29 December 2007

Travel 2007

Like a few of the bloggers that I read, I have used the Great Circle Mapper to show my main trips this year. The cities I visited include Helsinki (3 times), Dallas (2), Dubai (2), Cairo, Tunis, Casablanca and Kiev.

27 December 2007

Is Knowledge Management dead?

In the ten years or so that I have been working in/with/around Knowledge Management there has been a complete change in the relationship between KM and IT:
  • In the early days any software vendor that had a tool that did anything with information, collaboration or communication used the KM label to try and give the tool some credibility
  • Now KM consultants, gurus, and experts add the KM label to any software tool they can find (particularly in the realm of social networking) in an attempt to justify the continued existence of KM as a discipline that they can be consultants, gurus and experts in.
While the various KM camps (IT, cognitive science, etc.) were arguing amongst themselves over the true path to KM enlightenment, people and organisations solved the problems for themselves without any leadership or direction from the KM community so there is a real question over whether that community has a role to play in the modern networked world.

26 December 2007

Local walks

One of my favourite activities is to go for local walks which I do for the exercise and to learn more about the area that I live in. The walks often include a local pub too! I take lots of photographs on these walks, many which I post on my Ham Photos blog. It's almost twelve years since I moved a couple of miles up the road to Ham and I still love the mix of open spaces, lovely buildings and good facilities.

24 December 2007

Steve Punt really does live in John Lewis

Steve Punt said at a recent recording of The Now Show that he was so middle class that his passport gives his address as "care of John Lewis", therefore it was no great surprise to see him in John Lewis, Kingston today.

Steve proved to be very approachable (as he was when we last spoke) and what started as a quick "hello" from me developed into a conversation on the outsourcing of BBC ticketing to Capita and the unavailability of things we really wanted to buy people for Christmas.

Sadly an immediate appointment in a pub meant that I had to curtail the conversation but the brief encountered gave me a good boost after failing miserably at shopping. The pub helped too!

22 December 2007

Ultimate Iron Man returns

Lots of good comics this week to keep me going through the Christmas holidays, including two new Hulk comics (Warbound and Aftersmash), but the one that I am looking forward to reading the most is Ultimate Iron Man II by Orson Scott Card. All I need to do now is to get the Christmas shopping out of the way so that I have time to read them all!

21 December 2007

The last in the current series of The Now Show

For the second time in four days I went to a recording of The Now Show at BBC Broadcasting House in Central London. The ritual includes a pizza beforehand at the Pizza Express just the other side of All Souls Church in Langham Place, joining the queue early enough to get into the bar area before the show (several rooms are used to hold waiting punters but being in the bar means access to drinks and being best placed for seats for the show), thinking hard about the response to the audience question, and successfully manoeuvring for a seat in the front row.

The show followed its usual format too with the studio audience being treated to Hugh Dennis' warm-up, a much longer show than gets broadcast, interplay between the cast and the ad lib stuff during the retakes and podcast additions.

Now I have to wait until Friday evening to see if my joke that was read out on the evening (in French!) makes the broadcast version and until the end of February for the next series.

20 December 2007

Hawkwind Christmas Concert is a great success

Sadly, Hawkwind do not play that many gigs these days so I usually only see them once a year at their traditional Christmas Convert at the Astoria. The good news is that the concerts are always excellent.

The lead-up to the concert was fun too. My Sensational Alex Harvey Band t-shirt started a short conversation with somebody who was also at the recent Southampton gig. I met the Fabulous Ms Angel in the queue for the concert. My friend unexpectedly had his 14 year old son with him and the pub refused to let me buy a coke for him so we got one from Starbucks instead. The support band were Prime Sinister who were a bit Neanderthal but OK with it.

The Hawkwind set was every thing that you would expect it to be. The music covered their full career and included songs like Master of the Universe, Damnation Alley, Inferno (from a Bob Calvert solo album), Silver Machine, Orgone Accumulator, Robot and Lighthouse. Many of the songs were significantly different from their original versions which added interest to familiarity. The light and stage show more than made up for the fact that the band do not go in for stage histrionics.

I've chosen this picture from the forty or so that I took as it captures a lot of the features of the show; Dave Brock (far right) is in change, there is a robot on the stage and just to the left of this you can see Tim Blake who joined the band for the evening (hence Lighthouse on the set-list).

The Hawkwind Christmas Concert is a once-a-year event and I'm looking forward to next year's already!

18 December 2007

The Now Show, in reverse!

There are only six shows in this series of The Now Show. The final show goes out on Friday 4 January but was recorded on Monday 17 December!

I was there (yet again) and was in the front row (yet again) so was able to take this shot of most of the cast (Mitch Benn is off to the right and Laura Shavin is cut-off on the left).

Being Monday, rather than the usual Thursday, meant that Marcus Brigstocke was able to do the guest slot, and that is always welcome.

Show 6 looks forward to 2008 and they read out my reply to the audience question and now I have to wait a few weeks to find out if they use it on air.

After they recorded show 6 they recorded show 5! Show 5 (to be broadcast on 28 December) looks back over 2007 and is basically a greatest hits collection for which they recorded some links to string them all together. They also read out my reply to the audience question for this too :-)

Show 4 is being recorded on Thursday (and broadcast on Friday) and I will be at that also!

14 December 2007

The TFPL Bath Club has ceased to be

The Bath Club, organized by TFPL, has been my favorite work-related event over the last few years. Building on TFPL's work and contacts with information and knowledge managers in the public sector, we have had a number of excellent speakers and the opportunity to follow-up the main events with further discussions over wine, biscuits and some rather wonderful cheeses (I must find out what that one with the red fruit in it is!). So it is sad for me that the Bath Club meeting this week was the last one.

But hopefully this sadness is eclipsed by the joy at the creation of the new TFPL Connect events that combines various TFPL activities into one event (as the old demarcations mean a lot less these days) that lasts a whole afternoon, rather than squeezing into a small late afternoon/early evening slot.

The Bath Club was very good and TFPL Connect promises to be even better.

13 December 2007

Max Maxwell was Framed

I know that Max was Framed because he told me, and a few others, that this evening at the Islington Academy.

This was the penultimate date on the Sensational Alex Harvey Band's Hail Vibrania tour and this was a special show that featured the Framed album in its entirety, albeit with major updates to most of the songs. This was something of an experiment but it worked really well.

The music was all you would expect from a band in form and even the sequence of slower songs (Buff's Bar Blues, I Just Want To Make Love To You, Hole In Her Stocking and Big Louie) rocked.

It helps that Framed has some seriously good tracks that have remained part of SAHB's live repertoire throughout the years, i.e.Hammer Song, Midnight Moses, Isobel Goudie and St. Anthony. Isobel Goudie has long been a favourite of mine and tonight's performance of it was just magic, and the way that the band adjusted to the technical problems at the beginning of the song showed how in control of things they were.

It was a barnstorming performance from the whole band but I must single out Max Maxwell for a special mention because of the passion, drama and excitement that he put into the songs. I can't even recall any of his trademark mistakes with the words! Max has matured as the front man this year dropping some of the sillier things (like the Indian head-dress) and has the confidence to deliver the songs without these props for support. Max is Max now and is not trying to be somebody else.

I have seen the new incarnation of SAHB something like ten times in the last three years (this is waaaay less than some of the familiar fans that I spoke to at the gig) and this was their best performance yet. My only regret is that I cannot get to the SAHB Xmas Party in Glasgow on Friday.

11 December 2007

Do you want a drink in your ice?

The Absolut Icebar London, in Heddon Street off Regent Street, is a bar with a difference, ice! The bar, furniture and drinking vessels are all made out of ice brought from Sweden. The room is chilled to -5 centigrade to stop the ice melting and customers are given warm overcoats to keep them alive. And you are only allowed in for 40 minutes to stop the cold from becoming too discomforting. The only problem is holding the ice cubes containing the drinks in your bare hands. The cocktails are good too, at least all the ones that I tried were!

10 December 2007

Only seven drifted back from the otherworld...

Otherworld is the superb new CD from Space Ritual and it does exactly what you would expect it to. The sound is pure space rock, the songs are science fantasies, there are a few passing references to Hawkwind, and quite a few songs with Michael Moorcock lyrics.

The later includes The Black Corridor, from the Hawkwind album Space Ritual, which is a good version bravely done given that the original was sung by Bob Calvert.

Many of the songs have been part of their live set for some time now, including Bubbles, Walking Backwards and the sublime title track Otherworld, from which only seven breezed back from.

9 December 2007

Hail Vibrania!!

I made what is becoming a regular trek down to The Brook in Southampton to see the Sensational Alex Harvey Band in concert on their Hail Vibramia tour and even though I have seen them several times in the last three years they still managed to surprise me in delightful ways.

The first surprise was the change in formation from 1-1-3 to 0-0-5 with Ted McKenna on drums moving from centre back to right wing and cousin Hugh McKenna moving from right midfield to the the left wing to join Chris Glen, Max Maxwell and Zal Cleminson in an attacking formation. And attack they do.

The set still starts with the crowd pleaser Faith Healer but now this begins with the dance mix that was played pre-show last year before bursting into its full-blown bombastic familiar form. Also in the set are another five absolute hard-core classics, Isobel Goudie, Chef, Tomahawk Kid, St Anthony and Dolphins, the last of which is new this year. There are lighter, but not that much quieter, moments with songs like Dance to your Daddy, Framed and Delilah.

The music was fantastic, but other things made the night good too, like getting nods of recognition from the band, meeting up with other SAHBsters (e.g. Bob, Chris and Ian) and buying the new tour t-shirt. I'll be wearing that at Islington on Wednesday!

8 December 2007

Two Pints Series 7 is coming soon

It has been a little while but it looks as though Two Pints Series 7 is going to be worth the wait judging by the episode that I saw being recorded last night.

There are some cast changes this time, as can be seen from the cover of the programme shown here. Johnny has gone, Munch is back and there's a new barman at The Archer. There have been some major changes to some of the characters' lives but that does not really change things, it's the characters themselves and their interactions that make the humour.

Watching show recordings is always fun because of the insights it gives you on the actors and their characters. Gaz/Will messed up and play-acted the most (as usual), Louise/Kathryn was flawless and Donna/Natalie called us all something very rude beginning with "c" for sympathising with Gaz's wish to see more of Corinthian!

There were quite a few retakes last night and little pre-recorded material (only one short scene was shot on location) so the 1/2 hour show took over 2 hours to record, which meant all the more fun for us the audience. I just hope that I get tickets to go again in January.

7 December 2007

Chains at the Orange Tree

Chains is a play about the triumph of the monotony of a steady (but poorly paid) job over the hope of a new life in the colonies.

A young single Edwardian man manages to escape to Australia, which is generally seen as madness by everybody else but one man (married) and his sister in-law see the attraction and he makes plans to escape too.

The play is an emotional tale, with very little action, that takes place over just a few days in the sitting rooms of two houses. It well acted (mostly, the mother-in-law I found to be unconvincing, but that could have been the direction) and well staged but lacked that certain something to make it memorable.

I also found the frequent use of music by Philip Glass rather incongruous as it was written well after the period of the play. If it was meant to represent monotony by its constant repetition then that's not a metaphor that I agree with, I love Philip Glass' music!

6 December 2007

Heroes lives up to expectations

Those of us still stuck with UK terrestrial TV had to wait until this week for the series 1 finale of Heroes and we were not disappointed. The heroes triumphed (i.e. they saved the world) but several of them dies to do so. The story line ended conclusively (unlike Lost, Prison Break, Invasion, etc.) while still allowing a second series to follow seamlessly. Buffy also did this well.

Much has been said about the links between Heroes and comics, such as the creators, the themes and the structure; and all of this is true (as it was for Buffy). But comics has been doing these sorts of stories well for years and TV has only recently, and less consistently, got this right.

In stark contrast, two of the leading current BBC dramas, Spooks and Robin Hood, are so laugh-out-loud bad that I am hoping that their heroes will be killed and the plot of Heroes (a sci-fi fiction about people with super powers) is far more believable than the UK dramas based on real people and real organizations.

4 December 2007

Talking about buses

Kingston Area Travellers' Association (KATA) meets once a quarter, usually in the Druid's Head in Kingston Marketplace, for an informal chat about buses, bus stops, trains, fares, and anything else to do with public transport in Kingston upon Thames and the surrounding areas. These discussions complement the detailed information in the excellent KATALOG newsletter (this alone justifies joining KATA).

Last night we talked about a range of things including the new iBuses (these announce the next stop), national Freedom Passes, changes to bus routes, bus times and bus furniture, London Overground livery and getting to/from Heathrow.

I always enjoy these two hours talking to other public transport enthusiasts, particularly as the other people there know far more about the subject than I do.

2 December 2007

Arthur Brown and Nick Pynn in Twickenham

I go to every Arthur Brown concert that I can and have seen him in some unusual places this year (including a cafe in Soho and the ICA) and I was certainly not going to miss a concert on my doorstep. The line-up was the same as the recent concert at the 100 Club, i.e. Malchicks, Arthur Brown/Nick Pynn and The Pretty Things, and the concert was for the Mayor's charities.

I did not pay much attention to the Malchicks at all as I was unimpressed the first time I saw them. Spent most of the time in the bar or at the back chatting to friends. As soon as their set ended I went straight to the front and was a little surprised, and very pleased, to get next to the stage.

The set started with a solo piece by Nick Pynn, Badtooth from his Afterplanesman CD. A good start.

Arthur then came on in his usual black outfit with a black cloth over his head and a staff for Hard Rain.

The set contained most of the expected songs, including Spell on You, Fire Poem/Fire, Voice of Love and Devil's Grip, which closed the set.

Arthur made the best use of the good space on the stage to dance, prance and cavort through an excellent performance.

I hope that the photograph gives some idea of the passion he put into the performance but you had to be there to really appreciate it.

Nick Pynn deserves a mention, as always. I was right in front of him (deliberately) and the joy just beamed from his face. I am still amazed by how he manages to accompany himself and keep track of all the things that he is doing at the same time. He makes it look easy but I am sure it is not.

I moved away from the stage for The Pretty Things having been disappointed by their three-man acoustic set at the 100 Club and let their fans claim the space. Their set was a lot better as a five-man electric band and was worth staying for even though I was not into it as much as their fans obviously were. I could not help wondering why more of these people had not made the short trip to the ICA or 100 Club for their other gigs.

That was my fourth and last Arthur Brown/Nick Pynn gig for 2007 but I hope that it is not too long before I can see them again. Live they are magic!

1 December 2007

The Now Show is using my jokes again!

This week saw the welcome return of The Now Show to BBC Radio 4 and I was at Broadcasting House to watch the recording of the first show.

As usual, live the show lasts about an hour and it gets edited down to the half hour that is broadcast. This alone makes going to the recordings worthwhile.

It's also worth being there to see the actors and the expressions they make during the sketches and to each other.

Hugh Dennis' warm up routines are legendary and we were treated to the familiar ski jump (must put that on YouTube) and the new gymnast recovering from a bad landing.

And you have to be at the show to be in the show.

They ask an audience question while you are waiting to go in to the theatre and they read the best ones out afterwards and a few of these also make the broadcast show. I am delighted and rather surprised, to say that my reply made the broadcast show for the second time in a row. Perhaps I've missed my vocation!