Archive | General

Recent additions

Recently I’ve added quite a few new artists and albums to iTunes. Almost all of these have been via the iTMS. Some notable additions are listed below.

The Killers – Hot Fuss. I love this album. One of the best I’ve heard in a long time.

Kaiser Chiefs – Employment. I bought this because somebody I know said it was good and I’d probably like it. They were right 🙂

Aimee Mann – Lost in Space. Came to this via a weird route. Was checking out the HD video examples at the Apple QuickTime site. One of the examples was Aimee Mann performing The Moth. Liked it so much I got the album.

Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand. Was loaned a copy of this as I’m going to TVital05 in Belfast in August and they are playing. Scissor Sistors are also playing and it was them I wanted to see. I’m actually looking forward to seeing FF more now. Really good album.

Patrick and Eugene – Postcard from Summerisle. Bought this after The Birds and The Bees was the free single of the week on the UK iTMS. Excellent stuff. Includes a ska/reggae cover of Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind.

Tori Amos – The Beekeeper

Brilliant new album from Tori Amos. Back to the quality of the early material. Much happiness!

I didn’t know this new album was out until I saw it in a banner advertisement on the UK iTMS. Tori Amos’s early albums were very, very good indeed. Her debut album, Little Earthquakes, was stunning with tracks like Crucify, Precious Things, Happy Phantom and Winter especially good. The next album, Under the Pink, was better than the previous one. Nearly all the tracks on this album were, and still are, brilliant. After this there were a few albums that were different! There were a few good tracks inter-spaced on the albums Boys for Pele, From the Choirgirl Hotel and To Venus and Back. Venus did have a 2nd live disk with stuff from the early albums on it. Which was good. Some people loved those albums. I didn’t.

The album Scarlet’s Walk, which was released in 2002, was a step back towards the good material. The track Wednesday was very, very good indeed and a few others as well. The new album, The Beekeeper, is brilliant. I’ve listened to it about 15 times over the last few days. There isn’t a track on it I feel like skipping. Toast is my favourite. Closely followed by Witness, Parasol and Ireland. It’s all good though. You can listen to 30 second snippets at the album home page on the iTMS. There is a track on the album called Sweet the Sting that sounds very like it’s Alisha’s Attic performing it. Which is no bad thing.

Hormonally Yours – Shakespear’s Sister

Took the urge to listen to the song Stay from the Hormonally Yours album from Shakespeare’s Sister tonight. So I pressed the trusty iPod into service. I ended up listening to the whole album. Bloody marvellous stuff. Pity they are not together anymore. Since their split however there have been a few brilliant solo albums from Marcy Detroit.

The iPod really changes the way you listen to music. It’s incredible having 2600 tracks available instantly no matter where you happen to be. No need to find the CD and mount it to hear a track from your collection. Want to hear a track? It’s playing in seconds.

Also the AAC encoding system that you can use in iTunes to encode your CD’s for the iPod produces files that sound incredible. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. If you want a digital music player get an iPod or one of the new iPod mini devices. You won’t be disappointed.

The Knife – Deep Cuts

Just got the new album (well new for he UK anyway) from The Knife. It’s called Deep Cuts. Not sure if I like it as much as their last album but it has some really good tracks. It’s growing on me.

I really like Pass this on and You take my breath away. Other good ones are Heartbeats, Girls night out, One for you, Rock classics, Is it medicine and Got 2 let u. Actually I seem to have listed most of the tracks there so I must like the album as whole. it comes with a DVD that contains videos for 5 tracks.

The Darkness live

Brilliant!!! Went to see The Darkness at the Belfast Vital04 festival in Belfast Botanic Gardens on Monday. They were excellent.

All the hype is true. These guys are the real deal. They are tight as a unit, can actually play their instruments well, have good rapport with the crowd and bash out the songs with gusto. All in all they put on a show which is, lets face it, what you want at a bloody concert.

They played most of the songs from their debut album and those from the EP available on the Apple iTunes store. Love on the Rocks with no Ice was the last one played and it went on for ages! They also played one new song. “This is the awkward moment bit” as Justin Hawkins put it 🙂 Another few albums worth of material will fill out the live set nicely. If you get a chance to go see them then take it.

The Knife – The Knife

Got the self titled album from the Swedish band The Knife recently. I heard them first on the Jonathan Ross radio show on BBC Radio 2. He played a song that I was sure was by Björk. It sounded very like her style. When it had finished however he and Andy Davies (The Ultimate Sidekick) said it was actually a song called Parade by The Knife. It took a few weeks to track down a copy of the album but I finally got it from Amazon UK.

I love it. There are some excellent tracks. Apart from Parade I especially like Kino, I Just Had To Die, I Take Time, Bird and Neon. You can listen to track samples at the iTMS.

Well worth a listen if you like Björk. In fact, well worth a listen even if you don’t.

Working simply

There are only 1440 minutes in every day. People in work environments such as offices, hospitals, schools etc., are being bombarded with an increasing amount of information. This information, in the form of e-mails, telephone calls, voice mails, industry publications etc., means that you can waste many of the 1440 minutes in a day sifting through information that is useless to you. So how do you survive this information overload?

Bill Jensen has a radical suggestion. Do less!! He suggests, for example, that you can delete 75% of your e-mails unread after a quick subject scan. There are several documents you can download from his web site that outline how to do more by working simply. He also has a few books on the subject.

The reason the Earth exists?

Some people think (incorrectly in my opinion) that the Earth exists for some profound reason. Well, if I’m wrong, then I think that a reason as good as any other is that the Earth exists to give Kate Bush something to stand on when singing.

She does after all have the voice of an angel. For the last few hours I have been listening to her complete collection on my iPod in random play mode. Current track is “In Search of Peter Pan” from the Lionheart album. Pure bliss. The title track “Oh England, my Lionheart” has just started.

Now where is that new album we hear about? Like all her stuff it will be worth waiting for.

Seven wonders

We all know about the seven wonders of the ancient world. Whilst these were certainly marvels there are other marvels that really intrigue and delight me.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a web site for people to post their seven wonders for a long time now. I’ve just never got round to it. The site would be for people to list seven things that really inspire, delight or intrigue them. They would have to outline the workings of the items, not just provide a list, so that others could gather some details of why they are included.

My seven are listed below. In this soapbox entry I’m going to break my own rule and just give the list. I’ll flesh it out later either here or on the web page if I ever get round to it. My seven wonders, in no particular order, are –

• Chemical bonding
• Plate Tectonics
• Music
• Aerodynamics of a cricket ball
• Mitochondria
• Books
• Star and planetary system formation

Why you should get to know your nuts

We have posters on bus shelters. We have advertisements on TV. We have leaflets in public places. All encourage men to do monthly checks for abnormal things in the region variously described as “your bollocks” or nuts. Most people think it’ll never happen to them. Right?

Well you could be wrong.

I’d like point the gents reading this to the Testicular Cancer (TC) Resource Center at –

Or the Cancer Research UK’s Testicular Cancer site at –

Do yourselves a favour and read up on the self exam and do it once a month.

I had an appointment with a urologist on Friday to get something that had been bugging me for a few weeks checked out. I suspected that I had TC in one of my testes. As a aside – if anything down there is going to get bigger why couldn’t it be the bit I could use to impress the girls 🙂

Anyway after some tests (ultrasound, blood etc.) it transpires that I will be going in for an operation from which I will emerge 50% deficient in the bollock department :-[ Luckily evolution has given us a redundant system. You only need one. Actually the surgeon asked me if I wanted to get an artificial one fitted during the operation. I declined. Maybe I could get a battery put in to power my Apple iPod 🙂

Become a Cyborg!!

Whilst the doctors can’t say if it is TC until the testicle is out and tested under the microscope, they are pretty confident it is. I also have to get CT scans and possibly radio treatment or chemo depending on the staging of the cancer.

TC has three stages. Stage 1 is when it is confined to the testes. Cure rates for this are 99% (Will probably be 100% when they have data for the last 10 years). Stage 2 is were the tumour cells have spread to the lymph nodes in the lower back near the kidneys. Cure rates for Stage 2 are above 90%. Stage 3 is where the tumour cells have spread beyond the lymph nodes to other organs like lungs, bones or brain. Cure rates for stage 3 are between 50% and 80%. The CT scan and blood tests are used to determine the stage. I suspect that I will be stage 1 or 2.

So I am going to have an interesting time over the next few weeks and months. Working on the principle that “every cloud has a silver” lining I plan to use the experience to study the biochemistry behind this. Should be interesting to study the structure of the molecular markers that the tumour cells release. Should give me an impetus to read the sections on cancer in “Molecular Biology of the Cell” (Albert’s et al) that I bought last year. I plan to put up info re: treatments, thoughts etc. on this site.

So the bottom line is get to know your nuts 🙂 Better yet get your SO to do your monthly check.

If you want a good laugh check out this personal story –