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[London] Tube question [Mar. 5th, 2017|07:01 pm]
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If you were going northbound on the Northern Line and wanted the most efficient change to the Bakerloo Line, would you do it at Waterloo, Embankment, or Charing Cross?

I asked [personal profile] bob and he wasn't sure. Looking at the Tube map, the only station where the Northern and Bakerloo lines are on the same “blob” is Charing Cross — but am I misremembering that blobness is related to ease of changing?

This post is also available on Dreamwidth, for the convenience of those who prefer to read over there. If you can see it here and can't see it there, and would like to be able to see it there, please let me know. I don't mind which version you comment on.
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Croydon Fun Weekend 2018 [Feb. 23rd, 2017|05:05 pm]

Just a quick heads-up that, after a year off in 2017, the Croydon Fun Weekend will be back in 2018, running from Friday 26 January to Sunday 28 January.

I’ll provide more details closer to the time; but in the meantime, if you’re interested in helping to organise the weekend or in running any sessions, please let me know! For an idea of the sort of things that might be included, see programmes from previous years: 2014, 2015, 2016.

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I can never have too many... [Sep. 11th, 2016|11:08 am]

ghoti posted a list of 5 things they felt they could never have too many of, for the times when someone wanted to give them a small present. I thought this was a great idea and (with permission) am hereby memeing it.

My list is:

  • postcards with thoughtful messages on
  • tiny bottles/packets/jars of interesting seasonings
  • gel pens in any colour other than blue
  • small packets of unusual types of rice
  • themed postal stamps (i.e. ones that cost the same as normal stamps but have different pictures on)

What's yours?

This post is also available on Dreamwidth, for the convenience of those who prefer to read over there. I don't mind which version you comment on.
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Computer Anonymous, London, Wed 3 June 2015 [May. 28th, 2015|09:39 am]
squirmelia and I are organising a Computer Anonymous meet up at the St George's Tavern in London on 3rd June. More details:

Computer Anonymous:

London group:

This post is also available on Dreamwidth, for the convenience of those who prefer to read over there. I don't mind which version you comment on.
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Newspaper clippings [May. 21st, 2015|12:28 pm]
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Hello! I need some advice on newspaper clippings, specifically clippings from local newspapers for local history purposes.

At the moment, I'm physically clipping articles out of the newspaper and glueing them to sheets of A4 paper, then labelling them with name/date/page of newspaper and subject of article (usually a specific local business [someone else is doing this for specific local people]). This is a giant faff.

What I would like to do is take photos of the articles, label them in the filename (perhaps with keywords too), and back them up in multiple places. However I wonder if copyright law would stop me sharing these photos with others in the future. Or if there's any other disadvantage of doing it this way.

I would like to preserve these clippings (physical or digital) for the long term; they might eventually go to Croydon local studies, or to the CNHSS. (I'm aware of newspaper digitisation projects, e.g. the excellent British Newspaper Archive, but I do think it's worth preserving things in more than one way and with more than one focus.)

Any advice?

This post is also available on Dreamwidth, for the convenience of those who prefer to read over there. I don't mind which version you comment on.
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[London] Croydon On Canvas launch, Saturday 9 August 11am–1pm [Jul. 13th, 2014|05:17 pm]
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Croydon artist Bev Jones is holding her first solo exhibition next month. She specialises in street scenes painted in bright acrylics, including people, shops, and trams.

Travelling by Bev Jones
Travelling, by Bev Jones, reproduced by permission. This shows the southern end of London Road, including the no-longer-present Ship of Fools. I have put down a deposit and by the end of the year this painting will be living in my house!

The launch is on Saturday 9 August, 11am–1pm, at Matthews Yard, off Surrey Street, Croydon, CR0 1FF, and I will be there because I'm buying one of her paintings and this painting will be part of the exhibition. (I am very excited about this purchase!) Would you like to come along too?

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Plastic-Free July [Jul. 3rd, 2014|06:55 pm]

I think I forgot to mention this here! I'm taking the Plastic-Free July challenge, and blogging about it.

(I designed and built the blog, so am interested in hearing comments about that too! It's another Jekyll one.)

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[London] Computer Anonymous, Victoria, 6pm on Thursday 26 June [Jun. 19th, 2014|08:55 am]
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Next Thursday I will be going to the Computer Anonymous West London meetup at the Willow Walk, 25 Wilton Road, SW1V 1LW. I should be there from 6pm. Fancy coming along?

From the Computer Anonymous overview: “This might be the group for you if you want to meet socially conscious nerds to talk about interesting things. This is not an entrepreneurial meetup, nor is it networking: It is a support group, a place to meet good people and talk about good and bad things.

“Although education and outreach are both important to us, the primary goal is to create a social group for people in and around tech, from all backgrounds, where they feel comfortable and welcome.”

(If this sounds interesting but you're not in London, check the Computer Anonymous website to see if there's a group near you.)

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London Bookshop Map [Dec. 2nd, 2012|02:58 pm]
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I made a map of London bookshops. It's running on similar code to Pubology so hopefully will be just as easy to maintain. I hope you like it. If you do, please tell your friends.
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Wanted: person with an interest in Cambridge (the UK one) [Oct. 30th, 2012|03:03 pm]
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Hello! For a few years now I've been looking after the Open Guide to Cambridge — removing spam, trying to keep the info up to date, and posting newsletters on the ogcam community. However, I'm feeling a bit overloaded with projects at the moment, and hence need to cut back on some of my responsibilities. Unfortunately, this looking-after of the Cambridge guide is one that has to go.

Are you a person with an interest in Cambridge? Would you like to help maintain the guide? You don't have to actually live in the city to do what I've been doing (I actually live in London), but familiarity with the city would be helpful.

Here are the things that I've been doing. Ideally, they would all continue to happen, but even if only some of them do, that's better than nothing. These don't all need to be done by the same person.

  • Keep an eye on Recent Changes; remove any obvious spam, check new entries/edits for typos/etc, and clarify any points of confusion that may arise.
  • Read each new issue of the Cambridge CAMRA newsletter and transfer any relevant information to the Cambridge guide (remembering to give CAMRA full credit for the information, as done here).
  • Check local estate agents' listings (e.g. Januarys) every so often for pubs/restaurants/shops that have gone on the market, to see if any of our entries may have closed.
  • Monitor ogcam and deal with any matters arising there.
  • Keep track of any interesting changes on the guide, and post them every 2-3 months on ogcam.

Here are some things I haven't been doing, mainly because I don't live in Cambridge:

  • Visit places in Cambridge and write them up.
  • Wander around Cambridge to check that places on the guide are actually still there.
  • Promote the guide to people within Cambridge.
  • Design (or find someone to design) a decent stylesheet for the site so it isn't all so grey and depressing-looking.

This is a public post — please feel free to point people here. (I know there are at least a couple of Cambridge communities on LiveJournal; if you're a regular poster on one of them, and you know that the rules of the community allow it, I'd appreciate you mentioning it there. I am not a regular poster on any of them, so don't feel it's appropriate to do this myself.)

I am absolutely 100% happy to remain available to answer any technical questions about using the guide.

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Croydon Creatives, Wednesday 26 September [Sep. 25th, 2012|09:29 am]
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Tomorrow evening I will be at the Croydon Creatives meet (website, Lanyrd, Twitter), which is from 7pm at the Spreadeagle, 39-41 Katharine Street, CR0 1NX (website, RGL).

If you're within reach of Croydon and you're interested in the web — whether in terms of programming, design, sysadmin, or content provision — why not come along and have a drink with us? It's a very informal social gathering, and there's no charge for entry. We'll be in the upstairs function room (sadly there is no lift, but if you can manage to get upstairs once then there are loos up there).

The pub is 5 minutes' walk from East Croydon station, which has fast trains from central London (12-15 minutes from London Bridge) as well as direct services to places like Brighton, Horsham, and Bedford.

(Public post — please pass on link to anyone who might be interested.)
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How to cook when you have money, but no time or energy [Feb. 2nd, 2012|10:19 pm]
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It's time for the first round of commodorified's "Cooking For People Who Don't" blog carnival! Because I misremembered the due date, and until a couple of days ago thought I had until the end of February (when in fact posts are due today), I have not managed to: (a) take any photos to illustrate this post, (b) get someone else to read this post over before I publish it, or indeed (c) plan this post out in any great detail. But hopefully what I have to say will be interesting anyway! (If it isn't, then go and have a look at the carnival round-up, which has links to other people's posts.)

The theme for this round of the carnival is "food security", and we were urged to interpret this widely. I've chosen to write about how to cook when you have plenty of money to buy ingredients, but very little time and/or energy to actually cook them. I'm also going to assume a certain level of competence in the kitchen — the ability to chop an onion, the willingness to taste and poke and prod things to see if they're done yet, or to try adding a spoonful of chilli oil here, a pinch of sugar there, to get the flavours closer to the way you want them.

Overcoming inertia

When I'm tired after a long day's work, actually getting myself into the kitchen to cook can be the hardest part. One handy trick I've found is to just go into the kitchen and start chopping an onion. It doesn't matter if I don't know at this point what I'm going to do with it.

Often I get an idea before I've even finished chopping — I might remember that I have some chorizo in the fridge and a can of chickpeas in the cupboard, so I'll fry the onion in fat rendered from the chorizo, sprinkle in some paprika, throw in a can of tomatoes along with the drained chickpeas, and before I know it I have stew. If I haven't figured out what I'm going to do by the time I've got my onion chopped, I'll fry it in a neutral-tasting oil (e.g. sunflower oil) to keep my options open, and have a poke around in the fridge while it's cooking.

I can only remember one occasion where this procedure didn't result in something tasty and edible — I really was exhausted and my brain wasn't working at all — so I put the fried onion in a bowl in the fridge and used it the next evening instead. (I can't remember what I ate that evening; it could well have been a takeaway. Which is absolutely fine.)

Personalised recipe cards

Sometimes I don't have the mental energy to make stuff up as described above. When this happens, I fall back on one of my recipe cards. These are simple recipes that I've chosen as ones that I know I like eating, that I know I usually have the ingredients for, and that don't take very long to cook. I've written them up in my own words, printed them out (four to an A4 sheet), cut them up, and stashed them in the kitchen drawer. (I'd like to get them laminated, but I haven't got around to it yet.)

The advantage of having these recipes in my own words is that I know how my brain works, I know how I like to do things in the kitchen, and I know which steps need to be spelled out for me and which ones don't.

The advantage of having the recipes written clearly on a small piece of paper is that I don't have to have any laptops, smartphones, file folders, cookbooks, etc, cluttering up the place while I'm trying to cook. A piece of paper this size takes up essentially no counter space, and can easily be carried to the storecupboard when I'm getting out the ingredients I need.

The advantage of having the recipes written down, even though they're things I cook frequently and so perhaps "should" be able to do from memory, is that when I'm really tired, even a small reduction in cognitive burden is useful.

Versatile ingredients with a long shelf life

A lack of time/energy to cook often goes hand-in-hand with a lack of time/energy to shop. So it's useful to keep things on hand that you can make lots of meals with, but that won't go off. Some are obvious, like tinned tomatoes and tinned pulses (e.g. chickpeas, kidney beans), but here are some other ideas. (Also: piratemoggy! Where is your Extreme Cupboard Survivalist tumblr?)

Chorizo is very useful; buy it as a single piece (i.e. not pre-sliced) and it keeps for ages. You only need a little bit of it to make a stew or soup seem more substantial. Bacon is good too but doesn't last quite as long (though you can chop it, freeze it, and throw it in the pan from frozen).

Squeezy garlic (i.e. puréed garlic in a tube) is brilliant. It's salty, so you need to be careful of salt levels when using it, but it's a great way to instantly lift the flavour of your cooking. Some people prefer to get the chopped stuff in a jar, but I like the squeezy kind (no need to dirty a spoon!)

Tomato ketchup: saltiness, sweetness, tomatoeyness, all in one quick squeeze. Sometimes when a tomato sauce isn't tasting quite right, a bit of ketchup can fix it right up.

Pre-cooked, pre-flavoured pulses. One of my store-cupboard staples is Merchant Gourmet Puy lentils with porcini mushrooms and thyme. They come in a pouch, so don't take up much room in the cupboard, and in an emergency you can eat them straight out of the packet. If your need for food is less urgent, you can heat them up and serve them with chops or sausages (cooked in the oven); or you can put them on toast, top them with cheese, and melt the cheese under the grill.

Cooking is not just about making food happen

It's OK to eat out. It's OK to order in. It's OK to have a Subway sandwich with "all the salad please" for dinner once in a while. It's OK not to cook every night, or even most nights.

On the other hand, some evenings you might get more personal satisfaction and well-being from cooking something yourself, even if it's not a super-nutritous fibre-packed vitamin delivery system. Last night I made toast pizzas — toast a slice of bread on one side, turn it over, add pizza-like toppings, and toast again until the toppings are melted, warmed through, or crisped, as appropriate.

Some people might say this isn't really cooking, but it meant I could combine things just the way I wanted (plenty of anchovies, not too much cheese) and cook them just the way I wanted (with the cheese melted but not browned) — and it gave me the sensual pleasure of touching the dense sourdough bread and licking the anchovy oil off my fingers and smelling the toastiness of the melting cheese. I'm glad I did that instead of just ordering a delivery pizza. (Check my not really cooking tag on Tumblr for more along these lines.)

Using takeaway leftovers

Like I said above, it's OK to eat out, and it's OK to order in. It's particularly OK to do this when you end up getting more than one meal out of the bargain. Obviously you can just eat your leftovers as they come, but another option is to turn them into a completely different meal.

When I get a Chinese takeaway, I always ask for some stirfried green vegetables, usually with garlic or ginger or both. Then if there are any leftovers, I'll serve them with the pre-cooked Puy lentils mentioned above. Or I might chop them up and simmer them in a tomato sauce to go on pasta or rice.

Leftover rotisserie chicken, peri-peri chicken, or barbecue chicken is great in soups and stews; here's an example. You can even do this with leftover chicken wings; here's a video (with optional subtitles) showing how to get the bones out.

Spending less time chopping

This one is more of a long-term thing, but one way to spend less time and energy in the kitchen is to improve your knife skills. Helen Rennie of Beyond Salmon is currently in the process of making a series of cooking videos showing how to do various kitchen tasks with the greatest efficiency and effectiveness. Helen's videos don't have subtitles, but I've used the excellent Universal Subtitles site to create subtitles for the three videos I think are most relevant here: Claw and Pinch Grip, How to Slice an Onion, and How to Dice an Onion.

Alternatively, you can say "to hell with knife skills", and buy pre-chopped vegetables. I won't judge you, and if anyone does, then you know who not to invite around for dinner again.

I have no neat little concluding paragraph...

...because I'm tired now, and I'm going to go to bed. Thank you for reading! Comments are most welcome. If commenting anonymously, please (a) sign your name or pseudonym so I can get an idea of who you are, and (b) accept my apologies for not being able to unscreen immediately (I cannot yet operate my laptop in my sleep).

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"Cooking For People Who Don't" Carnival: Food Security [Dec. 16th, 2011|07:59 am]

commodorified is planning to host a blog carnival on the topic of "cooking for people who don't". I think this is an excellent idea, and I hope to be able to contribute. Perhaps you also might like to?

The first round of the carnival is on the topic of food security, and posts are due by 2 February 2012. commodorified has an explanatory post on Dreamwidth and also on LiveJournal.

Here's Wikipedia's definition of a blog carnival, for those who haven't come across them before: "A blog article that contains links to other articles covering a specific topic. Most blog carnivals are hosted by a rotating list of frequent contributors to the carnival, and serve to both generate new posts by contributors and highlight new bloggers posting matter in that subject area."
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I ❤ Croydon [Oct. 31st, 2011|09:38 pm]
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This is a follow-up to my previous post about the Support Croydon! pub crawl (which went very well and was a lot of fun). I asked people after that to tell me what they like about Croydon, and here are the results, along with some reasons of my own.

Trams. The Tramlink network is centred on Croydon, and stretches from Wimbledon in the west to Beckenham, Elmers End, and New Addington in the east. This is the only area of London with trams. (See RGL for a map of tram stops.)

Other transport links. Croydon has truly excellent transport links, both to destinations within London and places further afield. Trains from East Croydon to London Bridge can take as little as 15 minutes, while West Croydon is served by both overground trains (to London Bridge or Victoria) and Overground trains (East London Line to Highbury & Islington). If you fancy a trip to Brighton, that's just 45 minutes on a direct train.

A wide range of restaurants. From the more upmarket places like Fish & Grill, Le Cassoulet, and Albert's Table, through the mid-range places like Galicia and Osushi, to the little Indian, Sri Lankan, Kurdish, and Caribbean places on and around London Road — Croydon has it all (well, OK, aside from non-Cantonese Chinese food, but Tai Tung is good for dim sum, at least). There are also plenty of chain eateries like Wagamama, Yo Sushi, Miso, and Subway.

Loads of pubs. Even the less-good pubs in Croydon are still often worth popping into, but the one I'd recommend mostly strongly is the Royal Standard — I don't usually go in for "best of" lists, but if I were to make a list of my five favourite pubs in the whole of London, this would be on it. Other good Croydon pubs include the Claret, the Dog and Bull, and the Builders Arms. (See also the RGL map of pubs in Croydon.)

A good mixture of chain shops and independents. I buy my vegetables from Surrey Street Market and my fish from Surrey Fish Co. There's Wing Yip for East and South-East Asian ingredients, and small family-run shops for African, South Asian, and Eastern European food. There's Hobbycraft and IKEA, and there are small independent hardware stores. There's an M&S, with a 99p shop directly opposite. There's a bargain clothes shop that hasn't had a name on its frontage since at least 2007, and there are two large shopping malls with all the familiar chain names.

Plenty of green stuff and pedestrian-friendliness. Croydon has loads of parks, woodland, and open spaces within a short distance, and most of the area is very pedestrian-friendly. Shortly after I moved here, I was walking down North End (the main shopping street) and wondered why the ambient noise was "strange". I soon realised that this was because it sounded exactly like the conversational buzz in a good restaurant — there was no traffic noise, and the street was just filled with people strolling along and talking to each other. That is what a city centre should be like.

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Reminder: Support Croydon! pub crawl this weekend [Sep. 9th, 2011|11:07 am]
Details here.
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Support Croydon! pub crawl, Saturday 10 September [Aug. 22nd, 2011|04:31 pm]
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Support Croydon! therealdrhyde and I have planned a pub crawl to support certain of the local businesses that were damaged and/or lost trading hours during the riots. This is happening on Saturday 10 September! Here's the list of pubs we'll be visiting, in order, starting at the Ship of Fools at 2pm:

Ship of Fools, 9-11 London Road, CR0 2RE
accessibility: step-free access to bar, most of the seating, and RADAR-locked accessible toilet; reasonable gaps between tables; no music
Old Fox and Hounds, 1 London Road, CR0 2RE
accessibility: step-free access to bar, most of the seating, and the ladies' toilet; not sure about gents'; music but not loud; some narrow places to get through
Tamworth Arms, 62 Tamworth Road, CR0 1XW
accessibility: 3 or 4 steps to get in; step-free to bar, seating area, and toilets once you're in; access to toilets is narrow though; more steps to beer garden; potential radio and/or quiet(ish) music
Green Dragon, 60 High Street, CR0 1NA
accessibility: step-free access to all areas of pub including accessible toilet; potential loud(ish) music
Royal Standard, 1 Sheldon Street, CR0 1SS
accessibility: low step (about an inch) at side entrance, larger step at front; step-free to bar, toilets, and about half of the seating once you're in; no music

Three of these were definitely affected by the riots — access to the Ship of Fools was blocked off by the council for a good few days while they were clearing up, the Old Fox and Hounds had boards up for a bit though I think they were still trading for most of it, and the Green Dragon had at least one window broken. We're finishing at the Royal Standard mainly because it's an excellent pub.

(Edit: Removed Arkwrights Wheel as it's about to turn into a shisha bar; replaced it with the Green Dragon.)

This is a public post — please feel free to link to it, and to invite people along.

If you're on my friends list, you can get my mobile number here (please don't pass this on without asking me first).

(Edit: Have updated with details of step-free access for all pubs. See RGL links for wordier versions.)

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Cambridge! [Oct. 6th, 2010|03:19 pm]

Hello! I went to Cambridge! I stayed with juggzy. She is an excellent hostess, and I had a lovely time.

I went to lots of pubs: the Earl of Derby, the Osborne Arms, the Prince Regent, the Kingston Arms, the Cambridge Blue, the Punter, the Maypole, the Fountain Inn, the Panton Arms, the Prince Regent again, the Red Lion, the Unicorn, the Flying Pig, and the Carlton Arms.

I also had some decent Lebanese food at Ali Baba, some reasonable Vietnamese food at Thanh Binh, some good Korean food at Little Seoul, some tasty vegan ginger cake at Daily Bread, some not-very-good dim sum at J Restaurant, and a disappointing crepe at Le Gros Franck.

Much of this exploration was of course in aid of the Open Guide to Cambridge, which was in serious need of some updating. I discovered that lots of places had closed and turned into something else; the most exciting of these from my point of view appear to be Seven Days (previously Asia), Sesame (previously Kami's), and HK Fusion (previously Ugly Duckling).

If you're in or near Cambridge, or know someone who is, it would be lovely if you could sort of spread around the word about the Open Guide. As far as I can tell, there aren't really any foodbloggers in Cambridge, so it does appear to be filling a gap in the market, and of course it covers plenty of things other than food.

Also, juggzy and I are planning a Citi 1 bus route pub crawl for some time in the spring. There's a tentative Google map which may need some route correction. I'm going to see if I can persuade some tubewalkers to come along on this — handily, we will be stopping for lunch in a pub near Cambridge station, and the train from King's Cross only takes 50 minutes, so Londoners won't even need to take the entire day off work.
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Life after Bloglines [Sep. 14th, 2010|02:50 pm]

Just in case there are any other OS X users out there who don't get on with Google Reader, and are sorry to see Bloglines shut down... I've been using Vienna RSS for the past few days and am pretty happy with it:

  • It's free and open source.
  • It does all the basics: lets you organise your feeds into folders, lets you mark things as flagged or as unread, has a couple of smart folders for "today's articles", "unread articles", etc.
  • It's mostly drivable from the keyboard, with the only exception being clicking on external links to open them (in the web browser of your choice — this is configurable).
  • I haven't come across any major bugs, just one or two niggles/missing minor features.

Edited to add: in comments, mstevens recommends Liferea for Linuxy types.

(I'm not suggesting people should stop using Google Reader — it just doesn't suit my needs particularly well.)

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[London] Pacific Plaza on Saturday. [Feb. 24th, 2010|04:45 pm]

Londoners may be interested in thisPacific Plaza in Wembley is having a bit of a shindig on Saturday, with lion dance, drumming, and Chinese Elvis among other attractions.

I'm not sure if I can make it, so I won't try to organise an expedition, but I thought people might want to know!
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I see the sun rise over this wall. [Nov. 25th, 2009|01:04 am]

Inspired by j4, here's a post that lets me delete an email from my inbox that's been hanging around there for a while.

Kristin Hersh is ace. She makes ace music, and she gives it away for free. At her CASH Music page, you can download mp3s, FLACs, and mix stems of the tracks on her forthcoming album, Speedbath, all under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa licence. Why not go and have a listen?
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