New Domain and Platform

I’m moving to a new blogging platform (WordPress) and domain (simonroberts.de). Barring something unforeseen, this will be my last post using Radio Userland. I’m hoping that simonroberts.de will be my virtual home for many years.

Radio has served me well over the last couple years but it’s time to move on. The main reasons that I’m moving are:

  • Radio is no longer under active development. There is no sign of this changing so bug fixes and new features will most likely not be coming along.
  • Radio runs on my laptop and publishes to an external server. This has advantages and disadvantages. However, for me, it has proved to be a disadvantage. Sometimes I want to post when I don’t have my laptop with me – using my mobile phone or from any web browser that I have access to.

I’ve chosen WordPress for a number of reasons, including:

  • It is under active development. Bugs are fixed quickly and new releases are made frequently.
  • There is an active community delivering functionality that is not included in the base release in the form of plugins and a vast range of themes to define the presentation.
  • Generally, the themes that are available support modern technologies such as CSS better than their equivalents under Radio.
  • WordPress is very open – effectively, I can get the same level of configurability and the ability to write my own scripts as I have with Radio. In fact there is more flexibility than Radio because WordPress is a a server-side system.

I’ve been posting to both Radio and WordPress in parallel for a few weeks. From now on, I’ll be posting primarily to WordPress. Agile oriented posts will be mirrored on my agile software development and project management blog.

Anyone reading this through my RSS feed, please update your subscriptions to point to here.

Pausing radio?

I was listening to the radio this morning and had to go and do something else for a few minutes. I reached for the pause button – until I realised that this was live radio and not a podcast! Either an indication that I’ve been listening to too many podcasts or that podcasts are becoming more important to me than radio (or both).

If only I could get the Archers as a podcast, I would be largely free of normal radio (apparently not possible because of a rights issue). Although the Archers can be obtained through the BBC Radio Player which can be paused.

Skype Announces New Skype Unlimited Calling Plan

About Skype: “Offers 12 Months of Unlimited Skype Calls to Any Phone
Within the US and Canada for a Flat Annual Rate

SAN JOSE, Calif., December 13, 2006 %u2013 Skype, the global Internet communications company, is now offering U.S. and Canadian consumers the new Skype Unlimited Calling plan, a paid annual subscription service that allows registered users to make 12 months of unlimited SkypeOut%u2122 calls to any phones within the U.S. and Canada.”

When I first saw the headline I thought that this might apply worldwide. This looks like a fantastic offer for those in North America but how about a similar deal for other territories? I would even pay more (say 30 Euros for an annual subscription) for a European Union wide SypeOut flatrate.

SiM ist wieder da!

My favourite German language podcast, Schlaflos in München, is back after a break of almost 3 months. Annik Rubens (nom de pod), its creator, took a break after 400 episodes of the original SiM.

Unlike the original, which was released on most weekdays, the new format is weekly and divided into different sections such as “Der Mann der Woche” and “Ratlos in München”. Two episodes have appeared already and so far I like it very much. The same wonderful voice with a new sense of purpose.

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Alan "Fluff" Freeman

The DJ Alan “Fluff” Freeman has died at the age of 79. Alan was known and loved by many for his BBC Radio 1 show “Pick of the Pops” which was broadcast from the launch of Radio 1 in 1967 until 1972. Alan relaunched the show with an oldies chart format in 1989. His catchphrases included “greetings pop pickers”, “alright” and “not arf”. I'm not normally a fan of catchphrases but Alan's lack of ego and that he seemed to be a genuinely nice bloke meant that they never became annoying.

My fondest memories of Fluff are on Radio 1's “Saturday Rock Show”, which he hosted from 1973 until 1978. This show's mix of progressive and heavy rock was so important in helping to define my musical tastes. We've now lost the three DJs who were most important to me: Tommy Vance, another host of the Saturday Rock Show; the great John Peel; and now Fluff. Thanks for the music guys.

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DAB is back to 192 kbps on Radio 3

I'm back in the UK for a couple of days and on turning on my DAB radio this evening, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that BBC Radio 3 is being broadcast at 192 kbps again. A few months ago, the BBC dropped Radio 3 to 160 kbps to make room for a 24/7 looping trail
for Radio 5 Sports Extra.

While 160 kbps was just about bearable, I really enjoyed listening to this evening's edition of Mixing It. So much so that I just purchased some music from the wonderful Joanna Newsom on iTunes which was played on the show.

Of course, even at 192 kbps, UK DAB, which uses MP2 encoding, is not hi-fi and much worse than a strong FM signal received by a good tuner. Apparently some limited UK trials of DAB with AAC+ encoding have taken place. AAC+ based DAB at 128 kbps would provide very acceptable, audio quality – similar to CD quality for most listeners. Unfortunately, it is not yet clear when AAC+ will be rolled out in the UK, if ever.

4×4 drivers face huge charge rise

BBC News: “Vehicles causing the most pollution in central London are to face huge increases in the congestion charge, mayor Ken Livingstone has announced.
The daily charge for vehicles in carbon emissions band G – which includes 4x4s – is to rise from £8 to £25 from 2009.

In 2008, the charge will be removed for cars in Bands A and B which produce the lowest emissions, Mr Livingstone said.”

Nice one Ken.

How do we get these monstrosities off other roads as well? Personally I would favour a complete ban on 4x4s except for those who can demonstrate a clear need.

A pet peeve

Whenever I see “tonite” it grates. For me it's the visual equivalent of hearing chalk scraping on a blackboard.

Until recently I thought that “tonite” was an acceptable albeit annoying American spelling of “tonight”. In fact it isn't. Even though “tonite” seems to be in fairly common usage amongst Americans, it is incorrect.

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Dave Winer on the US Mid-term Election Results

Dave Winer: “Doc's here, we're watching CNN before going out to breakfast. We're playing a neat game called Spot the Republican. When we see a Republican on CNN, I decide what form of punishment we're going to give them. Usually it's the death penalty of some form. Hanging, firing squad, dismemberment. “

I remember a similar feeling in 1997 as the UK election results came in. Of course, Dave has been consistently against capital punishment in all circumstances (as am I).

Let's hope that these terrible results for the Republicans force Bush to reexamine his dangerous policies.