Sunday 31 March 2013

It's Still Easter

and I haven't had an Easter Egg. I'm sure that lots of people will make up for me though

Saturday 30 March 2013

Clocks Go Forward

and today for the first time in over ten years I ordered a new alarm clock. I suppose Easter weekend is an ideal time to put the clocks forward as it allows those of us who don't work in retail to easily absorb the lost hour of sleep.

One good thing about being in this digital and electronic age is you only have to adjust mechanical items such as clocks and non networked items. Phones and computers now do themselves spo to speak.

So tomorrow is time for Easter Eggs , Church Celebrations if you are so inclined . I shall just be mostly resting.

I was originally going to use Coldplay and The Buenavista Social Club's Clocks , but then remembered Marillion's Easter and thought that would be more appropriate.

A Little History Of The World

Every Home Should Have One
I've started reading this book by Ernst Gombrich and four chapters in I've convinced that any family that has children under ten should have a copy of this. It's written in a simple, generally jargon free manner and is likely to spark interest and questins from inquisitive minds.

It's nice to come across something positive for young children and also to able to promote it as I shall be doing on April 28th.

Books stimulate the mind whether on paper or in ebook format and all children should be encouraged to read from as early an age as possible even if teachers don't like it .

Both my daughters knew their alphabet and the use of upper and lower case by the time they started school and amazingly some teachers said this was wrong. Luckily their primary school in Sunderland encouraged their reading and both had finished the Lord of The Rings by the age onf 10. I only started on the Hobbit at that age!

Friday 29 March 2013

Books and Records and Ali G

Well I've jusst finished the excellent Tony Benn biography by Jad Adams , discovering lots of things about someone who must be close on the most respected politician ever. The book is surprising readable obviously helped by it's subject mater or an caring idealist , a stunning orator who had the intelligence outspeak opponents without ever getting flustered. His encounter with Ali G / Sacha Baron Cohen  showed him taking matters seriously rather than pandering to sreotypes resulting in Sacha Baron Cohen writing to Benn thanking him for being the only person to react with skill and integrity to Ali G's inane stereotypical questioning.

Anyway this means I've started "A Little History Of The |World" by Ernst Gombrich which is the book I've chosen to distribute on World Book Night on Tuesday April 23rd 2013 on my train back from work between Darlington and Newcastle. The preface tells of the genesis of the book which is entertaining in itself , I was going to tell you about it but the copy on the Amazon page does that very well , so I'll include that here:

"In 1935, with a doctorate in art history and no prospect of a job, the 26-year-old Ernst Gombrich was invited to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Amazingly, he completed the task in an intense six weeks, and Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser was published in Vienna to immediate success, and is now available in twenty-five languages across the world. Toward the end of his long life, Gombrich embarked upon a revision and, at last, an English translation. A Little History of the World presents his lively and involving history to English-language readers for the first time. Superbly designed and freshly illustrated, this is a book to be savoured and collected. In forty concise chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In between emerges a colourful picture of wars and conquests, grand works of art, and the spread and limitations of science. This is a text dominated not by dates and facts, but by the sweep of mankind's experience across the centuries, a guide to humanity's achievements and an acute witness to its frailties. The product of a generous and humane sensibility, this timeless account makes intelligible the full span of human history."

I've said it previous posts why I chose the book and have started reading it , and finding it well written , in terms a child could understand, really a book that should be in every household especially if there are young children. It is the sorting of book theat stimulates interest and inquisitiveness and will inevetibly have them asking "Why?" in a good way.

Three days before that it's National Record Shop Day which will mean long queues out of RPM , Reflex and Beatdown in Newcastle and bands playing and street entertainment and chasing limited editions onf vinyl artefacts worldwide.Every year it's getting bigger and better , and as for the demise of record shops , don't believe a word of it , the best ones are still with us . I was recently surprised to find excellent record shops in York and Bakewell , and as long as a shop is welcoming and able to adapt they will attract customers. Often people complain about the cost of music and I point outthis fact:

In 1975 Pink Floyd released Wish You Were Here in an unfeasible shrink wrapped plastic bag, containing postcards etc (maybe that was Dark Side of The Moon which did contain posters and stickers). Anyway I'd just left school and was geeting job seekers allowance which was £3.25 .... the same price of the new Pink Floyd album. Needless to say I didnt go out that week.

So if albums had kept pace with Job Seekers Allowance the cost of an album would now be around £60 !! I recently took deliver of The Blue Oyser Cult's Columbia Album box set (17 discs) which cost me £46 and that was funded by a MyVoice voucher and Hilton Honors voucher so I didnt rwally even pay for it. So music today is better value than ever.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Fighting With My Left Hand

A few weeks ago I was in York in a brilliant Indian restaurant called The Bombay Spice (check it out if you are ever there , and i realised I couldn't hold my fork properly. Co-ordination and strength seemed to have gone. I was concerned as  this was similar to ten years back when I lost the use of three fingers to what may have been a stroke as a result of ITP which was as a result of a bad 'flu attack.

By Sunday I could hold a fork reasonably well dining in the superb Blue Bicycle . Ive been forcing myself to do things since then , but still can't really control holding reflexes and my little finger is full of pins and needles anda bit useless.

Bee messing about with a guitar as that makes you do things with your fingers , but still can't play any chord that requires a little finger , but can obviously play bass!

Reading books and taking the tops of yoghurt pots was difficult at first , but is getting better.

Finally saw my doctor at nine o'clock last night and she put me through a lot checking for signs of a stroke , nervous and diabetic related degradation but everthing looks in order so it's off to see a neurologist.

It's awkward but could be much worse . The strength is definitely there , it's just a case of relearning to apply it. Also I'm reading a rather large tome about Tony Benn and turning pages and holding the book is a bit akward.

On the upside looking forward to the summer festivals and we're close to the Easter Weekend . Which sort of reminds me I've been listening to the excellent new Eric Burdon album and currently playing is the superb "Devil and Jesus".....

"The Devil and Jesus
 Controlling My Soul
They Fight With Each Other 
But I Pay The Toll"

Wonderful stuff:

Sunday 24 March 2013

Like A Big Company

I'm not really surprised but I do find it annoying that Facebook keeps prompting me to like a big company because some of my friends have liked it into order to get fed into a free draw to win something. I don't "like" any big companies , they are just a fact of life and if they can help me get something I want then I will use one of them.

The only certain thing is they are all competing for the money in your pocket. Some offer you loyalty cards which helps them track your spending even better so they can target you with things you are likely to buy. They want your email address , phone number , postal address in the hope they can use the knowledge they gain to take even more money from you.

That doesnt mean I have to like them , I just tolerate them . I haven't mentioned any because to may have your favourite and you will definitely see them if youi are on facebook unles of course you use Adblock.

I installed it , but ironically my main websirte is based on adverts and it cut out a lot of stuff I needed to see . The website is Song of The Salesman. I disabled the rather excellent ad blocker. It does make Facebook look very spacious!

Saturday 23 March 2013

There's Always Something On TV

I'm sort of worried about my TV viewing habits , well not really , but I am a creature of convenience. Despite having a few hundred DVDs I very seldom actually but one into my player to watch. Also , despite how cheap they are re , I very seldom buy any these days because 1) I've no room to put them and 2) most of the time I might not actually get round to watching the damned thing.

The problem is they have so much competition now from the likes of Youtube , On Demand TV such as iPlayer , 4OD  , and my Virgin hard drive and catch up TV box,  pay rental sites such as Blinkbox and Netflix. So unless it's a specialist music DVD I very rarely buy the things these days.

I want everything at the touch of my remote control , becoming the not so mythical "homo sedens" , not wishing to move from his chair , while wanting permanent tailored entertainment. You can even pause live TV while you answer the door or go to the toilet.

It still amauses me to hear people say there's nothing on TV when between BBC4 and Film4 I have intelligent viewing on tap , that's before dipping into the other 160 channels I have. Sky viewers have similar options. Watch what you want , when you want , where you want.

How good is that?

Friday 22 March 2013

I Can't Stand The Rain and Security

The continuing snow rain of the last week has caused a leak in the front bedroom requiring professional curtain cleaning and me to ascend the ladder at some point to check out the situation. This will probably require someone who knows what they are doing to sort out the situation , though employing people to do things in areas where you don't normally go , you wonder whether they cause more damage than the fix. Oh I also managed to get BT to finally come and remove a ten year old unused telephone wire that had damaged my guttering after many ping pong phone calls between them and Virgin , everyone denying responsibility. I was about to just cut the thing myself but the Openreach guy who came out was prompt , efficient and courteous. This is how things should be.

The we have Google's annnoying security. I have a Panasonic Blu-Ray player with internet access which includes Picassa and Youtube applications. While trying to access my account it kept telling me by credentials were invalid. Then I get an email / warning from Google saying that an unauthorised attempt to access my account has been made. I clicked the stuff and it tells me I have to access the device in ten minutes to authorise . Well i'm sorry I'm off to work. Whikle I know we need security , you shouldn't suddely stop access that I've had for two years becaus you are changing your systems.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Four And A Half Books

I'm not a fast reader , but am a great advocate of books and reading . As well as paper we also have the option of ereaders such as Kindles and iPads and other tablets. For some reason I've been reading a lot of music related books. One was Bass Culture (When Reggae Was Great) by Lloyd Bradley which was heavy going because of the small type, but nevertheless a great read but an obvious candidate to read on a Kindle.

Next up was Shaun Ryder's "Twistin' My Melon" autobiography , which was much as you myight expect veering between entertaining and annoying. I never regarded him as a style icon so his continual harping on over his designer label clothes became very wearing , but I did eventually hit the final page . The fact that I completed it must mean it's not that bad a book.

Next up was Keith Richard's Life. I think it's remarkable , I was expecting it to be on a par with the Shawn Ryder book , but , it is is coherent , unrepetitive , informative , and has a lot of humour and honesty in there as well as loads of practical tips for guitarists and songwriters , as well a bits by friends and acquaitances of "Keef" . Als the truths behind many of his escapades that found their way into Rolling Stones urban legend , such as Mick , Marianne and the Mars Bar and the fall from the coconut tree. Highly enjoyable and recommended.

Currenty I'm reading Tony Benn: A Biography by Jad Adams . Tony Benn is one of the handful of politicians that I have ever had any respect for , and the book is so well written that it makes politics seem almost interesting , with goodies and baddies and comedic episodes. It's another 500 pages but a great read , and surprising because it is not something I would normally have picked up , but was given it in a Facebook promotion. A brilliant read which I hope to finish this week.

Finally I have to read A Little History Of The World by  , which is my chosen book for World Book Night 2013. This is the first one where I haven't actually read the book , but I intend to have in completed within the next three weeks. It seems similar in scope to Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything"  which is what attracted to the book. No doubt when I am finished I will post back here.

Saturday 16 March 2013


I don't know about you , but it seems to me that a lot of software is written with the prime aim in mind of bringing you device to a halt. Anything that is to do with media , seems to want to grab all the system resources , fill your whole screen , try and sell you anything , while making it as difficult as possible to leave the applicattion.

Many years ago I used musicmatc which had a low footprint , was fast at ripping and burning and was perfect for managing my music. Then Yahoo bought it out and trashed it with malware making it unusable and forcing you to use their iTunes-a-like software , which didnt work either. I was then forced to use Winamp , which is the best of a bad bunch , a resource hungry annoying piece of software.

However even that pales in the face of the latest rubbish that iTunes have given to us. Just in case you didnt realise it was grabbing all your system resources , it fills your screen and thows all sorts of things at you that it thinks you may want. Then all the other bloatware it forces on you Bojour, Quicktime , iPod Helper (I don't have or want a f**king iPod as well as about 20 other programs that you have to unpick from your system. Oh and went you update you have a 43 page terms and conditions document , that no one can read or understand.

It seems to me that everyone thinks that Terms and Conditions need to emulate War and Peace. They dont , the need to be clkear and concise and should fit on a sheet of A4 in at least a 14pt font , with lots of white space so you can easily understand what you are taking on. I recently picked up a brochure from a mobile phone company and the Terms and Conditions took about 5 pages at the end of the catalogue in closely typed difficault to read font. I bet anyone over thirty would not be able to read it and anyone under thirty wouldnytt bother anyway.

Anyway I want a simple suite of small footprint software that does the job , not takes over your machine.

Rant over

The Price Of A Van

I was just checking through my music that I had ripped to my network drive and was suprised to find that apparently I've never owned a Motorhead album (I know I've had a few compilations) , and also had ripped any David Bowie or Van Morrison barring a few recent aquisitions.

I noticed a few Van Morrison gaps in my collection such as Beautiful Vison , Poetic Champions Compose and St Dominic's Preview. Now Van Morrison is a major artist , and I was surprised to see that a lot of his music is no longer available on CD or , if it it is , it is ranging fromexpensive to exhorbitant (£200 for "One Night In San Francisco") . I had a similar problem with Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart , which I though I would pick up for a tenner for a Christmas present , but could not find it under a £35 at the time which came as a slight shock.

I thought I'd put them on a carousel so you can check them out for yourself. I'm just wondering if anything from these artists will appear on National Record Shop Day. It looks like in the digital streamimg , age that tangible media is being edged out and therefore actually becoming more valuable and a better investment.

You can still get you Robbie Williams and Take That complete back catalogues for untder a tenner from That's Entertainmant , but that's just the nature of the beast .....

Thursday 7 March 2013

Back on Twitter , and Storing All World Knowledge

It's been about a month since I ditched Twitter and Instagram. One of the reasons for doing so is no matter how good your picture or text is , it generally goes into a black hole. But twitter can be used for keeping an eye on events , and since taking the time ro watch a few TED talks , I have a reason to follow someone on twitter . I need to find a few people worth following because of what they do , so am slowly building things up. I posted one tweet , which I nicked from a place in York, so will see how things go.

I promise not to post pictures ogf my food or any video at all , but will share things worth sharing. My new id is @mikeydred96 if you want to follow me , and if you don't that's fine.

I'm looking forward to National Record Shop Day and World Book Night this year and have a couple of ideas mulling around for both events.

The video is another brilliant TED talk from Brewster Kahle on a building a digital library, sort of like Project Gutenberg . The Book-Mobiles are an amazing idea , great fun .Watch the video

Sunday 3 March 2013

TED is just Brilliant

Just started watcheing TED talks , which is essentially the spreading of good ideas. I know most people will be too busy watching soaps and reality / Lowest Commom Demonitor TV to take any notice of using TED to expand their mental horizons , but it is both educational and entertaining and long may it run. That's why I chose the Neil Young / Stephen Stills song. Well worth a visit you will find something that takes your interest and YOU WILL learn something

This is the mission statement lifted from their web site:

"TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference on the West Coast each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TED Talks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize."

Here is a typical TED talk:

Saturday 2 March 2013

Record Day In York

Quite a surprisingly successful day today in York with the discovery of three sort independent record shops. HMV is still lurching along and I  believe there is a That's Entertainment within the city environs. I'm also writing this on the iPad and the performance is completely atrocious. Keys don't act as they should so I may wait until I can get to a PC before I finish it properly.

Anyway these shops are not places to visit if you want the latest number one or X-Factor product.

Anyway got a laptop to finish this . The Attic is the smallest almost entirely vinyl , up two flights of stairs and run by the owner as a hobby. They have a facebook page here. The address is 1 Patrick Pool and it's next to a camera shop. Directions are here and it's worth a visit.

Next on the list is a sort of retro shop , with books, vinyl, 78s , comics and a number of record players. The ower is a really friendly hip-hop loving guy extremely knowledgeable about his stuff and  currently getting to know David Bowie's back catalogue.It's called The Inkwell and it's on Gillygate in York. Their web site is here. Well worth a visit if you are into anything retro. Oh abnd they serve tea and coffee. Oh and their very interesting blog is here.

Lastly , also on Gillygate is Rebound Records. A great selection of CDs and vinyl , well laid out and a welcoming chatty proprietor. Lots of jazz , Americana, 50s , 60s , folk and I picked up a Terry Reid retrospective and 5 CDs of music banned by the BBC. There is a facebook link here but I don't think they have a website.

Here's another guide to York's record shops worth following up if you are in York. Link here.

So York has small selection of excellent record shops still , which has really mead my day.