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2012 Notebook

From the late 90s I blogged frequently with various random observations and things I wanted to record. Pre-2003 material seems to have been lost on various early web platforms, and this sort of stuff went over to Twitter eventually, but I’ve gathered together the shorter WordPress blog posts in these annual roundups…

iTunes Match – what happened when I tried it

Wednesday 1 February 2012

It’s been available for a week or two here in the UK, long enough for any horrible problems to have surfaced (none did), and so it’s time to see what Apple’s iTunes Match is like. My feeling is that although it appears to be a great concept on the surface, it’s far too sophisticated a concept for 95% of iTunes users to get their head around. So although it may be a profitable sideline for Apple (and indeed a necessary one, to see off potential competitors), it’s not the future of music storage, especially at £21.99 a year.
iTunes Match offers three things. Firstly, the chance to store a copy of all of your music on Apple’s servers. I like this, although there are alternative services. I have my iTunes library of 13,000 songs on an independent hard drive, and backing it up is a worry, especially since I divested myself of my entire CD collection last summer. iTunes Match promises to be the straightforward, off-site backup I’ve been meaning to set up for years.
Secondly, iTunes Match is clearly going to make it possible to download anything I own to my iPhone (and other devices) without needing to copy the stuff over from my main computer in advance of wanting to listen to it. My iTunes library is much larger than my iPhone’s storage capacity, and at the moment I just keep my favourite stuff on the iPhone. But music which I get a sudden urge to hear is often not my favourite stuff. That can be annoying. I do subscribe to Spotify, and in many ways this is just giving me access to my own music library in the same way that Spotify gives me access to Spotify’s much larger one (although without the streaming – i.e instant listening – option). However, I own music which Spotify does not offer yet, and plenty that it will never offer, so this seems like a nice add-on.
Finally, iTunes Match will replace poor quality versions of most songs with nice pristine versions from Apple’s library. This is cool in theory, although in practice I have very little which is stored in lower quality than Apple offers.
Right, let’s go. iTunes Match can be found on the “Store” section of iTunes. Buying it is the painless procedure you’d expect from Apple. Then it immediately starts to scan your library, to see what Apple has already got, and what it can’t identify and will therefore need to upload from your computer to their servers. I imagined this initial scan wouldn’t take long, although fully expected the upload of any unique material would take a while, despite a 50Mb/sec internet connection. I was wrong. Even the initial scan took forever.

The first stage is called “Gathering information about your iTunes library”. That didn’t sound too hard, but the progress bar moved very slowly indeed. In fact, it took all day, and after about 13 hours, when nearly done, my Mac got to its automatic shutdown time, and promptly quit iTunes. I was horrified, and justifiably so, because on rebooting and restarting the procedure, it seemed to start again (almost) from the beginning. So I left it overnight, and after another 12 hours, I watched as it finally got to the end of that stage …then moved on to stage 2.

This one was called “Matching your music with songs in the iTunes Store”. It didn’t appear to be any speedier than the first stage, although in the end it only took about 6 hours. Nothing remarkable to report. And so we get to stage 3.

As you can see, 5000 songs (under 40% of my iTunes library) were matched, or at least displayed at this point as being “available in iCloud”. I was a bit disappointed by that, as my musical tastes aren’t that obscure. I expected the classical stuff (not that there was much) not to match, mainly because of the lack of a standard way of titling and tagging classical music. But my collection is 80% rock and pop, and it’s rare that any of the CDs I’d ripped over the years weren’t in the GraceNote database. So what was going on? I watched as the progress bar moved relatively steadily in this third stage, as songs were added to the total “available in iCloud”, and thought it was unexpectedly fast, maybe one per second. Then I realised that it was just the cover art which was being uploaded here, at least to begin with, not the songs. So maybe Apple did have more than 40% of my library which it could match, but just needed the cover art for a lot more of them? I’m not sure why that would be the case.
So I’m guessing that the process goes as follows: a bunch of stuff gets “matched” and is available immediately; a second lot is matched but needs the cover art and becomes available quite quickly; then a third lot needs both the cover art and the track itself to be uploaded.

So, a few hours later, we appeared to be done. Investigating the iTunes library on my Mac, I found the following classifications of the 13,493 songs: “Matched” or “Purchased” – 11,204 songs “Uploaded” – 1,518 songs “Ineligible” – 6 songs “Duplicate” – 2 songs “Error” – 762 songs
The odd few ineligible or duplicate songs aren’t of interest, but the 762 “Error” songs (5% of my library) is of more concern. What to make of these? Off to Google we go, and one suggestion, from Macworld, is that the files are corrupted in some subtle way which may still leave them listenable. Interesting. So I grabbed half a dozen AC/DC tracks, created AIFF versions, deleted the originals from both my library and iCloud, and selected “add to iCloud” for the new AIFF versions. The result? The iCloud Status classification next to them changed to “Waiting”. Unfortunately, there it stayed. Following another tip, I selected “Update iTunes Match” (from the “Store” menu), and after a bunch of messages, found that the AC/DC tracks now had “Removed” next to them. Meanwhile, some of the “Error” tracks changed to “Waiting” (even though I hadn’t asked to have anything done to them) and the iTunes window continued to say “Matching your music with songs in the iTunes Store…” After an hour, all the “Error” tracks had changed to “Waiting”, with the exception of the AC/DC ones, which were still “Removed’. So it looks like if you try to do the slightest update, the iTunes Match procedure goes through your entire library again, including all the “Error” songs which will still be in “Error” status because you’ve not touched them. This is all rather tedious. But this wasn’t going to beat me. I selected the AC/DC songs and “Add to iCloud”. And although it took a while, their status changed to “Uploaded” (not “Matched”, mind you). This wasn’t really what I wanted though, because if you remember, these songs are in AIFF format.
So here we are. Not a comprehensive success, with 756 songs formerly marked as “Error” now marked as “Waiting”. There are loads of people with the same problem. However, 95% of my music library has been “Matched” or “Uploaded” and is therefore available on other devices. We’ll see if that turns out to be worth all of the effort.

Queen Edith’s City Council Election 2012 Guide

Monday 30 April 2012

For nearly 20 years my wife and I lived in the south-eastern area of Cambridge, Cherry Hinton, which has been a fascinating place to be as a voter. In the local elections, Cherry Hinton has studiously returned Labour (and occasionally Conservative) councillors to a city council which is currently comfortably controlled by the Liberal Democrats. In the parliamentary elections, Cherry Hinton is part of the exciting ‘three way marginal’ of Cambridge, and I suspect that compared to the rest of the city, it hasn’t always gone with the flow there either.
Last summer we moved slightly across town, reluctantly taking ourselves out of Cherry Hinton and into the adjacent council ward, Queen Edith’s. Because of some desperately illogical parliamentary boundary setting, despite now being much closer to the city centre we find ourselves moved outside the Cambridge city parliamentary consituency and into “Cambridgeshire South”. In my voting lifetime, I have voted for candidates from all of the major parties on occasions (I vote strictly for the candidate, never the party), and I have been represented by at least a dozen members of parliament, from all the major parties (including one from the SDP!). I think that Cambridge’s current MP, the Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert, may be the most inspirational I’ve ever had, so it’s been interesting, since the move, to get used to finding ourselves represented by one of the country’s most unpopular MPs, Andrew Lansley. It’s quite a contrast.
One thing which has stayed the same is that we have the same county council as we did in Cherry Hinton, more’s the pity, as it’s a council whose politicians I find quite objectionable. The ruling Conservatives wasted millions of pounds of our money on the appalling misGuided Bus vanity project, but even our local Liberal Democrat county councillor made himself unpopular by trying to push through a massive rise in councillors’ allowances last year.
However, in this week’s elections it’s the city council we’re dealing with, so it’s been time to find out what’s on offer to us here in Queen Edith’s ward.
Unlike Cherry Hinton, this is solid Liberal Democrat territory, with the Conservatives a fairly distant second last time out. The city council has elections three years out of four, with councillors standing for four years at a time. All three of the Queen Edith’s councillors are Liberal Democrats, and standing for re-election this time is Amanda Taylor, who has been a councillor here for 18 years and who has impeccable local credentials. She lives just three roads away from us.

I have been impressed by Ms Taylor. She’s active locally, that’s clear, attends a decent number of council meetings, and appears to be a thoughtful speaker:
Video: Richard Taylor
What’s more, Ms Taylor has contacted me a couple of times by email, once after one of my rants must have appeared on her Twitter timeline, and it’s impossible not to be impressed by that level of interest in residents’ concerns. She knows what goes down well with the local voters, and reflects this in her main campaign literature, although I strongly object to a thoroughly misleading chart there showing the parties’ share of votes last year. This has had a huge chunk lopped off the top of the Labour bar to make it seem like they had far fewer votes than they really did.
Her Conservative rival is Richard Jeffs, who appears to live just outside Queen Edith’s, which must be a disadvantage, but hey, he’s only from a short walk away. Although there might be no Conservatives on Cambridge’s city council, judging by recent election results he ought to stand an outside chance here, so I’d have expected to have been on the end of some serious campaigning. But we’ve received nothing. I’d seriously like some idea of what Mr Jeffs is offering, but we haven’t even had a leaflet through the door, never mind a visit. I know nothing about him, Google isn’t any help, and the whole thing is quite mystifying.
The Labour party, on the other hand, have made a real effort, and it’s clear that despite their third-place showing last year, they’re seen as the real opposition by the Liberal Democrats. Indeed, Amanda Taylor has issued a slightly confusing leaflet (in that it’s hard to see who it’s from, at first) which tries to tell us that if we vote Labour, it could mean the Conservatives get in, and that in turn would make Andrew Lansley very happy. I think that’s a disappointingly crass assessment of voters’ intelligence. What’s more, Ms Taylor shows a bar chart of the parties’ vote shares in Queen Edith’s which appears to show that Labour stands no chance here, and that a vote for them would be wasted. However, this is a little disingenuous of her, because the chart is from the last time she stood for election, four years ago. If we look at the results of every city council election here in the last five years, we see a trend which illustrates why Ms Taylor may have a fight on her hands for once:

Labour’s candidate is Sue Birtles, who lives a couple of roads away in the other direction. Ms Birtles is certainly saying all the right things, and has some glossy campaign literature. However, even my 11-year-old (who is unusually interested in politics) noticed that her latest leaflet did seem obsessed with one subject, saying: “it’s a bit eco-friendly, isn’t it, Dad?” Everything seemed to be concerned with cycling or, er, recycling. Which is fine – and I do appreciate the limitations of a city councillor’s role – but there are other issues. Her main leaflet covers a wider range of subjects, although not Labour’s strange (and slightly worrying) “anti-house-sharing” initiative, which Ms Taylor spoke out against (above) when it was defeated in council recently.

Like Ms Taylor, one of Ms Birtles’ leaflets insults the voters’ intelligence slightly with a reference to irrelevant national politics, as if we all believe that the Liberal Democrats are the government, rather than a moderating influence. A picture showing David Cameron and Nick Clegg with their hands raised and a caption saying “Hands up if Cambridge Lib Dem councillors are backing your policies.” Hell, we all know that even Cambridge’s Liberal Democrat MP isn’t backing most of their policies!
Finally, we have Martin Lawson, for the Green Party, who – it should be remembered – have two councillors in Cambridge, which is two more than the Conservatives. Mr Lawson lives on the far side of Cherry Hinton, out of the ward but not that far away; however, we’ve not seen any evidence that he’s standing: no literature, no canvassing and no posters or hoardings on local houses. With Ms Birtles clearly aiming at the green vote, it’s hard to see how he’s going to make any impact.
The Verdict
My mind isn’t yet made up, but I’m confident that there are at least two decent candidates amongst those standing, so I shall certainly be wandering around the corner to cast my vote on Thursday. The media seems to be focusing on Cambridge as a possible landmark council gain for Labour, but that would be a massive swing, and I’d refer them to the excellent blog by Phil Rodgers first. And if you want to catch up on what the LibDem council has been up to over the past few years, the best place to start is the extraordinary blog by Richard Taylor which has been holding the council to account, impartially, for a long time now.
UPDATEI’ve had some correspondence with Ms Taylor, eloquently defending her claim that “a vote for Labour could let the Tories in”. Here’s why I don’t think there’s any chance of this happening. With her warning, Ms Taylor is presumably addressing the possibility of Lib Dem voters switching to Labour and dividing those two parties’ share of the vote, dragging them both below a presumably stagnant Tory vote. But over the years, Labour and the Lib Dems have consistently got a total of 60-65% of the vote in this ward, and I can’t see that falling. That means that at least one of them must get at least 30%. The Tories would have to find considerable gains from somewhere to reach that level, and I can’t find any betting people currently putting money on the Tories gaining votes anywhere, not least in a council ward where they appear to have disappeared without trace this time around.
(If Ms Taylor is also addressing the possibility of Green voters switching to Labour, that would make the combined Labour/Lib Dem vote even higher, and would require even greater gains by the Tories.)
My bet is that the combined Labour and Lib Dem vote will actually increase, thanks to the two parties’ efforts (perhaps past the 67% point where no other party could win), and they will both beat the Tories by a distance. Ms Taylor may not agree, but I think her claim does not stand up.

POSTSCRIPT The morning after: Well, Queen Edith’s delivered the shock of the night, with Ms Birtles thoroughly disproving the “Labour can’t win here” claim by coming from a distant third to win the ward quite clearly. Here are the results:
Sue Birtles (Labour and Co-operative) 1084 (40%) Amanda Taylor (Liberal Democrat) 963 (35%) Richard Jeffs (Conservative) 513 (19%) Martin Lawson (Green Party) 172 (6%)
Was it such a surprise?
A remarkable achievement by the winner, for sure, but not that impossible when plotted on a graph. All the falls are quite predictable, and there’s no reason why those votes shouldn’t cascade down to the one party which is on the up. As I mentioned above, the Tory vote was always likely to fall, especially with the low profile of the party’s candidate, and the Green Party was never going to make an impression with its even smaller presence during the campaign. My figure of a possible 67% of votes being up for grabs between the Lib Dems and Labour candidates, which would make a Tory win impossible, turned out to be very conservative. In the end, the share of votes between the two active parties soared to 75%, with Labour getting the majority. There’s some good coverage of the wider trends in the city on Phil Rodgers’ blog.
Congratulations to Ms Birtles (and, it should be said, many committed local supporters) for demonstrating the effectiveness of a lot of good old-fashioned house-to-house campaigning. I hope she makes a good impression as the first Labour councillor in Queen Edith’s for many years (if not ever – anyone know?). Commiserations to Ms Taylor who has clearly put in a lot of hard work here over the last 18 years, and that deserves acknowledgement.
POSTSCRIPT 2 For further coverage of Queen Edith’s issues, may I direct readers to the Queen Edith’s Online blog which I have since launched. This will cover local development and planning issues, and of course electoral ones.

32 brilliant WordPress Plugins I couldn’t live without

Monday 28 May 2012

Wordpress Plugins - here are some good ones!
Wordpress has some incredible plugins. I will concede that this is really a list for my future reference, as I seem to set up a WordPress site for friends and colleagues (or me!) every few weeks, and I really need a checklist to which I can refer. Is this a definitive list of the very best plugins in their fields? No. Is it a list of ones which have served me well, over the years? You bet.
The plugins are presented in alphabetical order, but if you asked me to choose the first three I’d install, they’d be Online Backup for WordPress, WordPress SEO and Akismet.
I haven’t provided links to the plugins, as the easiest way to install them is to visit the Plugins screen in your WordPress admin, click “Add New”, and paste in the name shown.

Best music of the first half of 2012

Saturday 7 July 2012

Having that vaguely-OCD thing which is common to most males, as soon as I read someone else’s “Best music of the first half of 2012” list, I just had to do my own. Cue another hour wasted. I’d thought that the last six months had been a bit of a musical desert, to be honest, but after I started to comb the archives, I found quite a lot to like. In the main, these are sample tracks representing my favourite albums so far this year – I resolved not to choose more than four tracks from any individual album.
Anyway, it’s now available as a Spotify Playlist, and clicking on this big button will take you to it.
Chris Rand's "Best of 2012" Playlist on Spotify
The track listing in full…
After Dark by Paul BuchananAlexandra by FixersBay Of Skaill by The Magnetic NorthBlue Jeans by Lana Del ReyBy The Waters by Paul WellerCall Me Maybe by Carly Rae JepsenCandles by Rufus WainwrightChocolate Boy by Guided By VoicesCosmic Trip by AirÉg anda by Sigur RosFin de Siecle by Paul BuchananFlutes by Hot ChipForever I’ve Known by The MaccabeesGrew Up At Midnight by The MaccabeesHaunted Jukebox by Saint EtienneHome Thoughts From Abroad by RumerI’m Getting Ready by Michael KiwanukaIt’s O.K. John Joe by DexysLast Days Of Disco by Saint EtienneLava by AirMountains by Emeli SandéNational Anthem by Lana Del ReyNext to Me by Emeli SandéNow by DexysOld Fools by Admiral FallowOne Big Moment by OrbitalOpen Up Your Arms by Ren HarvieuOver The Border by Saint EtienneParade by AirPopular by Saint EtienneReally Great World by FixersSara Smile by RumerSea Fog by KeaneSeven Stars by AirSilenced By The Night by KeaneStromness by The Magnetic NorthTell Me A Tale by Michael KiwanukaThe Lights by Mull Historical SocietyThrough The Night by Ren HarvieuTree Bursts by Admiral FallowTwo Children by Paul BuchananValentine by Fiona AppleVarðeldur by Sigur RosVarúð by Sigur RosWe Take Care Of Our Own by Bruce SpringsteenYou Are Young by Keane

New websites for Cambridge

Sunday 15 July 2012

I’ve made a couple of new websites recently, and I’m linking to them here to give them a small but worthwhile kick up the bum in their Google rankings. The first is a site to campaign against a local piece of overdevelopment, although in the hope that it will one day become redundant in that respect, I gave it the domain name of our council ward, We’ll therefore be able to use it for other local issues in the future.
The second site is for Cambridge-based interior design consultant and teacher Jill Devine. This is another WordPress site, using an off-the-shelf template. Jill is a well-known and talented individual, and I hope the site will allow her to highlight her talents to a wider audience.

I go to my first ever public Council meeting

Tuesday 17 July 2012

It's a dragon. Don't ask.
I’ve always been interested in local democracy, but having been involved recently in objecting to an, er, objectionable building development, I decided it would be interesting to find out more about local decision making, and go to a public Council meeting – the first time I’d done so in 20 years living in Cambridge. I’m not particularly proud of that record, but if I’ve met 500 people in this city over the years, I’d bet that the number of them who’ve been to a Council meeting would fit into my living room.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the public who turned up to the South Area Committee on 16 July couldn’t fit into the meeting room at Cherry Hinton Village Centre. I assume this was unusual, as there are larger venues in the area. The South Area Committee consists of the nine City Councillors from the three wards across the south of Cambridge (Cherry Hinton, Queen Edith’s and Trumpington), as well as the single County Councillor from each ward. It meets every couple of months, and a range of local issues are discussed by the Councillors, officials and public, and voted on by the Councillors. On this occasion, the committee members were joined by 30-40 members of the public.
For 19 years I lived in Cherry Hinton, and my idea of how involved the public wants to get with local decision-making has probably been skewed by what I experienced there. Basically, the residents of Cherry Hinton don’t want anything really. That doesn’t mean they’ve “got it all” – indeed, quite the opposite, compared to much of Cambridge – but they don’t seem to be very demanding of their Council. The propaganda sheets which come round from the local political parties there contain a seemingly endless succession of useful but tiny improvements which have been obtained by Councillors on behalf of the residents: a bollard or two here, a hanging basket there; all very commendable, but hardly likely to inspire the public to get involved in local policy-making.
So who were all the members of the public who turned up to this meeting? They didn’t come from Cherry Hinton, but from the ward to which I moved last year, Queen Edith’s. These people had three things they wanted to talk about: parking, parking and parking.
Some of them were very angry indeed about the lack of action from the Council over many years, and clearly frustrated that they weren’t being heard. Few things get the English more exercised than the impact of the rest of the human race on their own homes, and in Queen Edith’s, parking is a Very Big Issue Indeed.
But more of that later, because the first major item on the agenda was policing, and setting police priorities. Inspector Poppit of Cambridgeshire Constabulary went over plenty of statistics, and suggested that most of the tasks set as priorities for the local force had been discharged. He played a dead straight bat to everything, and looked for all the world as if he’d rather be out catching criminals. I liked him a lot.
Inevitably, he was asked for more data, and more reporting, even after he patiently explained that compiling more in-depth statistics on subjects as complicated as violent crime could be misleading (as much of it is domestic), not to say time-consuming. The Councillors got their own back by saying that all the ‘priorities’ which he’d suggested had been discharged should instead be continued, and they gave him a new one too. The Inspector barely reacted. You can read the report he presented here.
Then we got onto parking. There were a couple of Council officials present, including Graham Lowe, Parking Services Manager at Cambridgeshire County Council, who talked about a Parking Review for the area which was currently being undertaken. This aims to set general policy, and seems still to be at an early stage, but it gave a lot of local people the chance to jump up and ask: “What about the parking in my road?” To be fair, they all had a point. Some of the roads in Queen Edith’s are a nightmare to navigate and are, in the words of one resident, largely “an Addenbrooke’s overflow carpark”. The man from the Council talked in very general terms, and said that one or two “micro-projects” were being looked into, and were being pursued separately from the Parking Review. However, he suggested that the “due process” for requests for yellow lines can take a year, and anything being looked at now would be unlikely to be implemented in the next six months. For members of the public not used to the glacial speeds at which local democracy crawls along, this is always a moment which leaves them speechless. To time-served Council staff, it’s just The Way Things Are.
Several ideas were mentioned by members of the public, such as banning parking in certain roads for a short period in the middle of each day, which would stop the all-day parking from Addenbrooke’s and Hills Road Sixth Form College staff. The man from the Council didn’t respond to any of them, but I did catch him use the word “asset” at one stage, possibly suggesting that parking in residential roads was an “asset” to the city. He certainly didn’t imply that he was in any way sympathetic to the people who were complaining that they’d been raising the issue for ten years or more with no response. If the meeting was a chance to question the Council Officer about parking, it was an abject failure. The plans which will be proposed in the Southern Area Parking Review will be interesting, to say the least, but I have a sneaking suspicion they might not provide the relief which residents of Queen Edith’s are seeking. There is some serious anger mounting here, because if the Council is not going to be acting for the wishes of the residents, just who is it acting for?
The third major part of the South Area Committee meeting was where the Councillors look at a range of proposed environmental improvement schemes, add up the cost, compare it to the money available, and decide which ones don’t get done. Although this was an interesting section, most of the public left at this point, mainly because it didn’t involve parking, and perhaps because they knew they were only going to be observers. There was plenty of stuff about things like painting railings though, so the Cherry Hinton Councillors got much more animated.
Seven schemes were on the table, ranging from £35,000 to surface a path to the misGuided Bus stop in Trumpington, to £3,500 for some bollards in Cherry Hinton High Street, which will soon be appearing (along with a proud Councillor standing next to them) in a photo on the front page of Your Cherry Hinton Councillor Team Focus Review or whatever it’s called. The projects totalled £90,000, and the Councillors had £41,800 to allocate, so half of the projects would have to go. However, after some deliberation, the Councillors appeared to approve most of the projects, but allocate only a proportion of the required budget to each, with the hope that various bodies might chip in the rest. I guess they know what they’re doing.
At this point, a break was called (strangely late in proceedings, as there was only one item left, a planning issue), and I decided to call it a day. I thought it was quite fun, and great to meet a few people who I follow on Twitter, such as prolific local blogger Richard Taylor and Chris Havergal from the Cambridge News. I do admire the Councillors who work so hard to get themselves elected to spend so much time on these thankless committees, and I think we should appreciate them more. That said, there were many examples tonight of why local democracy is such a slow-moving mess, with so many competing bodies (City Council, County Council, permanent Council staff) all seemingly at odds with one another, and with too many vested interests to do what’s best for the area and – more importantly – its residents. At the root of it all is politics. This City, like every other one, is full of talented people who would love to be involved in the local democratic process, but who will never be, because they have no interest in joining a political party or getting involved in its machinations. It’s a real waste.
(Oh, and the dragon? It was there at the meeting. Don’t ask.)

The Word Magazine podcast, presumably RIP

Monday 23 July 2012

The Word Magazine Podcast - presumably now history
OK, I’ll stand up and admit it: I’m a podcast addict. Whether it’s highlights of radio programmes I’d never have been able to listen to when broadcast live, or shows made by people who would be too niche or too daring for radio, my iPhone is full of them. Some of the most enjoyable speech programmes I’ve ever heard, including Danny Baker’s pioneering (but eventually aborted) attempt to make a living from podcasts, have been through this medium. I think that the podcast’s time is still to come, believe it or not, if Apple gets its act together and finally makes it easy for people to charge for the things. Would I pay to listen to intelligent podcasts such as The Guardian’s football weekly or the comedy of Collings and Herrin, should they ever make up? You bet I would. Not that I’m complaining about them being free, mind you.
What prompted me to write this, however, is the sad demise of my favourite podcast of all, the one whose unannounced appearance on my iPhone always cheered me up: the Word Magazine podcast. This was one of those initiatives which was primarily designed to complement and promote another medium, in this case Word Magazine itself. Unfortunately, in 2012, the magazine folded (to much dismay amongst its subscribers, and presumably even more from its staff), and the podcast went with it. The regular hour’s chat must have been an enjoyable exercise for its protagonists, the magazine’s founders Mark Ellen and David Hepworth, because its impact on the title’s sales would surely always have been questionable. They certainly sounded like they loved doing it.
The Word Magazine podcast ran for five or six years, and totalled 242 episodes. Many shows featured musicians talking about their careers in a way I just couldn’t see happening anywhere else. Ellen and Hepworth had the experience, enthusiasm and expertise to get so much out of their guests. One of the most memorable shows didn’t feature a musician at all, but the aforementioned broadcaster Danny Baker, almost immediately before he was diagnosed with cancer (from which he thankfully recovered). It was obvious from the start that all Baker needed was a cue, and off he’d launch into the most extraordinary stories from the seventies and eighties. That’s just what the Word Magazine podcast gave him. Although Baker gets plenty of broadcasting time, it’s rare to hear him talk about himself like he did on this show.
When they closed Word Magazine, they really closed it. The fantastic website just disappeared overnight, exactly as they’d announced it would. Now we just have the Internet Archive to remember it by*. Fortunately, they didn’t close the Word Magazine Podcast site**; part of me (probably more in hope than expectation) wonders if this was because they might – just might – one day resurrect the Word Magazine podcast, perhaps on a subscription basis. If they do, I’ll be first at the iTunes Store with my credit card.
In the meantime, I’ve just downloaded all 242 episodes and archived them onto a couple of DVDs. Apparently there’s over 7 days’ solid listening there. I think I’ll ration myself and spread my “second listens” over the next few years.
*We do also have its user community-created successor, The Afterword. **Update: eventually they did close it.

UPDATE – 11 March 2014

And it’s back! At the time of writing, maybe just as a one-off. I hope this may be the start of something though…
More at David Hepworth’s blog.

Why this country didn’t do that well at the Olympic Games

Wednesday 15 August 2012

…and other debriefing notes.
Olympic Stadium, London 2012
1. Team (Great) Britain (and Northern Ireland) didn’t do as well as everyone thinks at the Olympic Games.
OK, controversial one to start with. We did good, no? Well, maybe. Certainly we smashed the pre-games medal target set by our own Olympic Association. However, those who analysed the country’s prospects more thoroughly (particularly Infostrada, whose research was bought by media outlets worldwide, including The Times) reckoned we’d get 64 medals, almost exactly what “TeamGB” eventually delivered. The main difference was the number of gold medals, which vastly exceeded the predictions.
Infostrada’s forecast didn’t take into account “home advantage” though; they said this wasn’t something which could reliably be factored into the analysis. But it was clear that home advantage did play a part in improving UK competitors’ performance; too many of them said so for this not to have been true, however unquantifiable the impact. So whether or not home advantage gained us 2 extra medals or 20, the athletes would have failed to meet the forecast without it. And the significant number of athletes who moved up a place or two thanks to the crowd support probably explains those additional gold medals. But not enough moved up from 4th and 5th in the world into the medal positions. This may have been the UK’s “greatest team ever”, in terms of where we ended up in the medals table, but I don’t think the athletes as a whole outperformed expectations in the way many commentators are taking for granted.
2. We’re better than ever at “sitting down sports”.
Whether it involves bikes, horses, rowing boats or yachts, nobody is better than the British at the sports where the competitors spend most of their time in the sitting position. Or, as it’s also been pointed out, at the events which aren’t so much sports, but just using ingenuity to travel from A to B. We got almost half of our medals (31 out of 65) in these sports, leaving Australia (14 medals) and Germany (12) trailing as a speck on the horizon. They at least made an effort though; the Americans and Chinese didn’t even get out of the starting gate.
Usain Bolt vs Jason Kenny vs anyone on a horse? Sorry Usain, these are the real speed merchants.
3. We need to work out how it all worked out so well.
Yes, they hugely overspent, but they did predict how much they were going to overspend by, if that makes sense. What needs to be learned from the London Olympics is how this project went so well when big ones usually go so badly. I think that it might have been down to certain individuals having a vision and the power to see it through, rather than it being designed by committee. Which is why we could still never stage a decent football World Cup.
4. The Closing Ceremony was a late own goal.
It’s not unreasonable to say that our female athletes were the role models of the games. So we cringed when supermodels were wheeled on (literally) in the Closing Ceremony. What next? Cheerleaders?
And after the Opening Ceremony had shown “ethnic” art like Indian-inspired dance so effortlessly part of our culture, two weeks later its role was to give Eric Idle something alien to point at. At times it was like they were trying to say “right, that’s all over with, now get back to your Daily Mail everyone”.
5. The newspapers read it all wrong.
Well, many of them did. Firstly, there were those who sneered at the Opening Ceremony, realised they were totally at odds with 99% of the population, and quickly shut up. Determined not to make the same mistake, they unquestioningly lauded the Closing Ceremony (“What A Finale!” – Daily Mail front page) when the population at large was thinking quite the opposite.
Then there was the question of tickets. With so many people crying out for tickets before the Games, most newspapers pretended to be slightly embarrassed by their unrestricted access. They carefully explained that they’d decided to send people with no interest in sport (Coren, Gill etc) for our entertainment. Halfway through, it was decided that the previously ticketless public were managing to get seats after all (wrong!) So back to Plan A, and their columnists were allowed to publish articles saying how tough it was having to visit three events in one day when you weren’t interested in any of them, and how nice it was to leave early without feeling you were wasting any money. Big mistake. The likes of Giles Coren may delight in winding up their readers, but the self-obsessed drivel they penned during the Olympics made me hate them with a genuine passion. And I had tickets.
6. I couldn’t pick a top ten moments from the Olympics.
I couldn’t even narrow it down to a top twenty.

Ryder Cup 2012: I still can’t quite believe I was there

Monday 8 October 2012

Butch Harmon on Sky TV described it as “the greatest golfing spectacle ever”. Mike Atherton in The Times went even further, saying it might rank as highly in all of sport. It’s now seven days since Team Europe came back from the dead to win the Ryder Cup, and I still can’t believe that I was there.
It started back in June 2011 when my brother sent me an email pointing out that there was to be a random ballot for tickets for the event, and that there was no harm in us trying. Of course, I didn’t get any. Then, a few weeks after being turned down, came a completely unexpected email from the US saying there’d been a second round of the ballot, and I’d not only been given the option of four tickets, but for the whole six days too! The trip was on. As was eleven months of increasingly childlike excitement.
Apart from Tony, Sav and Gibbsy hadn’t needed to be asked twice. The team for the trip to the USA was assembled. And so it was that we found ourselves on the practice tee at Medinah, two days before the tournament proper, watching the world’s best players and wondering just how we’d got this far.

To be honest, the practice days were only useful to scope out the course. There was very little worthwhile golf to see. But on the Friday morning, after a 4:55am start, we knew that one good place to be was the grandstand behind the fourth green …and what a great call that turned out to be. It would be one of the few places on the course which would leave the European team with pleasant memories that day, led by an incredible McIlroy chip-in. By the end of the afternoon, although there’d only been a couple of genuinely disappointing defeats for Europe, there was doom and gloom all round. It wasn’t just that we were 5-3 down, it was the manner of the American victories. They were, quite simply, way too comfortable.
The atmosphere, however, was unforgettable. And although outnumbered hugely, the European fans were magnificent. Curiously, I think it comes from the football culture. The tradition among European sporting crowds is to wait for one or two of the sharper members to come up with a song (or more accurately, a chant), and then all join in, making the crowd seem way more amusing and witty than most of the individuals within it. American crowds tend to just let supporters shout things out, with the result that – sadly – many of the exhortations are ignorant, and some even offensive. The only American group chant tends to be the tedious “U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A”, which at this event was quickly put to bed on numerous occasions by small groups of European fans responding with chants like: “One song… You’ve only got one song…”

Needless to say, we had many great singalongs all week, especially on the third tee grandstand on the morning of day two. However, the European fans were outdone for impact during the build-up by the astonishing skywriting display (which we later learned was provided by Paddy Power) which stunned supporters on both sides into silence. Nobody seemed to have seen anything like this before, and it was an amazing start to the day. It was also, unfortunately, one of the highlights, as the Americans increased their advantage. By the halfway point of the tournament, towards the end of the Saturday afternoon, the score was 10-4 to the home team and many people were wondering if it was going to be worth turning up the next day.
The copious amount of beer going down on the course seemed like some consolation at that stage. Then a chink of light shone into the gathering gloom of what had until then been a really hot day. Steve Stricker missed a six-foot putt on the 18th to give Donald and Garcia a win that neither pair probably deserved. Then Ian Poulter stroked in his fifth birdie in a row to give him and McIlroy a storming victory, and the score was “only” 10-6 going into the final day. More importantly, the team and the European fans started to feel a lot better about themselves. No, we probably wouldn’t win – of course we wouldn’t – but at least we might end Sunday getting increasingly close to a respectable score. We tucked into that night’s absurdly unhealthy American cuisine with more gusto than had seemed likely a few hours earlier.

The meal out on Saturday gave us the chance to thank the wonderful Judy Henderson, who we’d had a chance encounter with at the hotel and who had taken us under her wing for the week. Hailing from near Washington, DC, Judy is a massive golf fan who attends tournaments worldwide, often as a volunteer driver, and she offered to take us to and from the course on competition days when she wasn’t working. Meeting her was a delight for all of us in our group.

Travelling from the hotel to the Medinah course on the Sunday morning, it’s fair to say that Judy was in brighter spirits than her European passengers. But the day’s events were to surprise everyone. We camped out by the side of the 6th fairway this time, and watched all 12 singles matches come through in increasing incredulity, as Team Europe not only started getting increasingly close to a respectable score, but even gave glimpses that it might even be game on.
The events of the rest of the day are golfing history. We spent the last two hours sitting on a bank by the 13th green, watching a huge video screen across the lake. European supporters suddenly seemed to be in the majority everywhere. When Martin Kaymer’s putt went in, the crowd was ecstatic. I’ve never hugged so many strangers. We immediately piled over to the 18th green, where the party was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. There were songs for every player (“one Belgian golfer, there’s only one Belgian golfer”) and we sang and shouted ourselves hoarse.
I still can’t quite believe I was there.

A Top Ten of Things from the Ryder Cup 2012
1. Martin Kaymer’s putt to win the match. Of course 2. Singing and partying around the 18th green for the next half-hour 3. Rory McIlroy’s chip-in on the 4th on the Friday 4. The jaw-dropping surprise of first seeing the skywriting aeroplanes 5. Justin Rose’s last three holes to beat Phil Mickelson on the Sunday 6. Phil Mickelson’s sporting response to Justin Rose’s last three holes 7. The atmosphere on the third green grandstand prior to play on the Saturday 8. Ian Poulter’s approach shot to the 18th on the Sunday 9. Ian Poulter’s five-birdie finish on the Saturday 10. Having our shirts photographed by so many Americans
Honourable mention too for American Express, whose cardholders’ tent offered good cider, nice TV screens and (best of all) the only decent toilets on the course. My top sponsor award goes to them.

Installing Windows 8 over XP on a MacBook Pro

Sunday 28 October 2012

Windows 8 installed on a MacBook Pro
I’ve just successfully (from what I can see) installed Windows 8 on my MacBook Pro, upgrading from the previous Windows XP installation. If you’ve found this page looking for troubleshooting tips, I’m sorry to disappoint you, because I had no troubles whatsoever. But if you’re looking for reassurance that it can be done without any heartache, I can only say that we had no problems here.
My setup was as follows: 2010 MacBook Pro, running Windows XP SP3 on a Boot Camp partition of 150Gb. We’d never upgraded past XP because the Windows installation was almost exclusively used for games, and there’d been nothing to date which had tempted us to drop over £100 on Windows Vista or Windows 7. However, the somewhat keener pricing of Windows 8 made it a different proposition – thank you to Apple, Google and Linux for lowering the bar on the price of operating systems. I always believe in “clean installs” of operating systems (making the PC seem like a brand new one), so I carefully backed up what little data we had on the Windows partition before starting (there was very little, fortunately).
Then I went to Microsoft’s UK store on the Windows XP installation, and downloaded Windows 8 Pro for a very reasonable £24.99. It took quite a while to download, as you’d expect, but almost the only thing I was asked during the process was whether or not this was a “clean install” or whether I wanted to migrate the data from XP. There was a procedure which went through assessing what, on my existing setup, might not be compatible with Windows 8, but the only item on the list which gave me cause for concern was the graphics driver. I didn’t really want to find that Windows 8 would give me a blank screen or something like that; however, I took a chance and decided it didn’t matter. Then it was just a question of following the setup prompts, and that was it; a couple of hours later, I have the nice fresh Windows 8 setup you see above running on my MacBook Pro. I’m quite keen to see how Windows has evolved in the last 11 years.
Update: sorry, completely forgot to mention I had to install the latest drivers too. Go to the Boot Camp Assistant in OS X and create a CD or flash drive with the drivers on. Eject the CD, fire up Windows 8, insert the CD and it will auto-run the installation.

Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app: hands-on user review

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app - TV Guide screen
Disclosure: The nice people at Virgin Media sent me a working copy of what looks like the final version of their TV Anywhere iPad app at the end of October 2012, shortly before the public launch date. In return, I was encouraged to review and discuss the app online, which I am happy to do.
So, what is the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app?
This new iPad app is part of Virgin Media’s “TV Anywhere” service, which will eventually (I believe) be a comprehensive integration of services and devices, enabling Virgin Media subscribers to watch TV on a range of platforms, and for the devices to interact with each other. At launch, a few pieces of the jigsaw will be in place. For PCs, there will be a list of live channels available to watch, along with a library of “on demand” content; for the iPad there will be a more limited set of channels, and a feature to control home TiVo boxes. I’ll be looking at the iPad app here.
The elephant in the room
Thanks to the BBC iPlayer, and corresponding apps from the other terrestrial channels, we’re all used to watching live and archived content on the iPad. Sky TV subscribers have just about every other channel the important sports and movie channels available to them through the Sky Go app. So does the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app do the same for Virgin subscribers? No, it doesn’t. Not at launch, anyway. There are 30 live streamed channels available, but that’s it they’re not the big ones which we sports and movie fans would have wished for. Despite what the name of the app suggests, a Sky Go equivalent for iPad users it isn’t. Yet.
What is the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app good for then?
As the screenshot above shows, the main feature is as a substitute for controlling the Virgin TiVo box on your main TV screen. Yes, the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app enables your iPad to become a TV remote control.
Is that it?
Yes, it is really – for now at least. But bear with me, because it’s beautifully done, and after using it for a day or two, you’ll wonder how you ever controlled your TiVo box using a handheld remote. You’ll also get really irritated when you realise someone’s taken the iPad to another room and you’re stuck with the old-school remote control. Just taking the TiVo menus “off screen” is a big advantage. Browse the TV guide, see what you’ve got recorded in “My Shows”, check out programme synopses and all the other stuff the TiVo guide gives you, all without affecting what’s on your TV screen. All that stuff about the cast and crew, or the “if you like this?” links – all become so much more attractive to use on the iPad screen. Searching for stuff is even more of a win, thanks to the iPad’s keyboard. No more arduously trying to type words using numeric buttons.
What’s the implementation like?
Visually and ergonomically, it’s been done very well indeed. The iPad’s crisp display adds to the quality feel. Technically, it’s excellent – the response of the system is almost instantaneous. It’s really quite hard to suggest improvements: maybe it’d be nice if the button top right which accesses the forward, reverse and other remote control buttons was a little larger. There are also gesture-based controls, which could be a cool feature, but I haven’t had time to explore this yet. The iPad app can replace the existing Virgin TV Guide app (which was never written properly for the iPad anyway) for programming recordings on the TiVo box. This capability is available even when you’re away from your home network.
I’m having more thoughts all the time about the Virgin Media TV Anywhere iPad app, so check back for updates. I’ll attempt to respond to any of your questions or comments below, or contact me on Twitter at @cherryhintonblu.

The Police & Crime Commissioner Elections in Cambridgeshire

Monday 12 November 2012

In a few days’ time, most of the country is going to get to elect a well-paid public official called the Police & Crime Commissioner for their area. I cannot resist the temptation to put forward my own thoughts on the subject, and the candidates here in Cambridgeshire. Make of this what you will; with information about the post being very thin on the ground, I hope it helps in formulating your own thoughts on the matter.
What is the Police & Crime Commissioner? The police service in this country is one of the last great unreformed services, although given the changes which have been made in education and health in recent years by successive governments, whether you agree that reformation is always desirable is another matter. However, a recent poll shows that two-thirds of us have little confidence in central government’s running of the police. Putting an “independent” elected individual in charge of directing the service in each area seems like a reasonable improvement, but it comes fraught with danger. The public occasionally elects idiots to councils and central government, but at least those roles aren’t “solo” ones like this. Elect a fool (or a secret radical) to this post, and they could create havoc with local policing for four years.
Why are most candidates standing as “political party candidates”? Frankly, I haven’t heard a good explanation for this, other than it might give people a quick way of identifying what a candidate might stand for. Nearly all of the “party” candidates are coming out with the same line that “I’m standing as myself, I’m just as independent as any of my rivals, and there’s no directive from the party”, so what is the point? The result will be that it puts independent candidates at a huge disadvantage, because the local parties have been able to spend time and money supporting “their” candidate. That just seems plain wrong to me, as it does to a number of members of different political parties I know, who have decided not to campaign for “their” candidates in this election. Several months ago, one party was brave enough to put forward a candidate who was not even a member of that party (which is extremely commendable) …and then seemed to change their minds, and selected someone “in house” instead.
The Election There are five political parties putting forward candidates, and all have selected white, middle-aged (or older) men. There are two independent candidates, again middle-aged men. I’m not even going to mention the candidates’ parties from here on, because I simply don’t think that should be taken into consideration. I’ve read what little information has come my way (see references at the end) and I’ve listened to what I think was the only broadcast forum on the election, which was on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Andie Harper’s Mid-Morning last week. It’s available to listen again here until polling day. I’ve also followed a lot of the conversation online over the past few days.
Amongst the least impressive candidates, in my opinion, were those from the three main political parties, who – both on the radio and in print – seem obsessed with having a go at each other and their parties’ records in government. On the radio, they were like kids bickering. The independents, and indeed those from the smaller parties, have gained a lot by letting the others get on with it.
I live in Cambridge, which swings every way politically, yet I have only had one (yes, one) leaflet through my door, which came a few weeks ago. Another candidate was given part of his political party’s regular local newsletter to put forward his point. With many politically active people being against the whole idea of this public post, it’s hard to believe that more than a tiny, single-digit percentage of Cambridgeshire residents will go to the polls having assessed the candidates properly. There’s also a whole group of people urging others to actively spoil their ballot paper to register a protest against the whole exercise. I don’t believe in this, because I think it opens up the way for someone to sleepwalk their way into a well-paid position which we’re all paying for, most likely someone representing one of the main political parties.
One thing to note is that this election is using the supplementary vote system, used in the Mayoral Elections in London and elsewhere, which I doubt many people will have come across before – so even amongst informed voters, there’s likely to be a lack of preparedness. With this system, you get an optional second vote. Assuming no candidate gets more than 50% of first choice votes, the two most popular candidates go through to a second round, in which they also get the votes of people who had them as a second choice but whose first choice has been eliminated.
Although there are flaws with this system, it can be good if you support a candidate who you think is unlikely to win, and you think that there are really only two candidates likely to win, one of who you strongly prefer over the other. Normally you might not vote for your preferred candidate at all, instead choosing to vote for one of the candidates who is more likely to win, especially if the other favourite is somebody you want to keep out. With the supplementary vote system, you can vote for your genuine choice, knowing that if (or more likely when) they fail to get in the top two places, your second choice will come into effect, assuming it’s one of the two leading candidates.
This will work in different ways for different people. It might favour the independents (certainly it would if there was only one, not two), although perhaps not enough to cause a surprise. Let’s suppose that the voting follows council elections, and that Conservative and Labour candidates are likely to lead the way after first-choice votes are counted. If you’re an “anyone but the Tory” voter, which has characterised part of the electorate for many years, you can vote for your genuinely preferred candidate in the first column, and the Labour candidate in the second column, knowing full well that if your candidate proves to be an also-ran, you’ve still managed to vote against the Conservative candidate. In that scenario, in a single-choice election, there would be a number of people who might have felt compelled to vote for Labour from the outset, despite it not being their genuinely preferred choice.
Who are the candidates? The BBC Radio Cambridgeshire debate was well moderated but told us very little, I felt, other than conferring an even greater degree of seriousness and independence on the candidates from outside the three main parties through their detachment from the squabbling. You can read the formal election statements from the seven candidates here, but they’re a bit bland, as you might expect. Everyone wants to see more bobbies on the beat, less money spent on contracted-out services, etc, almost as if it’s a race to see who can shout “G4S! G4S!” the most frequently.
The most impressive piece of research I’ve seen came from Cambridgeshire Neighbourhood Watch,who actually formulated a good set of questions and posed them to each candidate. I’d urge you to read it if you have the time. However, some of the stuff I’ve picked out from there (and elsewhere) is below. It’s not meant to be a particularly independent analysis – if I haven’t liked a candidate, I’ll say so!
Ansar Ali has been on the Cambridgeshire Police Committee and the Cambridgeshire Police Authority for much of the last 20 years, so he knows his stuff. He seems to be very realistic with his plans, and says: “I don’t intend to be prescriptive and much will depend on the outcome of the budgeting work that is going on at the moment. Much of the current Policing Plan is good”. He certainly comes over as a very safe choice, especially for anyone concerned with the risks of unexpectedly electing a maverick to the post.
Sir Graham Bright was a Member of Parliament for Luton from 1979-97, and I guess unsurprisingly from a former politician, there’s been very little from him other than just ‘playing it safe’. His aims and policies are very generalised, and feature almost nothing with which most people would disagree. However, just this weekend he amazed the many followers of local blogger Richard Taylor by arrogantly and bumptiously dismissing requests for a public interview.
Paul Bullen is a Cambridgeshire magistrate who unfortunately had to phone in his contribution to the radio debate and who hasn’t been able to answer the Neighbourhood Watch questions either. Nor does he have his own website, from what I can see. There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly alarming about him, but I really don’t have that much to go on.
Stephen Goldspink has been the only candidate to put a leaflet through my door, so hat-tip to him for that. A Peterborough councillor until this year, he has some unusual views (to seek “a mandate from the people of Cambridgeshire that every police station should fly the cross of St. George”) and some forthright ones (“a zero-tolerance attitude to petty crime and antisocial behaviour” and to “purge Cambridgeshire police of political correctness”). He does sound a little bit angry with the world, although some people may not think that’s a bad thing.
Farooq Mohammed is presenting himself as the conciliatory candidate between the public and the police. A restaurant-owner with no experience of public office, he puts that forward as a genuine advantage. He has also come up with the eye-catching commitment to take no salary for the first two years of the post, instead funding a “breakfast club” idea for primary school children in deprived areas. He stresses the need to get as many special-interest groups as possible involved with the Commissioner’s role.
Rupert Moss-Eccardt is a former County Councillor who has also worked on the IT side of policing. He does come across as being slightly skeptical about the whole P&CC post, saying “Whether it is right or wrong to elect Commissioners, the point of the electoral process is ultimately to let every citizen decide how they assess the Commissioner’s record and express their judgement at the ballot box. It may not suit the ego of some politicians but it is far more important that the Chief Constable and his people do a good job than for the Commissioner to interfere for its own sake.” He also says that “a single Commissioner is deluded if he sees him or herself as the source of all wisdom and innovation”.
Ed Murphy is a former Parish, County and City Councillor in Cambridgeshire and a former member of the Police Authority who led it in appointing a Chief Constable and Deputy. He supports reducing the cost of the police secretariat through an amalgamation with other forces, and says he will work on crime reduction down to “street representatives”. Another skeptic about the post, he says: “It is time (Police Authorities) were replaced, but the timing is wrong and Police and Crime Commissioners are unlikely to provide the solution.”

My 100 Favourite Songs of 2012

Thursday 27 December 2012

Well, it took a couple of hours to be sure I hadn’t forgotten everything (and I’m still not sure I haven’t), but here’s my 100 Favourite Songs of 2012 as a Spotify playlist. I tried to limit myself to three songs from any one artist (and almost succeeded). If you don’t have Spotify, you’re missing out. If you do: enjoy.

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