June 30th, 2006

Tall ships (porthole)

'Ware the Train of Thought

So, certain people have been demanding a real blog entry, which does not merely consist of the word "blog".

Well, it's time I updated it anyway. Be warned though that it is nearly 2 in the morning, and so coherency is not guaranteed.

Anyway, what have I been up to recently? Well, quite a few things. Last week (nearly two weeks ago now) I spent the evengins doing the lights for a production of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Which was very funny to watch, and a bit hectic as one of the lights stopped working about half an hour before the start of the final performance, and so I did a hasty spot of light shuffling and plug rewiring.

(at this point I hit "random track" about 20 times. XMPlay is being pervese and refusing to pick something I'm in the mood to listen to. I eventually settle on A Drop in the Ocean, by Stratovarius)

Back to the Dream. It's quite interesting watching while doing the lights - you get a different perspective on things. It is a wonderful play by the King of Shadows, and terrific fun to watch. Our Puck did a grand job of capering around, causing mischief, and generally messing everything up before leading the two suitors on a wild goose chase and undoing the mess he made of things. Still as good today as it was over 400 years ago.

It's odd that - I never really appreciated Shakespeare when we had to study Romeo and Juliet at school, but now, seeing and being involved with a production of it changes your views on it. I'll have to keep an eye out for the various production that get done by the theatre societies at university.

Moving on to other things, I've recently been fighting an old machine that used to have Linux installed. "Used" is the significant word here - the install took an extreme dislike to me moving the hard disks to a seperate IDE controller, and ate most of the root filesystem. This made small but significant components like the dynamic loader very unhappy, and generally mangled the install. So, I decide to do a fresh install, which fails spectacularly. First time round, the ext3fs driver gets confused and eventually writes data into one of its system areas, at which point it remounts the filesystem read-only and stops the install. Second time round (after I'd forcibly recreated the partition table) the kernel panics for some unknown reason during the install.

Next, I try FreeBSD. So far, I've proven that the CD I burnt is unbootable, and that neither of the network cards are supported by the kernel on the floppy images. I'm starting to think that my idea of seeing how much hardware I can fit in this machine (a circa 1995 IBM Aptiva) is possibly not as smart as it seemed. It started out about a year ago as me wanting a machine on which to learn and experiment with Linux, not being willing to offer either of my main machines up for sacrifice.

(after a few tracks, XMPlay again picks something I'm not in the mood for and takes about 20 attempts to change to something I like. In this case, I settle on Catherine's Theme from Riven)

Current ideas are to verify the disc (reburning if necessary), and then failing that to start returning things to their original configuration. The upgrades at the moment include such nicities as a processor upgrade, IDE controller upgrade, disk upgrade, network upgrade (two of 'em) and graphics upgrade. Even the floppy drive is no longer the original one.

I'm not the only one to have suffered, as Craig made the mistake of deciding to do a full system reinstall along with adding both memory and disks to his main machine. Unfortuantly the computer gods did not look down upon him, and resulted in three days of reinstalls to get Windows to a) install, b) install with the correct RAID configuration, and c) have working sound. This was complicated by the fact he also wanted to dual boot Fedora Core 5, which is not as easy as it seems. Especially when the Fedora installer falsely claims that the CD is corrupt, and then hangs. So, I spent about an hour learning how to use grub, and then coercing the one Fedora install that did work to then dual boot with Windows (using the Windows bootloader). Oh, and to add insult to injury, it looks like his motherboard may have a dud RAM connector. Either that or eBuyer have sent him three dead sticks of RAM.

(I pause for a while to listen to Clannad and collect my thoughts. A pair of random neurons spark together and the train of thoughts goes thataway -->)

Project Eden is an interesing game. I've just started another run through of it, mainly because Nick got the Playstation version and Will's been chuntering along at a fair rate of knots.

(as I type this, pleaseremove messages me about a slashdot post to do with games. Something about Sony charging extortionate amounts for games. Meh. I'll be getting a Wii anyway - there's very few Playstation games (past, present or future) that interest me)

Back on track... so far I've got to the Hospital, while last time I saw Will he was wandering round the SkyTran level looking lost. I have a slight chance of overtaking him, mainly because I've played through it before and so know parts of the layout (and what's coming up). It's part of that very rare genre of games that is not primarily about killing monsters. Monster-killing is a part of of it, admitdly, and it's fun to use the flycam to lure them towards a local sentry cannon with Minoko at the controls. Given that due to the regen system I'm immortal in this, I can also go for suicide runs. I try to avoid those though, as it just doesn't seem right. I think I have a tendency to when playing games trying to stay in character. Unfortuantly, some force you into a character that goes completely against your usual style of playing...

Moving back to Project Eden, it focuses a lot on puzzles, of which a fair number are team-orientated. Did I mention that you control a team of four people, each one with a different ability/speciality (e.g. Minoko can hack into terminals, Amber being a cyborg can walk through fire and so on)? It's also possble play it networked cooperatively, which is a rarity in most games. Just about all current network games involve you trying to beat all the other players, with some games offering you the ability to only beat half of the players. However, with this one the main network mode is entirely about helping each other. I've yet to play it four-way, but it'd make some segments of the game a lot easier. While the AI is reasonably good, and the follow-me function works well as long as you don't start in a confined space, it's no substitute for a real player. The AI stays put when in charge, and doesn't understand things like not standing in front of the sentry cannon that's behind the door someone just opened.

Hmm... it's probably about time that I got some sleep. I've so far spent about 40 minutes writing this post, and it includes at least one topic change without using the clutch. Well, you were warned about the lack of coherency - it's even in my userinfo. I'll elave you with one last thing - a quick list of what I was listening to while posting this. This gives you an idea of my playlist, which most certainly does not use a clutch for genre changes:

Destiny, by Stratovarius
A Drop in the Ocean, again by Stratovarius
Dies irae, by Mozart (from Requiem)
Gravity of Love, by Enigma
Canon, by Awesome
Catherine's Theme (from Riven)
Fight view (from Super Monkey Ball 2)
Departure (from Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles)
In a Lifetime, by Clannad
Silent Night, by the New World Orchestra (from Christmas Chillout)
Lost in Time, released by Level-D
Everybody's Fool, by Evanescence
Battle 4 (from Morrowind)
Scarlet Inside, by Clannad

So, that makes its way from rock to ambient and back and forth in under 15 tracks, missing out on the jazz and blues also in my collection. Hmm, shall have to try harder next time. Oh, and the Awesome and Level-D tracks are actually tracker music, so you won't find them on Amazon. They are however available for free download by the creators, so go hunt. Maybe you'll find something new to listen to.

Ans with that, I'm off to bed over an hour after I started writing this. The final track is shown as this entry's music.

Radio BoggyB is now signing off for the night. Toodle-pip.
Tall ships (porthole)

Musical musings

Music is a powerful art form. It has the ability to take the mind to different places, to unite cultures and people, to soothe and relax.

Recently when listening to my music collection I've been thinking about how different tracks remind me, sometimes very strongly, of various places that I've been to. One track reminds me of my first job. Another reminds me of bus journeys to school. Still more evoke strong memories of a night-time trip across the downs.

In no case has that been the only place where I've listened to that track, or even where I've listened to it the most. By far the majority of compositions have only been heard at my computer, or have been part of my general collection on my MP3 player for so long that they have no specific location attached.

So with this, I give you all a meme to follow and spread. It's quite simple:

Post a few tracks of music which strongly remind you of somewhere, along with where and why.

And here's mine. Note that some of these are in tracker formats, and so you'll need something like XMPlay to listen to them.

Populous: The Beginning soundtrack, by Mark Knight

pleaseremove and I once did a night-time journey across the top of the South Downs, as part of being the support car for a hike. After going through a few different pieces, we eventually stuck this soundtrack on shuffle and let it run. I've always liked this soundtrack - it's a good mix of ambient ethnic music for the game. pleaseremove described it as being very eerie, which is pretty accurate. It's up for free download by the composer, and is well recommended if you like ambient/game music.

Lore, by Warder

For some reason, this reminds me of the coach journey to school when I was nearing the end of my time at secondary school. As to why, I can only assume it's because this one was on my MP3 player for quite a while then, and I listened to it a lot on the journey. It's also quite long (about 8 minutes when looped once). It only reminds me of that time, but that's probably because Arriva played musical buses for a few years before they scrapped the route and then I changed route and operator three times in the last two years.

MorningStar FF2000 (MP3 version), by Moozeblaster

While it's classed as techno, don't let that put you off. Believe it or not, there actually exists *good* techno music. You just have to look harder to find it.
Anyway, this piece reminds me of my first job. I can only guess it's because I brought in a CD of random tracks, including this, and listened to it there. The memory is still strong after over 4 years. I can visualise the office I ended up with, along with the morning view from the window in a crisp October, a light mist on the grass. Great place, and great people.

Not Like the Other Girls, by The Rasmus (on the Dead Letters album)

Picture, if you will, a small village station. Dark clouds overhead, and rain pouring down. An announcement has just come over the PA, and the train from London Victoria has been delayed by another twenty minutes. The passengers are huddled in the small shalter, waiting for the train to arrive. And one person stands alone, halfway along the platform, oblivious to the rain, listening to sounds only he can hear...

While making that list, I've noticed that all of them are ones that I've only listened to when out and about since getting my MP3 player. It's one of those devices that I now routinely take and listen to everywhere. Some tracks are very suited to certain places, as seen above - Populous when driving across the Downs at night, New Forest when wandering the Downs on foot during the day. Not Like the Other Girls seemed a perfect track when standing at that cold wet station, and as said I ignored the small shelter and happily stood out there in the rain. Lost in the music, I didn't notice the falling rain, and ignored the announcement about delays.

At other times I want to listen to something with a bit more power, and there's not that many which fall into that category. Bring Me to Life by Evanescence is one of those which fits. There's also a few by Stratovarius which fall into that category. Sometimes I'll prefer something more classical, and the instrumental Under the Stars from the Lion King soundtrack works very well. It starts off very quietly, with a simple theme as the group muse about the stars. Near the end of the track, as Simba chases after Rafiki, it throws itself into a strong precussive mix that's full of depth and is begging for more power from the speakers.

Occassionally I'll just hop through at random, taking what comes as it comes. There's a few tracks in my collection that I've never listened to, and may never do so. Others I'll go out of my way to listen to over and over again. And a few ambient tracks I'll stick on loop and still be listening to them a few hours later.

Such is the world of a music lover.