4×4 Meme: More About Me

I got tagged by blackbeltjones with the 4×4 meme. So I rolled over and became a part of it. Plus it gives me a chance for some totally self-absorbed and pointless blogging.

It looks like this meme has mutated a bit over time, but I’m going to continue on the branch handed to me by Mr Jones…

So here’s my 4 answers to each of 4 questions:


4 Jobs I’ve had

Work Experience – Some random solicitors firm in Burton on Trent. At the time I really wanted to be a lawyer. I also wanted to drive a Porsche and go skiing. Basically that was my teenage rebellion. It’s what happens when your parents come from the hippy side of the fence. I’m sure they’d have been fine catching me with a cheeky spliff – but a filofax. I knew that’d horrify them.

Boots, Sound and Vision – Burton-on-Trent – When I was 17-18 I worked in Boots. They had a rather natty Sound and Vision department that sold tapes, records, computer games (on cassette), compact film cameras and midi-hifi systems (sad to think that of all those things that only really records exist any more). I was good at selling that stuff.

Principles for Men – Edinburgh. While I was a student I used to do a couple of weekday shifts and a weekend in the basement of the store on Princes Street. During the week the most regular customers were smackhead shoplifters. Their target was generally reversible blouson jackets – they’d realised that they’re great for avoiding detection. If security guards are looking for guys in lemon yellow jackets, they can flip them and be just an innocent guy in a baby blue one.

WWAV Rapp Collins – Edinburgh. My first proper job (after freelancing doing web stuff for the Edinburgh Science Festival) was at a DM agency. The creatives were on a separate floor and used to go and drink shedloads at lunchtime. I was friends with some of them and tried to keep up a few times, it was not good. For the job interview they warned candidates they were going to be asked to demonstrate their Excel skills. So I got the Excel manual and went straight to the back. I learned some bonkers, useless macro skills. They’d never seen anything like it before and I got the job. I never used those skills again. After a few months I went to the MD and suggested that we should look at the Internet as a thing for doing marketing stuff – it was suggested that this was not a good idea. I left soon after.


Four TV Shows I DVR (or shows I would record on DVR if I had a DVR)

(When trying to write this I realised just how little ‘serious’ TV I watch).

Weeds – if you’ve not seen it you should. It’s incredibly dark and incredibly funny. A suburban housewife starts growing weed in order to keep her dysfunctional family together. I still chuckle when I think about the young son’s gangster rap, and any show that makes gags about the Prius being the perfect drive-by car shows a certain degree of skill. Oh and there’s a very odd cameo by Snoop Dogg in series 3. And they have a thing where someone different sings the theme song every episode – and they’re all really cool Weeds is cool.

South Park – I should have grown out of it years ago. But it’s still the satire I enjoy the most. Who else could so eloquently illustrate democracy as making the choice between a douchebag and a shit sandwich and claim that that’s how it’s been throughout history.

Peep Show – nothing makes me laugh like Peep Show. It takes the classic sit-com format and bends it into a dark, painful and twisted voyage inside the brain of modern man.

Heroes – it’s a little cheesy. But it’s really really good. Sophie and I have only just managed to get rid of our sofa-sores after our marathon 23 episode feast over a rainy bank-holiday weekend last year. We’ve not started on Season 3 yet…


Four places I’ve been:

Hamm, Germany. My grandparents used to live there. I remember going there on the coach on my own when I was 13/14. I stayed with my pen pal Aldrik (arranged by my grandma). It was all very pen-pally. On the return trip Aldrik brought me a 12″ maxi single of the Pet Shop Boys. Which was nice.

Koh Pang Ngan, Thailand – I’ve been there a couple of times. I’ve never actually been to one of the legendary full moon parties (probably a good thing). I have however been to an odd detox resort which involved daily enemas and drinking vegetable water. Which was nice.

Northern Italy, Near Merano – An odd bit of Italy where most people speak German. We went there for a summer holiday and it was great. The cable cars take you up the hills and you can walk down. Only downside is being woken up in the morning by the clack-clack-clack of geriatric walkers with their ski-pole-like walking sticks. But they make lovely wine, the air is the freshest I’ve ever breathed and the scenery is stunning. Which was nice.

Las Vegas – I only mention Las Vegas because I think it’s ruined my perceptions of going to lots of places in the world. I noticed it when I was in India. Bits of India didn’t feel quite right to me, and I realised that the reason was that I’d been there already. Well I’d been to the Vegas facsimilie anyway. And the Vegas version was bigger and brighter. So very very wrong.


Four music artists I’m listening to now:

Basic Channel – awesome minimal tech-space-dub. Most of their catalogue was realeased in 1993-1995 and only ever on vinyl – but it’s all just had it’s first digital release through Beatport. I bought the lot. And I can’t stop listening to them. Their releases as Rhythm & Sound are a bit more Reggae influenced but equally storming.

PoleResident Advisor Podcast. Kind of part of the same scene as Basic Channel. This podcast just popped up as I felt ready to go deeper into the dub vortex. The mix fuses reggae, dubstep and minimal sounds into something rather wonderful. The RA podcast is one of the most consistently excellent podcasts I’ve come across (if you like electronic-y stuff). His albums 1, 2, 3, R and Steingarten are all worth a listen.

Justus Kohncke – This chap has been releasing awesome tracks on the awesome Kompakt records for a while now. Pick up hisnew album Safe and Sound to get a good opener. It’s kind of techno-pop-disco. But it’s very light on cheese. I’m jealous that Boomkat managed to end their review of the album with: Justus is served.

Aidan John Moffat – he used to be part of Arab Strap with Malcolm Middleton whose recent albums I like too. But his most recent album I Can Hear Your Heart is a bunch of spoken word poems over the top of audio soundscapes with bits and pieces of music woven through it. His poems are really filthy and most of them involve some kind of sexual encounter. This review explains how I feel about it:

His words, no matter how filthy, are delivered in such a manner that can’t but touch the seedier parts of your heart, and often make you smile. Maybe that’s just my sense of humour, but tales of city life, honesty, misguided love, cheating and general ‘wrongness’ have never been so comforting.

Stories of urban oddness make for a a really strange soundtrack to a commute :-)


Having completed that monster post I am now the meme-master. I tag:

Faris – because I miss the little fellah with the big hair.
Russell – because he was moaning about not getting meme’d anymore (you’ll wish you’d never said that).
Adam – because I’m working with him at the moment and I feel I should know more about him.
My Mum – because she’s got blogs (plural) and I don’t think she’s been meme’d before and it’s about time she posted some new things ;-)

Facebook Add To Friends QR Code

This is bloody great.

Facebook app + QR code. Sounds like someone playing ‘cool shit mashup’. But here something’s been made that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s really simple. You add the Facebook app. Click ‘make my tshirt’. And you’re pretty much done. A custom QR code t-shirt is generated that you can buy immediately.

(If you’re still not getting it, basically if someone takes a photo of the funny thing on the front of your t-shirt you’ll be added to their friends on Facebook).

Whether you’d actually buy or wear one, that’s not the point. It’s just one of those really simple ideas that makes me go: “Yeah, that’s cool, I’m a bit jealous”.

Add to friends Moo stickers – I think that’s what I want… In fact they shouldn’t be too hard to hack together – provided that the stickers are big enough and hi-res enough to capture the required detail for a QR code… Hmmmm

Via: The ever excellent Random Culture

Employment Exchanges

I was watching Control the other night (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and Ian Curtis works in the Employment Exchange. I don’t know why, but I really liked the term Employment Exchange. It just sounds so much more two-sided than ‘Job Centre’.

In fact Employment Exchange sounds very 2.0 compared to the Job Centre’s 1.0ness.

The Art of Sneaker Cleaning and Sneaker Cleaning Products

Sneaker Freaker

I’ve veered into silliness with trainers a few times, going out of my way to find them, spending too much money on them and hoarding them badly. I’ve always known that I wasn’t a real sneakerhead though. And I had that confirmed to me when I checked this article oncleaning your kicks @ Sneaker Freaker. If you’ve got dirty old shoes that you’d like to bring back to life there’s some good tips in there.

But what really made me realise what an amateur I am in the sneaker world was the Jason Markk site. Jason apparently makes the ultimate sneaker cleaning fluid – well someone has to. And I like the fact that it’s being done by someone that’s so single minded.

From their about us page:

We make premium goods and accessories for the sneaker boutique market. Our goal is to fulfill the needs and wants of today’s sneaker consumer by offering innovative, high-quality products and accessories. Our mission is to become the most widely recognized and trusted sneaker product and accessory brand in the world.

I’d hazard a guess that anyone who loves their sneakers will love someone who has made it their mission to create the ultimate sneaker products. Would you rather buy a product from someone who really seems to get how important your shoes are? Or Unilever?

Obviously post-sale the product has to be totally excellent too. The product is being put on shoes that are worth way more than money to their owners – just one story of a pair of 1 of 20 AF1s heading south could ruin the reputation of the brand in such a small niche market.

At first I scoffed about their limited edition cleaning sets. They look great and they’re definitely embedded in trainer culture. But then I thought about the kind of people they’re aiming at – and perhaps more importantly where the product is going to get sold. It’s not going to be in a local hardware store is it? If you’re paying $20 for a plain bottle, or much more for a fancy limited edition set you’re only going to see it in boutiques and high-end trainer stores. Where the packaging and legend around the product become super important.

This kit is limited to 1 of 600.

Now all I need to do is find a UK outlet ;-)

AgencyTart – Nice Contact Page

A superb use of ‘punch in the aorta’ when applied to blog spammers:

agencytart contact

From a new site on my blogdar – agencytart.wordpress.com a sweetly vitriolic blog with a passionate hatred of lots of bad things. I hope the author finds their negativity cathartic rather than something that evolves into a downward spiral of evilness. I think that unchecked I veer towards the latter, so have to keep my dark-side in check.

NewsGlobe

NewsGlobe

Charticles one day, NewsGlobes the next. It’s all getting a bit ‘Day Today‘ round these parts.

NewsGlobe is a project that’s come out of the next.yahoo.net stables. There’s a description of how it came about here.

For last month’s Yahoo! Hack Day, I decided to show off some of the impressive capabilities of the latest Adobe Flash Player and ActionScript 3 by building a visually interesting new way to browse Yahoo! News top stories. In a surprisingly short amount of time, I was able to mash up two existing Yahoo! services, and then represent the information in a virtual environment I call the NewsGlobe.

I love the non-committal use of ‘surprisingly short amount of time’, in my head that means a few hours. I’ve got a hyperactive head sometimes.

But I really would love to know how quickly this was pulled together. Because although, as the author admits, it’s not perfect. It is a slick piece of interface design which I’m sure will be imitated widely. And once you’ve built the engine there’s lots you can do with it…

My mind’s drifted back to The Day Today and I can’t help thinking about building News Kidneys or 3D Currency Cats:

currency cat

What is a Charticle?

Charticle 1

I was reading a piece in the New York Times about goings-on at Gawker when I came across this quote from Choire Sicha (the outgoing managing editor as far as I can tell):

“I don’t want to write a top 10 list in my life, ever. I don’t want to construct a charticle.”

I’m not really that bothered about the rumour-mill at Gawker.

However, I do care about is the Charticle!!!

I’d never come across the term ‘charticle’ before. And I can’t be the only one as it’s not even included in Wikipedia (yet). I thought that might mean that it didn’t actually exist?!?

But with some digging around it appears that the charticle is real. This discussion featuring lots of people who work in newspapers seem to generally be cool with charticles. It basically seems to be like a hybrid between an article and an infographic.

Here’s one that Google Images threw up:

Growth Charticle

And here’s a much simpler one from oregonrepublic’s photostream on Flickr:

Charticle 2

There’s really not that much info on charticles online – a few people claim it’s a Tufte thing, but I reckon if it was one of his there’d be much more mention of it on the internet. Plus I’ve had a flick through my Tufte books and can’t find anything.

I did find another use of it on Technorati, ironically it was in an article written at Gawker by the aforementioned Choire Sicha…

Forbes.com is pleased to announce their most transparent and value-free bit of traffic-grabbing web content to date—a list of America’s Most Lustful Cities! It’s like—what is it even like? It’s like intellectual impoverishment in charticle form. I’m almost proud of them!

I wonder how simple a charticle can get before it becomes simply an article? I guess my question is: “is a list a charticle”? Choire seems to think so.

Any charticle experts out there? What do you think?