December 2004

<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?

Ain’t telling.

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?

Nothing much.

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?

Enough sleep.

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?

Teh girlie.

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”

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 is by Vienna Teng, and has almost replaced I believe in Father Christmas as my favourite Christmas song. It’s captured how I feel about this time of year.

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.

2. The sun is setting like molasses in the sky.Black Velvet by Alannah Myles. terriem

3. 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.

5. 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

7. All I do is kiss you through the bars of a rhyme. Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits. terriem

8. 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.

10. 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.

12. 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

13. Eye to eye, they solemnly convene to make the scene Music to Watch Girls By by Andy Williams.

14. 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

15. Through these fields of destruction, baptisms of fire. Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits. marnanel

16. 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.

20. 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

21. Sail on silver girl, sail on by, your time has come to shine. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel. terriem

22. 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.

24. 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.