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December 15, 2005

Pandora, Mogwai and Rankin

The scintillatingly brilliant Pandora - where you create personal ‘radio stations’ by putting in the name of a song or a musician you dig, and Pandora chooses an endless stream of music based round your selection from the huge archive built up by the Music Genome Project, plus a lot more as well, seems a very Web 2.0 application, although using Flash rather than AJAX, not that I think the latter is fundamental to the Web 2.0 idea, unlike some.

What I’m especially grateful to Pandora for already is reminding me how ideal the wonderful Mogwai are for writing to while you listen. Until Scottish scribbler Ian Rankin of Rebus fame highlighed this fact somewhere or other, I had not been able to write anything more challenging than an I.O.U. while any music was on, (spoken radio was of course even worse), but like Rankin I find Mogwai just perfect for everything this side of poetry. Thought I’d share this, while putting in the plug for Pandora, with which (or whom) I have nothing to do, beyond the obligations of admiration.

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Posted by Iain Stewart at 8:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Notes from the Underground # 1066

It was being put about that gorgeous people-person and newt-lover Mayor Livingstone is Xmas-gifting us London tube vermin with an extra carriage on all Jubilee Line trains. Yay! But what’s this…?

From the Transport for London site:

What is happening and why?
From Monday 26 to Friday 30 December 2005, the entire Jubilee line will be closed to customers. An additional carriage is being added to Jubilee line trains,boosting all trains to seven carriages in length to meet increased passenger demand. In addition, four extra new trains are being added to the Jubilee line fleet.

What! So forget about more seats, extra passenger satisfaction etc, its just to get more passengers (i.e. tourists) in. Thanks, Kenny.

(As news sinks in..): But why does this require closing down the Jubilee for four days, thus confining everyone south east of London Bridge to an isolated and static term of home arrest at the very height of the festive season?

And especially why is this, after the Jubilee Line has been running a ‘reduced service’ (i.e. no trains) since last Friday which is promised to continue until Boxing Day, for exactly the same loudly-stated reason? What’s so mind-numbingly difficult about adding an extra carriage to every train?

How to make a Jubilee Line super seven stretch job::

  1. Arrange for one old six-carriage train to stop a short way up the line, with the back of its last carriage pointing towards you
  2. Place your new carriage on to the rails
  3. Shunt your new carriage up against the old one until they lock themselves together
  4. Congratulate yourself on a job done well, and wave the next train up into position.
  5. Continue till done.

Surely nothing so simple would require the total shut down of London’s newest most high-tech tube line at the worst time of the year? (Would it?)

So, assuming (perish the thought) some nefarious deal has not been made with LUL employees whereby they get four days off at Christmas in exchange for keeping schtum about how-much-it-cost/massive-hidden-danger/doomed-after-14-days/whatever., then what else could justify this absurd shut down??

Are they lengthening all the Jubilee Line platforms? In four days? Surely not. A more likely response to such length-orientated problems, in keeping with the merry tradition of passenger mindfuck games already up-and-running, would be simply requiring passengers to escape from platform-deprived carriages by ‘using the front set of doors’ or ‘exiting via the next carriage up’, or any variation on this well-loved theme the driver might think up to brighten his day while simultaneously bringing about maximum despair among his happy customers.

Perhaps these four lost days have been taken from us to train staff on the ins and outs of the new seven carriage challenge, so radically different to the old deprecated six-carriage technology we have sadly grown so used to

“Erm… this is an extra carriage. What this means is you’ll now have to remember you have a seven carriage payload during standard quantification procedures and not the old six as you may from time to time imagine. So…any questions? No, Mrs Patel-Prendergast, we feel sure your memorably robotic voice will reach easily throughout the extra carriage without any need to strain it further, thanks to the advanced public address electronics we have installed as a plugin module for the carriage enhancement system. Oh yes Mr Sandringham-Churchill, you are as ever right - it will very much be necessary for drivers to include the additional carriage in all designated search operations for bombs, terrorists, WMDs, passengers on line, suspect packages, etcetera, and yes,of course, all extra time such stretching of available resources will inevitably incur will be reflected in overtime disbursements, disordered stress compensation payments and so forth, to which you are justifiably and legally entitled, plus a little bit more for luck.”

And so on…tra la la…

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December 1, 2005

Weird fixes 2: Cannot read Adobe CS Help

This applies to Adobe Help Center and Adobe Bridge Center in Adobe Creative Suite 2:

Problem: cannot read (or can hardly read) Adobe Help files or Bridge Center due to weird fonts.

Weird Fix:

  1. Apparently this is nothing to do with Adobe CS, but a Windows problem with fonts. To fix it you will need a font management program like the no-longer available Adobe Type Manager or Extensis Suitcase (free trial version available from Extensis).

  2. Deactivate your installed or active fonts until you have 300 or less active fonts.

  3. Adobe CS Help and Bridge Center will now appear in their (clear) default font!!

There is another perhaps [old] related font problem when running Opera on Windows when you have Adobe Type Manager also installed - Opera becomes entirely unreadable. If you remove Adobe Type Manager, it clears up. However, while there is a Firefox, I would rather keep the type manager and solve problems like the above.

So, problems reading Help files are all the rage. What will they think of next?

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Weird fixes 1: Cannot access Visual Studio help

Apparently this applies to either Visual Studio 2003 or 2005, and can happen either out of the blue, (i.e. after its been running happily for some time) or immediately after installation.

Problem: when you try to access Visual Studio help and/or MSDN Library you get a ‘Server not found’ or similar message.

Weird Fix:

  1. Using Windows Explorer, make a new directory/folder in Documents and Settings > [main user] > Local Settings and call it, for instance, TIF.

  2. Open Internet Explorer - even (!) if its not your primary browser - then open Tools > Internet Options. On the General tab in Internet Options, under Temporary Internet Files click on Settings...

  3. In the Settings window, in the section called Temporary Internet files folder click on Move Folder.... Then navigate to the folder you just made (e.g. `TIF’) and select that, then go on clicking OK until everything closes.

You should now be able to open Visual Studio Help and other MSDN Library files in the Microsoft Document Explorer!! I believe you can even - although I haven’t tried it - move your Internet Explorer temporary files back to the Temporary Internet Files directory in Local Settings and I’m told it will still carry on working. Not an easy one to guess.

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