How to never EVER lose your phone contacts again

By , July 30, 2011 8:31 pm

It continually astonishes me how often I see facebook status updates / group invites / tweets / emails from friends and acquaintances saying something to the effect of “ARGH my iPhone / Blackberry / Nokia phone has been stolen / lost / eaten by my pet donkey and I lost everyone’s numbers, please can you all send me your numbers!!”

People, it’s 2011 already! Whilst technology is still far from perfect, it landed a man on the moon 42 years ago way before mobile phones existed, and certainly solved this particular problem of disappearing phones several years ago.  So for those of you who still haven’t figured this out, without further ado I will outline a solution which should only cost 10 minutes of your life and ensure you never have to broadcast a panicked message cursing your pet donkey and asking everyone to send you their numbers.

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An email I just sent to BT

By , July 25, 2011 7:31 pm

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is absolutely appalling support – all FIVE methods I tried for contacting BT regarding this issue failed:

  1. I responded to the email regarding incident number [CENSORED] providing a time and method for calling me as requested, but noone ever called back.
  2. I rang 0800 731 0286 and selected option 1 – it rang for several minutes with no answer then hung me up.
  3. There is a bug with your login process on where the password dialog box is not shown alongside the username dialog box, so I could not log in.  Additionally  requesting a new password failed, as did re-registration.
  4. Clicking “Contact Us” on does nothing.
  5. Clicking “Live Chat” on results in the error “There was a problem connecting to the Chat Server”.

All this is in regard to attempting to switch my landline back from Orange to BT.  Now I am beginning to wonder why I should bother.  At least I can talk to Orange, even if they get everything wrong.

If this ever reaches a human being, please call me as requested in my original email!


Audio looping with Free Software

By , July 13, 2011 8:24 am

I’m currently on a musical pilgrimage around the USA.  I brought my Digitech JamMan Delay unit with me, because I was attending Christian Howes‘ phenomenal Creative Strings Workshop in Columbus, Ohio, where I knew I would learn how to turn this gadget into a hugely useful practice tool.  (Incidentally, I was not disappointed, and will blog more when I get time about how awesome Chris’ various educational offerings are.  Until then, click the links!)  Unfortunately at some point after leaving Ohio, the JamMan stopped working.  I guess it didn’t like being surrounded by a bunch of smelly clothes and then getting thrown in the hold of a plane. (UPDATE Sept 22nd: actually it turns out that it was fine – the power adapter just needed the UK standard of 240 Volts, and the US standard of 110V wasn’t sufficient …)

So the other night I found myself desperate for a replacement.  I do have a Boss ME-70 with me which has a built-in phrase looper, but it only stores 38 seconds which is barely enough to get to the bridge of Cherokee.  Even worse, there is no way to undo/redo loop layers or store the whole thing after you power the unit off.

Then it occurred to me that I could potentially combine my laptop (a cheap Samsung N150 netbook) with a microphone, headphones (as a poor man’s substitute for an amp), and some software to achieve the same thing.  At this point, those of you with a Mac will exclaim “sure – use GarageBand!”  However, as shiny as Macs are, they are expensive and I also can’t stand Apple for philosophical reasons.  (I can’t stand Microsoft either, which is why I use Linux, but I digress.)  If you are interested in an alternative approach to looping with software, read on!

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