It’s quite a nice machine, but the software that powers it is abominable. On a brand new Vista install, it regularly loses knowledge of the network and has to be reinstalled (a process which takes at least 15 minutes of whirring).
On a clean XP install, the software for one some unwanted Photo Gallery package regularly pops up an error message. The modules aren’t installed a separate programs, so I can’t just delete that module in Control Panel. So now I have to continually get the task manager to nuke the process that pops up this consumer-friendly error message:
System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance
of an object.
at HP.CUE.Video.PlaybackControl._ProgressTimer_Tick(Object sender,
at System.Windows.Forms.Timer.OnTick(EventArgs e)
at System.Windows.Forms.Timer.Callback(IntPtr hWnd, Int32 msg,
IntPtr idEvent, IntPtr dwTime)
For all I know, every HP printer uses this software. Buyer beware.
Life’s too short for crap software—particularly dull utility software like printer drivers.
When I go and see a Shakespeare play, it usually takes me between five and ten minutes to get my ear attuned to the language, and a little longer to get accustomed to the non-naturalistic acting. Particularly with the tragedies, there is a possibility for histrionics but David Tennant managed to resist them. In fact, sometimes his acting was so understated it was almost TV acting, with its reliance on close-ups rather than the larger-than-life movements and voices required at the theatre. His was a witty, self-aware Hamlet, driven by anger rather than grief. His reserve only broke in the scene in which he and Gertrude have their showdown in her chamber, when you could have heard a pin drop in the full Stratford house. That was a bravura performance.
The whole cast was very strong. Patrick Stewart played the ghost of Hamlet’s father, and the murdering uncle. His was also an impressive performance, but I find him too theatrical, too self-consciously thespian. Penny Downie was excellent as Gertrude, Mark Hadfield supplied welcome comic relief as the gravedigger, but for me the best supporting actor was Oliver Ford Davis as Polonius, played as a pompous forgetful windbag.
This was a cracking production by Greg Doran, directed with verve and an eye for humour, but it was David Tennant’s show—after all, Hamlet speaks 1,507 of the playâ€™s 4,042 lines. I don’t know whether his will be considered an all-time great Hamlet, but it was energetic and enjoyable and showed that he’s far more than just a sexy TV personality (although he is that too of course). Overheard on the way out: a fourteen year old girl breathlessly telling her mother, “Wow! In the second curtain call, he was definitely looking and waving at me!”
I’d had the tickets since before xmas so have been excited for months to see the first reunion gig since MBV stopped recording around 15 years ago.
As seems traditional these days, the support band were a bag of shit and the main band took far too long to come to the stage (what are they doing backstage? Finishing a game of monoploy?) and I was knackered, so starting to feel pretty grumpy.
But, as I’d hoped, they blew me away. The last time I saw them (in 1991) I was in a special frame of mind so my memories of that gig are hazy. I recall great visuals, a lot of noise and the band not interacting with the audience. As we entered the hall, Nongyaw and I were offererd free earplugs. I declined: what kind of wussy pink-knickers wears earplugs at a gig?
Answer: me, by the end of the evening.This gig’s chemical intake was restricted to 2 pints of Kronenbourg, so I trust my recollection. MBV are the loudest, noisiest bunch on the planet. Colm O’Coisig flails away on the drums like a madman, Debbie Googe on bass never takes her eyes off him, and Bilinda Butcher and Kevin Sheilds neither acknowedged the audience or each other.
My only criticism is that the vocals, which are never emphasised and only ever another instrument in the songs, were so far down the mix that sometimes they disappeared altogether. Nevertheless, all the hits were played, the visuals were splendid and the last song, You Made Me Realise had me putting my ear plugs in as the band just howled noise.
That nice Jule Howell invited me to go and see the first night of the Sex Pistols’ reunion gigs. As I was just a little too young and provincial to see them back in 1976, I couldn’t resist the chance for a little nostalgia. For a band whose premise was a musical “burn the museums”, there’s a special irony in their being a nostalgia act, yet that’s what they are (bear in mind that we’re as far away now from the release of Never Mind The Bollocks than it was from the end of the second world war).
There was a real air of expectation in Brixton. The pubs were full of forty-somethings having conversations like “Did you see Sham in Southend in ’79?” and “…so that’s when Sid punched me”. The excitement was not completely scuppered by the miserable shitty venue with its two rows of corporate hospitality seats in front of us, and scowling bouncers telling everyone to “remain seated at all times”.
The (crappy) support band were dispensed with, Dame Vera Lynne’s “There’ll always be an England” concluded on the P.A., and out came the band—at which point the bouncers gave up on the “seated at all times” rule and retreated to the sidelines.
Age has mellowed Johnny Rotten. He actually hugged Glenn Matlock on stage and told us that “we fucking love each other”, told us that Matlock, Jones and Cook are “a fucking good band” and—heartwarmingly—that he is “one lucky cunt” because of them. Don’t believe me? Check out my video:
Age has improved Matlock, Cook and Jones’ musicianship. A guy behind was commenting that they were immeasurably better than they were 30 years ago, and they were certainly tight, well-rehearsed and oh so loud. Rotten, on the other hand, had a book of lyrics bought onto the stage by a flunky, and still managed to fuck up the words to No Feelings, Liar and (for chrissakes!) Anarchy in the UK. You’d've thought that someone who’s made a mint for thirty years on the same dozen songs would know the damn words! Never mind, though; it was the occasion that mattered.
The band worked their way through note-perfect versions of all their songs except (I think) I Wanna be Me and Satellite, and a reworked version of Belsen was a Gas called Baghdad was a Blast for an encore, and a splendid time was had by all.
Here’s me and Julie—the MS Pistols—all excited on our way to the gig.
A mate of mine had tickets to see the Bajofondo Tango Club, but couldn’t make it so donated them to me. I was sceptical: “a sort of jazzy tango” was the vague description he’d given me and as I like neither modern jazz nor tango, I wasn’t expecting a good night.
I had a great night. I never expected a band fronted by violin, guitar and an accordiany thing to do the kind of looping riffs with increasing textures that you find with Loop or My Bloody Valentine, but these guys were something else. Some songs were haunting Spanish guitar; others were almost industrial, with the on-stage VJ layering black and white footage of machinery, trains and a military coup while dirty beats and samples intertwined with the real-world instruments. All the while, audience members danced the sleaziest, fucked-up tango that I’ve ever seen.
Listening to the CD subsequently is a pale imitation of the live experience, unfortunately. Highly recommended.
I must apologise to PPK, whose book is before this one in my queue for book reviews, but I found myself pulling this book off the Shelf Of Truth a couple of days ago to look something up, and decided to record my experience.
First gig I ever saw was The Undertones at the Odeon in Birmingham in 1980. They rocked so much that, 27 years later, I still play “Teenage Kicks” in my band.
So when I discovered that they’d reformed (without Feargal Sharkey) and released an album I had to buy it. And it’s great! The opening song “Thrill Me” is a complete classic, with a chorus that’s running through my head constantly.
The kind of review every author dreams of was posted on my 40th birthday:
Let me get a few words out of the way about Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Complianceâ€”wow, wow, wow.
… if there are accessibility classes being taught in college these days (and there ought to be), then this book should be an assigned text, and a bargain it would be too. Bruce Lawson must be applauded for his dedication to this series … and putting the people behind it together.
… I like to conclude my reviews with an unbiased look at whatever aspects of a book I feel were weak, or perhaps problematic in some other respect. In all honesty, I donâ€™t have a single negative thing to say here … This book is worth every penny you pay for it.
So, the users hated my prototype Interaction, and the consultants ignored my brief and wireframed an alternative, all based on Ajax. After my initial irritation, I realised they were right to have done so: the Ajax version was much better for the vast majority of the customers. I’d bowdlerized the optimal product. In my drive to be inclusive, I’d accidentally unnovated.
To me, Ajax accessibility is the biggest problem in web development today. For the first time, designers can legitimately claim that we accessibility wonks are holding back the web experience – and I’ve heard Ajax described, highly plausibly, as “what we’d all hoped the Web would be”. (A fellow Web Standards Project love-dwarf also bangs on about Ajax accessibility in Patrick Lauke’s WebAxe interview.)
But I know bugger all about making Ajax accessible. So, what does an ex-publisher do when he wants info? Open a book, that’s what.
‘Understanding Ajax’ by Joshua Eichorn is a technical, developer-oriented tome. It’s not as hardcore as Langridge’s DHTML Utopia, but it does its tour of the Javacript libraries, as well as pimping the author’s own HTML_AJAX library. It’s not all code; there’s a useful chapter on how Ajax development can change the development methodology (largely based on the fact that you’ve another language to learn, and have to test more). There’s also a chapter on common usability problems with Ajax – surely the place to find the latest information on accessibility?
Nothing. Not a mention of accessibility. Not only are no solutions offered, but a newcomer would not even know that a problem existed, if she read only this book.
Another problem with the book is an entirely subjective one. The authorial voice in this book lacks passion, or even enthusiasm. In my opinion, just because it’s a computer book, it doesn’t need to be dull. No-one could accuse Zeldman, Molly, or Eric Meyer of lacking commitment and fire, or Jeremy Keith of lacking wit, and those qualities come out in their books. Personally, I love the Web, and I want to be inspired as well as informed.
Maybe you don’t; maybe web design is a nine to five job that you do to pay the mortgage – nothing more, and you’re told to use Ajax, and you don’t care about accessibility. If that’s you, I can recommend this book.