Monday, April 30, 2007

the google story

I feel depressed that I didn't get a lot of things done over the weekend. Apart from go to gigs and watching TV, I did manage to finish "the google story" by David Vise. This is an unofficial history of the google company. It was interesting for a number of reasons. They only started the company to buy more computers to index the web. They didn't have any real ideas on how to make money when they started. The online advertising idea was developed a plan at the beginning. Google did start to make money very quickly, so was not your standard dot com company.

Billy Childish

I went to see Billy Childish and his new band play at the Grand Central. This place is by Central station in Glasgow. I have in fact walked past it many times, but I still managed to get lost, and it took me twenty minutes to find. I only found out about the gig when I noticed a flyer close to the University library. I enjoyed the music. Billy Childish didn't seem to play many new songs from his album: Punk Rock at the British Legion Hall. Billy Childish have punk garage sound. I drank way too much beer at the gig and afterwards in the club. One day I will learn.

Loudon Wainwright III

I did see Loudon Wainwright III play at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sunday. The show was almost sold out. I used the web system to buy the ticket. I kept clicking various bits of virtual theatre, just for the stupid system to tell me that area was full. Just as I was about to give up I found an empty seat. Well I guess the indie crowd love his children Martha and Rufus Wainwright more than Loudon, but I still think he is the best. Some of his songs were very funny, but some songs were so sad. There were some particularly sad songs about his mum. There was one song were he come back home after a night of parties -- all sad and depressed. His mum gives him bacon and coffee. (This was a song from his younger days I might add). I am not sure I like these sit down gigs. It just seems very wrong to sit down to watch a gig. Also I missed the start by about 5 seconds and the theater was dark. So I did manage to watch the warm up act (yet another Wainwright child) standing up because I couldn't find my seat.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I am hoping to see Loudon Wainwright III play in Glasgow at the weekend. The way my home body life is going, I probably will not be organized enough to go to the gig. Perhaps 20 years ago I was waiting to hear a session on radio 1 by Wainwright. I was listening to the first the song by Wainwright. My mum suddenly walks into the room in tears. "Who wrote this song," she asked. Needless to say the song was about the dreaded divorce thing. I didn't have the heart to tell my mum, that I was waiting for Wainwright's song about him going round to a woman's hotel room, as there was a show on TV with him playing. His devious trick, didn't work out because, although the woman liked men, she didn't like the thing between their legs. That is the power of Loudon. Some of his songs are goofy, but others are painfully intense. Now of course, both his children are famous singers too. Perhaps I like Martha Wainwright best. In a recent interview with Martha, she said that when she was young she used to line her barbie dolls up and let them get run over. I can't actually find the article where she says this, but I would like it to be true. Anyway Martha sounds like the kind of chick, I would like to chug a few beers with, but given her pop status, I might have to settle for a bag of cocaine or a kicking from her bodyguards. This is more commitment than I can give to a fantasy relationship.


Thanks to the Freakzone on radio6 I heard about a band/person called Beirut who have a CD out called Gulag Orkestar. As usual I can't be bothered to do more than name check, but you can read a better review here. The sound of the CD is Balkan gypsy music. One issue is that the CD is made by someone in the US (from their bedroom), so it is perhaps not really authentic. On the other hand I like the sound. It reminds me of when The Wedding Present put out some kind of Ukrainian music. Anyway, the bottom line is that I like the sound that Beirut make.

business of software

I have just finished reading the book "Eric Sink on the Business of Software". This is not selling software like Microsoft do. The idea is to sell just a small piece of software for a niche or horizontal markets. Then you don't have to compete against the big boys.

Monday, April 16, 2007

flu woes

The Chinese flu in my system was really getting me down. Thanks to global warming, it has been nice and warm in Glasgow this last week. As I walked around the fabulous West End of Glasgow, everyone looked so happy to be bathed in the sun. I felt like sh*t, because of the downer that is Chinese flu. I scowled at the young lovers holding hands. I wanted to say "this won't last. In a week's time it will be raining. In twenty years time your children will hate you, and in 40 years time you will be dead." A shrunken beggar asked to borrow 20p. I almost wept with joy, as I shook his hand. "Thank you", I said, as I vigorously pumped his hand. He edged away, happy to get away from the miserable madman. Its not worth it for 20p. I am now starting to fell better. As I woke this morning, I felt pretty weird. It had been a while since I felt any spark of joy to be alive.


I went to see the film shooter last week. It was kind of dumb, but I enjoyed it. An expert sniper is asked back to protect the president, but is framed. You know the story. Still it was well done.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Micro-ISV from vision to reality

I have just finished a book called "Micro-ISV" by Bob Walsh. Since there is a 3 letter acronym in the title you can probably guess that the book had something to do with computers. ISV stands for independent software vendor. These are small companies that write specialized software. The idea was to stay small, so that venture capital is not needed. The book was very interesting, but starting an ISV looked like a lot of work.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I saw the film "Sunshine" this week. This is a fantastic new film directed by Danny Boyle. A team of astronauts travel to the sun to drop a bomb in it, to try and restart it. It was a very beautiful film. There was a lot of time spent just staring at the sun as they got closer. The sun up close did look fantastic.


This Chinese flu thing is still in my system. It has been two weeks and I am still sniffling and unable to function. I feel bad, when I walk around. I start to sneeze and cough. Then I hear other people start wheezing and coughing too. It is almost as though I am the carrier of some designer Chinese plague. Although, I feel it is unlikely that the Chinese government will want to harm people in the UK, because the Chinese economy depends on foreign consumers. Am I complaining and feeling sorry for myself? Frankly, yes..

The God Delusion

It is Easter Sunday, so it is fitting that I have just finished reading "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. This book is a sound argument for atheist (not a wimpy book for agnostics). I listened a bit to some religious service on radio4. It just seemed so alien and strange I never had much faith to lose, so I was sympathetic to his general argument. His political points are perhaps more important. There is no clear distinction between the religious extremist and the moderate. The one part I disagreed with Dawkins was that he was happy with anthropic arguments for basic physical theory. Dear Richard, arguments for physics, purely based on anthropic arguments, are for losers. Of course if I am going to win this Templeton prize (for the fusion of science and religion) , I will have to refute his arguments. I expect that this may be difficult using logic. A better idea might to compromise Dawkins with a spiked drink and some whores and then sell the pictures to the News of the World Newspaper. This seems more humane than killing him. Although, I would be the hero of Christianity for doing this (unless I got caught), I don't see anyway of using the shaming of Dawkins to win the Templeton prize.

Friday, April 06, 2007


I went to see the film 300 this week. I think I got an introduction to ancient Greek history. And there was a bit of fighting too. I can see why some people felt it was a bit homo-erotic.

The North will rise again

I have just finished reading a book called Pies and Prejudice by Stuart Maconie. (Stuart is also the DJ for the radio 6 show called the freakzone and hence is the person who made me buy a Circlus CD). Stuart was born in Wigan, but is living in the South. He tours many places in the North and North West. Part of the book is a bit of a rant about the South, particularly as the South controls the media. I grew up in Cheshire, so I of course agree that there is more to England, than the leafy lanes of the South. I have been listening to a CD of a famous Bob Dylan concert that he played in 1965. Dylan went electric, and you can hear part of the audience slow hand clap him. For many years this was described as a concert at Royal Albert Hall, however it was actually recorded in Manchester. Typical! The book is a celebration of the North of England. The book is very funny and not to be taken too seriously. It would be good to read a more political book on the North, because as Stuart notes there is actually quite a lot of money hidden in the North. Although technically I was born in Southampton, I don't feel that makes me a southerner. I hope we are clear about that.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Why I don't like 24

Ok, here are some reasons that I don't like the 24 series. The Counter Terrorist Unit CTU, does spend a large amount of time torturing people. In the episode I just watched, somebody from Amnesty global came to stop someone being tortured. The cunning people at CTU managed to torture him anyway. My guess is that if you added up the number of people who are tortured but who are innocent, then that would be virtually everyone. Anyway if you do get tortured and you are innocent, then you just get back to work. If you complain about it, then you get fired (told to leave work), as just happened in series 4 of 24. It is kind of weird, that that the US TV and films is trying to make the public, believe that it is acceptable to torture people and also that the government is corrupt. Still it is fun to watch. The program seems to have been made by Fox and Sky, so I wasn't really expecting objectivity.

some random music stuff

I have been listening to a CD called "in my own time" by Karen Dalton. Karen was in the New York folk scene in the early 60s. She seems to have been shy, so didn't push herself. My crap review of her singing is like a folk version of Billie Holiday. Her voice is amazing. I have also been listening to Bob Dylan 1966. This is a record of a famous gig in Manchester. It is amazing, because you can hear the audience slow hand clap the songs with electric guitars. This was the time when Dylan went electric, much to the disgust of his folk fans. Hadn't they heard of the Blues? I have also been listening to a CD of songs produced by Joe Meek. Joe was an infamous producer in the 60s. The songs are great pop songs, but somehow some of them are about suicide, bubble gum and sunshine.

Conclusion to trip

So my journey to China came to end. I will now try and conclude what I have learnt from this experience. As George Moore says:
"A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it"
The Tao has been the hidden textual message of these entries about Beijing, so I will end with a quote from Confucius.
"diet and lovemaking, all primal needs of every human being".

Food in Beijing

I enjoyed the food in China. Some of the places to eat didn't have menus with pictures as they usually do in Japan. This makes ordering a bit difficult. I got very paranoid with English menus. I got more and more convinced that the English menus were different to the Chinese menus. At meal times I got tortured by the thought that the other diners were tucking into normal Chinese foods in the Sichuan style. The hotel offered a western and Chinese buffet. The western part of breakfast was toast and boiled eggs. The Chinese part of breakfast including all kinds of pickles, rice, noodles, dumplings, and some meat. I enjoyed the breakfasts, but I am not sure my body really likes spicy pickles at the start of the day. I was ready to have my taste buds expanded when I was in China. I might have tried dogs meat. At lunch time, on a couple of days, I ended up have some kind of noodles with hot water from stores/cafes. Yes, I went to China and ate pot noodles! On my last night I did eat eel. This is not pushing the envelope of my taste buds too far, but was new food to me.

Final day in Beijing

On my final day in Beijing, I took a tour of the Hutongs in Beijing. The woman in the hotel who sold me the tour was cute. (I can declare my desire safe behind the Chinese firewall) She spoke the best English in the hotel. She asked me about some English book she was reading. This turned out to be a self-help book for women looking for love. The question I was asked "was whether the author was famous." It wasn't totally clear what the best thing to say was. To my shame I have slunk around the self help sections of bookshops, but I didn't recognize the author The tour around the Hutongs was interesting. The tour was in a bicycle buggy. The Hutons are areas of traditional Beijing housing. Many of these areas are now being destroyed and people are moved into high rise flats (that are incredibly ugly) The tour around the Hutongs was interesting. The tour was in a bicycle buggy. The Hutons are areas of traditional Beijing housing. Many of these areas are now being destroyed and people are moved into high rise flats (that are incredibly ugly) I saw another area of Hutongs when I was trying to avoid the unofficial taxis outside the summer palace. There were a lot of pool tables outside. It does rain in Beijing, so the tables must be covered.

TV in china

There was a TV in my hotel room that showed the national Chinese TV channels. Kung fu transcends language barriers so I was happy to see the odd person getting beaten up. There was one kung fu show that was almost like a soap opera. The kung fu master was clearly in love with some young kung fu chick, who had a younger boy friend. Frankly, I was in love with the kung fu chick, she had the most beautiful smile. There were a lot of quiz show programs. They had young beautiful people on it being sexy. However, I didn't see anyone do more than kissing, so it looks like sex is still forbidden in China. One channel was in English. This seemed to mostly have business stories and a little bit of news. There was certainly no communist propaganda, because everyone is too busy trying to get rich. They only had three adverts on the English channel. These adverts were played about 4 times an hour? One advert was for a pillow filled with tea leaves! What, why? I admit that, if I have run out of tea, I might need to dump my tea-pillow in a bucket of hot water and drink that. How do they wash a tea pillow. I have been brain washed in some strange way. The other advert was for Js travel. Frankly, if I ever go to China again, I will not book my trip via Js travel. If I hear about J's travel, I am likely to start sobbing. After a week of watching these adverts I was ready to kill someone.

Summer palace

On Saturday I went to the summer palace in Beijing. This was another palace for the Emperors. It took a taxi ride to get me to the summer palace. This left me in a bad mood, but it was well worth the trip. There was a huge lake in the center that I walked around There a stone boat that the hated Empress Dowager built instead of building real ships. When there was a war it turned out real ships were better than stone ships and hence China lost various wars. It was very relaxing to walk around the lake. The summer palaces had been torched (after being looted) by the English during the Opium wars. This was to teach the Chinese a lesson. It turned out that the Brit. in charge was none other the famous Lord Elgin. I think this is the same dude who acquired the Elgin marbles. So I guess, if I do any thieving, I should remember to send some spoils to the British Museum.

guns and things in Beijing

On Friday all I did was go to the military museum. The museum just contained a lot of missiles, tanks and things. The upper floor had exhibitions of the communists war against the nationalists. I personally got depressed when you think about the amount of money sent on all the weapons. I did like the displays of knifes and swords, because are more fun and elegant than boring old guns. I also liked some of the smaller mortars, because they looked as though they could fit in a backpack. The guide book claimed that there was an area in the museum where you could fire air guns. Unfortunately, I didn't find the place. Somehow the museum was split into two for some reason. Unfortunately, the half I was in did not have toilets, so that cut short my visit. Expedia were also selling a great wall of china tour that also involved being shown how to fire guns by ex-members of the Red Army. Obviously, I wanted to go on such a classy tour. I could then claim that I was trained in the military arts by the Chinese military forces.