Archive for August, 2007

New computer conundrums

August 29th, 2007 1 comment

Basically, I am running out of HDD space on my current computer. Now I have two options as far as I can see, I can just upgrade the HDDs in my current machine – currently a 160GB and a 300GB (both SATA 2) – to something larger, ideally 500GB +, or I can price up a new machine that will essentially be a file server, but not anything dedicated – ie I want it to have a number of large hard drives, but still be usable for applications etc.

Looking on ebuyer and a few other sites it is going to cost me about £400 to get a new computer, at least I think I will as I have never built a system from scratch before so I am not 100% sure what I need. The problem with just upgrading my current HDDs is the fact that both my current disks are full and I have no further slots to fill up. This leaves the problem of transferring data from one HDD to another and having to do OS reinstalls etc.

If anyone has any bright ideas on the matter let me know.

All things Solfest

August 28th, 2007 1 comment

What an amazing weekend!

I attended my last festival of the summer this weekend – Solfest, on the Solway coast up in in Cumbria. It was a really good weekend, it was the ideal combination of good company, good music and brilliant atmosphere. I headed over to Kirkham on Wednesday after dropping Liz off in Potterhanworth so that I could do some of my to-do list before heading up to Solfest on the Friday. Due to traffic and general slowness on my part I didn’t actually get home until tea time, so didn’t really get much done. Ended up watching the England game then heading to bed.

On Thursday I set about my to-do list with some vigour. I managed to clean the car inside and out, pick up some replacement parts for the car and fit them and generally check to see how much work I am going to have to do to get the car through its MOT. I also managed to get all my washing and drying done ready for me to pack for Solfest. I managed to get it all done just in time to pick Michelle up from preston train station as she was flying voer from Jersey specially for the weekend. In the end, the train was about two hours late and I was sat on the platform for most of it. It was boring! Michelle arrived eventually (about 1am) and we headed for home and pretty much went straight to bed as we were leaving at nine the next morning!

The trip up to Solfest was generally uneventful, the roads were quite quiet seeing as it was the start of the Bank Holiday weekend though it did start to get busier throughout the day. We arrived at Sarann’s Dad’s house, with who we were staying for the weekend, at about lunchtime. We ate then headed out to Allonby to eat ice cream and walk on the beach. We had met up with Matt by this time too (Kat was also about, but was stewarding at the festival). We hit the festival about five o’clock.

One of the big surprises for me was how full the festival felt. Solfest is a relatively small, family orientated festival with about 5000 ticket holders and about 2000 stewards etc. The festival site itself wasn’t tiny yet the place felt full without being overcrowded. The next big surprise came when checking the programme for the weekend and discovering that Ben’s Brother were booked to play on the Bar Stage – the smallest venue at the festival. This surprised me as Ben’s Brother are currently enjoying quite a high level of chart and radio success and are tipped to headline some of the major summer festivals next year such as Leeds/Reading and V. I dawned on me that their debut album has only very recently been released and they must have been booked for the festival many months ago. I had to see them seeing as it was likely the last time they would be playing such an intimate venue!

They were well worth the entry fee to the festival alone. Sometimes I am disappointed by bands like Ben’s Brother when they play live but this was not the case. In many ways I preferred their live set to their album – which it must be said is a really good album, one I would recommend to anyone – as they managed to really get the audience going with their mix of classic indie guitar riffs and soulful singing. We caught a few other bands on the Friday night including the everpresent festival band that is Ozric’s Tentacles (well worth catching if you can).

Saturday was always going to be a highlight for me – Badly Drawn Boy, The Undertones and Chumbawumba all had slots on the mainstage with the former bands headlining! What a combination – Badly Drawn Boy followed by The Undertones. You would not see it anywhere else! The amazing acoustic sounds of Silent Sigh followed by Teenage Kicks!! It was an amazing night. One of the best evenings of live entertainment in my life!

Sunday was not an obvious highlight for me musicwise. There was pretty much only one band I was bothered about and that was the final act of the festival on the main stage – the everpresent Levellers. However, Solfest had one last surprise for me and it went by the name of Show of Hands. Show of Hands are an English folk group that plays a combination of traditional folk, sea shanties and rock music. They were stunning. I actually watched their set mesmerised by them. I am going to stick my neck out and say I don’t think anything has ever moved me quite so much as their music. I loved every second of their set and could have listened to them all night.

All in all it wa sa massively successful festival and I would like to extend some thank yous. Firstly, I would like to thank everyone involved with Solfest for putting on such a warm and friendly festival. Secondly I would like to thank Michelle, Kat, Matt, Ciara, Toni and Caitlin for helping make the weekend a massive success by being cool festival buddies. A special thanks to Sarann for insisting we went and making sure we all had an amazing time and a massive thanks to Sarann’s Dad for putting up with a house full of students for four days, for feeding us and for generally providing for our every whim!

I recommend this festival to all. I literally cannot wait for next year’s tickets to go on sale!!

Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors

August 23rd, 2007 2 comments

I was listening to the Editors’ new album “An End Has A Start” and the opening track has a very interesting lyric/title which goes “…the saddest thing I have ever seen are smokers outside the hospital doors…” and it got me to thinking. Now, I am not usually found to spout too much social commentary on this blog, but I feel quite strongly about this issue.

This post is actually not about smoking per se, but on the slow decline of ambition amongst people in this county. Britain was founded on industry, on the ambition, work and accomplishments of individuals – but not just individuals, of the nation as a whole. This just isn’t true anymore. Take, for example, the title of this post. Is there anything more depressing and indicative of modern society than the sight of ill people killing themselves?

The news continued this theme of declining social values last night when it introduced the story of an eleven year old boy, shot dead by a teenager ina drive by shooting on a BMX bike! You can read the full story here. This shooting is just one in a long line of teenage murders. Murders committed by teenagers on teenagers! This is particularly prevalent on London and Manchester, but the most recent one happened in Liverpool. This whole culture and society is to blame. Usually, I am pretty good at coming up with off the cuff solutions to these problems, usually quite right wing and usually quit impractical. This time, however, I am at a loss. I think we may be at a point where we cannot prevent this from happening again. How can we stop this culture of violence and depravity when it is so far advabced and intertwined into mainstream culture and society. In fact, I would go so far as to say that mainstream culture is itself to blame. We are all to blame for this. We have stood back and allowed too many freedoms and not enough responsibility. As my mum said last night, “’s a pity we can’t transport them anymore..”

David Cameron, the Tory leader, suggested that we suspend the driving licence age for those who commit anti-social crimes. A youngster in Bedford was quoted to reply to this by saying “…so? We will just drive anyway…” I am out of ideas. I want to blame the parents, but what can they do if their children are out of control. I want to say that we should just lock them all away and throw away the key, go totally zero tolerance against all violent crime and anti-social crime in young people. Bring in mandatory life sentences for all violent crime. This sounds harsh, but ultimately we are going to need a deterrent that actually deters from crime. A slap on the wrist, an ASBO, community service orders have all been tried and have all failed so spectacularly that it’s actually funny. We need to crack down now. Before it is too late.

Unfortunately, I think we may have already missed the boat on this one. Maybe it is already a case of giving up and going home, starting again from scratch!

The Evils of Drink

August 21st, 2007 4 comments

Last night saw the group’s end of resit celebrations, hosted at the Terrace. There was actually quite a good turn out considering it was originally a Facebook event. There was much merriment during the evening. Sarann decided to take clothes off everytime she choked – which, unfortunately for the audience, was only the once, Kieran disappeared off with Christina and Kat for a short while, winning a Battle Royale (inside joke) and there was generally tipsy behavious from all concerned. Quote of the day goes to Gaz for his quiche comment:

Sarann walks back from the toilet with jacket off and looking slightly disshevelled.
Norman: “Have you been for a quicky?”
Gaz: “It’s pronounced ‘quiche’.”
Everyone falls about laughing

After the Terrace kicked us out, at about 10.30pm, we headed over to Charlie’s for some post party drinks. Instead, we got a full on house party. Plenty of alcohol yet no mixers made for quite an evening. I ended up mixing my vodka with Cherry Brandy!!

The evening came to a close about 1am with Sarann, Liz and I heading home by taxi.

All in all a good night. Although there are lots of sore heads this morning!

Diary/Planner Application

August 15th, 2007 3 comments

I am getting to that time of year when my to-do list starts to become a little unmanageable. I have got a list for A-Soc that fills a side of A4, my uni to-do list is already starting to get silly and then there are all the ‘little’ things like bills, dates etc that need to be tracked and organised. In conclusion, I need a diary.

Now, I have a paper diary, but it really doesn’t offer the functionality I want. Ideally I am looking for something that plugs into Thuderbird, has a scheduler, day planner and to-do list reminders built it along with a way of categorising stuff into various sections – ie uni, A-Soc etc.

Anyone any thoughts?

Fence Sitting Anonymous

August 15th, 2007 2 comments

I’ve just finished reading a blog post on moderation and anti-fundamentalism and it got me thinking about a number of things. Firstly, is the age old question of fundamentalism. Is it wrong to believe something so strongly that you pursue it with all your might, literally in some cases? I still cannot make up my mind, my fellow A-Soc member Chris Worfolk says that moderation in religion is wrong, a cop out even in his article “The problem With Religious Moderates”. I am not entirely convinced by his arguments, I like to think that there is room even within the most deep set of principles for self censorship and the need to balance your convictions against the freedom of those around you. It is important as a religious commentator that balance is given to all arguments. It is fine blasting non-fundamentalists for failing at their religion as long as you continue that crusade against all non-fundamentalists in every walk of life. Every conviction out there can be followed fundamentally. If fundamentalism was to be applauded then shouldn’t we all be members of the BNP or the Communist Party? Extremism is not the same as fundamentalism, I think it is important that is clarified, but all fundamentalists are extremists in the modern sense.

I like the idea of fundamentalism, I think it allows an easy life. The rules and thought processes are simple. you just follow the guidelines set down by your conviction be it religion, racism, anti-semetism or just that all meals must be eaten at the dinner table! However, there is no flexibility in it, which is the crux of the issue for me. We need flexibility. We need to be able to say “wait a minute?”. There must be room for criticism, for question, for reason.

As an atheist I am often barraged with the question, “But, isn’t Atheism a religion?”. I am often forced to concede that certain aspects of the atheists beliefs can be construed as religious. Especially with idealogies such as Buddhism and Humanism. I, however, an neither of the above. I am an atheist. I have no reason to believe ina god or gods, so I don’t. Is it, therefore, possible for me to be a fundamentalist atheist? I am sure that there are many out there who would say that some of my actions within A-Soc and in public could be cinstrued as fundamental. I am not known for my lack of convictions. However, as a rational thinker I require flexibility. None of my convictions are set in stone. This would pique the author of the initial article as he suggests that weak convictions are a curse on society. it would also cause some concern for my esteemed colleague, Chris, as he maintains his convisitons as the bedrock of his motivation to pursue his goals for A-Soc World Domination!

Anyway, I hope some of you enjoyed this little discussion and I welcome your comments on the issue!

Eyes Open – Snow Patrol

August 14th, 2007 3 comments

Yes, the album has been out for quite some time, but I feel that it needs a review as it is currently one of my most frequently played albums at home.

For starters, it is far superior in both composition and content than Final Straw their previous release. Not only does it contain more “anthem” style songs, but the feel of the album is just more appropriate to the band’s sound and ethos. You can definitely feel the direction of the album is one of hope, of developing hurt into strength. It is probably why I am listening to it a lot at the moment as I am currently trying to go through the same transformation – turning past mistakes and disasters into soemthing positive. There are three really good tracks on the album, which I think deserve a special mention. First is Hands Open. It has one of the finest bass riffs I have come across and really carries the message of the album well. It also has one of the most memorable opening couplets I have heard in some time:

It’s hard to argue when
you won’t stop making sense
But my tongue still misbehaves and it
keeps digging my own grave with my

Hands open, and my eyes open
I just keep hoping
That your heart opens

Why would I sabotage
the best thing that I have
Well, it makes it easier to know
exactly what I want with my…

Hands open and my eyes open
I just keep hoping
that your heart opens

It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta be more than hoping it’s right
I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it
Collapse into me, tired with joy

It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta be more than hoping it’s right
I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it
Collapse into me, tired with joy

It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta be more than hoping it’s right
I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it
Collapse into me, tired with joy

Put Sufjan Stevens on
and we’ll play your favorite song
“Chicago” bursts to life and your
sweet smile remembers you, my

Hands open, and my eyes open
I just keep hoping
That your heart opens

It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta be more than hoping it’s right
I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it
Collapse into me, tired with joy

It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta be more than hoping it’s right
I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it
Collapse into me, tired with joy

It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta be more than hoping it’s right
I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it
Collapse into me, tired with joy

It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta be more than hoping it’s right
I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it
Collapse into me, tired with joy

The othe really good songs are Set The Fire To The Third Bar which features the vocals of the amazingly talented Martha Wainwright (listen to her other stuff and you will see what I mean) and one of the singles off the album, Chasing Cars. Many of you will disagree with this last track, as it isn’t really in keeping with the album as a whole, but I like it. It is the right combination of melancholy and uplifting rock.

Anyway, listen to the album – even if you don’t really like Snow Patrol and I know there are many of you out there. I think there is something for everyone on this album, especially if you like lyrics driven music!

Sometimes you can’t make it on your own…

August 13th, 2007 1 comment

Why is it that sometimes we are the architects of our own downfall? Why is it that even when things are amazing and perfect we sabotage it? Why is it that we are never happy unless the world is collapsing around our ears?

I wish I knew the answer to those questions. I think it would make some things a lot clearer to me. Sometimes I wonder if there are answers out there, or whether there are things we will never know? I am a believer in knowledge. I bel;ieve that if we know enough about our universe and our history we have power over it, not in the metaphysical way, but in our own lives. If we can predict our actions, our responses to stimuli, based on past experience and a knowledge of our surroundings then we can control it. It is why I am a rationalist, I think that everything cann be explained away. That ever question has an answer and that answer is fully understandable and comprehendable by man. There is no need for someone to pull my strings.

However, if there are no answers then what is there? I say that every question has an answer, but does every answer have a question? Is that even relavent?

I guess these late night rants….

**We interrupt this programme to bring you the latest movements (literally) on my corridor**

Kara has just appeared at my door (note to self – shut door) to discuss random crap, giggled and then went to the toilet – which happens to be 2 feet from where I am sitting. She is remarkably quiet. Chris isn’t!

**End transmission**

…where was I? oh yeah, late night rants.

I’ve actually forgotten what I was going to say, so I think we will leave that there.



August 10th, 2007 1 comment

Having played with my Zombie deck a few times now I have made some decisions about its content. Firstly, I want to get rid of the Angel’s Trumpet artifact as although it forces ability strong creatures to attack rather than use their abilities, it also hampers my defensive strategy by forcing me to attack rather than leave blockers. I am thinking of replacing it with either another artifact or enchantment that allows me some way of preventing creatures using their abilities, or with an instant or sorcery that allows me to destroy enchantments – particularly Circle of Protection Black!

I have seen a couple of interesting cards out there, but nothing definitive, so will keep looking and experimenting. Will let you know the outcome ASAP. Any ideas let me know.

Internet at Home

August 9th, 2007 2 comments

Just a quick post to say that we have working internet at home now, which means that I can post more and generally be more of an online nuisance to the world from now on!

The internet isn’t perfect, we are still having modem vs router issues and are currently running multiple DHCP servers and the port forwarding is a bit screwed but we can all get online and play WoW. Which is the important thing!