Mon Oct 29
When I have time (which isn’t often, to be honest) I like to look through the statistics for my websites and see who’s been visiting. Some of the search terms I get arriving at my site are a little … strange. However not as strange as some people’s.
Seeing as I’m short on quality content at the moment I’ll take the wimps way out and post the search terms that have brought people to this site over the last few days:
||radiohead in rainbows review
||marshall super bass
||in rainbows review
||in rainbows review radiohead
||css gantt chart
||marshall super bass 100
||where to go in guernsey
||review radiohead in rainbows
||gantt chart css
||prototype unobtrusive link
||review of in rainbows
||wierd & wonderful pictures
||cartoon church pictures
I think from that it’s quite obvious that I’m serving a series of niche markets with what I write. Which is fine, it fits in with the series of niches in my brain.
Sat Oct 27
I’ve now been a home user of Ubuntu for 2 months, give or take. In that time I’ve booted into Windows XP a total of two times. Once to get photos off the wife’s phone using a Bluetooth application (I could use a USB lead in Ubuntu, I’ve since discovered) and once to get some details saved inside an application.
For what I do, Ubuntu is proving to be an excellent choice. The new version has fixed a fair few of my niggles, such as pane layout in FileZilla not being saved. So, for any other web developers out there who is sick of WIndows, or looking at a costly "upgrade" (I use the term loosely) to Windows Vista, here’s what I use daily in Ubuntu:
- SciTE, Scintilla Text Editor – a basic text editor, which is what I do all of my development in. It could have a few more features (I miss the PHP function list plugin for Notepad++) but as far as text editors go, it’s pretty darn good.
- The aforementioned FileZilla FTP application which I’ve used in Windows for a long time. It’s a great FTP package that does every thing I need it to do. The latest version is especially nice.
- MySQL Query Browser allows me to easily create and edit both the schema of MySQL databases and the data itself. It’s like a cut-down version of SQL Server Management Studio, without the screen-wasting, time-wasting, CPU-wasting rubbish. The Administrator tool is really slick, too.
- My weapon, sorry, browser of choice is still Firefox. I have to be honest and say that a few plug-ins don’t seem to work for me (Color Picker and Tidy being the most important ones) but Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Toolbar is perfect, and makes the ‘Fox the standout choice fo web developers.
- One of the most famous pieces of free software is the GIMP. I have to confess I’d prefer to use Fireworks (which runs in Wine, and I have a valid licence for … hmm) but for the graphic work I’ve needed up to now it’s been fine. Again, the new version makes a lot of positive interface changes.
- Although I’m just a one-man-band development team, I find source control is very useful. If nothing else then just for off-site backups. My tool of choice for commits is RapidSVN which works with my Subversion server.
- Open Office. Of course, what more can I say?
- For tunage I use RhythmBox, which I find to be fantastic. Being able to create CDs from playlists with two clicks makes life easier. The only downside is I haven’t found any keyboard shortcuts to move up/down tracks. I’m sure they’re there, as pretty much everything is when I look properly.
And when I get chance to do some music stuff, which isn’t often to be honest, I lay down the beats with the following:
- Jack‘s the boss. Audio and MIDI routing, and a centralised time server, all wrapped up in a little neat box. Some musicians studio pay thousands for this functionality.
- Ardour audio workstation, which records all of the audio-based stuff. Works with Jack like they’ve been best friends for years. The next version will have MIDI support, which is a bad thing for me as I’m male and therefore can’t have the children of the developers no matter how much I want to.
- Kicking the beats is Hydrogen drum machine, which I only recently started using but already love.
- ZynAddSubFx is a great little synth. There are loads of other synths I haven’t even got round to trying.
- Qsynth – Qt GUI Interface for FluidSynth makes working with soundfonts a breeze.
- I have to mention LinuxSampler (for which I use the front-end Qsampler) but in honestly I’ve not managed to get it playing GigaSampler files yet, which is the whole reason I want to use it. Can anyone help?
If you haven’t heard of these applications, or if you’re not even aware that there are good, free and – most importantly – non spam and ad-infested applications out there then hopefully this list has whetted your appetite. I have to admit I’m a fully paid-up fan of open source software, and Ubuntu in particular, and like Apple I find using Windows at home an increasingly tedious business.
Thu Oct 18
I’ve recently added two more functions:
- Turns any simple text element (
blockquote and many more) into an inline form when the text is clicked. This allows you to provide in-place editing for short pieces of text (usernames, password etc.).
- Adds a piece of text to a
input type="text" element to prompt the user on what they should type in. The text disappears when they click into the element, and reappears if the box is still empty when they click out.
Sat Oct 13
Radiohead – In Rainbows
A few days ago I wrote a review of Radiohead’s new album In Rainbows. Since then I’ve listened to it at least half a dozen times, and much though it pains me to say it:
I was wrong.
This is a great album; a soothing, joyous, mellow-tinged collection of wondrousness. I’d stand by my initial diagnosis that it isn’t up there with OK Computer or The Bends, but it is in my opinion streets ahead of Kid A, which was far to esoteric for it’s own good.
On In Rainbows Radiohead seem to have come full circle, melding the solid straight-up rock of their earlier stuff (Bodysnatchers is such a tune) with their weird and wonderful noise-influenced recent period. Tracks such as Nude and Weird Fishes/Arpeggi wash over you in waves of melancholy the like we’ve not heard since the heady days of OK Computer.
In my previous review I was a little disparaging about Faust Arp, which I compared to Turin Brakes gone wrong. Well, I’m the one who is wrong (and it’s not often I say that). On repeated listenings I hear Bob Dylan, even echoes of Simon and Garfunkel. This is a modern folk song done in a way only Radiohead can.
The wonderful guitar on the opener 15 Step (would you believe, music buffs, it’s just 1-4-5 in Dorian mode? How come they make it sound so good?). The plaintive longing of All I Need. The rhythmic guitar counterpoint of Weird Fishes/Arpeggi. I could go on, but there’s no need.
This is a great album, in my opinion their best after the Big Two mentioned above. If you listened once and wrote it off, force yourself to listen again a few times (even just to Weird Fishes/Arpeggi and Bodysnatchers) to let it get into your head. You may find, like me, you’ll become addicted to the new Radiohead.
Reviewed by Chris Taylor, October 13th, 2007. This review is marked up using hReview, because I’m all Web 2.0, baby.
Wed Oct 10
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Update: I’ve written a second review here that makes much of what I’ve written below null and void.
The latest album from legendary group (I would say “rock group” but they go way beyond mere rock) Radiohead has been released in MP3 download today. I’ll come on to the why’s and wherefore’s of the way they released it later, first a look at a few tracks:
The opener is exactly what you’d expect from Radiohead – angular and driven. But the overall effect, as so often happens in their music, is one of coherence and fluidity. The time signature of 5/4 unsettles, but the dreamy guitar lulls you back to safety.
The first thing I thought when I heard this was “chill-out drum and bass with added guitar”, and I suppose Radiohead have a good line in that kind of sound. With lines like “I’d be crazy not to fall, to follow where you lead” the longing wistfulness of Thom’s voice really comes out. The track builds then is stripped away to the counterpointed arpeggi of the title before breaking out into a more sinister version of the original feel. Yes, you might have guessed it, weird noises abound.
I think someone has been listening to Turin Brakes, judging by the opening of Faust Arp. But of course they’ve subverted what would otherwise be a pretty standard pop-folk tune with extra beats and unexpected chord twists, even if the accompanying strings are pretty pedestrian. All in all it sounds like Radiohead Unplugged.
Thom’s falsetto on this track seems, to me, a bit weak compared to the soaring vocals on their classic album OK Computer, but the track bounces along in a jolly (OK, make that dark) fashion until the half-way mark. Following a string interlude you get the feeling of a very strange gospel song, again with cyclic guitars underpinning the disjointed drums.
House Of Cards
Probably the “happiest” song on the album, House Of Cards sounds like it could have been recorded by the Stone Roses in an extremely mellow mood. With weird noises, of course. This is one of those tracks you could fall to sleep to without (much) risk of nightmares.
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Most people will never have Radiohead playing in their living room, but turn this track up and you’ll be nearly there. The dry treatment and guitars threatening to break out of the speakers makes them as close as they are likely to be on a recording. Once again they’ve employed the use of a zombie choir to good effect.
Overall this is a good album, just as you’d expect from Radiohead. However it’s not up there with their best, as there isn’t really any ground-breaking production. It could be described as an impressive disappointment – some gorgeous, comforting sections but overall it leaves you much the same. It’s not that it’s bad, it isn’t, but I made the mistake of listening to both The Bends and OK Computer the other day and this just doesn’t stand up to those albums. Maybe that will
Now, about the release. Radiohead, rather than charge a fixed price for the album, have freed themselves from the shackles of a record company and you can choose what you want to pay. Yes, it’s really up to you, as their website says. I chose to pay the princely sum of Â£0.00 for the DRM-free download, and I’m ashamed of that. This album is worth money, and when the boxset comes out I’ll be parting with some of my hard-earned moolah to get a physical copy.
Reviewed by Chris Taylor, October 10th, 2007. This review is marked up using hReview, because I’m all Web 2.0, baby.