My online music services

After the demise of Pandora‘s services here in the UK, it took me a long time to cotton-on that there was a home-grown alternative… which, like Pandora, helps you to discover new music. The mechanisms that Pandora and utilise for pattern-matching and discovering new music may differ but both are very useful services and I don’t doubt that there may be other services out there working on similar principles.headphones

As soon as I discovered what is and that they offered free services to the UK I was very interested indeed. And then I was very excited when I found out that music streaming was available on Squeezebox and that audioscrobbling was available. So I immediately set up my Squeeze Center and SqueezeBox to make use of the services.

In discussion with one of my friends who uses an Xbox running xbmc media centre software, we found that was available within xbmc. And it worked fine too. I also use xbmc but running on a Windows Vista machine which I use as a media centre (I don’t actually use the built-in Vista Media Centre). I soon had my media centre PC running as the HD TV display and user-interface are a bit more user-friendly than the displays on the SqueezeBox. Of course using the HD TV and the xbmc do consume a bit more electricity but it is useful to be able to switch between SqueezeBox and xbmc.

Whilst I was setting up for the xbmc, I had a look at Spotify which is basically an online music-on-demand service with a huge catalogue. And in the UK, Spotify offer a free service supported by minimum advertising. You have to download the Spotify client (currently Windows and Mac) but there is discussion that it may become available on the SqueezeBox. The Spotify client can audioscrobble to so that was pretty neat too. I actually run the Spotify client on the Vista-based media centre PC (which also has xbmc and SqueezeCenter) but I control it remotely using UltraVNC…I probably need to get a good wireless media centre keyboard to control the media centre. I previously had no need for a keyboard as my Logitech Harmony 885 universal remote control did it all…but now I need a keyboard and mouse to control the Spotify client. Looking forward to Spotify becoming available on the SqueezeBox platform and I also dream of xbmc integration too.

I’m now really enjoying my music again through and Spotify. Highly recommended.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009

Ankara Shows Its Hand

Spotted this over at,3770,n,n with the full article at

The article(s) and comments certainly raise some important questions. Many years ago I was in support of Turkey becoming a full member of the EU. But Turkey has not made any significant progress in terms of basic human rights such as freedom of speech. In fact, Turkey would seem to have regressed in many of these important areas.

If Turkey became a full member of the EU today, would that help to improve the situation in Turkey? No I don’t think so. I believe Turkey will extract whatever it can to improve their economy but refuse to allow progress in freedom of speech and other human rights. And Turkey have already demonstrated that they will interfere and meddle in the affairs of other countries and attempt to curtail human rights in those countries.

It’s clear that Turkey’s government is itself easily influenced by internal factors. There is a weakness in that constitution and they have a lot of reforms to undertake to fully adopt and guarantee human rights. So I’m all up for refusing Turkey entry into the EU for the time being.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009

Richard Dawkins at American Atheists 09

An entertaining talk by Richard Dawkins. What I got out of it was his descriptions of "quote mining".

I was also most intrigued by what appears to be the misinformation and misleading actions of John Lennox and Melanie Phillips. Shame, shame, shame.

And Dawkins take on the Tony Blair Foundation was funny and very much in tune with my thoughts on "Tony".

I wasn’t too interested in all that stuff on regression, etc but others who are not familiar with that subject may get some benefit from it.

All in all, well worth a look.

I liked the answer to the last questions in the Q&A!


Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009

Mbeki, South Africa’s Tragedy

Now that Matthias Rath has pulled out of his libel case against Ben Goldacre and The Guardian, further background information on the death and misery wrought on South Africa has now been made available by Ben Goldacre at the following links:

What is well known, and needs repeating, is that former President Thabo Mbeki was, alongside Matthias Rath, a chief architect for what is estimated as the death of 365,000 people and brought untold misery for countless others in South Africa.

We’ve had politicians, leaders of countries, put though international justice systems for their crimes. Why shouldn’t Mbeki and all those who promoted this tragedy be similarly treated to answer for their crimes against humanity? Despite the complications of South African politics, accountability and justice is required.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009

Stumpjumper Comp 2009

volcano and mountain bike Recently bought the 2009 model of the Specialized “Stumpjumper Comp” hardtail mountain bike to replace my older and heavier full-suspension mountain bike. I don’t really do any jumping but cross-country and marathon activities are the norm. And the Stumpjumper Comp has been perfect for that…it’s been a lot of fun on the trails and I’ve taken this lean & mean machine over rough terrain at speed. Sure, as a hardtail, you painfully feel all the bumps but the lightness and speed make up for it. I may look at getting an upgrade on the saddle or seat post as spending 6 hours on the bike may need some more comfort but I’m having a lot of fun with the bike at the moment. Highly recommended.

Full review at

PS – That’s NOT a picture of the Stumpjumper Comp in the desert but I rather feel that I can now handle the looming obstacle!

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009

Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman – disgraceful

If the chain of events described by Ting-Yi Oei are true, and it now seems pretty much certain that they are, then  Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman is immoral and deceitful. It is Jim Plowman (and NOT Oei) who needs to admit guilt and take responsibility for his actions. Instead all we see is a political animal who doesn’t care who he stomps on.

Full story at Wired

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2009