Archive for January, 2006

A review of reviewers and the Arctic Monkeys

Zak Tell, the vocalist of Clawfinger, posted his opinion on some of the music journalists out there.

If a rock journalist uses 5 lines to sum up an album that is 40 minutes long, contains 11 tracks, has taken about a year to make and includes alot of love, dedication, personal opinions and food for thought from our side then I expect a little more than 5 fucking lines, what the fuck is wrong, don’t you love your job, don’t you burn for music, don’t you care anymore?

Speaking of five line reviews, I’m currently listening to the Arctic Monkeys which I avoided a little because of the hype around it, but it seems to be a well-deserved hype. Much more so to me than for example Coldplay of which I consider a few songs good, but a lot of songs on the albums just mediocre.

There, my five line wannabe-review of the Arctic Monkeys and Coldplay, without any indepth reasoning. But I, of course, am exused for just being a listener and not a journalist who gets paid to write.

I will just post a few of the lyrics of one of the Arctic Monkeys’ songs, by which you can decide for yourself wether you like it or not. They are from the song called “Fake Tales of San Francisco”, about a guy who tells about his moment(s) of fame in San-Francisco, which is all of course just utter crap.

Fake Tales of San Francisco
Echo through the room
More point to a wedding disco
Without a bride or groom

There’s a super cool band yeah
With their trilbys and their glasses of white wine
And all the weekend rock stars in the toilets
Practicing their lines

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Observating people in the train

The new ferry has finally been introduced to the Den Helder – Texel line. The older ones already have a screen where you can follow all kinds of information about the trip (distance, speed, water temperature etcetera), which is also being recorded and used for sea research. But now there have also been installed bar-seats with touch-screen computers. I wasn’t really interested, but the kids were around it like bees around flowers.

One blonde little girl of aproximately 6 years old sat down at one of the “consoles”, with a big smile on her face. After studying the screen intensely for a while her face depressed. “Daddy, come here!!!” she exclaimed. A man in his thirties, apperently the father, stood up and walked to her. He took her on his knee and the next 10 minutes you could see her asking “What does this say?” and the dad “That is *mumble, mumble*”. You couldn’t hear them because similar situations were taking place for all the other 5 computers.

Later in the train. Two people, (a boy and a girl) presumably descending from Turkish immigrants, sit down next to me. So they start conversating. At first there’s some general chit-chat, I wasn’t paying attention. In the back of my head I was aware of the boy asking about the girl’s purse (if it was €30). She said “no, it was 34 damn it!”. He asked if it was real. “Of course it is, I went to Egypt to get it.” “Seriously?” And her answer turned my attention to their conversation: “No, it’s just a fake but don’t tell it to anyone.” It turned out the purse was actually her mothers.

“Do you know what’s sweet?” the guy asked later on. “Yes, me” she replied with the greatest confidence. He was probably surprised at her reaction, but in the end he said: “Well, perhaps on the outside, but are you also sweet on the inside?” “Of course I am as sweet on the inside! Actually much sweeter I’d say! Although… perhaps I’m actually less sweet on the inside, but don’t tell anybody about it!”

It may also be worth noting that I forgot to take my earphones with me, so I could neither listen to music, nor watch Lost. I decided to play Solitaire on my laptop however. An older man, presumably late 50’s, sat down in front of me, with a “the youth of today…” look on his face.

Then they continued talking about her hair and I lost all kinds of interest. However, then an interesting development came forth. The girl had a very strong accent, but according to her, nobody knew where it came from, as apperently it didn’t really sound like any kind of Turkish and/or Marrocan accent and her mother was Dutch! Then they left the train and went on to live their lives without my bored listening ears.

Then a dad with two kids sat down. The father basically put down a philosophical question for his youngest kid. “Are we driving away from the station or is the station moving away from us?”

The kids were starting to become a little annoying, but luckily I had to switch trains. Then I practically fell asleep because it was too warm and I was tired.

And before you know it you’re home again and for a couple of days you forget to post the thing you typed in the train. 😛

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Music?

All I’ve posted about recently was music. In fact I have yet another post planned about managing my ripped electronic (lossy) music collection. The past few days I’ve been playing around with various things. I’ve been checking out Last.FM recommendations, I read Last.FM functions better if you have MusicBrainz tags in your music, so I also played around with the new Picard tagger and added some information (mainly about release dates) to the MusicBrainz database.

Sadly this seems to have introduced some kind of incompatibility with my current tag-setup, because Picard seems to remove the album art from the tags, whereas Tag&Rename seems to remove the MusicBrainz tags. I am slowly moving closer to a semi-perfect solution though. Tagging first with Picard, then altering some things with Tag&Rename (losing MusicBrainz info tags) still seems like the best solution, as convenience for me is obviously more important to me than convenience for some machine in England.

So expect my post on what I consider the currently closest to perfect way to manage your music collection soon. And nobody should dare to say iTunes in response to it. 😛

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Musical alphabet

I decided to make an alphabet in music, but it got a little fucked up because I liked too many artists which made a chance. Then I changed by only counting frontnames and not surnames because that made it possible to list more artists without fearing my conscience. This list gives a better insight in what I consider good music than Last.FM, but as an A-Z into music it lacks.

  • Art Brut. Close calls for Agalloch and Atrocity.
  • Billy Talent for being the coolest new punkish thing I discovered lately. Close call for The Bloodhound Gang and Boudewijn de Groot. The Beatles have some cool songs and especially their latter material is also quite experimental and cool, but they’ll probably occupy this spot on most of these kinds of lists anyway.
  • Clawfinger. Perhaps Creedence Clearwater Revival if Clawfinger didn’t exist.
  • David Bowie. If I’d have let him count for B then Billy Talent wouldn’t have had a chance and I like them. 😉 Doe Maar is also quite cool, but Bowie simply made too much good music to let anybody else have a chance. Or perhaps I simply shouldn’t make an A-Z list if I like Bowie and Billy Talent both better than Doe Maar.
  • Eminem. Ennio Morricone as distant second for all of his brilliant soundtracks for westerns. Eurythmics as third for having this neat sound everybody likes (or should like).
  • Feindflug. I don’t believe they are right wing as they’re accused to be, although I must admit that they make nazi material sound cool in a modern way. But they use such samples that if they’d mean that as support, then they’d be insane, nazi or not. They can only be meant as critisism. Fatboy Slim, Frank Zappa and Frank Sinatra very close calls as well.
  • Gorillaz. Their sound is very cool and you can hear a lot of work goes into making each song sound just right. Garbage and Green Day fall off because I only really like one of their multiple albums.
  • HorrorPops. They’re pretty cool and there’s no real contestant to the H-spot. Perhaps Harry Belafonte. But then he’d also compete to the letter B. That would make it too crowded there.
  • Iggy Pop. In Extremo is close.
  • JJ72. I really like their sound. Jack Off Jill and Jimi Hendrix Experience are close.
  • Korn. I particularly like their first four albums and their latest, but all of their albums are good. There isn’t really any contestant either. Krezip is fun, but not great or anything.
  • Lordi. Especially Blood Red Sandman is a great song. Led Zeppelin is something everybody will say (with good reason though) and Linkin Park or the lostprophets are a little bit too much of my musical past, although they are certainly cool. Ludwig von Beethoven is also a contestant, but strictly speaking that’s yet another one for the B, a seriously overcrowded letter.
  • Metallica. I was going to say Marilyn Manson because there is nothing better until I realised there most certainly was. Michael Jackson and Muse are also considered.
  • No Doubt. Nine Inch Nails is certainly the best, but I enjoyed No Doubt more the past few months. NWA and Nina Simone are also considered.
  • Oomph! Possibly the band which most inspired Rammstein, but certainly much more than just good inspiration. Okkervil River is also very good, but sadly for them I am not that familiar with their music yet. Not that it matters much as I doubt more than ten people or so will actually do more than just give this list a quick glance and will actually read everything I wrote into it. The Offspring is a third, but would definitely have taken this position last year.
  • Pink Floyd. There’s not much choice, is there? Papa Roach isn’t bad nor are the Pixies, but still inferior to Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
  • Queen. I have to as except for Queens of the Stone Age I can’t think of any artist with the letter Q who has one song I like quite a lot.
  • Rammstein. Rage Against The Machine very seriously considered.
  • Samael. They are somewhat in the same genre as Shai Hulud, but better, are superior to Saliva’s rock & roll sound, Shania Twain and Shpongle also have to move over, leaving Star One and System of a Down as very serious contestants. Actually considering it a bit more it’s a definite tie with System of a Down
  • Tenacious D. But Tool certainly isn’t bad.
  • Underworld. I don’t want to say U2 and The Upskirts and Ultravox aren’t top class material.
  • Van Halen. The Velvet Revolver isn’t my thing and the Vandals are quite cool, but not great enough.
  • White Stripes. Close second for “Weird Al” Yankovic. Wagner isn’t bad either. Although following the method I used he should compete for J.
  • Xzibit. Complete lack of competition however.
  • Yes. For the song Owner of a lonely heart (and a few others) and because of lack of competition. Perhaps the Yardbirds, but I don’t like them.
  • Zager & Evans. Better than Zebrahead, despite having only one song.
Tom nicked my idea.

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Some more annoyances

The Battlefield 2, Battle for Middle Earth and various other patches require a certain amount of space on your C drive, a drive which I use as a designated Windows drive which is as small as possible (still meaning close to 6GB, Windows seems to require a lot).

WinRAR extracts things to your temp directory first. This is somewhat more normal than the above, but still an annnoyance in case you had some other stuff on the partition you have the temp directory. 7-zip directly extracts to the place you wish to extract to, making it at the very least faster because it doesn’t have to move things afterwards, but also less annoying.

In the end the message is, if I wish to do something to my I drive where I have 30GB free, then do it there and not on my C drive with 500MB free or my E drive with 2GB free. The latter is still 100% acceptable however as I pointed my temp directory there myself, but whoever thought of doing the first should be shot or something.

Also, copy protections and stupid stuff with inserting CD’s which shouldn’t be required sucks. Everybody buy Quake 3 and other games which do not have such ridiculous demands. Games like Age of Empires 2 and Starcraft where you can multiplayer with like 8 people by having one CD inserted are also acceptible, even if you have to insert your CD to play.

Yes publishers, it’s definitely piracy which made me purchase less games and not the fact that it’s just more of the same enhanced with stupid copy protections.

Actually if you think about it, pirated games are more user-friendly on each front: you don’t have to insert a CD every time you wish to play and you don’t install some copy protection which might break your computer. Then they say that if you install a pirated game you can’t know if your computer will break from it, but if you read the average EULA you’ll see that the companies who made or distributed the game aren’t responsible anyway, so it’s hardly more or less risk.

Perhaps there should be an open-source equivalent to Battlefield 2, that might be interesting…

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Direct IP connect is important, it's not just illegal gamers who find it useful

Who doesn’t hate going to the slow online lobby thing to play an online game? If I know whom I want to play with and I don’t care about the score being kept on some global ranking I want Direct IP connect. The original C&C had it and even though the Westwood Online is now dead you can still play it without any trouble. Will you still be able to play Red Alert 2 or Battle for Middle Earth once EA decided to kill the lobby servers? I think not.

This also makes Quake 3 much more pleasant to play online than Joint Operations or Battlefield 2, although it should be said that the slow online lobby isn’t so slow in Quake 3 compared to them as well.

Just blowing off steam from some yesterday frustrations.

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Jocke unveals Clawfinger secrets

Wether you like Clawfinger or not, I doubt you’d deny that they have this incredible sound, so pay attention if you think your own band doesn’t sound fat enough yet. 😉 Jocke composed a gearlist.

Well, we’ve always got questions about what gear we’re using, so once and for all….here it is.

This is the live setup, since the studiolist is way too long. Let’s say, it’s basically the same 😉

Bård uses Gibson Les Paul Studios in drop D or drop C tuning, and Epiphone Barytone for the drop A tuning. As a backup, he uses an old Schecter 5-string Alt-guitar in drop A or GGGDG tuning (own invention 😀 ). The Guitar is plugged in a PODxt Live (the floorboard version) that’s been updated with the Model packs from Line6.com. That sucker is either plugged straight in the desk, or amplified with a monitor amplifier into a Line6 4×12″ Speaker.

Jocke (That’s me) uses a laptop computer (Pentium Mobile 1.73ghz/1.2GB RAM) with an EMU 16/16m soundcard for the samples, and whatever piece of shit midikeyboard to send the midi data 😉 It’s a M-Audio Keystation at the moment, but that can change in an instant. When I’m playing the guitar, I use an OLP MM5, modified with a Gibson 490T pickup in a drop A tuning. As a backup, I use another old Schecter 5-string with the same tuning. I run the guitar through a PODxt Pro, with all Model packs from Line6.com, and routed just like Bårds guitar.

André uses Epiphone Thunderbird Goth basses through an uppdated PODxt straight in the desk.

Henka uses DW drums with Meinl cymbals, DW hardware and Promark drumsticks. His drumkit is more expensive than everybody else’s gear combined, but it sounds fucking unbelievable too. :mrgreen:

Zak uses whatever microphone available. Most often a Shure SM58, wireless or not.

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Fake Paypal e-mails

I’m not sure if it’s possible that some kind of thing figured out that I have a Paypal account and what e-mail address I use to access it, but on my Hotmail account, the only spam I receive are fake mails which try to make you believe they’re from Paypal.

Today one managed to get through Hotmails junkmail filter (until now all mails doing like they’re from Paypal landed in junk). I suppose that by marking it junk I have helped quite a number of other Hotmail users.

The content was as follows:

From : PayPal Inc. <SERVICE@PAYPAL.C0M>
Sent : Friday, January 6, 2006 6:31 PM
To : …@hotmail.com
Subject : Unauthorized Access: (Routing Code: Q521-K001-Q-P090)

You have added buy517car7@aol.com as a new email address for your PayPal account.
If you did not authorize this change or if you need assistance with your account, please contact PayPal customer service at:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_login-run

Thank you for using PayPal!The PayPal Team

Please do not reply to this e-mail. Mail sent to this address cannot beanswered. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and choose the”Help” link in the header of any page.
—————————————————————- PROTECT YOUR PASSWORD
NEVER give your password to anyone and ONLY log in athttps://www.paypal.com/.Protect yourself against fraudulent websites by opening a new web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer or Netscape) and typingin the PayPal URL every time you log in to your account.
—————————————————————-

PayPal Email ID PP00510

It’s sort of funny, a scam acting like you’ve already been the victim of a scam.

Each of the links actually lead to http://ool-4350c367.dyn.optonline.net:82/webscr/index.php, which, as you can see, looks exactly like the homepage of Paypal.

And I received the same scam again, only now it has a different code attached.

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Home again

Yesterday, around 20:30. “Well mom, I’ve arrived at my mailbox, so I’m gonna hang up.” “Okay, we’ll talk again tomorrow!” I get my keys out of my pocket to open my mailbox. Two weeks of mail. A bunch of advertisements, a pre-filled transfer form of the health insurance and a specification explaining why the rent is up almost ten Euros. I could as well have left it all in there. And then the € 25 fine for driving without lights on in late November hasn’t even arrived yet.

I open the door, and continue directly with all of my packaging to my room. With my rucksack on my back, sportsbag over the left shoulder and mail in my left hand, I use my right hand to insert the key into the door of my room and open it. While carrying my luggage inside, I switch on the light, grab the remote and turn on the radio. My journey’s done, I stretch and jawn. Then I feel something against my leg. I watch down right away. It’s the rabbits. They must be hungry, otherwise they wouldn’t be like this. The girl who’d feed them during the holidays probably last came here two or three days ago.

So I walk to the shed, turn on the light, reset the flatserver (which had crashed halfway during the holidays) and grab the food. I turn around just in time to see the rabbits moving in at high speed, hiding behind the washing machine. Shaking the bucket so the seeds inside make noise against it I slowly walk out, expecting to be able to lure them with me. After all this is the sound they associate with food. Flokkie, the white rabbit, follows. JW, the brownish one, does not.

So I offer Flokkie some food from my hand. The voracious reaction shocks me a little. I drop a few extra hands of food in front of him and go to the shed again to take care of JW. Luckily he had already left. Shaking the bucket, he comes towards me, anxious. I offer him food from my hand, he takes a quick bite and turns around. I quickly walk backwards while offering him food. He finally comes to eat, I drop a little more and close the door of the shed. I drop plenty of food in their own little home and go to my room and turn on my laptop.

Five minutes later Thomas arrives. After a customary handshake and backknock he takes me into some kind of strangling grasp you’d expect a boa constrictor to perform on his prey. “I needed that,” he explains while releasing me. Later we’ll drink a bit in the kitchen, but first we each go to our room to perform some MSN-ing. The normal flow of life begins again. Or well, almost. I have yet to catch on.

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An update on a green design

Geek Philosopher is a resource for royalty-free imagery. As you can see I brought a bit of life into the header by cutting pieces an image from the Outdoor Photos and Backgrounds category. Grass by Sidewalk is the full image for those interested.

I took a look around the various categories and most of them are pretty good pictures. I am not sure about the exact copyrights on any of them, as I couldn’t find any pictures labeled with any of the descriptions which are on the about page of the site. I suppose I’ll take a new fresh look tomorrow at that aspect of the site tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.

Luckily as far as the design is concerned I haven’t yet managed to break anything in IE (although the gravatars are a pixel off). I might go with alpha-transparant PNG’s though for some of the transparancy effects, as that would certainly make a much smaller image load and it would make things look somewhat less prettier in IE. After all, I do want people to switch to Firefox, Opera, Safari or whatever else isn’t so annoying to anyone who wants to do a little bit more with CSS.

If you take a look around in my CSS file you’ll notice that I’m trying something new. Over the past half year I switched from full CSS to very compact CSS, but that’s not really a difference. The thing I’m experimenting with here is to indent those properties which are basically a sort of subproperties of a certain thing to increase readability. I must say it’s already working out quite well.

So drop your suggestions now, as this is the layout I plan to extend on in the close future.

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