Simon’s Backup Weblog

Build your own Ivor The Engine

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 29, 2002

Just click here for the plans:


What’s happening to dance music?

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 29, 2002

I started listening to trance quite a few years back, as a logical slide into dance music from the cross-over between ambient, dub, world music and rave techno. Since then it’s become a staple of my musical diet, its mix of electronica, melody and psychedelica a regular theme to my days in front of the keyboard. So it probably wouldn’t be a surprise to see that I bought the latest Ministry of Sound TranceNation compilation.

But what has happened to the innovative music from bands like Terra Ferma or Union Jack?

Instead we get the nth remix of Energy 52, and covers of Bryan Adams, Berlin, Heart and Cutting Crew… and worse yet, George Michael. There appears to have been a collective failure of imagination all across the trance scene. Personally I blame the success of Scooter and their cover of Supertramp’s The Logical Song. We’ve lived through the 80s and 90s already, and while those tracks were perfectly fine and dandy as they were, they just don’t cut it as trance remixes.

I think I’m going to go back to listening to pure electronica like Boards of Canada, FSOL and The Orb, and finding my trance from niche labels like Platipus and Transient.

At least they’re still doing interesting, innovative music.


Cool site of the day: Earthshots.

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 29, 2002

Earthshots is a gallery of desktop wallpaper-scaled images of the Earth from orbit. Remind yourself of the eggshell we live on…

Currently the screen backdrop on my work laptop is this image of Vesuvius and the Italian coast.

The Thursday Afternoon “Fighting With Visio” Review: Dreamer

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 28, 2002

Sometimes you get into a bit of a rut, just reading familiar authors, or picking out something old and comfortable to slip into as you take a long hot bath. So, it’s a good idea to just occasionally buy a book because the cover art looks neat, or the back cover blab sounds interesting. I can’t remember what made me add Steven Harper’s first novel Dreamer (actually not the author’s first novel – just the first under a new pseudonym) to the black hole that is the to-be-read bookcase, but when came to choosing a book for this week’s tube journeys, it was the first one that came to hand.

A far future space opera, Dreamer gives us that old staple: the interstellar empire held together by telepaths. Starships plough the spacelanes, but they take days to get from star to star, and it’s only the starspanning Dream that allows instant communication across thouands of worlds and thousands of light years. It’s not a good universe to live in if you’re one of the Silent, as these telepatic communicators are known. If you’re not lucky enough to be pressed into government service, you’re likely to be a slave. One hope for freedom is the secular monastic organisation known as the Children of Irfan.

The planet Rust has been devastated as the result of a vicious annexation by the Empire of Human Unity. In its ruins, somewhere, is the most powerful Silent ever. A small group of the Children of Irfan is searching the world for him, aiming to save him from certain slavery. It’s a search that will lead to danger, death, and the discovery of a plot that threatens all Silent – human and non-human alike.

Harper’s first novel is a good, fast read. At heart it’s a standard space opera thriller, with plenty of action. But that’s not all, there’s also a lot of talking as this is a story about the philosophy of freedom, and its place in the calculus of moral relativism. With this mix, it’s safe to compare Harper’s stylistic traits with Sarah Zettel or early Samuel Delany. As it stands, Dreamer is a worthy addition to any SF collection.

Scary, scary link of the day: Barbie’s Blog

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 28, 2002

It now appears that the epitome of all things plastic now has a blog. Click here (if you dare) for Barbie’s blog.

And she also appears to have a Pocket PC Phone Edition PDA… Good grief. Even plastic toys have superfluous technology now!

Spinning Universes out of Nothing

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 28, 2002

An interesting piece from Scientific American on how Loop Quantum Gravity may be a route to reconciling quantum theory and relativity.

“If correct, the causal spin networks theory that she’s helped to develop would mean that the universe functions like a giant quantum computer.”

Hmm. I wonder if there are story ideas lurking in here…

Mozilla 1.2 out now

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 27, 2002

Finally, Mozilla 1.2 has been released. Lots of cool features, and still one of the best IMAP mail clients around…

A brief word of warning: Mozilla 1.2b themes are not compatible with the release code. You will need to unstall them before installing 1.2, otherwise Mozilla may not render.

Trains in the fog

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 27, 2002

Rocketting out of London backwards yesterday morning, my train shot through a grey nothingness, shot through with flickers of trees and buildings. The early morning fog clamped down on the countryside, hiding the broad spread of rolling hills and woods. It wrapped up the towns and villages, turning the world into a narrow strip of visibility that faded into grey and was left far behind…

What more can I say?

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 26, 2002

Now, this is a real quiz…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 25, 2002

…and so into the fire that is the Geekometer.

And of course, I scored just what you’d expect… (Click to see the official certificate)

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