About me
About me

Back from an unplanned break


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 11 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 11 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 11 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

As regular fans will have noticed, sjhoward.co.uk has been inaccessible for a couple of days. My hosting company decided that I was placing too much load on their servers thanks to the ever-increasing number of hits the site receives.

However, I’m now back. The site isn’t quite its usual self – the most noticeable effect being that the boxes on the right hand side are temporarily static – as I’ve taken measures to try and reduce server load by reducing PHP processing. Frankly, many of the edits I’ve made to the site recently have consisted of some pretty sloppy coding, and I’ll have to tighten that up a bit in order to keep things running.

I guess in the medium term, I’m going to have to start looking for a new host, and I’m open to suggestions.

Expect the site to be a bit buggy for a little while, at least until everything gets back online. At some point, a glut of back-dated Diary posts will probably appear, though you can check out the relevant content right now via my Twitter feed.

In the meantime, why not check out who called me the ‘Stephen Fry of independent blogging’? Now that’s a complement.

This 1,290th post was filed under: Site Updates.

Some recently published posts

The Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels: eight years on / January 2020, 8 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / January 2020, 7 minutes long

Faber Stories / December 2019, 4 minutes long

My favourite books of 2016 / December 2019, 26 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / December 2019, 12 minutes long

Some random old posts

The Chancellor’s budget speech / March 2005, 2 minutes long

Smoking banned in pubs and clubs / February 2006, 4 minutes long

The brainstorming myth / June 2014, Less than a minute long

Milburn looks to radical third term / January 2005, Less than a minute long

Daily Mail’s biggest non-story yet? / November 2006, 2 minutes long

Microsoft offers to replace 14 million ‘smoking’ Xbox leads / February 2005, Less than a minute long

Comments and responses

Comment from Jonathan Rothwell

by Jonathan Rothwell

Comment posted at 00:25 on 28th March 2008.

Oh God, you’re not trying to kill my server as well, are you? 😉

Comment from Mort Karman

by Mort Karman

Comment posted at 19:01 on 30th March 2008.

Why not just bring the whole thing to short wave radio?
Since the BBC gave up on SW there are frequencies open.
No matter how many people listen, it does not clog a server.
Just kidding, of course, but more and more short wave sites are closing down and this is not a good thing.
Back in the old country (Canada) in the 1960’swe had the FLQ crisis. A group of Quebec nationalists kidnapped a cabinet miister and killed him. The PM ordered a news blackout for several days on the matter.
The order affected only Canadian news media.
We could not report what was going on, but we could see, hear and read about it from the International media.
At the time I was living at Niagara Falls with a family who had escaped Communist government by fleeing Yugoslavia, (in the case of Frank, he swam under barbed wire with the border guards firing machine guns at him). In those days listening to western broadcasts of news was a criminal offense.
After dinner, his wife, Danitchka, would close the windows and pull the drapes as we all gathered around my Nordmende shortwave radio to listen to the BBC tell us what was going on in Canada.
“Same as in old country,” said Frank. “Only here have better radio.”
The BBC no longer has short wave service to North America.
At several times while I was a reporter in Canada, we were not allowed to run stories about a high profile trial in progress, only to have the newspapers and radio-TV in Buffalo, New York, on the other side of the river, report the story with no restraints.
Tomorrow the Israeli Broadcast Authority shuts down all but the Farsi shortwave service to the world.
Many of what ued to be major sources of factual news have closed their shot wave.
They are all on Internet and the sound quality is much better. But big brother government knows who is listening and also can shut it off with the flick of a switch.
Even with jamming, short wave programs somehow got through.
Let’s start a movement to get the BBC ( and other major international broadcasters, to bring back and keep short wae programs.

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

by sjhoward

Comment posted at 00:28 on 1st April 2008.

JR – No chance of breaking your server, I’m sure your PHP is much more tightly written than my attempts!

Mort – I’m not sure this is quite right for shortwave radio… Though some years ago I did present a documentary for national BBC Radio, and apparently have an excellent radio voice, so the sound quality of SW would no doubt make me sound even more fantastic 😉 I can’t say the shutting down of SW is something I’m overly familiar with – why is it happening? Just presumed lack of usage / a money-saving exercise?

Comment from Mort Karman

by Mort Karman

Comment posted at 01:44 on 1st April 2008.

Shortwave listening began shortly before WW II when the Allies and Axis built powerful transmitters to enable their messages to be heard around the world.
In addition to the famous BBC news broadcasts to the allied troops and the people in the captive countries, the Axis powers had the likes of Tokyo Rose, Lord Hawhaw, and Axis Sally, to name a few.
Many people listened to both sides in an effort to get some idea of where their loved ones were serving or how the war was going.
With the close of the second world war came the cold war and it was Radio moscow and the various Eastern Block countries vs. BBC,VOA and the other western broadcasters.
Again, this all made for interesting programs and many people listened.
During the Viet Nam War era modern electronics and television in almost every home in the industrialized nations combined to make us want a more visual media.
More and more people got their news and shows on television and all forms of radio lost audience.
With Internet came the ability for the shortwave broadcasters to send their programs to the computers of the world.
If you already had a computer it was no longer necessary to also have an expensive shortwave radio, and the sound quality was better.
Governments noticed this and found it was cheaper to provide their programs via Internet. More and more major international broadcasters vastly cut or shut down their shortwave services.
People tend to go the easiest route.
They forget that with the many advantages of Internet, come disadvantages.
Big Brother government can tell what sit you are listening to or viewing. They can also block sites they don’t want you to have access to.
Of course, they will not sell it to the public this way.They say the dwindling number who listen via shortwave make it more economical to spend the broadcasting budget on Internet.
So government is able to save money on the cost of electricity for the transmitters to send shortwave signals and control, if necessary, what the citizenry listen to.
The present situation is a win win-for big government.

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