January 20th, 2011


Enough to make God weep with envy

They say - well Malcolm Gladwell does - that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to become truly great at it.

Richard Thompson was already an exceptional guitarist when he was playing with Fairport Convention - it was his guitar style that pretty much got Fairport their first signing.

He left them 40 years ago.

I hesitate to guess how many tens of thousands of hours he's played since then, but we saw him last night with his band, and his sheer fluency on his Strats was amazing. (For the guitarists among you, he was playing a bit using the sunburst Strat that he bought back in 71, but mostly a newish one modified by his guitar tech Bobby Eichorn.) Watching his fingers on the fretboard (we were second row, to the left of the auditorium, so were barely twenty feet away) was an education. He's quite possibly the best rock guitarist out there, able to do note perfect fast runs live, bending notes using the strings rather than the Strat tremolo.

(Edit: Sorry, that last bit sounded as though note bending on the frets is in some way unusual - it's not. However, the extent to which he's doing it would be enough to make a lesser man take to the tremolo bar. In his case he's playing some fast passages where you can see him bending almost every note.)

Thompson does tend to wander genres - the last time we saw him was at a performance of his 1000 Years Of Popular Music show (which is well worth going to), but that was him, an acoustic guitar, a percussionist and a singer. The time before that was more folk-rock. Last night though, was loud, fast and rock: even when he did do some folk-style songs, they were a million miles away in style from your traditional folk musician. This wasn't a man in a pub - this was a rock group in front of a sell-out thousand seater crowd, even if there was violin, flute and mandolin in the mix.

(God in this instance is of course Eric Clapton)

Automatic redaction

There is a BBC news report on software that stops images being viewed after a particular point.

Oh dear.

Oh dearie me.

What a snake oil promise. Guys, once that image is seen, you can't stop it being kept. All that will be need will be an initial viewing, and then that image has been decoded. How you going to keep the decoded image out of the browser cache, eh? Are you going to reconnect every time the page redraws - if so, that'll really slow down the browser? How do you stop someone capturing it when they can see it?

I really can't see this one flying, somehow.

Ministerial musical chairs

Or rather shadow ministers.

So Alan Johnson resigns as shadow Chancellor.

Ed Balls moves in, relinquishing the Home Office shadow.

And Yvette Cooper takes over the Home Office shadow, relinquishing the Foreign Office shadow to Douglas Alexander

Hmm, clever thing that Milliband did there, passing the Home Office from Balls to Cooper, from husband to wife. That way, the new shadow minister has a decent chance of getting up to speed a bit quicker.