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jon.dowland.name log
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too many games

jon.dowland.name log - Mon, 20/08/2012 - 9:17pm

Recently I have succumbed to a number of indie games sales, in particular ones in humble bundles, despite the fact I rarely play games these days. I might have been encouraged somewhat by a bad habit I've picked up: reading the excellent Rock Paper Shotgun, discovered via Stuart Campbell. I've got a back log of iPhone games to try out too, most of which I discovered via Stuart or his "Free App Hero" app.

Backup Data Mining

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 15/08/2012 - 8:41pm

What if you have a mis-behaving electronic device, which might corrupt files you store on it? I'm interested in tools to inspect incremental backups, look at file changes and alert me if they are suspicious. For example, if an MP3 changes, did the MPEG data change, or the ID3 tag, or something else? An ID3 change is likely to be on purpose, MPEG data less so. Similar for JPEGs and EXIF metadata. I decided to poke around in my backups of my music player. I discovered some pretty weird stuff.

books

jon.dowland.name log - Sat, 28/07/2012 - 5:56pm

I'm forty pages into a battered copy of "Complicity" by Iain Banks. I picked this copy up for the princely sum of 90p at Barter Books last weekend. For the uninitiated, Barter Books is a grand old bookshop situated in a disused train station in Alnwick, Northumberland. It has the dubious pleasure of being the originator of the "keep calm and carry on" fad.

envy24

jon.dowland.name log - Mon, 23/07/2012 - 10:09pm

If you have an M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 PCI sound card or anything else using the "Envy24" chip, be aware: at present neither the GNOME3 "sound" control panel applet nor the pulseaudio tool "pavucontrol" expose enough of the card's controls to play any audio. You need to have alsa-utils or alsa-utils-gui installed and use envy24control to put the relevant sliders in the right places.

6music

jon.dowland.name log - Mon, 23/07/2012 - 5:08pm

I recently discovered the excellent BBC 6 Music: a digital-only radio station so good I'm almost convinced to buy a DAB radio for this one station alone. In particular, Stuart Maconie and Mark Radcliffe, former Radio 2 exiles, hold an excellent afternoon slot. Stuart Maconie's late-night "Freak Zone" often has some really interesting stuff on it worth listening to, for example an entire episode dedicated to Brian Eno's "Obscure Records" label.

Debian Day #7

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 18/07/2012 - 1:08pm

Very little done last night. Advocated a maintainer. My desktop computer is completely hosed as part of a wheezy update: many issues at once but one is GDM going into an infinite loop, spawning millions of X servers; another is something in the boot processes seemingly prodding /dev/sdc and failing. I'm not sure if I have time to get to the bottom of it, I might just reinstall from a d-i daily. Priority going forward should be to finish off the musicbrainz stuff.

Cited

jon.dowland.name log - Tue, 10/07/2012 - 9:08am

This blog has been cited in an academic paper!

On October 2011 I drafted a blog post about Infosuicide, or "Infocide" as I prefer, prompted by Mark Pilgrim's disappearance.

I never got around to finishing the post up — in particular I felt it was too long — but my draft was exposed to the Internet and somebody noticed it.

Debian Day #3

jon.dowland.name log - Sat, 16/06/2012 - 6:11pm

Once again Debian day was somewhat compromised: this time by more DIY. I still managed a few bits and pieces, amortized over the rest of the week. I benefited from some train time this weekend.

Debian Day #3

jon.dowland.name log - Sat, 16/06/2012 - 6:11pm

Once again Debian day was somewhat compromised: this time by more DIY. I still managed a few bits and pieces, amortized over the rest of the week. I benefited from some train time this weekend.

Debian Day #2

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 06/06/2012 - 3:58pm

One interesting side-effect of setting aside a regular slot of time for a task is that you are guaranteed to spend some time, perhaps not much, thinking about that task, every week. As a consequence, even one evening a week is enough for me to think about my Debian work at other times. This means I am in a better position to use any unplanned free time more effectively.

Debian Day #2

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 06/06/2012 - 3:58pm

One interesting side-effect of setting aside a regular slot of time for a task is that you are guaranteed to spend some time, perhaps not much, thinking about that task, every week. As a consequence, even one evening a week is enough for me to think about my Debian work at other times. This means I am in a better position to use any unplanned free time more effectively.

Debian Day

jon.dowland.name log - Tue, 29/05/2012 - 9:24pm

After a relatively long period of flux, I've managed to settle into a routine where I've got all the time I can dedicate to open source stuff bunched together: every Tuesday night. I've started calling it "Debian Day", although Debian won't get all that time exclusively.

One evening a week doesn't sound like much, but that's unfortunately a realistic amount given my other commitments. Still, having a firm idea of how much resource I have makes planning what I can and can't do much easier. It also means I need to be quite selective about what I spend my time on.

Greg Bear — Hull Zero Three

jon.dowland.name log - Thu, 05/04/2012 - 7:41am

In (roughly) 2008 I read "Blood Music" — my first Greg Bear novel — and devoured it in a weekend, in only two or three reading sessions. That happens very rarely, and when it does I often wonder whether it's the quality of the writing or some combination of that and your personal moods and tastes at the time that is responsible. My next Bear was "Darwin's Radio" in mid-2010 which, whilst good, did not provoke the same feverish read. I might write short reviews for both at some point in the future, but right now I can't remember either well enough to do so.

qtscrob

jon.dowland.name log - Sat, 24/03/2012 - 10:36pm

This week I uploaded QTScrobbler to Debian.

If you have a music player running Rockbox, you can configure it to write a log of what you have listened to, and when, to a .scrobbler.log file in the root of your player's file system.

QTScrobbler takes such a log file and submits the contents to the last.fm audio-scrobbler website. It then deletes the log file from the player.

If that sounds useful to you, give it a go!

Men and Cartoons

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 07/03/2012 - 6:04pm

I'd been curious about Jonathan Lethem ever since Cory Doctorow blogged a riveting review of 'Chronic City' on boingboing, but it was this short fictionalisation of Phil K Dick's early writing life that really made me curious to sample more of his work. It was then that I discovered that virtually no (physical) bookshop anywhere in my vicinity, first or second hand, had a single book by him in stock.

Budgeting

jon.dowland.name log - Tue, 28/02/2012 - 5:52pm

I'm seeking advice on budgeting.

Historically, I've been crap at managing money. Things have improved in recent years. My main tool is Martin Lewis' Money Saving Expert budget planner.

It's simply a spreadsheet, into which you feed your income and outgoings. You can supply each line item as either a daily, monthly or annual income or expense. The sheet works out both a monthly and an annual total for each and the difference (be it positive or negative).

goodreads

jon.dowland.name log - Tue, 28/02/2012 - 1:36pm

I started trying to maintain a "to read" list on my website, but instead I've signed up for goodreads and started to feed my lists into there. Feel free to recommend me things!

American Psycho

jon.dowland.name log - Mon, 27/02/2012 - 8:39am

American Psycho is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis. It's a first person stream-of-consciousness novel about a mid-to-late twenties Wall Street banker during the late-eighties-early-nineties.

Rip it Up and Start Again

jon.dowland.name log - Mon, 06/02/2012 - 9:19pm

I've just — finally — finished reading Simon Reynold's dense "Rip it Up and Start Again": a history of post-punk music from 1978-1984.

I often think of music journalism in the terms that Zappa famously phrased as (roughly) "people who can't write, writing for people who can't read". This book sometimes suffers from that syndrome, of attempting to describe audio in terms of other senses, which sometimes wanders deep into synesthesia territory, but for the most part the book is coherent and enjoyable.

I Shall Wear Midnight

jon.dowland.name log - Sun, 05/02/2012 - 2:48pm

I Shall Wear Midnight is the 38th Discworld novel and the fourth following the story of Tiffany Aching, young witch of the Chalk.

Reading modern Pratchett, I'm sadly, acutely (and morbidly) aware that, as he succumbs to Alzheimer's disease, these are the likely to be some of the last Discworld novels written. With the last few, this observation has been entirely external to the novel. With Midnight, however, I got the impression that the awful disease has finally started to effect the prose itself.

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