Top 20

According to Last.FM, the following are my top 20 artists for 2006, on the basis of how many times I listened to them. A few surprises: Snow Patrol Kasabian Muse Basement Jaxx Sugababes Sufjan Stevens Fall Out Boy Something Corporate Silverchair Imogen Heap Orson Alanis Morissette Rihanna The All-American Rejects The Chalets Simple Plan Scissor Sisters Girls Aloud White Rose Movement Goldfrapp Larrikin Love and We Are Scientists suffer because I discovered them late in the year. Alanis is the result of listening to her whole back-catalog in a single day once. I hadn't realised I'd listened to quite so much White Rose Movement, and Goldfrapp should be higher but they didn't release much this year.
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Your results:You are Spider-Man Spider-Man 75% Superman 65% Robin 50% Iron Man 50% Supergirl 45% Catwoman 40% Green Lantern 40% The Flash 25% Hulk 25% Wonder Woman 20% Batman 20% You are intelligent, witty, a bit geeky and have great power and responsibility. Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test
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Product placement

So one of my christmas presents was the new Bose in-ear headphones. Since I moved to the UK and started listening to music in quantity I've always had strictly average sound hardware -- a laptop, then a series of cheap sound cards and speakers, and finally an iPod with some £20 Sony in-ear headphones. So the difference for me from my old setup to these things was pretty extreme: they're amazing. It's like having a completely new music collection full of songs that are vaguely familiar but are a hundred times richer. I initially noticed the difference because I got into a frenzy of re-rating songs: suddenly songs I'd not cared about were sounding like 3-star songs, all my 3-stars were going to 4 and 5 stars, and then I realised it was just that everything was sounding much better. I had to start listening to my entire music library from scratch: every song is full of new subtleties and background noises and basslines that I've never heard before, and I'm having to restrain myself and be a lot...

Interview monkey

Tomorrow, Thursday 4th, I will mainly be sitting around the US Embassy in London getting interviewed for my L-1 visa to work in the United States. Wish me luck...

Interview result

By all accounts, I got the visa. However, I was up absolutely all night worrying about it, so a detailed description and a series of posts about the ramifications -- plus, special bonus, my leaving date! At last! -- will all be tomorrow morning.
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Applicants and Supplicants

It's 7.30 in the morning. I have just woken up for final time, having woken up roughly once every hour since midnight, each time thinking I've overslept, twisting in the darkness to read the glowing clock, in a panic. My thoughts are full of things that can go wrong with my visa application process. There are dozens of forms involved, each in triplicate. Will I have put "immigration" in the box that is supposed to say "employment"? I've left my home address blank because I don't know where I'm going to be living, does that make the form invalid? They have to take all ten fingerprints, and the website sternly warns that a cut or blister will lead to my appointment being cancelled in big red letters -- and my thumb is peeling. Will my passport-style photos, taken at Snappy Snaps at extortionate prices by a disinterested clerk, meet state department regulations (which can be worryingly detailed)? Will my credit card fail to work, as it's done several times recently, leaving me unable to pay the US$500...

Last Popstarz Ever

Yes, folks, the undeniable truth of the calendar is that this is my last free Friday before I leave the country, so tonight is my last Popstarz ever. So please join us! Lyrics courtesy of Bloc Party's The Prayer: Lord, give me grace And dancing feet And the power to impress Lord, give me grace And dancing feet Let me outshine the moon Is it so wrong to crave recognition? Second best Runner up Is it so wrong to want rewarding? To want more than is given to you? Than is given to you? Tonight make me unstoppable I will charm, I will slice, I will dazzle them with my wit Tonight make me unstoppable And I will charm, I will slice I will dazzle I will outshine all Standing on the packed dance floor Our bodies throb in time Silent on the weekdays Tonight I claim what's mine
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The iPhone

My god, it's real... and it's beautiful. In case you live under a rock, Apple's new iPhone is the sexiest chunk of hardware to grace god's green earth since, well, since the iPod was invented. And that's saying something. Where to begin? It's running OS X -- so it's really a mini PC crammed into a phone casing. Multi-touch is a technology I'd previously only seen demo'ed in a few experimental pieces of hardware: it's touch-screen that understands multiple simultaneous touches, so you can do wonderfully intuitive things like squeeze photos smaller and stretch lists longer. It's also, finally, that Internet tablet I've always wanted: it does IMAP email, provided by Yahoo!; maps, provided by Google; and, pretty surprisingly, even to us who work there, web search provided by Yahoo!. I have to break my usual self-imposed ban on blogging about work for a moment here, because it's so seldom that the Y gets one over on the G in such a big, public way. The search in question is our new oneSearch feature,...

I'm outta here

For those who have not already found out by other means, my last day in the UK is Monday 22nd, when I fly out in the morning. However, my darling brother's wedding is a three-day event starting that Friday, so my last day when I can see anybody is Thursday 18th, which is as of this writing a shocking six days away. Cue "The Final Countdown", or for 90s fans "Our time is running out". General well-wishers and stalkers alike will find us at Wyvil's from 8ish this Saturday evening to say goodbye or just have a drink.

A farewell to London

It's 3.30am. The last guests left about an hour ago, but I'm still awake, my mind buzzing with a million little thoughts and no small amount of caffeine, it being rude to appear sleepy and inattentive at one's own leaving party. I think one of the best things one can say about a goodbye party is that way more people turn up than you expect. (And yes, you lot, I'm blogging about it just after you leave. What did you expect?) Wow. It's beginning to sink in now: I'm seeing lots of people for the last time I'll see them for years and years. It's my last weekend I'm actually going to spend in London (next weekend is elsewhere in the UK for my brother's wedding). The finalities are beginning to stack up. The goodbyes are getting harder and harder. I'm really leaving London behind. What's London to me, anyway? When I think of London I always think of the first place and time I ever lived in London: Clapham South, back in January of 2000, when it was still a rather down-at-heel and studenty place to live,...
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I could be hurtful / I could be purple / I could be anything you like

I think my final good night's sleep on this side of the Atlantic is behind me. Tomorrow and Tuesday nights I will be frantically trying to semi-pack: packing one bag for the nights Thursday-Sunday, two suitcases for the three weeks after I get there but before all the rest of the stuff arrives, and then a sort of uneven pile of things for the men who are supposed to be coming to pack up everything else on Wednesday. Thursday night I'll be staying at a friend's house, since I'll also have packed up all my sheets and bedding. Friday and Saturday nights I'll be in the cunnery for brother D's wedding, and then Sunday night I'll probably be back here, camping out in some fashion, on the basis that it's too much trouble to move all the suitcases and stuff and there might be some last-minute items I forgot to pack that I can stuff in at that point. Anxiety and excitement are both coasting steadily up to maximum at the moment, so I alternate from dive-under-the-covers worry to dance-around-the-room delight...
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The future is bright

The flight is on Monday... P.S. The lack of degree symbols on the first image is the bug I'm currently fixing.

New hair

I can't decide whether I like it. On the one hand it looks indie, which is good, but on the other hand it's very fashion-mode, which is tragic. It obviously suits my head, which is good, but it also makes me look really gay, so bad. Vote now!

End of Act Two

All the world is a stage, and we hope you are enjoying our current presentation, The Life of Laurie. There will now be a brief intermission while the scenery is changed. The next act takes place in San Francisco, in the latter half of the first decade of the 21st century.
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Curtain up

I'm here! It's hot! It's sunny! All the buildings are like SimCity! Cabs are incredibly affordable! (Cab to Heathrow: $100. Cab to San Francisco: $26 plus tip) Did I mention it's hot and sunny? Must. Stop. Grinning. Inanely.

Good morning, America

This morning's entry comes to you from the Yahoo wifi bus on route 280, specifically the rather pretty bit that goes past the lake thingie. There's a big flock of birds on the water at the moment. The northern line it ain't, kids. Update: Window desk. Woo! Now if only I could access the intranet, I'd be sorted.

Day Two

So it's day two. I'm not exactly settled yet -- there's still lots of new and unfamiliar things every day, and I'm still having regular "whoa, I live here now" moments -- but I see no barriers to settling in eventually. And so far, I'm digging it. I'm currently on the shuttle bus (with wifi) heading into the office. It takes a little over an hour every day. Two hours of commuting every day would suck if it weren't for the wifi, but frankly I spend 90% of my time sitting on my ass in front of a screen anyway, so a wifi bus just changes the nature of the seat. It's useful time for writing emails and reading and blogging, or at least that's what I think at the moment. I'll let you know how I feel after a month of doing it. I've finally met most of the people on my team in person. Y! in the US is a lot more overtly geeky than the London office, but this is by no means a bad thing: geeks are my people. To take an example at random: the guy in one of the cubes next to mine (no open-plan offices here) has...