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Tuesday, February 28
So, cool stuff?

What's been keeping me interested in the web these past few days...

Wordcount is a rather clever experiment cataloguing our usage of words in the English language. Words are presented from left-to-right, the more important the word, the further to the left and larger it is in the line. You can scroll sideways or search for a particular word (for example, 'Christopher' comes up as the 3,898th most commonly-used word).

In other news, Absolut.com has an exclusive track by Lenny Kravitz available to download, and more music coming (as of Wednesday, the site has a live countdown until the global launch of their ad campaign, with a bit of teaser material and the first track on the web site as of... well, just now). If you like Lenny Kravitz, it's worth a listen. (Hell, it is free at any rate.)

Art Lebedev are constantly innovating, with some of their latest concept designs really impressing me both stylistically and in terms of features they manage to squeeze into their elegant concepts without making them look stupid. Case in point: The Determinator. In case you can't figure out what it is, it's a Caller ID display which looks OH! so sexy it's almost ridiculous.

So the site's in Russian, I'm sure you'll figure it out. They also have a rather smashing (and clever) gallery of barcode-related wallpapers (I especially like the cunningly-done Abbey Road photoshop). Check em all out at artlebedev.com/posters... All of them are free to download, and all of them come in at least three resolutions.

And finally for today, TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) shows us a particularly witty parody of what Microsoft might do if they were branding the iPod packaging... Watch it on their page (what makes it funny is that it's all pretty much how it would be, I'd wager, if MS were actually doing it - right down to the tiny little details - and as it has been oft-said, the truth is stranger than fiction).


Hmm, time for some sleep. Night :)



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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 2/28/2006 04:35:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 114110183090365705·
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Friday, February 24
Dear Sweet Jesus

Ok, now I'm a drummer. I've been drumming for 9 years almost, since I was about 12.

I still don't have my own kit, more by accident than design (parents never let me have one so I've had to drum on school kits, friends' kits, stuff like that). I'm at Uni now, so I can neither afford nor fit a kit into my room.

This kid's still better than me though. He must've had a kit at home when he was growing up but DEAR GOD ALMIGHTY HE IS AMAZING!



Put that in your pipe and smoke it!




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 2/24/2006 06:10:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 114080476812858154·
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Wednesday, February 15
Great news - MPs vote for blanket smoking ban next year

Wahey! At least Parliament can get one thing right. Pursuant to my big long political post yesterday, I'm pleased to report that the Health Bill was widely approved in the Commons yesterday, meaning that, "A total ban on smoking inside offices, pubs, restaurants and "virtually every enclosed public place and workplace" throughout England will come into force in the summer of 2007 after a resounding cross-party majority of MPs yesterday rejected last minute compromises designed to exempt some pubs and private clubs."

Fantastic! I suggest you go read the article about the smoking ban on the Guardian web site, it's rather interesting.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 2/15/2006 09:30:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113999583552204182·
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Tuesday, February 14
Valentine's Day, and Labour's legislation love affair

Ah, single again on Valentine's Day. Great.

In other news, my country's Labour government has just won the first of a series of battles concerning new legislation - the first (which took place yesterday) was the vote on making the government carry out a report on costs before introducing identity cards. This now means that every person in the UK will be getting ID cards in about two years' time - and it'll most likely be a mandatory scheme, meaning that we'll have to get one, or if we're after a new passport after 2008, a new passport and ID card together, which'll cost even more. A quote from the BBC News article,

Home Secretary Charles Clarke had said a stand-alone ID card would cost £30, while one linked to a passport would cost £93.

But that figure has been disputed, most notably by a London School of Economics report estimating the cards could cost up to £300 each.


Some experts predict that the cost will actually be much higher, as the government's figures are very much erring on the conservative side of things (I was watching the news last night, and a guy from the London School of Economics was saying that the actual cost of rolling out the new infrastructre to support this scheme may cost upwards of £31 BILLION, as opposed to the government's £584 million. However, there are some very strong reasons for NOT having an ID card scheme, as put forward by a guy called Andi Ye on the BBC Action Network page for ID Cards... There's no easy way to link to what he's written, so I'll quote it. It's worth a read.

Christine Cook says her Spanish ID card [which costs £4] gives her no problems. Good-o, Christine, but...

- It stores one form of biometric data, not three

- Humans' face and iris change over time. Face and iris scans haven't even worked reliably in the lab, let alone when comparing the data of 60,000,000 people in the UK whose features will change over the cards' 10-year lifespan

- And nobody complains about civil liberties in Spain because the ID card isn't integrated with all government and commercial databases

- You say your Spanish card costs £4... doesn't it give you a clue that something is different when even the government say it will cost £30 (£93 together with passport). The London School of Economics say the ID card alone could be £300. Who would you rather believe? And you're not just paying for the cards, you're also paying through your taxes for every terminal, in every police car, every doctor's surgery as far as we've been told. That's just for starters

- You say it cuts down fraud... not on internet transactions or telephone transactions it doesn't... it has only even the possibility of being effective when the cardholder is present. The codes which protect the ID card will be cracked within a couple of years, after which time the card will be worse than useless. And even in the short term, the validity of the ID card itself is only as good as the ID demanded to issue it.

- Did the Spanish ID card stop the Spanish bombings? No. The UK government tried to sell the ID card concept on the basis of fighting terrorism; but even the government has now had to acknowledge it will not help. In fact more or less every justification the government has given has been completely disproved

- The UK government has, just now, half-admitted that the ID card will be compulsory; something which was never conceded even a few weeks ago. Do you trust a government which will use any public issue to falsely argue its case, and flip to another justification each time the falsehood of the previous argument becomes widely known?

- And what when all the IT systems *are* linked together, and some mistake by an official or some small change in your iris-print stops you accessing NHS services, or blocks all bank accounts; or your identity is successfully stolen and absolutely everything is available to the identity thief? Did you think of any of this? Have you got the answers?

Shame on you. Do some research for yourself about the UK ID card. You could do worse than start here:

http://www.trevor-mendham.com/civil-liberties/identity-cards/


So, I'm slightly worried by this scheme, now the delaying tactic (to review the cost of the scheme before putting it into action) proposed by some party members has been outvoted, by a fair majority too - 51 votes. Also worth a read: the BBC News 'At-a-glance' information on ID cards.

Oh dear.

Moving on, Today (February the 14th) is another important day of legislation - and one piece of legislation that I'm actually in favour of... Today, MPs are to vote on whether to impose a total ban on smoking in pubs and clubs across England. The vote is actually for the new Health Bill, which includes a raft of amendments and new legislation on a variety of subjects from tighter hygiene standards in hospitals (to try and eradicate MRSA) to more stringent checks and controls upon controlled substances. The Bill also brings forward the deadline for full implementation of the country-wide smoking ban in pubs and restaurants (if it is approved) to summer 2007, allowing for a full review within three years' time.

On the whole I'm for this, I don't like breathing in smoke as I've had to live with my mum for the past 20 years (who is a constant smoker), and while I don't mind her smoking because she's my mum, I've only just realised the joy of having fresh air to breathe when I'm at uni... Even though everyone else around me smokes, I can breath without inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke, which is just glorious. I think this is great, considering when I was ill late last year, I was ill for quite a long time, and the illness refused to move off my chest and lungs for much longer than I've experienced in a long time - I think this was because I'm living in a city now, and along with the urban living comes the inreased exposure to vehicle emissions, a generally higher level of smog, all those things which can bring back asthma in people who've not had it for years, or since childhood (that's me).



So, one piece of legislation I'm broadly in favour of, and one I'm fairly against (but don't really have a choice now, by the looks of it). But wait, there's more! By two pieces of legislation, get the third free... And that's what the government's giving us: a Commons vote on glorification of terror laws, designed (at least ostensibly) to prevent the... yes, you guessed it, glorification of terror. I believe the vote for this latest piece of amended legislation, with some compromises to please all parties, will be taking place on Wednesday or Thursday (though I think it's Wednesday). A strong voice of support for further toughening the anti-terror laws has been heard from Gordon Brown, a man who many have been saying is now participating in a 'Dual Premiership' with Blair (something which Brown has publicly denied) in preparation for Blair stepping down at the end of his tenure as PM.


Oh well, at least if I'm still single I can interest myself in politics to keep myself busy, this is going to be an interesting week from the looks of it.



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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 2/14/2006 08:21:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113990771456115953·
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Friday, February 10
If you wear a shoe...

If you wear a shoe on your hand, does it technically become a glove?

Hmm.



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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 2/10/2006 02:27:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113953854110942337·
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Tuesday, February 7
The first film in four months I want to see!

I know it won't get a proper UK release though, it's too 'indy' for mainstream cinema. Damnit.

Anyway, go check it out whenever you can: Dave Chapelle's Block Party. The site has the trailer for it, and it looks awesome. :D


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 2/07/2006 06:49:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113929494660403237·
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Sunday, February 5
The pen is as almighty as the sword, at least in political commentary

Nice little article about how British cartoonists are becoming even cleverer in their depiction and take on current events... Also features news article (WMP format). Worth a watch, light relief from the heavy events of late.

Click to follow along to the Sky News article.



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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 2/05/2006 11:32:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113918234498948624·
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Thursday, February 2
AT&T: Proudly handing over your information!

I had to laugh when I saw this, it's too good. It's just a shame that the subject matter is so serious...



It's the Featured News top article on the Electronic Frontier Foundation web site...

EFF Sues AT&T to Stop Illegal Surveillance
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T Tuesday, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications.


Glad I don't live in America! At least we don't get to find out about what Echelon's snooping from our communications... And remember, what you don't know can't hurt you™ (Copyright Mr. Thomas Hesse, President Sony BMG Global Digital Business, also copyright holder of such catchphrases as, 'Most people, I
think, don't even know what a Rootkit is, so why should they care about it?')


I think later I'll update my blog to include my latest Newsvine posts. God, I love that web site. (If you don't understand what all the fuss is about, either read my earlier blog reviewing Newsvine the day I got my beta trial invite, or comment on this blog post for an invite and I'll get back to you). That's another minor milestone in this site's development, and one I look forward to continuing. Also, yesterday, I finally bit the bullet and put some AdSense ads onto my site. I think as I'm paying so much for my hosting as it is, it'd be nice to get some cash back, even if it's just beer money, to help pay for this site (and all the others I run / host)... Another minor milestone for me!



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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 2/02/2006 06:00:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113890383178119664·
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Wednesday, February 1
Aaaand let's welcome in February!

That went fast.

So, 31 days down, 334.25 to go! Oh the hilarity. February has traditionally been the darkest and coldest month in Britain for quite a few years now; I don't know why, it's just the way it happens.

As you may suspect, I don't like February too much. I can't wait for June, the weather in June is just purrrrfect, not too hot, plenty of sun though and not too cold either. Beautiful, lazy days in the garden with a cold beer and the cricket on the radio (call me an old fart, but I enjoy cricket. I'm actually living in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham whilst I'm at Uni, and one of the country's most famoust cricket grounds is but a few minutes away from me).

So, what's on the table for Christopher this year? Well, on the 6th of February (Monday), my second semester of Year 1 begins back at Uni, so I'll be back in Brum for that. I'm also exceedingly poor already, even with the student loan, so no doubt I'll be looking for a job... Or maybe even crawling back to Tesco to try and get employment with them in Brum even though I swore I'd never work for them again (work is slow this time of year).

I also have loads of stuff to pay :( Domain names, web hosting, all those shenanigans... But at least I'm with one host which is fairly priced, so that kinda offsets the ludicrously-expensive hosting this site is on.

Might as well plug the good hosting while I'm at it: I've been with Thunderhost for about a year now, ever since they opened for business. They're based in America, but even without a credit card (I have a Switch Maestro UK debit card) they take payments no problem. They're So! Cheap! and bloody hell are they good value for money. I started off with just a 3 month package to trial them out, they've had their glitches in the past as they've gotten bigger and taken on new features and more customers - but now they're bloody awesome. I have 2gigs of space, 25gb of bandwidth (which they don't mind if I go over), unlimited parked domains, unlimited subdomains, unlimited email addresses, all the usual bits and bobs, CPanel account management with Fantastico scripts, PHP, MySQL... Loads of stuff! I never use all of it, and that's just the shared hosting. They do dedicated hosting too and all the other packages - and even those are good value for money. I quite literally pay peanuts for my account, compared to what some companies charge for much less.

They're expanding again in the near future to offer loads more professional/advanced services such as uptime monitoring, so I'm glad I got in early and found a good deal :D If you check out their web site you can see all the packages and the prices for them (it's even better value for me because of the strength of the £ vs. the US dollar, but even if it was a plain 1:1 exchange rate it would still be pretty good value for money. Even their support is good, I've always had a fast turnaround on queries or problems (and I'm somewhat of a... challenging... customer). :)

I'm sticking with them for the foreseeable future, and I don't see any reason why other people should go with anyone else for their hosting.

There, that's the free pimpage of web hosting for them - I wouldn't say that if I didn't mean it though, I wholeheartedly recommend Thunderhost if you're looking for more hosting.


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go find something to munch, because I'm starving.



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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 2/01/2006 05:04:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 113881438941107405·
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