The Headbanger’s Teaparty

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Saturday 18th June, four bands got together in Peacehaven to make lots of noise. And a bit of money for cheridee (that’s charity, if you were wondering). One of those bands was Left Hand Red (us), making their first proper live appearance.

The venue was The Good Companions – an unusual venue for such an event as it’s what we commonly refer to as a ‘chav pub’. Apparently the Good Companions (or "Goods" as it’s often refered), once hosted regular gigs, but a change of ownership in the Eighties put a stop to that. Now its current owners are making an attempt to get live music back in Peacehaven (other than Karaoke, that is).

It all kicked off at 7:30. The first band on the bill was Dirty Deeds, who for half-an-hour knocked out a succession of well performed rock covers with a rather handy performance by both guitarists. Next up was us. The audience was steadily growing…

Our set kicked off with the energetic but still groovy Gold Digger, an excellent opening song performed perhaps a bit nervously, with the exception of singer, Dan Scully, who got right in to his stride from the off. This was followed by Can’t Help Thinking This Way, another punky in-yer-face sort of tune, genetically engineered to get the crowd going nuts.

The middle of the set showcased some of the band’s more thoughtful and melodic songs, with with baggy-punk Unsung Heroes, Throw It All Away and Unwound (albeit with riotous finish) lulling the audience in to a false sense of comfort. Confidence was growing, and the crowd were loving it.

The penultimate song on the set list was Against the Grain, a dark and bottom-heavy tune with chugging guitar and bass. The set finished with the coup-de-grace, See It Coming, already a favourite among fans with its cheeky swaggering bass line and nasty guitar lines, and big finish as standard. Dan resisted the temptation to throw himself in to the drum kit, and Left Hand Red left the stage to applause, compliments and just a hint of ego.

I have to be honest that I didn’t catch much of band number 3, Emphyrian, as I was too busy buzzing round after our set, chatting to people and lapping up the compliments. From what I did hear, they we clearly a band who had done this sort of thing once or twice before.

The last band, and headliners for the night, were Best Left Dead, a tongue-in-cheek metal band who are quite popular around Brighton, and have sold out venues such as The Concorde in the past. I must say I really enjoyed their set, with particular highlights being a tribute to Kylie (a metal rendition of I Should Be So Lucky), Sister (I didn’t know she was your…) and their defining moment, Die You Bastards!, which is about how to deal with the threat of the undead once Hell reaches capacity.

Overall it was an excellent evening, and we couldn’t wait for our next gig. Little did we know that’d be sooner than we expected…

Full set list:

  1. Gold Digger
  2. Can’t Help Thinking This Way
  3. Unsung Heroes
  4. Unwound
  5. Throw It All Away
  6. Against The Grain
  7. See It Coming

Pavilion Tavern, Brighton – Thursday 23rd June

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Just as everyone’s ears had stopped ringing from Saturday’s "Headbangers Teaparty", someone pulls out of a gig at the Pav Tav and Left Hand Red step in to save the day!

In other words: Left Hand Red are playing at the Pavilion Tavern in Brighton tonight (Thursday 23rd June)! This is our first Brighton gig (bar LHR‘s ‘open-mic’ at the Engine Room with their original bass player), and hopefully it will lead to many more (with a bit more notice).

Be there or be… elsewhere.

Flickr

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This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Excellent! Excuse the test post. I’ve just added the facility to post a pic from Flickr to the blog. Flickr is a photo-sharing site that I’d highly recommend giving a go (of course, you don’t have to make your photos totally public).

The interesting thing about Flickr is the ability for anyone to tag a public photo with categories that they think are relevant, creating a sort of human-generated search-engine ("folksonomy") similar to del.icio.us.

SkillSwap – The Making of the Garden

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On Friday 17th June, I was lucky enough to go along to "The Making of the Garden", a talk by Molly E. Holzschlag, as part of the Brighton SkillSwap project.

SkillSwap is a scheme that’s been running in Brighton for about two years, and was set up by members of the Brighton New Media mailing list. The idea is simple: people volunteer to share their knowledge by giving a talk on their subject of choice. On this particular occasion, Molly, visiting the UK for the @media conference the week before, agreed to do a talk about the origins of the inspirational CSS Zen Garden, and also the book The Zen of CSS, which she co-wrote along with the Zen Garden’s creator, Dave Shea.

If you haven’t seen the CSS Zen Garden yet, the idea is this: use only Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), images and your imagination, to apply style and layout to the same XHTML page (the site’s homepage) to really show designers what’s possible with CSS. The Zen Garden was started in 2003, when Dave Shea felt that there was a real need to show designers that CSS gave them flexibility to create the web site designs that they wanted to. He opened the site up for submissions, and 170 designs later (just the accepted ones!), it’s still showcasing designs that illustrate new techniques, ideas and possibilities for CSS design.

Molly went on to show us the book, The Zen of CSS, which she wrote along with Dave Shea to examine the origins of the Zen Garden, and to highlight some of the technical and design aspects of 36 designs that have appeared on the site. I thought it was rather fitting that almost all of the communication between Molly and Dave whilst writing the book took place over the Internet.

Molly took us through several of her favourite designs, and the techniques used in creating and implementing the designs in CSS. One design that really stuck out was Prêt-à-Porter, which is a horizontal design, and uses the position:fixed property to keep an image on the left side of the screen even when scrolling across to the right side of the screen (unsupported in Internet Explorer, of course).

Perhaps unsurpisingly given the nature of the talk, discussion turned to web standards and business practices concerning accessibility, which was slightly tangental, but it was also nice to keep the talk more informal, and to have everyone contributing to the discussion.

After the talk, many of those at the talk went on to nearby bar, Grand Central. This was a great opportunity to talk to lots of like-minded developers, some of who I’d encountered before, and others I hadn’t. I had a great chat with Molly (who apparently "drinks like a Brit", which I wouldn’t argue with), and she showed enormous enthusiasm in some ideas I was discussing with her, which has certainly made me want to get on with it!

During the social, Paul (Watson) and I got talking to SkillSwap organiser, Andy Budd, about the kind of things we do at Psychology Press, and he took an interest in some of the e-learning stuff we’re doing. He even said that he’d like me to give a talk on XSL at a future SkillSwap meeting, which is an idea I’m becoming more and more keen on. It’d be great to give back at least a tiny bit to the web-development community who are always willing to share and have tought me a lot.

Back to work on Monday…

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Wow! What a weekend! Friday I spent the evening at a Brighton SkillSwap event which involved a talk on the CSS Zengarden along with the associated book by co-author, Molly E. Holzschlag (unbelievably I managed to spell her name right – I just checked!). Naturally this was followed by a five hour social in a nearby bar which led to much banter on the web and other topics. I hope I wasn’t being too much of a web-groupie!

Saturday was the day of the "Headbanger’s Teaparty", which, after some initial nerves, was an amazing event with a good turnout, especially for a small place like Peacehaven.

I’m currently on Jane’s (my wife-to-be!) parents’ laptop, awaiting a barbeque which will round off a fascinating and exciting weekend perfectly. They’re on dial-up, so I’ll save the details of the weekend for during the week.

Ta-ta!

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