The CD Collection Has Shrunk

Being old, I still buy CDs. Well, I have since 1985 (Level 42’s ‘World Machine”), so why stop now. Unfortunately there’s now about 440 of them,  and the living room Expedits started to fill up.

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So this had to change. Enter Space Saving Sleeves, thin, clear plastic covers for your and mine CDs that make the crystal cases unnecessary and reduce the size your CD collection needs significantly. So for one Saturday afternoon I sat on the sofa and removed 440 CDs from their cases and -together with their CD booklets- files them alphabetically. The result is pretty impressive, I am sure you will agree.

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P1030239The Matt Bianco section is still about half a meter thick, though.

Ronson scores

Looking through my itunes collection sorted by purchase date, it is moderately obvious that I don’t buy a lot of music by contemporary ’new’ artists. There is Metronomy, Daft Punk, Bluey, Wickford’s own ‘The Milk’, The Submotion Orchestra and a few other stragglers, but the vast majority of new music is by old favourites such as Donald Fagen, Matt Bianco, Swing Out Sister, Prefab Sprout or Incognito. All gracefully ageing survivors of the seventies or eighties, they fill my ipod with comfort music – the equivalent of Friday’s SpagBol. So it comes with moderate surprise that for the last few days I have been listening constantly to Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Special’. Actually, this is no surprise, as it pretty much sounds like a pastiche of some of the most successful seventies and eighties styles. I have no idea how he came up with up the idea of making a seventies/eighties homage album, but it’s all there: James Brown’s rare grooves mixed with old school rap, Alan Parson’s soft rock, Steely Dan chords, Moogish bass lines with synth licks that sound like they come straight out a Juno and there’s even the real Steve Wonder making an appearance. This oevre was bought on the reputation of ‘Uptown Funk’ which must have been the first single that excited me since – wait a minute, I’ll get there in a minute – sorry can’t remember. This bastard child (the single, not Mark Ronson) of Cool and the Gang, Prince and Bootsy Collins is such a joy to listen to that even on the way to work one does a bit whistling (or even throwing in the odd dance step on arrival, severely upsetting the staff). Apparently Ronson is the stepson of Foreigner’s Mick Jones – a man with a knack for the odd million seller – who made Ronson listen to his newest records in the middle of the night, so maybe this is some sort of psychological workup of his involuntary exposure to eighties pop in the middle of the night, but It’s a long time since I had so much fun listen to new music, so I couldn’t care less: I am happy to have paid my dues to support Ronson’s apparently fabulous lifestyle a bit longer, and long may he exploit the previous decades a bit further.

Wibblers Delivers

Wibblers Brewery in in Maylandsea has a firm fanbase in this house. The best girlfriend ever is a fan of their award winning ‘Apprentice’, while I am partial to their ‘Dengie Best’. We usually pick up a few bottles from our local independent supermarket, adding value to the weekend. A few weeks ago some of the bottles that were purchased turned out to be summer, necessitating a switch to an indescript lager to survive Dunton Abbey. I took a picture of the barcode on the offending bottle and gave the brewery a heads up that there were some rogue bottles out there.

Not only did I get a lovely email back from their lovely back office lady, but a day later their assistant brewer dropped by a whole case of Apprentice at our house.

It doesn’t get much better than that: not only is their beer top notch, but their service is as impressive as their brewing.P1020966

Harold

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Sorry for the previously undetected glass ring stain. My fault.

This little ditty is being written on Harold. Harold is an Apple G3 Powerbook from 2000. It is a truly ancient machine, but it was undoubtedly the first sexy ‘must have’ laptop.

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Nothing like a bit of good news on the front page of the Guardian. Good to know that David loved Laura.

‘Why you, why now?’, I can hear you ask in a little falsetto voice.

Well, first of all, it looks like a little designer cushion. It’s also one of the coolest and iconic pieces of industrial design ever. When I was a little boy in his early thirties, I used to watch ‘ West Wing ‘. If you don’t remember or never heard of it, it was only the best political show ever on TV, but nae bother. All my favourite characters wrote beautiful speeches, policy papers and devastating memos on G3 Powerbooks, mainly at 11pm, only powered by hoisin sauce and a Budweiser (the staff. Not the laptops). For all geeks, a quick little rundown of his innards: 400mhz G3, 1gb ram, 2x USB, 2x Firewire, Ati Rage M3.

I always had a thing for these beauties, but didn’t really have the cash to get them (by that time I was running around with the less powerful and decidedly more uncool white Ibooks), but I never really forgot about them. Very likely due to the fact that we are still watching ‘West Wing’ at chez Fordie’s.

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Somebody in the white house hard at work. Probably writing a birthday card.

So, 14 years later, I finally got one from Ebay. I cleaned it, gave it a bit more ram and a new battery and: hey presto, well working new laptop. It runs OS X 10.4.11, Office 2008, an amazing version of Firefox -compiled for its ancient G3 processor – called TenFourFox.

And it’s fully functional.

OK, there are things it doesn’t do: online streaming is really not its thing, as are elaborate browser games, but it emails, tweets, plays my music collection, browses the web -all it once. Not bad for a piece of 15 year old technology.

Because it’s happily running Dropbox, it’s become the defacto work laptop in the living room. The rather generous keyboard makes writing those annoying Open University essays a doddle and it happily handles the work emails and easily deals with the neverending Excel sheets that seem to pervading my life.

Most importantly, it makes me happy. I have decided to take it to the next meeting at work, to park it proudly between all those Dells, Toshibas and other modern kit.

All I need now is a policy job in the White House.