Wednesday, 27 January 2016

An old friend goes...

This blog goes back quite a few years and will soon be marking  its tenth year which in the world of computing and the internet in particular is quite some time.

The origins of this blog go back to joining Friends Reunited in 2004 which had a blogging or perhaps more accurately a journalling facility to which you could send links via email to but was designed for site members to help keep in touch with each other.
I looked at it, tried it but even Blogger circa 2006 was a better tool so that's why this blog ended up here.

The site Friends Reunited launched in 2001 with a simple premise which was to enable people to get in touch with each other by holding information people freely submitted about the school, college, university and places of work they went to in groups.
You could search by name, year, place or establishment they had something to do with which soon made this UK site one of the biggest sites on the web.

  I joined to keep track of some of my friends who were still alive (many sadly have life-shortening conditions) from the schools we attended using it to get back in touch and learn more about how our lives had moved. 
It's success bought it to the attentions of various groups like ITV Plc who bought and in the eyes of many messed it up to fit its commercial interests introducing fees too and in 2010 it was returned to it's original owners.
The world has moved on since those heady days, with the growth of things like Facebook, Google Plus, Tumblr etc and so in that time it's users fell.
It'll be closed shortly simply because it's really lost what would keep it a  sustainable entity a lot of big users posting with the small number left using it to just post messages to each other.
R.I.P Friends Reunited.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Thanks for the memory

There can be a number of reasons why you may be looking at extra storage with your computer or tablet.
For instance it may be your built in memory is limited with many Chromebooks having just 32 gb or you have a great but older laptop with around 40 to 80gb of memory in the form of a hard drive.
It may be you have a more modern laptop with around 250gb or more built in hard drive which is adequate for most things with the possible exception of lots of HD video but are looking at safe storage for things like photos or music download you bought.
You do have a number of options, one being using cloud  storage or image sites which is fine but you need reliable internet access to 'pull down' your documents and media.
For that reason some of us look toward  'local storage' of which one of the oldest is the humble USB memory stick which gives us a small form Solid State memory in increasing capacities but when it comes to gigabyte per pound value a mechanical portable hard drive is hard to beat

Recently I bought a new one, a Toshiba Canvio Basics series one with a capacity of 500gb and is USB 3.0 compatible for extra read/write speed with newer computers for £33.99 delivered from Amazon UK.
It's pretty barebones, no software to install with buttons to press for backing up and comes pre-formatted to NFTS for Windows (although it can be re-formatted for Apple's OSX) and is literally plug and play with your computer finding and installing the driver.
You just drag and drop what you want  to copy on to it, maybe creating a folder and that's it a cheap and good answer to storage stuff safe in case your computer has a malfunction.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

R.I.P David Bowie (1947-2016)

Like most of you I woke up, Monday (1/11/2016) around a quarter of Seven to the shock news that David Bowie had dead at the age of Sixty-Nine something the shocking for Blackstar, his last album had only been released Friday to glowing reviews. 
I'm feeling rather numb even now about this but in looking at his achievements, the first thing I would say is he seldom if ever repeated himself, sometimes to a fault, always reinventing himself and working with new ideas and exploring whole different genres.
His catalogue could never be described as being in anyway samey, indeed you find some fans have one period they major on although perhaps basic I have a more wider interest in music and music-making I'm not in that camp.
He broke new ground in the topics he sang and wrote about, brought new sounds to the mainstreams ears...and moved on to the next.
I could never just pick a half dozen of his albums although Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs Station to Station and Scary Monsters sure would feature.
The other area I'd say was outside of music, he was a proper actor who did star in three films not least The Man Who Fell To Earth and in several stage productions, did understand the importance of creating personas, costumes and staging  which in conjunction with the use of music videos which he was a pioneer of, provided the total package. It's quite probable that the American Hard Rockers Kiss were influence by aspects of his work, the story telling and that total package from Hunky Dory and Ziggy era.
The other area was in being open about his sexuality, exploring gender presentation together with  Lou Reed and to an extent Elton John collectively they opened up a conversation around what it means to have a sexual and gender identity, how we express it and how that differs for all of us. 
For anyone who was Lgbtqi in the 70's and 80's you don't need me to say just how being himself, David give us space and aided the greater toleration of difference. We owe him that regardless of our music tastes and I suspect for a good number of the depth of feeling we have in mourning him is influenced by that, it has a personal quality to it.
He also to his credit took on MTV in its lack of music of black origin in it's early days and even of the faces of People of Colour from its programming and got that changed.
Rest in Peace David.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Finding a decent Smokie compilation

It's been an odd week thinking through and dealing with emotional issues some of which I've commented upon at other places and that while running with an out with old and in with the new philosophy too.

But anyway, I've spent ages looking for a decent sounding Smokie compilation with hits like Living Next Door to Alice and It's Your Life as for some reason most either don't or feature re-recordings rather than the hits I remember.
I started off with this one but it was rather murky sounding.
So in 2011 I picked up a Music Club Deluxe double cd that came out in 2007 thinking this would be it as the selection was pretty generous and unlike some of their others this was a bit less of a random playlist and even featured a collaboration with Suzi Quatro.
That ticked all the boxes apart from quality as most the tracks sounded thin lack someone had shaved anything below 70hz off of them and a raspy in places too.
In the end I tracked a series of comments on various sites that suggested an earlier compilation from the early 1990's al;though I think it originally was issued in a different form in 1989.
That one, issued and pressed by BMG in Germany sounds so much better with bass and the vocals coming through in a rich clear way is it even though it only has 14 tracks, covers only up to 1978 and clocks just under 50  minutes like an lp of that era might.
I'm also going through and ditching a few other poorer sounding cds where I have better replacements as I think you can end up just keeping one of everything regardless.
Never mind the collector mentality, I'd rather have one good copy thanks.