Thursday, December 24, 2009

How to fix Drupal White Screen of Death/ blank screen

When installing or configuring (or sometimes when just using) the popular CMS (content management system) Drupal you'll be faced with the dreaded WSOD (white screen of death).

This is often because your hosting set up isn't allowing the memory hungry Drupal a big enough bite of the server's memory pie. There are several suggestions throughout the web that this can be fixed by appending the php.ini file in the root of your site, although you may struggle to find php.ini for various reasons.

I build Drupal sites in a cloud/ application server environment and believe I have found a far more effective way of solving the Drupal white screen error.

Fixing the Drupal white screen error using Settings.php
  1. Browse to YOURSITE/sites/default and (after making a backup of it) open up settings.php
  2. Scroll down to the section labelled as PHP settings, if you're using a code editor like DreamWeaver this starts at line 128
  3. Below the line ini_set('url_rewriter.tags', ''); add another line like this - ini_set('memory_limit' , '300M');
Depending the exact details of your hosting this should solve your white screen errors.

Monday, December 21, 2009

To work for a wage, in sickness and in health.

Here I sit with curved spine huddled over my desk waiting for another Christmas to come, and for a sickness to leave. Working on my own at home means I usually avoid the annual winter ‘what’s going round’ but this year a couple of journeys on packed London Underground trains gave me a sufficient dose of the foul feculence of germ spoiled strangers that I myself have become failed and fouled.

When I was an employee (rather than a self employed fool) disease could bring with it delicious compensations – days on the settee watching television utterly smothered by huge warm duvets and surrounded by indulgent drinks and tasty treats. In times of careless wellness spoiled by busyness and stress I would gently sigh and look forward to catching something horrid. I would daydream of snotty tissues, daytime telly and replacing my colleagues for curled up cats. It was like looking forward to a vacation I didn’t have to pay for by forfeit of a chunk of the few days leave my employer graciously granted me each year. To spend five days with a water bottle in a cosy lounge was as delicious as two weeks exploring the world on vacation, and all the more glorious for leaving my annual leave tally undamaged.

So as I sit here at home with nobody to cover my illness absence and no employer to mumble sympathetically but unconvincingly down a phone line at me I lament the loss of my languid lolling days of temporary and mild malady.

This morning in an attempt to remind myself that I could balance the loss of ill employee perks with the augmenting of unscheduled absences from my desk I ventured into my wintery garden. Wearing more layers than Tutankhamen (although in more disarray) I kicked through the snow, chasing the witless abandonment of childhood winters so many decades ago. I made a snowman and was saddened to discover how poor my skills have become having allowed them to lapse; traded now for skills with machines and a love for more literally literal creativity.

I turned my back on my poor play at being a snow bound Prometheus and sought the cats for winter company. After lifting them from their slumber and having them join me in my exile from the warmth of my house I sighed lightly in amusement as they mewed and shivered before seeking the least snowy path back to their warm nests indoors. I too tired of the will of adventure and made my way back to my desk, weary and wanton of recovery.

Copying text from one source to the web using Notepad.

When copying text from any source for use on a website (whether you’re using an HTML editor like DreamWeaver or if you’re using a content management system) it's important that instead of copying from the source directly to the website you go through notepad, so;
  1. Copy from source (word, PDF or whatever)
  2. Paste into Notepad
  3. Copy from Notepad
  4. Paste into website editor.
The reason for this is that a lot of sources (MS Word especially) attach a TON of junk code to all text, and when you paste directly from a source to website the junk code also gets copied across and confuses things horribly (most noticeably the layout). Notepad strips the text back to plain text, therefore removing the junk code. It’s a bit like you’re washing your content!

This is standard practice for all websites, and it's not a bad idea to get into the habit of copying and pasting through Notepad when transferring text from anywhere to anywhere else.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Auto login in XP

I'm making this post as much for my own sake as much as it is for anyone else. A lot of my clients still use Windows XP and one client in particular doesn't want users to have to log into their machines. He doesn't want the inconvenience of the login screen.

I still have to use User Accounts as they're used to manage file sharing elsewhere on the system so I set each computer to login automatically using a default account.

The default user for automatic login is set in the other User control panel which is found by going to start/ run and entering 'CONTROL USERPASSWORDS2'.

Surely the Google spider ignores nofollow? | The 3 golden rules of SEO are more important now than ever.


I was in London yesterday speaking at a seminar being held by the rather exciting and excellent web development company ‘Pixl8’, I was there to help demonstrate their marvellous and insightful ways to a collection of possible future clients and current clients.

One of the other speakers was a rather interesting chap called David Hollands-Hurst, the founder of the Search Engine Marketing experts a451. Unsurprisingly he was there to laud the inbuilt SEO (search engine optimisation) capabilities of Pixl8’s CMS (content management system) ‘Preside’.

David confirmed a lot of our current thinking (because SEO tends to be largely theory based) about what’s currently the best way to rise above the chaff (and competitors) in the search engine rankings. As we well know the days of SEO gimmicks like doorway pages (and other dangerous pursuits that are more likely to get you dropped from listings than rewarded by them) are long gone.

Three golden rules of SEO
For your website to perform well in today’s search engine listings you need to adhere closer than ever to the three golden rules of SEO (this is my own simplistic introduction);
  • Build your site correctly Code it correctly, and make sure it passes W3C validation. Google have also been hinting that how fast a site loads will impact on its ranking.
  • Generate high quality useful content - Content is still king! Regularly add useful content to your site, don’t change your site around for the sake of it, search engines need to see you as an essential resource for their customers and don’t take kindly to you trying to manipulate their results!
  • Develop useful and relevant quality inbound links Don’t bother amassing thousands of irrelevant links to your site, it’s a waste of time and could even damage your ranking. At worst a sudden surge in irrelevant inbound links could be seen by search engines as you trying to spam their results.

Social Networking and inbound links.
The bulk of David Hollands-Hurst’s presentation focussed on the importance of social networking with regards to your inbound link building campaign. I won’t go into detail, if you want to know more then I recommend contacting David’s company a451 as they can tell you far more than I can!

David told a fascinated room about the benefits of spreading content around the various social networking sites, all with a keen eye on how they link back to your own website. Something that piqued my interest was David’s mention of media/ content heavy sites like Blogger (the platform I use for this blog) and Flickr.

For years I have been making useful and insightful comments on content created by other people on these websites. Primarily this has been either just for fun or for shameless self-promotion. In the last few months I had slowed down a little in my comment campaigns upon discovering that a lot of forums (and most definitely Flickr) append any links I leave with the HTML attribute rel=’nofollow’.

Nofollow 101
Nofollow is a HTML attribute developed (conceptually at least) by Google themselves. The idea behind nofollow is that it acts as a brake for search engine spiders, it quite literally means that if a spider finds a nofollow link it won’t follow it. Nofollow is a dead end, a full stop, thereby linking to your site from a nofollow link won’t help your rankings at all.

The nofollow attribute came about partly as a way of stopping spammers from trashing forums and comment boxes around the web. I have used it on a forum I run in Ipswich as it makes it clear to spammers that they’ll be wasting their time leaving their filthy business on your site.

The nofollow catch 22
It is common knowledge that with the virulent rise in social networking search engines will have to factor in the amount of noise and chatter surrounding your website in the social networking world when gauging how important you are to their users. Google have come right out and made it clear they will definitely be paying attention to this chatter.

Google will have to use their spiders to figure out how many links you have coming to you from the world of social networking, but if the majority of links to your site have the nofollow attribute then how will that work? Have Google really shot themselves in the foot by encouraging websites to use nofollow? Have they slammed the door on their own spiders?

The short answer is ‘probably not’; logic dictates that Google are more likely to ignore nofollow than they are to adhere to it. They have to, how else would they gauge the importance of your web presence?

The conclusion
I’ve decided to ignore nofollow for now, and to carry on what I’ve been doing for the last few months and continue to organically and slowly increase the number of inbound links to my websites through useful comments on social networking sites.
I’ve written a blog post going into some more detail on leaving useful comments on third party sites for the purposes of SEO here - http://lawsie.blogspot.com/2009/11/comments-on-social-networking-sites-for.html

You can read more about the nofollow attribute here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nofollow

Find out more about a451 here - http://a451.co.uk/

Comments on social networking sites for the purpose of SEO, and how Google Alerts can do some of the ground work for you.

The key word here is useful – spammy comments on social networking and blog sites will be deleted (or simply not approved). If you post the same comment on every third party site then the search engines will spot your game immediately. If you make comments on websites that are useful to the other users of the site then you’re less likely to cause offence.

If you’re particularly knowledgeable you may even start to be seen as a useful member of the community and encouraged to get more involved. Don’t forget that these comments you’re leaving also have the potential to bring you organic traffic -people that click on the links you leave – so be useful and be interesting! Leaving useless comments can also reflect negatively on your brand, so be careful.

How to figure out where to post comments
I use the free Google Alerts service to find out where in the blogosphere people are talking about the keywords that I am targeting. These alert emails will often cover ground they have previously churned up, so it’s important to think carefully before charging off to leave your mark.

But is leaving comments for SEO advancement evil or unethical?
No I don’t think it is – I thought long and hard about whether to make this post and share this technique but I decided that as it requires a lot of thought and (like all good SEO) isn’t a quick fix then it isn’t unethical. If you were to use software or a script to leave comments then it would most definitely be evil SEO, and you would probably be punished by being dropped from rankings, and quite rightly so!

It’s my opinion that contributing to the usefulness of the web is at the very heart of good SEO practice, and it’s an opinion that is re-enforced by the results it yields.

There is a HTML attribute called ‘nofollow’ that impacts on this plan, I’ve written a blog post about it here - http://lawsie.blogspot.com/2009/11/surely-google-spider-ignores-nofollow-3.html

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mercedes 230TE (W124) stalls when slowing down/ braking (at traffic lights and on slow corners etc).


A couple of weeks ago I picked up a 1991 Mercedes 230TE (W124) estate car for just over £500, it was a cheap price and as the current owner had put a year’s MOT and tax on it I considered this car purchase a tolerable risk. The tax alone is worth nearly £200.

I chose the Mercedes W124 because of its legendary reliability; it is the last of the truly over engineered ‘built to last’ Mercedes. The W124 hails from an age before Mercedes started competing with the influx of cheap Japanese cars that were flooding the market. In fact legend has it that the engine of the W124 Mercedes was designed to last for one million miles! This puts the fact that the example I have bought has done 170,000 miles into some perspective. 170,000 is also fairly low mileage for a 230TE that is nearly twenty years old.

The Mercedes W124 are also incredibly comfortable and most examples have an automatic gearbox. I haven’t owned a car for over a year and this beast of a motor serves as the perfect antidote to the tiny Daihatsu Hi-jet my wife owns (and sometimes lets me drive).



Part of the reason the car was as reasonably priced is that there is an intermittent fault, although since I picked the car up the fault has been less intermittent and more permanent.


The problem
The car stalls when slowing to a halt, in much the same way as a manual car would if you forgot to put the clutch down just before coming to a complete standstill. My Mercedes will also stall when slowing hard on the brakes, essential when going round a slow urban corner.

I’ve never owned an automatic transmission car before, in fact I’ve only ever driven an auto twice in my life, both times in America (and on the ‘wrong’ side of the road). When the engine first stalled out it took me swiftly to panic stations. The fact the handbrake is operated by a foot pedal and released by a pull handle on the dashboard only confused the situation.

Now the car stalls every time I have to hold down the brakes when going less than ten miles an hour, its damned inconvenient but I’m a fairly calm sort of chap and (so far) other road users have been quite tolerant of my unscheduled stops. But this MUST be fixed, in this state the car is quite simply unusable and is verging on being unfit for the roads.

Restarting the engine is never a problem, but when it’s stalled three or four times in a few hundred yards the smell of petrol can get a bit rich. I’m also sure the engine starts to flood a little, which really won’t help the problem.


Mitigating...
The previous owner of my car was a Mercedes fanatic; he had personal plates on this car and kept it maintained above and beyond the call of duty. This was probably partly due to the fact the previous owner makes a living selling Mercedes W124 parts online. My 230TE was not bought from some wide-boy who had thrashed the car to within an inch of its life.

In trying to solve the problem the previous owner replaced (with genuine Mercedes parts) the alternator, the HT leads and a whole bunch of other stuff, but all to no avail. As the fault is intermittent he was unable to get the car to a mechanic while the fault was occurring. In his own defence he admitted quite candidly that he sells Mercedes parts, he is not a Mercedes mechanic.


The solution
Well I haven’t found a solution just yet, and I will keep posting updates on this page until I do.

I called out the friendly mobile mechanic (Kevin) who keeps my wife’s Daihatsu Hi-jet on the road and bar tightening a loose hose (he found under the air filter) he was unable to offer much help. It’s not to say he didn’t try; he pointed out that a small hole in the exhaust was probably affecting the amount of CO2 in the engine, and until I got that hole fixed it might prove something of an obstacle to diagnosis. He recommend a local independent Mercedes specialist and I duly booked the car in for repair of said hole. As I sit writing this up that appointment hasn’t happened yet (it’s Friday and it’s booked in for this coming Monday).

Having owned several old and character full cars in the past I learned long ago just own valuable Internet forums are in solving problems. Forums bring together hundreds (if not thousands) of people all interested in the same car as you. Wherever there are these thousands of enthusiasts there will always be plenty of people that have found themselves facing the same difficulties that you are trying to solve.

Some helpful people over on the W124 section of the MBworld.org site feel sure that this stalling/ engine cutting problem is due to a problem with the OVP (over voltage protector). This small device that can be found lurking behind the battery stops electrical surges from blowing out parts of the car’s systems that would be expensive to replace. The fuse on top of the OVP was fine, but the users of the forum inform me that over time water leaks into the OVP unit somewhat diminishing its effectiveness.
The previous owner had his suspicions that the stalling at low speed was being caused by a vacuum leak, but this idea was soundly poo pooed by our friendly Merc geeks on the MBworld.org forum; they pointed out I’d be having all kinds of other horrid problems, which I’m not.

Here's the thread over on that forum...

A quick chat with the parts people at my local Mercedes dealership (preceded by lots of long confused phone calls with local scrap merchants/ breakers yards) revealed that a brand new OVP unit could be mine for just £70. At this price I decided to take the risk of replacing what might be an already working part and jumped in my car and headed across town to hand over some cash to said franchise holder. Pausing only to stall ten or eleven times of course. So now I’m the (proud?) owner of a brand new Mercedes OVP unit, and tomorrow morning I’m going to fit it and see what happens, I’ll report back here of course.





Update - 14/11/09
The new OVP relay was very easy to fit, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever done any work on a car that was so brief and easy. I took the car for a spin to see if it would still stall. I held the brakes on corners, held the brakes at traffic lights and generally did everything I could to make it stall and it didn’t. I was feeling cautiously optimistic, and decided to go to our local farm shop to buy some gourmet mayonnaise (I tell you this, because sometimes details are important) and had to hold the brakes for an age waiting to turn into the entrance. Shudder, poot, the engine stalled.

I gave up on buying Mayo and headed home. My optimistic side is trying to tell me that the stalling problem wasn’t as bad, but my pessimistic side is telling me that if the Mercedes specialists can’t fix this problem on Monday then I may have to sell the car. I’ve only had it two weeks and have only done 115 miles, and 100 of those were the drive from where I bought it to my home!




Update – 16/11/09

I’m just back from the independent Mercedes specialist ‘Prestige’ in Ipswich with some good news, some bad news and some weird news.

The good news.
The idle circuit air hose was badly split so they taped it up and ordered me a new one, cost is just £12! This will probably almost entirely eradicate the stalling problem. They noted on the diagnosis report that the OVP unit had been replaced, so I feel kinda like I did the right thing in replacing it.

The bad news.
The exhaust manifold is cracked and the oxygen sensor has become one with the rust therein. The catalytic converter is also shagged (my word, not theirs). So there’s air rushing in where air ought not to be rushing in, and the engine is getting all confused and running far too rich (hence the petrol smell I described earlier). The catalytic converter is contributing to the problem by kinda suffocating the engine, thereby twisting the knife that cases the stall. A replacement oxygen sensor will cost about £136.00 (not too bad), a new catalytic converter will cost £1162.00 (oh mercy).

The weird news.
The idle circuit air hose will be fixed within the week, and should almost entirely eradicate the stalling problem, in fact it’s already FAR improved with the Heath Robinson repair they put in place today.

If I’m happy with the performance of the car after the hose has been replaced then fine. If it’s still an issue then they’ll replace the oxygen sensor, mig weld up the holes in the manifold and remove the catalytic converter entirely – it turns out cars as old as mine don’t legally need one! So I’ll feel a little bad that my car is chucking out some nasties into the atmosphere, but that will be nicely balanced by the fact that I’m keeping an old car on the road! Keeping an old car going (to a certain extent) is surely better than buying a brand new car? Replacing the catalytic convertor is quite simply never going to happen, in fact if I was forced by law to replace it I would have to scrap the car as I can’t afford it!




Update 29/11/09
When I took the car in to have the new idle circuit air hose fixed the garage informed me that they’d found a non-Merc catalytic converter for £120. The car does drive better with the new hose but once I’ve started stalling I know the rest of my journey may take ‘some time’.

So I’m going to clear out the remainder of my non-existent W124 budget and buy a new cat £120 (US$200), a new O2 sensor (about the same price) and then pay the garage a few hours labour (at a very reasonable £60 an hour) to fit the parts and weld shut the hole in the manifold.

So fingers crossed this will fix the problem, because if it doesn’t I’m going to be driving this car until the MOT runs out in November then I’ll have to scrap it!


Update 04/12/09
I saved up £500 to get the o2 sensor and the catalytic converter fixed. The split in the manifold also needed sealing up and the garage was also going to attend to that.

I woke up extra early to get the car down the garage, ‘this is the day’ I thought. I cheerfully mused to myself that when all the work was done by the end of today I would have a lovely car that I would keep for years.

With a song in my heart I turned the key in the ignition; well at least I tried to. The key wouldn’t budge and in my attempts to turn it I managed to lock the steering. No amount of gentle jiggling would free the ignition or the steering column so the garage sent out a professional key jiggler but he agreed things were looking grim.

So in addition to the o2 sensor, the catalytic converter and the welding on the manifold I was now in need of a new ignition system, steering lock and steering column parts. Even if I used pattern parts this would add about £350 to the current expected bill of up to £500, this brings me to a total of £850, which if you’ve been following this sorry tale is more than I paid for the car in the first place. So the end has come, the garage are going to recover my car to their premises and rape it off anything valuable in lieu of their bill for today’s work.

So I owned my 230te for thirty days and drove it about eight times. My wallet hurts so bad I can’t sit down without wincing. I haven’t owned a car for a year and a half and then once I had saved up the cash to buy one I just pissed £800 (US$1400) down a big black hole.

I’m done, I can’t afford another car, and considering I’m an IT consultant that has to go on call out this is not what I would call a happy ending.

Rogue anti-virus software – malware warning!

This is an email I sent to my clients in October 2009

I wouldn't normally send out a message warning about a virus - as more often then not emails warning about viruses are more annoying and time consuming than viruses themselves - but there's a real pickle of a virus doing the rounds at the moment that I wanted to warn you about.

I can't give you the name of the rogue program in question as it changes name every few weeks, but I can describe the symptoms;
  • Messages start popping up informing you that you have lots of viruses and spyware infections (the number will probably be 30+)
  • An anti-virus program will keep asking you to register to clear aforementioned problems.
This is a very tough virus to repair, and in some instances we have had to do a complete software rebuild. We are not totally sure how infections are occurring, but as always do not open attachments from emails sent by unknown recipients. If in doubt do not open anything you are not expecting.

I would normally only expect to fix any given virus once, but I have now fixed this virus several times.

In the past this fake anti-virus software has called itself AntiVirus XP, AntiVirus 2009, Antivirus 2010, IE Antivirus and has used many more fairly legitimate sounding names.

For more information visit the 'Rogue Security Software' page on Wikipedia.org...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Creating iCal files really easily using our online wizard

iCal files could prove them to be the next bit of web technology to breach the line between geeky curiosity and mission critical wonderfulness. New technology is doomed to fail unless the business uses of it become apparently to the decision makers in organisations.

For a while now we’ve been playing with iCal files, there’s something about the ability to place events in user’s Outlook calendars that really appeals to our geekier side. We tinkered with iCal capabilities and spent some time trying to get our clients excited about them, but without an obvious business use (outside of promoting a single specific event) we struggled to inspire client ‘buy in’.


Then (as is often the case with this one particular client) I received a phone call asking the impossible of me. They wanted to send about a thousand people an email containing a special link, when a recipient clicked said link my client wanted every event they’re holding for the entire year to be automatically added to the recipients calendars, be they Outlook, Lotus Notes, iCalendar, Google Calendar or anything else. I say with no hint of sarcasm that I love clients like this, having a direction and a challenge in ones head makes technical explorations so much easy and far more focussed!

iCal files immediately sprang to mind, I had cobbled them together in notepad for single events a few times in the past and they’re an incredibly effective reminder facility when placed in event confirmation emails. I looked into the iCal system a bit more depth and found out I could load a single iCal file with as many events as I wished. One click, for a huge payload.

After much time spent scanning the web for a simple iCal creator that I could recommend to my clients I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t one. If a technology is going to make the leap to the mainstream it MUST be accessible. Industry professionals don’t mind smashing a code file about in notepad, but someone sat at their desk who doesn’t share our peculiar interest in messing with technical mechanics – someone who just wants to get the job done – will not (and never will) invest their time in learning how to tinker with something, they just want it to work. This is why Apple Macs are so popular, and why Linux is still lurking in the shadows.

So with some help from a friendly (and very talented) developer called Liz Warner I set about publishing an online wizard based on the EventCreator system. Liz created a simple to use online wizard to create multiple event iCal files. No programming experience needed, in fact users can be utterly ignorant of the existence of notepad and they’ll still play like a winner with this neat little tool.

Sounds neat, take me to the iCal wizard…

More about iCal files…

Monday, October 26, 2009

NICE - the band

This is old content transferred from the original lawsie.com site.

This band is also covered in an article I have had published at AltSounds.com


Way back in the mists of time a bunch of friends living in Wickham Market (Suffolk) decided pursuing the traditional village pastime of sitting outside the mens toilets by the village bus stop was never going to appeal to them so they followed their obsession with music and decided to form a band. Matthew Bell, Dan Foden, Tom Bell and Andrew Laws called themselves The Remedial Class, then Nice, then Morris 1000, then The Benaults, then The Listeners, then probably about twenty other names I've forgotten.

Well that's sort of how it happened. From what I (Andrew) remember, Dan, Matt and Tom formed a band called 'The Apple' with Tim Laskey aged about twelve or thirteen, after one video ably shot by Dan's dad 'Mr.Foden' the band called it a day and I was drafted in to be the singer in a new band with Matt and Tom. The only qualification I had for this position was that I owned an LP by the Charlatans and didn't appear to have anything better to do. After one attempted video shoot by Joe Drury we all agreed that the world wasn't ready for my unique singing style and I was given the ultimatum by Matt that if I wanted to stay in the band I needed a bass guitar. This was at a stage in proceedings when we didn't have a drum kit, so the sum equipment in the band was Matt's guitar and an amp the size of a transistor radio. Without really thinking about it I sold all the photography equipment that I had bought with my hard earned paper round money and returned triumphant from a bus ride to Ipswich with the crappiest bass known to man. I forget how Dan joined the band, I think he just sorta turned up one day. This was way back in (possibly) 1989.



I'm not going to write the whole history of the band here, as frankly I can't remember most of it. Our first gig was to the church youth group in Wickham Market, and they were frankly underwhelmed. Matt and Tom (and to a certain extent Dan) had musical training, this was something I was lacking. Not being able to remember any of the compulsory recorder lessons I had a received at primary school I followed the best course of action I could, I made it all up as I went along. This would have worked fantastically at this first gig had I not been playing through an amp at least ten times more powerful than any other piece of equipment in the room. For the next gig I hired out the village hall at nearby Hatcheston and charged £1 entry. My dad and my next door neighbour formed security and we borrowed a PA for free from Sounds Plus in Ipswich. To this day that first proper gig remains special in my heart for two reasons; 1 - We made £20 each and it took me at least ten years after that to make as much money playing in a band. 2 - We had about 120 people at the gig, and it took me at least 14 years to get that many people to come and watch any band I was in again.

So we started on a high, what followed was a number of years (it's hard to tell exactly how many) of gigging very little, practicing very much and generally enjoying the feeling of being in a band. There are hours of video footage of the gigs we did over the years, as well as fairly random footage and of course the short film noir gangster flick we made. I don't at the moment have any method of getting this footage onto the site, but I hope to in the future.

As with all things the band eventually faded away as members went onto University, or like me got fired for joining another band and then spent years on the dole. Here on this site is a collection of some of the photographs and recordings that we cobbled together over the years, I hope you enjoy it and please get in touch if you have anything to add to this site.



The Bois in the Band

This is the gear list as I remember it, there are of course omissions and it covers the whole lifespan of the band. It doesn't cover the old gutiar hardcase we had crammed full of all kinds of random leads and whatnot.

Andrew Laws
Bass Guitar
Equipment List
Sunn Mustang Precision Copy
Honner Jazz Bass copy with the frets ripped off and a fake MusicMan headstock
Vesta Shite Precsion Copy
Peavy TKO 75 bass amp

Tom Bell
Drums
Premier Drumkit
Various odd african drums with hair on them

Matt Bell
Guitar/ Backing Vox
Mystery Black gutiar that we always thought was a Gibson
Guitiar Amp known as 'The Beast'
Honner Les Paul Copy
Squier Stratocaster
BOSS Feedbacker Pedal
Rocktek Metal Worker
Vintage Marshall 500watt head
Homemade 2x12 cab

Dan Foden
Vox
Casio SK1 Keyboard
PA bought off Elmerhassel with the heaviest cabs known to mankind
Technics Keyboard



Photos

There must have been hundreds of photos taken of our band, Dan's dad used to turn up with a camera with a flash so bright it could bring down light aircraft. I have no idea where all these photos are, and I'd love to see them! There are also hours of footage covering almost every gig we ever did, I'll try and get them on the site too.


I think this is the only cover we ever made, taken from our 'ShavenEvilPlaces' side project
Our rider for a gig at Charsfield Village hall. We didn't get any of it but Dan still managed to be most unwell the next day


Matt Bell

Matt's first electric guitar


Tom doing the patented 'biddy sneeze'



Andrew's first crap guitar (a Sunn Mustang)

Matt Bell in relaxing Morcombe, we stayed there the year before they closed it down and turned it into a prison camp.


Thanks to this photo booze was banned from Sizewell Hall, this photo was taken the night after a gig at Bredfield Village Hall

This picture was taken from the background of a church group photo that was going on in front of us


One of may black and white photos that Dan and Andrew developed after Dan's dad had gone to bed and left us in the darkroom. The rest are missing.


Dan Clearing up after some recreational eating


Matt Bell playing a guitar that Andrew wrote 'I love Sarah' on


One of my favourite pictures of the band, Framlingham Old Railway gig


Hatcheston Village Hall


Framlingham Old Railway gig



Matt Bell at the Framlingham Old Railway gig


Dan at the Framlingham Old Railway gig



The board outside our gig at Framlingham Old Railway, circa 1991 I think

We were avid skaters, for at least a few months


Posed, much? Note that we are drinking the homebrew that Andrew and Matt made, brave souls indeed!


In the early days we didn't have a drumkit


Dan and Andrew at Southend

The posters from the first band name, I think we sold them for 10p each








The Secret Band Base

Like all proper bands we dug our own underground secret base, only a few photos survive.


The corner of the living room

The edge of the sleeping area, also the fireplace, so if you fancy a sleep you could be sure your head wouldn't get cold


The sleeping area

The entrance to our secret underground base




Where are they now?

Andrew Laws

Tom Bell
  • Now a practising Doctor

Matt Bell
  • Now a practising Doctor

Dan Foden
  • Still performing here in the UK and in the USA, check out his band The Great Shakes

If any old bandmates are reading this then please feel free to update me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AOL and Intel Merger - Will AOL and Intel merge and make you rich?

This is very old content from the old lawsie.com site, in fact I originally posted this in January 2005, and it was already a very old scam by then. But some people still feel the need to forward this for some unknown reason, so here's the truth on the AOL and Intel merger -





INTEL AND AOL ARE GOING TO MERGE, MICROSOFT WILL PAY YOU FOR FORWARDING THIS EMAIL.

Sound familiar? The AOL/ Intel merger email must be one of the most forwarded emails ever. I get around 500 emails a day and I can guarantee at least five or six of those emails will be tell me to forward them to to someone else for some reason. I never do. As you read the email I've copied out below it asks you the question 'what harm can it do?' Well basically it can be bloody irritating and on a large company network it can cause a similar problem to a virus that copies itself to your entire address book. A lot of email viruses spread and cause network load problems by reading your address book and then sending a message out to everyone you know. With rubbish like the AOL/ Intel merger email there is no need for virus programmers to even bother with fancy code that might get intercepted by virus scanning software, they can just rely on good old human stupidity to jam up emails systems for them!

Think about it for a moment before you send it to everyone you know,,,
So Intel and AOL are going to merge? Then why would Microsoft care? And more to the point, why would Microsoft pay you for spreading an email? These emails usually arrive in plain text format, I've been a network admin for years and years now and let me assure you that it is impossible for Microsoft to track emails that do not originate from their own servers. Even the FBI has trouble tracking emails! As for the comment about Bill Gates being generous and having deep pockets, well he may well have. But on an English chat show recently he was asked if he dropped a $100 bill would he pick it up? The answer is yet, HE NEVER WASTES MONEY!

So before forwarding emails like this ask yourself three questions.
  1. Can you telephone the person claiming to have received a cheque and ask them about it?
  2. Do you know anybody in person that has benefited from forwarding an email, EVER?
  3. Can you contact the company that will supposedly give you money and have them agree?

If the answer to all three questions is no, then delete the email and carry on working. If you don't believe me then please call your lawyer and see what he says.

Here is one of the many variants of the AOL and Intel merger email;



I'm an attorney, and I know the law. This thing is for real. Rest assured AOL and Intel will follow through with their promises for fear of facing an multimillion dollar class action suit similar to the one filed by Pepsico against General Electric not too long ago. I'll be damned if we're all going to help them out with their e-mail beta test without getting a little something for our time. My brother's girlfriend got in on this a few months ago. When I went to visit him for the Baylor/UT game she showed me her check. It was for the sum of $4,324.44 and was stamped "Paid In Full". Like I said before, I know the law, and this is for real. If you don't believe me you can e-mail her at jpiltman@baylor.edu. She's eager to answer any questions you guys might have.

This is not a joke. I am forwarding this because the person who sent it to me is a good friend and does not send me junk. Intel and AOL are now discussing a merger which would make them the largest Internet company and in an effort make sure that AOL remains the most widely used program, Intel and AOL are running an e-mail beta test. When you forward this e-mail to friends, Intel can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $203.15, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $156.29 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $17.65. Within two weeks,Intel will contact you for your address and then send you a check. I thought this was a scam myself, but a friend of my good friend's Aunt Patricia, who works at Intel actually got a check for $4,543.23 by forwarding this e-mail.

Try it, what have you got to lose????



Related Links about this scam email; About.com
A fantastic Urban Legends and Folklore resource, the best in my opinion.


BreakTheChain.org
Another great resource on the AOL Intel merger


Snopes.com
Along with about.com the essential place to check out scams and crap emails

Thursday, October 08, 2009

How National Express turned me into a criminal

Do you ever wonder what scandalous things your friends say about you when your back is turned? How hurt do you think you would be if you ever found out? In my case the low spoken rumours spread by friends and associates are probably all true. It's not that I live a particularly shocking life, but I'd be a fool to deny that there are certain aspects of my existence that regularly inspire slow disapproving head-shakes from friends and associates. Friends and associates who find themselves more entrenched in the ways of polite society than I. I claim freedom, they claim moral indignation.

If I overheard a huddle of friends chatting in hushed whispers and stifled chuckles about my pathological inability to get up early in the morning I would find myself no valid defence and spare them my interruptions. I would also wonder just how slow the week my friends had just experienced had been, that they would consider an in depth discussion of my rest routines a valid and exciting current affair fit for discussion.

I won't dwell on the fact I'm barely capable of sentient thought until around 11am, I merely mention it so you might consider it a contributing factor in what follows. I offer it as a meagre gift to the gods of fair reason, that it may tilt opinions slightly in favour of National Express. I offer up this information in the interests of fairness, and to prevent this text being seen as an entirely one sided argument.


This very morning at 7.25am my wife gently aroused me (no sniggering at the back please) and informed me of the time. I half opened one gummy eye and after swallowing to lubricate my tonsils - they do dry out so after eight hours of hearty manly snoring - and tried to form a sentence that would register without ambiguity my contempt for her news. In reality rather than uttering forth a concise 'I don't care' I probably sounded more like one of those television evangelist fellows when they speak in tongues. In fact those evangelist chaps are somewhat more complete than I - they're capable of completing their garbled sentences without passing into the world of unconsciousness, an achievement I am unable to attain at such an early hour.

My wife - who is always as fresh as a spring flower in the mornings - tusselled my hair, gently stoked by cheek and lovingly kissed my forehead. When all that failed to wake me she used the more effective method of jabbing me in the spine with her elbow. Again I demanded to know the meaning of this outrage, and requested information as to why I should fight my way to full consciousness, and I used a language with words known to neither man nor beast but it was a message clear to all.

I forced my eyelids open, and once my eyes had stopped rolling back into my head my wife was suitably convinced I was in a receptive state. She politely illuminated the fact I was supposed to have boarded a National Express train from Ipswich to London roughly five minutes previous. Again I feebly pleaded for reasons why this information should deserve a place in my current value system, and shut my eyes in a vain attempt to rejoin a rather pleasant dream I had been engaged in a few moments previously.

Eventually - and displaying an amount of patience and perseverance that would exhaust a saint - my wife convinced me that if I was to continue the profitable relationship I have with my London client that keeps us in rags and broth I should really make an effort to rise, hide my shame with said rags and head off to the big smoke.

About an hour after the above occurrences I had dunked my frame in soapy water and sucked down enough strong tea to find myself at the National Express railway station in Ipswich. As I breached the swooshing electric doors of the station I was a little dismayed to see a long queue waiting for the attention of the three ticket desk folk National Express had deined to supply its hungry public during this peak time. I would have used the ticket machine, but for some reason our franchised overlords consider their busiest time of the day to be the most appropriate opportunity to take said machine out of commission so a sad looking giant of a man can open it up and slowly count the pennies within.

As I neared the front of the queue I growled a little (internally of course) as I noticed each grinning ticket god/ goddess was genially occupied by patrons wishing to know details of every possible route on the national rail network and/ or make a new friend. I certainly don't begrudge the lonely this chance to grasp at vapid and fleeting friendship with the employees of National Express, but (much like the decommissioning of the automated ticket monkey) I wish they'd do it at any time other than between the hours of 6am to 10am in the morning on any weekday.

My train pulled into the station just as two of the habitual enquirers considered themselves sated and gave up their new friends to the ticket hungry public. While I may not be able to co-ordinate colours in the clothes I wear at that ungodly time in the morning I can (after many years of practise) order a train ticket. In fact the phrase 'return to London Liverpool Street, returning on peak, with no underground' trip so readily from my tongue that sometimes I find myself unsure as to whether I have said it or not, and repeat the phrase several times over like an excitable six foot tall toddler.

The speed at which the National Express ticket staff can process an order is nothing short of astounding, and I say this with no hint of sarcasm. They can see the train is already in the station, they can see me looking between the train and them, swinging my head left and right like I'm at a tennis match, they know speed is of the essence. True to form myself and the ticket lady conduct our transaction with such speed and grace you could be forgiven for assuming we had spent hours in rehearsal, or had possibly been previously involved in one of those 'hand is quicker than the eye' television magician shows.

I could hear some of the doors on the ancient Intercity train slamming shut as I propelled myself across the station concourse with all the speed of a mature racehorse and all the grace of a newborn racehorse. I could see my prize before me - the last open door on the train - but an obstacle stood between me and my goal; the ticket barrier.

The ticket barrier is a relatively new addition to Ipswich Station, and one that seems most unwelcome to everyone. In this instance luck prevailed and the machine sucked up my ticket, spat it out and granted me access to the platform without trying to crush my innards by closing while I was half way through its jaws. I did catch my train, but I would have caught it by a far safer margin if I hadn't of had to negotiate that ticket barrier. The normal routine involves me putting my ticket through so many times that it ends up looking like a museum relic until I am granted access. Once half way through the barrier the 'kill paddles' attempt to separate my front from my back by prematurely closing. This debacle is normally concluded by paying a visit to the tired looking ticket inspector who is the guardian of the large disabled access gate. So whereas I used to be able to buy my ticket and walk the three or four metres to the platform, I now have to engage in a battle of wits with a belligerent bit of machinery and start my journey from Ipswich to London Liverpool Street with a light bit of internal bleeding.

So why were the ticket barriers installed? There are already ticket barriers at my destination, and my ticket will be checked en-route to London, so why does it also need to be checked in Ipswich? The addition of this extra level of security means that my ticket is now checked six times every time I travel to and from London. I've travelled through security at middle eastern airports and had my ticket checked less often. Putting barriers between the outside world (let's call it the free world just for fun) and the platform also robs me of the chance to buy my ticket on the train; something that is often essential when the ticket hall is teeming with the great grey moronic hordes of civilisation - every one of them wanting to know the variables for travelling between Leiston and Skegness.

To digress for a moment let's touch on the cost of rail travel. Today I paid £60 for a standard open return from Ipswich to London Liverpool Street, a journey that (god willing) takes just over an hour each way. When I was travelling to London and back every day - and bearing in mind I got a discount for buying my season ticket monthly - I was paying out twice as much for my rail fare each month as I was my mortgage, and my mortgage was only a year old! There are rarely any seats on peak time trains, and any seats that are available are often foul and dirty. This morning I paid £60 for the privilege of sitting in a coffee soaked seat. At least I hope it was coffee.

In their defence National Express would say that ticket barriers are essential to combat fare dodgers, but do all the fare paying passenger have to foot the bill for a few bad eggs? So if these ner do wells manage to cross the platform, and (with a cartoon villain cackle) actually board a train then National Express are saying they've got away with the crime of the century? What about the conductor on the train? I've seen what happens to people that disagree with conductors on trains, they get picked up by the transport police as soon as they reach their destination. Even if fare dodgers evade the conductor they still won't be able to get through the ticket barriers at London Liverpool Street. It's game over you evil fare-dodging genius.

So why am I being punished for the crimes of others, or (I guess) being punished for any fare dodging crimes I may commit in the future? In America they have a policy of 'innocent until proved guilty', it's not something that exists in Britain, and maybe these ticket barriers are proof. One of the only other sections of commerce that acts in this way are insurance companies, but that's a tale for another time.

I find this mentality of metering out punishment before the crime has been committed utterly self defeating and ultimately pointless. Deterrents do not work, the death penalty is constant proof of this. Fortunately we don't have the death penalty in Britain; if the law enforecement authorities employed the logic of National Express we would all receive a lethal injection moments after birth, just in case we commit murder in the future.

So what's next in the National Express valiant crusade against crime? I can't imagine, and I don't want to, but I'm sure they'll think of something. Maybe in ten years time catching a train will be as time consuming and frustrating as catching a plane? Actually that's an unfair comparison, planes are considerably cheaper to use than trains and lot more reliable. In their defence National Express are keeping the trains running a lot better than their predecessors, but I still wouldn't fancy getting in a plane they're responsible for maintaining.

I could force myself to get up earlier in the morning thus rendering the ticket barriers at Ipswich station less of a time delay, and more of a standard run of the mill matter for my moral indignation. In order to try and fundamentally change my genetic make up I could try and force myself to become a morning person - I could endure months of mental morning anguish until I become used to the hours and hardened to the fatigue. But that's really quite unlikely, instead I'll just whine about things I have no control over that ultimately don't have much of a bearing on my quality of life; that's the English way!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Why you shouldn't use bright gaudy images on your website.


It doesn’t matter if you’re promoting an event, a product (hell even a blog) think of your image choice as more of a garnish for your content than anything else. If you choose a busy /bright image it will detract from the message rather than enhance it, it’s a bit like placing a sparkler in a glass of fine wine (and will have much the same effect in blinding the poor unfortunate victim of your graphics).

Bright colours work great on circus posters where they have to catch the attention of a speeding soccer mom in an SUV in order to convey a message, but colour schemes that can send a Geiger counter into meltdown are not appropriate to use on a website where you are trying to reinforce the professional cache of your organisation. I have decided against purchasing from companies based entirely on dodgy site graphics and dog shit colour schemes, and you may be shocked to learn I’m nowhere near as unique as my mum thinks I am. I am however, exactly as great as she believes me to be.

The use of gaudy images is a vicious spiral, with each new graphic having to outdo its predecessor in vibrant violence until you're in a situation where you have to make your user’s eyes bleed just to get their attention. The logical end of this downward spiral will involve breaking into the homes of your potential customers and tattooing your message on the faces of their kin. Of course there’s a guy in marketing that will STILL feel that’s not going to get the message across so you’ll end up having to do some sort of naked sacrificial dance on the beds of your terrified customers wearing the still-warm skins of their pets. Having spent a couple of weeks in America recently – and having been exposed to the one sided abusive relationship they call ‘television advertising’ – there’s a part of me that fears things really could reach such a low point before the decade is out.

Look at the big boy’s websites - I mean the really successful websites that even cave dwellers and residents of the international space station have heard of - you’ll notice they use slightly subdued colours that compliment each other rather than causing a migraine of stroke like proportions. These colour schemes designed to engender trust, a feeling that using your site is welcoming and comfortable, not that you're trying to shake a rattle in front of a distracted toddler. If you think the owners of these sites are wrong in using pale pastels and relaxed hues consider for a moment why they’re flying private fighter jets and forgetting how many super cars they own, and why you’re still driving that 1987 Dodge with the brakes that are about as effective as using breadstick weapons to repel Samurai hordes.

And if you use animated gifs or pointless flash movies then you are just like that kid at school who ate whatever he managed to excavate from his nasal cavities to impress the girls.

Friday, October 02, 2009

New published work - A Tale of Junk Culture


I don't normally post on my blog when I get published somewhere - it seems a bit crass somehow. However, I have just had the first part of a humorous series I'm writing published by the lovely folk at altsounds.com

'A Tale of Junk Culture Part 1' is a rough history of my old band, and is now available for your amusement here - http://hangout.altsounds.com/features/111437-a-tale-of-junk-culture-part-1-a.html

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Screen Break Video #002 | Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) 'Monsters in your parasol'

There are things we all do when alone in the house, things we think nobody knows about, things we have no intention of sharing with the outside world. Maybe we dance in a certain way to a certain track, maybe we like to inject a bit of juice into an every day mundane activity like unloading a dishwasher.

Well I work at home, and over the years I’ve discovered that the silly things I do for my own private amusement seem to amuse others. So here, for your viewing pleasure is me unloading the dishwasher accompanied by Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) playing ‘Monsters in your parasol’*.



*from the album 'Rated R'.


Friday, August 21, 2009

The curious case of the late night knocker.


By Andrew Culture

A couple of years ago had you been treated to a view of my living room on one particular December night you would have witnessed a scene not unlike most evenings in this the most softly furnished of rooms in my modest house. As on most dark winter nights I was recumbent with an improving book, cradling a nightcap of medium priced single malt, and gently contemplating this wild cosmos in which we dwell as a bewildered brotherhood.

The title of the text I was cerebrally betwixt nor the author are made available to my current self by my grey matter, for I am somewhat slowed by a brain that is infrequently willing to acquiesce to my requests for the finer details of times and events past. The episodes that loom larger in my life are neatly stored and are made readily available to me, but as for the finer details let’s just say my mind decides itself to be far outside the jurisdiction of the freedom of information act. Sometimes the finer details of my distant chapters do bubble to the surface, but rarely does this happen in a timely (or useful) fashion. If you were to require details on the book I was reading that distant eve I suggest you check back in with me after several Sundays have past, and if you’re lucky the details may occur to me. After I have furnished you with this information I would allow you a moment to wallow in your own informational futility, for the title and chapter is not of component level relevance to this tale.

Where was I? Oh yes, the curious tale of the late night knocker. I do recall the hour of this scene, it was a lazy shake past midnight and the street outside my abode gave up no more than the sound of the occasional passing car, and the even more occasional mumbling pedestrians. These sounds are the aural detritus that one must learn to tune out when living in a metropolis. I pay them no heed, and they continue ignorant of my reluctantly listening ear. Each sound is diminished by my windows and curtains, the sounds of even the closest passers by are gifted to me as feint and distant rumours. I focus this point so you may understand my considerable surprise when this moment of gentle relaxation was broken, and all restfulness stolen from me.

I was focussing on the middle distance contemplating a claim made in my reading matter, and slowly imbibing both knowledge and my warmed whisky when I was lifted from my revere by the brutal clank of the brass knocker on my front door being brought to bear upon its associate part, the sound striking business end if you will. I did not spring from my intellectual recumbence immediately; sour experience has taught me that some late night revellers derive bewildering amounts of entertainment from striking the door of each residence as they pass. Such is the curse of living in a terrace row without the advantage of a front garden, we are entirely lacking in that safety margin between the comfort of ones homestead and the brutality of anonymous mankind.

The brass knocker on my door was lifted and struck down again, with a firmness of action that made the intention of the perpetrator most clear to me. With a short shallow sigh I placed the string marker into the cleft of my book, found a steady seat for my whisky tumbler and lifted myself toward my living room door. Before I could reach the front door beyond the metallic hack of the knocker struck again, this did not improve me, nor did it work in the favour of the visitor if he was hoping to catch me at my benevolent peak.

With shoulders held broad and my corporeal self drawn up to my full and considerable height I unlatched my defences and opened the door. I was greeting by the gently swaying top of a chap about a foot shorter than I stood on the municipal pavement that meets the frontage of my house. Being a gentleman I allowed my visitor a moment to announce his intentions and collect his thoughts into a packaged request that I might consider. My visitor seemed a little surprised by my presence before him, a reaction betrayed by his raised eyebrows as he tore his attention away from a scruffy mobile phone he was fondling in his hands. I considered for a moment how the man before me failed to grasp the connection between his actions and their consequences – I imagine he must be delighted when he switches on a television and is granted the spectacle of the moving images that appear before him, like magical dancing spectres.

The squinting of his eyes as he glanced up at me made it clear this was the first time we had enjoyed the pleasure of each others company. Communication was not forthcoming from his side of this parley so growing tired of the vagaries of his presence I took it upon myself to open the debate. I was striding about halfway through my opening gambit when I was rudely interrupted,
“Let me in mate.”
I registered immediately my unwillingness to take this gentleman into the bosom of my household, but being gentle of heart I made enquires as to why he should be so keen to envelop himself in the warm glow of my hallway. Again those squinting eyes fired a glance of pure confusion and caught me a blow direct through my eyes and into my soul. Fortunately (I guess) it was no more than a glancing blow, the quality of aim being somewhat diminished by my unwanted guest’s obvious and deep held affection for intoxicating liquors.

For a brief moment my humanity demanded I invest a slice of empathy and concern as my interviewer attempted to steal himself some steadiness from my door frame. This transpired to be a foolish and ill-judged theft as the shoulder he had attempted to aim at the periphery of my aperture missed its mark and glanced from the accompanying wall. While this man may not have been either muscular nor cerebrally toned he was surprisingly elastic and bounced from the wall with the grace of a toppling tailor’s dummy. As he reeled backwards I feared I may have cause to practice long ago learned first aid skills. My fears (and memory) remained unchallenged as this tottering tool was caught by the broad side of a parked vehicle.

After a collection of deep sighs and slow sure shakes of his head (which didn’t help his balance much) this man renewed the force behind his request to be allowed access to my living quarters. Again I requested illumination on the details and reasoning behind this petition, and to my surprise he played what I feel sure he considered to be his ace card,
“Because it’s my house”.
I granted this wobbling Wally grave reassurance that I was deep within a contact with a lending bank that granted me the legal right to dwell within, but he was unbowed in his determination that I was in error.

The minor variations in wording, pitch and urgency from his quarter did little to save me from growing tired of this man’s society and I made a request of my own. With perfect diction and clarity I registered a request to be alone, a state I wished to be enveloped by within just a few ticks and an equivalent number of tocks. My unwelcome guest lowered his considerable eyebrows till they obscured the tops of his questioning eyes and took it upon himself to enter negotiations, the conclusion of which he considered of equal benefit to all parties. I rejected the offer of his mobile phone (should I allow him indoors) and with fallen shoulders this mystery knocker conceded defeat. With a sigh so deep passers by would search the skies for a falling hot air balloon he executed a ill balanced quarter turn and dismissed me with a lifted hand.

Before I closed the door I took a moment to ensure the craned neck and squinted eyes this man aimed loosely at the horizon would indeed result in his imminent departure, and in a shambling fashion it did. Just as the last slivers of orange street lights were banished from my hall way I heard the metallic strike of my neighbour’s door knocker. I decided my part had been played in this farce quite completely and returned to my position, book and whisky in my living room. The final dialogue of this scene was donated by my neighbour at great volume and with a succinct power that would leave nobody in any doubt to the strength of conviction voiced in his invitation for his unwanted visitor to seek procreation opportunities elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To you the hacker, my attacker.

By Andrew Culture

To you the hacker; to you who acted so vapidly and without definite aim - but with complete destruction. When you decided to destroy my web server I will never be able to guess your motives or understand your aims. As you sit in your world it’s quite possible you will never understand the impact of your actions and the implications upon my own world. I am unable to direct my hatred at you, for I cannot levy malice at that which I find bewildering.

When you destroyed the web server that hosted my business so completely that it was out of action for nearly a month were you satisfied? Did you consider your job well done, and time spent debilitating my work well spent? I can never understand what drove you to these actions, I have no idea who you are but it’s clear from the message you boastfully sent to me that you know who I am. The depth of your knowledge about me is impossible to gauge, but you wrote with such strength and conviction I can only assume you believe fully in your actions, and the foundations of your quest are unshakeable.

You point out the folly of a security vulnerability and claim the role of valiant crusader (and mix it with the motivation of the helpless driven fool) in your actions when you strike upon the weakness and wreak devastation. By this same token would you also rob the home of a neighbour if you saw the door ajar and a scarcity of witnesses? Would you consider that a lesson well taught? Should your loved ones be attacked and raped in the street, and should the attackers be allowed to claim in their defence that they should have all responsibility voided on the basis that your loved ones were not armed with the knowledge or weapons that may have saved them from such savagery? I’m uneasy in facing the prospect of a world that follows your rules, whereby we must start each relationship and venture on a back foot guarded and ready to defend ourselves against attack before we might seek the glory and joy of successful endeavours. By your design I no longer see the world in black and white, but rather through a grey and murky mist.

As you claim to know me you may know that I left school with no qualifications, and fought for my place in the world. A world that despises academical failure and is deeply suspicious of those who force their own way to self sufficiency - rather than following faceless peers down well trodden paths into the mindless shoals of the great grey hordes of humanity; into deep and untroubled obscurity. I fought long and hard against the preconceptions of this society and found myself a place in the world that allowed me to support myself. With your seemly idle actions you demolished this work, and I weaken at the thought of rebuilding so much good will that in one fell strike you diminished.

So it is with a shallow ache in my heart that I set about dismantling my business, utterly unprepared to continue down this path where effort and ethical vigilance and such thin and weak defence against those who seek to destroy me . Please accept my sardonic thanks for pushing me down a path pursuing more artistic ends, away from the pursuit of secure financial means. In art a belief in creating something unique is by its very nature shellproof against the passing malevolence of a single individual such as yourself.

If the path to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, then pray you appreciate the heaven you have constructed for yourself with your foul business. Wallow in your shallow joy, utterly complete in the knowledge that you have removed one more man from your radar; what hollow victory is yours.


Update http://lawsie.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-i-was-hacked-and-how-justice-was.html

Monday, August 10, 2009

Beat Motel Zine




Beat Motel is DEAD, this page exists as a homage to what was, what could have been and what will never be.


Useful Beat Motel stuff: - Buy Beat Motel | Zine & Labels contacts database | Our reviews | MySpace | FaceBook


What is Beat Motel?
Beat Motel is published every now and then, it’s meant to be quarterly but never is. Beat Motel is a ‘no stress’ publication, meaning we flat out refuse to get stressed over any aspect of the zine, and also refuse to succumb to any pressure levied on us by bands, labels, PR agents etc. Beat Motel has no specific agenda with regards to music, but we like to think our politics are pretty clear, basically ‘be excellent to each other, relax, and have fun’.


Beat Motel is kinda a punk zine but our musical tastes are pretty broad and a bunch of our writing has chuff all to do with either punk or music. We like laughing at childish rubbish but we also sometimes like being serious. We'll be using this webshite to give you information on each issue we put out and a bit of junk about our writers but that's about it. All the actual content will be in the printed zine. We like real zines and don't want this site to become a webzine, not that there's anything wrong with webzines, but hey, you can't read them on the crapper!

We review releases (CDs, DVDs, Vinyl & Wax Cylinders), we review live music and books. We also review nice presents and technical do-dads that cool folk send us, well at least we would if anyone sent any gidgits. What’s a gidgits you may ask, and if you have to ask them I guess you’re not the right person to send us gidgits. But as we’re a ‘no stress’ publication there’s little point in bugging us about stuff you’ve sent in to review, read Beat Motel and you’ll get a flavour of our tastes. Actually that being said we are very open to new music, putting out a zine and refusing to listen to new music is a bit like being a dog and refusing to sniff other dog’s arses. Well apart from the whole arse sniffing aspect I guess, we’re not really into that sort of thing, so if you bump into us on the streets there’s little point in dropping your trolleys, although it would amuse us greatly. Thanks for reading, the word ‘poo’ is funny.

To get the full Beat Motel picture you have to buy the zine!



Review Policy
We'll review pretty much anything, so send in your demo, album, zine, book, game, dvd, pies and we'll do our best to get round to writing about them. Don't be hassling us about it though, if you've sent something in for review then hold your bloody horses, pestering us by any method of communication to ask if we've reviewed you yet is a sure fire way to get us angry, and you wouldn't like us when we're angry.

We don't review MP3s, if you can't be arsed to send us a cd we can't be arsed to review you.

If you disagree with the slating you've got then tough, you can't please everyone all the time, if you don't want our opinion (and after all it is only an opinion) then don't send your stuff to us!

We review as much as possible, but we can’t promise to review absolutely everything as we get a jaw dropping amount of stuff every day. You stand a better chance of getting reviewed if you show originality, passion or include some sort of bribe!
If your press sheet contains the phrases 'hottest live act' or 'best kept secret' it will be shredded and used to light small fires and your cd will be used as a bird scarer on our allotment.

If you send us your CD you can take it as read we're adding you to our mailing list, after all, you want to know what your review says doncha foo?