LUGRadio Live 2008

I attended this event last year and, as such, the first thing I want to do know is to admit defeat. I was pretty proud of last year’s writeup, and I had every intention of trying to repeat the experiment in writing up a thorough review. For the record, I have failed, even before I begin.

I took less pictures this year, I was overall less attentive due to recurring hangovers, but I did have every bit as good a time. Anyway, let’s see where we get to…

Transport & Accommodation

After the disaster that was trying to get to Oxford by train a few weeks back, I opted to drive down to Wolves this time round, offering lifts via the LancsLUG list but forgetting to check the LUGRadio Forums – meant I ended up meeting a few others who’d similarly travelled down from Lancaster, which was a mistake. We could have easily car-shared if we’d realized.

Another factor in driving down was that I’d only really decided I was definitely going to go down there the day before – it would have been the same cost to get on the train, with less guarantees.
As it was, the drive down was painless, although I did get there a little late because I went for beer the night before and slept through my alarm – n00b.

With making the decision the day before, I decided to go with what I knew and opted to stay at the Novotel in Wolverhampton – right next to the railway station, 5 minutes walk to the venue, and just off one of the main roads (maybe 15 minutes from the motorway). It was as to be expected – not the cheapest, but conveniently placed, clean and, to be quite honest, easy. Buffet breakfast was included, which I maxed on, and the snack I got there in the evening to wash down my Guinness was pretty good as well.

The Talks

This segment is the reason this is a week late, and it’s an utter failure. I spent most of the last week wanting to really devote time to this part likeI did last year to give the speakers the best possible summation I could. Then I realized I didn’t make enough notes to do that. Instead, I’ll just summarise what I saw, what was interesting, and key things of note.

To begin with, as mentioned, I arrived to the event too late to see the opening segment by the four large gents, and as such also missed the usual rush to get in and see the place fill up. It also meant that I missed a good portion of the first talk I went to see, which was Rufus Pollock talking about the Open Knowledge Foundation. I have to be honest, before LRL, I think I had heard of the Foundation but knew nothing about it. It’s a really cool idea, and I wholeheartedly suggest visiting the webstie to find out more, along with the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network – super stuff. The things that particularly made me sit up and think were a couple of key phrases Rufus mentioned during his talk, the first centralising around the many minds principle, which is a principle I have a lot of faith in, and his phrase of ‘the revolution will be decentralized’. It makes so much sense given the nature of the internet and its accessibility. These big changes, that need to happen to make real progress revolve around the idea of open and shared knowledge and the sharing of ideas struggle if they’re dictated to from a central point. I really can’t do it justice by trying to paraphrase everything he said but, to find out more, check out the aforementioned links.
Another snippet he mentioned that caught my ear was, after explaining how ‘3G’ alone has over 7000 patents applicable to it, and 800 distinct patents (all of which, supposedly, ‘protect’ intellectual property), the question ‘Why should this process be open?’ His answer? ‘Because putting Humpty Dumpty back together is easier‘ when things are open. And it really is. When the shit hits the fan, and things need fixing, it’s so much easier if you can have all the blueprints and tools right there at your fingertips. You shouldn’t need to scrabble around for permission to access certain ‘IP Stuffs’ just to be able to start working on a fix. Another point mentioned that I wasn’t aware of was that, in most cases, works without a license default to being treated as proprietary, not open.

I stayed in the main stage for the next talk by Emma Jane Hogbin, regarding women on open source and various aspects surrounding that. I’m not going to go blow-by-blow with what was said, but it really was extremely interesting, well thought out, and energetic. Would definitely like to go see her speak again when I’m not as hungover / tired so I can pay considerably more attention and make notes.

Lunchtime intervened, allowing me to check into the hotel, grab a lot of coffee, and a sandwich to try and help me make it through the afternoon. It failed.

First up was Jeremy Allison of the SAMBA project, again on the main stage. A very good speaker, I actually found the talk fascinating for an area I didn’t know much about as it provided a good broad picture of where SAMBA came from, what it had done and a glimpse at where it could be going. My only regret, as with most talks over the weekend, is that I was in not mental state to really get the most out of them, as I was constantly battling sleep. n00b.

The Gong-a-Thong Lightbulb Extravaganza was up next, and it all got much more surreal than last year. Funny though. I actually didn’t listen much to most of the Gong-a-Thong though, as I decided to run over and make the msot of the quiet spell on the Bytemark gaming rig. Impressive setup. I found myself coming back more and more in a vain attempt to stroke my epeen and get better at Team Fortress 2. I didn’t quite achieve this.

I also played on for much too long so that I missed at least the first half of Steve Lamb’s talk entitled ‘Green IT’. As such, I feel even less qualified than normal to comment on what it was about – some comments about security not being platform dependent rang true though. And well done again Steve, what I heard was really interesting stuff, but I did spend a long time cursing myself for not getting there to listen to it from the start.

The day concluded with LUGRadio Live and Unleashed. Always amusing. You can go listen and download it here (when it gets uploaded… πŸ™‚ ).

I was surprisingly spritely at the start of Day 2, my only guess for that is that I was still drunk. I kicked it off by going to see Barbie’s talk, ‘Understanding Malware’.
I’d heard of Barbie many times before going to LRL and he didn’t disappoint. It was informative and interesting, even if it was a little above the level I would be comfortable with.

Next up was the Mass Debate – a popular event last year – this year featuring Jeremy Allison, Mrben, Matthew Garrett and … I forget the last panelist (I arrived after the introductions). Jono hosted it.
As with last year, it was hilarious, with some good points being made along with plenty of sly and not-so-sly piss-taking.

Lunch came, and with it came the afternoon fragging. Back to the Team Fortress 2 server I went, and the time flew by. I missed Matthew Garrett’s talk on ‘Power Management that Works’, but made it to Neuro’s talk on Second Life. I found Neuro’s brief rundown to Second Life last year pretty interesting, even if it is something I’m not massively interested in getting into and, listening to him this year, I came home and downloaded the client. I’ve yet to give it a thorough trial. It’s impressive technology-wise, not convinced it’ll prove to be for me though. We’ll see!

And that was it. Game over for another year. This time with no regular podcasts in between.

I’ll miss the podcasts, but i certainly won’t miss being at LRL next year. As Westwood may say, “It’s gonna be BIG” – and all that shite. It will be good.

Nutsacks

The fully edited picture will hopefully get linked here Soon ™, but my Nutsack idea this year was, I think, not what I was meant to get, and I apologise if someone left theirs on the side only to return and find I’d swagged it. Having arrived late, I just grabbed the first one that was on the table, saving myself from rummaging through it until I got to the hotel.

Mostly it was of a similar composition to last year (to be expected). The free T-Shirt was from UKUUG, there were one or two pens, some papers and advertising stuff for various upcoming events, the programme, a keyring bottle-opener from Yahoo! (which was considerably more useful than the strangely shaped pen of last year.. πŸ˜‰ ), and a latest Ubuntu CD. Solid stuff.

In addition to the stuff in the bag, I was also able to grab a lovely free T-Shirt from the LinuxEmporium stand, as a return for entering their competition with the chance to win an EeePC. Alas, I didn’t win the EeePC, but getting a T-Shirt for the effort was a nice touch.

I’ll update this, and add info to the pictures, when I get chance (given that this is 7 days late, expect a sturdy delay on that..), but for now I can’t really think of much else to add!

EeePC Desires

EeePCs seemed to be everywhere at LRL this year. Which wasn’t a good thing for me as it dramatically increased my urge to go buy myself one. I did in fact come very close to just getting one right there and then, but with the knowledge that the new models are coming out very very shortly, I figured I should wait.

These things are bloody lovely for the sort of thing I want them for. The keyboard does indeed feel incredibly small at first, but I’m almost certain that, with a little practise, that will become a non-issue. The screen is plenty big enough for general browsing and document-editing. All in a slick little package with wireless capabilities, massive battery life, and solid state disks so I can feel slightly more comfortable when it crashes to the floor.

The other thing that was on show there that looked really slick was the Ubuntu desktop running on one of them. It just looked really, really good. To be fair though, I only had the ‘Advanced Menu’ mode of the native Xandros install to compare it to which, whilst it’s definitely functional and familiar, was a bit of a disappointment – I was quite looking forward to seeing what the Bubbly and Cuddly default appearance looked and handled like. Even so though, I think I’ll end up getting mine pre-installed with Ubuntu, probably from EfficientPC – as the fellow running the stand for them was really quite interesting to talk to about it and seems more than happy to go to extra lengths to help customize it. Go check ’em out – they’re meant to be getting the new EeePCs in stock in the next few weeks – FUN!

Community, Community, Community

Jono may get a kicking at regular intervals for his overuse of this term but, feck it. The community aspect of LUGRadio may have been clear to see last year but, for whatever reason, this year came across as considerably more sociable right the way through.
Admittedly, as much as anything, that may have been less to do with an increase in sociable atmosphere and more to do with me coming out of my shell a bit more and feeling comfortable striking up conversations and generally imposing myself on other groups. If I ever did become a bind, then I obviously apologise to those people, but I don’t think I did (hopefully).

The addition of Karaoke on the Saturday night was a superb idea, and definitely brought out the best in people, if not always their voices, and generally aided the party atmosphere. Heading down into Wolves afterwards to visit the rock bar (can’t remember it’s name) was just as much a laugh, even if my memory does get considerably sketchier past that point. However, getting lost on my way back to the hotel certainly wasn’t as much fun!

As with last year, both days carried with them plenty of joviality and all round politeness and banter. In many ways similar to what I loved about Glastonbury, everyone at LRL is there because they share similar broad interests – in this case technology in general and FOSS. As such, the atmosphere is brilliant.

I had some great conversations with various folks this year, and learned a whole load, and I thank them for that. I also saw people I first met at last year’s event, and it really did hammer home this community idea, and made me realize how foolish it was to have not taken a bigger part in it during the year. I have no excuses for that, except my own leanings towards being socially inept and not really knowing how to best start to get to know an already established group as a complete outsider. Childish and foolish? Definitely. But it seems to be the way I’m wired.

Pictures and all that Jazz

I didn’t take alf the pictures I’d wanted to take, and most of the ones I did take didn’t come out well.

If you want to look through some of them, then mine are bunched up in the midst of the Flickr collection, tagged lugradiolive. Some fun photos in there!

As you can hopefully tell from this writeup, I had another great weekend at LUGRadio Live this year, and I was extremely pleased to hear that the show will have at least one more outing same time next year. It’s going to be interesting to see how it turns out, seeing as how there won’t be a regular show to promote it, but if anything it provides an impetus to become more actively involved with the community, which can only be a good thing.

So, to the four blokes and their merry band of yellow-shirted helpers – thanks for another great year. For the cool people I met and talked to – thanks for the hospitality and friendliness. To those who provided such solid information – it’s all appreciated, and I apologise I couldn’t do you justice in my write-ups.

I’ll see you all next year, that’s for sure.

HOWTO: Automating Bridges and TUN/TAP

This isn’t ground-breaking stuff by any means, it’s more just a simple reminder for myself about how I did certain things in order to get a network bridge set up under Ubuntu 8.04, and to create a Tap connection that I could then use in VirtualBox to let routes and all that shiny stuff work. It doesn’t explain things fully (I don’t understand it), but it does cover what I did, hopefully step by step.
This only made sense thanks to the following pages:

1. https://help.ubuntu.com/community/VirtualBox#Create%20A%20Bridge
2. http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=830777
3. http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=752127

Anyway, let’s begin.

Does it Work…?

First step along this Rocky Road to Near-Fail was to follow the useful advice in Link 1 above, and thus making sure that creating a bridge and activating it and the TUN/TAP actually worked. It did. From that link, I did the following:

~$ sudo aptitude install bridge-utils uml-utilities

This installs the pre-requisite applications to do the fun stuff.
The second point depends on your viewpoint, but it’s probably worth backing up your current /etc/network/interfaces file in case you manage to break something:

~$ sudo cp /etc/network/interfaces /etc/network/interfaces.good

Obviously, what you call and where you place the backup is up to you. Just make sure it’s something you remember later.

Now for preparing the bridge itself. Fun:

~$ sudo tunctl -t tap1 -u USERNAME
~$ sudo chown root.vboxusers /dev/net/tun
~$ sudo chmod g+rw /dev/net/tun

Next up, we need to edit another file, apparently to help make permissions persist after reboots. The file we need to edit is /etc/udev/rules.d/20-names.rules
Again, we need to edit this as root, so from the terminal:

~$ sudo [$editor_du_jour] /etc/udev/rules.d/20-names.rules

And then at the end of that file, find the following line:
KERNEL=="tun", NAME="net/%k"
And add the following to make it look like this:
KERNEL=="tun", NAME="net/%k", GROUP="vboxusers", MODE="0660"

Take whichever process your editor takes for saving and closing that.

Now we can create the bridge itself:

~$ sudo brctl addbr br0

Now put the network interface into promiscuous mode, add it to the bridge, and set the Bridge to DHCP (if you are using DHCP, if not, ignore these and see the next statement):

~$ sudo ifconfig eth0 0.0.0.0 promisc
~$ sudo brctl addif br0 eth0
~$ sudo dhclient br0

If you are NOT using DHCP, and have a STATIC IP, follow this example:
~$ sudo ifconfig br0 192.168.1.105 netmask 255.255.0.0
~$ sudo route add default gw 192.168.1.1 br0

(Obviously, replace the IP, Netmask, and Gateway IPs with your own…)

Now, simply add the tap1 device to the bridge and bring up the interface:

~$ sudo brctl addif br0 tap1
~$ sudo ifconfig tap1 up

Last thing I did was just to run ifconfig to double check everything that should be there is there. You should have the Bridge (br0) with your IP Address, the physical interface (eth0) set promiscuously, and the TAP, tap1.

Opening up VirtualBox and change the appropriate network settings for your VirtualMachine to point to the new tap device (in my case, tap1). First step in that is to change the ‘Attached To’ drop-down to point to ‘Host Interface’.

Screenshot of the Settings

Starting the VirtualMachine now should be effortless, and when it starts up (and you add them), the same routes you’ve been using should work just fine… so ping, ping away!

Making it Permanent

The initial instructions I was hoping to follow from Link 1 didn’t work out all too well for me, so I was back trying to work out exactly where I could fix it. Thankfully, SpaceTeddy on the Ubuntu forums was able to point me in the right direction of some useful hints he’d written.
In the end, I did the following.
First step is to go back and edit /etc/network/interfaces with your preferred Text Editor. You need to be root to do this. In there, you are replacing your current Physical Interface settings for the bridge, or, in my case, swapping out eth0 for br0. Then you are adding a rule to tell the bridge it using your physical interface (eth0). Finally you are adding the stuff that brings eth0 up as promiscuous. It should look like this:

auto br0
iface br0 inet static
bridge_ports eth1
auto eth1
iface eth1 inet manual
up ifconfig $IFACE 0.0.0.0 up
up ip link set $IFACE promisc on
down ip link set $IFACE promisc off
down ifconfig $IFACE down

It’s probably worthwhile noting that you SHOULD NOT remove the references to the Loopback Interface (lo), but do make sure any other references to your physical interface are commented out, or plain old deleted – you made a backup anyway, right?

After doing that, the only thing left to include is finding a way to bring the TAP interface up on startup. The other guides do mention ways to do it through /etc/network/interfaces but they didn’t work for me – I still don’t know why.

Instead, I just added the commands to /etc/rc.local, along with the routes I need to bring up everytime I startup. This was as simple a case as opening up the file in my preferred text editor (again, sudo is needed) and adding the following:

tunctl -t tap1 -u MyUser
brctl addif br0 tap1
ifconfig tap1 up

exit 0

Make sure to keep the ‘exit 0’ at the end of that file – it seems to work.

And that massively over-lengthy block of text is all that you need to do. I will try and refine this at some point but, this works for me and seems easy enough to follow if I need to remind myself what I did again.

Glastonbury Festival 2008

Well, it’s been a good day or so since we made it back to the real world after 5 days down in deepest Somerset to attend Glastonbury Festival 2008, so I thought it was about time I set about trying to actually write about it. This is that attempt.

In the Beginning

Attending the Festival as a group was John, Mike, Owen, Duncan, and myself. Duncan would be joining us on the Thursday, whereas the rest of us drove down on Wednesday. The journey down was uneventful, but we had the vehicle packed to the rafters with bags, tents, booze, and Pot Noodles. There really was little else.

The Music

So, this is the selection of artists I actually managed to see live whilst I was there. Of course, the sad thing is that I will miss some artists out, particularly those that I heard in passing or caught their sets midway through on the Wednesday or the Thursday, where no published program seemed to exist to help me find out the names of some of the funky musicians I listened to.
More or less, this list is in chronological order, starting on Thursday with The Levellers, and finishing with The Verve on Sunday night. You can fill in the other times and days yourself, or just trust me when I say they follow through the weekend…

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see everybody I’d wanted to see, but I did get a fair old whack at things.

The Levellers

[last.fm linkage]
Various signs around the place on Wednesday and during the day Thursday had made it fairly clear that the Levellers were performing, and I decided pretty early on that I had to go see them. I don’t know why I thought that, because I’d only ever heard one track by them (knowingly) pre-Festival, and that was Just the One. But I went anyway, and plodded down to the Left Field tent in the pissing rain to try and get inside and be remotely dry whilst watching and listening. The place was full to the rafters.

As to the performance. Personally, i thought it was brilliant. Everybody loved it, lots of singing along, the sounds quality was good and the atmosphere was great – a really solid band to unofficially kick things off. Shame I got piss wet through in the process, but that’s what it’s all about I guess!

Kate Nash

[last.fm linkage]
Mornings soon proved to be not the best of times for our merry little crew, be it because we were sleeping, recovering, or just plain ol’ procrastinating instead of going out there and listening to music. Thanks to that, we arrived pretty late to see the last couple of songs Kate Nash was performing.

Kate Nash tends to get quite a lot of flack, or so it seems to me anyway and, if I’m honest, I think I was the only one of us who quite fancied going to see what she was like live, which probably doesn’t score me any points on the heterosexual scale. Bugger.
Still, I have to say what I saw at the end of the set was good, if you like the stuff she does, which I do. It’s entertaining, easy to listen to, and amusing, which is just fine in my book.

The Subways

[last.fm linkage]
To be honest, I hadn’t listened to much Subways stuff before the festival and wouldn’t have initially rushed anywhere to see them. I have the first album lying around somewhere and it occasionally gets a listen to and does the job well. However, they followed Kate Nash on the Pyramid Stage so we figured, why the hell not? There was nothing else particularly pressing that I wanted to see in the morning anyway.

As with what I saw from Kate Nash, I enjoyed it. They seemed to have a fairly solid stage presence and were fairly interesting to listen to. I only recognized a couple of songs from the first album, and wasn’t entirely sold on all the new material they tried out, but it was fun. Would see again (at a Festival… probably wouldn’t go out of my way to buy tickets).

Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs

[last.fm linkage]
Fecking brilliant. John summed it up afterwards by commenting that this sort of thing is exactly what Glastonbury should be about- variation and random fun.

The atmosphere was brilliant, the performance was amusing and captivating and generally to a pretty good quality considering the washboard was in action. The three of them did brilliantly and genuinely seemed to convey an almost humble attitude to being there. They may have opened by saying it was a joint effort between the audience and them, but it really did seem that way as it went on – every single person in the room seemed to become a real part of the gig. Simply brilliant, and I hope to see these guys again at a future point. Try and listen to some of their stuff, it’s fun! πŸ™‚

Alabama 3

[last.fm linkage]
Over to the Jazz World stage, this was another artist I really didn’t know very much about (except, of course, the Soprano’s Theme πŸ™‚ ). They’re fascinating. In a really weird sort of way. I really can’t even begin try and describe them, as I wouldn’t know where to start. The vocals are a strange mixture but they seem to work and there’s something completely unavoidable about how cool and, dare I say it, funky the whole band is. Genuinely interesting.

Candi Staton

[last.fm linkage]
Everyone knows and loves at least one Candi Staton song, even if they don’t know her by name. And, arguably, this was one of the best sets I saw over the whole weekend.

Simply put, she’s brilliant. Superb voice, great stage presence, and everyone loves the music. She belted out some absolute classics, seemed to hit every note just the way she wanted to, and seemed to be havingΒ  a great time being there. If you didn’t see her, you missed out, regardless of whatever else you saw in her place. Sorry, you just lost the game.

Fun Lovin’ Criminals

[last.fm linkage]
The start of a crazy evening.
I’ve seen Fun Lovin’ Criminals before, in Lancaster, and thought they were great then. This time, they also didn’t disappoint, although I had a much more relaxed approach to watching them – that being that I was wandering around the gig on my own, too drunk for my own good, and talking to strangers (see ‘Reckless Abandon’, below for more). So in many respects, they were background music. But it’s great background music. This set also served to remind me that I should listen to them a bit more often. Tasty.

Sinead O’Connor

[last.fm linkage]
I was pretty excited at the prospect of being able to see Sinead O’Connor live in the run up to the festival, and so was a little disappointed with hindsight to admit that I didn’t actually see the show.
I was there – please don’t think I skipped it all together – but I just heard it again as background music whilst I was talking to two very nice people from the Czech Republic. Good times.

What I heard was good though, although it would be hard to claim she has a bad voice and, as with FLC, it was really nice to have good music going on around you whilst you could sit and talk to strangers, embarrassing yourself along the way. Lovely jubbly. I also failed to spot if she still had a shaved head, so anyone who can help confirm / deny that it would be much appreciated.

Kings of Leon

[last.fm linkage]
I’ve enjoyed listening to the Kings of Leon ever since I first heard Molly’s Chambers, which always struck me as fairly fun and easy to listen to. However, I will quite happily take the points made by both John and Mike that, relatively speaking, they are quite a boring band and don’t bring anything new to the table. That doesn’t bother me though. One thing Glastonbury reaffirmed for me is that I’ve largely got past worrying about where the music’s come from, what it means, what it brings to the table, or whether its overrated, ‘sold out’, or any other such phrases. Of course, if a songs got an emotional background, pushes boundaries and has something I can relate to in it then it will be preferred, but it doesn’t stop me just enjoying listening to things non-committally.

And so it was with Kings of Leon. I knew when I saw them announced that they were one of the few acts I would feel I _had_ to see whilst at Glasto, purely because what I’ve heard recorded I’ve enjoyed and – just as with so many other acts at the Festival – I really wanted to see what they could do live.

Honest verdict? I was disappointed. I enjoyed the songs, but I felt as a live act they were simply dull. I think I was expecting a bit more stage presence, and probably beer. I wanted rock and roll but all I got was this lousy CD-quality experience.
That’s not to say they were necessarily bad though. I did enjoy what was played and had a little solo boogie all to myself in my slightly spaced out state but, in future, I wouldn’t be overly bothered whether I saw them or went to see something else.

Pete Doherty

[last.fm linkage]
Following the end of Kings of Leon, I staggered up towards The Park to see the end of Pete Doherty, seeing as he’s another artist I really haven’t heard much from. I literally arrived right towards the end, but from what I did see and hear, he did a good job. Well played that man.

James Blunt

[last.fm linkage]
No one will believe me, but this was largely accidental. We lost Owen, and I had to hold the fort whilst the search parties went their separate ways. Turns out it meant I got to sit / sleep through this. Everyone there seemed to love it, good for them. Have to admit I was strongly apathetic, letting this rank as my biggest regret / wasted time moment of the weekend. It’s not that he’s necessarily bad, he’s just not really anything I’m into.

The Raconteurs

[last.fm linkage]
I dozed a little bit for this as well, but I thought they did a pretty good job overall. I knew hardly anything about them before sitting through it, and I probably would see them again given the chance. Not much more to say though really.

Manu Chao

[last.fm linkage]
Another artist I was determined to ensure I caught at least once during the festival, we decided to stick at the Pyramid Stage and see Manu Chao there. They didn’t disappoint. Energetic, upbeat, and all under the late afternoon sun. It couldn’t have been better.

A great mix of their songs, some new, some old, all timeless, it was everything I would have hoped for from a Manu Chao gig. Would definitely try to see them again.

Amy Winehouse

[last.fm linkage]
Not really a lot to report on this one that would be classed as ‘new news’, seeing as how everybody seemed to be talking about it and the ‘Punch up’ incident since the Festival. However, I thoroughly bloody enjoyed it. She was incoherent at times (could have been the sound levels). She was tottering about looking rather unstable. And the dress wasn’t the most flattering. But fuck it. She also has a brilliant voice and got stronger and stronger as the show went on. If newspaper reports are to be believed, and if she really is ‘ruining herself’ then, yes, of course it’s a shame and a sad story but, at the same time, if she’s having fun and making good music then… meh… maybe I’m just being selfish, but I actually quite enjoy seeing musicians embrace the rock and roll spirit every now and then. They’re only human, afterall. Why should their mistakes and life choices be plastered all over the place? And why should it bother us from a music point of view? To me, it shouldn’t.

So, Miss Winehouse, well done on the performance. I salute you.

Jay-Z

[last.fm linkage]
It’s been spoken about enough, but the intro was brilliant, and showed a solid sense of humour. To then open up with 99 Problems was something I knew and appreciated. Good song.

Whilst I didn’t watch the entire set, the first half I watched was good. It was entertaining, had a decent variety of samples that brought back some songs I hadn’t heard for a long time, and it brought variety and controversy to the floor. I certainly hope there’s hip hop at next year’s Festival, even if it doesn’t headline. It brings it back to being a Festival in celebration of music, in all its forms.

Massive Attack

[last.fm linkage]
Given that the timetables clashed between Massive Attack and Jay-Z, I was only able to catch the last bit of Massive Attack before retiring for sleep. From what I saw, and from what I heard others say, it was epic. Great use of lasers as well. A little part of me is gutted I didn’t see it all, but then I was glad I got to see Jay-Z.

Neil Diamond

[last.fm linkage]
There’s very little that can be said against this mighty fine individual. In fact, if I had to nitpick, it would be because I thought his acknowledgement of the applause he received was a little repetitive – there’s only so many times I can hear “thank you so much” and hearing it after every song got a little boring.

Still, it was actually a lot better than I’d hoped it would be, with highlights clearly including Sweet Caroline and, for me at least, Pretty Amazing Grace since I’ve enjoyed the song immensely since I first heard it (repeatedly) on the Radio when it was released. It sounds just as good live.

Good clean fun would be a good way to describe the set. The afternoon sun made it very continental in it’s party atmosphere. Wild.

Goldfrapp

[last.fm linkage]
Yet another band I really didn’t know enough about / of before going to the Festival, I was very pleasantly surprised at quite how much I liked them. Granted, I dozed through a good portion of the set, but the music clearly wasn’t so offensive I couldn’t sleep to it. Great voice, and really quite interesting, I can imagine I’ll listen to more of this stuff before too long. Good job.

Leonard Cohen

[last.fm linkage]
The one artist I feel I can write an unhealthy chunk of text about.

Without doubt, this was the single greatest performance of the weekend (in my humble opinion), even if I wish to put all the weight of that achievement onto one song – Hallelujah. Simply stunning. Words don’t even come close. I am being completely honest when I say I don’t think I have ever seen any other live performance that has simply knocked me for six on an emotional scale as watching Mr Cohen belt out his version during this set. It actually makes the original album version seem rather disappointing by comparison, and it’s a song I absolutely adore.
As it happens, I had also been listening to Jeff Buckley’s version of the song a few too many times to be healthy in the weeks before the Festival, and that had always managed to intrigue me, but by comparison, it can’t do anything like Cohen’s version can. It’s husky, it’s candid, it’s bare bones, and it’s brilliant. It seemed to get possibly the greatest applause that I witnessed during the weekend and, if everybody was doing as I was, it was automatic. I could think of nothing else but applause. I couldn’t have shouted anything out. It genuinely hit me like a bottle of wine.

Maybe it was because I was still in a mildly fragile state from the previous few days, but it brought me bloody close to crying. Sad? Probably, but it’s the truth. Whether it was the combination of the music and the setting sun, with the added mix of having the entire crowd hanging off his every word with adoration or not I really don’t know. But it was special. I’ve linked a mobile phone video that somebody put on YouTube below. Check it out if you like. It’s rather good.

In many ways, it was a shame that Hallelujah came in the middle of the set because, as Mike said, it meant that the next few songs almost felt disappointing, but in so many ways I really don’t think Cohen cared, and he definitely kept everyone on board and interested as he continued through the rest of his set.

If you ever get the chance to see Cohen live, do it. Don’t think twice about it. Don’t wait. Just do it. You probably won’t get many chances. If he’s performing at a Festival near you and there are tickets left, buy them, and go. You will not regret it. It’s a statement I’m probably going to grow up to hate myself for saying, as it sounds a bit weak, but he’s an amazing performer, coming across as very commanding over his domain whilst at the same time seeming genuinely humble and honoured to be so adored. Plus, seeing as all his songs are largely, and primarily poems, I would be very surprised if he ever performs the same song quite the same on any two occasions. Brilliant.

Go watch the video: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_tPQQLMXmQ4

The Verve

[last.fm linkage]
Probably the one band I was most excited about pre-Festival. The performance itself has no doubt been well documented. I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially Bitter Sweet Symphony. Nearly returned me to tears again. I believe it brought Owen closer.

Seriously good show though. Very impressive, and clearly appreciated by all who attended. They were every bit as good as you would expect them to be, and deserve any and all praise they receive. Solid performance.

Reckless Abandon

Friday night was Crazy Friday. In fact, Friday in general was Crazy Friday. But it was brilliant, and full of, you guessed it, reckless abandon.

I did everything my mother always told me I shouldn’t do:

  • I wandered around on my own in a strange new place
  • I drank excessively
  • I spoke to (and accepted gifts from) complete strangers
  • I applied the ‘cocktail’ methodology to my stimulants of choice
  • I picked my nose

With hindsight, it was foolish. It was also bloody brilliant, and something that I’d never done before. That’s not an encouragement though.

Anyway, where to begin? Well, my guess is it started with that Guinness at an ungodly hour of the morning. In so many ways it was a wrong choice, yet it seemed so right at the time. Lovely stuff. Then there could be the Hot Spiced Cider. After all, it’s only apple juice fundamentally, so we were all more than entitled to give it a whirl. Invigorating in and off itself.

As I remember it, at some point after this myself and John returned to ‘base camp’ to get some booze and lunch, by which I mean a Pot Noodle and the remains of the first box of red, red wine. Plodded on down towards The Other Stage to meet up with Michael and co, at which point the cave suit was on (it had started spitting again). Here came the first break, as the rest of them were off to see… someone… can’t remember who, and I headed back to Jazz World for the Alabama 3, ‘bag’ of wine now in hand (the box disintegrated in the rain). According to the strangers I was talking to, it looked quite suspicious, me being in, effectively, a boiler suit with a transparent bag in hand containing an unidentified red liquid. I’m sure they loved it really though.

At the end of the Alabama 3 set,which I enjoyed thoroughly, I latched onto some unsuspecting Welsh folk to chat about my dodgy appearance and why I was on my own (“No, really, I _do_ have friends, they’re just… erm… somewhere else…” πŸ™ ). Just before Candi Staton came on stage, Mike and John found me (apparently, my bright yellow suit stood out… *shrugs*) and we made our way to the rest of them to watch – and subsequently boogie a little to – Candi Staton.
Once more, we got talking to strangers. A couple of fellows from down south, and a considerably older gentleman I’m led to believe was not with them, but who was, certainly, loving life. It was a solid hour of banter, and I thank them for that.

After that, I believe myself and John went back to the tent again, or maybe a few more of us did, to replenish food levels (with Noodles) and to grab another beer. I was to be the only one who wanted to see Fun Lovin’ Criminals over the other options so I set off back down there on my own, this time replacing my sun hat with the Indian Headdress. I could probably cite this as the defining moment of the evening.

On the way from The Other Stage to Jazz World, I stopped for another Cider, and shook many strangers hands, not to mention uttering the famous ‘How’ whilst raising my right hand a good few times. The concept made me giggle.

Arriving at FLC, I decided it was too busy for me to be bothered to get near the front, so I wandered aimlessly (and drunkenly) towards the edge of the sound stage. It was hear that I latched onto my second group of the evening – a jovial bunch of guys from Anfield (of course, I played the dubious card and admitted I was a United fan – not something I would have done sober). They were a really nice bunch and seemed to appreciate my odd attire. They offered me a beer which, for a Carling, settled surprisingly well, and soon introduced me to Gary, which I mistakenly thought referred to Green when they first mentioned him. Apparently, I was wrong, and I can only guess his name should be spelt Gar-E. But that’s just a best guess, the truth is, worryingly, that I have no idea. I know it wasn’t negative, and it made me eager to talk to strangers but beyond that, I’m stumped. The Gar-E suggestion came from Mike.

Anyway, the Jolly Scousers soon departed, and I was back to embarrassing myself in front of another group who, I think, were from London way and were only to eager to provide a screen for me to piss behind – a fact I had forgotten until a couple of days later – I know, I’m an embarrassment to my family. πŸ˜‰

After chatting for a while, I realized that I was risking missing Sinead O’Connor, so I made my apologies and left. On the way I got talking to a delightful couple that were heading towards The Other Stage who decided to share some poppers with me before we went our separate ways. Apparently, they liked my headdress. Lovely folks.

I carried on walking, in my blissful state, up past the Left Field stage, where I stopped briefly to cut short some little kids who were trying to take the piss. I blind-sided them with good temperament and wished them a good festival. I still don’t quite know why, it just seemed easier than ignoring them.

Before long I was up by the Acoustic Stage, sat outside it and returning the ever-increasing number of “Hows” I was receiving, even occasionally going as far as responding with “That’s How… for now [dodgy facial expression]”. It amused me greatly.
Up outside the acoustic stage I got talking to Tom and his Czech girlfriend (Katka?). Lovely people. And really quite interesting. God only knows what they thought of me. All I really remember is repeatedly apologising for ruining their evening. I sat outside the tent talking to them most of the way through Sinead’s set. Her set provided great background music.I also spoke to a group from New Zealand and did a crap job of taking their photo for them numerous times. Even the time I tried to rest the camera on Tom’s head didn’t work. Wacky.
We sat, chatted, had a little smoke to stir things up and laughed about Tom’s apparent knee fetish. Fun times.

After staying just long enough to thoroughly embarrass myself I left to go catch the Kings of Leon set. Feeling fairly content still, the walk there passed quickly, with a silly grin slapped across my face. More “Hows” were exchanged.

Wandering around the crowds waiting for the Kings of Leon, my initial intention was to find Mike and John, who I knew were both meant to be there somewhere. Apparently, they were equally smashed after getting through as much of the booze as they could. Solid performance.

However, I didn’t find them, as I was distracted by a fun-loving group who stopped to talk to me. After providing them with my carefully rehearsed caution – “I warn you, I am an idiot and have spent the evening attaching myself to different people as I can’t find my friends” – we joked, laughed about my attire, and smoked some more, and waited for the show. It was fun, but I sort of drifted away from them mid-Kings of Leon as I seemed to be struck by a niggling sense of paranoia / soberness that left me realizing I may be ruining everyone’s night _and_ the fact that they seemed to think I was gay. I questioned what I was doing, and just switched off and watched the rest of the set on my own. That was rude of me, and I apologise. As with most people I met that night, they were a lovely group, and I shouldn’t have let my social ineptitude stand in the way of me trying to be polite. God damn my shy side!

Before the end of the set, I was talking to another two strangers briefly, as one of them wanted his picture taken with the headdress on. I said he could, provided I was in the picture. He agreed, the picture was shocking, and I apologise for ruining it. Besides that, I don’t remember much of the conversation.

As soon as that set finished, I left and set off for The Park, to see the end of Pete Doherty’s set. I’d forgotten how long a walk it was, and arrived just in time to catch the end of it, although I very nearly didn’t see anything – the multicoloured tower in the corner caught my eye and I walked aimlessly towards it… and past the stage.
You can’t make this shit up.
So, after doubling back on myself to see the end of Doherty’s set, I was at a loss as to what to do I realized I was still on my tod, 5 hours after I’d last seen any of my friends, and I was sobering up.

I took a stab in the dark and guessed that the rest of them might be in the Dance Village, so I set off down there feeling distinctly alone.
When I couldn’t spot them, I turned around and walked back up to the tent (near The Park). When they weren’t there, I went _back_ down to the Dance Village where I got a little bit worried when one reveller threw his arms round me and tried to tell me that I had his hat. I don’t remember what exactly I said to him, but I think I took his comments as more threatening than they were intended. So, sorry for that.
If they were meant threateningly however then you, sir, are a cunt, possibly the only one I met that weekend.

As I got back to the tent, John and Mike arrived, both thoroughly drunk. I was glad to see them and chirped up a lot. Shortly after John threw up and passed out. I took photos. Mike had a Pot Noodle (I think). Then we grabbed some Strongbow and headed up to the Silent Disco in The Park, for all of about 30 minutes, after which it closed, and we returned to camp to sit around and talk. Mike slept, and I decided to wait up for Owen and Duncan, like a paranoid parent. I still don’t know why, I guess I just wasn’t sleepy.

And that kids, is the story of Crazy Friday. Or, at least, my interpretation of it. I’m sure the others have their own specific stories and fables as to how their evening went, but that was mine. It was truly reckless, spur of the moment, and surprised me in that regard, but it was also just pure fun, and the first time I’ve ever really felt an significant effect from pills. Very interesting, if not very clever.

The Food

Not the cheapest but – when you balance it off against the circumstances – not ridiculous either. I believe Mike estimated, and we concurred, that you could easily buy every meal of the day for Β£15 each day. Which really isn’t as bad as it could have been, as that estimate is on the generous side in as much as we would feel full after such a day
We, however, took many Pot Noodles with us, and a good few cans of beans (some even with added sausage!) and a spot of soup. We ate (relatively) well, but I don’t want to look at another Pot Noodle for at least another year, no matter how good they were at the time..!

Of course, it also fails to factor in beer. I’m glad we took our own.

Averaged Β£3 a pint, which for a festival isn’t bad, although there were surprisingly few bars offering the bitter.

However, the Hot Spiced Cider stall went down a treat – total win. And, dare I say it, fecking lovely.

Regrets

Surprisingly few, really.

One big one is that I didn’t get to see Duffy. I really should have forced myself off my arse and gone and seen her. Nothing wrong with the Raconteurs, but I do rather like the Welsh girl.

Another one would probably be for the few artists I really wanted to see but didn’t manage it – namely Groove Armada, the full Massive Attack set, and Fatboy Slim.

Yet another one would be that I didn’t spend more time around The Park. Some good stuff on up there.

One more? Missing out on Tony Benn because of a timetable change. I actually wasn’t that bothered to see him pre-Festival,Β  but the disappointment of a later schedule-change bothered me. Fucker. πŸ˜‰

Final one? Not taking the Monday off work. Not only because it nearly killed me, but because I would have rather enjoyed going fookin’ crazy on the last night. That would probably have killed me as well.

Conclusions

Glastonbury really doesn’t need a conclusion. It met and surpassed all my expectations.

However, one caveat – keep the variation. Maybe hip-hop doesn’t warrant a headline slot yet, but it needs a place. Good hip-hop is, well, good. And it was a brave choice. So bravo.

If you get the chance, go to 2009. And if you do, let me know. We’ll beer.

Wanted

http://www.openmoko.com/product-gallery.html

Seriously, I want this. Badly.

I remember looking at this project every now and then back when I first heard of it, and thought it looked cool. Now it looks even cooler, and is on its second release, edging ever closer to being completely user friendly.

From what I’ve read it is already a huge step up from the first model, and is pretty friendly as long as the user is prepared to get there hands dirty every now and then.

Plus, it is sex-eh:

OpenMoko

God yes.

LUGRadio Coming to an End…

Well, it’s been posted in numerous places already, and I really meant to write something about it sooner, but LUGRadio is apparently coming to an end at the end of its present season (finishing up with LUGRadio Live 2008 in a few weeks time).

Both Aq’s and Jono’s blogs gave pretty detailed reasons for the sad news.

As, it seems, with the rest of the LUGRadio faithful, I was pretty gutted when I heard the news.

I can understand the reasons, afterall, it isn’t and has never been planned as being a job for any of the presenters, even if they managed to pump out shows with scary regularity over the 5 seasons they’ve done.

Personally, I started listening to the show regularly when I was away in Egypt, so probably around Season 3, as I was experimenting more and more with Linux and Free Software on my laptops as a way of passing the time. The show was good to listen to, gave a good update of some of the things going on in the various Open Source communities and projects around the world and, as much as anything, gave me a good solid dose of British humour whilst I was away, rather than watching various downloaded comedies on repeat. There was always good (not always clean) banter and it did serve to provide great amusement.

To that end, even though I have never really been a very active part of the LUGRadio community – preferring to stay in the shadows both in IRC and on the forums – I decided last year to attend LUGRadio Live 2007, seeing as I was back in the country when it was on and thought it would be a laugh. I think my review from then really sums up what I thought about it- it was a great laugh and really was like being at one huge show. Good information, and general fun.

So, yeh, attend LUGRadio Live 2008 this year. There’s no need to register, just turn up and pay on the door. If you’re heading down from Lancaster, give me a shout – I haven’t decided yet, but I’ll either be driving or getting the train down again (probably the train) – it’s always fun to have people to talk to.

As for the LUGRadio Team – great job over the time I’ve been listening to the show. I think it’s clear from the responses your posts have invoked that your regular banter will be missed, and I’m sure most people, like m, will still follow your various blogs and postings just as avidly before. So have fun, and hopefully you’ll change your minds for a commemorative season at some point… πŸ˜‰

Seriously, big thanks for all the laughs, and we’ll see you at LRL2008 – I’m sure it’ll be bigger than ever!

Β LRL-08-Banner