Hedders' Ramblings

Gaming, home tech, politics, music, whatever really

Author: Hedders (page 2 of 4)

Martin Gore

It’s become a tradition of Depeche Mode’s shows that somewhere near the midway point, Martin takes the mic and he and Peter do stripped-down, piano-led renditions of one or two of their older songs. Martin has rather modestly said that they do this “to give Dave a bit of a rest”, which is no doubt at least part of it; Dave Gahan is an energetic frontman with a powerful voice, and now he’s north of 50 it must take its toll. But the results are also gorgeous in their own right. Here’s an example, where they take the poppy, electronics-heavy album closer “But Not Tonight” from 1986 and turn it into a showstopping, mournful ballad.

I’ve always loved Martin’s voice – he and Dave harmonising is one of the best sounds the human throat has ever produced – and this is a stellar performance. His obvious awkwardness at being out front just adds to the charm. And Peter is a wonderful piano player. Apparently they don’t really rehearse these too much – they want to give this section of the show a late night piano bar feel, so it’s sometimes a little ragged and organic, and it’s a lovely counterpoint to the precision of “full fat” Depeche.

I think I know what’s gone wrong

Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that This Sceptred Isle ™ is in deep, deep doo-doo, and it’s easy to blame social media, or jingoism, or the endless stupidity of The Great British Public, or Aaron Banks and his odious “Bad Boys of Brexit”, or the Tories, or Corbyn, or whatever. And I’m sure that all of those things have played their part in our spectacular downfall, but I don’t think they’re the root of the problem. I think it’s this:

The people in charge are just like me.

Now, I’m a reasonably “successful” person; partner in a law firm, big old house, two kids in private school etc etc etc. And the thing is: I still don’t know what the hell I am doing, I do not have a handle on life or on my responsibilities or on the world or my place in it. Not at all. I am just making it up as I go along, winging it and somehow or other I seem to have got away with it so far.

And the government – the proverbial “them” – ministers, MPs, civil servants, senior officials of one stripe or another – they’re all, all of them, doing exactly the same thing. There is no secret cabal of calm, well-spoken chaps (because let’s be honest, they’re all chaps, right?) in good suits with their hands on the tiller, who will somehow make it alright. There are no adults in the room. There’s just a bunch of people like me. And they’re all terrified, and not one of them has the slightest idea what he or she is doing, any more than I do. They too are just winging it, telling people what they want to hear, and hoping for the best.

God help us.

The Raspberry Pi 4

I was lucky enough to get hold of one of these within a few days of release, and I’ve now got samba, Nextcloud and Plex running on it and a USB3 RAID box hooked up as storage.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Pi – a cheap, credit-card sized multi-purpose computer that can run Linux and connect to pretty much anything. What’s not to like? It’s always been a bit under powered for any serious work though.

Not any more. The Pi 4 is – for its size and price – an absolute beast. I can be streaming music from Plex, uploading files to NextCloud (with encryption turned on) and working on files over SMB, all at the same time, and it barely breaks a sweat.

I’m flabbergasted by the thing, really. Performance comparable to a lower-end x86 from just 6 or 7 years ago, in a form factor the size of a credit card, and for less than 60 quid even for the 4GB RAM version.

Eben Upton deserves to be extremely rich.

John Robertson

One of the best, funniest, angriest comedians I have ever seen. Criminally underrated. If there were any justice in this world he would be filling the Palladium, instead of doing improv in tiny Newcastle nightclubs. Watch and enjoy.

Last of the Mohicans on an Oud

I’m a sucker for a clever cover version, and this one of the cleverest I’ve seen in a while:

Really like this a lot.

Chatty chatty, Roku

I have a Roku streaming stick at home. It’s a convenient way of hooking Netflix, Amazon Video and NowTV up to the telly in the living room without having a mass of boxes, cables and so on.

As a streaming device, it’s great and works really well. But, as is so often the case these days, it turns out there may well be a sting in the tail.

See, I recently decided to set up pi-hole on my home network. It’s a great tool, and super-helpful in the never-ending battle to keep Internet nasties, creepies and snoops away from my kids. And it revealed something that I didn’t know.

The Roku phones home. Like, a lot. A host called “cooper.logs.roku.com” shot straight to the top of the most queried domains in the pi-hole. Seems the Roku tries to hit it twice per minute, every minute. It seems that it is, by a country mile, the chattiest thing on my home network. Which, when I tell you that we have multiple Amazon Echos, IP telephony and every games console under the sun, you will appreciate takes some doing.

I get that the device would need to phone home periodically to check for software updates and stuff. That’s pretty normal; sensible, actually. But, every 30 seconds? What on earth is it doing?

I got curious. So, I went and had a look at Roku’s privacy notice.

Reading between the lines, it looks to me like the Roku stick is basically sending all of our viewing habits back to HQ. The privacy notice doesn’t say why, or on what legal basis. It looks like it might also have mapped my home network and sent all of that info back to Roku too (although some Wireshark sniffing didn’t capture anything interesting other than SSDP traffic, which you would expect from a home media device).

Either way, it’s sufficiently concerning that I’ve submitted a subject access request (which, despite being a tech lawyer, I’ve actually never done on my own account before). Assuming Roku honours it, hopefully it will tell me what they’re up to.

On Boris Johnson

I was going to write a great long screed about how Godawful this man is and how dreadful it is that a handful of complacent parochial Boden-clad shitsacks from Tunbridge Wells, who can’t describe someone as “black” without whispering the word and who secretly think we should bring back hanging, are going to make him our Prime Minister and there is absolutely nothing that I or anyone else can do to stop it.

But really, it boils down to this: Boris Johnson is basically a slightly more rubbish version of Donald Trump. If that doesn’t make your blood run cold, then I don’t know what will.

Although, he does have slightly better hair.

UPDATE: Please don’t make this ludicrous mendacious vacuous tit Prime Minister. Please:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-48766451/boris-johnson-i-make-models-of-buses

E3

I stopped caring about E3 years ago. I think that might have changed. Cyberpunk 2077. A remake of Panzer Dragoon. VTM: Bloodlines 2. Elden Ring. Witcher 3 on Switch. PC Engine Mini.

Dribble…

Miyazaki and GRR Martin are indeed collaborating

Eurogamer story here:

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-06-12-elden-ring-is-from-softwares-biggest-title-yet-in-terms-of-sheer-volume

Excuse me. I’ve just come.

Speccy!

A few weeks ago I bought an untested, loft-find ZX Spectrum+ from eBay. This is the first model of computer I owned, and I still remember the endless hours I devoted to fiddling with it and playing the simple games it could run. It taught me to code, too. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Spectrum+ was my best friend when I was a kid.

Anyhow, the untested loft buy didn’t work. Quelle surprise. But Speccies are pretty easy to fix; even my limited knowledge and rudimentary soldering skills can deal with a machine this basic, surely?

Turns out that I was right. First problem was that the power supply was shot. A modern PSU with the right pinout, voltage etc cost me about eight quid. With that in place, the machine powered up just fine. But the keyboard didn’t work. OK, so I replaced the membrane. Still no joy. After a certain amount of swearing it turned out I had neglected to reconnect both of the ribbon cables properly. Hook those back up … and everything works except the sodding Enter key. Which is a bit crucial, really.

So, after taking the keyboard apart again, I found that the rubber mat which presses down onto the membrane had lost rigidity under the Enter key and wasn’t quite making proper contact. A couple of small stickers to shim out the difference and … we have a working Speccy!

A bit of a scrub later, and I reckon it’s come up lovely.

Yes, I know. It’s no Amiga, or ST, or even C64. And yes, I do own examples of all of those machines. But the humble Speccy was my first love, and it’s wonderful to own a working one again. No, you have something in your eye.

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