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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

doorway

almanac.jpgTonight is the end of Summer (Samhain) and the doorway to the dark months that were the beginning of the year in Celtic Times.

As a Scorpio, I'll stick with Samhain being the important festival, marking the start of the next full cycle. So I won't be so much looking for extra terrestrials and kids with candy, but more towards the positive symbols of 'new beginnings'.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Novus Infinite 16...

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...or Sweet Sixteen as the not entirely unpredictable nickname is developing.

I mentioned last Thursday that I'd received a package from Australia, and I'm delighted to say it had arrived from Flying Star Toys in Sandgate, Queensland. Some of you will recognise this as the domain of Florence and the whole gang of personalities which make up the Flying Star world.

Now the Novus package arrived from our postman just as I was about to hit the trail to Birmingham, so what else could I do but pop the bag into the car and take it along for the ride? So Novus Infinite Sixteen first saw the light of day in Birmingham and is, as we speak, still recovering from around 20 days in transit from the other side of the world.

So far Novus Infinite 16 has been fairly quiet, and seems to prefer spending time in the daintily spotted bag which was the basis of the way to travel in comfort. Safely back in rashbre central now, I'm sure the electrical waves which these creatures thrive upon will soon restore full vigour. At the moment, a half in/half out of the bag appearance seems to be the preferred one.

I have a feeling that Novus is going to want to check out some of the places that I frequent in my travels. We'll have to see!

Monday, 29 October 2007

in the shop

panther
A piece of shopping theory that didn't work was being in Birmingham on Friday. I'd expected Saturday to be really busy and that Friday would be easier for wandering around a mall. Wrong. The place was rammed with people from mid-day until I surrendered around 16:30.

I know its the end of the half term holidays, but there seemed to be an awful lot of busy business folk also around the shops. Outside Birmingham's Apple Store in the Bullring, there was also a roped off area with people queueing to buy the new version of Apple's OS/X - the so called Panther. I'd already bought it online and it was delivered on Friday morning, so the artificial 'store opening' at 18:00 was somewhat beaten by white vans delivering copies from internet purchases.

The 'family pack' version is for 5 machines and so far I've installed it on my iMac and a Mac Pro. Sure enough, it just works. It took about 45 minutes to load, gave a big green tick, rebooted the Mac and has been reliably working ever since. I doubt if I'll need to reboot for another month or two now.

I won't go on about the improvements, which are slick to an already smooth user interface and once more I find a Mac upgrade seems to make the machines run more smoothly. This is a different sensation from my disappointing Vista upgrade a few months ago, which refused to recognise my Matrox video accelerator, some of my special sound drivers, one of the printers and required about 5 reboots as well as plenty of megabytes of downloads.

I suppose the simplicity of the mac update gives me more time to spend on other tasks... Like shopping.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

scared yet?

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A few days yet to halloween, but its close enough to gather a few preparatory items. The empty bucket with "I'm out, please take one" is quite a good idea.

For some harmless fun, here' s Ben and jerry's comprehensive site of mild scariness. The slightly bonkers extreme pumpkins continues its art forms, this year with the addition of candy traps.

Addtionally, a walk around the flickr Graves, Tombstones and Cemeteries web site may add some atmosphere, or you could simply play a couple of tunes to get in the mood. I'll go with Frankenstein's place and a bit of Science Fiction.

over at the Frankenstein's place

science fiction

Saturday, 27 October 2007

subvert

charting
I happened to watch a small segment of the X Factor TV show on Saturday evening. That's the 'talent show' vaguely connected with pop music and featuring Simon Cowell amongst others. They have telephone voting every week and clearly are not affected by the Eckohs from all of the recent scandals about mis-cast votes and similar.

Anyway, the show seems to be set to finish in time to get a single released in the period leading up to Christmas. A nice little earner, some might say. I quite like the idea to offer another track as a competitor, and to see whether everyman can really affect the rather commercially 'stitched up' charting process. So what better than 'XMASCHARTATTACK'? There's just about enough time to create and hype a non main artist record into the number one spot and (shhh!) here's the site to help do it.

Its all a good idea in theory, but I suppose the machine that makes pop singles will plough on regardless, so a ringer would only be a net increase in total volume during the lead up period.

Its a fun idea though. Vote early and vote often, as they say.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Rufus Wainwright

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Part of the reason for visiting Birmingham was to see Rufus Wainwright at the Symphony Hall on Thursday evening. It was only a few minutes walk from the City Inn which is a modern urban type hotel in the remodelled part of Birmingham near to the canals.

The tickets said 19:00 start, which usually means 19:30 or 20:00, so it was surprising to have to wait outside at ten past seven because the support act were already playing!

More than compensated by discovering the pleasing seats were in Row A just to the right of the centre stage. A lone spare seat next to me on one side eventually yielded a Rufus Wainwright fan who had been to 15 of the performances on the current tour as well as seeing him at the Albert Hall and the Carnegie in New York.

"Hmm", I commented, "I thought his performance at Glastonbury was pretty good", knowing my knowledge was limited to the last CD (which we'd somehow lost, instead of having it for 'revision' on the motorway journey to Birmingham).

Anyway as luck would have it, when Rufus appeared with his flamboyant looking band, they immediately started with one of the numbers I knew, from the latest album, and then moved into the very sweeping song about a broken America, called "going to a town". Rufus (who I believe is Canadian?) has a sort of stars and stripes on the back of the stage in black and white with broaches for the stars.

As the first track started I remembered the feeling from hearing his Glastonbury tracks. Here was a musician who I'd somehow bypassed but who commands strong, clever lyrics, a unique and tuneful voice, and a soundscape that sucks one into the performance. So, maybe not as strongly as the person to my left, I was hooked for the performance, which changed from full band rocking pieces, through jazzy and semi orchestral sounding numbers to quiet pieces played with piano or guitar.

In between there was some banter with the audience and clearly there were other songs very well known to people who applauded as various songs started. People did stay seated though, which is somehow unusual compared with quite a lot of concerts, where there's a certain amount of dancing in the aisle. Perhaps its because it was a Symphony Hall, or maybe because of the fairly strict ushers who were also on camera watch. I worked out that pictures from where I was located were a no-no (I need another variety of the StarCam for concerts). Some people managed to take a few though and so I've taken the liberty to post one of Ella's above. In amongst the strong songs, we had a fan join Rufus on stage to worthily accompany one of the tracks. Rufus and the band were out to please and packed the available time with numbers. Changeovers of guitars and instruments were fast and slick, this is a touring band who know what they are about.

The first half finished with a rocker and, yes, there was still a second half to look forward to.

So what to top the first half? It turned out the show in two halves really had at least three main sections. More well-played album tracks (with Rufus wearing Lederhosen(?)) and then a diversion into folk music. The microphones were off, the horn section played the sympathetic accompaniment and Rufus sang a traditional Irish song. Pin drop material.

Then more album tracks which demonstrated further his word crafting as well as the versatility of his band.

Then to the end and a play-out by the band leaving the stage one by one. An unusual way to finish.

And sure enough, after a pause longer than Prince at the O2 arena, the band and Rufus in a bathrobe reappeared for further songs. And part way through this section he sat front centre, applied some makeup, removed the dressing gown and became Judy Garland! Oh, and the band somehow appear wearing dude-ish suits and started a dance routine.

Okay. improbable and I suspect that number was mimed, but immense fun as an interlude in the set. Afterwards the band soon picked up the pace again with proper instruments for the closing part of what had been a long set.

And my overall impression; here's a singer songwriter of great talent, with a strong and adaptive band. Together they put on a great show, capturing the entire audience from start to end. Rufus released the stars tonight.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

day off

southern cross
...supposedly, although I've only just stopped being online.

In a work sense.

This blogging doesn't count because its play.

But now I'm hitting the road. I may have to take with me the package that just arrived from Australia ;->

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

cut hands

bikeI cut my hands on the razor wire as I scrambled across the river on the rusty pipe leading to the other bank. It wasn't a long crossing, but there were now a couple of angry looking dogs where I'd been moments earlier, so there was only one direction available.

As I slithered on loose stones and found higher ground, I could see two people walking along the tow path opposite. At first it looked as if they were exercising the dogs, but within seconds I could see the flash of some high-tech equipment.

Then the earth behind me rattled and smoked as I heard the delayed mechanical chatter of a weapon. They'd spotted me and broken cover. I was too quick for them and found the Suzuki bike where I'd expected. I flipped on the crash helmet, gunned the engine and bumped out of the rough ground before they had a chance to follow.
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I expect my hands will be in a worse state than this derelict storyline, by the time I've attempted this year's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which starts in a few days.

Oh well.

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Monday, 22 October 2007

the planes are in the air again

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Before the Iraq war, I used to watch Arabic televison from hotels when I spent time in various middle eastern countries. There would often be news broadcasts about aircraft taking out pieces of defence infrastructure along the Iraq borders. I sometimes wondered how news management worked that meant this received coverage in some countries but was almost unreported in others.

Same today with the Tupolevs flying close to British airspace and being intercepted by the Royal Air Force. There have been reports of similar incursions into Norwegian airspace from around July but suddenly we are getting British news crews interviewing the Russian pilots who have been flying their deceptively museum piece looking bombers potentially loaded with high octane armaments.

Of course, we've also had the news today of Americans flying their own somewhat armed nuclear planes across the United States, so there seems to still be plenty of ways to acccidentally blow one another up.

here's one we prepared earlier - zoom in to take a look at the fighters and bombers
I count twelve USAF bases in the UK at present : Alconbury, Barford St John, Blenheim Crescent, Croughton, Fairford, Feltwell, Lakenheath, Menwith Hill, Mildenhall, Molesworth, Upwood and Welford. SInce the 1990s, these bases have been changed from cold war storage bunkers for cruise missiles and B52 runways into refuelling depots and extensive listening posts, but there is almost a suggestion that the recent wing waggling could start some tacit re-escalation.

For the purposes of novel writing or film making, the nuclear warplane backdrop creates an interesting context. For real life living, there have to be better ways to restart a flagging and edgily recessive global economy.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

flammable

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Instead of going to the cigarette factory last night, I visited a greasy garage-diner. It was all small time America, with writhing passions and two-bit dreams, until the arrival of another new person in town.

Then we saw duplicity in the heat and desire of the alleys around the car body shop, with greed, lust, betrayal and revenge.

This was Matthew Bourne's 'The Car Man' (he of the ballet scenes at the end of Billy Elliott). The music was Bizet, the moves and story line had been adapted to suit the revised setting and excellent staging for a spell-binding two hours.
needy
From the opening scene with the the frustrated wife of the garage owner smoking a cigarette under a sign that says 'Man Wanted', through the point where the backpacking drifter shows up, we can see there's the setup for some mayhem. The plot moves fast driven by Bizet's music.

There's a whole lot of complications in the love triangle, better explained by seeing who emerges with whom from a car at one point in the action. Let's just say that a poor unsuspecting person gets compromised and then takes the rap for the bloody demise of the garage owner.

There's powerful and graphic choreography with mixes of intense physical dance as well as a fair share of humour both in the dance and in the way the accompanying score is used. By the second half, the whole pot is brought nicely to the boil. From 'le beat route' club where scenes of spending and drunkenness show the nearest to remorse following the first half's murder, we are then transported to the prison of the framed convict.

In slightly more than a single bound, the hapless prisoner, perhaps smarting from some of the treatment he received in the prison, now decides to return to the town to put matters right. But even that has its twists, and the town called Harmony has its own way of dealing with things, too.

A great evening; the show is touring and it was the last night in its current venue.

great excerpt here

Friday, 19 October 2007

ring mod psychosis

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Being in the McDonald's on Monday got me thinking about extensions to the StarCam concept. I have another project now, to extend the model to video. I'm planning to use a 'to go' carryout/takeaway bag from a common high street chain.

I suppose it will have to be McDonald's for authenticity. I'm not sure how this fits with eco friendly healthy eating, but sometimes one has to pay a price to be a leading edge inventor.

I shall try not to get a psychosis about it, although now I've discovered that I can hook my X-station up to Mainstage on the Mac and dial up all manner of nightmarish sounds, then some people may start to wonder.

seventeen seconds too long

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Kate Walsh at Union Chapel


An enjoyable evening at Union Chapel, which started by bumping into Mel and John at the McD's in Islington. They were in pole position in the window on the special funky chairs.

I'd got a business call before we started the main evening, so I was on the phone as we entered Union Chapel just after seven pm and the call lasted another 20 minutes or so, with me mainly on mute.

We managed to get some excellent seats (pews) very near to the front, and left some coats whilst we wandered around to the side to grab a Red Stripe before the support act came on. Then back at eight to see (I'm not sure who) who played acoustic guitar, harmonica and sang some of his own songs really well. By this time the Chapel was pretty well full.

A short pause and then Kate Walsh took to the stage, with three accompanying musicians comprising a cellist, violinist and an acoustic slide accompanist. Kate played mainly from her 'Tim's House' album, interspersed with a couple of new songs - one in the encore.

Kate sang and played well, recovering from a couple of odd moments when all of the lights failed and then later when she started to play in the wrong key as a consequence of trying a new capo.

I particularly like the solo guitar and song numbers, which provide an enchanting simplicity, although the accompanied songs were also highly polished and enjoyable - and the small set of musicians were hardly over-complicating the arrangements. An entertaiing evening, particuarly being able to see someone as good as Kate Walsh, in what was a spectacular, yet still intimate venue.

My original discovery of this gig was when I was looking at another series during November, and I've got the pin number to call for advanced ticket,s so we'll see whether I make it back there again, quite soon.

Post concert, it was a taxi ride across town; the Victoria Line is still shutting at ten o clock in the evening.

Go on...play the video, which is also a commercial for the album!

Monday, 15 October 2007

starcam

starcamSome relief today that rashbre central has survived its migration from Windows to Linux, at a data centre somewhere in Germany.

I've had to rebuild my secret little website, but everything seems to be working. Good also that its been relatively 'hands off' because today I've been at various meetings in London and in between decided to try out the 'StarCam' Starbuck's coffee cup camera.
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So the story starts at the busy area around Oxford Street and Regent's Street., with plenty of London traffic to dodge, whilst carrying a cup of coffee. The early shots were quite difficult to aim until I'd figured out where the clicker button was, through the coffee cup.
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Then a gap in the traffic and across Regent's Street, aware that whilst moving fast, the camera will probably blur the shots. And because I'm moving from outdoors to indoors yet not using flash, there's quite a varaton in lighting to handle.
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So here I am going into a store in Regent's Street, this won't win many prizes, but this was an experiment, after all.
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Then back along Regent's Street to Oxford Circus tube station, where I needed to catch the Bakerloo Line to Paddington; in this case passing one of the many newsagents selling West End Final Evening Standards.
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So then its into the tube station, where the lighting proved a bit much for the rather primitive StarCam setup. I think it captures the action of a busy tube station fairly well, though I momentarily lost my Oyster card in the excitement of trying to walk, carry a bag, and a cup of coffee. Lucky I wasn't chewing gum as well.
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One minute wait for the train, not bad and it wasn't too full either. I wasn't quite sure how best to hold the coffee cup on the train (no coffee in it etc), so I dropped it into my bag.
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Re-emerging at Paddington, onto the platform concourse. I paused here, but the pictures still have a hectic look.
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I was still on my way to a meeting, so this was all rather incidental to my main reason for the journey.
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Passing a train, and even going past Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed the train station and most of the original line to the West of England.
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So I'll finish with the picture of Brunel looking into the station, before I hopped outside and along the road to the location of meeting, and I did have to meet someone first...in a Starbucks.
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More here

Sunday, 14 October 2007

clunk

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Please do not adjust your sets, but I've had to take the covers off rashbre central this weekend. It was making a sort of scraping noise. I discovered that some of the cogs are not meshing properly, so I'll be doing a small amount of maintenance over the next week or two.

For those more technically minded, I will be changing the wibbulator; the less technical may be interested to know that I'm adding proper php support to the server in Germany so that my various javascript and css add-ons can be a little easier to maintain.

Short term, this means that the formatting and layout may look a little stranger than usual. I'm hopeful that things will start to look more normal by about Wednesday.

don't mess

austin3.jpg
I was reading maximum bob's tune complilation for the shuffleathon, which is an organized way to swap music (aka mixtapes - but nowadays on CD). Bob described the various tracks he'd selected and sent, which largely had a US-style country feel to them.

I'll admit, I found the descriptions interesting although other than the Julie Roberts track about Whiskey and (worryingly) another track about tequila I don't know any of them. I did spot the holyhose compilation on iTunes though, so it would be easy enough to revise.
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The descriptions of the tunes remind me of a place I've visited several times which is like a wild epicenter for country type music. That's Austin, Texas and especially the area around 6th Street. Its full of bars and clubs and the general idea is to wander from one lively place to another listening to the bands, enjoying some comedy and just chillin' in the bars.
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Austin is also one of those places where what happens in Austin stays in Austin, so whether its the aromatic reggae club at the end of the street, the multi storied bands by the Driskill or the shop window performances of the Comedy Club, lets just say it's all great fun, especially when wearing a stetson from Sheplers.
austin5.jpgUsually I've visited Austin with enough of us to be able to create a few interesting moments and there's a tradition to take a photo outside a certain place although we never show it to anyone who wasn't part of the trip.

So I'll throw a country style tune into the ring now, but as those that know me might expect instead of a song about girls with apartments in Nashville ;-) its Michelle Shocked performing live in a small club and singing about the piney green rolling hills and the red clay backroads of East Texas.
memories of east texas + the VW story

Saturday, 13 October 2007

starbucks coffee cup camera in 10 minutes

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A few days ago I was musing about devising an upgrade for the juicebox spy camera to allow ease of photo shooting in public areas. I decided that the design point was to be able to improvise something in a few minutes from easily available components. Okay, I know you need a digital camera as well, but that's really the point of the post.

Walking along the street with a colourful juice box and drinking straw may be a little unusual but the preponderance of people carrying Starbucks, Costas, Pret a Manger or Coffee Nation "To-go's" is pretty high.

So here it is.

Starbuck's coffee cup camera
DSC_26371) Drink the coffee first. Mine was a grande latte. Don't try with expresso.
2) Check that the camera will actually fit into the cup. Mine did 'portrait' style.
3) Stand the camera next to the cup, observe where the lens hole need to be and tear out a small opening. Mine was right over the small logo face on the back of the cup. I tidied the hole with scissors later.
4) Grab some cardboard packing (eg from another cup) and wedge behind the camera in the cup. Mine was outer packaging from chocolate brownies (don't ask).
5) Put on the sucky lid.

And zippy clicky, you should have a working StarCam (r) (c) rashbre inc. You need to know the position of the on-off and clicker button and then simply squeeze the cup in the relevant position. Fabulously, my clicker button is right by the 'shots' tick box on the side of the cup. And when walking along, its easy enough to have one's hand around the lens area until the moment of the picture.

Just don't use the flash.

I'll see what happens in live use. You may get some pictures of me being chased by an angry crowd. Later.

traffic

taxi.jpgI've changed my plans which were originally to go to the town of Reading later today, because I've spotted that there could be some above average traffic disruptions.

Reading has a mysterious and overloaded traffic system at the best of times and now its augmented with the side effects of the end of Ramadan (رمضان).

The Eid celebration(عيد الفطر) is this weekend and apparently 80% of the taxis in Reading are Muslim operated and will be out of action. I can't work out whether that means there will be more or less traffic, but I suspect the answer is more.

For Muslims, Ramadan is the month of fasting and Eid-ul-Fitr is the celebration to mark its end, at the showing of the new moon marking the start of the next lunar month of Shawwal.

I can remember from my time in the middle east, that after the celebrations, a lot of folk take an extra six days in fasting because one day of being good by fasting is repaid ten times over. So 36 days of fasting pretty much covers the full upcoming year.

So I expect Reading will be pretty lively tonight, with the combination of late revellers waiting in lines or simply staying on because they can't get easily home. I'll be on a Plan B.

Friday, 12 October 2007

pootered

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It would appear that even space has bugs.

And thanks, cartoonlife, for the suggestion about a bass-line for that synthy thing.

Here's a slightly buggy bass enabled space cathedral version.

phat space reason

Thursday, 11 October 2007

affair

affair
I see a part of the USA is really catering for all eventualities nowadays with the recent West Hollywood billboard advertisment for the dating service for people who are currently married.

And now there's the related advertising for the divorce lawyers. Don't they just think of everything?
divorce

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

everything except compromise


For part of yesterday I was with Johnny in the basement mixin' up the medicine.

And then Mark Ronson did this, which I happen to think is rather good.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

reason

reason
Minimalist music today.

I'll be honest, I don't really get on with the old school patch map based synthesizers when I mess around with music. All the wires and analogue instability which some people love, but it seems to leave a lot more to chance.

So although I have a copy of Reason, which I used to experiment with on a PC, it has never made it across to my macworld.

Until today.

It's an old copy, and I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if I simply set up a few mournful arpeggiates on a couple of the synths included.

So it is not really a tune, more a few sweeps of sound. Perhaps it could use a bass-line.

no reason with two nn-xt

Monday, 8 October 2007

nuts

theakstons nut free crisps
Crunching a couple of Grilled Steak and Theakston's Old Peculiar crisps, whilst I mused the derivation of Jack Straw's reference to "discombobulation" today, I noticed the disclaimer on the back of the crisp packet.
nutfree.jpg
Recipe : No nuts.
Ingredients: Cannot guarantee nut free
Factory : No nuts.

What can it all mean? A disclaimer on a bag of potato crisps that havn't been anywhere near nuts, that there may still be some inside?

Are they embarrassed that they don't know whether they've included nuts by accident, or that they feel the need for an allergy disclaimer even when they don't need one?

Perhaps they couldn't make up their minds? Perhaps, like, Gordon Brown (according to Mr Straw) they were discombobulated.

If we are not going to have a General Election in the UK until 2009, despite Mr Brown's closest advisors telling the press it was 'game on', then maybe a certain confused embarrassment will now flicker over Gordon's face. A sort of discombobulation.

Recipe : Truth and trust
Ingredients : Cannot guarantee spin free
Factory : confused


Sunday, 7 October 2007

why (fi)?

wifi_shirt_anim.gifIf, like me, you are busy roaming a major city this weekend, but still feel the need to go online, than this tee-shirt could be quite useful. Who needs keychain detectors when you can also operate as a public service with this black number?

The wi-fi detector tee-shirt displays glowing bars to indicate signal strength. A couple of minor problems though? It picks up peer network enabled PCs and the batteries are NOT included.

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Saturday, 6 October 2007

snappy slurpy

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Debra wrote a few days ago about photographing a street scene and then being semi accosted by a drunk who she had randomly captured on film. It all played out okay, but did also get me thinking.

In some places it quite easy to look like a tourist and take purposeful pictures with crowds of people in a fairly innocuous way. Other times its best to look like 'an artist' trying to take 'the perfect shot' without overtly paying attention to the folk around.

In reality, like a spy, its always good to be aware of the surroundings and the possibilty of attracting unexpected attention. Being out in a group can help and tiny digital cameras don't draw so much attention.

If I take pictures of single individuals, or small groups where they are really the focus, then I try to ask for permission. If its a 'busy street scene' or similar, then I think its fair game when the people are really an incidental part of the composition. It is like there is a line between 'street' and 'candid'. I suppose on average I'm more often waiting for people to get out of the frame when I take pictures rather than capturing them.

But I must confess my inner mad scientist is urging me to make an anonymous Starbucks coffee cup camera - because I can, if you know what I mean.

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Friday, 5 October 2007

North West Frontier Art

Imran's Picture
Great to hear from friend Imran this week. He's been putting together a bit of a portfolio and I'm expecting great things in the future as he expands it into a gallery of some type. Imran is one of those people with a great eye for the scene and I'm looking forward to online galleries at the very least and hopefully a proper facility somewhere too!

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Thursday, 4 October 2007

travelling companion of the earth

fireball xl5
Fifty years ago, on the 4th October, the first Russian Sputnik was launched and marked the start of the space race. Firing a silver beachball with four antenna into space led to America then galvanising the Apollo program to get Neil Armstrong and friends on the moon just 12 years later.

Sputnik Zemlyi helped give a name to the beatnik generation and heralded the Americans and Russians doing amazing things with relatively ancient high-technology - old space capsules are filled with relays and electro-mechanical componentry.

Of course, part of the agenda of sputnik was Russia's attempts to build ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missiles) and the sputnik was a first attempt to get a payload into orbit. The agenda of both superpowers continued to be around advanced weaponry and the Americans built the halls at Canaveral big enough so that rockets could be assembled ready to fly rather than having to be upturned and then fuelled (which could take more than a day).
screenshot_09.jpgSo using today's custom Google, I checked the name of America's first satellite...Explorer 1, which orbited some four months after Russia's first success. And less than four years later the Russians put Yuri Gagarin into space in April 1961. Right now there's some 25,000 man made satellites orbiting earth with some 8,700 still in managed orbit and the remaining 16,000 or so in various stages of decay. Russia accounts for 10,000 of the broken units and the USA has around 4000 of the ones still active.

So, a few days ago, when I was looking at the International Space Station, there's some comfort to knowing it is at least a symbol of co-operation between the major countries involved, rather than owned by a single superpower with a big ray gun.

sputnik zemlyi beep beep (mp3)
fireball xl5 theme tune (mp3)

Oh, alright then, here's the Fireball XL5 tune with the credits


Wednesday, 3 October 2007

OTA : Wordless Wednesday

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Every balloon a winner from Saturday's school reunion

Add a comment or trackback for Wordless Wednesday!

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Tuesday, 2 October 2007

masque of the red death

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The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine.

Or so I've been told.

I'll have to wait a few weeks to check this out, but I do seem to have managed to blag some tix for this rather interesting evening at BAC. First part is wandering around inside a building filled with a live performance of Edgar Allen Poe's Masque of the Red Death and then its down a secret path to a private party at Prince Prospero's Palace.

Monday, 1 October 2007

smashing

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The saga of the lounge sofa continues and the next version is being delivered later this week. This will be the third set, based upon the various colour (yellow instead of brown) and configuration (righthanded instead of left handed) erros of the last few months. The Autostrada from Italy now charges a discount to the trucks shipping furniture to England for rashbre central.

But to keep the story going I've had another spot of bad luck. The light fitting was ordered over the internet from a well know store with a spelling similar to d*b*nh*ms. It arrived in a big box, the delivery man zoomed away at warp factor five and before opening the box I noticed an unusual rattling sound. Yes, the glass was broken into quite a few small pieces. We called to have it collected and sure enough another van picked it up a few days later.

The cost of the delivery and return was deducted from the credit card used to pay - a d*b*nh*ms store card. However, the original item was neither replaced nor had the money refunded. Now after two months there is also interest to pay on the non existent product.

Phone calls don't help; the store card is really not connected to the store and the store can't resolve the interest. They are suggesting that letters are now required. I do use the internet for quite a few purchases. This particular retailer hasn't really cracked it (well other than the glass) and at the moment I seem to be paying for their poor systems. I'll admit the amount of interest charged is pretty small, assuming the refund comes through but it's still not right. It relies on people not having time to fix these things. I just won't shop online with them again.

Anyway, to be less gloomy, at least the mac mini can now pump the internet and iTunes Front Row onto the television for those moments when there's nothing else to watch.