Archive for June, 2006

Film nights

For the last couple of nights I’ve been at Sarann’s house to watch films with people. Two nights ago we actually did half-heatedly watch some movies but ended up just drinking a lot and chatting all night long. I ended up getting to bed at 6am and waking up at 2 in the afternoon. A waste of a day if ever I’ve seen one, but it was a good night. Discussions and debates are always good though, and we got onto some quite deep stuff. It was really interesting to delve into peoples pasts and get their true take on things, it really makes you feel like you know them a whole lot better.

The night in general was so good in fact that we decided to do it again last night. We spent a while chatting about various bits and decided we didn’t have enough drinks so we headed to jacksons with enough small change to sink a fairly large ship and bought some vodka, mixers and wine. The look the guy on the till gave Sarann when she pulled out a pound all in 1p/2p coins was the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages. It was also one of the longest transactions I have seen in a jacksons store ;)

We almost didn’t bother with films, although we did eventually put Madagascar on and while the first half was pretty funny I don’t know what happened in the second half because I got talking to Claire about arty things and design and such, which was really cool – the web meets conventional art and design – a field I really need to pay more attention to I think. I tend to come at design from a much more functional point of view; visualising the layout before any imagary, but I liked Claires response to being asked to design a website – she made a poster. This might sound crazy, but actually it was the best idea I’d had in ages. Websites that look like posters really catch the eye. The whole concept of a big bold title, colour gradients and vibrant images, all overlaid with information in an easy to read format is not only a poster, but exactly what most people expect to see on a web page. Certainly food for thought anyway.

Rather than further wreck my sleep pattern by staying up all night, we stayed at Sarann’s (saved me the long walk home) but hit the sack pretty early. I was awake by 7am though. Michelle left to go back to Jersey for the summer shortly after we woke up, which was sad, although she has invited a group of us to come and stay at somepoint over the summer which I will most certainly be taking her up on as I’ve never been to Jersey.

No prizes for guessing where we have decided to grab lunch later on today though, lol (Yes, you’ve guessed it, the Quilted Llama :D)

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Capri

Capri BackstageIt’s not often I go to a plain funk night, I’m a jazz funk person really, usually prefering a bit more of the jazz and a little less of the funk, something to add an edge to the jazz if you like. But, I spotted that Capri were playing at the wardrobe and liking the description of their act and the amount of realism provided by such a large band (11 piece), I decided to go along. I tried to get a few others to come along too but it would appear the funk hadn’t got them as much as it had got me, so I went alone. This is actually a surprisingly good way to enjoy a gig; more time to listen and really feel the music than if you are just sat chatting.

I arrived about 30 minutes after the doors opened. This turned out to be a mistake for me and a boon for the bar. After I had been there an hour the band hadn’t started, although there were a fair few people there, and I’d got through 3 G&T’s at £2.80 a time. It was cool though because I met this girl who had also come practically on her own (with just a couple of friends instead of originally planned larger numbers because people had cried off). Jessica was obviously a bit Capri fan and was quite impressed I’d come down to see them play live on my own. Still we got chatting and she came up with this phrase that really sums how I feel about music and making sure I see it, hear it and make the most of it “Well you can’t enjoy it when you’re dead can you?” And how very right she is. If you’re thinking of missing something, just think about that phrase, I guarantee it will make you change your mind.

On to the music then. The band came on stage at about midnight. Most people were really in the mood by then as the DJ had been spinning some funky vinyl for a good hour. We all moved right up to the stage and as it turns out it was the best time to have done so as within 5 minutes the dancefloor was packed. This was funk like I’d never heard it before, really powerful, vibrant and deep. There was something about the live performance that made you just want to start moving and grooving. Everyone seemed to feel it and we started to get lost in it all.

First up were a few what I’d term straight up funky grooves, few subtlties, just something to get the party started. The album from which a fair few of the tracks came was pretty diverse, and is well worth a look. Its called Boogie Man and is available from the Capri website – see the link at the end.

Once people were really into it the band started to experiment. We heard a lot more from the brass section, and some very interesting backing Rhythms. Vocals were typical funk style but allowed plenty of room for the instruments to get a look in which I really liked. The guitarist was particularly good, and while I’m sure the sound was tempered by special effects you could almost taste the funk style in his playing. Riffs that seemed to continue to echo in your mind well into the next few. Really awesome stuff. Normally the precussion gets overlooked in any given set, but the drummer was truely amazing with Capri. I’ve never seen a 5 minute drum solo that sounded so great and kept my attention so well as this one, along with a superb bass guitar line every so often, this was almost the highlight of the night. The drummer certainly got the biggest cheer at the encore. This was simply a superb night and one that saw me get more dancing in than I’ve had since seeing Incognito.

All in all I highly recommend Capri as a great band to go and see for a night out of fun and frolics, even if funk isn’t your first love in the music scene! Find out all about capri on their website.

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Funk tonight

I’m off to see some reportedly superb funk tonight, 70s style. A group called Capri are playing at the wardrobe jazz club and as with most gigs there it looks set to be a good night. The doors to the club open at 9pm if anyone fancies joining me. Its been a while since I’ve been to some really good live jazz, blues or funk and so I’m really looking forward to it. Not that I haven’t got something coming up that will eclipse all music previously seen live (the North Sea Jazz festival) but it will still be good to hear some live funky stuff; I may even drink enough to get on the dance floor, then again, that usually happens anyway with anything live and remotely jazzy. It’s going to be great :)

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Exam results next week

A week today I get my exam results for the second semester I read on the school of computing newsgroup today, and while its great to know when I will be getting to know the outcome of my hard work, it suddenly dawned on me that it spells the end of a whole academic year at Leeds uni. It’s amazing to think that in September I had never been to the city of Leeds in my life, and yet now its the place I call home and will continue to do so not only for the next two academic years but most likely during the holidays too. I’m trying not to make this posting too much of a reflection on the academic year, but it really has been great and is enjoyable to think over.

I’ve reaquainted myself with student halls, and while I’m still sure I prefer houses it was nice to give it another go in a different setting. I’ve learnt a huge amount of stuff; much more than I thought I ever could in fact, and still love code just as much as I always used to, if not more. I’ve also found a will to study and read that I always knew I had, but could never quite harness, mostly due to lack of interest in previous fields of study I feel, but still its great to be able to do it. I’m still writing scripts and websites, despite my busy year I’ve launched a number of sites and have a fully booked summer of design and development ahead of me. I’ve taken in some superb music, thousands of times better music than ever hit York, and I’ve become even more aquainted with the awesome sound of the world of live jazz, culminating of course with a trip to the North Sea Jazz festival in a few weeks time. On top of all of that, or the icing on the cake as it were, I’ve met a load of fantastic people that really make being in Leeds and doing all the work worthwhile :)

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Weapons amnesty

I read in the news today about a knife amnesty that is currently going on; essentially allowing people in the possession of illegal knives and other weapons to turn them into a police station without fear of prosecution. I personally feel its a great idea, but when I saw some of the things that were being turned in, I was really glad it was going ahead. After all, you don’t want to round a corner one day to be looking down the barrel of a rocket launcher with a range of 350 metres do you?

Rocket Launcher handed in to police during weapons amnesty

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Compiler problems

I finished my C program for C/C++ programming course last night at about 8pm, fully intending to transer it to the school of computing machines, submit it online and get off to Sarann’s house for a few drinks and a laugh with everyone who was already there. Sadly as everyone who left Sarann’s at 2am or whatever will note, I never showed up. The reason for this was quite possibly the most depressing of all; while my program was a stroke of genius on my laptop, it refused to compile on the school machines. What is worse, the code it showed as being erronous was in fact correct (according to accepted C in a number of loactions including 2 books), and indeed when taken out of context compiled fine.

The headache that ensued getting this sodding piece of code working took forever, literally. This was hampered by the fact I was shattered and had only had 4 hours sleep the night before. Normally resolving compiler errors takes a matter of minutes, but because the code it picked up was correct, it was nearly impossible. I ended up taking the whole function from the program, storing it in an external file and linking it in at compile-time with extern. Thankfully this worked, and after some jiggery pokery I got it all to work on both the school machines and my laptop in this way. Not being one to give up on the original solution however, I had spent a good few hours trying to fix it before capitulating and using the separate file. This all ended in me leaving the lab at midnight.

All I can say is sorry to those who expected me to turn up at Sarann’s, but you can be safe in blaming the differences between the GNU C 3.4.4 compiler and the GNU C 4.0.0 compiler. Stupid version differences.

I figured things would look up today as going to York and then to a gig is usually a good thing. This hasn’t gone to plan either though. The guy who was coming to the gig with me has decided to go home for Fathers day (why not just send a card!) and only decided to tell me by text this morning. Nothing like getting your hopes up is there. Then, the old friend I was supposed to be meeting up with during the day didn’t tell me she was in London organising a birthday party with family until I called her this morning to check about meeting up.

The net result is that I’m not going anywhere today (as of yet anyway), and the last 24 hours has been an unmitigated disaster in general, at least in terms of wasted time. I just hope I can persuade some people to go to the Llama for lunch; that usually solves the majority of problems :)

Failing that a large mug of tea and a long since tinkered with dev project I guess :(

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C exam over

Just finished my C programming exam. While it was multiple choice and was only an hour long it also involved negative marking which meant certainty over the answers was a necessity before circling one. It wasn’t too bad though and I feel I did ok. There were a couple of gotchas but on the whole I seemed to spot them. It must be said that C can be a bit of nasty language when you get down to the nitty gritty. Lots of control yes, straight forward, not always, especially in a pop-quiz situation like this morning. Give me high level languages like Python or PHP anyday!

Still, with the exam over and with the assignment nearly finished, I am now in the Quilted Llama chilling with friends and getting a few drinks in. I know others have a lot of thier assignment left to do so I will probably be going into the computer lab later on to not only finish my own but stick around and help other people :)

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Keep it smooth

Theres no better way to keep a cool head while working than a little bit of smooth jazz. The problem with many online smooth jazz stations though is that there are lots of ads many of which are not related to the music and are quite loud and brash breaking the flow of the music and indeed your feeling of calm.

In my search for some smooth jazz today while working on some C I came accross an online station with great smooth jazz but with ads only centred around the same genre. No shouting, bells, whistles or other such rubbish, just simple music orientated ads for the very music you’ve tuned in to listen to. The ads are almost indistinguishable, its the best kind of radio advertising I’ve found to date, and although there is a fair bit of it, its certainly bearable compared with the kind live365 and others use. The music is really good too. If you’re programming or doing some other kind of occasionally stressful work, I’d recommend checking this station out, its called smoothjazz.com :)

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Water shortage farce

Despite the recent spells of hot weather I am very much inclined to disbelieve the majority of the water shortage hype that is going around at the moment. For one, its now raining again here in Leeds, and although we have had sunshine for the last week or so, over the course of the year so far we have had more rainy days than I care to mention, but truely hot days I can count using just my two hands.

What is worse is the hype surrounding the “water crisis” in the South East. The problem is that it is completely unfounded. While Londoners are deprived from using their hosepipes in the back garden and made to watch images of low water tables and resevoirs on their TV screens, they are being flooded in the front garden, some people having water reaching the front door (see photo, thanks to Matt for this). What is the world coming to I ask? When will the water companies pull thier finger out and confess that prices are too high, there are too many leaks and that they are the lazy ones causing all the problems in the first place but trying to pin it all on consumers? This whole situation is really quite unbelieveable.

London Floods

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Damn cretins

There I was, blissfully asleep. The first time this week when it was cool enough not to feel like a snowman under attack with a blowtorch, the open window wafting cool air over me and generally making things a whole lot better. Suddenly I hear voices, some loud, some soft, are they in my dream? What are they saying?

As I become more acustomed to the sound, I feel myself waking up; the voices are real, they are right outside my window, loud brash, disturbing my sleep. I become fully awake just in time to hear one say “try and nick some CDs”. That had me up in a flash; throwing on my dressing gown I strode to the window, flung open the curtains, just in time to see some cretin with a big head and no brains on top of the porch above the entrance to my block reaching over towards my window, where my CDs sit on the window ledge inside.

All logical thinking that some idiot like that wouldn’t be able to appreciate the finer points of Miles Davis or Bach went by the wayside and I grabbed the handle of the window as fast as I could and slammed it shut. As the voices became louder, but muffled with it, I realised the significance of my action. Not only had I enraged the cretins by foiling their stupid, pointless but almost successful plan, but I had also opened myself up to steadily rising temperatures with no cooling breeze and also the new option for the cretins to bang on the window.

In my newly establised open-window-less sauna, I started to analyse what could make these fools act this way. Judging by the agility with which more of them climbed onto the porch I figured intoxication couldn’t be an option, clearly they had no aim other than to wake the entire block and be the biggest pain possible. As the noise wasn’t too great at this stage, and they seemed more bothered with getting their friends onto the porch roof I figured I should probably try and go back to sleep before it got too hot to be able to get to sleep at all. Needless to say I was prevented from doing so; every so often there would be a bang on the window, as there was on the poor individual’s window on the first floor on the other side of the porch. I decided I had one last chance to put a stop to this, after all the worst that happened was that I wasn’t going to get any sleep.

Not being in posession of the number to call security, I had to be a little smarter. I donned my dressing gown and went down the hall to the intercom that connects each flat to a button and speakerphone by the main door, right underneath where the cretins were now ensconsed on the porch roof. I lifted the reciever, it was now or never, this had to work, or my sleep wasn’t going to happen. Quite how I did it I don’t know, but after putting on a voice of calm determination rather than the sleep-deprived individual I really was and asserting that security were in fact on their way to remove them from the roof and that it would be far better for them if they scarpered now rather than facing the wrath of a disgruntled security guard at 5am they got off the roof and started away at a fair pace, in fact in the short time it took me to get back from the phone they were all already off the roof. Perhaps they thought I was the subwarden or something.

Finally I could get some sleep, although I didn’t dare open the window for fear of revenge attacks when they possibly realised security were not on their way and had been duped.

Needless to say I can’t wait to get out of halls and into a much more civilised atmosphere where a solid nights sleep free from cretins is a dead cert not a game of chance.

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