Saturday, 29 May 2010

Why is it?

That all the gnome based linux versions are a complete tram-smash when it comes to setting up a wireless connection?

In the case of Ubuntu Studio, as completely cool as it looks, I cannot get it to use any kind of connection at all - not even a conventional ethernet cable. I know the hardware's OK, because both sabayon and PcLinuxOS can use it fine (and very effectively too). But I've just tried Ubuntu 10.4 and 9.10, plus SUSE 11.1 and none of them seem to have tools to discover and connect to a wireless network, even though they can apparently find the hardware (which US cannot). It *could* be my stupidity, but I've set up wireless networking without trouble in the 2 KDE versions I run here.

I'd love to use US more, particularly as it's so fast (much faster than the other Linux flavours, including standard Ubuntu) but it's blind and dumb to the outside world.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

We all mistook Apple's new product

... for a female sanitary item. And that's not unreasonable really.

But it seems to really foul up branding requires a non-native English speaking marketing department.

Introducing the WePad.

Read more here.

Their point was that the iPad is all about ME, all about being closed and all about Apple being in control. The WePad is all about being open, inclusive and outwardlooking in it's design: the antithesis of Jobsian Apple philosophy. I don't know if it will live up to the idea, but I really hope so.

But I do wish they'd spoken to someone who wasn't German before branding it like an incontinence device.

Looking back 2 years an interesting thing to do.

I had to hunt down the link to that Apple safari post, and as a result ended up reading stuff written 2 years ago.

This post was a good reminder. Is it wrong to pray that she'll be attractive, to not have baggage? It's certainly good to pray that she'll love and honour him, and that they'll work together for the same goals. Oh the suspense parents must go through, waiting for their children to find partners.

2 years ago this weekend was our first time at Heyford Park - I described it as an interesting evening, and it has been an 'interesting' time.

And in 4 weeks this Saturday we're back here again, 2 years and 1 week after the first visit.

This post about being burned out was also interesting, as it reminded me of some things I'd forgotten and reminded me of some things that are rubbed into my ears every week. It's got me asking, have I really moved on, and I'm really not sure of the answer but the break has been considerably less than fun. But I do appreciate the encouragement I've been given over this area in the last couple of weeks by various people, and can say that *something* is happening soon.

So life goes on.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

In pursuit of a sound

Some guitarists will know what I mean, probably a few bass players and pianists too, maybe even the odd drummer.

There's a particular sound that you know and love for your instrument - nothing else is quite right. The downside is that in order to create it you require increasingly rare kit, often at high prices and with significant disadvantages too. Some guys will spend £200+ on a single distortion or overdrive pedal, maybe upwards of £2000 (and as much as £30,000) on an amp, and as for guitars......

At the weekend I had one of those little tone-defining moments, where everything comes together for THAT sound.

I'd heard the sound a couple of times before, both occasions from amps I'd made, and the last time in a friend's recording studio in Liverpool. There he borrowed my A15 and hooked it up to a cab running a single celestion blue speaker. Want to know what it sounded like? Just like this except using a Les Paul instead of the 'Red Special' through a wall of Vox AC30s fitted with Blues. He played that song (never mind the 'interesting' lyrics) and it was like Brian May was in the room.

A couple of months back Chris and I had a trip to bath, where I picked up a used Eminence Red Fang speaker. It's an AlNiCo speaker designed to emulate the Blue, but take a higher wattage, and is a little rounder and darker (the blue is very bright, all upper mids and treble, yet remains creamy despite a stinging and raspy top end). I've had a couple of different speakers in the A15, but none have quite done it until now - the G12H is big, but a little too mid-scooped so that it sounds thin in the upper register. Had a Celestion Gold (a high-power handling version of the blue) and that just lacked the liveliness and musicality of the original speaker. The greenback was a bit harsh, bright and lacked bottom end. The last one - an Eminence Cannabis Rex (hemp cone, hence the name) - was big and full sounding, but would create a nasty upper-mids tonal spike when pushed that really hurt the ears.

So in went the Red Fang.

Brian May has apparently visited my livingroom. And Billy Gibbons. And Richie Blackmore. Angus young seemed to be hiding behind the settee just briefly too. It'll need pairing with that G12H to add some bottom end weight before Joe Bonamassa pops round, but there's a gloriousness to the tone that wasn't there before, and it stays lively even with silly amounts of overdrive. It's not perfect, and clean tones are going to take some getting used to (and it doesn't even stay clean with more than a couple of watts running through it). But flick the switch across to the drive channel and it's classic rock heaven.

AlNiCo speakers - every guitarist should own a good one at some stage.


Took it to the youth jam at HPC tonight, along with the Tokai Les Paul. It sounds as glorious in a big space as it does in the livingroom, and the tones open out in the larger space too. Volume and cut are not in any way lacking. There's a chap called Josh staying with the youth worker who's a little seriously good, and he ran it through it's paces too: meaning I could listen at a distance. Yup, has tone for days, and I am grateful for something that sounds as nice as this.

Apparently nothing (in the Apple world) changes.

Back in June 2008 I mentioned that the Safari browser was thought to be insecure and Fern commented that any security issues were contained by the OS. Well it seems that this is such a non-issue that 2 years later,there has been no fix. Which suggests to me that either it really is a complete non-issue, or users have had their machines infected and never even realised.

I wonder which is true (and suspect probably both).

It's an all-male household

Apart from the cats, that is.

Chris is away this week, helping some friends bring their new narrowboat back from Kintbury back up to Lower Heyford. I dropped them and their cat off yesterday late morning, had lunch and returned mid afternoon.

Last week was manic, particularly for her, and so we hoped that this would be both an opportunity to escape and rest and at the same time a chance to do some interesting and different stuff with friends. From this morning's conversation I think so far it's been hard work. There are lots of locks, all of which have had double gates, and which have required a major effort to push open. Her mind may be having a rest, but at least she's getting a good work out to make up for all the sitting around while the world slides past.

There may be some photos and possibly a painting to follow.

Whose property?

The whole intellectual property thing is a bit of a mess, particularly when it comes to the more general areas of science, as opposed to specific drug discovery. I've mentioned before, in the 70's Kohler and Milstein made monoclonal antibody technology freely available, and the human race has benefited from advances made in both academic research and diagnostics as a direct result. PCR technology was patented and licensed, and instead of taking over (as it should have done) instead was stifled and sidelined.

And so we come to the issues of genetics-related patents. It's a can of worms because companies do invest large sums of money to perform research in order to try to make money later. At the same time, often they do nothing more than read what's already been written in our DNA and patent the basic sequence. Where's the invention in that?

So I read this article with interest. Knowing how patents are written - with a view to locking out other workers - I could well believe the claims to be far-reaching and overly broad. Patents usually seem to claim stuff that's "obvious" if you're a specialist in the field, and despite the apparent safeguards of not being able to patent prior art, public domain info or obvious developments, the cost and difficulty of fighting a patent is so great and the rewards relatively small that there is seldom incentive to do so.

I do hope that the USPTO takes a careful look at both the facts and the ethics behind this application.

Oh, FWIW don't believe what you read in the newspapers or see on TV. Venter's group did not create 'artificial life' by any stretch of the imagination, although they push current techniques a bit further than they've been pushed before.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Well that was a weekend to survive

I wonder if going to church and meeting with God will ever become linked for me again. Now there's a blogpost to attempt to expand on some time.

At least Chris is back upright after her migraines yesterday.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Now how cool is that?

The car thermometer said 18'C at 9am this morning.

The sun said "I'm going to roast you" and proceeded to try, despite the cool air.

But hey, I got the long straw in the car stakes: Chris took the Pug (with barely working air con) and I got the convertible, so it's not all bad.

I had to open the window in the office behind me just now, it's so warm in here. I'm perspiring a little, just sat at my desk. The windows were taped up because they're so draughty that I get a headache from the cold air streaming through in the winter without doing that. Why can't our bodies be content with the situations they find themselves in? Maybe it's because they just reflect the way we are inside.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Delete facebook!

Well, not the site, but your account.

When I left it for a while last year I hunted for a 'delete account' button/tool but could only find the 'deactivate account' page. However it seems that there is a 'delete account' page after all, that should, really, delete your account (though probably not any data already on their servers).

The link is here.

I wonder how long this will stay valid?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Mick Fleetwood

I'm just watching a DVD of Fleetwood Mac.

Probably blogged this before, but I just love the way Mick Fleetwood, of all the people on stage, is just having enormous fun. He's clearly relaxed, happy and enjoying the whole business. All the others had their issues and now have their ways of coping. You can hear Lindsey Buckingham tearing his heart out in the guitar solos. Stevie Nicks looks in complete denial. Christine McVie is cool and aloof while John McVie still looks guilty as all hell.

But Mick - he's just having a GREAT time. I'd LOVE to play with him as drummer.

Still lurgified.

Starting to understand how my mother feels, running out of breath.

Is this what middle age is about? Aches, pains, more frequent illnesses? For the first time I'm seriously wondering if we may need to move out of Oxfordshire not too many years hence.

I think the time has come.

To look at re-starting as a worship musician, almost certainly in an outside-church context. Not sure how things will firm up yet or with whom, but I keep hearing about using God-given abilities, and I've had an external request to play at something (I needed to hear it come from somewhere else, rather than me drive it).

So in faith, now is the time. I don't know if I'll ever go back to being a conventional worship team musician, and I'm not even sure I want to anymore. Saturday evening I went to the Lifesongs Bicester concert, and it made me realise how much I miss exuberant, joyful, happy praise and worship.


Someone else said today that I should do something with music.

It's really hard to talk about: such strong emotions get stirred now even thinking about it that discussion is incredibly difficult.

Longitudinal bible reading benfits.

I like to read the bible longitudinally: just start reading from a major intersection or some place that seems relevant and keep going in a straight line. Doing a 'study' searching out sections to develop a specific theology has it's place, but certainly not as part of my regular reading pattern.

A while back I started re-reading the gospels because I realised that although I knew Jesus unconsciously, I didn't know Him very consciously. What do I mean? It's like knowing your partner so well they are almost part of you, like Chris and I, yet not really thinking about how they are outside of being with you. There's probably some helpful terms and phrases from either psychology or theology (or both) that could be used to describe this, but my brain is too fuddled now to dig them up.

I have just realised that's not at all what I intended to write.

The point was that a while back I started off with Matt 1 and I'm not on II Cor 4. A phrase that increasingly annoys me is telling people to 'do what it says' in reference to the bible. I put my hand up and admit that as a teenager and into early 20s I'd certainly subscribe to that, and later on too, to a degree. But in treating the bible as an instruction book we lose sight of the nature of what was written. In the case of the letters to the Corinthians, in the first letter Paul goes in with guns blazing, then comes back to deal with the fallout that caused.

Anyone recognise a pattern?

This is so important for us to see, because we so easily take a I Corinthians stance, without realising that we're going to need to restore the person/group back to ourselves later on. Was Paul's initial letter wrong? I don't think so, and there's certainly a place for clear, strong correction today, as the church is just as messed up as then. At the same time we need to recognise the risk of alienation this poses and be ready to reconcile others back into a good relationship again.

I hope that makes some sense.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Like a herd of stampeding wildebeast

Would be a grossly inaccurate description of migrating from a windows PC to the Linux box.

It's more like a herd of shuffling OAPs who have just discovered everything has been marked down to 10% of the original selling price in the nearby supermarket: Lots of enthusiasm and a wish to get there, but arriving is an inordinately long, slow and difficult process. Finally, the old emails are visible over the top of my zimmer frame.

The last hurdle is having to look up and re-enter all the POP3 and SMTP settings, but that's tomorrow's job.

Well, it works. I'm now committed to using Linux as my main OS. For the time being, at least.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Eyes are scratchy

And the only thing being productive round here is the cough.

Time to POETS.

BTW sorry if that last post doesn't make very good sense - I've re-read it, and it misses what I was trying to say by a fair bit. Good sense and me aren't being very cozy right now.

It's funny how we do things.

I've just followed a link up from a good friend's blog to see who one of his posters is, since the guy is a regular these days, and his posts are genuine.

He's gay, married to another man and is in bible college. There is moderate length explanation of why the scriptures in the old testament about homosexuality don't count and how the scriptures in the new testament are ambiguous when viewed in the light of a loving homosexual relationship. I read it because I hoped for more insight from both a scriptural and a cultural POV into the place of gays in the church and how we can relate to them. I don't agree with the reasoning or the caveats as to why it should be acceptable, but that's OK, because he's living his own life and he stands or falls before God for his own actions. I can accept him on that basis.

But there's something I struggled with which doesn't fit.

The blog is full of sexualised images of young men and also priests juxtaposed with a statue of a crucified Jesus that, in the context, has sadistic/masochistic overtones.

If I scattered bikini pictures borrowed from Wicked Weasel around my blog or posted cameltoe shots (NSFW - don't google either of these if you don't know what it means) people might start to question the depth and meaning of my faith. And here is a man asking the reader to take his love and devotion to Jesus (and his partner) seriously.

Once again the phrase "I dunno" seems appropriate. I have to deal with the desire to see attractive sexualised women as much as the next (straight) man, but somehow putting them out on display and, I suppose, giving in to that side of things seems like firmly stepping into the other camp. And both Jesus and Paul may have been even more ambiguous about net porn than they were about homosexual practice - after all, it's just pixels with no real woman directly involved at all. Isn't it?

Or maybe this was just a clue that despite the request for grace, there are real issues under the surface after all? The dichotomy that can't be hidden.

It's funny how we do things.

I've always known there was something good about Saskatoon.


Thursday, 13 May 2010

The cover is deceptive

Or plain wrong.

This is an intermediate comment on 'If You Want To Walk On Water Then You've Got To Get Out Of The Boat' (IYWTWOWTYGTGOOTB - nuts! that's no better).

Rather than hammer through it in a few days, I'm taking my time, reading small parts, seeing what speaks and what bores, what has life and what has information.

Will this book change my life? A little, maybe.

It is a book that needs to be read very carefully, and in context, else it will seem to be a charter for those who live by 'doing stuff' for God, rather than out of relationship with Him.

There's lots of encouragement to see what it is we like doing, are good at and have a calling for. And that's great. There's also some useful checks and suggestions for self-evaluation to make sure it's not all for our glory and fame.

Personally I'm trying to make myself get God to call me to do the stuff He wants, rather than do it by the traditional 'pushing doors' system, or maybe (being honest) a combination of them. The whole area of worship and music has been the most ghastly pit of emotions and struggles for the past year+, and I've already alluded to it. I've been close to laying it down, flogging all the gear and just walking away. But it won't go away because it IS a part of my calling, and denying that is like denying wanting sex with my wife (and not so different, in some ways).

So there are new shoots creeping through, here and there, and in new and old contexts. We'll need to wait for them to sprout and open a bit more yet, but they're there.

The book? Yes, it's making a little difference.

Why is the cover deceptive? Because the water illustrated is calm.

Sunday's comin'

Go see the video on Randall's blog.

It may not be what you think.


I'm not sure how this post will come out.

We've had to make some decisions over work and employment this week. It's been difficult for a variety of reasons, not least of which is finding faith to take the steps and feeling trapped by the approaching changes. Some of the time I feel like I can rise to the role of managing director, planning strategically, overseeing what are basically gambles with our future and money (don't let anyone in business kid you otherwise - it's all just a huge gamble in one sense). On the other hand I feel so much like the technical assistant I was in the beginning, not knowing what to do and waiting for someone to issue instructions.

And behind all that is the thought that the money is running lower, that the plans started now will result in large amounts of hands on work down the line. Chris was asking if she could be trained to do the work, rather than employ technical staff - there's something funny about giving her cell culture work to do, but it would be great if she could.

And even further behind all that is the concern that taking on a part time job will produce both a conflict of interest and that my work won't be up to scratch or I'll make mistakes for customers. A characteristic I have is loyalty, and the concept of just working to take whatever can be taken doesn't work for me at all. So that adds another layer of emotions and concerns to the whole thing.

If life was meant to be easy we'd have been born cats in warm, comfy homes.

It does feel like God came through on this one though. I'd really not been happy and at peace about the approaching situation, but we prayed (one of those "I don't know what to do, but HELP" prayers) this morning, and further discussions seem to have gone in a direction that I feel much happier about.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

That was quick!

The MoBo I ordered yesterday morning arrived a little while ago, so now, instead of being here in the office I want to go home and tear into that PC.


I'm also downloading PClinuxOS 2010.10 with KDE 4.4.3 as I type this. The review I just read convinced me I wanted to take a look and also provided a clue as to why I dislike the Gnome based variants of Linux. It seems that the KDE versions are starting to use higher resolution fonts (120dpi was mentioned) and I suspect this is why I find Kubuntu better than Ubuntu. They also apparently bundle 'non-free' (free as in thought - not free as in beer) codecs with the software so that it can handle DVDs etc. This is a good thing for those who don't want to spend hours trying to figure out how to obtain and then install them to end up with something that Windows does as standard.

It's a bit frustrating: I want to go home and play, and I need to stay here!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Finally managed to source a suitable MoBo

Picked up an MSI jobbie, new for £26 on the 'bay.

In order to check compatibility I went and looked up the original order that I placed with Ebuyer - that was July '07 and that first MoBo cost £23. Wish I could get another, as it was works well when it doesn't have a fault. Hopefully this will give me another couple of years from the system. By then it really should be too slow, as it's running a 3800+ processor, although it's always been snappy with XP (4Gb RAM helped a lot).

I've had a morning at home.

The weekend was hectic: delivering leaflets Sat AM, 10th wedding anniversary celebration PM (great to see David and Sandra still happy after 10 years, good to see so many friends) out in the evening with family for my Brother's birthday. Sunday was church, followed by a church get together + lunch, then 'church' again and supper in the village with our friends who set up Cecily's fund, including meeting one of the peer health education coordinator.

We really needed to get stock value and assets sorted out for company accounts, so Chris provided me with the figure I needed and I've just spent a couple of hours working through, assigning a standard cost to products and doing final stock values etc. Once that was all done (wonder what questions Chris will ask when she gets back?) it seemed good to just deal with an issue that was otherwise a nagging irritation so it wouldn't be cluttering up my thoughts any more.

Onward and downward.....

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Missing the boat.

The MoBo in my Linux box is flakey - sometimes it reports errors on booting and occasionally won't boot at all. Shutting the power off and waggling various components seems to fix it, but that's not 'entirely ideal' as a way forwards.

2 or 3 weeks ago there were some of MoBos available in AM2 with 4 DDR slots for just over 30 quid, and now there are none. Who'd have thought obsolescence would come along quite so quickly. Even ebay only has overpriced junk right now. Guess I'd better choose - either bite the bullet now or just live with a computer that gradually corrupts the OS (on top of the updates that break the system in new and creative ways). But I didn't want to spend more money on PC bits right now.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

If you find God too easily - a series of questions.

There's a thought provoking post on Hamo's blog which quotes from Thomas Merton. I'm not sure I entirely agree with the poetry, but the sentiments and struggle in the main post are something I do understand.

I'm juggling with this in a wider context too. It seems worship should be joyful, yet what do you do when you're miserable/melancholic and that's reflected in the way you do things? Do you make yourself sound joyful, and if you do, is that hype and hypocrisy? Is stirring your spirit within you, telling your heart to arise pretense or real? Should we embrace miserable worship?

So when we try to meet God, are we meeting Him because we need Him to do stuff or is it because He's said "come, spend time with me"? Or do we do it because we know we need to spend time with Him, and a bit like visiting a slightly awkward aged parent, we make sure that we schedule in meetings out of duty, even though it's a bit difficult?

Why do we do what we do?

Should it be hard to find God?

Do we fit work and leisure round God, God round work and leisure or do they just co-exist in a kind of temporal soup?

Is any of this even important?

Will it make any difference to you?

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

It's one of those days

Probably a good day not to reply to comments or say much on facebook then.

Monday, 3 May 2010

When enough is time to stop.

It's my natural character to pursue arguments until I'm done, either I've won or just lost the energy and interest to keep going (that happens a lot these days).

There's been a big furore about Philippa Stroud and her husband after an article in The Guardian and another in Pickled Politics. I don't know exactly why these 2 are linked unless it's the miracle of google, and the first 2 (only?) bits of 'dirt' that people can find are these, but I've seen both quoted in succession in a couple of places.

While I don't know the Strouds personally, I've come across someone who does, and can vouch for them as being the kind of people British politics needs. What I do know is that the approach to dealing with homosexuality described rather misleadingly in the Guardian article was certainly the mainstream charismatic approach to homosexual tendencies until at least 10 years ago. Many of us are still learning to 'be Jesus' to people in what is a difficult and challenging area: to love the person regardless of things that are a little more 'in your face' than many sins. The second article is just as ridiculous, approaching a scriptural model for marriage partnership as some bizarre form of social oppression, and has long been mainstream teaching in many charismatic churches.

When is enough?

In the middle of a Facebook discussion about this I felt God say "OK, that's enough - time to stop".

I am praying for this couple, that they won't be pulled down by the lies and insinuations spread about them, nor by the way that what is good and righteous and healthy is described as sick and wicked. Now, who do we know that likes to take what is good and lovely and make it look sick and diseased?

p.s. Wonder if that will get some flaming in the comments?