skiffle is fun

I’m listening to “Skiffle – The Best Of”, and it’s interesting to see what pre-rock British artists did with folk, gospel and trad jazz tunes on the cusp of the 1960s.

It clearly came out of the Trad boom (to which my father is still very much attached) – not just because folks like Barber and Colyer played both styles – but there are weird echoes of rockabilly. In a way, it was a short-lived answer to the US “folk scare” of the time.

Some of it’s quite quaint and dated now. The faux American accents, untrained by constant US TV exposure are hilarious, hovering somewhere between New Orleans and Brooklyn. Lonnie Donegan’s is especially funny – “this man, he was thoisty” he sings in “Being Me A Little Water, Sylvie”.

All the printers I’ve ever owned …

bird you can see: hp print test

  • An ancient (even in 1985) Centronics serial dot-matrix printer that we never got working with the CPC464. The print head was driven along a rack, and when it hit the right margin, an idler gear was wedged in place, forcing the carriage to return. Crude, noisy but effective.
  • Amstrad DMP-2000. Plasticky but remarkably good 9-pin printer. Had an open-loop ribbon that we used to re-ink with thick oily endorsing ink until the ribbons wore through.
  • NEC Pinwriter P20. A potentially lovely 24-pin printer ruined by a design flaw. Print head pins would get caught in the ribbon, and snap off. It didn’t help that the dealer that sold it to me wouldn’t refund my money, and required gentle persuasion from a lawyer to do so.
  • Kodak-Diconix 300 inkjet printer. I got this to review for Amiga Computing, and the dealer never wanted it back. It used HP ThinkJet print gear which used tiny cartridges that sucked ink like no tomorrow; you could hear the droplets hit the page.
  • HP DeskJet 500. I got this for my MSc thesis. Approximately the shape of Torness nuclear power station (and only slightly smaller), last I heard it was still running.
  • Canon BJ 200. A little mono inkjet printer that ran to 360dpi, or 720 if you had all the time in the world and an unlimited ink budget.
  • Epson Stylus Colour. My first colour printer. It definitely couldn’t print photos very well.
  • HP LaserJet II. Big, heavy, slow, and crackling with ozone, this was retired from Glasgow University. Made the lights dim when it started to print. Came with a clone PostScript cartridge that turned it into the world’s second-slowest PS printer. We did all our Canadian visa paperwork on it.
  • Epson Stylus C80. This one could print photos tolerably well, but the cartridges dried out quickly, runing the quality and making it expensive to run.
  • Okidata OL-410e PS. The world’s slowest PostScript printer. Sold by someone on tortech who should’ve known better (and bought by someone who also should’ve known better), this printer jams on every sheet fed into it due to a damaged paper path. Unusually, it uses an LED imaging system instead of laser xerography, and has a weird open-hopper toner system that makes transporting a part-used print cartridge a hazard.
  • HP LaserJet 4M Plus. With its duplexer and extra paper tray it’s huge and heavy, but it still produces crisp pages after nearly 1,000,000 page impressions. I actually have two of these; one was bought for $99 refurbished, and the other (which doesn’t print nearly so well) was got on eBay for $45, including duplexer and 500-sheet tray. Combining the two (and judiciously adding a bunch of RAM) has given me a monster network printer which lets you know it’s running by dimming the lights from here to Etobicoke.
  • IBM Wheelwriter typewriter/ daisywheel printer. I’ve only ever produced a couple of pages on this, but this is the ultimate letter-quality printer. It also sounds like someone slowly machine-gunning the neighbourhood, so mostly lives under wraps.
  • HP PhotoSmart C5180. It’s a network photo printer/scanner that I bought yesterday. Really does print indistinguishably from photos, and prints direct from memory cards. When first installed, makes an amusing array of howls, boinks, squeals, beeps and sproings as it primes the print heads.

a good reason to blog less

Yesterday went to The Twelfth Fret and traded in the Goodtime for this:

Bob Carlin BC-350

It’s a Gold Tone Bob Carlin Signature. It sounds beautiful, and unlike me, plays like a dream. So if I’m not blogging so much, this might just be the reason.

a joy forever

a thing of beauty

I finished fixing up the brakes on the Super Galaxy, and put new handlebar tape on the bars. I still suck at fitting bar tape; should’ve stuck to my old standard Benotto tape, which, while almost useless for shock absorption, is cheap and easy to fit.

Once all was fitted, I took it for a spin. The new brakes are a delight; very positive and extremely powerful. I will enjoy riding again.

(And yes, you bike nerds, there is no straddle cable in that picture.)

the end of poverty in your coffee cup?

I’m not sure what to make of EWB‘s current campaign, which features a future newspaper headline G8 Leaders Declare End of Extreme Poverty. It links to playyourpart.ca, which seems to say that we can end world poverty just by buying fair-trade goods?

I know there’s a lot wrong with the coffee industry (Free Trade Coffee: You Grind The Beans, We Grind The Peasants! Enjoy the smooth trickle-down flavour, etc) but it’s a simplistic argument. What can the extremely poor sell to us?

I don’t know what to think.

Stewart’s Images :: AWEA 2006

Clipper wind turbine nacelle, at AWEA06

Stewart’s Images :: AWEA 2006 – pictures from the floor of the American Wind Energy Association trade show and conference, Pittsburgh, PA – June 4-7, 2006

This wind study brought to you by the Canadian Nuclear Association

So there’s a new report on wind integration in Canada, written by The Conference Board of Canada. People are picking up on it, and even the doughty Refocus quotes… electricity from onshore wind is uneconomic in comparison with traditional alternatives“. Hmm.

So I read the report, and what do I find in the Preface?

As part of an ongoing initiative to investigate energy policy options and the future of the Canadian energy system, the Canadian Nuclear Association contracted The Conference Board of Canada to conduct a comparative study of various countries’ experiences with supporting and implementing large-scale wind projects.

So we’re expected to believe that the CNA would wish to have an objective and non-partisan report written on wind power, eh?

the monopoly on free money

from a familiar note
It’s a licence to print money! Well, Monopoly® money, that is. But you can’t have everything; it doesn’t stop people from trying, though.

The above image is copyrighted, trademarked, service-marked and intellectually-propertized 15-ways-to-Sunday by Hasbro. I hereby acknowledge that I’m a very naughty person to have nicked it for my website, and have felt good and contrite for at least the last 5 (five) seconds. But then, since Hasbro own the rights to my earliest published writings (long story: they bought Database Publications, for whom I used to write) and are sitting on the goldmine that is the film rights to Stardodger (my first, and only, game), I think they’ve done okay from me.

review of CanWEA 2005 swag bag

So I’m at the 2005 CanWEA conference for the next few days. The swag bag is a standard nondescript nylon thing, thankfully big enough to take my iBook and a few other bits and pieces. The contents are a bit disappointing, though:

  • a very plasticky flashlight that I may discard after harvesting its batteries.
  • a small bag of jujubes.
  • a copy of North American Windpower magazine (which in itself is quite a decent magazine, so is actually one of the highlights).
  • a trade show guide, but no conference program (they were held up in customs; can’t we print ’em here?)
  • various company brochures, zzzz.

You’ll note an absence of useful pens, pads, USB keys, model turbines, or other special swag. I was hoping for more …

the search for fair trade coffee @ SB’s

got a tall Estima (supposedly fair trade — they didn’t know) at the First Canadian Place branch at Adelaide & York, Toronto. It’s okay, but most fair trade coffees are too light for me.

CanWEA 2005

I’m going to the CanWEA Conference & Trade Show in October; are you?

It’s a shame their registration process only works under Windows, though.