The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

January 2005 Archive


January 01, 2005

...and I feel I have much less to say than last year.

Posted by Horst at 11:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


January 03, 2005

Revised and updated 5 January 2005.

Warning: This is a lengthy and highly technical post. If you are not interested in RSS and/or metadata standards, you can safely ignore it.

Ever since the advent of RSS 1.0 (a.k.a. RDF), Dublin Core elements have been used in RSS feeds as metadata descriptors. They even turned up in Movable Type's very own implementation of RSS 2.0, before dying a quick death with the arrival of Atom.

Due to Atom, much of what I am going to say here may seem obsolete; still it seems important to talk about the use of Dublin Core (DC) with weblogs in general and RSS feeds in particular, as it could be useful for the scaleabilty and interchangeability of weblog content, and point out the following facts:

  1. DC would be useful for weblog description;
  2. DC is possibly problematic to implement with weblogs;
  3. DC needs to be implemented correctly, or not at all;
  4. RSS Feed readers should be able to parse DC correctly.

Much of what I'm writing here comes from the implementation of DC where I work and from my experiences in implementing DC in the RSS 1.0 feed of my other weblog The Evil Empire. Here are my observations and humble opinions:

Dave Winer's RSS 2.0 standard is very strict about what its tags denote; therefore, and for the sake of clarity, I will compare the DC terms with the respective tags of RSS 2.0. I would also like to point out that Movable Type's implementation of DC is faulty and not recommended as a model, as use of incorrect DC elements undermines the standard. If you are using the Movable Type RSS 2.0 feed, get rid of it now and use the standard instead.

Namespace

First of all, it should be obvious that you must of course include the correct namespace. For RSS 1.0, it looks like this:

<RDF:rdf xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/">

Or, in RSS 2.0:

<rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/">

Title

<dc:title> is really synonymous with <title> in Winer's RSS 2.0. Within <channel> it denotes the title of the weblog; within <item> it denotes the title of the posting.

<dc:title>Using Dublin Core in RSS feeds</dc:title>

Creator

<dc:creator> is much more problematic. According to the DC specs, it denotes "An entity primarily responsible for making the content of the resource". The key term here is content. In the context of a weblog, this can mean two things:

  • If you are writing original weblog entries, then you are <dc:creator>.
  • However, if you are merely linking to an article elsewhere and are not adding significant material to the link (e.g. on a linkblog), then <dc:creator> is always the author of the original article.

With some linkblogs, it may be hard to decide which of the two to pick — you have to decide whether your entry is mostly original writing or mostly referring. I also know no weblog software that handles this correctly — usually simply the name of the weblog author, i.e. you, is inserted (it's difficult to implement; basically you'd need some kind of field to enter the Creator's name if it's not you, or your news aggregator would have to hand the original author on to your blogging software). In the case of The Evil Empire, which is a very strict linkblog and only uses text from the original sources, using my name as <dc:creator> would certainly not be correct. With a hack, I managed to tweak the template so that <dc:creator> always refers to the original author.

<dc:title>Using Dublin Core in RSS feeds</dc:title>
<dc:creator>Horst Prillinger</dc:creator>

However, even though the following posting appeared on my weblog, I am not automatically its Creator, because in this case I didn't write it:

<dc:title>Microsoft Internet Explorer XP SP2 Fully Automated Remote Compromise</dc:title>
<dc:creator>Michael Evanchik</dc:creator>

Ideally, the names used for <dc:creator> should be normative and taken from an authoritative thesaurus, such as LoC-NA or PND. Unlike <author> in Winer's RSS, the name rather than the e-mail address of the author is required.

Don't think that you are automatically <dc:creator> for all your weblog entries simply because this is your weblog. According to the DC specs, you are not. See also the notes on Publisher and Contributor below.

Subject

DC defines <dc:subject> as "A topic of the content of the resource ... [ideally] a value from a controlled vocabulary or formal classification scheme". This means that the standard practice in RSS 1.0 and MT's RSS 2.0 to use it for weblog categories is wrong — unless you organise your categories using LCSH or SWD (or even DDC, if you feel so inclined), none of which I've ever seen on any weblog so far.

This means that <dc:subject> makes sense as part of the <channel> description for topical weblogs with a strong thematic focus, such as

<dc:title>The Evil Empire</dc:title>
<dc:subject>Microsoft Corporation</dc:subject>

You would, however, need to be very systematic if you use it within <item>, although it is possible, I suppose. For example, using an LCSH heading is possible on this entry:

<dc:title>Microsoft Internet Explorer XP SP2 Fully Automated Remote Compromise</dc:title>
<dc:subject>Microsoft Internet explorer</dc:subject>

But do bear in mind that <dc:subject> is not at all synonymous with <category> in Winer's RSS 2.0. If you do not name your categories according to LCSH or SWD, use <category> instead.

Description

<dc:description> can include any free-text account of the content of the resource, ideally a summary, but there are no real restrictions here — you can also include the full text. This makes it synonymous with <description> in Winer's RSS 2.0 and with both(!) <summary> and <content> in Atom.

Publisher

<dc:publisher> is the "entity responsible for making the resource available". Notice the difference from <dc:creator>: if person A is creating a website and person B writes an article that is published on that website, then person A is <dc:publisher>, and person B is <dc:creator>. In terms of implementation, this is usually easy: since in most cases you are the one publishing your weblog, this is you.

<dc:title>Microsoft Internet Explorer XP SP2 Fully Automated Remote Compromise</dc:title>
<dc:creator>Michael Evanchik</dc:creator>
<dc:publisher>Horst Prillinger</dc:publisher>

There is no similar term in Winer's RSS 2.0, perhaps <managingEditor> is most closely related.

Contributor

<dc:contributor> is used for somebody "making contributions to the content of the resource". This is probably rarely used with weblog entries, where each article tends to have its own clear-cut author, but it can make sense for the channel description of multi-author weblogs:

<dc:title>The Aardvark Speaks</dc:title>
<dc:creator>Horst Prillinger</dc:creator>
<dc:contributor>Haldur Gislufsson</dc:contributor>

Notice the difference from <dc:creator> and <dc:publisher>: the following example is for an entry in Phil Gyford's Samuel Pepys diary weblog, which contains Pepys' text in the translation of Mynors Bright; this entry also contains several annotations by various readers.

<dc:title>Pepys' Diary: Monday 30 December 1661<dc:title>
<dc:creator>Samuel Pepys<dc:creator>
<dc:publisher>Phil Gyford<dc:publisher>
<dc:contributor>Mynors Bright<dc:contributor>
<dc:contributor>Australian Susan<dc:contributor>
<dc:contributor>Alan Bedford<dc:contributor>
<dc:contributor>Stolzi<dc:contributor>
<dc:contributor>vicenzo<dc:contributor>
<dc:contributor>Conrad<dc:contributor>

The distinction between <dc:creator> and <dc:contributor> is to decide what is the main creative work. If person A writes an article and person B takes a few photographs to illustrate the article, then A is <dc:creator> and B is <dc:contributor>. If person B takes a photograph and person A writes a brief explanatory note for it, then B is <dc:creator> and A is <dc:contributor>.

As you can see, this element has a very broad scope — depending on the topic it can even include people who post comments. There is no similar term in Winer's RSS 2.0.

Date

<dc:date> is "associated with the creation or availability of the resource"; this can be the posting date on your weblog, which is the best and easiest way to implement, but, if you are linking to another article elsewhere, can also be that article's date. Best practice, and implemented correctly in the MT templates, is to use W3CDTF (ISO 8601).

<dc:date>2004-12-28T11:42:40+01:00</dc:date>

This element is somewhat broader than <pubDate> Winer's RSS 2.0, but it can be used in the same manner. Notice, however, that <pubDate> uses a specific date format that is not W3CDTF, whereas <dc:date> should preferably use W3CDTF, but can also use other formats.

This is not to be confused with Coverage (see below).

Type

Not implemented in any template that I know of, although this could potentially be very useful. <dc:type> describes "nature or genre of the content of the resource". DC suggests a specific Type vocabulary (DCT1). For original articles, <dc:type> will probably always be Text, but for audioblogs, it may well be Sound, for photoblogs StillImage, and for videoblogs MovingImage. For links to other online rescources, almost any other Type is possible, depending on what you are linking to.

<dc:title>Using Dublin Core in RSS feeds</dc:title>
<dc:creator>Horst Prillinger</dc:creator>
<dc:type>Text</dc:type>

<dc:title>Way to Go</dc:title>
<dc:creator>Horst Prillinger</dc:creator>
<dc:type>MovingImage</dc:type>

This is not to be confused with Format (see below).

Format

<dc:format> is used for the "physical or digital manifestation of the resource"; this is simplified in the context of weblogs insofar as we are talking almost exclusively about online resources, and we can thus simply use the Internet Media Types (MIME). Again, this is not implemented in any RSS template that I know of.

<dc:title>Using Dublin Core in RSS feeds</dc:title>
<dc:creator>Horst Prillinger</dc:creator>
<dc:type>Text</dc:type>
<dc:format>text/html</dc:format>

<dc:title>Way to Go</dc:title>
<dc:creator>Horst Prillinger</dc:creator>
<dc:type>MovingImage</dc:type>
<dc:format>video/quicktime</dc:format>

As with <dc:type>, <dc:format> depends on the content of the weblog entry or the linked resource and may therefore be problematic to implement.

This is not to be confused with Type (see above).

Identifier

<dc:identifier> is the "unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context". Since the "given context" is your weblog, this makes it synonymous to <guid> in Winer's RSS 2.0. This means that if your permalinks are permanent and unambiguous (i.e. each item can be found via a unique URL), it is safe to use your permalink here.

<dc:title>Using Dublin Core in RSS feeds</dc:title>
<dc:identifier>http://www.aardvark.at/blog/archives/2005/01/000922.html</dc:identifier>

See also the entry on Source below.

Source

<dc:source> comes in whenever a weblog entry is not entirely original. According to the DC definition, it is a "Reference to a resource from which the present resource is derived".

Basically, it is needed whenever your weblog entries are "derived from" some other resource (rather than being original entries, or new entries that are merely "based on" other resources). Sometimes this distinction may be hard to make; best practice is to include <dc:source> in case of doubt. With linkblogs, this is always the URL of the original article. Notice the difference between <dc:source> and <dc:identifier>:

<dc:title>Microsoft Internet Explorer XP SP2 Fully Automated Remote Compromise</dc:title>
<dc:identifier>http://www.aardvark.at/evil-empire/archives/2004_12.html#000919</dc:identifier>
<dc:source>http://freehost07.websamba.com/greyhats/mirror/sp2rc-analysis.htm</dc:source>

Winer's RSS 2.0 has <source>, which is similar, but contains the name rather than the URL of the source.

<dc:identifier> is the local identifier of the current weblog entry; <dc:source> shows where the material in the current entry came from.

This is similar to, but somewhat stricter than <link> in Winer's RSS 2.0. Whereas <link> contains any article that you link to, <dc:source> should be used both for an article that you link to and for an article that your current article is derived from. This means that you will have to use <dc:source> more often than <link>.

Language

<dc:language> denotes the language of the content according to RFC3066, which itself is based on ISO 639. This can be done on the <channel> level if the entire weblog is in the same language (which is usually implemented correctly in most default feeds), or on the <item> level in the case of a multilingual weblog (which is, sadly, not really implemented anywhere).

<dc:title>The Aardvark Speaks</dc:title>
<dc:language>en-gb</dc:language>

This is synonymous with <language> in Winer's RSS 2.0.

Relation

<dc:relation> is used for references "to a related resource". In a weblog context, this is the perfect place for incoming Trackback URLs.

<dc:title>Why Wikipedia sucks. Big time.</dc:title>
<dc:relation>http://www.worldwideklein.de/index.php?/weblog/why-wikipedia-sucks/</dc:relation>
<dc:relation>http://revirement.de/weblog/index.php?p=1403</dc:relation>
<dc:relation>http://home.planet.nl/~nhavd/clog/2004/06/02.htm#a1125</dc:relation>
<dc:relation>http://vowe.net/archives/004590.html</dc:relation>
<dc:relation>http://www.itst.org/web/why_wikipedia_sucks_big_time.shtml</dc:relation>
<dc:relation>http://213.225.30.218/archives/000242.html</dc:relation>
<dc:relation>http://blog.schockwellenreiter.de/3791</dc:relation>
<dc:relation>http://weblog.plasticthinking.org/item/2757</dc:relation>
<dc:relation>http://www.irox.de/roxomatic/277/wikipedias-in-der-kritik</dc:relation>
<dc:relation>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_Pump</dc:relation>

In previous versions of RSS, this was implemented via the <trackback:about> model. As you can see, simple DC would have sufficed.

Of course you can also use <dc:relation> to manually add URLs to web pages that you consider of related interest. Notice that there is a difference between <dc:relation> (related content) and <dc:source> (related content that was the basis for your entry) — see the entry on Source above.

Coverage

<dc:coverage> is used for the spatial or temporal "extent or scope of the content of the resource", ideally using terms from a controlled vocabulary such as the TGN for places and W3CDTF for dates.

It is perhaps most useful for weblogs with a specific geographic and/or historical focus.

<dc:title>Pepys' Diary: Thursday 2 January 1661/62</dc:title>
<dc:coverage>London</dc:coverage>
<dc:coverage>1662-01-02</dc:coverage>

<dc:title>Going Underground's Blog</dc:title>
<dc:coverage>London</dc:coverage>

Notice that there is a difference between <dc:date>, which is about when the entry was made available, and <dc:coverage>, which is about the time covered by the entry. So if I publish an article about what I did on New Year's Eve a couple of days later, it looks like this:

<dc:title>What I did on New Year's Eve</dc:title>
<dc:date>2005-01-03T12:29:04+01:00</dc:date>
<dc:coverage>2004-12-31</dc:coverage>

One other use that comes to mind is for monthly or weekly weblog archives, although that would probaly mostly apply to web pages, and not RSS feeds.

<meta name="DC.Title" content="The Evil Empire - August 2004 Archive" />
<meta name="DC.Coverage" content="2004-08" />

(For further details on including DC elements in meta tags of web pages see below.)

Rights

<dc:rights> is used for any "Information about rights held in and over the resource". This works on the <channel> level as well as the <item> level, but may be harder to implement on the latter if no distinction is made between <dc:creator> and <dc:publisher>, as you — the publisher — do not automatically own the rights to an article if you are not also the creator.

<dc:title>Microsoft Internet Explorer XP SP2 Fully Automated Remote Compromise</dc:title>
<dc:creator>Michael Evanchik</dc:creator>
<dc:rights>Copyright 2004 by Michael Evanchik</dc:rights>

This is synonymous with <copyright> in Winer's RSS 2.0.

DC in meta tags

Apart from RSS feeds, DC elements can also be included in meta tags of web pages. This is probably only useful if you are generating a separate web page for each individual weblog entry, and can be a real pain to do correctly as most weblog software will not allow you to easily create all of these meta tags without further, often complicated, hacks. So merely to show you what it could be like, here's what a full set of DC meta tags for this page, if it existed, would look like:

<meta name="DC.Title" content="Using Dublin Core in RSS feeds" />
<meta name="DC.Creator" scheme="PND" content="Prillinger, Horst" />
<meta name="DC.Subject" scheme="LCSH" content="Weblogs" />
<meta name="DC.Subject" scheme="LCSH" content="Dublin Core" />
<meta name="DC.Description" content="Ever since the advent of RSS 1.0 (a.k.a. RDF), Dublin Core elements have been used in RSS feeds as metadata descriptors. They even turned up in Movable Type's very own implementation of RSS 2.0, before dying a quick death with the arrival of Atom. Due to Atom, much of what I am going to say here may seem obsolete; still it seems important to talk about the use of Dublin Core (DC) with weblogs in general and RSS feeds in particular, as it could be useful for the scaleabilty and interchangeability of weblog content." />
<meta name="DC.Publisher" content="Horst Prillinger" />
<meta name="DC.Date" scheme="W3CDTF" content="2005-01-03T13:37:01" />
<meta name="DC.Type" scheme="DCT1" content="Text" />
<meta name="DC.Format" scheme="IMT" content="text/html" />
<meta name="DC.Identifier" scheme="URI" content="http://www.aardvark.at/blog/archives/2005/01/000922.html" />
<meta name="DC.Source" scheme="URI" content="http://dublincore.org/documents/dces/" />
<meta name="DC.Language" scheme="RFC3066" content="en-gb" />
<meta name="DC.Relation" scheme="URI" content="http://blog.schockwellenreiter.de/7571" />
<meta name="DC.Rights" content="Copyright 2005 by Horst Prillinger" />
<link rel="schema.dc" href="http://purl.org/DC/elements/1.1/" title="Dublin Core" />

Explanation: DC.Title: the title of the weblog entry. - DC.Creator: the author of the text, spelt according to the authoritative heading in PND. - DC.Subject: two subject headings according to LCSH. - DC.Description: a summary of the text. - DC.Publisher: the person who runs the weblog. - DC.Date: date of publication on the weblog, formatted according to W3CDTF. - DC.Type: resource type according to DCT1. - DC.Format: Internet Media Type (IMT) of the online resource. - DC.Identifier: the local permalink URI of the weblog entry. - DC.Source: included because this article could be seenas a reinterpretation of DC for weblogs, hence the URI of that page. - DC.Language: language of the text according to RFC3066. - DC.Relation: the URI of a website that sent a Trackback ping to this entry. - DC.Rights: Copyright notice. - DC.Contributor and DC.Coverage do not apply and were thus left out. The final <link rel> points to the DC element set for reference purposes.

To demonstrate the use of all DC elements in the description of a weblog entry, I made a sample description for an entry in Phil Gyford's Samuel Pepys diary weblog:

<meta name="DC.Title" content="Pepys' Diary: Monday 30 December 1661" />
<meta name="DC.Creator" scheme="LoC-NA" content="Pepys, Samuel (1633-1703)" />
<meta name="DC.Subject" scheme="LCSH" content="Pepys, Samuel, 1633-1703 -- Diaries" />
<meta name="DC.Subject" scheme="LCSH" content="Cabinet officers -- Great Britain -- Diaries" />
<meta name="DC.Subject" scheme="LCSH" content="Great Britain -- Social life and customs -- 17th century -- Sources" />
<meta name="DC.Subject" scheme="LCSH" content="Great Britain -- History -- Charles II, 1660-1685 -- Sources" />
<meta name="DC.Subject" scheme="DDC21" content="941.066092" />
<meta name="DC.Description" content="At the office about this estimate and so with my wife and Sir W. Pen to see our pictures, which do not much displease us, and so back again, and I staid at the Mitre, whither I had invited all my old acquaintance of the Exchequer to a good chine of beef..." />
<meta name="DC.Publisher" content="Phil Gyford" />
<meta name="DC.Contributor" scheme="LoC-NA" content="Bright, Mynors (1818-1883)" />
<meta name="DC.Date" scheme="W3CDTF" content="2004-12-30" />
<meta name="DC.Type" scheme="DCT1" content="Text" />
<meta name="DC.Format" scheme="IMT" content="text/html" />
<meta name="DC.Identifier" scheme="URI" content="http://www.pepysdiary.com/archive/1661/12/30/index.php" />
<meta name="DC.Source" scheme="URI" content="http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4130" />
<meta name="DC.Language" scheme="RFC3066" content="en" />
<meta name="DC.Relation" scheme="URI" content="http://blogs.msdn.com/mcreasy/archive/2004/12/31/344960.aspx" />
<meta name="DC.Coverage" scheme="TGN" content="London" />
<meta name="DC.Coverage" scheme="W3CDTF" content="1661-12-30" />
<meta name="DC.Rights" content="The main diary entries, the footnotes in the right-hand sidebar, the text in the Diary Introduction section, and the main text on the People and Places pages are taken from the Project Gutenberg version of Pepys’ diary and as such are free of copyright restrictions. All annotations added by users in the Diary section (attached to the diary entries and People and Places pages) and the rest of the site are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Any material posted in the annotations by users that is quoted from elsewhere retains its original copyright status." />
<link rel="schema.dc" href="http://purl.org/DC/elements/1.1/" title="Dublin Core" />

Explanation: DC.Title: the title of the weblog entry. - DC.Creator: the author of the original text, spelt according to the authoritative heading in LoC-NA. - DC.Subject: several subject headings according to LCSH, one according to DDC. - DC.Description: a brief excerpt from the text. - DC.Publisher: the person who runs the weblog. - DC.Contributor: the person who translated the diary from Pepys' secret script into English, spelt according to the heading in LoC-NA. - DC.Date: date of publication on the weblog, formatted according to W3CDTF. - DC.Type: resource type according to DCT1. - DC.Format: Internet Media Type (IMT) of the online resource. - DC.Identifier: the local permalink URI of the weblog entry. - DC.Source: the URI where the original text is located. - DC.Language: language of the text according to RFC3066. - DC.Relation: the URI of a website that sent a Trackback ping to this entry. - DC.Coverage: the covered place spelt according to TGN, the covered time formatted according to W3CDTF. - DC.Rights: Copyright notice from the weblog.

The problem?

The main problem why most of the 15 DC elements have not been properly implemented in weblogs, neither in RSS feeds nor in meta tags, is that there is no weblog software which offers enough fields to enter all the necessary metadata (or is intelligent enough to create at least some of them automatically), and even if there was one that did, I cannot think of a user interface that would not confuse the average user — people who don't know that such a thing as Dublin Core even exists.

Conclusion

Why talk about Dublin Core now that everybody is using Atom anyway?

Because many people still use RSS feeds with incorrect implementations of Dublin Core. Because DC would have provided a standardised, useful vocabulary for RSS feeds if anyone had cared to listen and pay attention rather than cook their own flavours of RSS, which are now all becoming obsolete. Because Dublin Core is a widely and extensively used standard for metadata and applying it to weblogs might have been useful. Because far too few people know about it at all.

Should you implement DC in your feed(s)?

No. I'm just pointing out that it's possible and what it would look like.

Should you include DC elements in the meta tags of your weblog pages?

No. Of course, in an ideal world, every web page would use DC meta tags. But then this is no ideal world, so you don't have to use them.

Posted by Horst at 01:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)


January 04, 2005

That huge empty white space at the bottom of this page has something of a disquieting quality, like it might erupt at any moment, but it seems there is nothing I can do about it than write more often and not take a Christmas break. Which is something I won't do.

If anyone cares to check this, they might find that this posting has a low ID. That's because almost a year back, I wrote a lengthy article about European vs. American democracy and the art of mythmaking in response to a stupid political posting from Jeff Jarvis. When I had finished it, I felt that my article was stupid, too, so I never published it and simply waited if it would become less stupid over time.

It didn't, so I finally decided to overwrite the article with this posting today. Which I hope is less stupid.

The alternative would have been to write a 2004 retrospective, you know, favourite records, worst electoral decisions, that kind of thing, but I didn't feel like it.

Posted by Horst at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


January 05, 2005

Suw picks up on a meme from Liz Lawley where you type each letter of the alphabet into the address bar of your browser and see what it suggests, and I am wimp and nerd enough to jump the bandwagon and give away all about my browsing habits.

Sheesh. Apart from a couple of friends, my life looks kind of bland and boring. Maybe I should start visiting those x-rated sites after all.

Posted by Horst at 08:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Don't nominate me for the 2005 Bloggies Awards. Or do. Or whatever. This has been such a farce during the past few years that I really couldn't care less.

Posted by Horst at 02:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


January 06, 2005

Okay, so finally, as promised, I'm getting into the retrospective mood and give you a list of my favourite music from the past year. Please notice that this is records I bought in 2004, not records released in 2004, so you may find a couple of older records/songs here as well. Also I didn't buy a lot of records last year, so don't be surprised if anything vital is missing.

Albums:

12. The Fall: Live in Munich [Bootleg]
11. The Decemberists: Her Majesty (Kill Rock Stars)
10. R. L. Burnside: A Bothered Mind (Fat Possum)
9. Lambchop: Awcmon/Noyoucmon (City Slang)
8. Broken Social Scene: You Forgot It in People (Arts and Crafts)
7. The So and So's: The Silver Sessions (Supertiny)
6. Blonde Redhead: Misery Is a Butterfly (4AD)
5. Adem: Homesongs (Domino)
4. The Fall: The Real New Fall LP [US edition] (Narnack)
3. TV on the Radio: Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (4AD)
2. Mirah: C'mon Miracle (K)
1. Sun Kil Moon: Ghosts of the Great Highway (Jet Set)

Reissue of the year:

• The Fall: Slates (Sanctuary)
• Wire: Wire on the Box [CD+DVD] (Pink Flag)

Songs:

12. Kings of Leon: King of the Rodeo (from Aha Shake Heartbreak)
11. Devendra Banhart: Little Yellow Spider (from Nino Rojo)
10. Johnny Cash: Personal Jesus (from The Man Comes Around)
9. The Fall: Bo Doodak [live version] (from the Live in Munich bootleg)
8. Windsor for the Derby: The Melody of a Fallen Tree (from We Fight Til Death)
7. Sun Kil Moon: Salvador Sanchez (from Ghosts of the Great Highway)
6. The Shins: New Slang (from Garden State - OST)
5. The Decemberists: Red Right Ankle (from Her Majesty)
4. Broken Social Scene: Stars and Sons (from You Forgot It in People)
3. Lambchop: D. Scott Parsley (from Is a Woman)
2. TV on the Radio: The Wrong Way (from Desperate Youth)
1. The Fall: Blindness [Peel Session version] (from BBC Radio 1)

If you have any suggestions of records that are not on the list and that you think I really ought to listen to and/or buy, please drop me a note in the comments.

Posted by Horst at 01:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


January 08, 2005

Okay, so here is a very theoretical question: suppose you have the sorest throat in the world (so sorethat even breathng hurts like hell), your voice is almost gone due to a larynx and pharynx infection, due to which you also salivate uncontrollably, you feel a middle ear infection coming up, your nose is runny and you feel slightly feverish.

Also suppose you have a non-refundable, non-exchangeable flight ticket to London, four nights already booked at a hotel, there's 50 per cent cancellation fee for the hotel, and several friends of yours are expecting to meet you in London.

Do you:

  • Fly anyway, risking that your cold goes into full blast and turns into a flu an/or pneumonia and that your eardrums burst during the approach to Stansted airport?
  • Not fly, forget about all the money spent in vain, and make several people (including yourself) very unhappy?
  • Raid the house of the person who you know infected you with this infernal cold and make sure that everybody who lives there, including the cat, will sneeze permanently until the end of days?

It would be a serious dilemma if it weren't purely theoretical, wouldn't it?

Posted by Horst at 05:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


January 09, 2005

Ever since I've been on this diet, I noticed that the world's cities are full of people intent to shove food down your throat at every step that you take. Eating is no longer just about preventing you from starving; it's a business, it is about money, and it's about making you eat more so that other people make more money from it.

Okay, so that's no big news, I suppose. But it's a real pain when you're on a diet and not supposed to eat anything at that very moment, and then you're walking down this street, and every second shop seems to be a café or restaurant of some sort, and they've all got some ventilation device turned on full blast into which they've inserted some magic chemical powder that makes it smell like delicious food everywhere in the street as you pass by.

I'm convinced it's some chemical stuff and not real food as it never smells as good inside as it smells outside, and the food itself is usually a very far cry from the smell in the streets.

I'm also convinced that the situation has become much worse over the past five years or so. Back then you could walk pretty much everywhere (except possibly London's Chinatown; certainly everywhere in Vienna) without being tempted by the smell of food and without bumping into a pizza & kebab stand at every street corner (actually, make that two pizza & kebab stands at every street corner).

Actually, I'm wondering when the saturation point of pizza & kebab stands in Vienna will be reached; I'm surprised it hasn't been reached already, like, a year ago. What I'm not surprised about is rising obesity levels pretty much everywhere inthe western world. Which is why I'm on this bloody diet in the first place.

Posted by Horst at 08:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

This is pretty cool: since yesterday there are more people on my blogroll whom I've met personally than people whom I haven't met yet (and it's not because I'm only adding people I've met, but really because I'm meeting people whom I've added). Feels kind of good, like, more rooted in real life.

Posted by Horst at 09:02 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


January 17, 2005

Just a brief notice that my other weblog, The Evil Empire, which has been running since 1999, has been closed for the time being and will not be updated for the foreseeable future. I don't know yet if the closure is temporary or permanent, so remain subscribed to its RSS Feed to be notified if there are any updates.

Posted by Horst at 02:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Vienna title

Sometimes you notice that things are just not what the people on television would like you to believe.

For example, on this TV series that I've been indulging in lately (due to a Xmas present consisting of 12 DVDs of said series), they wanted me to believe that this is Vienna:

not Vienna

But obviously it's not. I'm not quite sure which city it is though, so any help would be appreciated. First I thought it was Amsterdam, but the tramway on the left would indicate otherwise. It looks a bit like a Tatra tram, so I suppose it could be somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Which poses the question if stock footage of Vienna is really so difficult to obtain. But then again, the picture below is supposed to be of Malaga, Spain, when in reality it's quite obviously Stockholm, Sweden, several hundreds of miles to the north:

Stockholm

And that would be even more off the mark.

But back to Vienna. Do you spot the obvious mistakes on the following pictures, which prove this was shot nowhere near Vienna?

Spot the mistakes - pic 1

Spot the mistakes - pic 2

Spot the mistakes - pic 3

Interestingly, as you can see on the penultimate picture, they got one minor detail right (which somebody on IMDb thought was an error, because they mistook one symbol for another). It's interesting to see though that people can get minor details right and goof up with the really big things.

Oh, and speaking German as these "CIA agents" do, they would fool nobody into believing they were natives. Contrary to real agents, for that matter. I heard David Cornwell (a.k.a. John Le Carré) speak German once, and his accent was next to undetectable.

But that's just a minor quibble. As it is, this series already demands a greater suspension of disbelief that others I've seen, so I suppose I can live with that. It's still enjoyable enough; still, if I were a bad guy on a TV show and had the choice of being beaten up by either Sydney Bristow or Emma Peel, I suppose I'd still pick Emma.

Posted by Horst at 03:45 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)


January 18, 2005

Sam: "You gotta hear this one song. It'll change your life." [QuickTime, 4.2MB]
— from Garden State

Posted by Horst at 10:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

I've never claimed that I knew how economics work, but some things just don't seem to make sense. For example, DVD region codes are apparently there to help film companies make money by making sure that several millions of viewers are unable to buy the DVDs. And it seems that copy protection is mostly found on audio CDs that are so bad that they're not worth copying anyway. But then, if you think about it, that does make sense after all, because it prevents people from finding out how bad that music really is.

Posted by Horst at 11:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Blog

"She wanted to stop reading it— but she had nothing better to do! Produced by average people who seem to think their lives are interesting. Filmed in thrilling HTML-O-Scope with exciting new fonts!"

Available on a T-Shirt near you. [Via Niek, to whom I haven't linked in ages, so it was about time.]

Posted by Horst at 11:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


January 19, 2005

Having been in London for five days and then home in bed for another six days due to a fluish infection, I noticed how much happier I felt because during the whole time, I did not read any newspapers or watch news broadcasts on TV (basically, in case you were wondering, all I did watch during that time was 44 episodes of Alias, 4 Indian movies and several cooking shows on BBC Prime. Oh, and an episode of Six Feet Under. And CSI Miami. But that was it).

To prolong this feeling of happiness, I have therefore resolved to abstain from reading newspapers and watching news on TV for as long as I can manage. Let's see if this works. There's a chance it might — I resolved to eat less some 40 days ago, and I have managed to keep it up until now, losing quite some weight in the process. First thing I'll do is probably cancel my newspaper subscription. Let's see if kicking the news habit is as easy as kicking the smoking habit.

Posted by Horst at 12:34 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (2)

Just noticed that BBC4 will broadcast a documentary on my favourite band, The Fall this Friday, January 21st, at 10pm.

Now I would be extremely grateful if any of my readers in the UK (Ralf? Konstantin? Jag? Suw? Anyone else?) could record this for me on video. As far as I understand, BBC4 is a pay-TV channel, but maybe somebody out there is paying for it. In return, I'll invite you for dinner next time I'm in London. Or send you an Indian movie on DVD. Or a complimentary copy of my book. Or of my other book. Or publicly express my sincere thanks on this weblog.

Update: There's an interview with Mark E. Smith from The Guardian here, and another one from The Observer here.

Posted by Horst at 12:42 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

First snow in Vienna this winter. So late that you wonder why it bothered to come at all.

Posted by Horst at 10:51 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


January 20, 2005

Now this (click this link, then scroll down to the bottom of the page) is totally absurd. Whatever engine powers that website needs to be seriously checked.

Posted by Horst at 11:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Ugh

Working on a new design for my employer's website. It's one of those days when I wish I had at least some basic training as a graphic designer. I mean I can do decent HTML stuff and everything, but a good graphic design is a totally different thing, especially as I'm highly critical of my own and other people's work and won't easily accept anything as "good". Apart from technicalities, like, I accidentally turned off the colour channels in Photoshop today, and it took me 15 minutes to figure out how to turn them on again. I feel like such a dilettante (btw, is that an English word? I know vigilante is, but that's not what I want to say).

Anyway, here I am with a vague idea in my head that I'm struggling to turn into a graphic design, and I have to get it ready by next Thursday, when a couple of drafts will be discussed by the editorial board. Problem is, I usually get my best ideas about a week after my first draft, once my brain has been able to quietly continue working on the design while I'm doing other things. I hope it takes only six rather than seven days this time.

Posted by Horst at 11:57 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)


January 21, 2005

Whenever you have a great idea immediately before going to bed, write it down. Because I promise you, it will be gone the next morning. Even though you're convinced you'll remember it simply because it's so good, you won't. So write it down. Even if it's a longer idea. In that case, giving up an hour's sleep for writing down that idea is the best investment you can make.

My problem is that I'm having my best ideas while I'm lying in bed, drifting off to sleep. I have no idea how good they actually are because most of the time I simply fall asleep, and on the next morning all I remember is that I had this brilliant idea, but not what it was. Only very rarely do I actually get up again and write it down.

Like yesterday, I had this brilliant idea for today's weblog entry, much much better than this one, and probably funny as well, but the problem is I didn't write it down and now I have absolutely no idea what it was.

I could be this rich genius if I only wrote down my ideas. Or if I had my ideas at other times during the day.

Posted by Horst at 09:36 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)


January 23, 2005

I wonder if it's possible to get high on ramen noodles. There's this one brand of ramen noodles that I really like, and if you add half a teaspoon of extra hot chili powder, they give you that elated, somewhat euphoric feeling that makes me wonder how much of the stuff you'd have to eat to get really high.

It probably has to do with the high concentration of MSG present in the soup. For some reason, MSG seems to trick the tastebuds into believing that things taste much better than they actually do. Nobody has quite found out how it works, but if you ever wondered why you can't stop eating Pringle's even though they taste really vile if you think about it, it's all the MSG in them that does that trick.

(Parmesan cheese is a similar thing, by the way. No matter how bad your pasta sauce is, add some parmesan cheese, and you'll love it. That's just because parmesan cheese contains a substance that makes you feel euphoric when you eat it. Next time you're served pasta with huge amounts of parmesan on it, think again. It's most likely because the sauce is really bad.)

Chili powder contains no euphorising substance, but it does cause your body to release endorphine, a morphine-like substance. Which explains why hot curries are so addictive. Basically it's because you going on a mild morphine trip. I suppose it's only a question of time until eating curries will be outlawed. But don't worry: as long as the food industry keeps adding MSG to everything, it won't be outlawed and you'll still be able to feel euphoric. Even if it causes cancer.

Posted by Horst at 11:58 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)


January 25, 2005

Found this on the Internet Movie Database:

Bollywood=2movies/day on an average n only 2 good movies/year!!this is one of them!!
Author: [removed]

I personally don't watch many hindi movies bcause normally they are dumb n stupid and treat their viewers on same line!!

but this is one of the best movie coming from Bollywood!!only seeing is believing!........Direction,Camera Work,Back ground score, editing(superb),acting from all lead cast and one n only song(which is played in background during a chase sequence)are all top notch!!...........can put some of best hollywood flicks to shame!!

You know, sometimes I wonder why people even bother to write reviews if all they can come up with is typos, clichés and factual errors (let's see if you can spot at least two of those). And why the editors on IMDb don't even bother to clean up the mess. And that's despite that fact that in this case I even agree that the film is good.

In countless other cases, however, I wonder how often people go to the cinema or how many movies they've seen because I don't think there's hardly any movie on the IMDb where someone hasn't written a review that says it's the best movie in the world. Now while I know that tastes are different, this makes me wonder what people expect from movies and what they get from it, and to what extent they really believe it's true or whether they simply apply the term "best movie in the world" to the last movie they've seen and liked.

Honestly, I couldn't say which film I'd call the best movie in the world. Certainly none of the Top 15 on the IMDb Best-of list anyway.

Posted by Horst at 03:17 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

Technorati has just become the victim of its own unreliability (and, indirectly, of the Evil Empire). As Internet Explorer for some reason refuses to load my weblog page every time Technorati's server is overloaded (which is pretty much always), I have now officially severed all ties to Technorati, removing all code that points there. Which I suppose means some loss of functionality for my weblog, but I'd rather lose that than the 45% of users who visit my weblog with Internet Explorer.

Posted by Horst at 04:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


January 26, 2005

Up until my recent stay in London I may have had a completely wrong idea about the impact of Apple's iPod music player. At any rate I never quite understood why everybody in the media and on the Internet was so excited about it. They made it sound like the iPod was a huge success, and that seemed odd. That's because here in Vienna, you hardly ever see the iPod's very distinctive earphones in people's ears in the streets. Hardly anybody buys iPods here. No idea what they buy because shops have an extensive selection of MP3 players, but you hardly ever see iPods anywhere.

And then I was in London and noticed that almost everybody who's wearing earphones is wearing iPod earphones. Compared to Vienna, it seemed almost as if nobody was using anything other than iPods. Suddenly I understood that the success of the iPod existed, it just didn't exist in Austria.

Which again proves that Vienna is a technological backwater in the grasp of cheap Taiwanese imports. But then iPods are much less affordable here than they are in London: the price of an iPod is roughly the same, but people here earn significantly less than they earn in London, and they'd rather spend the money on mobile phone bills anyway.

That's another interesting thing to notice: the number of times an average person in London hears mobile phones ringing during one week is about the same an average person in Vienna hears mobile phones ringing during the train ride from the airport to the city. For some reason people here think that mobile phone ring tones are much cooler than iPods. It's one of the things I'll never understand.

Posted by Horst at 12:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

My visitor statistics keep baffling me. I'm not sure if they're measuring nonsense or if my readers are merely behaving erratically, but contrary to all expectations, there was no noticeable drop in accesses to my weblog during the two weeks when I did not write anything after Christmas and when I took a week off in January. However, the numbers did go down once I started writing again after those breaks.

Now I hope that is just some weird coincidence or technical problem, or else I would be seriously offended.

Posted by Horst at 12:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


January 27, 2005

I finally managed to kind of clean up my extended Blogroll page, mostly removing weblogs that are no longer linking to me from my "linking to me" list, weblogs I no longer read from my "weblogs that I read" list, and weblogs that no longer exist from the "weblogs that exist" list.

Seems that I was pretty successful in alienating some of my regular readers during the past year. The number of people who removed me from their blogroll during the past 8 months was fairly impressive, and for the first time there were more people who removed me than people who added me. I suppose the fact that I'm writing less library-related stuff (my work frustrates me) and stopped writing about politics altogether (want to avoid getting ulcers) did not ring too well with the librarians and political bloggers, and maybe the Technorati malfunction that caused my blog page to appear empty in Internet Explorer also scared away some readers.

But then I also removed a fair amount of weblogs from my blogroll during the past year. Nothing personal, just a matter of losing interest in other people's writings. People change — I do, other bloggers do — and over time we are interested in different things, so we write about other stuff and read other stuff. It's just a facet of life. There are also many new people on the list (especially the "people I met in real life" list) that make up for the losses.

Then I was thinking about going topical with this weblog. You know that it's meandering a bit thematically (well, it always has been, but lately I'm feeling I'm kind of losing focus a bit). But then no particular topic comes to mind, and being non-topical has always been what this is about, also because, frankly, I find most topical blogs rather boring because they never seem to go beyond their topic (which, I know, is the point).

So, uhm, I guess I'll just continue to alienate my readers with pointless stuff like this article.

Posted by Horst at 11:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Here's a postscript on going to London and spending money on things: it turns out that my brief stay in London was financially so disastrous for my bank account that the visit to Brussels that I had planned for early February cannot take place. Sorry to everyone whom I'll be unable to visit as a consequence.

It turns out that not spending so much money in London used to be a lot easier in the past. Not just that things were cheaper (the UK must have gone through a period of enormous inflation during the past ten years), but with the Pound and the Austrian Schilling being quite distinct currencies (£1 = ATS 21), it was easier to pay attention how much things actually cost.

These days, prices in Pounds look just like prices in Euro, and that's rather dangerous because £1 = €1.45. I remember going to the cinema in London and thinking that it wasn't really all that expensive, and it took me about half the movie until it finally dawned on me that £8 is actually ridiculously expensive and nothing at all like €8 (which would be the price at an expensive Vienna cinema).

It's really time they joined the Euro zone, just so that I spend less money there. Or at least have a better idea about how much I'm actually spending.

Posted by Horst at 11:25 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)


January 28, 2005

You know that scene from [insert title of arbitrary military movie] where this soldier is diciplined and has to clean the toilets?

I feel that I'm slowly slipping into a similar position. Like, having to do lowly tasks that didn't seem to be part of the job description when I signed on. I've seen the range of my work duties at the reference desk slowly deteriorating over the past six years. At the moment my work there seems to be limited to issuing cloakroom keys and preventing people from carrying bags or beverages into the reading room.

Mind you, this deterioration of my duties is not due to disciplinary reasons, but simply because the readers no longer seem to have any questions other than "can I have a cloakroom key?". What they do have instead, though, is this seemingly unquenchable thirst, why they can only keep in check by carrying (or attempting to carry) large bottles of soft drinks into the reading room.

But, you say, that is still far from having to clean toilets? Well, only a few weeks ago, there was this case of the woman who dropped her cloakroom key into the toilet bowl and expected me to retrieve it. Plus, we have just received an e-mail announcing that the university's cleaning budget will be reduced by 30% during February. Given the current state of the toilets at 100% budget, I fear the worst.

Posted by Horst at 03:23 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

New on The Aardvark Cooks: Vegetable Biryani, Lamb Biryani and Spicy Kidney Bean Curry. Enjoy.

Posted by Horst at 10:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)



© Copyright 2002-2005 Horst Prillinger, 

Most of the stuff on this page is fiction. Everything else is my private opinion. Please read the disclaimer.

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