The rants of a constantly ticking mind, combined with a mess of reviews and obscure titling methods.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

'Boing, boing, boing, boing boingboinboingngngng' - Aphex Twin, 'Bucephalus Bouncing Ball'

UPDATE 2: Actually, after trying the new driver, it's is hopelessly finickity and slow - so I'd actually still recommend sticking with the Ubuntu-restricted drivers and XGL.

UPDATE: D'oh! No sooner had I typed this post than AMD/ATI release a driver that supports the default AIGLX. Oh well, if you don't want to wait for it to propagate then use the walkthrough below.

I'm sorry for the flurry of Ubuntu-related posts at the moment, but some people are aware I've re-installed Ubuntu 7.10 because the upgrade path left me with a few features not set up correctly - and as such I'm in the process of putting things back the way they were.

Today, I'm going to be discussing Desktop Effects (courtesy of Compiz Fusion, which is usually enabled by default on nVidia (and a few other) graphics cards) which gives you a faster graphical interface, lots of sleek graphical effects (like fast desktop switching, transparencies, fade ins, fade outs, etc. as well as the illustrious 'wobbly windows' effect) However, with higher-spec ATI Radeon graphics cards (the criss-crossing leader of 3D graphics with nVidia), you find that when you try and turn on Desktop effects you get a nasty little pop-up telling you that your card doesn't do that.

Lies, all lies, I tell you! With a few simple steps you can get it going - and for the love of all things popular I can't understand why Canonical (developers of Ubuntu) didn't bother to detect your graphics card and install these if it spotted an ATI Radeon card, especially as it's so simple to sort.

NOTE: The following instructions will only work if you've installed the 'ristricted' proprietary graphics card drivers - you should be using them anyway as the open-source drivers in Ubuntu are currently pants. Oh, and also this is for Ubuntu 7.10, Gutsy Gibbon - other versions are a touch more tricky to get going.

This is what you do:

1) Go to System>>Administration>>Synaptic Package Manager (as in, follow the menu at the top of the screen through system, then Administration, then click on... you get the drift). You'll need to type in your administration (root) password as you are going into the guts.
2) Search (by either clicking Edit>>Search or hitting the Control+F keys) for xserver-xgl. When it appears, left-click the empty box on the left of the name and select 'Mark for Installation' from the drop-down list that appears.
3) Click the 'Apply' button (it's got a checkmark/tick on it).
4) Log-out or restart your computer - either way is good.
5) When you're logged-back in, go to System>>Preferences>>Appearance, choose the Visual Effects tab and select either Normal or Extra from the options.
6) Close that window and hey, presto! Desktop Effects!

Now, Ubuntu by default only allows you to select their sets of effects - so you can't install new effects or customise the effects used. If you wish to do that to, go back into the Synaptic Package Manager and install the compizconfig-settings-manager using the same principles as above. This adds an extra icon to the Visual Effects (called Custom) and adds 'Advanced Desktop Effects Settings' to the Preferences.

BE WARNED THOUGH - meddling with the effects or selecting a difficult one (like Reflect, apparently) can leave your computer very, very, very slow or almost unusable - so keep in mind that if you do anything to keep the settings window OPEN because else you'll be there for ages trying to turn the things back off again. This, I think, is the flaw with using xserver-XGL - it isn't quite as powerful as the default one.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

"I'm impressed... when that gorilla pounds the desk I fall to bits'

Maybe I'm just easily impressed, but the latest version of Wine not only runs Office 97 (though I have the feeling it did for some time but not noticed), but also does this:

Will people stop complaining? Probably not - but I'll test whether it syncs stuff once I find my iPod cable..

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Friday, October 12, 2007

'Kicking, Screaming, Gucci little piggy'...

A button (read: badge) manufacturing company in the US has supposedly spent $1000 on Radiohead's new album 'In Rainbows' "in support of Radiohead's "silent" effort to revolutionize the music industry."

(the press release about it is here:

However, on the face of it, they actually spent £99.99 on the digital download and £400 on 10 copies of the limited edition 'Discbox' containing lots of goodies and stuff.

Here is the comment I made on their site, which is likely to be excluded from their moderated commenting system, so just in case I thought I would share with you:

'OK - a few things:

1) What has your 'offer of goodwill' got to do with buttons? (or badges)

2) Why are you supporting digital downloads when your web site features badges stating 'f*ck the whales, save the CD!'

3) The third paragraph of your press statement (the one beginning 'Entertainment on the whole is invaluable') is a totally preposterous statement - you are claiming that without a change in the entertainment industry there would be NO entertainment. You obviously fail to comprehend that since the dawn of man there has been forms of entertainment and nothing can take that away (except 'entertainment' itself). The world of 'entertainment' as you put it is less than 200 years old - records over 130, radio over 100, the walkman just over 30, so what exactly makes you think that these things in themselves make entertainment? What exactly makes you think that the record companies have a say over our lives?

4) Your actions are not helping anybody - in fact, you've only proved to many that in your eyes it's all a gimmick and a bandwagon that must be jumped on for the benefit of no-one apart from the 10 lucky punters who'll get the discboxes which will only go up in value. A good businessman should always be able to see the profit in any action - as this gesture is in no way going to profit you selling buttons, it most definitely will profit you in the long term with their resale value - it is, after all, a very limited item.

5) The discboxes are custom made and cost money to produce for the band, and so as such their is less profit to be made in them than the digital downloads. So why on earth did you not give your $1000 for downloads rather than $200? Surely if this was a true gesture and to your word, you would have bought only the download - unless, of course, statement 4 was true. In which case, it was not a gesture, but a means to profiting yourselves.

6) Radiohead still have a recording contract with Parlophone, part of EMI (one of the big 4 record companies) They are highly regarded for their 'screw the system' artistic approach to marketing, but at the end of the day, they wouldn't exist to this great a degree without the record company giving them the cash at the start to make their early records. All that this 'stunt' does is do a free online promo, just like many other bands have done - except, of course, that they have made money from it rather than having to spend any. This is very good for the record company, at the end of the day.'

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

'She wants money money money money money...'

Well, Sony have announced their new low cost 40GB PS3, which loses 2 USB ports, memory card support and - oddly, since it was software-based, PlayStation and PS2 support.

And the cost? 399 euros, which is 100 euros less than the 60GB option. According to the Sony execs is 'very reasonable'...

However, a quick money conversion makes it £279 - only £20 less than the XBOX 360 Elite with it's XBox support, 120GB hard drive and much better gaming selection. So, I ask again Sony, what are you playing at?

Anyway, have a double bill of videos from They Might Be Giants' new album, The Else (Planet users, please go onto the real blog to view them):

The Mesopotamians:

I'm Impressed:

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

For anyone who cares:

The music from the Saab 9-3 advert (that one about Scandinavian design) is Through Your Eyes by Nina Kinert. (Video here:

The music from the Pizza Hut 'Photo Frames' advert is Escribeme Pronto by Mexican Institute of Sound. (listen here:

The music from the Fiat Grande Punto advert (with the equalizer city) is Fire Like This by Hardknox (not to be confused with the metal band Hardknox who seem to be populating (listen here:

Any others people want to know?

On a side note: it's interesting when you have two bands with the same name - for example Wildchild (DJ Wildchild)'s page (he who created the original Renegade Master, and sadly passed away before it became the commercial success we now know) is populated by some no-talent who feels it's OK to colonize such a prestigious name. It's kind of sickening in a way, if probably unintentional.

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