July 7th – 2 years on

Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of the July 7th London bombings. For those new to my blog, you probably don’t know that I was on one of the trains that was bombed, thankfully far enough away not to have been injured. I wrote about my original experiences after the day here and my experiences of the first anniversary here.

Last year I was definitely anxious on the anniversary day but I’m happy to say this year was very different. Apart from anything else the anniversary falling on a Saturday meant I wasn’t traveling to work at 8.50 am, and in fact there was no need for me to get a subway all day so I never even went near a train. In fact I was so distracted by other things that I didn’t even remember what day it was until I’d been up for about 4 hours!

I think I’m pretty much as over my experiences now as I will ever be. There’s certainly still some emotional scarring but I’m not sure I’ll ever lose that, and it’s a long way from stopping me doing anything I want to do in my day-to-day life.

Rachel North (another survivor of July 7th and frequent blogger on the subject) has just had a book, Out of the Tunnel, published on her experiences of the bombings and on other incidents in her life that have caused to her to live through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I’m hoping to pick up a copy when I’m back in the UK in a week’s time.

The continuing attempted attacks within the UK are obviously a big worry, partly because there is no apparent way forward beyond just defense. At least when the IRA was bombing the UK there was some kind of hope that a truce could be found, which was indeed what eventually happened. With the terrorism of fanatical religion though there’s no clear road forward that I can see beyond educating our children about tolerance and the benefits of a plural society.

Finishing up, I think it’s good that this July 7th saw the worldwide mega-event of Live Earth. I think what Al Gore and the rest of his organisation are doing to promote the repair of some of the damage we’ve done to our environment is a wonderful thing (and for those that think it’s all a load of baloney please do spend 90 minutes of your life watching An Inconvenient Truth.) Maybe in years to come ‘July 7th’ will become synonymous with a day when humanity started to come together across national and racial divides to actually make the world we live in a better place. If it meant that we forgot about the events of July 7th 2005 I think that would be a sacrifice worth making.

iPhone night in NYC

It’s the night a million Mac fans have been waiting for – the launch of the iPhone.

I’ve been pondering whether I would get one ever since it was initially shown off at Macworld.

I finished work today after 6pm (the launch time) and walked up Broadway past an AT&T. I bumped into a couple of colleagues who had been lining up but had given up after the store had run out of 8GB models (apparently they only had 20 in stock.) They wanted to get one, and I wanted to see the line outside the Apple Store in Soho (which is only a 5 min walk from my apartment) so we walked up there instead.

We got there around 7pm and the line was around the corner, but only about 10 minutes in time. Once inside, the Steve-Jobs-clones were organised perfectly. There were 2 demo desks setup downstairs and a fast moving line to actually buy them upstairs. My colleagues went straight for the purchase option and were done lining up and buying in less than 5 minutes.

Still reticent I decided to spend some time trying it out. The good things about it:

  • It’s a great design. Pretty small, feels very solid, easy to hold, very lightweight.
  • The touch-based user interface works well, especially considering this is a first-of-a-kind device.
  • The screen is great. Bright, clear, huge for a phone.
  • It’s just wonderful to use – it really does put every other phone out there to shame

The not so good:

  • EDGE really is pretty slow. I tried using Maps – it works ok but not great. To really push it I tried Flickr which of course was dog slow. I loaded up the front page of Meebo (which would allow using an instant messenger, an app which the iPhone doesn’t have natively) but didn’t want to log in on a shared device so I don’t know how it works.
  • Some weird text functionality is lacking. Selecting chunks of text, no cut/paste.

Then the other things I didn’t like which I already knew:

  • No push email – if you regularly check for updates this could kill your battery life.
  • only 8GB – not enough to be an iPod replacement for me
  • $600 for the handset and no rebate on the $60/month plan, and only 200 texts/month? I can afford this, but that’s damned pricey, especially since I’m going to want to replace my (now dead) 20GB 2nd gen iPod soon.

So in the end, despite the peer pressure, the hype, the Steve-Jobs-reality-distortion-field I didn’t buy one.

But there’s always tomorrow. Or maybe I should see what the 5th avenue Apple store is like at 4 am…

Flickr (finally) gets a decent slideshow

One of the very few things about Flickr that’s not so great is that the slideshow feature is poor at best. With all the fancy usability-enhanced goodness of my photo-website of choice, the slideshow’s tiny pictures, no descriptions and just sheer, well 2003-ness is just shockingly bad.

But no longer! Flickr now has a ‘new hotness’ slideshow, which looks just fab and groovy. And that’s about all there is to say.

This blog entry brought to you by the letters n, e, and s (plural).

April '07 Music purchases

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to buying music. Despite the rather excessive amounts of technology infiltrating my lifestyle, I still refuse to buy music online. Never mind the crippling DRM, nor the fact that the quality isn’t as good, I like the ritual of opening up the wrapping, looking at the sleeve notes, and all that. So every now and then I’ll buy a whole bunch of new records from Amazon or even do the very unfashionable thing of going to a music store.

Today I decided to make the most of the late-but-finally-here Spring and walk the 15 blocks up to Union Square to go to the Virgin Megastore there. Unlike me I actually went with a shopping list. This is always a bad sign because there’s no way I’m able to stick to just that, and sure enough I came home 13 CDs the wealthier. There’s a story to some of them, so I thought I’d share them here.

April AlbumsThis Tuesday night I had one of those classic New York City moments that remind me why I live here. I was at D.B.A., a fantastic bar on 1st Ave, at the geeky social night I run. We were getting towards the end of the evening, and for some reason I forget (I was 4 pints of Fullers London Porter in by this point) the lady next to me struck up a conversation. On asking why she was down in these parts (she was a midtowner) she said “Do you know Jesse Malin? The girl with me is his sister. He’s playing a gig tonight just around the corner.”

As it happens, I do know Jesse Malin. He’s an alt-country singer that my friend Mike is always going on about, and I’ve listened to some of his stuff a few times. Mike says he’s great live, so I inquired as to whether there were tickets still available. There were, so 15 minutes later myself, a couple of my colleagues, Jesse Malin’s sister and her friend were all at the Mercury Lounge on Houston Street. Mike wasn’t lying – Jesse’s a great live performer.
The record of his I’ve heard before is The Fine Art of Self Destruction, but apparently his new album, Glitter in the Gutter, is pretty good too so that was my first purchase of the day.

Jesse sounds quite a lot like Ryan Adams – not surprising really since they’re good mates and collaborate a fair bit. This same Tuesday my dad blogged (yes, my dad blogs!) about getting into Ryan Adams. Apparently I had something to do with this, so I thought I’d better return the favour. Dad’s always talking about Thea Gilmore, so she was purchase #2. Virgin only had her latest album, Harpo’s Ghost, in stock so I went with that.

My Dad and my friend Mike above actually have a scarily similar music taste. Another artist they both talk a good deal about is Lucinda Williams, and specifically her album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. #3 for the basket.

I think another reason I was in such an alt-country-shopping mood was that I was listening this morning to Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris’ All the Roadrunning, a purchase of mine last year. This reminded me I wanted Harris’ earlier work Wrecking Ball, so that’s #4. As an aside, I think this is the first time I’ve ever had to go to the ‘country’ section of a music store!

Starting to move genre’s now are purchases 5 & 6 – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning & Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, the joint 2005 releases from Bright Eyes. I’ve never bought any music by Conor Oberst (who pretty much is Bright Eyes) before, but I’ve heard these are 2 good introductions. I’m going to be seeing Bright Eyes play next month with Gillian Welch, which should be a great gig…

…as should Kings of Leon, who I’m going to see in June. The first time I heard any of their music at all was when I saw them live in Boston in 2003 just as they started hitting the big time with their first album. I’ll be going to the gig this year with my NYC best mate Tatiana who took me to the gig 4 years ago, so it will be good going to see them again with her. Kings’ third album, Because of the Times, was released a couple of months ago and I’m pretty excited to listen to it after their brilliant first 2 albums.

On my possible gig list for the year are Modest Mouse, who I’d never heard of a month ago. I’ve heard some of their tracks now and they sounded good so today I picked up their latest release, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. The fact that The Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr is now part of the band makes this less of gamble.

On the other hand, Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible is a complete unknown to me. It’s always to good to have one semi-gamble in any music purchase!

Another little gamble is Jarvis Cocker’s solo album from last year, Jarvis. I never bought any albums by Pulp when they were big (but then again, I have a habit of waiting for britpop acts to break up before actually purchasing their music) but I bought this album based off of one of its singles. And heck, it’s Jarvis Cocker, it’s about time I bought something from the guy that upstaged Michael Jackson at the Brit awards.

Talking of artists who I never bought anything by when I was a student (which is the time I should have done), it’s also good to finally get some music by The Cure in my collection. It wasn’t on the shopping list, but their Greatest Hits was on sale, so now I can fulfill my desire to listen to The Lovecats whenever I so fancy.

Going back to Britpop, its somewhat embarrassing to admit, but it was indeed Oasis’ Roll With It that broke indie music into my life (don’t worry, it was a phase, I swear, urrrmmm….) Anyway, 12 years on, I saw (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? also on sale, and I couldn’t resist. Just don’t tell the hipsters in my neighbourhood, please.

Wow, only one to go. Barring one of the Bright Eyes albums, this is a surprisingly Electronica / Dance – free selection for me. Normally I pretty much split myself evenly between guitar-based and electronic music. There is one final entry though to redress the balance, Air’s new release Pocket Symphony. I’ve not heard a single track off of this album, but they have never let up from the genius of their first album Moon Safari, so I doubt this will disappoint.

Well, that’s about it. 13 albums in one go, that’s a pretty decent chunk of music to get into. It’s going to be fun listening to it all!

Monkey Business?

Blur in iTunesBeing the Britpop fanboy that I am, I have a few albums by various Blur spin-offs, namely Gorillaz, Graham Coxon and The Good, The Bad and The Queen. One strange thing about this: in my iTunes library of more than 200 albums, these 3 all appear next to each other in my standard sorting view. Curious…

Building the new World Trade Center

As of a couple of weeks ago, I have a new job (more to come on that some other time.) One thing about my new job is from my desk I have a grandstand view of what is probably the most famous construction site in the world right now – that of the new World Trade Center.

Deutsche Bank DemolitionI can’t deny the first time I saw the view I felt a little uncomfortable. 9/11 was obviously one of the most tragic days in modern western history, and here I was looking at the site where thousands of people died in just a couple of hours. However without forgetting, New York moves on and the WTC site looks more like a construction, rather than demolition, site these days.

There is, however, one building made unusable 5 1/2 years ago that is yet to be leveled – the Deutsche Bank building. Its story is somewhat horrific, but just as I started work at my new office demolition began piece by painstaking piece.

Initial construction has started though on the Freedom Tower (the centrepiece of the new WTC) and on at least one of the other towers. It will of course take years for all of these buildings these to be completed, not least because of the controversy which still surrounds so much of the project

One part which is finished though is the new Building 7, the original Building 7 was also destroyed on 9/11. The new WTC 7 is a beautiful piece of architecture, and I hope provides many with the hope that one day in the not too distant future the WTC site will once again be a place of opportunity.

More photos are available in the WTC album on my Flickr site. I’ll be taking more photos over the coming months so check back there if this stuff interests you.



It’s already most of the way round the blogosphere by now, but I just wanted to join in the voices of condemnation against the people who have abused Kathy Sierra.

I use the word ‘abuse’ quite purposefully. It is, in my mind, criminal to threaten someone in such a way, and should not be toleratated.

I was disheartened, but unfortunately not surprised, to hear of Desi McAdam’s retelling of what one of her (male) associates said of the matter, basically ‘yeah, it’s going to happen, she’s just got to suck it up. If it was a man no-one would care.’. Did the suffragettes just ‘suck it up’ when they believed it was unjust for them not to have the right to vote?

Apart from anything else, it completely misses the value of the individual, and without outstanding individuals like Kathy Sierra as part of our careers, and lives at large, we would suffer. It’s time we appreciate them, no matter their gender, and defend their human rights whether online or not.


From here , via El Reg , Plutoed:

To demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet.

I hope none of you have felt plutoed recently…