Weeknote 0004

  • A long old trip to a clients’ site on Monday: a seven-hour round trip by rail. Up early, home late. A good day, though. And I’ve learned there’s no such thing as train-grade wifi anymore. Some appauling, others practically as good as home. And there doesn’t seem to be a mobile mast anywhere in Oxfordshire.
  • Archive.org is a splendid thing but (as with other web-archiving sites) the running of Wayback Machine is badly in need of an update. There’s no way for people to administer ‘permanent’ copies of their own stuff. The Wayback crawler abandoned support of robots.txt, probably rightly, but no good solution was ever put in place. There’s plenty of good, solid, legitimate reasons why an individual might want to remove something from the archive, but the only way to do it is to go full GDPR. Who wants to be threatening an important charitable organisation with legal action just to tidy up their own collection? Madness.
  • I’m into pumpkin seeds now.
  • Went to see Stewart Lee’s new live show. Typically excellent. The illusion of being stripped back and loose. But of course, it’s surgical.
  • I’m noticing increasing amounts of work with a broad social purpose, rather than just returns for shareholders, which is welcome. Were I able to tell the me of 2019-ish, this would please him.
  • Instagram’s algorithm has decided I’m in the market for a guitar. Y’know, an electric guitar. Like the cool kids have. But there aren’t many big brands doing targeted Insta posts—only Fender—so my feed is full mostly of bespoke or custom or niche instruments, costing several thousands each. And all those folks are paying Meta to run these ads by me even though I’m never going to buy the products, because the algorithm thinks that’s how it all works, and therefore the advertisers do too.

Bass notes

  • String-crossing is getting better. What isn’t immediately apparent when you start learning the bass is there’s quite often four things happening at once: the pluck, fretting the same string you’re plucking, muting the higher strings usually with your fretting hand, and muting the lower strings usually with your plucking hand. And then you play the next note.
  • The band (yeah the one I was in 20 years ago that has now remotely reformed) has a fair few new songs in the works. For one, they were keen for a string arrangement. A few weeks back I pratted around for a whole weekend trying to find it and it didn’t come. Then last weekend it just descended upon me. Sounds delicious. VST plugins for complex instruments like violas are getting really good now, for not much money. I’m particularly enjoying Appassionata, which in terms of bang for buck is extraordinary.
  • Same song: I also wrote the bass part but, for the first time, on an actual bass guitar. But I can’t yet manage to play it at full speed, so the mix currently features a digital approximation. By slight coincidence, that approximate bass passes through a virtualised version of a bass amp I had a hand in designing back in the Nineties. Most people would learn the instrument first and develop a taste for the amp later. But no.