Create Your Own Anti-Virus Signatures with ClamAV

I use ClamAV on my own mail servers, I’ve also used it at work alongside several commercial AV engines and every now and again there will be a viral attachment that none of the AV engines catch, especially when a new threat is released. As a Linux user, most virus and malware threats mean little to me, however if you are responsible for Windows users then you need to be on top of the game.

Even though viral email attachments aren’t the major attack vector for Windows PCs that they were a few years ago, a few times recently I’ve found the need to block viral emails which the major AV engines weren’t catching or they were sufficiently behind the curve that I’ve had to create my own signatures to block viral attachments while I waited for the AV vendors to catch up.

Enter ClamAV. ClamAV is an anti-virus toolkit for Unix and Windows. Aside from being an on-demand virus scanner, ClamAV comes with a suite of tools for creating your own anti-virus signatures which can then be used as part of the regular AV definitions when running a scan.

The first thing you need is something which you want to detect. It might be a virus, some other piece of malware or maybe just a nuisance application installer. It helps if you’re not running Windows so you don’t infect yourself with whatever it is you are trying to detect and running the following commands will be easy for you. If you have an email with your attachment or file in, you need to save the attachment to your PC. If it’s still on the mail server, either download the mail and save the file or if you have shell access to the server, copy the entire mail file itself to your PC which is easy if you’re using maildirs. If you use mboxes you need to take a copy of the mail somehow so it’s in a file of it’s own (look at csplit for example).

If you have a file containing the email rather than having saved the attachment from within your mail client, you need to split the text and attachment parts out from each other. The following script does this for you. You need Perl and the MIME::Parser module from CPAN (sudo cpan install MIME::Parser for Ubuntu users).

#!/usr/bin/perl
use MIME::Parser;
$file = $ARGV[0];
my $parser = new MIME::Parser;
mkdir(“/tmp/$$”);
$parser->output_under(“/tmp/$$/”);
$parser->output_prefix(“msg”);
$entity = $parser->parse_open(“$file”);
$entity->dump_skeleton;

Save it as strip-attach.pl or something and make it executable. Then run it with an argument of the file to strip such as:

strip-attach.pl <mail file>

The output will give you the paths to the text portion and the attachment portion of the email. If you saved the email attachment to your PC from your mail client, you can start to pay attention now.

What you now have is the file you want to block. If it’s zipped, compressed or in any other kind of container then unzip it or extract it as ClamAV can see inside these archives if you configured it to do so and you have the right tools installed (like unzip under Linux for example).

Next create a signature of the file using ClamAV’s sigtool:

cat testfile | sigtool –hex-dump | head -c 2048 > customsig.ndb

In this case, testfile is your undesirable file and we have taken a signature of the first 2KB, otherwise the signature would be huge and therefore scanning would be inefficient. We have saved the generated signature in customsig.ndb. In theory, you need to take a signature of a unique portion of the file. You can also take a signature from an off-set within the file, it doesn’t have to be from the start of the file. See the ClamAV signature docs for more detail on how to create signatures.

You should edit customsig.ndb and prefix the content with the appropriate Name, Type and Offset in the following format:

Name:Type:Offset:malware hex output

Such as:

Trojan.Win32.Emold.A:1:*:4d5a80000100000004001000ffff000040010000000000004000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Name is the virus name. Type is one of the following:

  • 0 = any file
  • 1 = Portable Executable (ie Windows exe)
  • 2 = OLE2 component (e.g. a VBA script)
  • 3 = HTML (normalised)
  • 4 = Mail file
  • 5 = Graphics
  • 6 = ELF
  • 7 = ASCII text file (normalised)

Offset is either * or an offset in bytes from the beginning of the file to where the hex string occurs. This is best left as * unless you know your where in the file your hex string occurs. Read the Clamav documentation if this is the case.

For most purposes, a type of 0 (or 1 for a Windows exe), and an offset of * will suffice.

Either name the virus yourself if it’s just a file you don’t want on your network or it’s a new virus, or take a look at what other AV engines call a virus by submitting your suspicious file to somewhere like http://www.virustotal.com/. ClamAV has it’s own virus naming conventions as detailed in the docs.

My good friend and malware expert Barbie of Message Labs and Birmingham Perl Mongers gave a talk at LugRadio Live UK 2008 where he explained that the people that are first to identify a new virus are the people who name it, though different AV vendors often use the different names and the name which is popularised in the press is the one that sticks. If you detect a virus before anybody else, then name it as you like and then find a way of making sure everybody uses your chosen name. Fun and profit awaits you πŸ™‚

Now, test the signature against your suspect file:

clamscan -d customsig.ndb testfile

It’s pretty inefficient to store one virus signature per file, so if you’re going to be doing this frequently or you want your signature to used as part of regular operations, you may as well start keeping your own virus db file as part of ClamAV itself. Simply copy your customsig.ndb to the directory used by ClamAV’s own signatures. On most Linux boxes that’s /var/lib/clamav/, though it might be something like /usr/local/share/clamav/ on FreeBSD or if you compiled ClamAV yourself. So restart ClamAV and run a regular scan without having to specify your custom sig:

clamscan testfile

And that’s it. Add each new signature line into the customsig.ndb file you put in ClamAV’s signatures directory but be sure to test it first from a standalone sig file so you know it works as expected without affecting the operation of the main ClamAV installation.

Having created sigs for files which the commercial AV engines weren’t catching, I submitted the suspicious file I was working on to the ClamAV team for detection within ClamAV. Now I guess you have to be a bit closer to the project and certainly more experienced than the novice I am to generate sigs and have them included in ClamAV, but there’s nothing stopping you submitting the suspicious files to the project by uploading them at http://www.clamav.org/sendvirus/.

I did exactly that and was quite pleased to get an email a few weeks later which said a signature for the file I submitted had been included in a ClamAV update, although the same file had been submitted by several other people.

Most people suggest advocacy or documentation as ways non-programmers can help a project, it just goes to show that there are many more ways to help a Free Software project than you might think if you’re not a programmer.

So, why would you want to use ClamAV? If you run mail servers then you should be using it already, regardless of whether you run a proprietary AV engine. ClamAV is free and plugs easily into most Unix style mail servers, either directly or though something like Amavis. ClamAV is pretty good at catching phishing emails too, which is something I’ve not seen much of from the major AV vendors. Details on dealing with phishing sigs are here.

A few years ago I worked at a college where Windows permissions were sufficiently lax that the students were able to install MSN Messenger (now known as Windows Live Messenger) on the PCs which were supposed to be for educational purposes only, as certain applications they needed to run required access to write to parts of the registry so they couldn’t be locked down any further without serious effort. We had a terrible time trying to keep up with removing it and stopping them downloading it. Had we known at the time, (ignoring the concept of actually trying to lock the machines down properly), we could have run ClamAV on a filtering proxy and created a signature which detected MSN Messenger or other unwanted installers, blocked them at the gate and run a scan across the user directories for saved copies brought in on memory sticks. While it’s fighting fires instead of solving the bigger problem, you could apply a simple fix to the major threats and it would buy you enough breathing space to solve the real problems.

Note that ClamAV is not an in memory, on-access, real-time background virus scanner, it won’t detect viruses in files as you open or execute them. You need to manually scan files to detect viruses, it’s not intended as a replacement for a desktop AV, it’s intended for gateway services like web and mail filtering or scheduled scanning.

Do I need to tell you any more? Go geddit tiger.

Get Simon Burke Home

A few weeks ago I was lying in bed watching an episode of Channel Five’s ‘Locked Up Abroad’. The episode featured the story of Sarah Jackson and Simon Burke. In early 2007, Sarah, having got herself in debt with a threatening and abusive drug dealer had agreed to go to Peru and smuggle cocaine back with her in exchange for clearing her debts. She invited her friend Simon on the holiday to unwittingly provide an air of legitimacy for her trip. Simon was unaware of the real reason for the trip.

Towards the end of the trip, Sarah excused herself from Simon and returned to the hotel room where she took delivery of the cocaine and hid it inside her suitcase. At the airport she sent Simon to the information desk to enquire about his luggage which had gone missing on the flight over there while she checked in. Sarah checked in ok but was stopped because of a suspicious passport. When her bag was searched the police found the cocaine. Simon, unaware of this, returned from the info desk to find her and was taken by the police into a room where he saw Sarah and the cocaine. Simon’s shyness and stumbling speech convinced the police that he was involved despite Sarah’s protestations that he was innocent. The police footage taken during the search and shortly after the arrest shown in the show demonstrate just how dumbfounded and terrified Simon was. Nevertheless Sarah and Simon were jailed for 18 days together before being separated and sent to different prisons. Simon was sent to a violent, nightmarish men’s prison while Sarah was sent to a women’s prison which had much in common with a busy day care centre.

The Peruvian justice system is so overwhelmed that only 1 in 8 inmates of Sarah’s prison have been convicted. It took 10 months in prison before the police accepted Sarah’s confession and statement of Simon’s innocence and Simon was freed in November 2007. However until Sarah’s is convicted, the police are retaining Simon’s passport as he is still a witness in the Peruvian courts and potentially, still a suspect. As such, Simon was stuck in limbo in Peru, awaiting the outcome of Sarah’s trial so he can be allowed home.

I watched this show a few weeks ago as I said and I decided to check up on what happened to the case, I remember watching the show cringing and thinking how awful it must be to be trapped in limbo like that. I thought the show might have been recorded last year or something and was horrified that Simon is still stuck in Peru a year on from his release, visiting court regularly while he awaits Sarah’s trial. I couldn’t believe it, he was such a nice, honest, genuine guy. His only mistake is to be unwittingly caught up in somebody else’s scam.

What amazes me is that apart from the Banged Up Abroad episode, how little mainstream press this case is getting. The guy is clearly innocent and yet is being held in a country with no means of supporting himself. He is staying in the spare room of a Peruvian family waiting to be cleared. It has cost his family Β£10,000 and he has lost 2 years of his life and still counting for doing nothing wrong. It doesn’t even bear thinking about. The whole thing touched me so much I decided to get involved. I’ve never met Simon but the story really upset me.

After being refused a petition by http://www.number10.gov.uk/ on the basis that it is a Home Office issue, you can sign the petition to campaign for Simon to be allowed to return home at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/send-simon-home.html

There are 2 Facebook groups dedicated to campaigning for him to be allowed to return home. If you’re on Facebook, search for “Get Simon Burke Home” and “Send Simon Home”. While the petition and Facebook groups will have little affect on the Peruvian government or judicial systems directly, the campaign for greater media exposure that these things are aiming for will hopefully push the otherwise ineffectual British Home Office and British Embassy in Lima into working harder to get Simon sent home.

A few people have asked why he doesn’t just jump the border by illegal means or whether he would return to Peru if allowed home. He says himself that he doesn’t want to jeopardise his case. If he were caught trying to jump the border he would be screwed. He has no wish to avoid the legal proceedings he is involved in, he just wants to clear his name and get back to his life.

There are 2 local newspaper articles featuring the case here and here. Read them if you will. Simon has been to court several times since they were published, despite one article claiming he may soon be released.

You can watch the episode of Banged Up Abroad at Channel Five here though I’m told you need to sign-up and it requires Windows Media Player. If you find it affects you in the same way it did me, then why don’t you sign the petition and join the Facebook groups which are keeping his spirits up and are the focal point for people trying to raise the media’s awareness of the case.

Now I’m not prone to this kind of thing, I’m not the type for campaigning like a teen soap character who is always fighting for some cause or other, but I just felt really bad for the guy and I was really surprised that he was still stuck in Peru.

In any case, I wish Simon the best I hope he is allowed to return home soon.

UPDATE 22/11/2008: Simon’s innocence was confirmed by the Peruvian courts on 24th November 2008 and is now free to return home, pending application for the return of his passport and should be home by Christmas. Best wishes my man.

UPDATE 17/03/2009: Simon is still in Peru as the prosecution has appealed despite Simon’s acquittal. Looks like he could be there for several more months. You can vote to ask David Miliband, the UK Foreign Secretary about Simon’s case here or donate to the cost of Simon’s living expenses here. To date it has cost Simon’s parents around Β£20,000 as he receives no income in Peru, anything you can add to offset those costs would be gratefully received.

Keep up to date with Simon’s case by joining the Get Simon Burke Home group on Facebook here.

UPDATE 09/10/2009: After 2 and a half years, Simon’s case has been completed and all paperwork finished, he is now free to return home and should do so on Sunday 11th October 2009. It looks like there might be quite a large welcoming party πŸ™‚ You can find out more on Facebook here. Best wishes mate, good to have you home πŸ™‚

UPDATE 12/10/2009: Simon is now back home with his family in England.

Get the Ubuntu Dell Inspiron Mini 9 with the Windows Spec in the UK

I’m going to buy a netbook and I’ve been waiting for the Dell one since May or so when it was announced. When it was released it was Windows only. Now the Ubuntu one is out in the UK, it is slightly cheaper but the SSD is half the size and the webcam is lower resolution. What the hell is that all about? I want an SSD one so I can throw it in a bag and take it anywhere without worrying about the disk, otherwise I’d have bought the Advent 4211.

The Windows one has a 16GB SSD and the Ubuntu one has an 8GB SSD. The Windows one has a 1.3 MP webcam, the Ubuntu one is 0.3 MP and is only 30 GBP cheaper. Now I know the SSD size is roughly based on what the OS requires itself, but *I* need some storage too, around 8 or 10 GB. What are they doing, maintaining the illusion that Linux is cheaper than Windows by providing lower specs for the Ubuntu one, to account for the fact that Windows is discounted by Microsoft and is subsidised by all the craplets which come pre-installed?

I’m hopeful that this is just a kind of phased introduction, but I want an Ubuntu system with the same hardware as the Windows version soon or I’m just going to go buy an Asus Eee PC 901, but I like the Dell machine. Although the Eee spec is actually slightly better, the Eee has a smaller keyboard and doesn’t look quite as nice. I also want accessories like a carry case. You can get accessories with the Ubuntu Mini 9 in the US and you can customise the spec in almost every way. Why not here?

To make my feelings known I set up a Dell IdeaStorm post asking for just this and you can help. If you’ve been waiting for the Ubuntu version of the Dell Mini 9 too and were dismayed to find it with a lower spec than the Windows version, you can promote the point here, though note that it requires a sign-up. If they don’t match the specs and offer accessories like a carry case soon, I’ll just go and buy the Eee 901, it’s just cheaper if you go to the right place.

The Linux Credit Crunch

So, the financial world is collapsing around us. After house prices in UK have sky-rocketed for years, pricing core workers (doctors, nurses, ambulance crews, police and firefighters) and everyone beneath high earners out of the property market, we ‘re now in a situation where house prices are falling through the floor but interest rates are so high people can’t afford mortgages, houses are being re-possessed, the unemployment figures are at their highest in 10 years, the biggest financial institutions in the world are going bankrupt and everyone is feeling the pinch. The capitalist world is facing global recession, aka financial armageddon. The UK media are calling it the Credit Crunch. I don’t know what it’s being referred to elsewhere or how it’s effects are being felt outside of the UK and USA. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to have affected the IT market too much yet, but it will. How much, I don’t know, the world relies on IT these days but it will pinch and some of us will be made redundant.

So where does this leave our beloved Linux, Open Source and Free Software communities? The major IT vendors and commercial software houses are sure to cut jobs. According to Greg Kroah-Hartman,Β  72.6% of kernel contributions are sponsored by major IT vendors (Intel, Red Hat, IBM, Novell etc). 17% are from amateurs and 10.2 are either unknown or independent consultants. There must be 0.2% somewhere else for those of you who are counting. I would imagine the contributions for something like GNOME would be a lot heavier in favour of amateurs and independent contributors.

I suspect, and I appreciate I am economically naive, that while the big vendors might have to cut jobs and some of them might well be technical jobs focused on the smaller markets (ie Linux), I would expect that a good proportion might be in rank and file clerical, sales, support, marketing and middle-management, not so much in technical engineering.

So, we might lose some Linux developers in the major companies, but note this: many people, when they use or work on anything other than the market-share leading operating system do so because they want to. Would leaving a job mean that somebody stops doing something they wanted to do in the first place? I don’t think so, but then it is possible that if you lose a job, you’re going to have to replace it as quickly as possible and that might be with something which doesn’t allow you the time or opportunity to contribute.

While companies all around the world are planning to shed jobs and cut costs, contributing to Linux, Open Source and Free Software only cost one thing: time. Human endeavour costs nothing and it’s that which means that Linux won’t go away in a bad financial climate or when when the biggest software vendor in the world tries to scare people away by claiming that it’s competitor violates it’s patents but won’t say what those patents are. If, hypothetically, the financial world came to a standstill tomorrow, Linux would keep going. Microsoft wouldn’t be able to pay their developers and neither would Red Hat, but you can’t develop Windows unless you work for Microsoft. You can develop on Linux whether you get paid or not because the code is free and Free. Both gratis and libre.

If you run a company or organisation and you need to reduce costs, Linux and all of it’s software costs nothing. Windows costs money, even when it comes on the computer and Microsoft Office costs hundreds. If your PCs are ageing and you need to replace them, Linux doesn’t require anywhere near the resources Windows does, the comparison between Linux and Windows Vista’s hardware requirements are almost laughable and Linux is still faster, which means that you don’t need to buy a new PC and your old PC will be faster under Linux. Linux doesn’t have a virus problem, or a malware problem so you don’t need to buy anti-virus. Linux doesn’t have to defragment it’s disks so you don’t have to do it. In Linux, all of the available software is installable from inside the one program, you don’t have to download all of your applications from a hundred different places and install each one independently. Linux will update all of your software in one go every time there is a newer version so you don’t have to go to Windows Update and then update Adobe Acrobat and Real Player and Nero and Winzip and Quicktime and iTunes and Flash and everything else, Linux will update them all at the same time if there is an update. Linux software doesn’t nag you to buy it. Linux software doesn’t have advertisements. Linux software doesn’t install an icon in your taskbar that sits there using up your RAM. Linux doesn’t have problems with porn pop-ups. Linux web browsers don’t have the security problems that Internet Explorer has…

Oh, I’m sorry, I digress. In these harsh financial times, which are about to get a lot harsher and stay that way for another 2 years or so, Linux will save you money and won’t stop getting better when money gets tight.

Credit crunch? What credit crunch? A healthy dose of idealism is all you need.

The Other Kind of Radio

Woo, I had a text message read out by Scott Mills on Radio 1 at about 09:15 today about the song ‘InnΓ­ mΓ©r syngur vitleysingur’ by Icelandic band Sigur RΓ³s.

No, I can’t pronounce the title either, but the song itself is, to quote myself, blissful. I’ve bought the album but it’s not arrived yet. They are playing in Wolverhampton on 4th November but sadly it’s already sold out πŸ™

Phone Decisions

After taking some opinion and weighing up specs, features, functionality and expandability, I decided to get a Nokia N95 8GB. My mobile provider didn’t have any and couldn’t tell me when they would so I requested my PAC code and prepared to move to somebody that had them for the same monthly contract.

However, it then struck me that the N96, which supersedes the N95, is due out in October, so I decided to hang on in there and reduce my tariff to Β£10 p/m while I wait for the N96 to hit the shelves. When it does I will return to my regular tariff and upgrade my handset to the N96.

Many thanks to everyone who offered advice πŸ™‚

Phone Choices

It’s that time of year when I’m are due a mobile phone handset upgrade. I have a few choices:

First thing is fuck the iPhone. DRM encumbered, no 3G access pile of arse. Secondly, fuck the Treo, Windows Mobile with Word and Excel pile of arse. I want a device that will be friendly to my other devices and don’t require you have all of your other hardware and software from the same manufactuer, like Windows, Outlook and iTunes. I run Linux, so anything with DRM or uses proprietary methods to do normal things, like sync with your PC or copy stuff to your phone etc is out. I want as many open or at least commoditised standards as possible, like SyncML, Bluetooth and no Windows only applications to do use your phone.

So my requirements are thus:

  • Decent camera.
  • Reasonable amount of storage and uses standardised external storage.
  • HSDPA connection, faster the better. Bonus point for being able to use this from Linux.
  • Doesn’t crash frequently.
  • Uses open or commoditised standards like SyncML, Bluetooth and plays nicely with other devices.
  • Good bluetooth handsfree support and voice activated dialling.
  • Free car charger would be nice.
  • Isn’t an endless siege of misery to migrate to.
  • Built in GPS would be nice.

I appreciate that I’m not going to get all of these.

A Blackberry sounds nice, but I don’t need push email and I want a decent camera. My last 3 phones have been Sony Ericsson and I’ve been very happy. Phone shows up as a mass storage device on Linux, bluetooth works and they didn’t crash very often. The C902 has 3.6Mb HSDPA modem built in. If I could use this as a net connection from Linux them I’m already sold, but I have seen a few people say that the C902 crashes and hangs a lot and the 5MP camera has a crap flash. I haven’t had a Nokia since before colour screens so I’m not familiar with the models these days. I was offered a few models, but Aq tells me the high end models which use Symbian S60 are crashy, though they do have a lot of third party apps and generally play nicely with other devices. Sony Ericsson on the other hand tend not to have that many third party apps and in Aq’s words, “Whenever you want your phone to do something it doesn’t already do, you hit this giant wall with Sony written on it.”

So, pending a fantastic Nokia model (people say the N-series are good?), I like the idea of the C902, mainly because it has the built in 3.6Mb HSDPA 3G modem. Most others don’t seem to. However, the major drawback with the C902 is that we are being offered refurb or returned handsets, which suggests to me that a lot of people are returning them, I would assume that this is because they crash a lot and I’m not sure a factory refurb is going to solve that problem. So I think maybe a Nokia N-series with Bluetooth, decent storage, a decent camera and built in 3G HSPDA modem that I can access from Linux and GPS would be nice. Failing that, the Sony Ericsson C902 unless you scream at me not to touch it. It would help if migrating from Sony Ericsson to Nokia and taking all of my contacts, photos and messages wasn’t an endless siege of pain also.

I lazily solicit your opinion and don’t go on about how I’m wrong about the iPhone.

On Sincerity

Something struck me today and though I’ve always felt this way, I’ve never consciously been aware that it was anything more than another unlabelled facet of my set of morals and values. I prize sincerity in people almost as much as anything else. As much as I may be one of the most sarcastic people I know, I am also sickeningly honest and sincere and I demand this of the people around me. In almost all cases, honesty seems to be the best policy above all else. If you tell the truth, then you don’t have to lie further to maintain the original lie, you don’t have to remember that you lied in the first place and as much as they may not appreciate it initially, most people will come to value you for your honesty and trust you as a result. If you lie, it will probably come out eventually and in the worst possible way.

I like old people. I’m a pretty impatient guy these days and as much as I may foam with frustration when trapped behind somebody who consistently does 10 or 20 mph less than the speed limit when I have to be somewhere, so much so that I can almost feel my skin blister with irritation and despite the fact that I may rage inwardly, a la ‘Falling Down’, at our bewildered looking, slow moving, bestactacled, wheely-basket carrying, tortoise-necked, supermarket-aisle blocking elders, I do in fact like old people. I have met many that I didn’t know that were so sincere that it melted my heart. I remember an old lady on a tram-stop bench in the Prague suburbs, next to a supermarket that offered my friend Dan and I, on a hungover morning after, some strawberries she had picked herself, despite the fact that we were a pair of groggy looking youths and I had blue hair at the time, which most Czechs assumed meant I was a heroin addict (this was in the first post-communist years and looking ‘different’ marked you out). Only a year and half ago, I was offered a Hammond organ by someone whose father was due to come out of hospital and had to have a bed in their front room, which meant the Hammond had to go. When I collected it, I met his elderly mother who thanked me dearly for doing them a favour by coming to collect it at such short notice. I somewhat cheekily replied that I was there as there was something in for me too. While my tongue had been firmly in cheek and the assembled helpers laughed appreciatively, I still feel a hint of shame that this sweet old lady offered me such heartfelt, emotional sincerity for taking away a prized family possession to enable their ill patriarch to return home and I reflexively shrugged it off whith a cheap gag.

Today I decided that I liked the man who works in my local Chinese retaurant. While be-suited, managerial in position and of course obligated to be polite to the customers, he has a honest face and isn’t over-friendly with the farewells. The restaurant is in a pretty low-market part of town and only half an hour earlier we watched as one departing guest offered an entire table of 12 out for a fight. Although the man who works there only smiled and said goodbye as we left, I think he appreciated our good manners when we thanked him. I might be on a different planet here as it’s an everyday thing, but I liked his genuine smile and his sincerity.

So anyway, the point of all of this flowery word arranging is that, at LugRadio Live, it never fails to amaze me how many people travel from all over the UK to be there and to be part of it all. The atmosphere was great this year and so while it sounded cheesy even to me when I said during the closing segment that we wanted to thank you all for being there, that you’re the reason we hold the event and why we decided at the Friday night party that this couldn’t be the last year, I genuinely meant it. You’re an amazing bunch of people, all of you and I’m glad to know you.

To conclude this misguided, scrambled stream of things everybody else takes for granted anyway; in the most eloquent of way possible:

Be excellent to each other.

I’ll see you next year for LugRadio Live UK 2009.

Own a LugRadio T-Shirt

In the last season of LugRadio, we produced a limited edition of 50 LugRadio ‘Don’t Listen Alone’ t-shirts which we gave out as a prize to the person who sent us the coolest email in each show.

As we announced the end of the show a few weeks ago, we were left with some of the t-shirts and we gave away a few as prizes at LugRadio Live UK 2008 and a few to people who had gone beyond the call of duty to help with LugRadio.

Being the legend that he is and us being not quite on the ball as we so often were, Roger ‘Oojah’ Light received more than one and you can’t turn a prize down in public, so Oojah has opted to sell the spare shirt on Ebay and give the proceeds to the Open Rights Group, which is mighty nice of him. Sadly I’ve been away since Oojah let us know about it, so there are now only 2 days left to bid, but do so all the same.

So, if you want to own a limited edition LugRadio t-shirt, then you can go make a bid here and support your digital rights in the process. It’s win-win.

LugRadio Live UK 2008 LAN Gaming Rig

Wooo, look at this. Bytemark have finished setting up the LAN gaming rig for LugRadio Live UK 2008. They are running twice daily fragging competitions with the winning teams getting prizes.

Come shoot other geeks in a team related frag-fest at LugRadio Live 2008. I will be joining you. Don’t forget that if you’ve never been to LugRadio Live before but you always meant to, then this is you last chance as there won’t be another one.

Many thanks to Matt Bloch of Bytemark Hosting.

LugRadio Live UK 2008 Schedule Announced

In typical fashion I am clinging to others’ coat tails by not ever being first to announce something to do with LugRadio, however I am proud to announce that the LugRadio Live UK 2008 schedule has been published.

The event planning is almost complete, which is fortunate given that it’s about 11 days away. Certainly the speakers list is complete as is the exhibitor list, pending any late additions.

Go take a look at the schedule now.

Obviously I’m lacking in the boombasticity of others when it comes to announcing things, sadly today I’m a little deflated as my car was broken into, but one thing we haven’t mentioned a great deal so far is that we will be having LAN gaming tournaments at this years event, with a serious gaming rig supplied by Bytemark Hosting, one of our event sponsors. So, thanks to Matt Bloch of Bytemark, for sponsoring the event and also for putting the rig together. Not only will there be around 12 PCs clustered around the central gaming rig for attendees to walk up and frag each other on, but you will also be able to just rock up, plug in your laptop and join in at any time you choose.

There is no need to buy a ticket up front this year, the whole event is pay on the door, so show up with your 5 GBP and your laptop for some serious fragging, geeking, speaking, listening and drinking on the 19th and 20th July 2008 at the Light House Media Centre in Wolverhampton.

This show, as announced elsewhere, will be the last ever LugRadio episode and will include a pre-event pub meet-up on Friday 18th at around 8pm in the Hog’s Head pub in Wolverhampton city centre and a party at the LRL venue itself on the Saturday night. It’s the last ever LugRadio Live, so bring your drinking boots and your sense of humour. Sadly I don’t drink any more, so I’ll probably either be anxiously looking like I wished I still drank or will be so drunk I can only open one eye AGAIN. But come say hello in either case πŸ™‚

See you there.

The End of LugRadio

Well I guess the cat has been out of the bag for over a week now but due to being to busy type that I am, I haven’t yet mentioned the fact that LugRadio will end after LugRadio Live UK 2008. It’s was a sad day when we took that decision but was one which we all agreed was the right choice. I always considered when I joined the show that at some point it would have to end and that I hoped it wouldn’t be on my watch, but unfortunately it is.

There were various factors which led us to this decision. Amongst them were the fact that it was getting pretty hard to sustain the show when we were all tied to being in Wolverhampton every 2 weeks and I personally found it hard to find the prep time in the days leading up to the recording. It was always a rush for me to get from work, then to the studio, record the show, get home late afterwards, then get up early for work the next day. I found myself struggling to get myself together for a day or so afterwards and I had been wondering how I was going to sustain that through another season or three. I had also been struggling to find the time to do anything other than my day job, LugRadio and real life, frequently one of those 3 suffered at any one time. I don’t know how Aq and Jono had managed to keep it up over the last 4 years.

Also in there was the fact that all of our jobs and private lives were becoming more demanding of our time and I think we all started to feel that we weren’t able to give LugRadio the amount of time it required to keep it fresh so we decided to call it a day at the end of the season rather than start another season and finish half way through, or string it out for another two or three seasons and have people notice the quality drop. I think a few people noticed that this last season contained more episodes released late than any other. I think one reference that has been made elsewhere was about Red Dwarf and how they should have quit after season V, because VI, VII and VIII were awful and the memory of an excellent show was tainted by the recollection of a decline in quality after they should have called it a day.

To quell some of the rumours, I will re-state what has been said elsewhere:

  • It is sadly not a hoax
  • We have not fallen out and in fact remain good friends
  • My business plans are not the reason for the show ending, in whole or in part. Frankly, as the show existed before I joined, I think it could probably survive my departure πŸ˜‰
  • Jono’s Severed Fifth project is not part of the reason for the show ending

Jono’s announcement is here and Aq’s is here. Theirs are both better written than mine.

Although I don’t personally pay for any of the hosting services used by LugRadio, I believe the website, forums, audio archive, IRC channel and so on will all remain up and running and I think a great deal of the forums and #lugradio IRC community are planning on staying around, as will I. While I don’t believe that I am the great draw that pehaps Aq and Jono might be, I plan on hanging around. As many have said, LugRadio was their LUG and my LUG, especially those who don’t have a local Linux User Group and so I hope to stay in touch with as many people as possible. The Linux community, in the UK, the USA, Australia and Serbia to name but a few I have been in contact with personally and through LugRadio and many other places around the world have some of the most friendly, intelligent and funny individuals I’ve come across in any field of endeavour. So, in the least condescending way I can muster, pat yourselves on the back, you’ve made every second worth it for all of us.

So that’s it really, bar the sweeping out of the room, which won’t actually ever happen in Jono’s house. All that remains is one further studio show, due out on 14th July 2008 and then on to LugRadio Live UK 2008 as the last ever show.

LugRadio Live is Gonna Rock

UPDATE: Go and Digg this story!

So, we’re starting to beat the drums about LugRadio Live UK 2008 and I thought I would do my bit by telling you all about the event banner images for your website:

There are others images which may suit your tastes better, there are one specifically for exhibitors, crew, speaker and kind of one for O’Reilly πŸ™‚ You can get them from Jono’s blog here, so go get one if you’re attending and if you’re not going to be there, then you can still do your bit to spread the word by putting one on your site to let everyone know.

You can also make you’re own banner image or name badge here thanks to Oojah.

The speaker list is about to be confirmed and the exhibition is filling up fast, though if you want to take part in the exhibition there are still some spaces left so send us an email to show at lugradio dot org. Putting the word exhibitor or exhibition in the subject lines makes it easier to pick out of the thousands of emails that pour in. We’re also still looking for prizes and cool things we can put in our attendees’ goody bags so let is know if you can send us something.

I’m started to get excited about the event and we’re working on some quite cool things, like a large LAN gaming rig and a collaborative art project along with the talks, the exhibition, the BOFs, the nutsacks, the prizes, the rock music, the people in thongs, the Mass Debate and all of the other cool stuff you won’t find at any other conference.

I’m sure most people get it by now, but LugRadio Live really is a ‘rock conference’, where having a great time and meeting people are the highest priorities. It’s also a great place to tell people about your project, find intelligent people to work on your code and let people play with what you’re working on.

If you want to take part, then email us on the address above, or otherwise just get yourself to the event and take it all in, the enthusiastic atmosphere is incredible. If you’re not coming, maybe you should think about what you’re going to miss out on and re-evaluate your decision because we’re going to miss you πŸ™‚

LugRadio Live UK 2008 – Call For Exhibitors Open

The build up to LRL UK 2008 has been a bit quiet so far, partly due to feeling burnt out after the US event and partly due to Jono’s insane travel schedule since LRL USA but now we’re cooking on full heat and the build up starts here.

This means that the call for exhibitors is open and I’m looking for people to represent their projects and organisations. If you are part of a cool project, you just have something cool that you’re working on and you’d like to get the word out there or if you’re part of one of the staples of the Linux, Free Software and Open Source world like Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Novell/OpenSUSE, Gnome, KDE, OpenOffice.org and so on, then the LugRadio Live UK 2008 exhibition is just what you need.

There is no fee to exhibit and corporate exhibitors are welcome provided they are relevant to Linux, Free Software, Open Source, digital rights, hardware hacking and so on. We’d like you to bring something cool to show off, which will dazzle and amaze our attendees, but frankly if you’re interesting that’s enough πŸ™‚

We’re always on the look out for prizes we can give away or stuff you can give us in quantities of 500 or so which we can put in our attendees’ goody bags – the LugRadio Nutsacks.

Of course the call for papers is also open so you should get in touch if you’d like to speak at the event. You could even be the thong wearer in host of this year’s Gong-a-Thong-Lightbulb-Talk-Extravaganza, following in the sweaty underclackers of myself and the fantastic Aaron Bockover of Banshee fame. Of course you may choose your own thong.

If you’d like to exhibit, even if you don’t think you probably ought to, drop us an email at show at lugradio dot org and tell us what you’d like to exhibit. For me personally, it would help if you could put the word ‘exhibitor’ or ‘exhibition’ in the subject line as the show address gets a lot of mail πŸ™‚

See you there you crazy monkeys.

Influences

I was driving around today, listening to the NME Classics 3 CD compilation I bought a few weeks back when I switched to the 3rd CD (covering the end of the 80s and the 90s era) and I jumped straight into The Stone Roses’ She Bangs the Drums when suddenly I was 18 again, buzzing from the blissful joy of the music and hammering away at my snare drum of a steering wheel. This was followed by The Happy Mondays’ Step On and I was back in my favourite nightclub, smashed out of my brains, surrounded by my friends in the middle of the stage at the front of the club, dancing my nuts off, co-ordinating the party (at least in my ruined brain) from the vantage point of the nightclub equivalent of the royal box, centre stage. Every weekend was like this back then.

This set me off on a train of thought about how different I am these days compared to back then, as I was a musician without bills, traditional full time employment or responsibilities and I started to think about the songs which document periods of my life or helped make me who I am.

Most people who know me well enough understand that I dislike most music and I’m hard to please but I also get completely and utterly absorbed and taken away by music which hits the spot and means something to me, so much so that it makes me emotional and sends shivers down my spine.

So, here is my list of 10 songs which mean a lot to me, which affected my way of thinking or which document periods of my life on this blessed, turbulent Earth.

  • The Clash – Complete Control

The Clash have been my favourite band since I was about 14. Complete Control is my favourite song, along with (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais, Cheat, The Prisoner, Safe European Home, Cheapskates, Somebody Got Murdered and Train In Vain. I could go on. I love the crunchy, slightly honky Les Paul and Telecaster guitar sounds against each other, which is exactly the reason why I own one of each, the fantastic guitar solo after getting only one verse in, then the extended play out and the lyrics about the external pressures of record company, management and Police interference pulling them in directions they didn’t want to go while trying to remain loyal to their ideals – “This is Joe Public speaking, I’m controlled in the body, controlled in the mind”. This song charges me up every time. It was produced by legendary reggae fruit-loop Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry after he heard their version of his track Police and Thieves. Everybody who’s heard of The Clash knows London Calling, Should I Stay or Should I Go and Rock the Casbah. London Calling is probably the band’s defining musical statement, but The Clash for me are about Complete Control, (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais and Safe European Home. In ways too numerable to explain, The Clash changed the way I think about the world and my place in it.

  • The Stone Roses – She Bangs the Drums

The Stone Roses were an obsession for myself and all of my friends from when we were around 17 through to around 20 or 21. We drove off everywhere in our first cars, getting wasted without alcohol where ever we were and just having a great time, never causing anybody a problem and being respectful as we went. She Bangs the Drums was almost a theme tune, like I said above, it lent itself ideally to banging as hard as you could on the old, hollow, rattly plastic shell of the steering wheel’s central cover on your first car. The sound of the Stone Roses first album and B-side compilations followed us everywhere and Elephant Stone, This is the One and I am the Resurrection were staples of the journeys and camp fires we had all over the area we lived. The Stone Roses were followed by Oasis in their policy of releasing EPs which contained tracks which were arguably as good as the lead tracks and often better than album tracks. There was no storing up of the best songs for albums and putting fillers on the singles. The songs were released as they came. In many ways, The Stone Roses were the Oasis of the preceding teenage generation. My own band covered Elephant Stone as part of our set and I remember our band manager telling us that we had to lose the Stone Roses obsession if we were ever to move on musically. Myself and 2 friends slept outside the Wolverhampton Civic Hall ticket office, as fans of many more sedate artists, such as Cliff Richard often did, to get the first tickets to see The Stone Roses when they finally toured their first album in 5 years. Wolverhampton always held The Stone Roses in high regard after the were in court here for trashing their former record company’s offices for re-releasing a single without their permission. She Bangs the Drums is just blissful, sheer joy and as complete an expression of being 18 or 19 with the whole summer ahead of you for you and your friends to go off, explore and celebrate your freedom as you are likely to find. The tag line of my blog, “Occasional bursts of brilliance shot through with a cloying sense of under-achievement” is an amalgamation of how I used to describe myself and my friends’ during this period and a description of the Stone Roses first single, as written inside the sleeve of The Complete Stone Roses compilation album. The Stone Roses disappeared for 5 years after their first album due to legal issues with their recording contract. While many fans disliked their delayed second album, The Second Coming, I saw it as somewhat variable in quality in places, but accepted that theoretically there should have been at least 2 albums in between documenting their musical progression. Consequently, the albums sound like 2 completely different bands, but I still get the feeling when I hear the first few notes of Love Spreads.

  • The Sundays – Can’t Be Sure

A friend of mine took a punt and bought a cassette single of a song called Goodbye by The Sundays. He’d never heard of them but the look of the cover and the sound of the band name made them intriguing enough to take a shot. We both loved it, bought the albums and would sit there in silence listening to the intricate, melodic guitar layers and inspirational soaring female vocals. We would be transfixed. I always described listening to The Sundays as being like lying naked with the love of your life in your arms on a thick woolly rug in front of a roaring log fire on a cold November night: warming, comforting and reassuring. The Sundays seemed to release an album every 5 years, leading with one single from it and have only released 3 albums in total, starting in 1989. We had the first 2 for around 5 years before they returned with the third album. I remember the buzz of excitement when I discovered a new Sundays track on a music industry compilation of pre-release singles which was delivered to our record company, I played it down the phone to everybody I knew who would care and waited desperately for the album to come out. Sadly the Sundays have since disappeared again as they always did following an album. Lead singer Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin have been raising the children they have together and haven’t released a new album in 11 years which means we’re 6 years overdue with no sign of new recordings. As they only ever released one single per album, disappeared in between and were generally pretty shy, most people won’t have heard of The Sundays or at least won’t have heard their best songs, but you might know them better than you realise even if you didn’t know it. The song ‘Here’s Where the Story Ends’ released by Tin Tin Out ft. Shelley Nelson was a cover of the Sundays track and I don’t know anybody that heard the original by the Sundays and didn’t think it was infinitely better, like a book when compared to it’s film version. Ultimately the albums are the best testament but Can’t Be Sure as a single is one of my favourites. Here’s Where the Story Ends is probably more friendly and immediate, but Can’t Be Sure is beautiful, understated, doe-eyed, emotive and has a fantastic ending. The Sundays are often described as dream pop, that doesn’t say it all to me, but it’s hard to think of anything better. They are led by a fantastic, clear, emotional female vocal that makes you fall in love, with undistorted, chorused, arpeggiated, ringing, orchestral sounding guitars, melodic bass and thoughtful drums. They’re not for everyone and many have described them as boring but they are a must for people who love melodic British guitar music.

  • The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

I came across The Who through a video cassette of a Who compilation called Who’s Better Who’s Best owned by my friend’s dad when I was 16 or 17. I was blown away by Won’t Get Fooled Again played live at Shepperton Studios, the studio demo version of Who Are You and See Me, Feel Me and Pinball Wizard recorded at Woodstock. What struck me immediately was the awesome power and volume of the performances, the unrepeatable musicianship, the stage performances of Pete Townsend and rock lunatic Keith Moon and the physical presence they all had. I was blown away, suddenly every guitar god wannabe poser made sense, Hendrix and The Who were the real deal stage performance-wise and everybody else was pretending or copying. Listening to The Who took my own band from youthful, inadequate Sundays clones to heading somewhere different to every other band we knew. Suddenly we were loud and powerful as well as melodic. Suddenly, I played bass like John Entwistle and leapt around like Pete Townsend. My bass riffs quadrupled in complexity and my stage performance took on the same increase energy levels. The amount of guitar windmills suddenly increased too πŸ™‚ Won’t Get Fooled Again is a powerful 8 minute epic, but my other favourite Who track, besides those listed already has to be Baba O’Reilly. If you don’t know it already, you’ll recognise it straight away when you hear the intro. Unforgettable rock classics, both of them. The power chord is dead, long live the power chord.

  • Stiff Little Fingers – Tin Soldiers

In the first year I discovered The Clash, I discovered that my form tutor at school was also a Clash fan and he lent me a couple of albums which he thought I might also like. One of them was a cassette tape featuring Stiff Little Fingers and Siouxsie and the Banshees. I’d not heard of Stiff Little Fingers at the time, apart from seeing their name in one or two articles on the punk era and while Siouxsie and the Banshees did nothing for me, I liked SLF instantly and pretty much wore the tape out before I got chance to buy a compilation album as my local music stores didn’t have any of their studio albums. I distinctly remember walking to and from a school hockey tournament in the pouring rain playing it non-stop when I was 15 or 16. Despite only playing hockey for around 2 months, playing left wing while right-handed for the school B team, I scored 3 times in 2 games and we got knocked out by a point. I remember walking a lot of places in the pouring rain listening to SLF. Years later I bought the SLF albums Inflammable Material and Nobody’s Heroes and realised the tape my teacher had lent me was an abbreviated version of Nobody’s Heroes. Tin Soldiers is the track given here as we did a class at school where the objective was to create a piece of artwork which represented a song. I had always been awful at art, I had absolutely no artistic ability when it came to drawing or painting and I had this fantastic vision of how to depict the song Tin Soldiers, which is about the anonymity of the teenage army recruit in Northern Ireland. Beneath a banner which gave the name and artist of the song in army stencilled lettering, I traced an image taken from a wartime photograph of my maternal grandfather in his army uniform and helmet with his rifle over his shoulder. I did 2 traces side by side and one I drew as a soldier with a question mark in place of facial features and the other I drew in punk clothing with spiky hair and the same question mark instead of facial feaures. Below this I drew a wall, covered with the sectarian murals of the Protestant and Catholic sides of Northern Irish society, with the song lyrics written over the top. It was the only piece of artwork I did at school which was of any consequence at all and it ended up on the walls until I left school. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take it with me when I left. The stand out SLF album for me is Nobody’s Heroes and the stand out tracks, are Gotta Gettaway, Fly the Flag, At the Edge, Nobody’s Hero and Tin Soldiers along with early tracks Suspect Device and Alternative Ulster. If you want to know why commercial American punk such as Green Day or Good Charlotte sounds like it does, start here.

  • The Real People – Dream On, All I Know

Ok this is 2 tracks, but they are both of note, one is my favourite track from the album and the other is the most poignant for me. The Real People are probably unknown to a lot of people. Coming from Liverpool, they were signed to a major label during the Stone Roses era and had a hit with a track called Window Pane, but disappeared shortly afterwards and began to self-fund their career. They came to my attention when they signed to my own band’s record label to release their album What’s On the Outside. What makes them stick in my mind is that, of course I got a free copy of the album and we listened to it on tour a lot and we played a gig in York one summer Sunday evening in 1996 I think, they had it the album on the jukebox as they had played there themselves a few weeks earlier and were local favourites. We as usual were hanging around all day while we waited to sound check and so on and spent most of the day piling loads of money into the jukebox while playing pool and pinball, listening to the Real People. The album was played a lot on that tour and we used to have this saying, taken from a book of Clash photos, that getting out of a tour bus at a service station, radio station or at the evening’s gig venue after hours on the road was as close to feeling like an alien as you could get and the song All I Know often echoed that feeling of arriving somewhere feeling like an alien and then leaving a few hours later with nobody remembering your name. It was such an empty desolate feeling at times when you’re sitting in the front seat of a transit van parked up in the middle of the afternoon, wrapped in a duvet, somewhere 50 miles from Middlesbrough – or anywhere a million miles from home, looking at a map, trying to work out where you should head on the way to some gig. It was an empty feeling and the lyrics to the song seemed to sum this up for me. My favourite song from the album is Dream On and is a little more up beat, in fact so is much of the album. The album just reminds me of the sour side of touring, even though I loved the album, I liked touring and we knew we were building towards something bigger. The front pair from the Real People, brothers Chris and Tony Griffiths later produced a single for us though it didn’t work out, but while we were there, they did an impromptu acoustic duo thing for us and they a fantastic ear for each other’s vocal intonations and some really great songs. They often told us how they had been friends with Oasis and produced the Oasis debut single Supersonic, but were removed from the credits after they fell out with them for accusing Oasis of stealing their rich dual guitar sound. If you like Oasis and the Stone Roses era guitar indie bands then you’re sure to like What’s On the Outside by The Real People.

  • Bob Marley – No Woman No Cry

Growing up where I did, I heard a lot of reggae as a kid and some of it soaked in. A lot of it was what I’d consider cheap 80s reggae from the local pirate radio station, but some of it was what I, being a skinny white kid, would consider classic traditional reggae, real drums not cheap drum machines. Bob Marley was the main artist I recall as I never knew the names of most of the songs or artists I heard, but there was a lot of stuff ringing out of Jamaican families windows. In many ways I learned to appreciate reggae through The Clash who had their own reggae obsession through bassist Paul Simonon and their friendship Rastafarian DJ and film maker Don Letts. Many of the Clash’s inspirations, particularly their artwork were derived from reggae artists and their cover version of Police and Thieves led to Complete Control being produced Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. I admit that I’m a fairweather reggae fan, I’m not deeply into it enough to sound convincing, mainly because I wouldn’t know where to start with record buying, but I have a real thing for Bob Marley. It’s so relaxed, easy to enjoy and in many ways similar to The Clash with regard to being accessible protest music; No Woman No Cry has to be the classic reggae song above all others, at least for a skinny white kid.

  • Oasis – Cum On Feel the Noize

I first heard Oasis in the same nightclub I referred to above. At that stage they had just released debut single Supersonic. At this point, they were just a cool indie band, certainly there was no hint of the massive domination that was to come and I was only loosely aware of who they were. Live Forever and Cigarettes and Alcohol are now classics and it was the former which really made me pay attention. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a Sex Pistols song that I’d not heard before, such was the squalling ‘wall of sound’ guitars and snarling vocals. Once again, play it loud enough and I’m back in the nightclub, one arm round my mates, cigarette in hand, beer hand in the air, singing to the skies and feeling like I’m taking over the world. A year or so later and Oasis covered appallingly coiffured Wolverhampton legends Slade’s Cum On Feel the Noize. While I’ve never been one for powdered chemicals, the track is soaked in cocaine induced arrogance and decadent self-belief and the song itself is a fantastic statement of one’s self-belief in the face of your own most obvious failings and this along with the shattering guitar and vocal delivery, sets me on fire every time. I never liked admitting that I was an Oasis fan, it seemed so herd-following, but this is the song I’d like played at my funeral, it says so much about how I remember myself, emphasising my best and worst points.

  • RIP Groove – Double 99 (ft Top Cat)

Sadly by my early 20s, my beloved nightclub where I had spent hundreds of lost evenings ruling the world from centre stage had closed and the new places in town for myself and my similarly dispossessed friends were a little more diverse in it’s musical menu, in one case, a small hip-hop and funk club. By this time I was working in a city centre pub run by my sister and brother-in-law. It wasn’t the coolest or the nicest bar in town but we had a fantastic atmosphere and most of the staff and customers were good friends. It wasn’t a pub on my side the musical train tracks, so I became more exposed to dance music and also Fatboy Slim started to appear in the indie/alternative clubs. This didn’t go down too well with some of my musical purist friends but some of the tracks completely hooked me like Fatboy Slim’s The Rockerfella Skank, Ooh La La by The Wiseguys which we’d been hearing for maybe a year before it went mainstream and RIP Groove by Double 99 ft Top Cat. RIP Groove is wicked and reminds me of busting my ass behind the bar every Friday and Saturday night and loving every minute of it, spending every night after work getting wrecked and copping off all the time.

  • The Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen

The first time I heard The Sex Pistols was when I was 14 and knowing I liked The Clash, a friend of mine lent me a video he had recorded from the TV of some film or other, but which had been left recording and had the first three quarters of a Channel 4 programme of punk music, including The Clash, introduced by Tony Wilson of Factory Records fame. It opened with a live performance of Anarchy in the UK and then followed with The Buzzcocks, The Jam doing In the City, The Clash and so on. This performance alone was enough to make me realise the listening to punk music without including The Sex Pistols was a mistake not to ignore for long. For the those not into punk, many say, though The Pistols deny it, that it started with people like Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones and The New York Dolls in New York but took off in the UK independently with The Sex Pistols. Joe Strummer realised his own band were history when he heard The Sex Pistols, that the new thing was here. Mick Jones and Paul Simonon had been trying to put a band together for a while when they came across Joe Strummer and invited to him to join their band, he agreed and they went on to become The Clash, doing punk their own way. Other punk bands came and went but The Sex Pistols were about anarchy, antagonism, individualism and throwing the old ways of thinking over your shoulder. They had the biggest, most immediate impact and changed music permanently. The Clash were more considered, more political and were constructive rather then destructive. While the Pistols imploded after a single album, The Clash survived for several years before slowly collapsing and their impact was more subtle and wide ranging. Nevertheless, The Sex Pistols are as important as Chuck Berry, The Beatles or Hendrix in musical terms and the sheer force of delivery is like being hit by a bus. I saw them live in Manchester in November and I couldn’t believe how hard hitting the constant the barrage of music was. Never Mind the Bollocks is a classic album and without it we wouldn’t have had Nirvana. My favourite track is God Save the Queen, though I probably couldn’t choose between it and Pretty Vacant. I also love New York, which tells the ‘punk came from New York’ theorists where to go in no uncertain terms and also EMI, which tells EMI Records where to go in similar terms. Fucking brilliant. Johnny Rotten was once the most hated man in Britain, but recent years have shown him perhaps to have been right all along and that the Pistols were the first to say that it was shit state of affairs in the 70s and to tell the people responsible and those with their out-dated traditionalist values that perpetuated the status quo to fuck off. A lesson not to forget. It’s been a long time since somebody stood up, cut through the bullshit and pointed out what a terrible state the world is in.

While I’m sure this is a meme that swept the various Planets over a year or more ago, I’d like to hear the 10 tracks which have defined your life so far, marked out periods of your life or changed the way you think.

Videoed for Your Viewing Pleasure

I’m a little late with this as I’ve been pre-occupied with real-life and a number of side-projects, but I am proud to be second or third to announce the release of the videos of the LugRadio Live USA 2008 talks, including the recording of LugRadradio Live and Unleashed, The Mass Debate and Aaron Bockover‘s Gong-a-Thong Lightbulb Talk Extravaganza.

Never one to suffer sleep pattern disturbance well, yes I’m feeble, I was falling asleep by 4pm most days and I never really pulled myself together until the last day and so I feel bad that nobody met me at my best, but I had a great time and I hope to meet everybody again to show them my better side.

Hopefully we’ll see you in the US again next year.

Not Well but Grateful

While I feel slightly guilty for not saying anything here for quite a few weeks now, it’s not the first time this has happened and well, I’ve spent all of my time working on preparations for LRL USA for probably the last 3 months, so, y’know, not much time to spare.

Well I guess I ought to be telling everyone how great the event was, how all the hard work was worth it and so on, but sadly I started to come down with a nasty cold during the flight home and it really hit on the evening I got home, so I’ve barely done anything since getting back except sleep and lie in bed reading a book. Seriously, I slept for 19 hours when I first got home.

So, yeah, LRL USA 2008 was great fun, very exhausting with the jet lag and so on, I’ve never been the best at handling sleep related issues so I began crashing by 3pm and was humourless by 6pm most days, however it was great fun either side. I met some truly fascinating, inspiring and welcoming people. I met some nut cases too, but I genuinely didn’t meet a single person I didn’t like and that’s pretty rare anywhere, so thank you to all the people who made it, particularly the exhibitors as I had most dealings with them, I wish I could have met you when I was a little more together πŸ™‚

Anyway, back to my pit of sickness and despair πŸ™

Support the Libre Graphics Meeting

Every year, the Libre Graphics Meeting get together to discuss cool new stuff in the Free/Open Source graphics and image editing world and make plans to make them even better. One example of the outcome of this is that you can drag and drop between applications like The Gimp and Inkscape. I didn’t know this kind of thing was going on and that’s great.

This year the Libre Graphics Meeting have a shortfall in sponsorship due to the withdrawal of a major sponsor who wasn’t able to secure the funding approval. Apart from paying for the facilities, much of the sponsorship money is used to pay for the flights and accommodation of important developers from the Gimp, Inkscape, Scribus, Blender, Krita and Open Clip Art projects amongst a number of others to ensure that the right people are at the event for it to be able to meets it’s goals. Most of these developers are unpaid and work on these projects in their spare time and so can’t afford to meet the travel costs themselves or take the time off work to attend.

Sadly, due to the withdrawal of one of the main sponsors, it now doesn’t look likely to be the case that many of these developers will be able to attend as a result and so the LGM have setup an appeal for donations in a bid to secure the funding required to get the right people to the event.

As a backdrop against this, I’ve been thinking recently that for the first time I can probably afford to put a bit of money where my mouth is regarding the software I use and so I decided to donate.

Click here to lend your support to: Support the Libre Graphics Meeting and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

I think ideally, they need another big sponsor to reach the target by the end date of April 18th 2008 but if you’re a Free Software graphics software user then there is something you can do to help too.

We talk about this in LugRadio Season 5, Episode 15 which is released on Monday April 7th 2008 so don’t expect the link to the episode to work until after then.

You can also Digg the story to bring more attention to it.

Microsoft Interoperability debated in LugRadio S5E13

Been a while since I did one of these…

In Season 5 Episode 13 of LugRadio, ‘Embracing (and Extending) Change’, a hungover Jono Bacon, Stuart Langridge, Chris Proctor, Adam Sweet and International VoIP Hero/former presenter Adrian Bradshaw discuss Aq’s modified views on Mono, why Blu-Ray beat HD-DVD and whether Sony pwnz uz 4ll, muse over Microsoft’s interoperability announcements, announce the exhibitors confirmed for LugRadio Live USA 2008 and read out your emails.

You can get this alcohol soaked morning after feeling, along with the chance to the LugRadio Finger of God at http://www.lugradio.org/episodes/96.

Registration for LugRadio Live USA 2008 is now open at http://lugradio.org/live/USA2008/.

If you feel like you’ve been missing the LugRadio love since the last time I linked to an episode, you can get the last 2 from:

http://www.lugradio.org/episodes/94

http://www.lugradio.org/episodes/95

In what appears to be an oversight on my part, LugRadio Live USA 2008 is now less than a month away and we’re still looking for exhibitors so if you’d like to exhibit your project or organisation at LRL USA 2008 or even at LRL UK 2008 which takes place in July, please drop us an email to show at lugradio dot org and include the word ‘exhibit’ in the subject line to make it easy to filter out πŸ™‚