Hello and welcome to another update from my little world, what I like to call the Weekly Rewind. It’s a name somone suggested to me ages ago and it’s stuck. I like it and besides, it allows me to use that wonderful image of an old cassette tape you see. I remember having a few hundred of those piled up in my room when I was younger, mostly recorded from the radio or copied off friends, oh no I killed the music industry!!! But enough of that, let’s get into it.
Last time we talked it was Wednesday June 29th and I was preparing to appear on FLOSS Weekly, so we should probably start there. The show went really well and was ably hosted by Aaron as usual. Our guest was Travis Tidwell of the MediaFront project. MediaFront is a plugin for Drupal that enables a quick and easy way to embed video into your site and manage it. Best of all from my point of view, it’s GPLv3 licensed and it will use a HTML5 player rather than Flash if possible. If your browser can’t handle that it will just downgrade to Flash and all bases are covered. Flash can be a pain on Linux (and most other platforms) but for some reason it’s still the king of web video. I think that’s changing rapidly though and most modern browsers can use HTML5 and a decent video codec to do a much better job. It’s more accessible for disabled users and it adheres to world wide standards. What’s not to love? Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. So we talked to Travis for about an hour about HTML5, Drupal and the finer points of providing video on the web. You can download that as FLOSS Weekly 172 now.
After finishing FLOSS I made something to eat and then hot footed it over to the Wirral for band practice at Ross’ place. We haven’t practiced there for a while and we played much quieter, which I actually think is good sometimes for perfecting control and getting under the skin of a song. The session was really good and we were all happy. The following night 20lb Sounds assembled again as we headed to our room on Dale St to play a little louder this time. That session also went really well and I think our practice is paying off. We’re finding a higher gear now and playing better than I think we ever have before. The 2 newest songs are sounding particularly good and if we can stay on top of regular practice hopefully we can maintain this level. That’s really the key, I’ve learned. Nothing comes easy in life, nothing worth having anyway, and practice is like working out for the band. If we keep at it and put in the work the rewards will hopefully come. Earlier on Thursday I blogged about Oggcamp and also did a bit of work bailing out a Drupal site I’d built last year. It’s for a fairly well known UK rapper and we think it was attacked by hackers. I also worked on that a bit more on Friday.
On Saturday I got all the tracks together for AMPed 290 which is the weekly round up show for the Association Of Music Podcasting. I’m a member of AMP and we all take turns in compiling the weekly show from submissions by all the various podcasters. It took most of the afternoon getting that together, deciding the running order and finally performing the show live to tape. This is the way I like to do it. Some people prefer to record a link for each track and then cut it together afterwards. Being used to live broadcasts I mix the music in as I go and work off a few notes. I have no trouble talking, though I do say “erm” far to much. I’ve been thinking of ways to stop that. It’s not a major problem but it would be nice to train myself not to do it on mic so frequently. After compiling the show I mastered it in Audacity back on the laptop and sent it off to AMP headquarters. That show was released on Monday July 4th and you can find it on the association website. On Saturday evening I ventured over the water again to visit Gary, bass player extrordinaire in 20lb Sounds. He’s a big boxing fan and we’d planned to watch the David Haye v Wladimir Klitschko fight with friends. As it turned out the fight was disappointing and Klitschko was able to just defend the whole time knowing he’d win on points, very boring. Haye tried but didn’t seem to have the skill or power to get through the defence. He later blamed it on an injury but it sounded like a bit of a hollow excuse to us. I don’t watch a massive amount of boxing and it’s strange that I like it really being a very mellow guy. I’m certainly not given to violence and I don’t watch any other combat sports, but for some reason boxing has always been interesting to me. My granddad was a boxer in the army during WWII, so maybe it’s in the blood somewhere. I can throw a punch alright, I just don’t like to unless there’s no other option.
On Sunday I walked down to the Albert Dock to meet Adrian and our friend Tori (@twiverpool on Twitter). It was a hot sunny day and I made the mistake of walking through Liverpool One, which is a huge shopping centre built for the 2008 Capital Of Culture. It’s very nice and lots of people rave about it but it’s not a part of town I ever go to and I felt a bit disorientated by it all. The throngs of people charging over each other to worship in this cathedral of consumerism probably didn’t help either. I eventually found my way out somewhere near James St station and continued my journey. I really can’t understand the obssession with shopping most people have. The desire to own more useless tat that you can’t afford just because it’s fashionable. I mean, I know it helps drive this economy of ours but it’s all a bit odd. Who cares if your sunglasses match your jeans, there’s more important stuff in life. This has never been illustrated more clearly to me than the site I witnessed not far from James St. I turned the corner onto the dock road to see people sleeping rough underneath the concrete steps of a building site, in cardboard boxes. Near to the old Fitness Factory for anyone who knows Liverpool. I saw a woman who was clearly homeless sat with 2 plastic bags by her side. Probably everything she owned in the world. While people with Primark bags wandered past thinking the worst problem in the world was whether their shoes were “cool” enough, not where their next meal would come from. It would have made an amazing photo. It reaffirmed my belief that I don’t understand the world we live in today or why it works this way. I sometimes feel like a alien visitor walking through these shopping centres. It reminded me of the classic George Carlin routine about “stuff”. He hit the nail on the head, see this video.
By the time I arrived to meet Adrian at the Pier Head I was pretty wicked off by all this and promptly ranted on about it. He kindly listened but I managed to snap out of it pretty quickly. Nobody wants a lecture, least of all someone just trying to enjoy their Sunday afternoon. Tori eventually arrived and we entered the Maritime Museum to see an exhibition of photos taken during the Toxteth Riots. Seeing people on the streets, public sector strikes, a (basically) Conservative government and Kenny Dalglish back in charge of Liverpool FC, it’s hard not to feel that we’re returning to those dark days of the 1980′s. I hope not and I’m glad there are good people trying to stop it. As it turned out there were only a few photos out and it didn’t seem like the whole exhibition was ready. We asked the friendly man working there but he didn’t know much about it either. Apparently the exhibition is new and they “don’t have much information yet”. I would suggest finding the actual photos would be a good start folks. We’ll have to go back another time. We wandered around a little and then went for something to eat at a bar in the Albert Dock. It was great to hang out and chat but I realised later that sitting in the full sun without any protection probably wasn’t smart. I’m pretty red at the moment but I’ve been liberally applying the after sun for a couple of days. I also edited another episode of Free As In Freedom in the evening and you can find that here.
Yesterday I caught up on jobs during the day and also ventured over the water for a doctors appointment. In the evening we broadcast another live Linux Outlaws which I will be editing later this week. It featured a special live guitar intro as I played a Jimi Hendrix inspired version of the Star Spangled Banner for all our American friends. It was the 4th Of July after all and they take their patriotism very seriously over there. It was great fun to play live guitar on the show and hopefully everyone will enjoy it on the podcast. The live audience certainly seemed to. Today I’ve caught up on housework, installed Fedora 15 on my laptop and done a few other jobs. That brings us all up to date. So what’s upcoming?
I’m heading down to Liverpool LUG tomorrow night and you’re all welcome to join us. It’s at 7:30pm in the Liverpool Social Centre which is on Bold St. We’re going to be discussing sorting out our website and making it easier for new people find us, both physically and virtually. I think we could improve that a lot. On Thursday it’s the 1st Anniversary of Jelly Liverpool, the co-working day. I’ll be heading down to LEAF on Bold St during the day to catch up with other folks and help celebrate. Then in the evening it’s 20lb time again. On Sunday there’ll be another live Rathole Radio and I look forward to that too. It’ll be live from 9pm UK on Sunday and you can find us at RatholeRadio.org/live. I’m sure there’ll be more to report on soon, but until then take it easy out there folks.