Back in a Bit

The loss of a one-man institution

If you’re the youngest sibling, you’ll know about hand-me-downs. I imagine that if there’s only a couple of years between you and the next, the thought of all those worn out, ill-fitting clothes probably makes you shudder. Fortunately for me, as a child at least, there’s a gap of over sixteen years between me and the next brother. That meant I got cool stuff.

In the late eighties, when he bought himself a new hifi, I inherited my brother’s old one. A massive long flat National Panasonic thing with a smokey-brown perspex lid, housing a turntable and a cassette deck that no longer worked. My collection of vinyl at the time extended to a single twelve-inch copy of “1987 (What The Fuck Is Going On?)” by The Jams, which obviously I had to keep constantly hidden from my parents and didn’t dare play on the system in the lounge for fear of being asked what it was called. The stories of how I came by this record and eventually lost it again are long and boring, so I’ll save them possibly to inflict upon you at a later date.

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Thoughts on Google Desktop Search

Google finally put out their Desktop Search application yesterday, and it looks very useful. Anyone who’s ever used Microsoft’s method of indexing to search their own machine, and those of us who have been unfortunate enough to try and develop around it, have long wished for a fast, stable alternative. But the Google solution will not be useful here because:

I abandoned Outlook in favour of Mozilla Mail and then Thunderbird over two years ago, on grounds of stability and platform dependancy;
the Office suite was phased out in favour of OpenOffice, for the same reasons;
I’ve never used the AIM client, and I’ve only had a screenname for that protocol since dropping ICQ for Trillian;
I’ve taken every effort to cripple IE on my machines (you can’t even get out past my firewall with it) because I don’t want to take the risk. Additionally, I need a browser that is cross-platform and stable, and have been very happy with Firefox for a good long time.

I’m sure the Google Desktop will be very useful for a large number of people, and I only hope that its popularity will lead them to develop compatibility with applications other than the market leaders—there’s nothing technically prohibitive involved.

Wal-Mart Wants $10 CDs

In the past decade, Wal-Mart has quietly emerged as the nation’s biggest record store. Wal-Mart now sells an estimated one out of every five major-label albums. It has so much power, industry insiders say, that what it chooses to stock can basically determine what becomes a hit. “If you don’t have a Wal-Mart account, you probably won’t have a major pop artist,” says one label executive.