The Funeral Party

Posted on 28th January 2011

There is something fascinating about graveyards. Rather than being creepy or eerie, I find them quite peaceful. It can be interesting reading the headstones to see how long ago people were buried and some of the dedications.

Recently Dan and I visited the Warstone Lane Cemetery in the Jewellery Quarter, and previously we've visited John Bonham's grave near Droitwich and Ian Curtis' remembrance stone in Macclesfield Cemetery. I've always wanted to visit Highgate Cemetery in London and Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris too. I'll confess that its partly to see where famous names are buried, but I'm also intrigued to see some of the not so famous gravestones, tombs and memorials too.

While attending a funeral several years ago in Cheltenham, I happened to be looking at the headstones as we walked along the path to the crematorium. One stopped me in my tracks as I wasn't quite sure whether I was seeing the resting place of the person I thought it was. The headstone was for Brian Jones and the dates on the headstone did seem to match.

For those who are music fans of the 60s, you will probably remember that Brian Jones was once the guitarist in The Rolling Stones, who died in 1969. My later investigations revealed that the grave was indeed the final resting place for the Stones guitarist.

It's surprising what little parts of history you can discover wandering through a graveyard.

File Under: life / people / sightseeing
2 COMMENTS


Empty Spaces

Posted on 19th January 2011

Over the last year or so, my blogging has been a bit haphazard. There are a number of reasons for this, but mostly it has been down to me not having the time to sit and write about what I've been up to. So to rectify that, I'm going to try and post at least once a week about a project I'm working on, or find time to work through an album of photos that I have been amassing and not sorting through for the past 4 or 5 years, and upload them on a more frequent basis.

I have several coding projects currently on the go, several of which are now interconnected by one major project, Labyrinth, of which I'm slowly working through, getting them packaged and released. Releasing Labyrinth has been a long term goal and much of 2010 was spent pulling all the sites that use it together to filter all the fixes into a single codebase. Its been 8 years in the making and was quite a relief to finally make the first Open Source release of the code on 1st January 2011.

Another project that has been put to one side for the moment is my book. As I've mentioned previously I've been writing a book about how to organise a YAPC Conference. That will make it onto GitHub soon, so others can contribute, but I want to work through the feedback I've had so far to update it enough to prepare another draft.

My music life sprang back into action last year with the reformation of Ark or arK as they are now known. I overhauled the Ark Appreciation Pages I created back in 1998, and now have a backlog of photos, videos and reviews from the last few months to get through. It has been incredible to work with the guys again, and having got back in touch with IQ and Paul Menel, thanks to John Jowitt, it also been great to catch up with many old friends.

My family life has also been quite eventful, for all sorts of reasons, though I'll save a couple of the events for future blog posts, so I don't use up all my post in one :)

2011 is currently looking busy, but hopefully I shall keep to my promise and at least blog about it as I go. We shall see!

File Under: life
NO COMMENTS


Church Of Noise

Posted on 15th September 2010

So the Pope is coming to Birmingham this Sunday, much to the annoyance and irritation of many local residents as well many nationally. He'll be giving a mass in Cofton Park, which is a short walk from where I live. Being so close, the local council has classed us in a restricted area. As a consequence this weekend we'll be prisoners in our own home unless we can prove where we live. We are not allowed visitors, unless we visit them first and give them proof that they are coming to see us.

The restricted area covers quite a large area of Rubery, Rednal, Cofton and Longbridge, and many local businesses are going to suffer. The 2 big pubs, The Old Hare And Hounds and The Oak, the Lai Ling Thai restaurant and the Old Rose And Crown hotel will all being affected, as people travel from outside the area to frequent them on a weekend. I suspect they will either be closed all weekend, or they'll be defiant and local residents will all go out to make a point.

From 6pm on Saturday until 8pm on Sunday we have been told expect severe disruption as roads are closed around the park and restricted access is put in place. Coaches carrying 70,000 people will then descend on Cofton Park from early Sunday morning at around 3am until the mass at 10am. Where these several thousand coaches are going to park is anyone's guess. The mass itself will be heard around the local area thanks to a very large PA system that is being erected. I wonder how many lawsuits local residents will be filing against the Catholic Church if even a whisper is heard through it before 8am on Sunday morning. Technically the pope could even be served with an ASBO.

Cofton Park itself was closed off for public use from last weekend, and won't opened again until a week after the visit. It's supposed to be a public park, and it's being closed for 3 weeks. So much for William Walter Hinde's will bequeathing the park "to be kept for ever as an open space for the benefit of the people of Birmingham."

As we're living in a restricted area, if we leave it, even just to go to the high street shops in Rubery or across the Bristol Road to Great Park for an evening out, unless we carry proof of address, we will not be allowed back in. Even if we're on foot! Apparently the area will be (excessively) policed to ensure no one is there that shouldn't be, so I'm assuming that stop and search will be in full effect, with civil liberties through out the window.

On top of all this we have to pay for it. The church are allegedly covering £9m-£10m for the cost of the visit to the UK, while the tax payer is expected to pay over £12m. A large portion of the population are not catholic, and have no interest in his visit, but local residents are told to pay for the privilege. As you might guess many local residents are not impressed. To make matters worse he's a pope that has a huge dark cloud looming over him because of various child abuse scandals he has been involved in covering up. I'm told he's probably the most unliked pope there has ever been.

So why do the non-catholics have to pay anything? As far as I'm concerned, if he wants to come here, the Catholic Church should foot the complete bill. And in addition should pay compensation to the local councils, which should be put towards community projects, that will benefit everyone in the area, not just a select few.

Several months ago a local councillor or MP, appeared on local news saying something along the lines that the visit would benefit local people with jobs and the like. Others make even bolder statements. Not sure how this can benefit local people, as all the ground crew, police and other support staff are being drafted in, and local businesses are going to severely disrupted. Even the trinket and tshirt sellers aren't from the local area.

And speaking of trinket sellers, how is it that the Catholic Church can rake in profits from sales of their cheap tat, and not expect to cover the remaining costs of the visit? Looking at the pictures it really is cheap tat, except being charged out at over inflated prices. Has the Catholic Church plummeted so low as to be nothing more than Del Boy and Rodney Trotter in the guise of official merchandise?

I remember visiting Lourdes in the South of France over 20 years ago. The initial impression that struck me then was how tacky the place was with all the cheap street sellers, and even the official sellers. The grotto site itself was actually quite peaceful, and although I wasn't caught up with the religious overtones, was relieved to find the grotto devoid of merchandise sellers. The town of Lourdes itself was quite nice, and I did enjoy visiting the Château fort de Lourdes by cable car on the outskirts of the town. In many ways it's a shame that the religious nature of the town over shadows other aspects of the town that are just as worthy of a visit.

It's crossed my mind whether after the visit we'll see parts of the turf from Cofton Park ripped up and sold on eBay, with the heading "The Pope stood here!". The Catholic Church has already plummeted the depths, so I wouldn't be surprised.

Just how much inconvenience and disruption can one man cause, particular when only a small minority from the area actually want him there!

I, like others I suspect, will be awkward just for the sake of being awkward this weekend and see how much hassle it causes to prevent me from entering my own home. I'm guessing the police and officials will just get fed up with residents and let them through anyway. We shall see.

File Under: birmingham / brum / coftonpark / life / longbridge
NO COMMENTS


Living By Numbers

Posted on 13th September 2010

Maisha, now with OAuth support.

A project I started back last year is Maisha, a command line client to interface to social micro-blogging networks, such as Twitter. On 31st August this year, Twitter depreciated the Basic Authention method of allowing applications to login users with a simple username and password combination. In its place they now use OAuth. (See also the blog post by Marc Mims - author of Net-Twitter).

On the face of it, OAuth seemed a bit confusing, and even the documentation is devoid of decent diagrams to explain it properly. Once I did get it, it was surprising to discover just how easy the concept and implementation is. For the most part Marc Mims has implemented all the necessary work within Net-Twitter, so Maisha only needed to add the code to provide the right URL for authorisation, and allow the user to enter the PIN# that then allows the application to use the Twitter API.

The big advantage to OAuth is that you don't need to save your password in plain text for an application. Once you enter the authorisation PIN#, the token is then saved, and reused each time you start up Maisha to access your Twitter feed.

As Identi.ca also implements an Open Source version of Twitter, they have also implemented OAuth in their interface. However, there is a slight modification to Net::Twitter needed, so I will wait for Marc to implement that before releasing the next version of Maisha.

So if you have been using Maisha and have been frustrated that you can no longer access Twitter, you now only need to upgrade to App-Maisha-0.14 and all should work again (once you've entered the PIN# of course).

If you are using Maisha, and have any feedback or wishlist suggestions please let me know.

File Under: life / opensource / perl / technology
NO COMMENTS


Behind The Mask

Posted on 23rd August 2009

Last week it was noted that Why The Lucky Stiff had disappeared from the internet. There have been several thoughts regarding his disappearance, and some very strong reactions too. It strikes as very odd that rather than concern for someone, several have resorted to anger and made matters worse by now digging deeper into his personal life.

While I don't know _why, and I'm not part of the Ruby community, I have been aware of him and even read his Poignant Guide some time ago. He came across as a very creative and interesting character and I'm sure he was a credit to the Ruby community. He appears to have written alot of interesting code and been very good at promoting Ruby, both online and at conferences. So to me it seems strange to read some the "investigation" work going to try and understand why he has disappeared.

Some have suggested something serious has happened, and perhaps he had implemented a Dead Man's Switch, while others have summised that with having his birth name "outed" publicly recently, he just felt the intrusion into his personal life was too much. Whatever has happened I think it's sad that there seems to be lots of negative reaction to the situation. Of all the comments and articles I've read, only John Resig's Eulogy to _why seems to be in anyway a thought provoking hope that all is well the person.

Several people believe that he has taken it as a personal insult that someone has decided to research his birth name, and then publish it publicly. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but it did make me think about how people treat those of us with an unusual online identity, that we happen to use in person too. One person struck as rather insensitive, as he acknowledged that after discovering something about _why's personal life, _why had asked him to keep it private. With the current wave of discussion, that person saw fit to announce it to the world, so they could show a bit of one-up-manship.

In all the time I've known of him, I've only ever known _why by his pen name, and like many others have never felt the need to know his birth name. In the Perl community there are three prominent characters to use an unusual identity both online and in person. chromatic, Abigail and myself. While I've been told the birth names of chromatic and Abigail, I've long since forgotten them as to me their pen names are who they what to be identified as. For myself, I've never gone to great lengths to hide my name, but my pen name is how I prefer to be known. My birth name is for my family (although even some of them refer to me as Barbie) and the tax man.

Once I sent a mail from a work account that included my birth name, to a friend in the Perl community. I received a reply asking if I could send from my personal account in future, as seeing my birth name had confused the hell out of the recipient and took a little while to suddenly realise it was me :) Another friend on discovering my birth name by way of a slip up online, felt the need to alert me, so that i could hide it. It seems some people actually quite like me having an unusual identity.

My pen name actually came about back in 1983, long before I ever got to use the internet, and was extremely useful when I was a Roadie. People remember an unusual name, and I know for a fact that I got asked to crew several gigs because tour managers and the like remembered me by name. I'd like to think it was also that I did a good job too, but that first impression of being introduced as Barbie was rarely forgotten. In all that time I was a roadie (1984-2005), no-one ever really put any effort to discovering my birth name. Some asked, but many more have been more interested in how I got to be named Barbie. Occasionally I've explained that it is my birth name and that my parents were rather eccentric. Amusingly some have even believed that.

However, Barbie is very much my public identity, and that's something that I'd rather keep. It has some very positive benefits for me, as it has helped me to get several jobs, and has often been a good introduction for some. My private life is not something I write about a lot, mostly because it's private. I talk about Dan, Ethne and Nicole from time to time as they are part of who I am, though others guard even that part of their life very carefully. In _why's case, this was something that he didn't seem to want to promote, at least not in the context of his _why persona. Respecting someone's privacy should be an obvious thing for any human to understand, though sadly there are some that feel that no-one has a right to a private life.

Does discovering someone's birth name really make any difference to how you see that person? The only reason I can see for anyone making something like that public, against the wishes of the individual, is to begin a character assassination. As I see it, _why may well have therefore taken steps to ensure that if people cannot respect his privacy, then why should he respect what they think about all he has given them. To some it is a tantrum, to me is purely about having had enough with the world that the persona of Why The Luck Stiff touched, and wanting to walk away completely and utterly, leaving no trace that it ever existed.

As I say at the beginning, I don't know the reasons for the disappearance, but I do hope that the person behind the persona is okay.

File Under: internet / life / people / web
NO COMMENTS


<< Page 1 Page 3 >>

Some Rights Reserved Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Barbie and included in the Memories Of A Roadie website and any related pages, including the website's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons by Attribution Non-Commercial License. If you wish to use material for commercial puposes, please contact me for further assistance regarding commercial licensing.