Archive for August, 2008

Secular Portal’s new blog aggregator!

August 28th, 2008 1 comment

Secular Portal has just opened its new blog aggregator to collect all the blogs from its users and constituent societies. If you are a follower of the student free thinking movement or are just interested in things like Humanism, atheism, agnosticism, free thinking or consder yourself a secularist then it is well worht heading over an checkeing out the new site.

Also, check out the latest BHA bulletin as it includes a short piece on the inaugural meeting of the parent group of Secular Portal, the AHS. Hopefully we will have this organisation constituted in November and have us up and running in no time at all.

Believers beware!

V Fest

August 19th, 2008 No comments

I’ve never been to one of the mainstream festivals before – Leeds/Reading, V Fest, Glastonbury etc. This is for several reasons, firstly the cost – £150 for a festival is too expensive, secondly there is the fact that they are massively ovwercrowded – 30000 people is just too many, finally there is the stigma. I usually don’t see myself as a music snob, but it seems that the sort of music fans that attend the mainstream festivals are the sort of music fan that pisses people off.

Having said all that, Muse were playing V Fest this year and, for those of you that don’t know, my girlfriend Liz is obsessed with them. The moment she heard they were playing she booked two tickets for the day they were headlining at the Staffordshire version of the festival. This mean attending one of the festivals I never thought I would, especially since the escapades of last summer!

We got up early on the Sunday, leaving about 9am to drive the 130 miles from Leeds to Weston Park, near Cannock, Staffordshire. The drive was pretty uneventful and there were no jams getting into the venue. The queueing wasn’t too bad to get into the actual arena either – maybe 20 minutes. Once in the arena we headed over to the main stage area to try and camp out for the headliners so we would be near(ish) the front. We managed to get to the first few rows right in the middle for the first few acts – The Futureheads, Alannis Morrisette, Lostprophets and Maximo Park. Unfortuantely, as mentioned above the sort of music fans that attend these festivals are prats, so after about 5 hours of getting squashed, beaten, crushed, kicked and being generally uncomfortable (and the fact that I had managed to lose my mobile telephone for the first time in nearly 10 years) we abandoned our position and fled the main stage area. We rustled ourselves up ome food – which considering the fact we were at a festival was not too over priced. We managed to find a place that did a giant Yorkshire pudding filled with sausage, mash, onions and gravy for a fiver! We also managed to find somewhere to sit amongst all the mud.

After queueing for a while to use the “toilets” and having missed The Kooks’ set. We headed back for the headliners. We didn’t go so deep into the crowd, but found ourselves a nice little spot not too far back where we could enjoy the music and see the stage without fear for our lives. The first headline act were the Stereophonics. They were absolutely awesome live. Kelly Jones really knows how to work the crowd and their back catelogue is impressive. I know it’s a festival and bands play their singles but I really had hoped they would play a few of the album tracks! Muse were the second headline act and they know how to put ona show. I am not the world’s biggest Muse fan – most of it is just noise – but they are good live, if only for their light and special effects show! Six giant satellites mounted with lasers and spotlights aodrned or surrounded the stage!! All in all a fun day, except for the hour or so queue in the mud to get out of the car park – but even that wasn’t as bad as I had expected.

Pleasently surprised is probably the right phrase. I wouldn’t pay to go back again, but if the chance arose to attend for the day again for free then I would probably think about and it would depend on who was playing.

Keep an eye out for more detailed reviews of the sets people played.

Firefox 3

August 7th, 2008 1 comment

You may or may not be aware that Mozilla have recently launched their latest offering from the Firefox web browser series. Version 3 contains, according to the official website, over 15,000 improvements on its predecesser. Now I haven’t really got under the hood of it yet, but I have noticed a few of them – namely the interface is quite different. It doesn’t strike you straight away, but when you go to click where you are used to clicking and either a) nothing happens or b) the wrong thing happens can get quite annoying. After a little while when you get used to the new interface then things start looking up. Chris, on his flashy new website, mentions in his review about the fact that Firefox 3 doesn’t leech all your memory and other system resources. Now although I never experienced this with Firefox 2.x, I have noticed that the overall memory footprint is reduced as well as seemingly making fewer demands on processor and hard disk space too. It is still a little early to make proper judgements on it and no doubt I will in the future.

On the whole though, here is to another decent product that is available as open source (which will keep Kieran happy if nothing else)!

Because a pithy title is escaping me!

August 7th, 2008 No comments

The summer time blues, of Eddie Cochrane fame, have been something that many people I know have experienced and is a phenomenen that I am personally familiar with. I have always found it bizarre that so many people, especially in Britain, suffer from this highly oxymoronic state of mind. Most British people spend all year waiting for the sun to come out and as soon as it does they all get depressed! How silly is that?

On a totally different note I am currently experiencing a massive increase in workload. Planning for the upcoming Atheist Society events in fresher’s week is now in full swing. Membership cards and committee hoodies are in the pipeline, events are being nailed down, room bookings being made and equipment sourced. It is quite scary that we are only six weeks away! Then there is paid work, O2 is going swimmingly. I have just completing my second week in ‘grad bay’ so should be fully live soon enough. I am hoping that I impress enough over the next few months to get up the ladder a bit. The biggest news is the fact that I have just been given my first freelance software development contract! Designing and implementing a user interface for a university research department. More on that as I get into it.

I am quite enjoying this new found level of activity. I have been busy before, of course, but it was usually the hectic kind of busy where you don’t get chance to breathe or sleep or eat. This is the kind of busy that keeps you occupied ten hours of the day solidly, but that doesn’t feel that much like hard work. Whether I am still saying this when A-Soc gets into full swing and Rationalist Week is upon us again I don’t know. In the meantime though, I am going to enjoy it and hopefully see my bank balance rise into the positive numbers for the first time in several years too!