Internet: This may or may not come as a terrible shock to you, so brace yourselves: last night, on May 31st 2015, my internet radio station Spank's Audio Lair closed down for good. (Well, that's the theory - I've just had a peek and it still seems to be going, but I'm not paying for it any more.) It was a bit of an experiment when I started it back in 2002, at a time when streaming internet music appeared to be a novelty with a limited lifespan. But here we are, 13 years later, and it turns out that Live365 and other internet radio providers were just the forerunners to what's become one of the primary ways that youngsters listen to music nowadays. For me, though, it was a novelty that I kept forgetting about for years at a time - see 2010 for the most recent mention of it on this site. I rarely uploaded new songs to the Audio Lair, I listened to it even more rarely, and I was paying ten US dollars a month for the privilege. So when the latest renewal notice came in for my annual subscription, I decided to pull the plug. Apologies for those of you who are affected by its sudden disappearance from the internet, although statistics suggest that the listenership was pretty much close to zero anyway. I'm sure you'll find alternatives elsewhere on the internet.
Music: In fact, I've got an alternative for you right here. I mentioned that streaming is the way that The Kids tend to do music these days, with Spotify being the most common site. So, starting today, Spank's Audio Lair has become a Spotify playlist. As frequently as possible - ideally once a month, around the time that I do these Simian Substitute Site posts - I'll play around with the list to make it a collection of ten songs that are running around inside my head right now. They'll be mostly new stuff, with a couple of older favourites scattered throughout for flavour. You'll need to register with Spotify to listen to them (a bit like Live365, at least in its early days), and if you go with a free account rather than subscription you'll have to put with adverts (again, much like Live365). But it takes me less time to maintain a playlist than it does to upload a collection of songs, so hopefully this should be a more fluid version of the Audio Lair than the previous one. Of course, it's possible that Spotify's business model is just as rickety as Live365's was back in 2002. But let's wait and see, shall we? In the meantime, wrap your listening gear around this. (I'll update the widget on my About page as soon as I can.)
Travel: There was a time last year when it felt like I was spending every alternate week in Sweden, so it was a surprise to realise that my last visit was almost a year ago. After several consecutive trips to Stockholm, last June I found myself in the less busy environs of Karlskrona, albeit in the middle of the drunken celebrations for the end of the school year. By comparison, my time last week in Linköping was even more quiet. There's not much I can report back to you about regarding the visit, except perhaps for a few travel tips. The main one that springs to mind is not to go there with British Airways - their flights in both directions were delayed by a couple of hours, with my return flight to London getting in long after the last train had left for the city. My fortunes with Swedish rail were a bit more mixed: the journey to Linköping was marred by a cancelled train, but the journey back was enhanced by the conductor failing to sell me a ticket. Getting around Linköping itself involves a careful study of the bus system, which is entirely cashless and requires you to buy single tickets in advance from a carefully concealed selection of vending machines. As for accommodation, the Scandic Linköping Väst is one of three hotels run by the chain in the town, and is up to their usual high standard. No chance of a Monoglot Movie Club coming out of this trip, sadly - as my co-workers pointed out, the local cinema treats Swedish language films as a niche concern and tends to stick with the Hollywood blockbusters you can see anywhere.
Anyway, time for some comments. Off you go.