Archive for August, 2005

Apologists @ Kingsbury Rock Circus

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Here are a few photos from Ant’s debut gig on Saturday night. His band, Apologists, were the first of two playing at a birthday house party in North Finchley. Ant was recruited as session bassist a few weeks before the show and managed a very respectable job. He rocks!


Jack and Ant

Ant and his aura

Here’s a snap of Jamie (guitarist of Apologists and the now defunct End Of The New) playing a guest solo for headliners Pearly. Behind him you can see listeners in the garden watching through the window behind the stage.

Pearly Jamie

Google Talk

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Anyone remember Jabber - the open instant messenger protocol that was nicer than the rest, but never really took off?

The fly in Jabber’s ointment was a lack of quality servers. Having provided an open protocol and freely downloadable server software, the original authors expected companies and other organisations to set up their own jabber servers. Unfortunately, almost everyone registered with the server, which wasn’t intended to handle instant messaging for the whole planet. Hence the reliability problems. Boo!

Anyway, in a fairly smart but obvious move against all the other crappy instant messenger providers Google has just adopted Jabber and built some enormous servers.

Google has written a new client, or you can use an existing Jabber client like Gaim, Gabber, Trillian etc. Login using your gmail account details: Google Talk

The house is warm!

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

A warmed house

I have no photographic evidence that people came to our party on Saturday, but I assure you they did. This photo, showing our tasteful tiki lantern and parrot decorations, was taken the morning after.

Thanks to everyone who turned up, especially those of you who made heroic journeys to get to us! Our house now feels nice and warm. We love you all!

Update - pictures from Dave:

The Phil! The Tiki! Asia! The Harlequin Mask!

A Rocket To Nowhere

Monday, August 15th, 2005

I just stumbled across this fascinating article discussing the flaws of the space shuttle program and making a strong case for throwing it out and replacing it with something unmanned.

A Rocket To Nowhere

In essence, each ‘pure science’ Shuttle science mission consists of several dozen automated experiments alongside an enormous, irrelevant, repeated experiment in keeping a group of primates alive and healthy outside the atmosphere.

And of course, there was John Glenn, monitored inside and out, blood tested, urine sampled, entire organism analyzed for signs of accelerated aging. Close observation of the Senator suggested that there might not be any medical obstacles to launching the entire legislative branch into space, possibly the most encouraging scientific result of the mission.

House to be warmed

Thursday, August 11th, 2005

Our housewarming party will be on Saturday 20th August. We’ll start at around six, barbecue some dead things if the weather is nice, then carry on until the last man drops.

I’ll be sending out invitations by email but, as normal, I’ll screw up and lose or forget the email addresses of half the people I’d like to come along. All friends and (ex-)colleagues who care enough to drop by here once in a while are definitely welcome! If you fancy a trip up the Piccadilly line and a drink or two in a tiny house, drop me an email and I’ll send you the address.

Also, now the precedent has been set, all party invitations must have stolen ascii art. It’s a rule.

       _ /o\ _
        \ V /
        /. .\
       =\ T /=
        / ^ \
     {}/\\ //\
     __\ " " /__
jgs (____/^\____)

Hello Molly

Monday, August 8th, 2005

Presenting Molly, a nine week old West Highland White Terrier puppy.


Only a week after Billy’s untimely death, the dog to cat ratio has been restored to some kind of bizarre equilibrium at Sarah’s ancestral home. For purposes of reference, it looks like the mixture they’re trying to maintain is one dog to approximately four cats.

Retro-gaming Fetishism

Thursday, August 4th, 2005

Back when I was up at university in York, despite what’s written down on my CV, I studied hard and got two degrees. The one I was meant to be studying for was a Computer Science degree. The second, secret degree was a solid upper second in two player fighting games, specialising in Capcom’s Street Fighter Alpha and Sega’s Virtua Fighter franchises. It was a lot of fun.

Back in the late 90s, despite its apparent total eclipse by the Sony Playstation, the Sega Saturn was the king of the consoles for fighting games, especially of the two dimensional Capcom variety. For these technical and other cultural reasons the console remained popular in Japan for a quite a while after its death was reported in Europe. A number of classic games were released only for the Japanese Saturn.

The six button Saturn controller is the classic gamepad for Street Fighter II and its offspring - all subsequent generations of console pads have neglected the necessary horizontal matrix of six buttons, instead suffering disfiguring outbreaks of shoulder buttons and analog controller sticks. The frustrations of moving on from the Saturn pad are immediately obvious to anyone trying to pull off a Raging Demon on a Playstation controller.

I did have a point to this post beyond pure nostalgia. Last night, retro-gaming wizard Stephen Chen gave me an extremely charitable deal on one of these babies:

A beautiful white Sega Saturn

It’s a beautiful White Japanese Sega Saturn - it’s region-free (with an Action Replay cart) and modified to play backups of those hard to find games like Radiant Silvergun. Legal issues of game copying aside - as you can see from the ebay prices, after tracking down a copy you really wouldn’t want to scratch the disc. This box is taking pride of place in my new under-telly console museum.

Closing thought:

“If you were stuck on a deserted island, and you could only choose between MK and SF to be stuck with, and you choose MK, then you deserve to be on that island.”

UK Digital Rights Activism

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005

Hey you! Put some money aside and sign the digital rights pledge at PledgeBank to help set up an Electronic Frontier Foundation style organisation in the UK.

Danny O’Brien (of NTK fame) has some slightly less vague information about the plan on his Oblomovka site.


Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

This simple little flash game called GROW RPG is pure genius.

The more I played it, the more I liked it. Fortunately it is possible to finish it pretty quickly, otherwise I’d have been hooked for ever.

Goodbye Billy

Monday, August 1st, 2005

Sarah’s dog Billy was put down yesterday, he couldn’t walk any more and went off his food. We’d thought he had Arthritis and his hind legs had been stiff for a while, but the vet decided it was something else nasty and incurable.

Sarah riding Billy

Billy was the first dog I’ve really got to know and it was incredibly sad saying goodbye to him on Saturday night. He was a fine dog and I’ll miss him a lot.

Always handsome, smelly and cunning, his crowning achievement was opening a cupboard and completely devouring a birthday cake just before it was due to be served.