Saturday, 31 October 2009


I lost the internet the other day, it was my day off from work, my weekend, and I had not much to do, so I rummaged through all the old videos on my hard disks and found this one which needed editing up.

I think the levitation technique is called 'wizarding' or 'the wizard'. I filmed it in about 2006, one Saturday morning doing unpaid overtime at work, so it wasn't really wasting work time.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Just Like Delia (part 2)

Another attempt at making something from Delia's cookbook in order to impress.

Should make a fine breakfast to snarf on the way to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The last of the Potatos

My third crop of potatos:-
My third potato crop
The smallest so far, and probably the last of the year, I think they were maris piper in the end.

I made them into mash to go with my sausage beans 'n' mash dinner.

The growing my own spuds thing was a fun adventure. I dunno if I'm going to have a garden to grow them in next season.

Monday, 26 October 2009

SongKick Dreams

I used to go to lots of gigs, hundreds of them, four or five a month, just any live music really, friends' bands, bands people talked about, regular promoter's nights. But I have a job, and my hours are grim, I need to be up at 4:30am in the morning sometimes, and I'm too old to be able to handle going out the night before.

So instead of going out, I stay online, scanning SongKick, and have SongKick Dreams.

At some point I'm going to start another blog, running commentry about SongKick, answering questions like:-
  • How much traffic does SK get?
  • How many members do they have?
  • How many users?
  • How fast is SK's membership growing?
  • What's the spread of gig counts like?
  • What's the spread of band tracking?
  • What sort of messages to people leave each other?
  • Why sign up to the site without clicking on any gigs you've been to?
That sort of thing.

It'll be neat if it was on a site of it's own, a blog about SongKick instead of a blog by SongKick, like you get blogs about Facebook or about Twitter, but this one will be mine, I made this.

But can I really be bothered?
Would it get much traffic?
After answering those initial questions would there be any 'news' to report or interesting 'mash-ups' that people have created?
Is writing about the posts on SK blog acceptable?

Is there more to life than this?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Glasgow - The Bowlie years

I was trying to find the video I did from Indietracks of Davyboy Pope playing "If You Don't Pull" in the marquee on the Saturday night, but there's only a brief clip of it in the middle of this. Maybe I'd slung the full length video on some other video hosting site, for a few moments I tried to remember the names of other sites I used.

It was then I came to Vimeo, and rather than an old Just Joans vid, I found this that I'd started putting together last year.

Bowlie in Glasgow 2000 to 2007 rough edit 4 from Chris Gilmour on Vimeo.

I'd lost interest before I finished it properly, and now I guess I'll never get round to it. Its most footage of a jaunt I took up to Scotland in the middle of last year, to film my old haunts in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

What it represents is my life from 2000 to 2007 in sequence. The places I've lived, the places I'd been to meet folk from the old Bowlie messageboard, places we'd gone for gigs and drinks and just hung out.

My eyes moistened up a wee bit when I was watching it. Of course, its all in the past, places I may naver go to again.

There's this supermarket near where I grew up in Manchester, I think it's closed now. I can't remember the last time I went there, when I was young we'd go there all the time, and now I feel a little sad that I can't remember the last time I went.

Its the same with places in Glasgow. Places I used to go to loads, I may never go there again.

People too.

I had a schoolchum who died in an accident. We'd drifted apart a bit, but I still remember clearly the last time we met, outside Sainsburys, near the Donald Dewer statue in Glasgow, in the pouring, we just bumped into each other by chance. And a few months later he was gone.

Anyhoo, that video there, that's me remembering Glasgow, in a certain time, in a certain state of mind, from a certain internet messageboard.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Job vacancies update - October 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 2.7% from last month
Down 1.1% 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 UK extrapolated out from ONS figures and how each job vacancies agency has changed from day to day:-

Or, perhaps a nicer graph would be this one which has what I've extrapolated is the monthly average, compared to the published ONS figure.

What does it all mean? Well, I reckon my calculations are close enough to the ONS figures to be considered reliable. The ONS get theirs from sending out surveys for a sample of companies to fill in each month. I get my figures from counting actual job adverts.

I'm somewhat sceptical that Gumtree just keeps growing and growing. I figured that maybe they don't delete filled vacancies, and so it just keeps on accumulating, but in some place the number of vacancies is falling, so that can't be right.

Anyhoo, most of the websites show an increase in job vacancies over the last month
  • Guardian Jobs +0.6%
  • Gumtree +6.8%
  • Job Centre Plus -5.8%
  • Reed +4.9%
  • CareerJet +2.6%
As I have some really neat in-depth data for each sector on Reed, here are some graphs of declining and growing sectors:-

Out of all the sectors on, best performing ones over the last six month are:-
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport
  • Motoring
  • Charities
  • Apprenticeships
  • Banking
  • Estate Agency
  • Hospitality
  • Customer Service
  • Retail
I can only speculate on the reasons:-
  • Manufacturing is growing due to the poor value of sterling, it helps exports.
  • Transport and Motoring are growing sectors because of the government's car scrappage scheme.
  • Charities I'm guessing is because of the fakecharity filter, that is charities that depend on public donations have suffered, but those that depend on government money have had constant income.
  • Apprenticeships are presumably again promoted by the government.
  • Banking and Estate agency, whilst almost dying at the start of the recession the banking sector was bailed out by the government and now they're raking in the cash which huge margins between borrowing and lending rates, which in turn, according to Burning Our Money, is pushing up the property market
  • Hospitality, Customer Service and Retail I guess are doing well as a result of both the end of the recession, improving manufacturing and people being more chosy about their purchases, leading to companies providing better service.
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 5.62% in the last month, (from 177,759 to 189,513). 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:-
  • London - 2,361 more vacancies (8.74%)
  • Glasgow - 909 more vacancies (13.70%)
  • Manchester - 804 more vacancies (6.58%)
  • Leeds - 495 more vacancies (9.97%)
  • Birmingham - 465 more vacancies (5.01%)
  • Edinburgh - 438 more vacancies (9.77%)
  • Southampton - 436 more vacancies (9.60%)
  • Guildford - 417 more vacancies (9.72%)
  • Leicester - 377 more vacancies (8.37%)
  • Bournemouth - 348 more vacancies (6.17%)
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:-
  • Hull - 5 fewer vacancies (-0.52%)
  • Ipswich - 11 fewer vacancies (-0.77%)
  • Newcastle - 12 fewer vacancies (-0.46%)
  • Middlesbrough - 37 fewer vacancies (-3.92%)
  • Aberdeen - 42 fewer vacancies (-1.60%)
  • Inverness - 53 fewer vacancies (-4.35%)
  • Exeter - 55 fewer vacancies (-2.45%)
  • Plymouth - 89 fewer vacancies (-5.35%)
  • Stoke - 96 fewer vacancies (-8.56%)
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.

BNP on Question Time

That'll teach them to think they can come onto civilised political talk shows.

The coverage of the BBC Question Time BNP special on the blogosphere seems to be a little divided into two groups. On the one hand Nick Griffin was crap and well done they wiped the floor with him, and on the other hand Nick Griffin was crap and oh dear they wiped the floor with him.

I think my favourite paragraph of coverage, which resolves the issue for me is this from Raedwald:-
Anyone who has employed inarticulate unskilled white working class labour will be sensitive in avoiding the key provocations; talking down to them, being too clever and above all taking advantage of their inability to frame arguments even when they know they're right. When the carefully designed QT panel and audience did all of this to the clumsy and inarticulate Nick Griffin on Thursday watched by 8m voters they scored another spectacular home goal.
Ambush Predator neatly digs into the very centre of problem with the current fight against the BNP:-
But it’s the UAF idiot that reveals the true danger in our society today.

And that isn’t the temporary political success of a small left-wing nationalist party:
Martin Smith, the Unite Against Fascism organiser, who directed protesters to the gate at Television Centre through which many surged, had vowed to resist police attempts to break up the demonstration and insisted it was essentially peaceful. But he did admit that one far-right supporter had been attacked earlier in the afternoon. "A guy came with a BNP banner. That was ripped from him and he was hit on the head, but you have to expect that if you come to an anti-fascist demonstration with a BNP banner," said Mr Smith.

No, you don’t, any more than a black man or woman has to ‘expect’ to have racist violence directed at them because they inadvertently wandered into a BNP rally.

Both are wrong. And the fact that you can’t see that makes you even worse than Griffin…
Constantly Furious's spoof transcript is remarkably like how I remember watching the program
Dimbleby: "Good evening. I'd like to welcome our panel tonight. Well, all of them bar one, of course"
[audience laughs nervously]
Griffin: "I .."
[audience boos enthusiatically]
Dimblebore: "That's really quite enough from you, Mr Griffin"
[applause. Cries of 'quite right']
Dumbledore: "First, I must just apologise for the screaming and breaking glass you may be able to hear. I'm told that the UAF have peacefully stormed the building and are now peacefully smashing the place up".
Dumbledore: "..and so, to our first question. Gentleman with the cross face.."
Angry Asian: "Nick. Is it that you love Churchill and hate Muslims, innit?"
[wild applause, jeering]
Griffin: "I didn't ..."
Baroness Wassup [interrupting]: "Yes, you do, don't you, you do"
[prolonged applause]
Dumbledore: "Moving on now. I've got photos, Mr Griffin, of you standing near a man from the Klu Klux Klan. Does the very existence of these photo's not prove, beyond doubt, that you'd very much like to strap a black man to the front of your pickup and drive all round the bayou at high speed?"
Griffindor: "Well, I ..."
Bonnie Greer [interrupting]: "Don't you try to tell me about no KKK. I'm a 'merican."
[rapturous applause, cries of 'Right on', 'mmm hmmm']
Dumbledore: "I must just apologise for the smoke the audience may able to smell. I'm told that the UAF have peacefully ripped open the filing cabinets, piled up all the scripts and books in the building, and set light to them".
Dimblebore: "..and now, for another question"
Lone non-nutter in audience: "Is it not possibly the case that some of our problems with immigration stem from Labour's policies in this area?"
[audience falls silent, confused]
Chris WhoHe: "What? Is it me? Sorry. What was the question?"
Jack Straw: "I'd like to answer that by reading out a long list of Labour's achievements, allowing the audience to refill their glasses and go to the toilet."
Baroness WhoShe: "Well that's not true is it, and ..."
Dimbleby [interrupting]: "I'm sorry, we'll have to move on. Mr Griffin is just sitting there, smiling, and no-one has booed him for nearly five minutes"
[applause, booing]
Captialists@Work's rendering of Hitler on Question Time is a also pretty amusing
Question time 1936. Live from Alexander Palace.

On the panel tonight... Sir Arthur Bastion, Minister for Gasworks.
Lord Beaverbum, proprietor of the Daily Announcement
Lady Helena Ashcroft-Osbourne-Reynard, Socialist MP for Whitechapel and slum areas.
Field Marshal Alexander Blimp, Inspector General of the cavalry ,
And Adolf Hitler ,Chancellor of Nazi Germany.

First question, The gentleman in the top hat.
"Does the panel think that we should have closer ties with Europe?"

Herr Hitler?

Absolubtely. I fully believe that we should have a single currency, a single administrative system, and a single trading area. A single transport policy and a single representative body. I fully support closer European unity." {Applause from the audience} And if great Britain and the Commonwealth doesn't want to join? "Then we will bomb you into dust!" {smattering of uncertain applause}

Next question. From a Mrs Trellis. Should this country still be engaged in a police action in the middle East. Field Marshall?

Erm, well I can't say anything political, but our Armstrong Whitby tri-planes should have been withdrawn in 1920. Our 1903 Lee enfields are getting on a bit and their isn't enough head armour for evey soldier. Some still just have forage caps instead of tin helmets.

Herr Hitler?

Its an outrage. The armed forces are being denied the equipment they need.
{Applause} This feeble recession hit government spends money on immigrants, claiming to flee oppression in,erm,Germany and Austria, yet they cannot support their own troops. I would spend {voice rises} Three -Four - five -five hundred - five thousand times on armaments. I would provide work for our national socialist brothers in the Panzer and Messerschmidt factories by making our armed forces the best in the world. {Applause}
It does however remind me of a thing I noticed on EU Referendum a few months back, you'll of course be familiar with Godwin's Law and Reductio ad Hitler
The fallacy most often assumes the form of "Hitler (or the Nazis) supported X, therefore X must be evil/undesirable/bad,". For example: "Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarianism is wrong." The tactic is often used to derail arguments, as such a comparison tends to distract and to result in angry and less reasoned responses.
The first twenty minutes of Question Time were about the BNP playing the Churchill card. Its like Inverse Godwins, Churchill did X therefore X must be a good/desirable. EU Referendum had this:-
That is [Adrian] Michaels's idea of journalism, preening that, "It's all good debate fodder on day three of our Europe series." He is so "pleased", he tells us, "that people like Barroso are happy to engage with the sceptic crowd and fight their corner in interviews," then throwing in his own little bit of ego-massage by declaring: "Intelligent debate normally beats name calling."

Actually, that is debatable. Winston Churchill was a great one for name-calling, consistently referring to Hitler as "Corporal Hitler" – one of his more favoured jibes.
I understand that Churchill's Islamophobia takes the form of this quote from a book he published in 1899, "The River War", in which he describes Muslims he apparently observed during Kitchener's campaign in the Sudan:-
"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."

Anyhoo, the other night's Question Time - Two Minutes hate has never seemed so long

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Process Engineering on the Postal Strike

From the Guardian today
But if the industrial dispute between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) drags on and more strikes are called, some letters stuck in the system will take even longer to reach their destination.

Jonathan de Carteret, founder of broker Post-Switch, said that Royal Mail was using special warehouses to house the undelivered mail which will get topped up as and when more strikes take place. Letters waylaid by the first strikes will be the last to get delivered because they will be literally at the bottom of the pile.

"While Royal Mail works through the backlog of letters, it's unfortunately a case of first in, last out," he said.
It shows blatant disregard for their customers that they're using 'first in,last out'. It doesn't take much to have a door each end of the warehouse, or some kind or circular system marked out on the floor and a guy wheeling trolleys round.

Really, its not difficult, but for some reason the Royal Mail are just pissing on their customers. This tiny thing isn't much to do with the strike, it just how the organisation wheels round trolleys, they do it in the way that's less hassle for them rather than providing decent service for the customers, the folk who pay for stamps and expect their mail to get through on time.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Just Like Delia Smith

Continuing my on-going series of blogposts about what I've made for dinner (apart from last night where I obviously didn't just have bread for dinner) today's dish was from Delia Smith's How to Cook Book One, also on this webpage here, Spaghetti with olive vegetable oil, garlic and chilli.

Its not so much that I'm running out of food, but, I just fancied using some spaghetti and didn't have anything else to go with it. Well, I had a few eggs, but Delia didn't have a carbonara recipe in the book I had. You don't really need a recipe for carbonara, just a few eggs and ham/bacon stirred into your spag, even the ham/bacon is optional (in my world).

Pickled chillis
Stolen garlic
Vegetable oil
Ground pepper

So, spaghetti cooked in a small saucepan. Pickled chillis drained and chopped up small. Small sliverish garlic clove stolen from from the flatmate who's shelf is above mine, sliced finely.

Drain the spaghetti in a colinder thing, and use the saucepan to boil up a little too much vegetable oil. Chuck in the chilli and the garlic. Remember something about pepper and salt, add some, stir it up a bit, turn the heat down, then turn the heat off. Add the spaghetti, shake it around a bit so everything's all covered, and serve.

Possibly too much pepper, but it was yum.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Just like sourdough

I thought I'd try my hand at making sourdough bread.

I took a voyage out into the internet to find out how and discovered this webpage, which gave a broadly easy to follow guide. There may be better websites for this sort of thing out there, but this page came top of the google rankings.

For the past few days I've been cultivating a 'sourdough starter'. This was just a load of flour and warm water in a mug, stirred every few hours. The idea is that it collects wild yeast and bacteria in the air, they like the warm watery flour and grow. Each day you're supposed to chuck away half of it and top it up with more flour and more warm water. So essentially the only thing that flourishes in there is yeast and good bacteria. It all gets killed of in the baking process anyhoo.

I used this strong white breadmaking flour I'd picked up on my last supermarket trip, and then just to be cheeky, on the second day I topped it up with broad wholemeal breadmaking flour, and a wee bit of Allinson's yeast as recommended by Andy Bonar from Q Without U and the Secondhand Marching Band.

Some hours before the bread is required, you pour half of the starter into a bowl and start calling it 'sponge'. You add more flour and warm water, and leave it for a couple of hours so it bubbles up as the yeast gets a good old final meal.

Then I added four teaspoons of icing sugar, two teaspoons of salt, a splash of vegetable oil and a load more of that white breadmaking flour. I started off stirring it all with my trusty wooden spoon and once it started to 'gel' I kneaded it by hand.

When it got too sticky I added more flour, and kept going.

After a while I got bored, so I put it back in the bowl, sprinkled some more flour on top and left it to 'proof' for about two hours.

Crikey, it grew, it like double din size, do I had another go at kneading it until it was wee again, then divided it into two pieces for for each of the former takeaway tins I was going to use to bake it in. More kneading followed and a bit more leaving the dough to proof. At this point I discovered that leaving it on top of my computer tower was nice and warm, I think the yeast likes it.

I grew tired of waiting, so after about half an hour I slung both tinned dough loafs into the over at around 170C and took them out again after exactly half an hour. They came out of the tins easily and tapping on the bottom gave a successful hollow sound.

This sort of thing is easy, it just takes a little time.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Just Like Sahmeepee

After last night's thrilling culinary odyssey, blast from the past commenter Sahmeepee left a recipe, ripped from the back of an Asda couscous packet. It sounded all right and I had most of the ingredients lurking at the back of my cupboard, so I thought I'd give it a go.
I've been getting a little obsessed with the recipe on the side of ASDA's couscous packet. You should try it.
Vegetable oil
Ground ginger
Whole cumin seeds
Vegetable stock
Dried fruit
Flaked almonds
Fry up a small onion in a medium-sized frying pan and add some ground ginger, cinnamon and a little cumin (tbh I like it without the cumin). Also add a bit of garlic. I use the stuff in a tube - about a toothbrush full of that should be A-OK.
I had no garlic so I used some anchovie paste, also my cinnamon was absent so I skipped that too.
When the onion has started to go clear, add 200g or so of couscous. Stir it up so that the oil (they used butter, but I never buy it) has coated the couscous and everything's all mixed up.

Mix up about 400ml of vegetable stock and add it to the pan, wait until it starts to simmer, and then turn the heat off. Stir in a small handful of raisins and leave the pan covered for 5-10 minutes. They put dried apricots and almonds in with the raisins, but my cupboards aren't so well-stocked.
I put in the small handful of raisins as suggested but it didn't look like enough, so I poured in a bit more and more and more. Possibly too much.

Looks okay, tastes fine.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Probably been to more gigs than you

Aw man, I'm exhausted, I'm snotty, and I'm gazing at numbers.

It wasn't supposed to be this way, the whole point of me going to gigs was mostly to pass the time, love of music, with maybe a little smidgin of loyalty to friends in bands, and the hope that one day I'll again be at a gig like Ash and China Drum playing Manchester University Student's Union in 1995 or the Boo Radleys at Manchester Academy that same year.

It hasn't happened, I've never been to gigs like that since. I've been to some good shows, but never found what I've been seeking. I'll continue to look, but right now I can't even afford the bus fare to get to a free gig, anywhere.

Anyhoo, I've clocked up an inordinate number of gigs in my life. More than most people. And its only been in the last few months with the invention of Songkick that I've a) been able to catalogue all the gigs I've been to and b) compare this with other people.

The comparing's not so easy, the site tell you how many past concerts you've been to and you can see how many past concerts other people on the site have been to, but in terms of your rank, I've tried to find that myself, the hard way. Regular blog readers here will already know this. I reckon with SongKick the size it is now, I'm in the Top 50 gig goers.

The top chappie is RayGigs (gig security) with 3,000 or so shows under his belt. There may be other people in the world with more, they just haven't signed up or spent weeks checking off all their shows. SoapCompany is second with around 1066 gigs, but KittenPainting is catching up really quickly with 930 or so shows, when she finds her lost gig diary of doom... So, bear in mind only two people out of the thousands who've signed up have more than a thousand gigs.

But to find how this compares to the rest of SongKick users, I've indulged in some random sampling. I search for common names and go through the results for users, noting down how many shows each has been to.

So out of a sample of a few hundred people, if you ignore the folk who signed up and didn't check off any gigs, I can churn out a normal distributiony graph thing.

(The y-axis has a logarithmic scale to make it all work)

So, from this graph you can say if you've checked off eighty gigs on SongKick, then 80% of SongKick users have been to fewer gigs. If you've only checked off ten gigs, that's still better than 40% of Songkick users. Over 200 gigs and you tower over 94%, and over 500 gigs puts you in the top percentile of users.


Living on the minimum wage

Following on from my earlier post where I mentioned how long I have to work in my minimum wage job each month, I thought I'd do a nice diagram rendering the same information.

This takes minimum wage to be £5.73, its gone up to £5.80 now. Also, the tax and NI that I pay seems to work out to be 15%, not sure why.

Again, I've run out of days to work by a large margin. Working more than a six day week is killing me.

So, what I need to do is somehow move somewhere where the rent is cheaper than where I am now, and also find somewhere to shift my debt to where the interest rate is a little more like the base rate.

Surely there ought to be huge competition between banks right now as to who can offer the lowest borrowing rates. There's this huge gap between the saver's rates and the borrower's rated as the banks recapitalise and maximise their profits, but someone could take a huge swath of the market by offering a rate just a little better than the rest.

Hmm, there probably are banks like that out there. I'd better look.

The other glaringly obvious thing is that I claim no benefits from the state. This would immensely ease my financial woes. The fact that I don't shows I'm either stupid, stubborn, or trying desperately to keep my integrity as a human being.

I like to think that the state takes money off me to defend the borders, maintain law and order, pick up the rubbish and fix the roads, that sort of thing, to beg them to return money to me is uncomely. Surely they should just be taking less of it from my earnings to begin with.

Just Like Delia

Here, this is jalofi rice[sic] that I made myself and then photied using the macro function on my camera.

It looks nice, tastes adequate, nothing special.

Cannellini beans
Ground corriander
Whole cumin
Vegtable oil
Tesco long grain easy cook rice
Random tomatos
Random cheese

I used some dried cannellini beans soaked for two hours then boiled for an hour. Once they're done, put them to the side.

Then I boiled up some vegetable oil, and put in a cup of Tescos Easy-Cook Long Grain Rice, and fried it for a bit, stirring in some double concentrate tomato puree, ground corriander and whole cumin seeds. After about three minutes of stirring, I poured in a cup of boiling water, turned the heat to the lowest setting and put the cannellini beans on top.

Time passes.

I contemplated whether salt or pepper would be needed, its the sort of thing people who know about cooking would add, so I sprinkled and stirred.

Time passes

Its hard to be sure how long, as my computer keeps freezing and tasks that usually take minutes take half an hour. I revisited the rice twice to check if it was cooked, on the first visit I needed to pour in more water, on the second visit it was done.

There followed a gazing into the fridge, finding some ping pong ball sized tomatos, which were chopped up and stirred into the ricey goodness.

More time passed, maybe two minutes. Then I turned the heat off, spooned some of the jalofi rice into a bowl and gazed back into the fridge.

There was cheese, at first it looked okay, then I noticed a vein of blue mould where there should not have been. I hacked at it with a knife until the remaining cheese was mould-less, this I then chopped up into my serving of rice.

It looks alright, aye.

No idea about pornography

The BBC reports on a new body scanner being used at Manchester Airport
A scanner which produces "naked" images of passengers has started a trial at Manchester Airport.

The authorities say it will speed up security checks by quickly revealing any concealed weapons or explosives.

But the full body scans will also show up breast enlargements, body piercings and a clear black-and-white outline of passengers' genitals.
Its a neat picture they've included with it, the way the flesh bulges over the belt. I haven't given much thought to how clothing distorts the body, except in the case of corsets and the like.
Sarah Barrett, head of customer experience at the airport, said most passengers did not like the traditional "pat down" search.


Ms Barrett said the black-and-white image would only be seen by one officer in a remote location before it was deleted."The images are not erotic or pornographic and they cannot be stored or captured in any way," she said.
Now this last sentence is clearly untrue, as the picture that accompanies the story has been captured and stored, and now reposted. Unless of course that's just a stock image, mybad.

I want to know more about this one officer who gets to look at nuddy pics all day. You're going to need more than one officer, possibly three, working in shifts, maybe six to give a week's coverage, and their manager who gets called over if the officer sees anything interesting.

Actually, there must be a way to capture and store an image in the system. What if the chap does see somene is carrying a gun or bomb? There needs to be some kind of proof, some record, even if its just a Prt Scrn button. I guess the officer could take a camera phone snapshot of his screen, and just send it to all the necessary personnel.

Also of concern is Sarah Barrett asserting that the images are not erotic or pornographic. Clearly she is unaware of Rule 34,
Rule 34 - If it exists, there is porn of it.
We're just hours away from something appearing on ffffound

Schneier was talking about this sort of thing years ago.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Songkick Meetup

I'm so tired. I was up at 4:30am this morning to get to work, it's barely a life, and last night I was running non-stop since I finished work. A desperate sprint to the underground station to get across town for a users meetup at Songkick Towers.

Songkick, as I've previously spieled on about is this huge websitey database of almost every gig ever, you can log on and check off which shows you've been to. According to Pete Smith, one of the founders, they're all gig geeks and they want the website to make going to gigs on the same level as going to the cinema. Its an interesting take on the phenomenom, and I guess I've embraced it, probably averaging more gigs than cinema trips over the years.

But I don't see the gig-going experience like that, I'd compare it more to football. I've only seen Man United play once, I'm not much of a football fan. But I was reading highbrow blogoir Charles Crawford this morning, he was rattling on about how the invention of broadcast football...
..meant that there were two categories of sports fans. Those who had to make their way to the event and pay to watch it in person. And everyone else who got to see it in effect for free via TV.
I reckon its the same deal with music now, recorded/broadcast music is essentially free, you don't pay to listen to the radio or spotify, and there are those of us who make our way to the gigs and pay to watch the bands in person.

Enough pontificating, on with the meetup writeup blogposts...

We'd been issued with name badges and name clouds of people in the room who we may have seen at other gigs. So there was much wandering around looking for familiar-ish faces and people who's username's we'd seen online.

There was free beer and cakes and crisps and vodka and stuff and badges, there was a short presentation of new and exciting features they're hoping to add to the site, I'm not quite comfortable blabbing on about every on my blog, but later I was chatting with a fellow songkicker about how difficult it would be to pick your own Top Five favourite gigs of all time, torturously so even.

And if such a thing top five gigs had to be shown, I'd want it to be computer generated, some kind of algorithm that picks the top five gigs out of every one you've been to, not necessarily the biggest gigs, but some kind of complicated formular. My mind's been boggling about it all day at the factory today, and what I figure would be neat, is a rotating selection of different top fives, every time you click refresh it changes the algorithm, so you never know what it's going to be:-
  • Top five biggest gigs
  • Oldest five gigs
  • Top five biggest attended shows by your favourite band
  • Top five gigs at your top venue
  • Top five shows by bands beginning with 'B'
  • Top five shows with one word band names
  • Top five shows biggest shows this year
  • Top five shows you went to on your own
  • Top five shows outside your safety zone
  • ... and so on
I don't know about you, but I'd be clicking refresh for hours and hours.

Then again, mind boggling some more, how would you choose your Top Five gigs? Well, by comparing one to another. Was Cast at The Boardwalk better than The Loves at The Cavern? Were Friends of the Bride at The Buffalo Bar better than The Gresham Flyers at Jamm? It would be a seperate corner of the website, but it just pings up a load of these choices, and after a while the alogrithm knows enough to say my favourite gig was The Just Joans at The Enterprise.

What would be a tiny bit more interesting would be if other people could pick your top gig, so anyone visiting your profile gets to chose which show was better, even if they've never heard of the bands. Nathan Persad at the 13th Note better than The Mighty Sunch at The Captain's Rest?

Anyhoo, I digress again, I ought not to, I need to sleep.

As is my wont in these meetup blogposts, here's a list of people who were there, and for the sake of being fiercely competitve, they are listed by the number og gigs they're been to.
  1. soapcompany - 1066 past events
  2. triturus - 353 past events
  3. bootzilla - 308 past events
  4. bumblebee - 305 past events
  5. bookarooble - 218 past events
  6. dawnkitten - 191 past events
  7. outspaced - 171 past events
  8. AnthonyChalmers - 164 past events
  9. natalie_shaw - 137 past events
  10. brightslumber - 121 past events
  11. saleandro - 118 past events
  12. gideon - 115 past events
  13. ian - 103 past events
  14. kaz.patwa - 103 past events
  15. jesstherese - 96 past events
  16. mash1982 - 90 past events
  17. michelle - 89 past events
  18. deathwarmedover - 83 past events
  19. EmilyS - 64 past events
  20. phil - 44 past events
  21. gtvone - 43 past events
  22. ssaint - 32 past events
  23. Craigtmackenzie - 18 past events
  24. funky - 9 past events
  25. marc - 6 past events
Apologies to anyone I've missed, my bad. I haven't included myself, my profile's here if you're passing through.

Here's everyone graphed and broken into percentiles.

I knew you would.

They had whiteboards for people to add suggestions, features they'd like added and stuff they don't like. I scrawled a couple of things, rambling and misguided, I think if I was thinking more clearly, I'd have written 'rank'. For every datum, I'd like to know the rank compared to the rest of the database. Number of photies added, how does that compare to everyone else; number of gigs a band has played, how does that compare to every other band; number of past concerts at a venue how does that compare to every other venue.

Sure, there's a bit of that rankinginess around, the site, but I want more of it. And aure, it'll give the game away for how big the database is an how many people are signed up, but like when technorati does it for blogs, it demonstrates how authoritative the datum is.

Hmm, where was I? ah yeas. I drank too much, chatted to lots of people, but not half as many as I wanted to. I had to leave.

It was a bit of a frantic sprint afterwards too, to the Buffalo Bar to catch The Primitives playing Twee As Fuck. I bumped into Dave from the Just Joans in the queue, down from Glasgow. Sadly my night was cut short as I had to leave before the headline act in order to get the last train home and get to work the next day.

Anyhoo, looking at the songkick page for the gig and the seven people who were there, they're mostly hardcore gig-going songkickers:-
  1. illandancient - 529 past events
  2. OddBox - 343 past events
  3. darve - 204 past events
  4. RockerRosehip - 116 past events
  5. rewsan - 106 past events
  6. emml - 105 past events
  7. RorySoTough - 1 past events

Friday, 9 October 2009


Oh god, I'm so tired.

I'm sat in the staff canteen at 5:45am, nursing a cup of watery tea, about to start my shift at my minimum wage job sweeping floors in a factory.

Last night had me running like a crazy person, after I barely had time for a shower before I was out and running across town, to meetups and gigs, leaving gigs early to get home for some semblance of sleep before getting up at stupid o'clock.

I'm so tired but there's no escape. Working six days a week here doesn't quite cover costs. I keep a wee callendar in my notebook, marking off each day, how much I've nominally earned, and what that pays for.
  • 15 days pays rent
  • 4.5 days pays debt interest
  • 1 day pays Blackberry bill
  • 2 days pays car insurance
  • 1.5 days pays bus fares
  • 1 day pays petrol
  • 2 days pays for socialising
  • 2 days pays for food
By this time I've run out of days to work. There's no time to pay off debts.

We can clearly see that my rent is far too much, I need to move to somewhere cheaper. I could sell the car. That would save me three days's work and the lump some would pay off something. But I spent years paying off that car and without it, the whole concept of travelling and freedom is limited. Hours waiting at bus stops, planning journeys, missing trains.

Am I being snobbish? Precious? Maybe. This is all difficult, painful, draining, desperate.

I'm so tired.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

London Blogger Meetup - Havana

Eee, I arrived a little bit late at this month's London Blogger's Meetup. I'd been at The Lamb on Conduit Street catching up with MJ Hibbett's Totally Acoustic gig. I had to skip the headline act, Gavin Osbirn, but Hibbett was on fine form, performing some of his older songs for a change, and the other support act Winston Echo, was really nice, pretending to be all amateur and gentle. There are photies and stuff over on the songkick page here.

Anyhoo, the London Blogger's Meetup, a small monthly meeting of people who blog in London, was out in the east this month, in the Chamucos Bar, downstairs in Green and Red. When I wandered in, the place was pretty full, it was dark, and there was a Judith giving a talk about Search Engine Optimisation, interesting stuff, I shall steal some of the tips and techniques and abuse them to ill-effect later.

There followed a briefer talk by a chap called The Timinator, who was leaving these shores for the sunny climes of Sydney, it was a little poignant, although I'm not sure I've spoken to the chap before, and previously linked to his blog thinking he was someone else.

The evening was sponsored by Havana Cultura
It’s a global art initiative from Havana Club rum to introduce the world to the fabulous culture in Havana. As part of the campaign they are running a Twitter based competition - the ‘Havana Twitter Treasure Hunt’. Using clues posted on Twitter, followers will virtually explore the city of Havana on to find the answers to enter a competition. The first prize..? two tickets to Gilles Peterson’s exclusive Havana Cultura album launch party in Paris on 26th November. Nice!
Free drinks all round, mojitos, which were like rummy and minty and icy. Good stuff.

Anyhoo, I through off my shackles of shyness and tried talking to people, and answering the question "what do you do?" with "I make sandwiches" and "what do you blog about?" with "politics and spreadsheets." Last month I answered with "politics and graphs" but due to a speech impediment it sounded more like "politics and giraffes", which was a little too surreal, I won't be making that mistake again.

As is my want for these blogposts here's a few lists.

Firstly people/bloggers I spoke to:-
Next people/bloggers who I nodded recognition to (reciprocation not required)
On the other hand, they didn't talk to me either, so it could be that they were shy, or ignoring me on purpose. Bah.

Here's a graph showing how the number of people I've spoken to or nodded recognition at has progressed since I started going to these meetups:-

I think it went well.

Another list:- People who according to teh internets were there, but I wouldn't be able to spot them in ID parade, even though I only spoke to them a month or so ago, my bad:-

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

On the National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage

Elsewhere on the internet, Devil's Kitchen is having a go at so New Labour bint on the subject of the minimum wage, she wants the government to implement a Living Wage of £7 per hour rather than the NMW of £5.80 per hour.

I'm on the minimum wage right now, its pretty depressing. Rather than the £5.80 figure, I think of it as £4.90, as that's how much I take home, its how much I'm worth, the tax side of it and NI doesn't help pay my rent of credit card bills, only the £4.90 that I slave away for.

I work hard, I do a good job, I do a slightly better job than some of my peers cos I have some misguided deeply ingrained work ethic. I like to do a good job. But its still just for the minimum wage, they couldn't pay me any less if I did a crap job.

So when I see my peers taking it easy, I feel a little stupid. I'm wasting my efforts for the same money.

The fact there is a minimum wage is a disincentive for me to do a better job than the others on my team.

Anyhoo. This living wage thing, £7 an hour. I look around at the folk in my factory who earn £7 an hour, the team leaders and trainers and I think aw man, that would be a right pain if everyone was earning the same as them. There'd be no incentive to work at all.

I think its a bad bad idea. But, where there's a bad idea that people believe in, there are business opportunities.

Surely someone could set up an organision, like Investors In People or FairTrade, that certifies companies who pay the Living Wage, they companies get a wee logo to put on their website and products, and a wee plaque to put over their front desk.

LivingWage get to charge subscription fees and companies submit themselves to having their payrole verified a few times a year.

It could be a source of pride to be a LivingWage company.

It might also suggest that the company is making excessive profits, and wastes money, but that goes with the territory I guess.

Monday, 5 October 2009

I hate gigs that run late

Oh god, hate gigs that run late so much. It ruins the gig-going experience for me, has me leaving the venue fuming.

Either I leave without seeing all the acts I've paid to see or I leave at stupid o'clock and I've to to get up the next morning.

Okay if the gig is a spectacular, something like AC/DC or Leonard Cohen or even the mighty Just Joans, then I don't mind it running late, its a once in a life time show, but on the whole gigs running late pisses me off mightily.

I've been to more concerts than most people, whether this makes me an authority on gigs very much depends on your definition of 'authority' and also on 'makes me', maybe 'gigs' too. Anyhoo I know when a show has pissed me off and I know the usual cause.

Its up to the promoter or the sound guy or the stage manager, they've got to know when to tell bands to hurry up, when to cut their set short, when to get off stage. It takes someone to write up a sheet of stage times, and somehow stick to it.

Sure the bands on stage don't give much of a shit, they're to play their songs and get paid, how long it takes don't figure much in their experience.

Some acts are prima donnas who assume that cos the first band over ran and instead of a brisk three-song set they played five songs extended long play versions with player introductions and solos, dedications, and a brief poetry interval, this means that all the bands are entitled to overrun.


It just pisses off the folk in the crowd who've stumped up the money and come along, the paying customers, the fans, the faithful. It makes us hate you and your music. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth so next time we see your name in the gig listings we don't think oh I love those guys and their interesting choice of cover versions that made up question our prejudices about the type of music, but makes us think oh for fucks sake, those fucks made us miss our favourite band, fall asleep whilst driving home and again whilst driving home from work the next day.

It shows contempt to the crowd and contempt to the other bands on the bill.

Look the music and the songs are about 50% of the gig experience, the other 50% is the price to get in, the folk talking over the music, the price of drinks and how disorganised it is. Look if you mix a bucket of ice cream with a bucket of dog shit, the result is going to taste mostly of dog shit.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Blog stat pron - September

Good afternoon and welcome to my regular first day of the month blog traffic stats review. According to google analytics, for September, this blog got:-
1054 Absolute Unique Visitors
1,769 Pageviews
Compared to August's
908 Absolute Unique Visitors
1,944 Pageviews
A biot of a mixed picture there, more uniques, less overall. I'm spreading myself wider I guess. Statcounter reckons I have 1,488 Unique Visitors, and an average of 60 pageloads per day, down 2 from last month, sadness prevails once more, the target for October will be a somewhat unfounded and optimistic 65 ppd.

Here, here's a graph of traffic over the month, its a bit erratic, with highs and lows. I haven't been posting much, its my job you see, early starts and tiring hours. Also doing posts from my Blackberry is so unsatisfying, I have to go back later and adjust any paragraphs and spellings and add images, links and stuff

Compared to the past few months, figures are still on the same plateau, I still need to crank it up a gear or two, but it's going to be hard with so little time, and with me being so boring. Pie charts about snogging indeed.

Here are the metrics of of my RSS feeds on various feed readers:
21 subscribers - GoogleReader (same as last month)
4 subscribers - Bloglines (same as last month)
6 followers - Blogger (same as last month)
These are my top referers for September (not including google wanderers)
1. Facebook - 59 visitors
2. Twitter - 54 visitors
3. WardmanWire - 45 visitors
4. UK Bubble - 16 visitors
5. EUReferendum - 15 visitors
6. Anorak Forum - 7 visitors
7. Total Politics - 7 visitors
8. Mark Wadsworth - 6 visitors
9. Longrider - 4 visitors
10. Hayley Dunlop - 3 visitors
Thems hits from the Wardman Wire were courtesy of the Britblog Round-up, my submission was one fo my job vacancy posts. Not the most interesting, but for a first'un I thought sticking to the facts would be wise.

Lets take a brief moment to consider which were the most viewed posts during September.
1. What Have I gotten myself into - the TFTA scam (160 views)
2. Origami flapping bird animation (94 views)
3. Job Vacancies update 17-Aug-2009 (76 views)
4. Facebook ChainRxn graphs and hints (45 views)
5. I fucking hate GAME shops (45 views)
6. Does Shisha kill (44 views)
7. London Bloggers Meetup - Ebay (44 views)
8. Facebook IQ test gubbins (36 views)
9. Facebook Scramble graphs (32 views)
10. Animation with windows movie maker (24 views)
Thats it for Septmber's blog stat pron. If there's any other metrics you want to know about this blog, let me know in the comments.

For October expect more posts about Songkick, and I'm going to go batshit crazy and try networking with even more people at the London Blogger's Meetup.

London will be mine.