Wednesday, 30 September 2009


I've been ploughing through my gigography on Songkick, figuring out who goes to the most of the same gigs as me, where our gigographies overlap.
FarrellFace - 11 shows
Oddbox - 8 shows
Darve - 7 shows
Miss Ladybug - 7 shows
Nik Vestberg - 5 shows
Out of 33 shows, mostly London
Not surprising really
Oddbox - 30 shows
Darve - 23 shows
Saleandro - 9 shows
KittenPainting - 7 shows
BobUnderexposed - 7 shows
Out of 60 shows, mostly London
A mighty overlap with Oddbox and Darve there
Oddbox - 14 shows
Darve - 5 shows
Jona - 5 shows
Nastily - 3 shows
BobUnderexposed - 3 shows
Out of 89 shows, divided between London and Glasgow
Nastily was my female companion at the time, and for the rest of the Scottish gigs it was almost like I was the only person there registered on Songkick.

For 2004 to 2006 the only folk who are on the site who went to more than one of the same gig as me are Jona, Katrina and Ink Wilson.

I think this would be more interesting if more of the Glasgow set were there.

Facebook 'Friends'list

Following on from this exchange on Facebook:-

I used google's neat pie chart API tool to render this pie chart of what proportion of my Facebook friendslist I've pulled:-

Aw man, I was a slut, but one to stay in touch with.

A similar pie chart for the people I follow on Twitter looks like this

More men there, and a lower success fraction, maybe twitter isn't in the nature of that sort of person.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Lucky Soul's entry to the file-sharing/piracy debate

I first got into Lily Allen's music by downloading the mixtape mp3's she was pimping in the early days, so when her recent rants about quitting the music business cos of piracy and file-sharing and stuff, I saw straight through it.

But the debate about music piracy treks ever onwards, via twitter I find indie band Lucky Soul putting their take on it here.
Google ‘The Great Unwanted’ and you only have to get to the second page before you can download all 13 tracks of our debut album for free. (Don’t all rush at once!) My gut reaction, on first seeing our beloved little self-released record on these file-sharing sites was one of shock and disgust. How dare they? Don’t they know how God-damned hard we worked? It’s a reasonable reaction from a struggling musician, for which I don’t apologise. Then, I was working part-time in a book shop desperately trying to make ends meet. But the issue of illegal file-sharing goes much deeper than right and wrong, it reaches far wider than artist and consumer, and it represents an entire generation of kids who have been brought up on it. . To them, music has always been free, so why should they start paying for it now?
I really enjoy the music of Lucky Soul, they're like a more commerical take on The School's twee-motown. It was when they'd won some Last.Fm (owned by CBS) competition to represent an 'alternative' Christmas number 1. I downloaded a couple of their songs from a blog, probably illegally.

Now since then I think I've seen them play two or three times (well, twice according to Songkick). I paid money to go to the shows. Like blog-writer from Lucky Soul I also work hard desperately try to make ends meet (and failing). I think the first time I saw them, at the Luminaire, cost me £8, about the same as their album on iTunes. Thinking hard about it, I think I took along a Guardian Soulmates date and paid for her too. For £16 I could buy all the Lucky Soul singles and the album on iTunes.

So, if Lucky Soul were to read this I ask this question. Would they prefer I spent my hard-earned money on buying their album or going to see them play live? Which option would their prefer the most?

Anyhoo, there's something else I just noticed, from that Lucky Soul blogpost...
The last thing we want to do is alienate the very people who enjoy our music. We rely so much on word of mouth because we don’t have major-label marketing budgets, and so we find ourselves in an incredibly difficult position. But others are profiting from illegal file-sharing – just look at the advertising revenue available on these sites.

So, surely Lucky Soul could make money by hosting their own tracks for free download on their website, and sling a load of adverts round it, get the advertising revenue themselves.

This one time I recorded me a cover of Lily Allen's Littlest things

I liked the original song, sentimental twee stuff gets me.

Monday, 28 September 2009


Sorry dear readers, this one's going to be a self-indulgent moaning on. If there are any present or future employers reading this, can you poease stop now and just go elsewhere on the internet.
Wait, that's just going to make you read on. Bah.
Its the pressure, the strain, maybe even the stress.
I get up at 5:30, and hour on the bus then work labourously until 3pm, another bus ride and I'm home, knackered.
Then I have stuff to do, internety musicy gig stuff, emailing, twittering, facebook and forums, exploring, looking for people, detective work, and chatting. It takes hours and hours, but then I've still got to try to squeeze in going to more gigs, breaking the habit of a lifetime and chatting to people trying to talk them into doing new stuff, networking. And then home again, to sleep until 5:30am.
Also there's boyfriend duties and blogging duties and laundry and eating.
I'm skint so I've to got work and all I have is this back breaking factory thing, six days a week, for minimum wage, hoping payday is sometime this week.
Minimum wage, they cannot pay me any less, so I feel no obligation to think and process and improve. Just to do as I am asked, do it well and go home.
But my mind doesn't work like that, my magic manufacturing engineer superpower is to see the systems, see what works, all the cogs in the factory machine. Which processes are vital and important and urgent, bottlenecks and wastage.
We divide the work between us by space, "you take that side, I'll take this" but we shouldn't, we should divide by priority "so everything, but most importantly make sure this is done". We put tools a long way away so much time is wasted walking. We do things at the wrong time, distruptive tasks when things are busy rather than quiet. Urgent tasks left until the last minute even if there are more important things to be done there.
I see these things but have no compulsion or obligation. Besides there's no forum to suggest such things, management's distant, just an occasional voice on the phone.
I just want a lie in, a couple of hours to engage. I want a refreshing pint of beer with friends.
I'm being spectacularly unsuccessful, my KPIs bare budging above zero. Favours called in without answer. I'm failing, struggling and losing hope. What did I do wrong?
What mistakes have I made?
What's the answer?
How can I succeed in this one?

Sunday, 20 September 2009


After remembering a few old old gigs from Glasgow, my gigography on Songkick is up to 518 shows since 12th July 1995.

The bands that I've seen more than anyone else on Songkick are:-
  1. Plimptons - 50 shows
  2. MJ Hibbett (solo) - 19 shows
  3. The Hector Collectors - 14 shows
  4. Camera Obscura - 9 shows
  5. The Just Joans - 9 shows
  6. The School - 9 shows
  7. Flyer - 8 shows
  8. The Gresham Flyers - 8 shows
  9. The Deirdres - 6 shows
  10. MJ Hibbett and the Validators - 6 shows
  11. Scunner - 6 shows
  12. Superstar - 6 shows
  13. The Bobby McGees - 6 shows
  14. The Give It Ups - 5 shows
  15. My Legendary Girlfriend - 5 shows
  16. Ballboy - 4 shows
There's also a couple of bands that I've seen the second most times on Songkick:-
  • Pete Green - 10 times
  • Allo Darlin - 7 times
  • Stars of Aviation - 6 times
  • Wintergreen - 5 times
And, rather more interestingly I think, these are bands that I've seen three or more times, that no one else on Songkick has seen:-
  • Ally Kerr - 6 times
  • Soundbuggy - 6 times
  • Dot to Dot - 5 times
  • Ceylan - 3 times
  • The Hate Brigade - 3 times
  • The Owsley Sunshine - 3 times
  • Tiny Little Hearts - 3 times
They are mostly Glasgow bands, so its possible I imagined the whole thing. There's also Flyer who I saw eight times at school, Songkick has another chap seeingt hem at a music festival at some point, that that couldn't possibly be the same band.

And I'm trying to remember the name of Wee Patrick and Lucy's band who played the Winchester Club once, they played the theme tune from The Raccoons.

My identical white coat

I have become a good little communist. No property rights.

At work we all have to wear white coats, its a hygienic food preparation sort of place, so we all weae identical white coats.

We go into the changing room, take our day's white coat, put on the rest of the parefenalia and go into the production area.

Trouble comes at lunch time. All fifty of us take off our identical white coats, hang them on pegs and go to the canteen. After eating, its then the simple process of going back, retriving our own white coat and head back into production.

All the white coats are identical, so retriving the same one you had in the morning leads to all manner of ingenuity. Some people secret their coat on specific pegs, some people, scribble arcane symbols on one shoulder, some people tie on their blue gloves or sleeves.

My favourite way to differentiate my coat from everyone else's is to tie the sleeves together.

Sure other people tie knots, but not the same as mine, my knot is a left handed reef knot, all those years in the boy scouts certainly prepared me for a life sweeping floors in a food factory.

Now, the consequences of not being able to find your original coat aren't severe, you can pinch some one elses, and unless it has a symbol drawn on it, no one will ever know. If you're unlucky enough to be the last one in and for whatever reason all the coats have been claimed you just to track down the chap in the hygiene team with the keys to the store room.

So it was I found myself in the changing room after a later than usual lunch, another chap there hopping about putting his wellies on, when I discovered my coat was gone.

Sure there were one or two other coats hanging up, but they were soaking wet and had a salad garnish, not very appealing.

So, the soviet humour, I turn to my companion.
"Aw man, someone took my coat,"
He nods empathicly.
"I tied a special knot in it,"
He shrugs.
"It was really nice, it was white and everything", just like all the others.

Money saving idea #19

My bank charges really high interest on my credit card and over draft, but pays savers crap rates of interest.

Could I set myself up as a Savings Bank and pay a higher rate of interest to my savers, but still be paying out less than I'd have to on my own debts.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Job vacancies update - 17-Aug-2009

Good day and welcome to this edition of illandancient's Job Vacancies Update, your regular occasional amateur analysis of the UK's job vacancies scene from ground-breaking attack blog illandancient.
Total vacancies in the UK
Up 4.8% from last month
Down 8.4% from last quarter
Here's a graph showing how many job vacancies are listed on, the Job Centre Plus, The Guardian's Jobs pages, GumTree's London pages and all of Gumtree's regions added together. I've ripped up the y-axis a wee bit so they all fit, and you can see how much each has changed in relation to each other.

And here is a graph showing the total number of job vacancies in the US extrapolated out from ONS figures and how each job vacancies agency has changed from day to day:-

What does it all mean? Well, in moments of introspection I figure that the various job websites have different characteristics, constituencies and quirks. Gumtree is the cheapest and easiest site to advertise on, so has the most low paid jobs, Reed only has job vacancies through agencies, and so there's a bit of a threshold for entry, and so on. Some of the websites will overlap, companies advertising the same job on each or even listing the same job twice in overlaping sectors or geographic areas.

For the last few weeks I've been tracking the website CareerJet which appears to have on its books four times as many UK job vacancies as the ONS reckons there are.

Its possible that everyone else is wrong and CareerJet has jobs listed that appear nowhere else, but its unlikely.

Anyhoo, most of the websites show an increase in job vacancies over the last month
  • Guardian Jobs +7.0%
  • Gumtree +4.27%
  • Job Centre Plus +10.2%
  • Reed -2.1%
Its would be nice to know where these new job vacancies are coming from. Its a bit of a shame that reed don't have the same rises as the others as I have some really neat in-depth data for each sector on Reed. That data's still kind of useful to see what the world of the future is like, which sectors have declined most that sort of thing. Here are some graphs of declining sectors:-

I think the latter graph explains why I have a degree in Engineering and now have a full-time minimum wage job sweeping floors in a sandwich factory.

The best performing sectors, apart from Transport and Motoring which have been pumped up by the government's scrappage scheme, are Banking and Retail

Banking there having quite a nice bounceback after a terrifying May.

Another sector that's worth having a sly sideways glance at is the public sector, seeing how most of the main political parties are talking about cuts there, and there have got to be some managers in the public sector who are vaguely aware that there's no more money.

It looks like for the past three months there's been a slow and steady decline in the number of vacancies advertised, I believe this is healthy.

From Job Centre Plus, its a bit harder/more time consuming to pull out data for individual sectors, too much clicking, I could only be bothered doing it once. That gave me a neat pie chart showing the UK Job vacancy scene according to the Job Centre.

They have Retail/Sales as the biggest sector, but we can't tell if that's necessarily a growing sector, I'll have to check again in a few weeks so we can compare and contrast.

From Gumtree I have data on job vacancies by region, and its showing some mighty healthy growth, the number of jobs listed on Gumtree has grown by 4.3% in the last month, (from 166,120 to 173,621). Of course it could be that some of the jobs are listed twice where regions overlap, but because we're comparing it to itself, that's just dandy.

Out of the 46 regions on the site, the top ten regions on Gumtree by growth in the number of jobs listed are:-
  • Manchester - 638 vacancies
  • Edinburgh - 612 vacancies
  • London - 592 vacancies
  • Glasgow - 486 vacancies
  • Bournemouth - 313 vacancies
  • Guildford - 301 vacancies
  • Reading - 293 vacancies
  • Brighton - 271 vacancies
  • Dundee - 257 vacancies
  • Aberdeen - 233 vacancies
There are some large cities there, so not surprisingly they churn out the greater changes in jobs listed, but Brighton's only a 3.6% change so below average for the site, so another measure would be by percentage increase, which gives the following top ten:-
  • Edinburgh +16.0%
  • Dundee +15.2%
  • Sunderland +12.0%
  • Stoke +11.9%
  • Derby +10.2%
  • Coventry +9.5%
  • Aberdeen +9.1%
  • Bath +9.0%
  • Glasgow +8.8%
  • Guildford +8.0%
So Scotland seems to be the place to be for job vacancies, what are they doing different to the rest of the UK?

I understand that this week saw the TUC conference in Liverpool with Bob Crow saying
"Both Labour and the Tories have committed themselves to cuts and privatisation and the trade unions have to take the lead in mobilising resistance and we should start preparing right now, here in Liverpool."
Hmph, whilst Gumtree shows an average increase of 4.3% in the number of vacancies listed, there are a few places that aren't increasing:-
  • Bradford - 63 fewer vacancies (-5.1%)
  • Liverpool - 31 fewer vacancies (-0.9%)
  • Middlesbrough - 26 fewer vacancies (-2.7%)
If Bob Crowe wants to whip up some frustrated unemployed people and mobilise resistance to cuts, Liverpool's one of the few places to do it.

Thats it for this thrilling job vacancies update. All the data I've used here has been ripped by hand from the various websites listed near the top of the post, and for your own enjoyment I keep it on a google docs spreadsheet here.

Take care space cadets, and good luck.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Independent Safeguarding Authority and judgement

I'm am not a parent, I have little interaction with children, except for my niece who I have all the time in the world for. But I used to be a kid myself, and remember lifts to scouts, swimming, and the occasional school run.

I'm wondering, in the post-peodophile future, when all our children are safe, next month in fact, what happens if parent no. 3 on the giving lifts rota fails the ISA check? We could be liable for a fine of £5,000. I guess if we all chip in its only a grand or so each, or divvy it out proportionate to the number of children, sorry parent no. 2.

I mean for the past X years he's given the kids a lift to scouts/swimming/school and never fiddled with any of them (we checked), but for some reason the Independent Safeguarding Authority have decreed that he can't be trusted with kids, but well, he's not in prison so he's atoned for any sins, and they're not going to arrest him of anything. Do we still keep him on the rota?

1) We could boot parent no. 3 off the rota, to protect our own kids, just in case and avoid the fine. But then that means the others on the lift giving rota have to do more lifts, and what about his own kids, well, we can boot them off the rota cos they were little brats, but our own hypothetical kids seem to get on well with them. It seems a shame, but its for their safety.

2) Do we stop taking the kids to scouts/swimming/school, its more hassle than its worth and they prefer staying in with the xBox 360 anyway. We can just send them on the bus to school, they'll be fine on their own.

3) Do we trust our own judgement on the issue and keep parent no. 3 on the rota, doing the lifts as he's always done. Cos after all we know him far better than the ISA. The ISA have been around for a few hours now, we've known him since school, and since he first met his wife, she was fourteen, he was eighteen, there was that controversy, oh hang on, ahh. Still they've been together for years now and seem quite the happy family, and well we are responsible adults with our senses intact.

4) Is there some way perhaps to appeal the ISA decision? Is it going to involve weeks of forms and emails and letters and hassle? Possible some kind of sworn testimonial which will involve a day off work or handing over more personal information to the some independent authority who have a track record of handling personal information?

The evil that men do

There's a subtle difference in the role played by Killer Bob in the first and second series of Twin Peaks. In the first season in 1990, Killer Bob represented 'the evil that men do', whilst Agent Cooper found that Leland Palmer, a seemingly loving and caring father, killed his own daughter who he'd been sexual abusing for years.

Leland Palmer was an evil man, and this evil manifested itself as Killer Bob. Killer Bob was Leland when Leland abused his daughter.

In the second season, in late 1990 and 1991, due to the first series's success 22 episodes were made, rather than 8, other writers were used in addition to Frost and Lynch who were involved in other projects. These other writers turned Killer Bob from from an absract 'the evil that men do' into an actual malevolent entity that 'makes men do evil things'. Bob was a demon who possessed other innocent people and made them do evil things, and absolved them of personal responsibility.

'It's not my fault gov, Killer Bob took over my body and made me do it'.

In a similar way, yesterday's riot in Harrow. I feel that SIOF and EDL are clearly being portrayed as a season two Killer Bob. The streets were filled with angry youths pelting the police with bricks, bottles and firecrackers, breaking through lines of riot police in the hope of finding someone to fight.

They're absolved of all responsibility because the SIOF and EDL provoked them. These organisations provoked the local youths and UAF into becoming a thousand-strong violent mob.
Right-wing groups who claim to oppose Islamic extremism are trying to provoke violence on Britain's streets, the communities minister has said.
The thousand-strong violent mob is 'the evil that men do', and they did it themselves, they breached the peace. Each one of them has personal responsibility for their actions, and fighting.

One of the most important lessons Marty McFly learnt in Back To The Future III was not to give in to provocation.

At the end of the movie when he's just managed to get back to 1985 from 1885, he refuses to take part in a drag race with Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers who calls him 'chicken', and as a result, doesn't get hurt in a car crash which would have ruined his future.

Youths of Harrow, you can be Marty McFly, don't be Leyland Palmer.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Knitting project #12 - Knitting with carrier bags - the conclusion

Ye gads, it was months ago, the end of May when I started it, and admittedly I finished the thing a few weeks back and it's been collecting dust in my heap of detritus next to my desk, but I feel I ought to share it with you.

This is my bag knitted from carrier bags:-

I currently use it to store my knitting stuff. Sadly the handle isn't attached very well, I've looped it through itself on the green side so its pretty secure, but on the blue side, it going to come undo if ever I use the handle.

It looks nice though. Here's the view of one side.

And here's the view of the other side:-

The orange is Sainsburys carrier bag, and the white is Tescos. For the noisy side I just alternated between Sainsburys and Tescos when making the yarn (as documented in the other blogpost), for the expanses of orange and white, well, you can figure out what I did there. I just never had large quantities of each colour available at any one time.

The blue and green handle and edges were made using bags from the corner shop, at some point in the last three months they changed from green to blue, the blue is slightly thinner than the green and so makes a weaker 'yarn'. Ah weel.

Its surprisingly stretchy and springy, but I wouldn't want to try making clothes out of carrier bags, and I reckon if it ever gets wet, it'll start growing fungus or something.

My next knitting project is a pink scarf for my attractive young ladyfriend, photos coming soon.

London Bloggers Meetup: eBay

Aw man, its been so long since I last blogged, just over a week. I'm sorry, I've been busy, I have a job, a knackering job. My week has been ten days long, and today's my own personal Saturday.

I was called up to go in and work the morning shift. I said no, although I sorely need the money, I'm just too tired. My hands are cut and bruised, they feel like paws. I need to catch up on the internet and write up stuff, like the London Bloggers Meetup I went to the other day, sponsored by eBay.

eBay are quite self-aware of the slightly grimy reputation they've developed lately, and are trying to shake it off. They've got this new 'Daily Deals' thing where a limited quantity of brand new goods are on sale with quite impressive discounts, different stuff at 8am every day. As cool-ass bloggers they're willing to give us a bit of foresight for upcoming deals, which could be useful.

Also, eBay provided the prizes for a raffle which saw Aref-Adib walk away with a Vodaphone mobile broadband dongle, and Hayley from Punlimited got a Del Netbook thing, which was sweet. There were free goodie bags for everyone with notepads, mugs and a 2gb memory stick and loads of free drinks and food. Generous folks thems eBays.

As is my way, here is a series of lists of people/blogs I spoke to, make nodding eye-contact with or understood were there despite no interaction with. Firstly the former
And now the list of people I made nodding eye contact with, briefly stood next to at the bar or otherwise acknowledged
And finally people who were there according to the internet, but I don't recall meeting, then again, I had a lot to drink and was very very tired.
The room was packed, there's a couple of people I've forgotten, gentle reminder comments would be appreciated.

Other write-ups of the event:-
here, here and here

This one time I went speed-dating, it was an interesting experience especially after the two cans of RedBull I'd had as an alternative to dinner. What concerned me most by the experience was meeting some chaps who routinely went speed dating and would meet the same girls time and time again. Rather than going to meet new people in the hope of hitting it off and finding love, they just enjoyed having 3 minute long chat to the same people month after month.

I fear that the same sort of thing is happening to me at the London Blogger Meetups, I'm just chatting to the same people, rather than networking and meeting new folk.

I've got to go to the other end of the room.

On the other hand, maybe these meetups are helping me come out of shell a wee bit, lets look at a graph:-

This shows how many people I talk to and how many people I just nod at cos they're too far away or I'm scared of them or whatever. We can clearly see that both levels are rising, the latter rising a wee bit more than the former, is this because I now know more people, or because I'm scared of more people?

If we add trend lines, these rises are easier to see, and furthermore, if we extrapolate the trandlines out we can see when the two KPIs converge:-

There we have it, some time in July 2011 I'll be talking to fifteen people, and nodding at exactly the same number of people without having a sustained conversation with them. It'll be like a singularity or something.

Speaking of singularities, I'd quite like to ask Tom Flashboy his opinion of Songkick.

Furthermore, as previously mentioned, today's my day off work, I need to write up other blogposts that I started on my 'ackberry, but need to finish, these blogposts include:-
  • Knitting update
  • In praise of GAME
  • What makes a good venue
  • Project Google Maps Racing
  • Ranking London Bloggers by technorati authority (again)
  • Job vacancies update
Look out for them soon.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Worky work work (part 1)

Its been a long time but I'm back in full time employment, up to my elbows in salad, doing the same sort of factory work I was doing a decade ago.

I'm out in west London. It was rather heartening to hearing that the ladies on the production line were asking after me. I'm the new boy, a novelty cos I'm English, but the guys in the warehouse swear I'm Polish. I laugh it off, saying its cos I've been in London so long.

Explaining away that I'm from Manchester, "ah Man United?", I smile and reply "Bolton Wanderers" and make a mental note to look up what division they're in and if they're playing anyone local soon.

There's a huge range of languages and accents here. In Manchester and Glasgow, it was always pretty homogenous, with even the thickest of accents easily discernable. But here I'm struggling a little. Subtle nuances lost in translation. Simple and limited vocabulary making training and directions take just a little bit longer than I'm used to. I smile and say "no problem".

Its honest and knackering work. When I got home I could barely walk, and was asleep by nine.

It going to take a while to adjust, working the early morning shift and discovering just what time the London Underground actually starts.