Spring is in the air

Spring time

Originally uploaded by rutty.

I love this time of year. Well, apart from the constant rain showers, hail and cold winds that is.

It’s been absolutely gorgeous today. Glorious weather out, and not too bad temperature-wise either. So, with spring in the air I thought I’d take my new camera out for stroll down to the Beeston Waterfront to take some pictures of things.

It’s a bit scruffy down there and I think most of the vegetation is yet to realise that Spring is upon us, but thankfully a few homeowners had one or two blossoming plants that I could take pictures of, including this one. My Kodak Z740 has a “flowers” option even, for occasions when you want to take close-ups of plants in bright light. I used this function and the results seem pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

It’s impressive that the camera was able to use a fast-enough shutter-speed to keep these shots from blurring, because there was a stiffish breeze causing the buds to bounce about all over the place.

There are a few other pictures just uploaded too if you want to click through.

Windows Live Mail Beta

I signed up for the beta of Windows Live Mail (the replacement for Hotmail) at the beginning of the year. I tend to use Googlemail more often these days, but I still use my Hotmail account every now and again.

Unfortunately, it’s complete and utter rubbish in Firefox.

OK, I thought. They’re going to concentrate on getting it to work properly in IE first, with it being a Microsoft product and all. It looks quite nice in IE, though the whole thing looks very cluttered and very slow to load due to the number of buit-in features. In Firefox they’ve removed nearly all of the useful features and left it with bare-bones functionality. I can login, read my mail, send mail, delete it and move it between folders, but that’s just about it.

Now, it’s been months since I signed up and there’s been no improvement at all in the interface on Firefox. There appears to be no effort at all to get it working. They’ve managed it with the Live.com homepage (mostly) but seem incapable of designing Windows Live Mail so that it works in all browsers. They’re not sticking to the w3c web standards with it, and it shows. Bloated, slow pages with a poor user-experience even in IE.

It’d be nice if it worked, but the beta version is severely under-par. I hope that there are plenty of improvements in the works because they are miles behind Googlemail, and that’s hardly perfect either.

Ogg Vorbis on iTunes

I rip all of my music into Ogg format. I do this because I like to support the Open Source community and I also like to be different. The MP3 format is old hat these days and some of the newer file formats are proprietary. I prefer to use applications, and even operating systems, that are free (not necessarily as in beer) and community driven.

It’s a bit odd of me, then, to be trying to get Ogg Vorbis working with iTunes. Unfortunately Last.fm doesn’t seem to support plugins for any WIndows-based Open Source players and I’m stuck with XP on my work laptop. I’m currently using Mediamonkey to play my Ogg tunes, but this has no Last.fm plugin, so this is where iTunes comes into play.

Thankfully there’s a project at Xiph.Org to create a Quicktime plugin for Ogg. This enables me to configure iTunes to play my Ogg tunes and to upload my tracklists to Last.fm too.

I’ve installed it so we’ll see if this works.


Well, it seems that I can actually use Mediamonkey with the Winamp plugin. I’ve installed it and it seems to work so perhaps I don’t need to use iTunes at all.


I’ve signed up for an excellent service at Last.fm, an on-line music-based community and somewhere to find, and stream, new and old music.

You can add plugins to your media player (like iTunes for instance) that allow you to display which tracks you’ve recently listened to. I’m still fiddling around with these tools, but in the meantime here’s an example of the things that can be shown from there:

I’m about to subscribe to get some extra features too. Give it a look.

Vote for me!

This site has been nominated for the April website of the month of at TheMouthpiece.com. This is an excellent Brass Band website with a thriving community of banders and it’s very flattering to be nominated.

I do feel like a bit of an interloper to be honest. I do blog about Brass Bands a bit, but that’s hardly the main focus of my site. Actually, I’m not entirely sure that there is much focus here, just a collection of general chunterings with the occasion truly awful joke and the odd comment on banding.

Still, it’s nice to be appreciated so if you’re a member over there and you like this site then feel free to click to vote for me. I’ve intended to blog more band-related stuff so expect to read more of that here, once I overcome my natural predeliction to terminal procrastination.


A US marine stationed in France returning to base, is wandering through the train carriages looking for a an empty seat, the only one he finds is occupied by a little French poodle, he approached the woman and asks “Excuse me ma’am, could I please take that seat?”

The woman replied: “You Americans are so rude, my little Fifi is sitting there, find another.”

The marine wanders the entire length of the train again and can find no empty seats, so he returns to the lady with the dog.

“Excuse me ma’am, I really need to sit down, I’ve been travelling for 18 hours, I am really tired, I really need to sit down, please can you move your dog and let me take that seat.”

This time she replies, “Not only are you Americans rude, you are so arrogant too, no, my little Fifi needs that seat, go find another.”

The marine doe one more circuit of the train in desperation, and finding no other seat returns to the carriage picks the dog up and throws it out of the window.

“You awful terrible man”, The woman cries, and to her travelling companions declares “Will no-one defend my honour?”

An Englishman stands up and addresses the marine. “You Americans are always doing things wrong, you eat with knife and fork in the wrong hand, you drive on the wrong side of the road, and now Sir, it appears you have thrown the wrong bitch off the train”

Where were you?

Matt has passed this onto me:

In an attempt to find out a bit more about each other, I decided a good way would be to ask “where were you?” 1 year, 5 years and 10 years ago…

It might take off, it might not – might be interesting, might be not…answer the questions, then send them on to three others!

From Burt originally. So here we go.

1 Year ago: Living in Beeston in a shared house working for Marconi as a telecommunications engineer specialising in SDH technology and Unix-based applications. Just started seeing a really nice lass. Everything is currently the same, although now Marconi is called Ericsson.

5 Years ago: Living in Heanor with my wife, working for Marconi. Having some success with my new Brass Band (Carlton Brass).

10 Years ago: Not yet married. Serving with the RAF at RAF Coningsby, working on the Airfield there. Living in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. About to be surprised by a posting to RAF Brize Norton near to Oxford, where I will be serving with Tactical Communications Wing. I’ll find that I’m going to be spending six months a year out of the country staying in shitty accomodation and eating crap. I’ll also love it to bits. I was a telecommunications technician – pretty much the same thing as I’m doing now, but with 1950s technology.

I just can’t get away from telecoms!

Anyway, the next in line are:

Aine, Geek and Arvind