Tag Archives: computer

Friday Photo Blogging: the Nerve Centre

I finally got around to making a pilgrimage to the government surplus store at the other end of town, and secured myself a desk of a size more suitable to a man with a prodigious amount of stuff to do… not to mention one under which I can actually stretch out my legs. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a revolution in my working environment – behold!

The Nerve Centre

Granted, all of that desk space will doubtless be festooned with work-in-progress by the end of next week, but I thrive on a certain degree of controlled chaos. And look – two monitors! No more switching windows to see the effects of code changes on a website design[1]!

Writing about music

All is busy at The Dreaded Press, with new CDs arriving on an almost daily basis from established and unsigned acts alike, and regular contributions from a stable of four reviewers… but still I need more! Any volunteers out there?

Album of the week

Your recommended slice of audio bliss for the week is Hymn To The Immortal Wind, the new album from Japanese post-rock maestros Mono. My review of the album isn’t up yet, but my review of their show in Brighton a week ago tells you about as much as you need to know. Mono make atmospheric and poignant post-rock with the epic proportions of a snowcapped mountain range; absolutely beautiful, and the ideal tonic to the madness of the world. Listen, and be still.

Writing about books

Well, I’m mid-way through three different books (two novels, one non-fiction) and have a queue of reviews to write (mostly for here at VCTB or Futurismic, so no pressing deadlines except for the non-fiction title), but actual sit-down reviewing work has been thin on the ground of late. Much of my analytical energies (not to mention will to live) were drained by reading and reporting upon what must be the worst would-be novel I’ve yet encountered. Still, the silver lining shines: I’ve learned lots of new ways to not suck in my own fictional outpourings…


Things are ticking over nicely at Futurismic at the moment; it’s nearly new story time, and April sees us hosting a piece from a writer whose stature would have, to my mind at least, precluded him from bothering with a market as small as we are. It’s also a very different story to our normal fare; not that we always publish the same sort of stuff, but there’s a different type of Gonzo at work in this particular piece.

So keep your eyes peeled… it’ll be published next Wednesday, as well as Jonathan McCalmont’s Alternative Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Happy days!


As the lack of recent FPBs should indicate, there’s plenty of work in my inbox at the moment, and of various types. This is a good thing – who’s not glad of work when the news is full of redundancies? – but it’s really chewing away at my life in terms of scheduling. Trying to juggle a full-time freelance workload with editing two webzines and a relationship with someone who lives nearly 300 miles away is a new challenge, and I’d be lying if I said I’d not fumbled a ball or two. But nothing major, and I’m slowly getting the hang of it… though I’m realising that expecting to have more free time as a freelance may have been, if not naive, a little optimistic. Selah.

Aeroplane Attack

I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned here yet, but those who follow my ramblings on various social media will be aware that Aeroplane Attack have announced our live debut; the lovely ladies of Hong Kong Gardener’s Club have booked us for Saturday 25th April at the Havana Bar, just five minutes walk from the Hall of Mirrors. So, if you’re local to Velcro City, please consider popping along to witness the look of abject terror that will no doubt decorate my face as I play guitar to an audience for the first time ever… there’s a Facebook event with more details (including the other band on the line-up), and you can buy tickets in advance for a quid less than the door tax. Go on, you know you want to…

Oh, you’re busy that night? Well, it just so happens I can now announce our second live date as well! Subject to confirmation, we’ll be playing at the Edge of the Wedge on Monday 11th May; I don’t have details of line-up or door price for this yet, but I can say with confidence that they will be, in order, ‘good’ and ‘cheap or free’. So if you want to witness Velcro City’s foremost shoegazer-alt-rock revivalists in action, set one of those two dates aside and pop your earplugs in your pocket – we promise volume, melody and texture in approximately equal measure. 🙂

Books and magazines seen

Relatively few arrivals this week; the only ones of note are two Neal Asher novels from Tor, namely Line War in paperback and Shadow of the Scorpion in hardback. I already have … Scorpion in ARC form from the Night Shade Books limited print run, but have yet to read it[2].


Well, there we have it – it feels good to knock out a proper FPB after a month or so of sporadic minimal updates. There’s definitely a cathartic component to it; maybe it’s a bit like journalling in that respect?

But anyway, enough waffle – there are things to do! have a great weekend, people – I surely intend to. 🙂

[ 1 – It’s a bit alarming to note how dull the display is on the older monitor, though it does explain why I was starting to get such tired eyes all the time before the new machine arrived. ]

[ 2 – Quelle surprise – looking at the TBR shelf, I could probably do nothing but read for three months solid and still not get through the titles I have waiting for me. Still, better to have more books than you have time for than too few, right? ]

Friday Photo Blogging: The Sword

Crikey, what a week. But first, meet JD Cronise – spectacularly-monikered and hirsute frontman of George R R Martin-inspired Texan thrash metallers The Sword:

JD Cronise

The Sword played at The Wedgewood Rooms on Wednesday night, and it was an excellent gig … excellent if you like ridiculously downtuned thrash riffs and lyrics that make HP Lovecraft turn in his grave, that is.

You can read my review of their new album Gods Of The Earth, which was released this week (and is streaming in full on their MySpace, too), but unfortunately I can’t share the live review with you just yet …

… because, as you may already know, I lost pretty much the entirety of yesterday as far as productivity is concerned, thanks to one of my hard drives dying on me.

The good news is that I’m up and running on an all-Linux system (Ubuntu, as you asked), and that I managed to rescue almost all of my important documents (bar a few reviews and what was to be this week’s Friday Flash, which I haven’t had the time to rewrite yet – hence the lack thereof).

Also, the magic of cloud computing means that all my emails and contacts (and certain completely irreplaceable documents) are floating out in the aether where I can retrieve them at will, just as they should be … which just goes to show I learned from the last time my hardware conspired to destroy me.

The bad news is that the drive that died appears to be definitively dead beyond any form of resurrection, so it’s time to invest in a USB external drive for backups, and to look at signing up for the ultimate security of Jungle Disk. Soon.

Writing about music

As mentioned above, saw The Sword on Wednesday and they were totally thrashtastic. Hardware death has meant I missed a scheduled article on TDP last night, but I managed to get up early enough to make this morning’s self-imposed deadline. Go me!

Writing about books

Finished and review the Solaris Book of New Science Fiction Vol 2, which I thought was on the whole a pretty decent little anthology.

Have yet to approach the Book Of The New Sun review; still stewing over how to say what I want to say. Next in the queue will almost certainly have to be Walter Jon Williams’ Implied Spaces, because everyone seems to be going nuts for it, and I loved a few of his short pieces.

Writing about other stuff

Pipeline, pipeline, pipeline; I’m too harried and hurried to go into details this week, I’m afraid.

Books and magazines seen

A double-thick issue #12 of Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest.

Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest #12 cover art

An ARC of Subterranean‘s reprint of Stephenson’s Snow Crash (though before you get too jealous, it’s not a production-grade copy, just a bound proof).


As you can see, I’m wrapping it up quickly today; the last 36 hours have been more than hectic enough, and I have yet to compile and post Friday Free Fiction at Futurismic … having lost the use of Windows Live Writer is probably the only serious regret I have about my computer dying …

… well, that and the prospect of having to re-rip a 400+ strong CD collection. Still, it’ll be fun hearing some old albums I’ve not listened to in a while.

And so, with a distinct (or at least comparative) minimum of blather, I shall bid you all a good weekend and head off for a hard-earned Friday Curry Of Justice.

Hasta luego, amigos.

Screw you, Billy Gates

Ok, I know it’s not precisely his fault. But after years of building up a good head of antipathy, I’ve finally lost my rag with Microsoft products.

Mid-way through posting this morning’s Dreaded Press review, the file system on my secondary hard drive collapsed irreparably. I tried accessing the partition from a Ubuntu live CD, but the drive read as being raw and unformatted, so it’s reformatting now.

This could have been much worse. Indeed, it was much worse last time it happened, as I only had one hard drive then – meaning that when it died, the entire machine was DOA and I lost almost all my documents along with the Windows install. To be fair, though, that was caused by we screwing around with settings I should have left well alone.

After that incident, I bought a second HDD, splitting the system so that Wind0ze ran off the c: drive and the My Documents folder lived on the f:. “That way,” I thought, “when Wind0ze dies again my files will be intact and I can rescue them!”

Naturally, it was the (newer) f: drive that went down this morning.

This isn’t a major tragedy, as I take weekly backups every Sunday and have almost all my writing and business data saved to a USB stick; plus the machine still runs, although it’s slow as all hell because it keeps hunting for files that aren’t there any more. It is, however, a major irritation. I now have around 400 CDs worth of music collection to re-rip. Again.

So, it’s time to take the long-threatened plunge. Once I’ve made a list of all the Firefox settings and passwords on this machine, and a list of the programs I have installed (and that I actually use with any regularity), I’m going to completely wipe Wind0ze off of this machine and put Ubuntu on it.

Yup – The Hall Of Mirrors is about to become a 100% open-source household, and f*ck the learning curve. I’m sick of being at the mercy of poor programming and legacy filesystems; I’ll find it easier to accept problems when they’re caused by my own ignorance rather than someone else’s incompetence.

This is a very long way of saying “things may be a little quiet here for a day or two”, though I hope to be up and running pretty swiftly.

Indulge your hardware fetish: supercomputer picture gallery

This is a minority interest post, I’m guessing.

If you aren’t kind of fascinated (or or utterly and irredeemably geeked out) by huge racks of the most powerful computer hardware on the planet, you’ll have no interest in the picture below, or the others like it in this gallery of supercomputer images at Guardian Unlimited.

MDGRAPE3 supercomputer

[Image: hardware from the supercomputer MDGRAPE-3 at RIKEN in Japan; image credit – RIKEN.]

[tags]computer, hardware, supercomputers, images[/tags]