Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bassist: original and covers. And now, cyber political activist

What a weird week.

Before I get kicked off - the music projects are continuing: Tony is recording further material with a click track to get us to work with: he's also got some potentially awesome support slots we might do through a swimming buddy (of all things)... hope that's not a euphemism (I'm sure it isn't...). The Function Band from Hell is having a first get together on the 2nd of November so I'll be working on the first 10 songs double-time from this point onwards. Good tracks too, they've thrown in "this love" by Maroon 5 at the last minute - the baseline is surprisingly well-formed. I'd forgotten how instructive it can be to listen with a musician's ear to chart music sometimes: just because it's popular doesn't mean it isn't well written.

Anyway...the last few days have been a bit... well... odd.

A week ago last sunday the ol' Xantia (142000 and counting) decided to stop starting - a first, it's been bulletproof until now - so I was stranded at home working remotely for the week, something of a busman's holiday.

On thursday lunchtime I read about the Vodafone UK Tax "deal" from the government: a long-standing tax demand for an estimated accrued £6Bn from Vodafone's profits and acquisition of a german company years back, and subsequent profit stashing since then: they have a company called "Vodafone V2" *eyebrows arch* based in Luxembourg, that well-known place of business (for those who wish to escape european taxation), and have been using this to purchase the German company and give a tax-friendly haven for their profits since.

The whole thing has been grinding along for years, but lo and behold with our new Uber-Priviledged government, the negotiations are suddenly taken out of HMRCs hands and given to someone who would apparently take a less hard line approach: net result, Vodafone are eventually billed for only £1.2Bn over 5 years. What a joke.

I got angry. I surveyed twitter and facebook and the web and found an utter lack of interest, apart from Private Eye, who broke the story ages ago.

So I thought "Why is nobody else saying anything?" and I wrote a few tweets. Including this one:


and now it looks like this:


this is the tweet's entry on a site which tracks their popularity. Currently the tweet is number 6 in the world (seriously - in the WORLD) and has reached over 400,000 twitter accounts, being retreated by nearly 2000 people.

Since then, and spurred by the strength of feeling and goodwill I've received by some excellent people, I've turned it into something of a campaign. We're starting to get noticed (guardian unlimited story last friday).

I've started a petition - funnily enough, the e-petitions site at number10.gov is offline! What a coincidence.

Mine is at gopetition: http://www.gopetition.com/petition.40035.html - if you believe as I do that it simply doesn't matter if it's legal, what Vodafone have done is rob food from the mouths of every single one of the 500,000 jobs which will go as a result of the government's cuts. The benefit cuts alone are something like £7Bn - how much would the original £6Bn have offset?

The petition has over 1000 signatures since I started it last thursday, with some comments made by people who are just as angry.

The whole experience has completely changed my mind - I was one of the apathetic, but now I see that through technology I had thought was irrelevant a few months back, public strength of will can be expressed.

Stand up and be counted. Oh - and it turns out George Osborne is a tax avoider as well. Nice. A hypocrite as well as an idiot.

Location:Cyberspace, baby

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's all kicking off...

Excellent. The vocalist Tony found is stunning - simply stunning - her voice is like Alicia keys meets marcella Detroit: soulful, with a range and depth which belies her age.

Meanwhile the function band for gigging fun has first rehearsal 2nd Nov. I've got 10 songs to cram, many of which are quite funky. Excellent.

<<<<<< Posted While Roaming / Gigging >>>>>>

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Discover" - the offline WikiPedia app - VERY useful.

While out in Paris, we visited many many places. Actually, we need to go back for a week to get around the places we missed out on, including going up the eiffel tower (discovered you can book online now, but was all booked up!). I digress.

While using the excellent wifi in the "Secrets de Paris" hotel - an EXCELLENT hotel, very reasonable too - I found "Discover" for iPad, which is a rather nifty reader for Wikipedia. Free, too.

Turns out it's more than nifty, it caches your history - which means you can load it with up to 250MB of info on the places you're seeing, then use it as an offline tour guide! Worked wonderfully for the eiffel tower, we sat with ice creams and read all the stuff a tour guide would tell you!

Good app. Rated highly.

<<<<<< Posted While Roving / Gigging >>>>>>

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

New project - when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up

Well, tony's given me a CD of the new vocalist he recorded the other weekend. It's a rough cut of 5 single takes of her and an acoustic she was playing (in a pretty simple style too).

This 17 year old has quite simply got the voice of an angel. She's got marcella detroit's range, with a sort of smokiness that maybe Sheryl crow has sometimes. And her lyrics are excellent.

At the moment I keep feeling like I want to put something very massive-attack like on it, but this is a personal thing only. I know we're trying to look at a band for live work only at this stage. I suspect it could be a little like a slower version of maybe some of KT tunstall's work - but much less of the pop.

It's a totally new genre to me, this. It's not fast, furious or funky (although she'd have no issues whatsoever cranking out the attitude of Alanis Morissette and I could go v Flea a la "you oughtta know") and I am well outside of my comfort zone on it.

I must like it though. One tune in particular has the chorus stuck nicely in my head.


<<<<<< Posted While Roving / Gigging >>>>>>

Filming at Green Park???

I suspect it's only some form of cheesy corporate promo - possibly for a market research company if my ears don't deceive me - but there is something mesmerizing to me about watching a production team and actors going about their business.

They seem to be playing roles associated with working out what consumers want in a mobile phone, I think, and how to market it. An irony given my vociferous rantings in the past about just that topic.

<<<<<< Posted While Roving / Gigging >>>>>>

Location:Green Park in Reading

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Simplifying digital life

I got an iPad recently. The purpose was largely a business thing, so I can help out my wife with Black Swan Analysis work - I look after website analytics, etc.

I was well aware of what the apple mobile platform will and won't do, so I considered it a challenge of sorts. Would it do the job? I was pleased not to be an early adopter (it's been out since early 2010 really) as this gave the platform time to get some applications for serious use under it's belt.

I can report that it's coming along very nicely as a serious productivity tool. But the purpose of this little missive is a more general point about increasing complexity, size, and the human frailty of thinking that progress is about making things bigger.

One of the things I don't have on iPad is Microsoft office. Thankfully recent movements mean that the "doc" format is phasing out, and more third party apps exist which will use it; so I spent a whopping £5.99 on "pages" for the iPad to try it out.

Easy to use, word loads the files fine, but the biggest revelation was how little of the bloated, enormous, buggy MSWord I actually use. Pages is tiny. It costs next to nothing. And yet I reckon it handles 95% of day to day word duties I would need it for with effortless ease. Note, I'm no secretary or report writer. I do have a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad as well, but that's portable and not essential (for instance I've been editing my homepage at www.funkybass.co.uk using "Gusto" this morning using iPad onscreen keyboard work).

We have allowed ourselves to put up with bloated crapware which we pay a fortune for, for backward compatibilty, and made Bill Gates and his ilk very rich. Why on earth did we do this? It's viral junk!

Go openoffice (note, now libreoffice thanks to Oracle being arseholes)! Use that for your PC office needs instead.

Let's simplify our lives and keep using older machines to do the same work, instead of this relentless and destructive upgrade madness.

- Posted on the move