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An apology

I would like to apologise in public to every last one of you; you being Moleskine owners. I didn’t understand your fetishism towards this particular brand of notebook and I am after your invitation into your community of people proud of the notebook they carry.

I’ve been using my run-of-the-mill ruled Moleskine for two-and-a-bit months now and I can say with grace and pride that I love the fucker. It’s become my journal, my place to write notes (but never scribbles), my personal vocabulary, my sketchbook—poor old Gmail misses being sent emails from itself, and my HTC is… well, actually, I’m using the voice recorder just as much as I did.


Eurovision Song Contest 2011

Finland: a little cheesy …which is always a great way to start off a Eurovision Song Contest. Quite a cute guy too.

Bosnië–Herzegovina: lady on piano had too little forearm stiffness. Entry was never going to win.

Denemarken: sounded too much like Muse to take seriously.

Litouwen: isn’t really Eurovision: I think the UK entered something like this a few years ago.

Hungary: what about my ears, love?! Too club anthematic for Eurovision.

Ierland: thank buggering fuck this isn’t representing the United Kingdom. You could land a microlight on those shoulder pads.

Zweden: so cheesy; so distasteful. Bang on for Eurovision.

Estland: props should be against the rules, but the song: very Eurovision.

Griekenland: white men rapping are just… fuck off now. Song didn’t do anything for me.

Rusland: do wish these Eastern European men would stop conforming to attractiveness stereotypes.

Frankrijk: didn’t really go anywhere, and orchestral music with a solo vocalist just doesn’t make for good Eurovision.

Italië: that’s more like it; now you’re getting the idea, Europe. The Temperance Seven bridges were a little displacing.

Zwitserland: very good combination of vocals, uke, cello and drums.

Verenigd Koninkrijk: really didn’t do anything for me; just reminded me of the early 2000s.

Moldova: giant gnome hat-wearing unicyclist blowing a trumpet?; has to be a small country’s entry.

Duitsland: I don’t mind if you take that chair but I do mind when you sample Also Sprach Zarathustra. Way too ambient; just sounded like background noise to me.

Roemenië: classic sing-to-able piano pop song; shame the pianist wasn’t actually playing.

Oostenrijk: your standard vocal ballad: it wasn’t anything special.

Azerbeidzjan: swear I heard this song on Heart Cambridgeshire back in 2008–9.

Slovenië: a cross between Christina Aguilera and the soundtrack to the desert levels on Croc: Legend of the Gobbos.

IJsland: nice, jolly song about something or other—but fuck: quite an animation they had behind them.

Spanje: instead of pretending to play instruments, like the other 21 entries, Spain decided to air play their song.

Oekraïne: completely ignored the vocalist as the live background artwork was far more interesting.

Servië: the Serbs have been watching too many Austin Powers films (and not concentrating enough on acknowledging the legitimacy of Kosovo).

Georgië: was barely listening; was trying to remember the name of that metal entry who won a few years ago. Did hear yet more white men rapping however.


On a recent North Sea crossing, I met a lovely woman called Ann. She recognised me as a ‘digital native’ (ghastly term, but we’ll go along with it) and enlisted my help with a few notebook and Kindle problems she needed sorting out before docking in Harwich and continuing her ’round-the-world trip; …something most of us would only consider doing once (perhaps in old age) but something Ann does a couple of times each year.

Ann is a Kindle user and she let me read a bit of Pride and Prejudice on the Kindle’s very paper-like display. I must say: for a long time, I’ve thought e-books are a little gimmicky but the Kindle does look very nice in person. The e-paper is excellent; the device is so thin; and, if only I had a spare €190,-, I would seriously consider purchasing one. I knew one could load PDFs onto Kindle devices, but plain text and HTML-formatted texts are also able to be read. Ann had also not only heard of Calibre but was an active user; the open-source provocateur inside me felt good when she told me. I’ve been torturing myself further by reading the informative Kindle Love blog; didn’t know you could do half as much with a Kindle: for example, free global 3G connectivity plus Kindle-friendly sites like Kindlefish makes for the best pocket phrasebook in history. Calibre can produce Kindle-ready ‘subscriptions’ of your favourite blogs and from news sources (in more than just English, which is good for me since I’m learning Dutch at the moment and will be for some time…). I know Instapaper can export itself to a Kindle-readable bundle of articles.

I’m also a fan of the front covers the device displays when in its ‘sleep mode’. I don’t have an image of this from Ann’s device, but I do have an image of me helping her to change her password in the Taste Restaurant aboard the Stena Hollandica. (Apologies for the HTC-quality photograph.)

Showing Ann how to set her Kindle password

Showing Ann how to set her Kindle password

I asked Stephen Radford before I popped off to the Netherlands if I could borrow his Kindle, but he said no: I think he would have missed it considerably but it would have been handy: cutting almost 3 kg of books down to 250 g when cycling long distances is sensible.