Jon Gomm

Feb. 2nd, 2012 09:07 am
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An occasional resident of the newsgroup. a thoroughly nice bloke, and an unbelievable guitarist. Fresh off BBC Breakfast this morning, Mr. Jon Gomm.

And yes, that's live.

Small plug

Dec. 20th, 2011 10:05 am
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If anyone happens to be considering subscribing to LOVEFiLM, please do feel free to make use of my staff referral link, which nets you 2 months unlimited free trial.

[Disclaimer - I do get a small reward if enough folks sign up to a paying account.]
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It's really quite stunningly simple.

I placed an order yesterday for [ profile] bardling's Xmas present to James: a set of double-ended timpani beaters/ordinary sticks. 

This morning, the phone rings: it's the company in question:
Them: sorry, we don't have the one's you ordered in. Is it a Christmas present? 
Me: actually, yes, it's for my son
Them: we have an alternative - they're a little more expensive, but as good, and we'll happily soak up the price difference
Me: that'll be absolutely fine - thank you very much!
Them: they'll be in the post today.

Now, the price difference turned out to be £1, which is absolutely peanuts really. But for the cost of a phone call and £1, Newcastle Drum Centre just earned themselves a long-term customer. In fact, two, since I just told [ profile] bardling. And probably several more, since they have ensured I'll make this post, and tell everyone I know who is or knows a drummer...

And that, my friends, is how you get your customers to be your best marketing.
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Considering buying Anne a board game for XMas.

She likes Carcassonne, Settlers of Cataan, Ticket to Ride, Puerto Rico, Thebes,... so... any suggestions, bearing in mind I'd prefer not to duplicate anything folks we see regularly have :D
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[ profile] pbristow probably already knows, but just in case:!.aspx
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I had a long chat with [ profile] were_gopher on the way back from Olney, and a number of interesting web sites that I promised I'd give her links to cropped up. For the entertainment of my friends list, I'll happily make them public.

Things I won't work with - an industrial chemist with a very very dry sense of humour reviews some of the chemicals that you would basically have to be certifiable to want to handle. Killingly funny - more so if you have any nodding acquaintance with chemistry at GCSE or beyond. Here he is discussing the absolutely mental dioxygen difluoride:
The paper goes on to react FOOF with everything else you wouldn't react it with: ammonia ("vigorous", this at 100K), water ice (explosion, natch), chlorine ("violent explosion", so he added it more slowly the second time), red phosphorus (not good), bromine fluoride, chlorine trifluoride (say what?), perchloryl fluoride (!), tetrafluorohydrazine (how on Earth. . .), and on, and on. If the paper weren't laid out in complete grammatical sentences and published in JACS, you'd swear it was the work of a violent lunatic.

The History Of Rome podcast (iTunes link) - Mike Duncan, an American history graduate with a love for Ancient Rome, has been podcasting the history of Rome in 15 minute weekly chunks, starting at Romulus and Remus and working on. He's now at episode 160, and 390 AD. This is currently keeping me sane and educated on my (much shorter) commute to work. If you can stand his American pronunciation, it's well worth a listen, as he explains things clearly and entertainingly.

The Ancient Warfare podcast (iTunes link) - offshoot of the rather excellent Ancient Warfare magazine (now available in selected WH Smiths as of today) - four historians (usually the same crew) with an hour or so going deeper on topics the magazine has covered. If ancient warfare interests you, it's fantastic.

École Secondaire Dorval-Jean XXIII (in Canada)'s percussion band performing King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man - the sound isn't the best and the video angle isn't either, but it's worth watching because it's an amazing version, the kids (especially the group of young ladies on mallets) are so getting into it, and heck, who wouldn't like a school music teacher who'd arrange THAT for band!
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...or, to use another literary quote, "Ouf. Isn't it a blessing to be home?"

Not that I grudge the day, it being Keris' funeral. [ profile] demoneyeshas already said pretty much everything that needs to be said, but I will add that the venue was beautiful, if windswept, and that Filkdom Assembled was in spectacularly fine voice, especially in the final chorus of Many Hearts One Voice. I think even the funeral director was moved. And it was amusing watching the pallbearers (who by union rules are of course restricted to looking either lugubrious or dyspeptic) trying not to break into grins during Chocolate is a Vegetable. I should also add that [ profile] bardling deserves tremendous credit for keeping everyone organised.

Suffice it to say that [ profile] were_gopher and I made it back to Peterborough in time for her to catch the 18.50 back to Leeds, and Anne arrived home not long after me with Chinese, so all was well.

Since a couple of people asked: my cheat sheet (more a full script, to be honest) for Keris' eulogy is here, and the PDF of the Bucks Herald's article (the earlier version of the same thing, including a lovely photo properly credited to [ profile] kitespirit) is here.

I think he would have been tickled by the fact that the app I was using on my iPad as autocue was OnSong, which allows you to scroll lyrics past at an appropriate speed, the idea being that it'd slow down my tendency to talk too fast. As a result, I can reveal that the recommended tempo for Keris' eulogy is 96 bpm. :)
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A lady I'm honoured to say I've met, and spoken with enough to be remembered from one meeting to the next. One of the authors responsible for getting me into SF/Fantasy, I have a number of autographed hardbacks of hers, and a bunch of paperbacks.

My two Anne stories:

- I accompanied her at an Eastercon Filk Concert (Helicon, on Jersey). The 'Carmen Miranda's Ghost' anthology had just come out, and she wanted to sing the title song, so word was put out that she'd like an accompanist. Being the person with the reputation for being able to play pretty much anything, or figure it out, I got buttonholed. There were several problems with this.
1) I'd never played the song
2) No-one, including Anne, Sign of the Dragon, or anyone else had a recording.
3) No-one had a chord chart
4) Anne had tinnitus - pitching of the start of songs was hard for her - once she got going she was fine, and had a super voice.
So we spent an hour up in her room agreeing on a key (it's Fish, you can't go wrong with Am) and me working out a set of chords from her singing and my memory of the song, with really clear voice leading on the chords, and a nice obvious intro that tracked the melody.
Despite all that, it went fine, although it bugs me to this day that I got a chord wrong - there was an Ebdim that I really really* should have realised was an F7.

- Many years later, Phoenix were the Saturday night entertainment at a B5 con, "The Wrap Party", guests including JMS and Harlan (of whom the least said the better, so let's not spoil this memory). Anne turned up largely unannounced, purely to socialise with a few of the fen she knew, as far as I could gather. She was wearing a badge with a pseuodynm on it, was very definitely 'not working' that day, and we got chatting in the convention lounge. A woman came up and (nearly) gushed, "You look just like Anne McCaffrey." Anne glanced very briefly at me, with a wicked glint in those eyes of hers, and just smiled, a touch regretfully. "Mmm. I get told that a lot." Looking back, I'm touched and honoured that my company wasn't considered in the same light.

I just put a note of her death in the topic on #filkhaven. [ profile] keristor is in good company (actually, she is, too).
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The itch wouldn't go away, so in the end I bit the bullet and emailed the editor.

Just had an email back that said:
Thank you very much for this extremely well written tribute.

Do you please have a picture of Christopher that we could use to accompany the article?

I've sorted out the latter request (thanks to Kirstin T), but here's what I wrote:
Snipped for those who aren't up to reading it just yet. )
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It's how the Bucks local papers referred to [ profile] keristor.

And I think that, in the end, is the thing that really gets me. That someone with his skills, his talent, his generosity, can be reduced by an accident to those two words. There's a part of me wants to find the person who wrote that, show them everything that's been written about him here and elsewhere, and say "Look. I know it's not your fault that at the time you wrote the piece that's all you could say. But I'd like you to know what the man you wrote about was really like."

I may yet.

[Edit: Yes, I know this isn't the reporter's fault.]


Nov. 12th, 2011 08:30 pm
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Having spent a day art the London Perl Workshop, I'm probably one of the last to catch up on the sad news about [ profile] keristor.

Kind of glad we have a house full of filkers at present, with [ profile] demoneyes and [ profile] oreouk here for a rehearsal tomorrow, but...

Rest in piece, my friend. We'll miss all the things you did, from sound through bass and guitar playing to just being a larger than life member of our extended family.

For those who feel a need to talk to and just generally be with fellow filkers, can I remind people that Filkhaven IRC is always open - you can find us on, channel #filkhaven, or simply by going to if you don't have an IRC client.

*hugs* to all my chosen filk family.
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So, for those who missed the memo - I left the BBC on the 7th of October, clutching the remaining contents of my desk (a small stack of Perl books, a caddy of Yorkshire Tea and an Apple keyboards) and an evidently hastily bought leaving card (judging by the suspicious correspondence of 'people not in on Friday afternoon' and 'people who didn't sign the card', and the lack of a leaving present... ah well.)

Monday I started at LOVEFiLM in Acton (two stops FURTHER away from home) for two weeks of getting my head round the inner workings of the despatch system for their warehouse, so I can go and be the on-point man in the warehouse (and help develop and maintain it some more). Acton's great - nice office, ruled over by Georgie who appears to be receptionist, office manager and everything else; also ex-colleagues from both Yahoo! and the BBC. All of whom seemed genuinely pleased to have me on the team.

It's also quite surprising how many people in the first week said 'I've been to one of your talks at the London Perl Workshop' :D

So - one more week... (which I can expense, travel-wise, as Acton is not my primary place of employment) and then I'll be commuting 20 mins across Peterborough.

I probably ought to earn enough Polish to say good morning, though :D
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It's rare I'm moved by the passing of someone famous that I didn't know, but I did find myself somewhat less than dry-eyed this morning when I caught up with the news on my iPhone.

We (Anne and I) have been Apple users for a quarter of a century, going through a Mac Plus (borrowed, then bought from work), a Quadra 610, a Starmax 6100 clone, a PowerMac 5400 (the all-in-one black one with a built in TV card), a PowerMac G4 (in fact, several G4s), a PowerBook G3, an iBook, several MacBook Pros, a MacBook Air (Anne's, and I'm jealous), two iPods, a couple of iPhones and an iPad... Most of these are the progeny of one man with a vision and the determination to see it through, and most of them deserve that oft-used phrase 'insanely great'.

On top of that, he was a remarkable showman and salesman - I learned so much about presentation technique and economy of use of slides from watching his Apple keynotes, and I still got a grin from the glee with which he'd say "...and one more thing...".

I think Barack Obama may have one of the best comments on this passing "...there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented."

RIP, Steve, and thank you.


Sep. 9th, 2011 05:59 pm
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So. Finally it can be told. Leaving the BBC iPlayer team for LOVEFiLM in Peterborough as of mid-Oct. Bye bye 1h45 commute, hello 20min drive.
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<bad Russian accent>
Your attention drawn to - 25% off eBooks of Peter Morwood, namely "Prince Ivan", "Firebird" and "The Golden Horde".

To be readink, please.
</bad Russian accent>

Heck with it. Buy. Read. They're fab.
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I'm going to be at a conference in San Francisco from the 15th to the 17th of August... (just me)

I'll be flying in on the 13th (a Saturday) to SFO around 4pm, and back out *probably* on Friday 19th, time yet to be specified, to meet Anne and James in Orlando. I'm staying in the conference hotel on the 15th/16th...

A bit of a cheeky request, I know, but as funds are a wee bit tight, is there anyone in Bay Area filk fandom who'd be willing to put me up for some or all of the rest of the time? (13th, 14th, 17th, 18th?)

Also? It seems to me that this a good chance to cross the As off my list of baseball parks :D (the Giants, rather inconsiderately, are on a road trip through FL, GA and TX all that week :( ) - does anyone fancy a visit to any of Rangers at As (afternoon, Sunday 14th) or Blue Jays at As (evening 18th)?

Thanks in advance (and of course, given the Giants inconsiderate scheduling, this does mean I'll be back sometime :D )
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Any of my friend list working in London in a position to help [ profile] legoline out re the Harry Potter premier? If so, see her latest LJ.

Many thanks in advance..


Jun. 1st, 2011 10:08 pm
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Home from a road trip to DFDF with [ profile] bardling   and [ profile] keristor , for the former's GoH appearance.

Managed to pack four guitars, a Stagg upright bass, a synth, two amps, a djembe, a stands bag and three people's luggage into the Roomster, and probably still had space for the same again (useful when it came to bringing back a mountain of Ritter-Sport for Anne, of course...). We did the Harwich/Hoek of Holland overnight ferry on the Thursday night, and made it to the con hotel by mid-Friday afternoon....

Highspots? Loads.
- Meeting all the German filkers, new and old - it's been TOO LONG!
- Doing [ profile] jecklar 's "He's Dead Jim" with [ profile] gnulfy - one quick run through,, and we hammed it up something fab :D
- Jamming with [ profile] tarkrai[ profile] bardling   and [ profile] keristor  on a whole pile of classic rock on Sunday lunchtime, under the guise of showing the former the wonders of Amplitube on the iPad
[ profile] bardling's two sets - we had a ball, and made [ profile] legoline squee LOTS :D
- My own set... which included appearances from [ profile] demoneyes[ profile] tarkrai, and [ profile] bardling ....

Set list was:
  • Desolation 
  • Widowmaker (off "The Oak, The Rowan And The Wild Rose") - for my German friends, the books it's based on are Der Schwarze Reiter and Der Schwarze Dämon by [ profile] petermorwood - highly recommended
  • [ profile] pdcawley's Child Of The Library, because it needed to be heard
  • Cry Of The Wolf (off my "Shattered Dreams" CD)
  • Shadowcat (from ORWR, with [ profile] demoneyes )
  • Halfway There (actually on Phoenix's "Dancing Flames" album)
  • The Miller's Tale
  • Jack
  • Locomotive Queen (Moonwolf's mashup of "Queen of Argyll" to the riff of Tull's "Locomotive Breath", with help and vocals from [ profile] tarkrai)
  • Lisa Lân 
  • Hiring Fair / Fields of Gold ([ profile] bardling and my mashup of the two...)
And for an encoreI had a blast! Many thanks to the concom for letting me have a set, to R and K for company on the journey, and to everyone at the con for being so damn friendly (as ever....)

I'll be back....


May. 5th, 2011 11:44 am
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 I was the first person to vote in Werrington South today, at about 0701 (by the time I'd checked in). No queue at 7am, unlike the General election.

Me? I voted for AV. It might not be perfect, but it's a step in a direction I think we need to go, and the approach the various No2AV factions have taken frankly appalls me.

Peterborough politics is amusingly fragmented, in that there's a large 'we used to be Conservative until someone pissed us off' faction that actually gained a seat or two. I'd quite like AV for that, too: voted LD as the Conservatives managed to piss me off with their election material and attitude.
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No, I didn't :D

Not for any personal political reason...

...just because I spent the day being a different kind of Royalist at the Peterborough Wargames Club (for those wondering, it's an English Civil War battle).


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