Achtung! Bloggen

I’m still tweaking the templates for this new design. A comment from Bill about changing his bookmarks to point to the new location of the blog made me realise that I shouldn’t have made /2006/ its default location, because he (and everyone else) will only have to change again in ten months’ time—it’s Walking West all over again. So I’ve duplicated the page at /weblog/. For the next ten months it’ll be identical to /2006/, but changing your bookmarks now will save you a full twenty seconds’ effort in January (or February, or March) 2007... assuming you’re still reading then, and that I haven’t been hit by a falling anvil.

25 February 2006 · Site News

KF mentioned an academic-blog brouhaha that I’d completely missed, and shortly afterwards I noticed a good thread on the same at Jill Walker’s blog, with a particularly helpful comment by Espen.

Read More · 25 February 2006 · · Net Culture

Sufjan Stevens’s Christmas album.

25 February 2006 · · Music

An entertaining web short starring Sam Rockwell as the Bat-Man. [Via Mefi, which I just realised I haven’t even commented at in four months. Does this make me a constructive lurker without a construction?]

25 February 2006 · Weblog

Clap Your Hands Say Anything

This is going to seem pretty pointless when I’ve just spent all week doing everything else except post here, but the RSS 2.0 feed for this site is now human-readable—assuming said human is using Mozilla or Firefox. That’s right, I’ve added an XSLT stylesheet to convert it into HTML. All those months of XML work have finally paid off... in the form of a page that isn’t even directly linked from the front of the site (unless you choose Show Site Navigation Bar Always in Mozilla). And if you’re using Safari it overrules my XSLT with its own RSS format and defaults to the 1.0 file anyway (which doesn’t have the XSLT, because it’s RDF); and who knows what happens in IE6/Win, so really, what’s the point.

Read More · 24 February 2006 · · Site News

American Drains

It’s not all breathtaking cityscapes. Take a quick spin around New York’s pipes and Boston’s sewers. (That’s right, I’m asking you to load 60k jpegs of manholes. It doesn’t get any better than this, baby.)

20 February 2006 · · Whatever

American Cityscapes

Revisiting New York was like seeing a whole new city, even though I’d been there in 1992. There were some prominent absences in the landscape, obviously, but a decade of watching Seinfeld, listening to Interpol and the Strokes and reading the online words of New York peers also transformed the experience. Our hotel was around the corner from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles brasserie, a few blocks from Park Avenue and the Empire State, and we arrived hours after the end of a transport strike that recalled the 1970s. Even catching the subway made me think of The Taking of Pelham 123 (the superb original, not the remake). New York felt just like... New York, New York.

Read More · 18 February 2006 · Travel

It hasn’t been a great music month for yours truly, because the amp is in for repairs again, but there have been a couple of exceptions. I’ve finally discovered the Killers (via the US special edition of Hot Fuss, which for no discernable reason has a different track order and several different tracks from the UK special edition) and have been re-acquainting myself with Lloyd Cole’s Rattlesnakes, which I first heard way back in 1984 but had never bought on CD; it still sounds pretty good.

Album of the month for January, though, was Spoon’s Gimme Fiction, a hot tip from Bill that pushes all the right alternative buttons. Shades of the New Pornographers, the Pixies, all that stuff, you know the drill. They have next to no profile on this side of the Atlantic, although the album has had a UK release. I liked it so much that I went scouting for more and ended up buying their previous albums A Series of Sneaks, Girls Can Tell and Kill the Moonlight online. (Their debut, Telephono, is out of print and goes for $50 or more, which is almost as annoying as track listings that change from country to country.)

Read More · 15 February 2006 · · Music

Start Spreading the News

Now that I’ve finished sorting out the New York photos there’s the little matter of writing a blurb to announce them... which if I tried to do it justice would take me as long again. So let’s just say that 55 pictures equals 55,000 words, and leave it there for now.


Read More · 14 February 2006 · · Travel

And to think I was planning to post something every day. Pitched battles with XML during the daytime have kept me from dashing off a quick entry or two, and at night I’ve been sorting through folder after folder of photographs from Australia and America. I’m almost at the point where I can put up a New York gallery, but first had to do something about the tired 2004 design at Detail (ta-dahhh!). That’s the trouble with redesigning: you change one little front page and the whole site needs doing. (For a while I thought about turning it into a photo-a-day site like the impressive Chromasia. Then I thought of my posting rate in 2005, wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes, and went and watched another episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.)

Read More · 9 February 2006 · · Site News

Inconsequential Property

Jane had a business event down south in January, and for a while I was thinking of catching a train down to meet up with her and see some friends. We decided against it (having been travelling so much recently), but unexpectedly I ended up down in London for a day after all.

Read More · 6 February 2006 · Journal

Ed hits the com-lit-audioblog jackpot interviewing Dave Barry, who’s sounding pretty chilled about post-columnist life.

6 February 2006 · · Comedy

Who better to help squeeze your music library onto a 2GB iPod than a logician? [Note to self: ditch the cheap mp3 player from Richer Sounds.]

6 February 2006 · Music

A New and Maiden Holiday-Ground

Westward, beyond the still pleasant, but, even then, no longer solitary, hamlet of Charing, a broad space, broken here and there by scattered houses and venerable pollards, in the early spring of 1467, presented the rural scene for the sports and pastimes of the inhabitants of Westminster and London. Scarcely need we say that open spaces for the popular games and diversions were then numerous in the suburbs of the metropolis. Grateful to some, the fresh pools of Islington; to others, the grass-bare fields of Finsbury; to all, the hedgeless plains of vast Mile-end. But the site to which we are now summoned was a new and maiden holiday-ground, lately bestowed upon the townsfolk of Westminster by the powerful Earl of Warwick.

And what better words to summon you to this new and maiden holiday-ground than those of Lord Lytton, whose fine volume The Last of the Barons we picked up for three quid on Saturday, in a leather-bound 1900 edition. We have laboured hard, these many hours, to build a pleasant, but, even then, no longer solitary space, broken here and there by CSS borders, in the late winter of 2006. Scarcely need we say that, for some weeks after our return from New York, we could not be bothered, or, rather, that we were far too occupied by fresh pools. But at last we have bestowed upon you, townsfolk of Web-minster, this hedgeless plain of grass-bare fields...

We, I mean, I (slipping back into my own voice, for, lo!, it is I, etc.) have changed a few things around here, as you’ve no doubt already noticed. Goodbye, Feed, and the increasingly pointless separation of blog and journal. Goodbye, blog entries on the front page of the site; it seemed sensible to submerge them slightly to help guide new visitors around this ramshackle maze. Hello, job-related advertising (below); not too intrusive, hopefully, and it might help keep me in work beyond the middle of next year. As for the rest, a few more corners of the site could use a revamp, but we’ll see how it goes.

6 February 2006 · · Site News

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