Unusual .UK subdomains

I thought that all .uk net addresses were further scoped by an appropriate second-level domain, e.g. “.co.uk” for companies, “.ac.uk” for academic institutions, “.gov.uk” for governmenty-type stuff, but apparently not: I mis-typed my shortcut for Bloglines yesterday, and ended up at the British Library, which is just “bl.uk”.

There are a few other anomalous British second-level domains floating around, such as “nls.uk” for the National Library of Scotland, and “nel.uk” for the National Engineering Laboratory. From this page at Nominet (the people who run the .uk top-level domain), it looks like they were created before the .uk structure was formalised.

That’s your piece of trivia for the day.

Peter Sarsgaard lookalike

Peter Sarsgaard has been bothering me since I saw the film Kinsey last month. There was something about him that reminded me of someone else…another actor…something about his wide lips and crinkle-eyed smile.

I only figured it out today: it’s Gene Kelly.

Peter SarsgaardGene Kelly

Someone back me up here? I know the similarity isn’t necessarily obvious from these head shots…but it’s definitely there.

On having an iPod

So I bought an iPod while we were on holiday. The 20GB model. And, boy, it is gorgeous. I must have spent hours ogling its sleek design, running my fingers over its sensuous, smooth surfaces, and taking great delight in the touch-sensitive action of the clickwheel. And that was before I loaded it up with any music.

Of course, I then went out and got a protective case for it. (Or rather, Pat and Susan bought me one for my birthday.) Rather than carrying a thin, elegant, and gloriously tactile gadget in my pocket, I now walk around with a much thicker, rubberised white plastic and perspex brick.

It’s still recognizably an iPod, and the functionality of the thing hasn’t changed, but even though I appreciate the extra protection the case provides, I’m feeling somewhat dubious about it. I’m not ungrateful for the present, mind–I asked for it, and Susan took me down to the local Apple store where I chose it myself. As cases go, it’s great. But using a case diminishes the iPod itself.

If I just wanted a music player, and wasn’t concerned about looks or design, I could have bought a cheaper gadget. But I didn’t. I bought the iPod because it is, quite simply, beautiful. And now I’m covering it up? It’s like buying a Porsche and never driving it for fear of chipping the paintwork. The fear is driven by a sense of frugality, but also by a certain embarrassment at being able to afford to pay over the odds for a mere whim. Call it Rich Man’s Angst. I get nervous and awkward when I have to go Christmas shopping, too. When did Christmas stop being fun?

Anyhoo…. I still love my iPod, and using it has given me the urge to tidy up my music collection. I first got an MP3 player in 1999. It had a whopping 64MB of memory, so space was at a premium. I still have a whole bunch of CD rips encoded at 96Kbps, and they sound pretty bad, especially when I’m using the Belkin TuneCast FM transmitter to listen to them over the car radio. A lot of those files aren’t properly tagged with ID3 metadata, either.

It looks like I’m going to have to (have to) spend some time re-encoding a pile of CDs. Which makes me wonder: is it time to switch from MP3 to AAC? I like MP3 for its portability and compatibility, but with iTunes on my PC and an iPod in my pocket, what exactly do I need the compatibility for? If I’m willing to put in the effort now to re-encode my CDs into AAC, I’m sure I can manage it again in a few years’ time when a better codec comes along. Considering that the bulk of my collection is encoded in MP3 at 196KBps or higher, going AAC probably will save me some space, too. The 2GB I have to spare won’t last me another year…

Crazy cat lady action figure

You may be aware of the phenomenon of animal hoarding. Teresa Nielsen Hayden has written about it:

Basically, hoarders accumulate an impossible number of animals–more than they can care or provide for, and far too many for the available space. Their quarters rapidly become a stew of filth, misery, and suffering animals.

It’s an odd, disturbing, and pitiable pattern of behaviour. But as the Singing Branson proved, nothing is too off-beat for the tacky gift shops of Piedmont Avenue. Here is the “Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure (How many cats do you have?)”, on display in a shop window just down the street from the purveyor of fine Bransons:

Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure

Half funny, half offensive…all tasteless.