A Family Announcement

Looks like I'm going to be an uncle.

This is the mother.

And this is the father, who seems quite happy about it.

Distort That Tart in My Nub

"Blinded by the light.
Wrapped up like a douche
another runner in the night"
- What I've been hearing all my life

"Blinded by the light.
Revved up like a deuce,
another runner in the night."
- What Manfred Mann is actually singing, in Blinded by the Light

"Go and get stuff.
Go and get stuff.
Go and get rough."
- What I now can't help hearing

"Going gets tough.
Going gets tough.
Going gets rough."
- What Billy Ocean actually sings in When the going gets tough

"The name was Paddy,
But now he's gay."
- What I hear

"Your name was Patty,
But now it's Kay."
- What Alexander O'Neal actually sings in Fake

"J'suis Tu."
- What I hear

"Just we two."
- What's actually sung bu Modern Talking, in Just We Two

For Weddings

Something that makes you feel...

Old: Realising that Kylie Minogue released "Can't Get You Out of My Head" and "Slow" seven years ago.

New: Finally getting to hear the albums these songs are from. I realise the Homo Office might want to take away my queer card for not buying three copies of every Kylie album the hour they're released, but it's due to expire soon anyway. It says in the manual you can be homosexual if you're over 40 years or 170 lbs, but you can't be queer.

It's like the difference between being a writer and having a publishing deal.

Borrowed: Being got out of bed by a phone call from someone you barely knew years ago, asking advice on upgrading his computer....from Windows 98.

Blue: Being invited out for a brisk walk with a 62 year old friend who's just getting into the healthy lifestyle. And being left panting and wheezing while he gently saunters along.

Which leads neatly into how Keith Olbermann is helping me get less unfit. His podcast anyway. With help from Writer's Block (short stories), CrimeWAV (crime short stories), Escape Pod (sci-fi short stories), PseudoPod (horror short stories), Philsophy Bites (mini tutorials), Controlo (electro music), and Regen Radio (more electro music).

Stick a few podcasts on the phone, and go off for a brisk 45 minute or so stroll. Keeping up with news, getting away from the laptop, not being such a fat git, seeing the sights, and most importantly not looking like a twit in front of people 25 years older than me.

Sieben? Acht!

Something I wrote a few weeks ago but didn't post.

I'm writing this in Windows 7. But I'll probably post it in XP. This post is a bit of a rant, so feel free to skip.

Some excerpts from tonight's conversation with my new installation of Windows 7:

  • No, I don't want to save everything in "Downloads" or "My Documents" - I want to chose the download location. You know, chose. For myself.

    So, um, how can I actually move around the folder and drive structure? No, really, how can I just...go up one level?

    Are you telling me I've got to type in the full path of where I want to go? What is this, MS-DOS?

    Oh right. Instead of a little "up" arrow I've got to have a "navigation pane" (yes, pain) open.

  • No, I don't want to go on the internet to look at the help file, or visit microsoft.com, or anything else. You see, I want to decide if and when and where I browse.

  • How do I turn off the sodding touchpad? Have I got to actually install some additional touchpad drivers which will disable the native ones...and then disable them? Thought so.

  • You've decided that whichever partition you're installed on, that's drive C - and you're rearranged all the others to suit. Thanks. No, no, it's not confusing at all.

  • I don't want those big cartoony icons on the screen - I want small icons in the quicklaunch bar to pop up when I need them.

    What? Quicklaunch is disabled by default? Who thought that was a good idea?! Nevermind, how do enable it?

    I said, how do I enable it?

There are exactly two good things I can say about Windows 7.

First, it does make networking much easier. Unless you want to change anything about your network. In which case neither I, nor my mother (who knows a frightening amount about networks), nor my brother (who's an international expert on these things) have been able to figure out what to so.

So that's a...qualified good thing.

And second, once the absurd bulk of 14GBs installation has been trimmed down a sensible 2.5GB - quite illegally by the same anonymous genius who made XP 1/6th the original size with almost no loss of function...it's marginally faster than XP.

So that's another qualified good thing.

I'm not PC, and Windows isn't my idea.

Phone-ology (Part 2)

So finally I got a new phone. Or rather, an MP3 player that can also connect to the internet with excruciating slowness...and you can also use it as a telephone. I'd post you a picture of it if I could figure out how the camera worked, then I could...erm, nevermind.

I specifically asked for one with a standard USB connection, and was assured by the nice tall young blond shop assistant that when it arrived, it'd have standard connections. And I actually believed him - I can't think what might have been distracting me.

Yes, it has non-standard ports, and absurdly short cables to plug into them. I was also promised a standard video format, and didn't get that either. But it does have a row of red LEDs which flash pointlessly when it's playing an MP3...so that's...good.

If you want high quality, fast, reliable converters between the formats which only exist on phones (3GP, AMR) and the formats used by the rest of the world, try the free software by this wonderful person. They're so good I want to lick him all over. Not that it should be necessary in this case at all.

The phone comes with some execrable, non-deletable clip art. Which is what's been punctuating the last few paragraphs.

Here are my two previous phones, sharing a stolen moment together in their retirement. One now works part-time as a flashlight, the other a combined alarm clock and FM Radio.


How to change your phone:

(1) Walk to the phone shop and tell the nice assistants why you hate your phone.

(2) Listen while they tell you it's your fault for choosing it.

(3) Ask for a replacement for the duff SD card they sold you.

4) Sit and chat for half an hour while they check that, yes, it really won't take files or format.

5) Sit for an additional fifteen minutes while they chat with their techie friends who drop by the shop.

6) Watch the amazement as they find that, yes, the card doesn't work, just like you said.

7) Sit and chat again for another half hour while they find a new one and check that it works.

8) Get told that you can swap the phone you hate for one you might not.

9) Walk home to research and think in peace about which phone you want to swap with.

10) Make your decision and start to walk back to the shop

11) Remember that you need to take the box and accessories of the old phone too, and walk back home to get them.

12) Walk to the shop again, wait for fifteen minutes while the queue of customers is seen to, and name the phone you want.

13) Get told several times it's an excellent choice...and it's out of stock. But it should be available tomorrow.

UPDATE: 14) Walk back in the rain the next day, to be told there's no record of a replacement phone being ordered. But it should be available tomorrow.

A New Calling

This one's both a bit of a rant and a bit technical.

I have a new phone.

Which is to say: I have a slightly crappy camera with an MP3 player, radio and phone built in. The terms of the contract are such that it'll cost me half as much as the old phone which did half as much - unless I use more than 100 minutes a month, in which case it'll cost me twice as much. If you see what I mean.

I've got the good people of Samsung to thank for two, um, innovations.

The first is that the fitting for the external (microSD) memory card...well, isn't external. You've got to literally take the phone apart to put your "easily portable" plug-in memory in place. And again when you want to put put new files on it - which you do with a fiddly, easy-to-lose little USB device.

Bluetooth is barely adequate - if incredibly slow - as a workaround, but there should be no need for any workaround.

The second...unovation...is a propitiatory form of USB that combines audio-out for headphones, power-in for recharging the battery, and standard USB comms for getting photos off the camera onto the laptop, and MP3s off the laptop into the phone. Very neat - one port covers three functions.

Except for the small details that:
(1) There's absolutely no need to invent yet another variant of USB to do it, because the already existing forms can do it perfectly well. The whole point of a Universal Serial Bus was to have just one format for all uses - now there's at least five.

(2) I now have a single pair of (slightly rubbish) headphones that'll plug into the phone, and one rechanger. So much for interchangability.

Of course, it can make good business sense to make your products incompatible with those of your competitors. It may not get you new customers much, but for the ones who chose your products first, they're chained to you.

Either that's what's happening here, or people who design phones aren't very smart. You decide.

Speaking of smart, and decision, you may be asking why Kapitano wasn't smart enough to decide on a different phone. The answer is there were a dozen phones available for the tariff scheme I wanted - most of which looked fantastic, had lots of lavish extra features I'd never use but no way of communicating with a computer at all.

I'm reminded of the Piers Anthony short story about the toaster which could clean your home and diagnose your neuroses, but refused to make toast.

Oh, and one phone boasted the best new idea of them all - a miniature typewriter keyboard for writing things longer than SMSes...with the letters arranged in a pattern used, so far as I know, in no other device in the world.

I don't mind learning to type, but I won't relearn it for every typewriter.

UPDATE: In two days, three people have told me they're never going to buy anything by Samsung ever again. The products are full of design flaws, batteries drain in a day, and firmware fixes are nonexistent.

It would be nice if they'd said all this two days previous, as I wouldn't now be stuck with a two year contract with a phone which looks great on paper, which is turning into a millstone.


I have just spent the night watching live general election coverage. From 1974.

It seems the UK's most boring channel - BBC Parliament, which shows parliamentary debates and enquiries in real time - has decided to broadcast even when the MPs have gone home, digging deep into the BBC's extensive archive of long past political coverage.

And it was good stuff too. The great historian AJP Taylor wheeled on to be asked dumb questions only a clairvoyant could answer. The old Liberal party favourite Cyrill Smith - now chiefly remembered as "that enormous fat man" - being grumpy and telling the interviewer "I love you but I'm not going to answer that question".

Iain Paisley barking intractable prejudice like an Irish dalek - which, come to think of it, is exactly what he's still doing today. Some loon with impossibly neat slicked and parted hair aligning himself with the infamous racist Enoch Powell. And the latest (datedest) high-tech graphics flashing annoyingly at us.

Yeah, some things don't change at all.

Oh, and there were occasional interruptions to report on something obscure happening in America. Not many details but apparently something called "The Watergate Enquiry".

...that much is True

The downside of not giving yourself time for procrastination is...you don't give yourself time for getting it good.

So here's another song that is
(a) finished, and
(b) a lot rougher than I'd like, but
(c) at least actually finished.

Kapitano - You Can't Say (Demo)

...in a Cocktail Bar

Today was the day I said "Right! No more distractions, no more helping people too lazy to learn how to use a computer, no more sitting in waiting rooms waiting for bureaucrats to fill out pointless forms, no more trying vainly to understand the wireless network or the arcane mysteries of PHP, no more prevaricating 'cos I woke up feeling like rubbish - I'm going to record a song!"

Actually that was yesterday, but today I actually did it. The result is...well, a rough demo, more than a little influenced by a certain famous track by The Human League. Here it is:

Kapitano - Come Home (Demo)

Shall I make a very rash promise to do another one tomorrow?

Network problems. Back online soon, I hope.


There's a principle in physics where the force applied, minus the countervailing forces, gives the work done - which means you might expend a lot of force and still do no work.

I think there's a principle in website design where the work done is slightly proportional to the neatness of the result, but inversely proportional to the impact created - unless there's no work done, in which there's no impact at all.

In other words, you can spend an entire day figuring out how to make a caption line up with a graphic correctly, and no one'll notice. But you can take five seconds to change the background colour, and everyone notices.

When I haven't been:
(1) Coming up with more lyrics (here and here)
(2) Making notes for others not (yet?) finished
(3) Attempting to create a living space that doesn't have, um things living in it
(4) Spending full working days doing favours for ungrateful bastards who I will be shortly telling to fuck off
(5) Failing to record anything - see (4)

...I've been teaching myself some website design.

I can now make graphics line neatly up with blurb. I can put text into independent parallel columns - which is more awkward than you'd think. And I can have a randomly selected graphic pop up every time you visit a page - click on either of the links to see.

The secret is: Pretend all content is a table of figures. You can arrange anything if it's in a table.

You can now also send me email. I mean, you can do that already, but now you can do it from my website. I think.

Oh, and I've got a 404 page, for when everything else goes tits up.

The ungrateful bastard wants me to do some website design. Now that I know a bit more about how to do it, I've determined that I really don't want to do this professionally.

Error: Life Not Found

Kapitano's life is offline at the moment.

We apologise for the inconvenience caused by:

  • Bureaucracy

  • Incontinent dogs

  • A slight sniffle caused by unexpected rainfall during otherwise quite pleasant oral sex.

  • Housework that absolutely, positively has to be done this minute.

  • People whose livelihoods rely on someone undoing five years of computer non-maintenance, in return for tea and biscuits.

We will return you to what Kapitano is supposed to be doing as soon as the forms, dog medicine, human medicine, vacuum cleaners and boot sectors are all sorted out.


Two songs lyrics done - that's "done" in the sense of "complete song that I'll probably tinker with further but not completely rewrite". Here and here.

Plus notes for three others.

I haven't been as productive as I'd hoped, on account of 24-hour headaches. I get them at least once a week, and more often recently - they're not migraines, but it takes 2000mg of co-codomol to shift them. Which probably isn't good.

But now I think I know roughly what causes them. It's...my bedroom! The place where I compute, live, eat, and infrequently sleep. Whenever I sleep anywhere else, I miraculously don't wake up feeling like shit.

So I've got a new, temporary bedroom slash recording studio slash living space - while I clear my room of accumulated junk, dust, and I imagine, mouse droppings.

Let it All Flow

Kapitano's 3 rules for not getting bogged down in songwriting:

1) Don't write about things that matter to you.

If you do, you'll wind up spending days painfully trying to make the words mean exactly what you want, while still scanning and rhyming. Or else you'll sacrifice scan and rhyme for sense - and the result will be a tedious lecture and a lousy song.

2) Don't worry if it doesn't mean quite what you intended, or indeed anything at all.

Look a "Whiter Shade of Pale". Look at the back catalog of Duran Duran. Look at just about everything written by Vince Clarke for any of his bands. These songs mean absolutely bugger all - or to put it another way, they're evocative, intriguing, oblique, suggestive, and productively ambiguous.

3) If you can't find a good rhyme or rhythm, find another word or sentence to rhyme or, er, ryth.

I somehow doubt that "ryth" is a word, but it should be. We need a word meaning "to have a particular rhythmic pattern".

Music is about form. The fact that lyrics have content is an awkward concession to the notion that songs can and should communicate in the same way that sentences do.

It's the kind of notion that's self-evident, until you think about it for five seconds and realise you can't explain why it's self-evident. On the grounds that it isn't.

I've got two songs written - one with a backing track done - and a lot of notes for others that might go somewhere if I can manage to follow my own rules.