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Posted on Sunday, May 27th, 2007

….going to do some shows in South America. I am, I have to say, rather intrigued by the prospect of visiting a place, one so far away from home, that people may be interested in what I have to offer. In my usual fashion, I’m, you know, a little unprepared, although at this stage that seems like a largely redundant thing to type. When going to another country with weird electricals, while doing a largely electrical show…mmm well, things can fuck up, but mostly they don’t, not in view of the people who watch but..well, I can tell you now that this is one of the parts of being me that suck. My faith in what can happen to make things work out was readily documented her a couple of years back when I was able to find a blank DVD in a gas station, near the venue in Budapest just before going on. I really, no, really,really,really,really,really, hope that something like that doesn’t have to happen again but who the fuck knows? My denial of potential problems can clearly be illustrated by my interest in the question not of what the equipment will be like , nor even the people or the the hospitality, which I’m sure will, of course, be perfect….no, how far away is patagonia and will I be able to eat centolla ?

OK artistically speaking not the most interesting dispatch, I’ll grant you that but, what the fuck, I’ll bet that you are a boring twat sometimes as well, right?

I mixed a most beautiful piece of music by a young gentleman from Denmark called Jonas Munk who releases his music under the name of Manual. It was somewhat more of a mix, something more like what I have done recently with Ulrich Schnauss, which is, roundly speaking, just working with his music, taking away bits that I don’t like and replacing them with things I do. I swear, I do have the best in the world. I’ve not yet met Jonas but I look forward to it.

Ulrich Schnauss has a new CD coming out with a couple of tracks that I’ve worked on soon. I don’t know much more. This is why I usually write all the stuff about France Telecom.

concluding the communication calamity

Posted on Sunday, May 20th, 2007

OK, this is true.
As unexpectedly as it was cut off my phone was reconnected the other day. Not too bad, I have to say France Telecom is improving, that was only twelve days without phone or internet this time. felicitations les gars.
So it really shouldn’t have surprised me when I received the following call from a France Telecom engineer.

FT : yes hello, I understand that your phone is not working and I would like to book an appointment to come to repair it.

me : The phone is working. You are calling me on it.

FT : No, your line is out of service

me : No, the phone is working. You are calling me on it.

FT : Ah bon? …… OK, I can come tomorrow.

He didn’t come which is a shame as I wanted to find out which medication he is on. So I’ve worked out that the company policy must be to call the people whose phone doesn’t work which probably explains why …. no it explains nothing. France Telecom are just another one of the mysteries of life that I feel I will never fully be able to understand. They are up there with thoughts like Is there another word for synonym?, Why is the word abbreviation so long?, Why does the word “lisp”have an S in it? and my old favourite Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Now here’s something interesting. Did you know that you get the best wireless reception at MacDonalds at the top of the kiddies climbing frame. No, the policeman didn’t know that either.

So, I’m back.

living the glamorous life…

Posted on Friday, May 11th, 2007

So, my last ten days have been rather interesting, confirmation that I was put on this planet and given life just to make everyone else feel good about themselves. It has been a time of great bewilderment on the part of yours truly, a small but eventful catalogue of seemingly unconnected events which have conspired to drive me to tears while at the same time somewhat amusing and given me a whole new source of macro injustices and micro despairs to bitch about on my weblog. This process of writing this stuff here is partly cathartic and partly to be used by my defence council should I be pushed over the edge.
Thankfully, I long ago gave up hope that just being me could in anyway be a dignified affair although I’ve come to believe that as I get older I respond better to minor calamities as I did when I was a younger man.
I’ve recently found myself lucky enough to be invited to play some shows in South America and, because it is some time since I last visited that part of the world, I’ve been rather excited about it and have decided to start early to prepare the shows as I’d like to play some new things and generally improve my performance. I have been having some technical problems which I wished to iron out, so I thought that the first thing I should do is clean up my laptop from the debris of non essential music software, you know, the things which cross over to my ‘so called’ professional life from my family life, like Violette’s beauty and the beast and dora the explorer games and the like, so I decided to do a clean install using the factory restore disks, something I’m familiar with and take as a matter of course being a closet geek. I have no fears of doing that kind of a thing and find it an essential, but somewhat tedious, chore which needs doing once a year. The only problem is that, chez moi, we have probably more computers than seems healthy, but we can im each other from different parts of the house. OK, that’s not true. But we could. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that usually we have at lest one computer being in a state of despair but it’s never a problem. I’m good. OK
So I backup all my stuff, pop in the disk, reboot, follow the instructions for a destructive re-install, taking my computer back to the factory condition and after half an hour when it had finished, it rebooted and .. nothing. Um, ok. Not to worry, I’ll do it again. . . Umm, how curious, not working.. the hardware is fine, it was working and I can run a live Linux distribution. Hmm, what to do? So I did what I am normally pathologically unable to do. Something I find more impossible even than asking for directions if I’m lost. I emailed the tech support of the manufacturer and, over forty eight hours had the following dialogue.

me : I’m trying to do a full system restore. It worked up to the point where the computer reboots and then it hangs…any idea’s?

tech support : Ah, that’s easy, you will have to do a full system restore using the system recovery CD.

me : Ah, um that’s what I was trying to do when it froze. So how can I work around this?

tech support : Oh, if that’s the case you will have to do a full system restore using the system recovery CD.

me: ah, perhaps I’m not making myself clear, I’ve tried to recover using the system recovery CD but the operation will not complete. Is there some other solution for me?

tech support : Thank you for your reply, I suggest that you back up all your files and perform full system restore using the system recovery CD.

me : Are you a computer generated response or just simply retarded?

perhaps not strangely this one wasn’t answered. I think I confused him

me : Can I speak to a customer service representative?

tech support : to call our customer support dial 1-800-XXX-XXXX

me : I’m sorry but I don’t live in the US and cannot dial an 800 number, can you please inform me of another number that I can call from abroad.

tech support : Ah, yes you can get the number from our customer support, just dial 1-800-XXX-XXXX…

So after a while I just had to give up. Even with my experience of living in France where the idea of customer service remains simply just that, an idea, I wasn’t prepared for this. I mean couldn’t this person seek employment in a Chuck-E-Cheese instead. No on second thoughts that’s probably dangerous.
Anyway, I just built myself a boot disk, ran a few command likes and restored the system myself, which is what I probably should have done in the first place. Foolishly I then tried to download all the drivers from the manufacturers website, you know put in my serial number, model number, operating system and other details with the following result.

me : I have downloaded all the drivers from the your website, the ones ‘specifically’ for my computer, but have found that most of them are incompatible and will not allow me to install them.
Any thoughts?

tech support : If this is the case then I suggest that you download the correct drivers for your computer from our website.

There followed links to, it goes without saying, the wrong files. I found my solution on the internet as I evidently wasn’t the only person with this problem. Curiously, if you take your model number, subtract the number of pointless emails that you’ve received and divide the answer by the accumulated IQ of the tech support department you can get a new model number which points you to the correct files. Or something like that. Anyhow it was working now and I was ready to get on with preparing my show.

Or was I?

If that had been all my frustrations for a week that would have been enough, but as there is much truth in the adage it never rains but it pours I got my umbrella out and waited in trepidation for the deluge. The first drops appeared in my email the next morning. Out of my mailbox jumped an attractive young woman with large breasts who seed to be informing me Welcome, Robin Guthrie, to cheesyvideochatforthesadandlonely.com (or something of the sort). It would appear that some jolly young scoundrel has stolen my identity. Now, I hasten to add, I’m not talking about, you know, the things which define me as me, you know, suave and sophisticated middle aged man, big guitar, dodgy hair in the eighties, failing eyesight, failing short term memory, oh, no, none of that stuff. No he didn’t want that. He did, however, arm himself with all my personal banking details and proceed to try to relieve me of the contents of my bank account. Nice, So I visited the aforementioned website to inform them of this fact only to find that to contact customer service I had to, yup you know it, dial 1-800-YYY-YYYY. I emailed them and they told me to call customer service. I shit you not.

Now, at this point I could have lost it but I showed restraint and tried to contact the payment gateway people who had been charging my card. Unbelievably the customer support agent, who apparently must have just started working there that very morning after leaving the technical support department of a well known computer company, told me that as far as he was concerned I had, indeed, subscribed to those services, and to prove it he furnished me with all my personal banking details, billing address, passwords, the lot. Had it not been for the fact tha the IP address recorded was in Germany I’d have believed him myself. So I then tried to call my bank to freeze my accounts when, somewhat in keeping with the tone of my morning, I noticed that I had no dialling tone on my phone. Mmm, strange. No internet either. Umm. Sigh,
Ah. I forgot. I live in France and am a customer of France Telecom and one of the more interesting things that they provide is a special Fuck You service in which they, from time to time, reward a lucky one of their loyal customers by cutting all of their services for no reason apparently other than they can.
Madame Guthrie stepped in, as she so often has to do to interface me with the real world, and called them on my cell phone (oh, and in France customer service isn’t a toll free number) but they have no record of us ever having been a customer with them. However if we would like to subscribe they can offer us a service in two weeks…

So, that was last week and thankfully I knew that the weekend was coming and that, what the hell, it’d be nice to have a couple of days with no email and phone. My good friend and super talented gentleman Lord Hamish Mackintosh of Forfar was arriving at my local airport to spend a few days mixing some of his new tracks and I thought I’d take the lapse in my communications to my advantage, you know, get really stuck in and do a lot of work sans interruptions. So it was with a certain amount of enthusiasm that I fired up the computer in my studio to commence work. The error message I got was something like ‘cubase has suffered a serious error and will close down, lock up your computer, hose your hard drive and seriously fuck up your weekend, loser’ or something of the like. No doubt if I had tried to repair it there would have been a pop up asking me to call customer service on 1-800-ZZZ-ZZZZ.

So that’s two computers down, no phone, no dsl, a stolen credit card and some close encounters with some dangerously stupid support employees. Oh, and a new president, who has the look of someone who can enter a room not by opening the door but by sliding under it.
Well all is not lost, mes amis, and the irony of this, I have to say is not lost on me. I have another laptop, the one I use for my email and stuff when I’m travelling, which I can take to my local McDonalds which has free wireless. First however, I need to get a driver for my wireless adapter from the manufacturers website…

The fact that you are reading this means I’m right now being subjected to the smell of McDonalds grease, the worst in french pop music and irritating small children. I know that in the whole scheme of things none of those things are such of a big deal, well apart from France electing the wrong president, but without my little calamities I’d not have much to write about, not much that’s funny anyway. The beautiful thing is that I realise it’s just my turn for things to fuck up and, thankfully, soon it’ll be yours.

My apologies to anyone who’s been trying to get in touch from me. Call my cell phone or send a postcard.
I’m not coming back to McDonalds everyday. I’m not checking my mail. Fuck it. I’m going to do a little gardening until the phone is back on.

I’ll write about something relevant next time, I promise.