moment I am attempting to keep the entire project under 100k which I know is pushing the boat out a bit. The thing is when I go to most sites it only takes 5-10 seconds for me to be able to determine whether the information I want is there or if it is interesting to wait for the full download. If I place a loading sequence on my Flash movie most people can't make that decision while they wait 30 seconds. It's back down to that animation route again. I must admit I like some of the things that can be done with Flash beyond sophisticated animation but they tend to be either advant-garde or experimental 'multimedia artworks' rather than a use for commercial/widely accessible basis. Sounding a bit against it aren't I? I'm not really, I just want to understand the thinking behind the choices for using Flash for an entire web site.

XPlay 1.1.0 is finally released as a full version. Have yet to test the new capabilities to copy songs from the iPod to the computer but I think it's a great addition. Mediafour really lost out when Apple chose MusicMatch to collaborate with for the Windows version of the iPod software. XPlay is still a good piece of software, just wish the transfer rates are a little bit quicker, but that might be limitation of my aging computer.

Posted by Edward @ 10:27 PM GMT
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Erik Spielman says be bold
Useless fact, I didn't know that Kylie, yes Ms Minogue made a record with Towa Tei the Japanese/Korean DJ, called German Bold Italic which is a song about being a font. From the clip that I caught a glimpse of it was very arty avant-garde. Can't find a version of it on the Web. See this is what working too hard does to you. You end up sitting in front of the television eating dinner on a Saturday night looking like a zombie watching trash. Not good at all. Still managed to mess around with my Flash project though.
Posted by Edward @ 12:22 AM GMT
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Thursday, March 6, 2003
Free to improve your juice
This is a infrequent occurance, actually posting a blog entry during the daylight hours. Well only just as it's starting to go dark outside. Found out that most users who have battery problems with their iPods is due to the firmware version they are using. Supposedly the clock that is built into the 1.2.2 firmware drains the battery if you don't use it for a day or so because it uses the CPU. Users on the Apple forum are reporting that when they switched back to an old firmware the battery life have increased significantly. Read about the Pod battery life on Apple forums. This blog has started to go really geeky so back to music.

The new Cat Power album You Are Free is absolutely brilliant. The title 'Free' track is really something. A really catchy rift, great lyrics and fantastic rhythm that gets you going. Werewolf I had heard before on a John Peel session. The album has a lot of the qualities of Cat Power in terms of the acoustics and vocals but they seem to have expanded in to something better. There are only a few tracks that don't quite hit the high standard of the rest of the album but it was long overdue. If she comes over for a tour the album then I'm certain it will be a stormer.

Posted by Edward @ 06:17 PM GMT
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Tuesday, March 4, 2003
There's a line from me to you that's going through
Okay I will retract some of the bad stuff I have ever said about Dreamweaver and the bobbins code it generates most of the time. Having used it to create prototypes I must say it has been handy to build templates and library items to allow for quick changes to be made at ease. The site management and the ability to reduce a lot of typing is also helpful for some less experienced users. However you have got to use the code window and never use the WYSIWYG area as it could really mess things up. Once you start tweaking everything falls apart. One other bit of a problem with Dreamweaver is that it seems to take up so much system resources that my computer won't handle multiple applications opening. It's good to know my way around it but I shall be sticking to Editplus on the PC and the inferior BBEdit on the Mac. That's enough geekiness for one day.

Posted by Edward @ 11:09 PM GMT
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Sunday, March 2, 2003
Mighty life type
Another hard day at the grindstone. Especially tough since the sun was shining. It felt like Summer had come even though it's not quite Spring. Manage to go out for a walk to clear my head anyway. All the pubs in town were packed to the rafters full of people watching the Liverpool V's Manchester United Worthington Cup match. Congratulations to Liverpool for putting it together by winning 2-0, amazingly they have won two games in a row, although not in the league which is where they are creaking a lot.

The BBC site has a list of Global Top Tens. Nominated record labels from across the world have put together top tens charts of records that they like. There are some great labels part of the list and it covers different genres but a lot of alternative. It gives some good information on the label and you can listen to Realaudio samples of the tracks.

A good use of Google as a verb, 'You are the eggman, goo-google a chew' and 'Google us gracious great balls of fire' from the Media-squatters.

Posted by Edward @ 11:02 PM GMT
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Saturday, March 1, 2003
Dinners in the dog
Soulful Detroit is a fantasitic site dedicated the Detroit soul scene, I wish I had access to this when I went to visit Detroit. There are maps showing all the major places of importance that were part of the scene. It is a shame that most of the buildings have been discarded. I didn't know that the Motown building on Woodwood was getting renovated for a sceond Motown Museum. Plus get this they are putting in apartments in there too. Is there no building renovation development in the western world that does not involve building loft apartments for the extremely rich?
Posted by Edward @ 08:43 AM GMT
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