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It's going to be a good year for music

It doesn’t seem like 5 mins since I was writing about my favourite albums of 2006, and already, I’ve bought some great music that are all contenders for this years top 5 list. In true Hicks style, 2 of these were released last year, but hey.

Raising your voice, trying to stop an echo – Hammock
Jarvis – Jarvis Cocker
Out of the Angeles – Amusement Parks on Fire
Girls and Boys in America – The Hold Steady
Neon Bible – Arcade Fire

All superb records, played non-stop.

Now I’ve heard that The National have a new album, ‘Boxer’, due out on May 21st, along with Wilco’s “Sky Blue Sky” the week before. Stereogum have a sample from Boxer, Fake Empire available to download. Crikey!

It’s going to be a good year for music.

UPDATE : Just discovered that Interpol’s, as yet untitled, 3rd album is to be released in June. Yay!

Lists of 2006

Excuse me for a moment while I blurt out some random lists…

Telly

In 2005, Doctor Who had finally been brought back, and given proper respect. This year, David Tennant just went on to fully restore my faith in the show. I’ve not enjoyed or looked forward to TV as much as this year with Doctor Who. Sure there were some stinkers – “New Earth’ was an awful way to start the season, and ‘Love and Monsters’ might’ve been OK it if it weren’t for the Peter Kay ending – but the rest was decent drama. ‘Girl in the Fireplace’ and ‘Army of Ghosts/Doomsday’ were my highlights. Now when I think of 2006, I always think of that farewell scene on the beach.

The Doctor and Rose say goodbye on a beach in Norway

Music

(Once again, not everything on this list was released in 2006, it’s music I listened to in that year).

The National - Alligator

  1. The National – “Alligator”
  2. Pelle Carlberg – “Everything. Now!”
  3. Starflyer 59 – “My Island”
  4. Mew – “And the Glass Handed Kites”
  5. Beck – “The Information”
  6. Duke Special – “Songs from the Deep Forest”

Honourable mentions for Thom Yorke’s “The Eraser”, The Submarines’ “Declare a new state” and “Imogen Heap’s “Speak for yourself”. Hammock’s new album “Raising a voice…” came too late to make the list, but will definitely be high in this years.

Podcasts

  1. The Garrett Murray Podcast
  2. The Show with ZeFrank
  3. Ask a Ninja
  4. MacBreak (hiring Merlin was genius!)

When I finally got to meet Garrett and Shawn at @media, I had no idea that they were podcasting together, but I’m glad I found out. Most of my favourite moments are summed up in the End of year best o, especially Shawn’s relaxation tapes. The grizzly bear and xylophone prank calls didn’t however.

OS X Software

  1. Omniweb 5.5
  2. Camino 1.1a
  3. Firebug Extension for Firefox (the best thing to happen to web development since the WebDev extension)
  4. Letterbox plugin for Mail.app (finally – a 3 paned vertical view in Mail, what I’ve always wanted)
  5. Linotype FontExplorer

Finally, 2006 brought a new version of Omniweb, with the updated Webkit, and what a difference it made. I’ve been living it in pretty much since it came out, which I guess means I’m playing around less. I just hope that Omnigroup give it some much needed interface love in 2007 to bring it in line with their other apps. Camino is also becoming a shining light amongst OS X browsers, and I think that all Mac users need one webkit browser, and one Gecko-based. I know which 2 I use!

Web Apps

  1. Twitter
  2. Basecamp
  3. Bloglines
  4. (the revamped) Google Reader
  5. Flickr Gamma

Rather than use IM now (which I never did much anyway), I just dip in and out of Twitter. Sometimes just leaving a status (that previously I would’ve done via my IM status), other times joining in the conversation. It particularly made watching the MacWorld announcements more fun, with Garrett every now and then chipping in with just “HOLY HELL!”.

Resolutions for the new year

  • Must finish the Correo icon for Nick. Version 0.1 had to go out without a final icon for me! The shame!
  • I want to use this journal for more of the throwaway screenshotty stuff that I’ve been posting to Flickr. Be warned.
  • Get that darned book written. Somehow.
  • Be more adventurous with colour.

OK I’m done. Thanks!

Lists of 2004

It’s that retrospective time of year again. Looking back over all the highlights of the year and recording them for posterity.

Albums:

Antics by Interpol

  1. Antics by Interpol
  2. Everybody Makes Mistakes by Starflyer 59
  3. Good news for people who love bad news by Modest Mouse

Quite simply, I’ve not been so excited, enthralled and addicted to an album as I have with ‘Antics’ in a long time. ‘Everybody makes mistakes’ didn’t actually come out in 2004, but I didn’t manage to get a copy until this year, and I’ve played it to death, so in it goes. Then end track “The Party” is a perfect song to finish the day on. Honorable mentions go to Wilco’s “A Ghost is Born”, Tanya Donelly’s “Beautysleep” (again, not actually released this year) and ‘I am the Portuguese Blues’, also by Starflyer 59 (which was released this year).

OS X Browser

Omniweb5

  1. Omniweb 5.1b4
  2. Safari (+ Saft + PithHelmet + Stand + Safarisource)
  3. Firefox

Ah, Omniweb how I love thee. The latest beta build is an almost perfect balance of features and performance. When I use other browsers, it just makes me pine for its doing-anything-with-them tabs, form editor and oodles of other things I can only do in OW. The interface isn’t perfect, but hopefully that’ll be improved in the future. Safari came in at a very close second. Depending on which day you ask me, numbers 1 and 2 can change places). Sorry Firefox, you’re not quite there yet on the mac, although you’re close. Maybe after 1.1? Camino has possibilities, but is still too bare bones for me. I’ve been really impressed by the latest Opera, with its combination browser/email/rss reader, but while being fully featured, it looks like a dogs dinner.

Site design I wished I’d come up with first:

  1. Airbag
  2. Jason Santa Maria
  3. Justwatchthesky

Blog Posts

  1. A story about someone else’s ass – Dooce.
    I cried with tears of joy
  2. Screen Grab confab – Cameron Moll.
    Fascinating insight into peoples work.
  3. I would RTFM if there was an FM to FR – Design by Fire.
    Andrei, I wish you blogged more often.

Events:

  1. The very first Geekend
    A very special time, and we’ve even managed to fit in 2 more before the year was out. Nice to finally meet you all chaps.
  2. Firefox
    I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
  3. Being called the 13th most influential design blogger. I’m nowhere near, but it was flattering all the same, thankyou Cameron.

finally…

Samantha and Daniel

Thankyou Samantha and Daniel. You’re the highlight of every year

Looking forward:

Before the year is out, the family of Hicks is heading out to Sydney for two and half weeks. Its 0 degrees as I write this, and 42 over there. I’m just gonna melt, but I can’t wait. I love living in England, but the weather can really lower your spirits sometimes. It can be like living in Bladerunner – always dark, always raining.

So…

Using the same categories, name your top 3’s!

Autumn Soundtrack

Hurrah. Today is September 1st, and (in book anyway) the first day of Autumn, my favourite time of the year.

This is the time when the sunlight is golden, low and casts long stretched shadows. The grass returns to lush green, and leaves turn, but the days are still (relatively) warm. Yes sir, I love this time of year, and it also makes me want to listen to a particular kind of music. Slow, introspective, often acoustic, maybe a touch melancholy, but never depressing.

Due the limitations of iMix (most of these aren’t available on the iTunes Music Store) here it is in screengrab form:

Autumn playlist

To also get us into the mood, P22 Type Foundry have released Stanyan Autumn, “a set of three fonts based upon a casual hand lettering text created by Anthony Goldschmidt for the deluxe 1969 edition of the book ”...and autumn came” by Rod McKuen”. Nice.

lists of 2003

The end of the year is nearly upon us, and the time is ripe for a nostalgic look back over the year. In true boy-fashion, this reminiscing is reduced to a series of lists:

Events:

  • Daniel HicksThe main joy this year was the birth of my son Daniel (my mini-me) back in April. We are now a family of four.
  • Started playing with XHTML and CSS properly at the same time, I’d no idea where it’d lead…
  • Being linked to by Zeldman, Shea and everyone else kind enough. I’ve been overwhelmed by the sense of community and just plain nice folks out there.
  • Finally getting an iPod. As our American cousins would say, ‘It rocks’. It goes with me everywhere, in the car, on walks, even the loo. My life now has a soundtrack.

Songs:

  • “Growing on me” by The Darkness
  • “Light and Day” by The Polyphonic Spree
  • “Am I wrong?” by the Mull Historical Society
  • “The supermarket strikes back” by the Mull Historical Society
  • “Second Sight” by Placebo
  • “The Laws have changed” by The New Pornographers
  • “Natural Anthem” by The Postal Service

Typefaces:

Strong Bad Emails:

Inspirational Websites:

There are so many sites that visit/read and enjoy, so this is slightly unfair. But these are the ones that I wish I’d done…

I’d love to know what you’d have in your top lists…

List

Many thoughts in my head, here are some of them

  • I’m already working on a redesign of hicksdesign – probably combining my portfolio and personal site. I’m not sure whether to keep along the same lines or do something more minimal like Big Spaceship? There’s certainly room for improving accessibility. Do you have any bugbears? Sick of the scrolling box thing? Let me know.
  • My logo submission was accepted for Waizilla, the Mozilla plug in for testing accessibility.
  • I’ve just created a new application icon for my favourite text editor – skEdit, and it’s currently being used on the beta’s. The beta’s include a wonderful ‘colour blender’ feature, perfect for making tints of web colours.
  • Mozile for Mozilla is great idea. It gives you the ability to edit a page from within a browser. Much like Macromedia Contribute, only free and completely cross platform.
  • My new G5 is just fantastic. I just thought I’d drop that one in.
  • Panther is coming! Until then I’ve been using the elegant Panther theme from C.O.T.L GUI Studio – makes Camino look delicious, and hasn’t screwed up my mac.
  • While I’m on Camino, development is livening up again, with some fresh blood on board.
  • I’ve been up keeping a seperate ‘sidenotes’ area, where I link to other sites/stories of current interest. Once I’ve worked out how to get the right URLs, I’ll add an XML feed for it.
  • A List Apart is back with version 3!, with a fresh, sumptuous design, XML feeds and 3 articles by heavyweights Joe Clark, Doug Bowman and Dan Benjamin. It’s obvious that a lot of work has been put into redoing the site from top to bottom.
  • I’ll be 31 next week. A shopping trip for a pipe and a pouch of fine tobacco are called for I think.

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