Passing laws and adding BIB-1 diagnostics

Years ago, I was a member of the Z39.50 Implementers’ Group. We’d gather from all around the world, maybe 30 or 40 of us, and meet for several days to discuss and vote on possible extensions to this venerable (and still important) information retrieval standard.

A common item of business was approving a new diagnostic code. Continue reading


Genesis: a tragedy in 15 acts. Part 1: the Gabriel years

About a year ago, for reasons that escaped me then and still do now, I found myself writing a whole-career retrospective review of Whitesnake’s albums. They’re a band that I like, but who I never really loved. But for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been listening to Genesis, and I do love them.

Genesis, classic line-up (1975). Left to right: Phil Collins (drums), Steve Hackett (guitars), Tony Banks (keyboards, above), Mike Rutherford (bass, below), Peter Gabriel (vocals)

Since 15 albums is a lot to cover in a single post, I’ll be breaking this one up into two: the present post on the first six albums, with Peter Gabriel as lead singer; and a follow-up on the last nine, with Phil Collins singing.

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Bolognese sauce, done right

Everyone knows how to make spaghetti bolognese … after a fashion. It’s classic student cookery, isn’t it? Onions, minced beef and tomatoes into a pot, simmer for a while — bam, done. But it can be done right, and then it’s a glorious thing.

Photo from Kok Robin’s blog.

And the good news is, it’s not difficult. It doesn’t need the ludicrous over-complication of Heston Blumenthal’s version. The main thing it needs is elapsed time. What you can’t do is make it in a hurry. But most of the time is simply simmering, so it doesn’t need to take up much of your time.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 25

Deep Space Accountant — Mjke Wood

This was a BookBub freebie, which I picked up because it was free and I found the conceit amusing.

I’m glad I did. It’s much better than it needed to be, offering some amusing characters, a genuinely nasty conspiracy and rather an exciting finale. As I write, the Kindle edition costs 99p. It’s not great literature, but it’s well worth picking up. Put it this way: I’d buy the sequel if it was also 99p, but I’m not going to pay £2.99 for it. Continue reading

Chicken Dhansak

This recipe is my homebrew attempt at synthesising my favourite restaurant/takeaway curry in a quick-to-make form, since all the dhansak recipes I’ve seen are very involved and don’t read like they’d produce anything very similar to the curry I know and love.

This is not my curry, but it looks pretty much like it.

As with all my cooking, quantities are very approximate: I never measure or weigh anything, so the amounts I’ve specified below are just my rough guesses at the amount that I tend to slop in. Although I work this way due to laziness, I argue that it’s positively a good thing, since the subtly different proportions every time you cook the same thing stop the palate from getting so used to it that it becomes boring.

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What I’ve been listening to in 2017

Here is a YouTube playlist of my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See this list of previous entries.)

I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the two computers where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or the kitchen, or on my phone.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

Here they are in ascending order of how often I listened to them. Continue reading

Paul Simon: One Trick Pony (1980)

Paul Simon’s fourth post-Garfunkel solo album, One Trick Pony, is the soundtrack to the movie of the same name. The film was pretty much ignored on release, both by audiences and by critics — its IMDB entry has only four critic reviews. But one of those is by Roger Ebert, who to my mind stands alone among movie critics, and he rightly recognised it as “a wonderful movie, an affectionate character study with a lot of good music in it”.

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