I seem to be going through a period of reflection. What with all those little memories that came drifting in the other day… and I just went to the bar and got a bottle of Budvar. Now, I’m no beer connoisseur (gosh, that’s the second time I’ve used that word in 7 postings – I know because I remember it well, one of the few words that I have absolutely no idea how to spell – must resort to the spell-checker every time)… where was I? Oh yeah, I’m no beer connoisseur (3rd time!) and I find it hard enough telling one fizzy lager from another, but there was something about that first mouthful that I took. Suddenly, I was back there, standing on the patio of the Bratislava Economic University (or should that be Ekonomická univerzita v Bratislave)…
Continue reading Drinking Budvar in Bratislava, 1992
Been surfing Blogdex for some interesting links. I ended up offering to put Quack the duck up in Sheffield as part of his world tour, and finding a site that keeps old versions of all that software you don’t really like the new versions of.
Those crazy Finns, they’re at it again… being crazy. This time it’s a mobile phone throwing contest. Organised by Fennolingua. I thought Fennolingua was some kind of sexual practice.
Inverting the theme this time: fall and rise. I finally got around to starting Gordon’s novel. It has been sitting on my hard disc for over a year now, and on an over-lazy train journey back to Sheffield I decided that reading it on screen would be preferable to writing another suite of web apps (hah! Like I ever do that!) I’ve only ever done that with one other full length book – Bruce Sterling’s Hacker Crackdown, and I have to say that DOS Edit with it’s white-on-blue text and easily-understandable scrollbars is a lot easier going than MS-Word with its black-on-white and random page-jumps. But, whatever. The book was (is) good. Fucking good. My god, he has that inner mental voice down perfectly. I love Gordon. You can always tell that all this stuff is going on inside him. But it’s not the kind of thing you can talk to him about. You can’t tell him how wonderful (and yet screwed up) he is, you just hope that he picks it up by osmosis over a number of sessions down the pub. You can’t really discuss shared experiences (unless properly drunk), everyone is obviously too fragile for that. You just hope that… a bit of admiration slips out once in a while, in amongst the endless piss-taking and devil-may-care-who-really-cares jive talking.
Talking of rises and falls, my mind also meandered its way to mid-1997. Not sure why that year in particular… though there could be many reasons. Hard Reality had just been set up, the 3 of us were freshly installed in Canary Wharf, we were at the height of our skills and notoriety. Keld directed me to an article on the Wired website about a new technology called XML. It struck a chord with me (which rang in tune with my recent extensive reading on SGML). Wired said that it was the language of the future, would engulf the web sweeping all before it. I could see huge potential, but envisaged a good few years before the tangled mess of browsers and standards would truly catch on. It’s great to be a prophet before the event.
Continue reading I remember where I was when I first heard about XML
Walking through the alleys around Leicester Square, I was reminded of lunch with Chris some 2 years ago. Things were still good then, expense accounts were still easily abused, and although I got the impression that although Chris was very fond of his expense account (he took me for lunch to discuss his company’s specialised offering, having already met my colleagues on a day when I was detained elsewhere) he was not the type to spend it profligately. Instead he would make a virtue of tracking down hearty value-for-money bistros around town, balancing minimum expense against maximum quality. He was also a connoisseur of wine. Not in the respect that he would intimidate you with his vast knowledge, or make a sideshow out of choosing a bottle, but in that delightful paternalistic manner that takes great pleasure in spreading knowledge to others. He was one of those old-school public-school not-quite-Oxbridge arts/humanities type that knows how to live life enjoyably, but sadly will find it increasingly hard to get by in today’s economic climate.
We were spending a day in Paris, and everyone had their own idea of which Paris attraction they would choose for their desert island. My own choice was the Centre Pompidou, primarly because I had heard it housed the world’s largest collection of paintings by Kandinsky. My desire to visit dated back to the days when I could be single-minded enough to have a favourite anything (musician = Bill Laswell, author = M. John Harrison, artist = Wassily Kandinsky, film = Eraserhead, etc. etc.), and although my tastes now change more from day-to-day, I was still keen to see some of the great man’s work. I had only ever seen 2 or 3 Kandinskys, small ones at that, at the Tate gallery in London and the National gallery in Cardiff, and it always amazed me how pictures that appear so flat and graphical on the printed page could disguise a human 3rd dimension of brush-strokes and coloured sands applied to the canvas.
Continue reading Kandinsky in Paris and the Pompidou Centre