Not getting the internet in Ireland and Germany

Irish Newspapers want to make it illegal to link to their articles, or charge people who do (link to article) (via @rodti)

Absolutely scandalous!

And then news came in from @syzygy that the same information battle is being fought in Germany (link to article)

Jesus, are these people not getting it?

Here’s an idea for the German and Irish newspapers; if you don’t want people to link to your articles, instead of trying to control the internet use of the population of the entire planet, why don’t you just stop putting your articles on the internet?

How about that?

Because it seems like the perfect solution to me.

Searching for inspiration

I’m looking for a domain name.

I get flashes of inspiration that occasionally produces solid gold possibilities, but when I check them out I find someone has got there before me.

The domain name is for the new media website that I have finally finished designing.

All I need is a name.

I thought I had the perfect one and nearly spent money buying it.

Just in time, before I pressed the ‘buy’ button, I noticed the typo.

Yeah, that could have been embarrassing.

So I’m still looking.

I can’t go in to details here, but if you’re feeling creative, leave a comment/drop me a line and I’ll email you the basic details.

Drunk (and also Not Drunk)

Listen kids, alcohol abuse is not big and not clever.

The night before last was a drinkers wet-dream. It started mid-morning on East 6th Street in Austin, Texas, and finished about 1am the next day.

In a nutshell, I found myself in a bar called ‘Bikinis’ (where the all-female mid-20s staff wear… well, I’m sure you can work it out).

Lunch at Bikinis on E6th Street

 

While I was sitting at the bar teasing the barmaid, I met a really cool guy from Nashville.

 

Fred.

 

And I had a few beers there.

 

 

 

Then I went somewhere else and had a couple there.

Then I went to the Austin Conference Centre to recharge my batteries (literally) and bumped in to a Spanish band.

They took me captive and forced me to drink a range of increasingly aggressive beers for about six hours.

Luisa, about to take control of me

 

 

Then one of the band, Luisa, felt I needed a bodyguard (as they had just released me from captivity).

 

And then it all got very hazy.

 

There was a lot more drinking.

 

 

And there were many, many bands seen.

Fortunately I have totally illegible notes to describe who I saw/heard and what I thought. Can’t think why my notes are illegible.

But that’s OK, I have a fallback, obv.

I woke up yesterday morning, after far too few hours sleep, with a mouth that resembled the floor in a Texan farmers bull-pen.

I also found myself looking at a small, tasteful tattoo of a blue butterfly.

Anyway.

Last night was a different kettle of fish.

I had a brilliant Mexican meal on E6th Street.

I interviewed a band promoter from Arizona.

I saw five bands.

I had two diet cokes.

And one beer.

And my notes are totes legible.

There is a moral to this tale somewhere.

I think it is: ‘Don’t drink and write notes’.

Welcome to the Lone Star State

I’ll try to cram a few things together for the first post.

The flight from Heathrow to Houston was excellent. I dozed some of the way, watched a couple of films and was force-fed two hot meals (not at the same time, obv), coffee and a couple of rounds of ice-cream.

The flight from Houston to Austin was brilliant, the cabin-crew were hilarious, and perked me (and everyone else) right up.

The less-good things were passport and baggage controls in Houston which had obviously been organised by a committee that comprised the Marx Brothers and Benny Hill. It was a joke, a long, sad, wholly disorganised, painful, needless joke. And all travellers, not just non-US citizens, were the butt of the joke.

The taxi-ride from Austin airport to my hotel continued the joke theme. My cab driver couldn’t speak English, couldn’t spell ‘Waters Edge Circle’ to type it in to his Satnav and the ‘control’ on the other end of his radio just didn’t care about him (probably because of his utter inability to string a sentence together). When he used his mobile phone to call ‘his friend at home’, and speak to him (in Arabic), to get him to read Google Map directions over the phone to the driver, I started looking around the cab for a hidden camera. I found none. When he asked me if the street number had to be typed in to his Satnav in number or in letters I almost cried with laughter.

However, time passed and $80 later we eventually got here.

Here is a hotel outside Austin (because if you think I’m booking accommodation in town this week, you are seriously mad).

I ate at a Bar and Grill last night and, actually, had a great time with a bunch of very friendly good ol’ boys and girls. Really, it was brilliant.

Alcohol was drunk. I ended up drinking pints of draft Belgian beer. In Texas. Because that’s what we do. I was less sure about the custom of putting a fuck-off-sized slice of fresh orange in the beer.

The hotel suite is the size of Cardiff. I’m thinking of asking for roller-blades to get me to the bathroom which is over there somewhere *waves* far in the distance.

I slept really well.

Must be all the Belgian beer.

Ahem.

The bad news is that I have had to cut short my visit to Austin; I either need to be in two places at the same time on Monday, or I have to drop everything and return to the UK this weekend.

Sadly, I shall be doing the latter.

Anyway.

Now I have to get on my bike and cycle over to the far side of the suite to find the bathroom.

And then I need to get me to the Austin Convention Centre.

Have a good day boys and girls.

Texas-bound

which actually sounds, when I read that title back, just a little – you know – BDSM-ish…

So I am en-route to Texas.

This means I’m sitting at Heathrow waiting for my United flight to be called. Or it means I’m actually sitting in an aluminium tube at 33,000ft. Or it means I’m desperately trying to kill the horribly-long layover at Houston. Or it means I’m actually in Austin, but haven’t got around to updating this blog yet.

I’ve thought long and hard about how I’m going to play the social media thing while I’m at South by South West (or #sxsw if you prefer the Twitter tag for it).

Muso-related output will, I have decided, go straight on to the This Reality Podcast website. This output may be text, video, audio or a combination of all of these things. There will also be muso- and SXSW-related tweetage on the podcast Twitter account.

This blog will carry random Texas-related text, video, audio or a combination of all of these things. And possibly non-Texas-related thoughts too. There will also be random tweetage on my personal Twitter account.

And that’s it.

The bad news is that I may have to cut short the visit, as I have been offered a contract, but it is a contract term that I start work on Monday 19th March.

This means that I’m probably not going to be able to make the Softball game that I was going to get slaughtered play in.

Oh well.

 

South by South West-bound

In a couple of weeks, in Austin, Texas, the South by South West Music Festival will kick off.

I plan on being there.

I have a commission from the Guardian.

I will be slutting myself around, trying to pick up additional commissions from other print, web, video and/or audio outlets…

And I will be there.

Just so you know.

Two wheels good; four wheels also good (17/29)

It’s that time of year when this man’s thoughts turn, inevitably, to…

 

 

 

bikes!

 

 

 

I am not, in brand terms, a ‘manufacturer’ kind of person. I passed my test on a Kawasaki GPZ500S (pictured) and therefore have a bit of a soft spot for them.

I do like my former school-friend Robert’s

 

 

 

Triumph Tiger

 

 

It is a totally different animal to the GPZ500, but it does give a very nice ride, even though it is a little high for me to be totally comfortable.

But I know a guy, a thoroughly dependable, sensible, nice guy, who is selling his

 

 

 

 

Yamaha YZF-R1

 

 

 

And he isn’t asking too much for it.

Tempting.

Very, very, very tempting.

In other news…

This Sunday (February 19th), the Ace Cafe in that north London (North Circular Road, NW10) is hosting an Overland And Adventure Travel Bike Day.

I might be there, in the guise of pretending to write stuff.

If you fancy coming along (I do recommend the all-day vegetarian breakfast!), let me know.

We could meet.

Or not.

This one isn’t about BT

This week, the last seven days ending tonight, Friday 25th February 2011, has been a week of weird and a week of same; I’m not sure how those two ‘weird’ and ‘same’ sit quite so comfortably in my world – and in my head – but they do.

I have drunk far too much tea in the last seven days. And no alcohol. I have also eaten very well and badly, but in uneven measures, with the scales of healty gastronomy tipping firmly in the direction of good eating.

Preparing and cooking good meals is such a faff, isn’t it?

Two Chinese meals, one of them prepared and cooked by me. But chips. Twice.

And an artery-hardening slab of pizza. Three oranges, about half a kilo of pineapple.

And chocolate. Many, many chocolate things.

Eggs and bars.

Actually, not so many chocolate things, just lots of chocolate in those two forms.

And the healthy, good food, obv.

Work has been absolutely manic.

I can’t, and don’t, write about my IT-related work – writing work goes by a whole different set of rules! – but this week, in the day job, I’ve covered so much ground, ticked so many boxes and moved so many things on to so many different levels that, frankly, sometimes it’s been hard to know where in the air all the juggling balls were.

But I just keep on juggling.

On the couch at home, we’ve been discussing going to Austin, Texas, for the 2011 South By South West (or SxSW if you can handle your abbreviations).

Because, surely, it would be so sensible to just drop those work balls and run to Texas for a week, to get completely involved in a whole new set of things.

I don’t have enough ‘things’ to keep me busy here.

Which is plainly untrue.

But, the thing about SxSW is, I’d get paid for it.

Oh, not NUJ rates, but I have offers from people who want pieces written, recorded or videod.

And edited, obv.

It would pay the hotel bills.

Or maybe the food bills.

And going to SxSW would be a massive opportunity to network and maybe promote the podcast and both of these things are very attractive.

Networking.

Away from the ‘day job’ part of my life, I want to build the side of my life where I deal with the writing, audio-, video-production and editing work.

I want to do more of these things for longer periods of time than the ‘several hours a week’ – where ‘several’ means anything from 0-18.

I want to do it better.

i want to add more value to it.

I want to be cleverer at it.

I want to earn more from it.

I want to learn to enjoy it even more than I already do and that, my friend, is a challenge of massive proportions in itself!

To help push these things onwards, I’m making tiny changes here and there.

I think I’ve carried the video editing as far as I can in the current config; given that every piece of video I’ve edited has been produced with a limited-functionality piece of freeware.

I’m going to move the video editing to a higher level with a piece of ‘proper’ video editing software.

This will help me produce more, much shorter, tighter films; that’s my primary objective.

Making this change would be the same kind of improvement that moving audio production from Audacity to CuBase gave me.

In the text-based world, I’ve stopped writing in Word.

I don’t know why, but I have found writing in Word to be increasingly difficult.

So I’ve taken the retrograde step to WordPad.

No spell-checker.

No word-count.

No page-break views.

No thesaurus.

None of the tools that, frankly, we use so much and so often, that they actually get in the way.

I find it easier to write in WordPad than Word.

It’s more basic.

Simpler.

Less cluttered.

And I like that.

I have also played far too much Spider Solitaire in the evenings of the last week.

At the time of writing, we are moving towards our fourth week without broadband.

This has presented us with a few difficulties.

Being without internet banking has been awkward, but we’ve been able to cover that at work.

But getting the weekly podcast prepared and put on the server for our listeners to download has caused me some extreme difficulties.

I’ve been using an hour of free internet access every Saturday at the local library to write the website for each show.

But the library’s infrastructure doesn’t allow FTP transactions – the protocol which sends the audio file to the server.

So I’ve been using a little bit of Latte-and-toast fuelled internet access at a local cafe/restaurant/bar, to get the show up to the server, for iTunes to distribute outwards.

I’m actually a little bit proud that even being denied broadband at the home/in the studio hasn’t stopped us from maintaining our 100% show production record.

We’re approaching the show’s third anniversary and we haven’t missed a single weekend.

That’s not bad for a couple of enthusiastic amateurs.

So yes, as well as trying to boost my writing, audio and video work, SxSW might be a good place to also do a little networking on behalf of the podcast.

And there are a couple of bands and recording artists I’m involved with; they could do with their word being spread too, while we’re there.

If we can get time off from our day jobs.

That’s a pretty big ‘if’.

Size doesn’t matter, neither does distance

According to the arbiter of truth and decency, The Daily Mail, one of Andrew and Fergie’s offspring has pranged her BMW.

The Daily Mail tells us that the crunch occurred at the Hyde Park Corner roundabout which is ‘yards from the grounds of Buckingham Palace – home to her grandmother the Queen’.

click for the big picture

Actually…

According to various mapping software, the distance from Hyde Park Corner to the nearest portion of the grounds of Buckingham Palace is 1 mile.

The distance to the front gate of Buck House is 1.2 miles.

Still, I suppose 1 mile is simply a matter of ‘yards’.

I look forward to the Daily Mail reporting that the Chilean miners have been rescued from a hole ‘yards from the surface’.

And that this planet had a near miss with the moon which passed ‘yards’ away, last night.

I wish I could leave the Daily Mail alone, but it’s like a nasty rash – just has to be scratched.