<lj-cut text=”New Year Meme”>
1. What did you do in 2004 that you’d never done before?
Resigned from a job. Went to Singapore. Went to the Lake District. Will that do?
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No and no.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
Singapore, and that’s it.
6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
Kickass ninja powers (watching a lot of Buffy lately).
7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I’m not sure it counts as an achievement of mine or dumb luck, but I seem to have found a great new job. Which was nice.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not staying in touch with friends and family as much as I should have.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Had random chundering bug earlier in the year, but other than that, no.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
The Powerbook is a great new toy.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
S’s, for being generally amazing. I hope I don’t get told off when she reads this.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Lots of people in the big world out there, but among people I know, nobody’s.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Survival essentials: food, shelter, bandwidth, Powerbook.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I don’t do really, really, really excited. I’m phlegmatic.
16. What song will always remind you of 2004?
Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten, which Radio 2 have had on non-stop. It’s a good song, though, so I don’t mind.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about nothing.
20. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?
At bluap‘s party.
23. What was your favourite TV programme? (spelling Anglicised: take back the language)
My favourite (and only TV) programme was Strictly Come Dancing. I greatly enjoyed both Spaced and Buffy, but those were on DVD.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
25. What was the best book you read?
I read a lot of books. A History of God and Lapsing stick in my memory.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Freelance Hairdresser, obviously.
27. What did you want and get?
That’d be the job, then.
28. What did you want and not get?
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
It’s been a quiet year for films. I quite liked The Incredibles. Ooh, was The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind this year? That was good, too, in a rather different way.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 28. I had a big party for my friends.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The spontaneous conversion of all evangelical Christians to the worship of Lord Kelvin. Kelvin is Lord!
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
M&S chic. I think the long coat is rather good though.
33. What kept you sane?
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
The Russian one on Strictly Come Dancing was rather nice.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I’ve given up on politics. We’re doomed.
36. Who did you miss?
I’ve been practising my aim. I don’t miss.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
My new colleagues are a fine bunch of highly skilled engineers (can I have a raise now, please?)
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004:
Check shirt pocket for passport before washing shirt.
Love is the Law, Love under Will. Do What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
“And the sacred moments of silliness are where I find my heaven”
<lj-cut text=”New Year Meme”>
it’s the season of eyes meeting over the noise and holding fast with sharp realization it’s the season of cold making warmth a divine intervention you are safe here you know now … it’s the season of scars and of wounds in the heart of feeling the full weight of our burdens it’s the season of bowing our heads in the wind and knowing we are not alone in fear not alone in the dark
The song lyrics are mostly down to the obscure ones, although I’m surprised no-one’s got 15 yet. Some CDC people would probably know 11 when they hear it, too, but possibly the Spanish thing is a bit much.
In other news, I have an experimental beard:
<lj-cut text=”Cut for picture”>
I think it makes me look like a tramp, but other opinions vary. It’s going by the weekend anyway, as I want to look smart for family outings.
Via terriem, comes the meme:
Step 1: Get your playlist together, put it on random, and play.
Step 2: Pick your favourite lines from the first 25 songs that play (in my case, excluding parodies and Thundercats out-takes, oh yes).
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song the lines come from.
Step 4: Cross out the songs when someone guesses correctly.
Update: as people seem to have run out of steam, I’ve added the answers to the ones no-one got.
<lj-cut text=”Here are the lyrics”>
1. You wave your hand and they scatter like crows, they’re nothing that’ll ever capture your heart. Downtown Train by Rod Stewart.
The sun is setting like molasses in the sky.Black Velvet by Alannah Myles. terriem
Flashback, warm nights, almost left behind.Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper. terriem
4. Pale blue eyes, same old house, no ties. When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) by Deacon Blue.
The dizzy dancing way you feel, as every fairytale comes real Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell. terriem
6. That summer feeling, is gonna fly, always try and keep the feeling inside. Sparky’s Dream by Teenage Fanclub
All I do is kiss you through the bars of a rhyme. Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits. terriem
Too in touch with myself – I light the fuse Changingman by Paul Weller. phlebas
9. Will you marry for the money, take a lover in the afternoon? Gloria by Laura Brannigan.
Laugh at the wonder of it all, laugh so loud you break your fall Sound by James. lisekit
11. No me dejes solo con mi corazon que esta enloquecido con esta pasion Dimelo by Marc Anthony, as popularised by Dave Sheridan’s Amazing Latin CD.
And I want to wake up with the rain falling on a tin roof, while I’m safe there in your arms. Come Away With Me by Norah Jones. terriem
Eye to eye, they solemnly convene to make the scene Music to Watch Girls By by Andy Williams.
Cos your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance, well they’re no friends of mine. Safety Dance by Men Without Hats. phlebas
Through these fields of destruction, baptisms of fire. Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits. marnanel
I’d like to believe, in the terrible truth, in the beautiful lie. There Goes God by Crowded House. lisekit
17. So cool she was like jazz on a summer’s day. Valerie by Steve Winwood.
18. I dream of Michelangelo when I’m lying in my bed: little angels hang above my head and read me like an open book. Angels of the Silences by Counting Crows.
19. Fat man starts to fall. Inside by Stiltskin.
I get the same old dream, same time every night/ Fall to the ground and I wake up Since You’ve Been Gone by Rainbow. phlebas
Sail on silver girl, sail on by, your time has come to shine. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel. terriem
The blonde waitresses take their trays, they spin around and they cross the floor Walk Like an Egyptian by the Bangles. terriem
23. And I think that I could love you ’cause you know how to be free. Walk this World by Heather Nova.
Call my name and save me from the dark Wake me up inside by Evanesence. lisekit
25. Can’t even hear ’em no more, all the voices and choices, now only one road remains, just [TITLE], two hearts, two souls, tonight, two lanes. Strangers in a Car by Marc Cohn.
Usenet news is the Internet’s original discussion forum (in fact, technically it predates the Internet, but that’s not important right now): groups organised into a hierarchies, with messages (articles) in them which have a similar format to email, but which are distributed using a different mechanism. You can read news using a news-reader, a piece of software which connects to a news server to retrieve articles. There are thousands of newsgroups out there, covering every topic you can imagine and some you’d probably rather not. A whole lot of the Internet’s subculture originated on Usenet.
A while ago, Google acquired a Usenet archive dating back for a couple of decades, and did their usual search magic with it. Unfortunately, they’ve since lost the plot. The latest revamp of Google Groups, which went live yesterday, has sacrificed the usability of the news archive to promote Google’s own discussion groups. These internal Google groups are presented on the same site, in a move which seems to be designed to compete with the Yahoo! Groups! service!. What’s wrong with the new site?<lj-cut text=”Bad Google, no biscuit.”>
In decreasing order of badness:
- They’ve broken old links. There are countless web pages which cite Usenet threads by linking to Google’s archive. These are now all dead links. Old links to individual articles (which refer to the Message ID of the article) are redirected (hurrah!), but into the top of the thread which contains the article (doh!): good luck finding the article you thought you’d linked to in a thread containing hundreds of responses. Oh, and the new way of forming links to individual articles doesn’t use the unique Message ID which is already in the original article, but a unique ID of Google’s own devising. That ID is presumably subject to change the next time Google’s developers are bored.
- Google are tracking clicks on URLs in messages (the URLs are re-written to go via Google). I regard that as somewhat sinister: why do they need to know which links you’ve clicked? They’re not doing that on their web search, presumably because they know what would happen if they tried it.
- They’ve tried to obscure email addresses throughout the articles, replacing some of the local part (that’s the bit before the @ sign, RFC 2821 fans) with an ellipsis. They’ve ended up obscuring similar looking things, like mention of Message-IDs in the original messages. Obscuring email addresses in Usenet articles is pointless: spammers already suck up email addresses directly from Usenet servers.
- In all these changes, they’ve still not fixed the problem of Google users replying to messages from years ago. Or, as far as I know, the other problems (like not honouring the Followup-to header) which mean Google’s posting interface isn’t a good Usenet citizen.
- They’ve tried to be clever with fonts. The text of articles is shown in a proportional font (one where all the letters are not the same width). Some levels of quotation seem to be in monospace fonts (where they are). Mock HTML tags (like, say, <sarcasm>) seem to confuse it, for some reason, as do other variations in spacing. If you have a post which discusses HTML itself, Google gets confused and may render the whole thing as a huge link, or with random spacing and fonts.
On the plus side:
- The new interface is pretty.
Google provides a valuable service by making the Usenet archive searchable for free. But it is also using this to drive traffic to their own discussion groups, and doubtless hopes to make money from ads, in a similar way to the Google web search and Gmail products. Unlike the web search or Gmail, though, Google has made a product by reproducing people’s copyrighted work in its entirely (except for those ellipses, naturally). In the past Google has got away with it because their product enhanced the experience of Usenet, which is, after all, full of people who want to be heard. Every change will produce some resistance from people who liked things how they were before, but in this case something has been lost, and pretty fluff does not make up for it.
Our world is being driven further and further into irrationality by people who cannot reconcile their faith with reality, and therefore decide that it is reality which is lacking.
<lj-cut text=”Dancing and that”>
GD on Friday was fun. CDC had been running events all day to raise money for Children in Need. In the evening, we had silly games at General Dancing, including the one where you put hats on people, play a quickstep and tell them to put the hats on other people. You stop the music occasionally and people who still have hats leave the floor. I got knocked out fairly quickly: I claim I was disadvantaged by dancing with Safi, who is too short to plonk hats on people’s heads from above (having the woman do this is clearly the best strategy, as it leaves the man free to steer). Ginger Joanna and I did win one of the “one dance to the tune of another” competitions, but cannot for the life of me remember which dances were involved. There was also a ceidlidh, although that suffered from the caller and band being a bit quiet (possibly down to a dodgy sound system) and assuming that we all knew what things like “set to your partner” meant. Oh, and they played the St Bernard’s Waltz painfully slowly. But it was all for charidee, so I shouldn’t grouse so much. I then decided I wasn’t rigged for hip-hop so ran away when that came on.
Went to a better ceidlidh on Saturday, for Allen’s birthday. It was a one man show by the inestimable Karl Sandeman. A good time was had by all. Thanks to Karl’s dressing up bag for use when dancing The Flying Scotsman, I now have a new user icon (the bigger version is even scarier). My attempts to channel Rab C Nesbitt were described as “actually scary, even though I knew it was you” by one onlooker. So, can yer mammy sew?
You can’t have one of these updates without mentioning religion, so I thought I’d point out an interesting article on Ship of Fools about university CU missions (like CICCU’s Promise this year). There’s a link at the top of the article to a longer PDF version, which is worth a read.
The author talks about most students being apathetic toward religion and student politics as if this were a recent change. I’m not sure I believe this, though. Kate Fox’s Watching the English mentions “The Importance of Not Being Earnest” as a general rule of Englishness: we’re naturally suspicious of anyone who appears too keen on anything. When she talks about religion, she also notes that while many people will say they’re C of E on census forms, few people actually care about religion enough to bother arguing about it. The hothouse environment of the vast Cambridge friends-of-friends web magnifies the importance of religion, since it is full of people who have thought about it and decided one way or the other.
This is probably a good thing, since it means that there is no political capital in placating the fundamentalists in this country. No Bush for us: Tony keeps quiet about his (quite serious, by all accounts) Christian faith. We’re far more interested in class war: witness the way that, as shreena pointed out, the ban on foxhunting got far more press coverage than the introduction of civil partnerships for gay people.
Last night, we went to a fine dinner party, courtesy of bluap. The BBC has put on a new series of Strictly Come Dancing, so we watched that before we ate. Excitingly, a couple of the non-dancer blokes did pretty well: both Roger Black and Aled Jones have some sense of rhythm and moved their hips a bit. Poor Hazel Newbury had Quentin Wilson from Top Gear as a partner, and he really couldn’t dance, so one of the best dancers in Teh World Evar went out in the first round. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in future weeks, as there are some strong contenders this time around.
After that, there was food and conversation and stuff. I must link to Bob the Builder vs Eminem, Tony and Dubya’s lovely duet (and again) and yet more Enimem mash-ups for people who hadn’t seen or heard them. There was lots of discussion on whether LiveJournal was geeky or whether web-logging and suchlike is now a pop culture thing. I think one of my previous entries sums up what I think about that.
If you’re an English geek of a certain age, one Christmas you probably received a computer game which wasn’t like any games which had gone before. It came in an A5 box, big enough to hold the manual, the novella, the poster with all the ships on it, the leaflet listing all the keys you needed to fly your spaceship, and, I dunno, some other stuff, probably. Elite pitted you and your trusty Cobra Mk III against an open-ended universe, where you could make a living by trade, piracy, bounty-hunting or, as your reputation grew, by carrying out missions for people. It depicted the universe in glorious wire-frame 3D. As Francis Spufford explains in Backroom Boys, it was groundbreaking and absorbing. That particular Christmas, I played it so much that, as I slept, visions of Pythons danced in my head.
Oolite is a free, open source Elite clone in Objective C for Mac OS X. It’s faithful to the original, but there are some improvements (the targetting box which shows the distance, ship type and legal status in the picture above, for example), and some nice touches (notice the skull and crossbones on the Mamba?) You also feel more a part of the world than in the original, as you come across other ships engaged in combat, or a pirate caught by the long arm of the law. The nostalgia! Buy a Mac and play it.