Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I keep coming back to Safari

Safari Web Browser in Action

I've used lots of browsers in my time as my primary work machine has change from a Windows PC, to a Red Hat Linux desktop to a Mac. I haven't used Internet Explorer for a couple of years, but I have always had a copy of Firefox installed on each platform I've used. My experience was that if I developed a website and tested it in IE, it was more than likely not to work on other browsers. If, however, the development work was done on Firefox, it would be more likely to work in IE.

I've since moved to a Mac and started using Safari as my primary browser. It's fine for most things; the odd website baulks at it and I have to switch to Camino or Firefox. I've tried Flock and rather liked it's integration with Flickr and Blogger, but I ended up switching back to Safari. Why? Flock has come closest to getting me away from Safari but I found it's RSS support to be more unreliable than NetNewsWire Lite. I still haven't found a completely satisfactory RSS solution; Safari's is confusing and it won't let me look at the XML source code, but I still like the Safari browsing experience.

I am concerned that Safari will be left out with "Web 2.0" applications; several AJAX-enabled applications have been released only supporting IE and Firefox, such as Google's Spreadsheets Beta. How much further could this continue before Safari users become second-class web citizens? Perhaps Apple should abandon WebKit and use the Gecko engine in the next release of Safari, rather like Camino?

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Scurge of the SMS

As 3.3 billion text messages were sent in the UK in May, the mobile phone companies must be laughing all the way to the bank. For all of the fancy "next generation" features that they fail to impress the market with, it's the stalwart Short Messaging Service (SMS) that makes them the most money. At 12p per message, most of which say "lol" or "gr8" or "see u thr", the SMS message is able to sustain an extraordinary price-per-byte tariff. Comparing the price of an SMS with, say, the cost of domestic broadband, text messages seem to be ridiculously expensive.

For the mathematically minded, in units of pence per byte: SMS = (12/160) = 0.075 p/B, Broadband (2699/40000000000)=0.00000675 p/B, i.e. sending an SMS is nearly 12000 times more expensive than sending an email message using your broadband connection. [Based on a 160 byte text message costing 12 pence, or 40GB of data on BT Broadband costing £26.99 per month.]


Monday, June 26, 2006

Nicole Kidman marries 'Keith'

Nicole Kidman, the beautiful and brilliant Australian actress, has married a man called Keith. Apparently, he's a country music star. His second name is 'Urban', which I find unlikely. If he's a country star, why isn't his surname 'Rural'? Does that mean she will be known as Nicole Urban from now on?


Saturday, June 24, 2006

iTunes or Amazon?

I used to be precious about my record collection. CDs and LPs are stored alphabetically on shelves, discs are carefully put back in their sleeves. When I got an iPod, I bought the odd b-side on the iTunes music store, electing to buy full albums on CD and ripping them. Now I find that I rarely, if ever listen to original CDs, as I almost exclusively use iTunes to listen to music, mostly in "Party Shuffle" mode.

The question arises, 'should I continue buying CDs or should I just buy from iTunes'. CDs are higher quality than the 128kbs AAC files delivered by Apple, but I am becoming lazy and find myself buying the odd full album from iTunes where usually I would have bought from Amazon. iTunes comes into its own when cherry-picking b-sides from singles but I am starting to wonder when I will stop buying CDs altogether and go completely digital.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Lilac Time Albums Re-issued with extra tracks

The Lilac Time - lilac1 - Artwork
Stephen Duffy has arranged for the Lilac Time's first three albums to be re-released on Mecury records. The albums come remastered, resplendent in new artwork and with extra tracks. Some of the extras were b-sides to singles from the original albums, others are previously unreleased or where BBC session tracks. I'd recommend starting with the first album, "The Lilac Time" (lilac1), now boosted to nineteen tracks from its original ten.

It was originally released on Swordfish records (I have 'Return to Yesterday' on 12" on Swordfish records) before the Lilac Time were signed by Fontana and then Creation. Stephen Duffy is currently touring with Robbie Williams, after which he will hopefully record a new Lilac or solo album.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

New Divine Comedy Album

Artwork for Victory for the Comic Muse by The Divine Comedy
The new Divine Comedy album, "Victory for the Comic Muse, is out this week. Produced by Nigel Goodrich and featuring the band's trademark orchestration, this album has makings of another Neil Hannon classic. I think Hannon is a musical genius who, despite limited critical and chart success, is always worth keeping up with. He's on Jools Holland tomorrow with the Strokes.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Editors 'Blood' out this week

'Blood', the last single to be taken from Editor's Back Room album, is out this week. I've seen the band live on two occasions and have been blown away by them. The album stands up to many, many listens and I can't recommend it enough.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New Mobile Phone and iSync

I've just received my new company mobile phone, a Sony Ericsson K600i. Luckily, transferring my contacts is a breeze with Apple iSync. I decided against the Motorola Razr V3i because the UK version that comes with Orange doesn't seem to work with iSync properly over Bluetooth, although it is fine with a USB cable.

The Sony phone is a bit chunky for my liking and has lots of 3G functions that I won't be using, but it usually takes me six months to get used to a phone.

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What ever happened to Green Shield Stamps?

In the 1970s, we had books and books of Green Shield Stamps. They were obtained when goods were bought and collected in special books. When you had enough pages of stamps, they could be redeemed for real goods, like a Fondue Set or crystal decanter.

It seemed to me that the value of individual stamp was too small, as one needed pages and pages of stamps to exchange for the smallest item. But the idea of collecting stamps has become entrenched in the psyche of Britain's pensioners who can always be persuaded to collect stamps rather than paying for things.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


I'm just trying a new web browser called Flock that integrates the Firefox engine, a Flickr photo management program, RSS aggregator and a blogging tool. Very handy indeed.

I can now publish Blog entries from my Blogger account, from within my browser or using my Blogger Dashboard widget.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Elliott Smith B-sides

I've just found the Elliott Smith B-sides site that contains MP3s of rare Elliott Smith songs, demos and unreleased stuff. I didn't realise how much stuff I was missing in my collection, or how many quality songs never made it to release.


New Morrissey B-sides

Morrissey - The Youngest was the most loved - Cover

Just swiped the B-sides to the new Morrissey single off iTunes. They seem to be better than some of the "filler" tracks on Ringleader of the Tormentors.

I wish Belle and Sebastian would start making Belle and Sebastian records again instead of pastiche tracks, like T-Rex, Thin Lizzy etc. "The Life Pursuit" is, however, broadly fabulous. I do prefer the simplicity of "If you're feeling sinister".


Jim Noir

If you're looking for a record to listen to this summer, then you can do worse than buying Tower of Love by Jim Noir. It's full of catchy tunes. It has a low-fi, home-made feel to it but is well worth a listen.