Archive for March, 2007

Trip to Newcastle & Gateshead

Trip to Newcastle & Gateshead

As part of my visit to the Sage Theatre in Gateshead for the jazz festival there, I also took a few photos of Newcastle and Gateshead while I was at it

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SoC staff read my blog

I was pleased to hear in the DEC-10 computer lab yesterday that some of the staff in the School of Computing read my blog. This is not just good in a sense that I have more readers but because so much of my life revolves around the school its nice to know yet another group of people inside of it take an interest in what I have to say. Its also a further example of how much interaction there is between staff and students here, and is something that I feel has a real benefit in it for everyone in the school.

Now that I know I have staff readership though I may well write a little bit more about the school and computing as a field of study. Suggestions on article topics in comments please 🙂

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Hyde Park Camera Test

Hyde Park Camera Test

I decided to test my new digital SLR camera by taking some sunset photos from my window in Hyde Park. They came out rather well so I decided to share them with everyone

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Imagine a sunrise

I don’t think I could have imagined the beauty of the sunrise I saw on Monday morning at 6am. I had to get a few things sorted before the start of my day on campus and so got up at 6 and opened the blinds to see the houses lit up in a deep red colour. Upon opening the window I was greeted with fresh air and a feeling that the warm balmy days of summer were just around the corner. It was one of those red-gold sky mornings that just make you feel happy to be alive, not to mention having woken up in time to witness the sun coming up, which is all too rare for me.

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Society no-show

I almost feel guilty about ranting on this subject but at the same time it really does need to be said. When we take the time and effort to organise going to a gig for jazz and blues society its not a nice situation when no one turns up. On Sunday night when I had work due the next day I went out to meet society members at the union to then walk down to the Grove Inn on the other side of town to go to a gig. I arrived at the union at 7:30pm and by 8pm no one had showed up. Not to worry I thought, I’ll meet people at the pub, but sadly that wasn’t to be and after arriving at the bar at 8:15pm and waiting until 8:50pm still not a single person had showed up. As I had work to do and didn’t fancy drinking alone I just went home.

Now I know this is no one persons fault but I hate it when I end up wasting time, especially where work is involved and just wish there was some way of avoiding it. I had the idea that I should get people to reply if they intended to go and that receiving no replies would mean we wouldn’t go, but the problem with this is that we advertise in many ways, some of which don’t really provide a method of letting us know if you’re coming, like posters and flyers for instance. If anyone has any ideas on how to deal with this, please reply in comments.

On a lighter note, the start of the new academic year in September should bring many more members and so eliminate the problem and make the society so much more fun 🙂

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Calendar for WordPress v1.1 released

I am pleased to announce the release of the new improved calendar for WordPress, version 1.1. In addition to the previous features the calendar now supports recurring events on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis as well as the ability to specify a time of day for the events to occur. If you are looking for a personal planner for your blog or an events planner for your WordPress powered website you could do a lot worse than giving this plugin a try. You can see it action here or go straight to the download page. Thanks to Richard Brown for providing a financial incentive to code, release and support this improved version.

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When I’m cleaning windows

Ages ago I caught a snippet of a song over the radio. It was a comedy song, clearly taken from some kind of television show, and all I knew was it was something to do with cleaning windows. By complete chance I came accross a link on Google to a YouTube video of the very song with the TV clip included! Hell of a find in my humble opinion and as its pretty funny I thought I’d share it with you all.

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Crazy name but brilliant band. That is a one line summary of the gig at the Wardrobe last night that I caught the second half of. The Leeds Jazz and Blues society are going to see this group in a weeks time however I wanted to give a brief review of it now to give members a reason to come along and see the band for themselves.

We initially went to see another group, Kinch, but their gig turned out to be short and didn’t live up to what we had expected so we headed to the wardrobe at about 10:30 in the hope of getting a few more drinks and some good live jazz, and we weren’t disappointed. The band played two sets that were full of vibrant jazz sounds that really lifted the mood for the evening.

Its been happening quite a lot lately but Roughneck are yet another band who give each of their musicians a chance to strut their stuff in a near solo environment by tailoring different pieces of music that way. My favorites were the guitar and keyboard pieces, they sounded brilliant and while the small upstairs stage of the wardrobe doesn’t usually lend it’s self to a superb sound, it really filled the room delightfully and it was a pleasure to listen to.

No doubt due to the superb cocktail menu the evening was over far too quickly and despite calls for an encore the band had to leave. I’m just glad I’m going to be getting a second sitting for this group!

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Bones at Hi-Fi

Another great Sunday lunch at Hi-Fi and another superb band to go along with it. Last Sunday the Jazz and Blues society were once again at hi-fi and this time enjoyed the musical talents of the Bones band. The raport with the audience was brilliant, and we were soon foot-taping along with the rhythms, and enjoying the little jokes told by the band between songs.

What was so great about Bones was the way they kept bringing in guest musicians to play songs and the fact they swapped their own musicians around, it really made for a great atmosphere. They played traditional jazz which was great to hear. Not only was it suitable for the setting and in keeping with what the DJ had been playing before the band came on stage, but its not the kind of music you hear enough of on stage in Leeds these days.

Theres nothing nicer than to hear a big band strike up a tune you know from an old 1950s CD, its like a little light bulb of enjoyment pings on in the back of your head, its fantastic. I’m not sure when Bones are playing next or where, but they are certainly a great group for playing traditional jazz and thrilling an audience. If you see they are playing somewhere near you, don’t miss out!

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LUU free speech again

I didn’t think I’d have to write about this again but apparently I have to because there is still a problem with free speech in LUU, a bigger problem in fact than I had previously mentioned or even imagined. To cut a long story short and get onto the business end of discussing or ranting about the issue, this post has come about because of a blatant display of censorship by LUU.

Essentially a friend of mine posted a comment up on facebook about one of the specifics of the way the union was run, the information for which had come from one of their friends that worked in the union. Within a matter of hours of posting it my friend recieved a phone call from their LUU employed friend frantically requesting the message was removed because they feared they would lose their job. This wasn’t like it was a state secret of anything, just a piece of information.

This quite frankly disgusts me. This is a students union we are talking about here, not a military operation. We know more about what goes on inside Guantanamo Bay than we do about our own union. What is so f**king special about our union that they get to hush things up, hide things from students and threaten or at the very least appear to threaten the jobs of any employee who even speaks about how the union is run behind the scenes. We have a right to know – they use our money to fund themselves (a portion of our tuition fees goes on union funding) – so why aren’t they telling us or letting anyone tell us about what they are doing with our cash? Sounds like a huge conspiracy to me.

Well I’m not willing to stand for it anymore. While my post here is a big rant, there are some proactive things that you can do. I’m linking to this post from the top of my site to raise awareness and doing the things described in the bullet points below – I encourage you to do the same

  • Ask the union staff and the exec why they censor staff and its members
  • Request information from LUU about its activities, finances and affiliations in an attempt to prevent them hiding behind closed doors
  • Vote for people in union elections who stand for transparency and freedom of speech

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