the evenings out here - Thoughts, rants and musings about absolutely everything except photography. Or cats.

Turning icelandic ?

Wishful thinking and scattered thoughts

in General Rants , Wednesday, February 11, 2009

There’s no getting away from it. I’m totally addicted to Iceland. Some days I practically live there in my head. I listen to Icelandic music - Bang Gang, Hafdis Huld, Emiliana Torrini, for example. And of course Sigur Ros, although I have to confess I don’t actually like them all that much. Late Talk Talk is far better if you like that sort of thing. Whenever I can I read books by Icelandic authors, old and new. I have over 7000 photos from Iceland, and I’ve been there more times than any other place (except maybe Italy and Estonia) in the last few years. And I’m always thinking about the next time.

A lot of people visit Iceland - apparently as many tourists go there each year as there are inhabitants, mostly in the summer months. And of course it is a magnet for photographers, although, frankly, unless you live there, you can’t really expect to do much original work. Most of the obvious stuff has been done time and time again. And photography is a big reason for me to go, but it isn’t essential, and is becoming less so.

The combination of a remarkable, evocative and romantic landscape, intelligent and resourceful people (although quite often a bit weird, let’s be honest), and a fascinating history all adds to the magic.

Perhaps the clear air, the wide open spaces, the sense of newness and discovery all help. I don’t know. I don’t really understand exactly why Iceland has got so deep under my skin. The only other place that came even close was Ireland, some time back, but not that close.

And maybe ... maybe it’s because it is so different from the stuffy, constricting claustrophobia of mainstream Europe.


Old Dog. New Tricks 3.0: The Making Of.

in General Rants , Friday, December 05, 2008


I’ve been playing around with sketches and designs to give this website a full refresh for over 2 years. Apart from a lack of time, talent and design skills, not to mention an attention span a goldfish would envy, I’ve been thwarted by technology. First, a dreadful and very expensive hosting service, and second, the increasingly arcane, complicated and plain slow Movable Type. I solved the first by moving to, a truly wonderful service, after a false start with another company I won’t mention, but which reveals the lack of a key feature only after you’ve paid up. Merci, les gars. After a bit of fiddling with Code Igniter, and an experiment with WordPress, I finally settled on Expression Engine to build the whole site, pages, blogs, photo galleries and all. It’s a great tool. I’m not sure if it would scale up to epic industrial proportions, but for this sort of site, provided you know a bit of HTML, it’s perfect.


Boring Fireball

in General Rants , Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For the last year I have been a subscriber to John Gruber's blog, Daring Fireball - basically an Apple fanzine. I've decided not to renew. Gruber is a good writer, but his tone is really getting irritating. Describing everybody who takes a different view to his as a "jackass" is just childish. And although he does display a higher level of intelligence than most, he is display more and more signs of Cult Of Mac zealotry and fanaticism. Daring Fireball is an interesting example of blog as income model, but however good the writing, Gruber's world view is too narrow and too predictable to be worth reading very often, let alone paying for.

Fawlty Towers

in General Rants , Monday, June 25, 2007

Faded, scruffy, self-satisfied, overpriced, depressing... I wonder if these are the adjectives that the Thistle Hotel Brighton, where I have the misfortune to be sitting typing this, would expect to associate itself with ? Not by the look of their website, or of the self-congratulatory leaflets that litter the room, proclaiming all of the varied wonders which one can benefit from, all at a (large) price of course. Three highlights: no minibar in room, hence no water. The drinks dispenser by the elevator has, of course, run out of water (a bargain at £1.50, anyway). Aircon "working", in the sense that is blasting out hot air, but not adjustable (at least the reception tried to help by giving me a different room, but it was exactly the same). And then, possibly not entirely Thistle's fault, but why should I be feeling generous, we have: SafariScreenSnapz002.jpg Oh, but at a price. And what a price. Here's an example: SafariScreenSnapz001.jpg Yes, 20p per minute. Compare and contrast with the last two hotels I stayed in, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Tallinn, Estonia, which both had free Wifi. I would suggest that the Thistle charges extra for hot water, puts a meter on the lights, offers rental TV (or sorry, they've already done that) and rents out towels. At least that would achieve a level of consistency. There will always be something of the Fawlty Towers about English hotels, it seems. And England.

Facebook. Welcome to the Hall of Shame.

in General Rants , Wednesday, June 13, 2007

(warning: bad hair day) Trying to ramp up my use of Facebook this morning, so I've gone into my profile. The contact panel is total rubbish. It fails to save data I enter (it has lost all my IM screen names twice, I had to enter my URL twice, etc). It doesn't recognise MSIDSN format for cell phone numbers, so "+417987565432" becomes "417987565432", and "41(0)7987565432" becomes "4107987565432". It has a mind of its own as far as privacy setting are concerned. I guess it works fine in California. Whatever. Do they still do testing in California, or is that soooooo Web 1.0 ?
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