The Dice House

On Saturday a group of four of us went into the West End to see a preview of The Dice House . It’s a play inspired by Luke Rhinehart’s book The Dice Man and has a novel pricing option, in that you can opt to roll dice to calculate the price you pay for your ticket (for previews, it was 4 dice, later it will be 6).

The play was funny; more of a farce than we expected. Some of the others had read Luke Rhinehart’s book, and were expecting something deeper and more serious, but I was quite happy with it.

If anyone does decide to go, best not look at the cast pictures in the programme until after the interval, otherwise it’ll give away part of the plot.

That Whole Compilation Thing

Nick Hornby has a bit in “High Fidelity” where he talks about making compilation tapes.

I used to make lots of compilation tapes when I was at college, and Ashley reminded me of one in an email he sent today. Back in those days, unlike Hornby, I wasn’t principally making compilations for my girlfriend, but for friends and my brother, Nick.

These tapes were made around 1986-1988, so had all sorts of stuff on them. I wasn’t much of one for arranging playlists by mood or type of music, I just slung stuff that I thought was good onto tape, in pretty much any order, sometimes trying to find a theme for each side of the tape. Ashley’s tape was a fairly typical one, featuring Tackhead Age of Chance and Was (Not Was ).

I used to take a lot of time making the tapes, and printing out cassette inlays using my Atari ST and dot matrix printer, each had a full track listing and often a few decorative touches, like an illuminati pyramid if there was a JAMMS track on the tape. Pretty much everything was recorded from vinyl because I didn’t buy a CD player until 1987, and most of the stuff I liked wasn’t easily available on CD then.

Looking back, there were a lot of tracks that I really ought to get CD or MP3 copies of, as I haven’t used my turntable in about a year. One favourite track was Boris Badenough’s “What’s Up Rocky” on a “House Sound of Chicago” compilation. Loads of samples from “Rocky & Bullwinkle” over a great Chicago House tune.
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More On Spam

That should probably be “Moron Spam” but hey….

The spamming world seems to have been moving along recently. There was even an article on the BBC News site about How to make spam unstoppable. Of course, it wasn’t anything of the kind, it was simply someone finding that if you put words in that you’ve trained your Bayesian filter to think indicate that the message is not spam, then wow, the filter thinks the message isn’t spam.

Hardly rocket science or even useful for spammers. Maybe I’m missing something?

My SpamAssassin installation continues to get better, with virtually none of the “bayesian-killer” random word mails now getting through. I now only get one or two spam messages per day in my Inbox, and today’s only spam was a rant accusing the Dutch Minister of Justice of being corrupt.

Demon have finally introduced anti-spam measures, and that has cut down the amount of spam that comes in from that route, though quite a few messages still get through their filters.

I’ve recently noticed that a lot of spam sender addresses are faked using a pattern of “” where “xx” are any pair of letters. I can’t think of many reasons that his is done, but it does sometimes have the side-effect that some of the bounced spam might not end up in a real mailbox (but of course, the bit resolves, thereby getting past the “sender domain must resolve” rule that some servers apply).

Enough spam already……

More Than A Blast From The Past

Maybe it’s the time of the year or something. I’ve had several emails recently from people deep in my past (well, from up to 15-16 years ago anyway).

The biggest thing was an email from one of the old Telecom Gold Noticebd users. This was the first electronic community that I came across. TG was an email service, all text-based with modem speeds from 300 to 2400bps. The Noticebd was a latest-first bulletin board that any user of Telecom Gold could post to. I found it in 1988 when I started work at the aforementioned TG, and the community was well-formed by then.

There were a crowd of users on there, some of the earliest were named after characters from A.A.Milne’s Pooh stories, others just picked whatever name appealed. We used to meet-up at “eyeballs” (from the old CB lingo) in a variety of generally excellent pubs around London. Many of these were followed by a post-pub trip down to Brighton for breakfast at “The Market Diner . There were all sorts of people involved; a few from TG itself, some from BT, others from ICL, P&O, charities and a whole load more. There were also some deaf and deaf-blind people (the blind users had braille keyboards and readers to access the system). I even met one of my (now ex-) girlfriends through the system.

So it was great to hear from Asterix again after many years. He now runs Sound Associates which he has takenover from his father. Asty emailed a whole bunch of us to suggest a reunion, and it looks like this is now going to happen in mid-March this year. There have been various emails from the other people on Asty’s list too. I’m really looking forward to meeting some of the old crew and seeing how they’ve all got on in the past few years.

I also got an email from Peter Lee, who I worked with at BT in 1994-96 when I was working in the OA part of . I haven’t heard from Peter since I left that department, and he seems to be doing very well for himself, married with a kid and currently working in the Netherlands.

Last but by no means least I also got a mail from Bill Parker (who now runs some gites in France). Bill worked at BT at about the same time Peter and I worked together. Bill’s just taken part in the Elefant Treffen motorcycle rally in Germany, and by all accounts it was a bit of an adventure.
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I Love The BBC

Coming soon to a TV screen near you, the sequel to such successful shows as “I Love 1974” and “I Love 1976”, yes, it’s time for “I Love The BBC”.

Reminisce about that funny old institution, the British Broadcasting Corporation. Listen to old people who used to be on TV telling you what they used to watch on the BBC, and remember why those people aren’t on TV any more (and wonder how the hell Kate Thornton ever got on there in the first place).

The whole huroosh of the past week has had enormous media coverage, with ITV crowing (despite the fact that the only significant investigative reporting they do is the occasional celebrity interview), and the BBC doing a painfully self-aware, let’s-report-the-facts-but-occasionally-concentrate-on-the-possibility-that-it-wasn’t-all-the-BBC’s-fault job of it all. Which of course, it wasn’t.
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