Monday, 31 October 2016

reflections on piloting the future


I've now enjoyed watching all of the Charlie Brooker Black Mirror series. When I say all, I really mean all, because after series 3, Netflix drops back to the start of series 2 and then even back into the start of series 1.

I won't detail plots or characterisations here, more to say that there is a consistency to the near future incremental nature of much of the Brooker world. Each idea seems to fit alongside other ones in a way that meshes, a thought that isn't lost on the production team who provide little overlaps from one storyline to another. Not plot points, just hat-tip moments.

The ideas vary from that Series 1 story about a prime minister and a pig (long before the Hameron news bursts) the one about an X factor type show with accompanying meaningless work style processes then through virtual realities, nano robotics and many a reference to distortions of the social media experience.

Some ideas are ones that many of us may have thought about, (pay per not view, killer robotic insects, inside the machine, what happens when the x-system is down?) but Black Mirror stamps the pedal down to drive through impacts and conclusions for all of its scenarios.

I already mentioned hat-tips too. The new episodes have mainly gathered creative production sheens appropriate to their genre. There's the colour palette of Edward Scissorhands meets Desparate Housewives in one new episode. Various Hitchcock moments in another. Staccato 90 degree camera shuttering of a modern combat movie, coupled with the green/brown muted saturation of a shoot-em-up game in one about reality distortion.

The world view appears seamless, sounds right and kind of how we'd expect it to work, with sharp ideas alongside other throwaway moments almost worthy of whole episodes.

I'll have to give it a week and then watch them all again. And maybe take a few notes.

Meantime, here's a Tesla driving itself around a few road systems. Let's not forget how amazingly consistent American road junctions are, compared with the ones here in the UK.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

San Junipero cops in the donut shop say...Way Oh. Of course.


That San Junipero 80s extended soundtrack, from Charlie Brooker, on Spotify. Waaa-Oh Way-Oh, plus a few of those synths that look like guitars.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

cashless vanguard


The new £1 coin is being minted, ready for introduction in a couple of months. Like the old thrup'ny bit, it has 12 sides and the new coin is supposed to non viable to forge, compared with the ease with which current dud £1 coins are in circulation.

The old coin was 3/240ths of a £1, or worth just over 1p in today's currency. Its buying power by 1971 decimalisation was somewhat higher though, at about today's equivalent of 15p or three bob in old money.

So in buying power, that's 15/100th of a £1, a 12 times reduction in value over 45 years, or nearly 15 times reduction with recent currency fluctuations.

Maybe cashless society already has another meaning?

Friday, 28 October 2016

hoovering up robot data


I recently replaced the power supplies to my Drobo disk drives. These file servers each have 5 disks and one was starting to struggle after a reboot. Older disks seem to need a bit more oomph to restart.

Just for fun it's got me thinking about all these recent robot TV stories - Humans, Westworld and similar shows. I know, it's fiction, but I'm interested in the power needed for an untethered human-sized robot to operate for 24 hours. That's before it develops the m-m-minor g-g-glitches favoured in most sci-fi and by my Drobo (Data Robotics) disks.

So when sitting idle I consume about 80 watts, increasing to 100-130 watts for very light exercise, about 200 watts when cycling (according to my Garmin Edge 810) and up to about 500 watts for short bursts of time (also Garmin).

Distributing that power through a day I get to a figure of about 2900 watts, or 121 watts per hour. It is higher than Wikipedia says, but when I do a quick cross check of my figures with an average daily calorie intake, it gets to the following:

I've generalised these numbers so that they equate to someone consuming 2,500 Kcal per day. Coca Cola cans say people consume 2,000 Kcalories per day, but I suspect that the 2,500 Kcal is still a reasonable guess.

My numbers are only rough figures and an hour or so of cycling could skew the energy consumption upward. It's still enough for some further fun calculations.

Now assume a battery equivalent to supply the energy - i.e. a robot version of the same form consuming electricity instead of salads, spaghetti and cups of tea.

I use a couple of examples of modern high-tech batteries (from a Dell computer and from an e-bike) to gauge an average of around 130 Watt hours per Kilogram of battery weight. I'll leave clever mini reactors and insanium out of this for the moment.

The battery efficiency equates to a bizarrely heavy 22 Kilos or 50 lbs of battery weight per day to drive a human-sized machine doing human type things if the efficiency was 1:1. I suppose a substitute humanoid could be made of structurally light materials, although the design of a human already optimises much of this. Come to think of it, probably removing the 55% water in a human would be the biggest reduction in weight?

There's still a a big 'but' though. Most machine efficiency is considerably lower than biological efficiency.

As an example, a modern petrol car runs at about 21% efficiency after decades of honing. A 1:5 reduction in efficiency would drastically increase the battery need for a 24 hour human-shaped self-contained machine to 111 Kilos, or 245 lbs. Ironically there would also need to be fans and coolant to dissipate heat created during bursts of activity.

But I suppose we'd remove the water and make other redesigns. That's where non fictional untethered robots would operate very differently, by not needing to move around in the same way as a human.

I begin to understand why robots in Star Wars and other series are often shaped like industrial vacuum cleaners.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Thursday 13 brexit wrexit wannabe


The Spice girls know about those Brexit negotiation considerations:

So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha)
I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah

  1. The EU won't want the result of Brexit to make it look as if the UK has done better by leaving. Allowing UK to do well would mess up the politics and balance of whoever is left inside. 
  2. Article 50 is only 268 words. It doesn't cover life after Brexit. At all. 
  3. The EU are already indicating that they will want UK to lay out its exit negotiation points before they will respond. A case of who will blink first? 
  4. There are already signs of some top UK industries looking for alternative homes, post Brexit. The City of London's dominant business springs to mind. The problem becomes that there is nowhere else attractive to site it. Yet. 
  5. The UK civil service departments are slow at decision making and negotiation. 
  6. The political classes are all looking at how they can pint fingers elsewhere. 
  7. Activity and result are not the same thing. Like digging holes near to Hinkley is not the same as designing or building a power station. 
  8. There is no plan. 
  9. Even if a plan appears, it is supposed to be kept secret.
  10. It is impossible to get all the things that were in the original Brexit claims. 
  11. The EU will want the UK to pay for everything, like now. Spending less is unlikely.
  12. A new guard of leaders will appear in the Eu and they will not want to acknowledge what their predecessors may have hinted at agreeing with UK. 
  13. The Canadians have been negotiating for seven years with the EU and it is still not concluded. 
  14. Even if the UK makes deals with non-EU countries, it is still further away and a less soft market than the EU has been. 
  15. Tariffs may become secondary to changed legislation which could delay the introduction of new product and services to the EU. 
Now don't go wasting my precious time Get your act together we could be just fine I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah

    Wednesday, 26 October 2016

    fly wrangling for movie buffs


    I sometimes watch the credits of interesting movies. Occasionally I'll also do it for TV shows, although Netflix and similar jump starters can make that less frequent.

    Westworld on Sky still plays out the full end titles. There's some interesting aspects to its CGI, not to mention the pianola music which features Radiohead amongst others. The clip at the top of the post is from the Westworld show (26 thousand hits) and the one below is the original song (38 million hits)

    But there was one particular credit that got me thinking. Fly wrangler. Now there's a thing.

    Tuesday, 25 October 2016

    up the creaking committees without a brexit


    One of the old sayings about committees is their ability to hide in safe detail. It's the story of the power station and the bike sheds, where the committee is better able to talk about bike shed placement than the big stuff. Or talk of plane marshalling paddles instead of the new runway.

    The recent Hinkley Point situation is a good example. Sure, the negotiation was slowed down for a while after Cameron's crash. Ultimately, May/Hammond have signalled it to go ahead pretty much as envisaged.

    That's with the unworkable design and over-expensive power bills for 30+ years after/if the thing actually gets built. Take a look at Flamanville, France which was started in 2007, has seen cost tripled, is six years behind schedule and may have to be dug out and re-built. Olkiluoto, Finland is 10 years behind schedule and has so far seen its costs triple. There's not a single working version of the planned EPR type for Hinkley.

    It illustrates the worrying lack of negotiation prowess which could also be brought expensively to bear on the whole Brexit process.

    The Heathrow announcement can be another example, which now gets kicked into a further two year committee stage.

    Even the dastardly knight continues as yet with no real changes to formal status.

    It all reminds me that there's other sayings about paddles.

    Monday, 24 October 2016

    seaside moment

    IMG_4149.jpg i do like to be beside the seaside
    The next day they closed the bridge across to the other side, giving us a long detour through single track roads.

    Saturday, 22 October 2016

    no spark with this card

    Most loyalty schemes don't work properly. A well-known motoring organisation, various well known insurance organisations and well-known energy companies have all decided it would be worth a punt to fleece me at renewal time. I understand the selling model, get 'em, don't annoy 'em and quietly increase their charges.

    You'd think the loyalty shopper schemes would be on to this in some way, but I can't help thinking that if inertia sellers are calculated in their actions to extract cash from time-poor people, the loyalty card schemes struggle with their different model.

    Like about half of the UK shopping population, I've somehow joined M&S Sparks, although I must admit don't keep the card in my wallet. I hardly ever look at it, although this weekend there's supposed to be a special big discount, which I idly clicked through to browse. And yes, I thought it was funnier to adjust the aspect ratio slightly on this picture.

    Well, aside from the unexplained * on the offer (which didn't appear anywhere in the small print on the rest of the page), the clickthrough took me to 'the offer'.

    Guess what? It was for discount on ice cream, or hand cooked crisps. The phrase 'Epic Fail' sparks in my mind.

    I assume the brief is to stop anyone from ever using these cards for anything.

    Although I must admit that I do use that Stocard app to keep track of various membership and related cards that don't automatically turn up in Wallet.

    It's also handy for saving things things like copies of driving licences and some of those hotel schemes.

    Not forgetting to also save a copy of passport and driving license information into Evernote.

    Update: M&S just sent me another message to say they were hasty pressing send and the bonus mow ends midnight Monday! It still clicks through to the ice cream offer though.

    Thursday, 20 October 2016

    occupied with parallels


    I've been watching Occupied, which is the show about Norway attempting to cease oil production and move to Thorium power.

    In the story, adjacent nations don't care so much for the Norwegian idea and Russia intervenes with what starts out as an undercover occupation.

    In this Jo Nesbø version of a near future the Americans have left NATO and the EU and adjoining Sweden can see the benefits of keeping the oil flowing.

    The series shows the beautiful scenery of Norway and the sleek modernity of its architecture and infrastructure, much built from the taxation proceeds of the natural resources it found. Curiously less so with the Norwegian military, who send a couple of Orion propeller planes (based on a 1957 commercial design) to look at what is happening around the oil rigs.

    Not long ago, the plot line for this could all seem quite improbable, but already the power moves of the series seem less far fetched. Maybe Thorium power plants aren't in vogue, but the potential noises off from Trumpton already talk of NATO exit and pay-as-you-go security systems.

    The biggest American reactor (Palo Verde, AZ) is cooled by evaporating the water from treated sewage. Having watched yesterday's 'Presidential' debate from Las Vegas, the trip from Vegas along Route 93 to the reactors easily serves up several poignant metaphors.

    Russia wasn't best pleased with the Occupied show either, although recent Crimean, east Ukrainian and Syrian situations starkly demonstrate Putin's post cold war attitude. And right now the Russians have a Kirov battlecruiser, Sierra attack submarine, Udaloy destroyer and their flagship Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier dispatched from Severomorsk travelling straight down the British coastline towards the English Channel on their route to the Mediterranean. Presumably to Syria.

    Nesbø didn't make this bit up, it's happening right now.

    Wednesday, 19 October 2016

    the kind of westworlds i have visited

    Untitled
    I've been watching the Westworld series, which is based on a Michael Crichton story about robots in a closed system that go wrong. Crichton had form with that plot line, having used variants in The Andromeda Strain (microorganisms in the desert), Jurassic Park (dinosaurs in a theme park) and Congo (a closed gorilla world).

    Inevitably there's some Disney-esque aspects to the Westworld approach, with the notable exception that Disney is family friendly and uses people instead of robots for most of the characters.

    I've visited the Magic Kingdom many times with its monorail or steamship entrance to the park. So many times that I know my way around many of the service back roads and have even shown taxi drivers shortcuts.
    P3300061.jpg
    Inside there's that steamship that circles the small island inside the park. I don't think its even listed as a ride, yet its a full sized steamboat.
    P4020671.jpg
    There's the full sized railway to get quickly to Tomorrowland. Everything looks realistic. Even the street scenes that change suddenly around a corner from Manhattan to San Francisco.
    P4020665.jpg
    Of course, like in the movie sets, they want you to know that its done with tricks.
    P4020670.jpg
    Across in the Animal Kingdom there's a battered locomotive that picks you up to journey through the savannah.
    P4030800.jpg
    And wherever you are, every so often there's a character or sudden parade to remind you that it's all great fun.
    P4091210.jpg
    I've had a different experience with the Punchdrunk shows. They have a more limited universe, contained within a single building. The whole of the Battersea Arts Centre was used for Red Masque and an entire dilapidated Post Office Sorting Office was used for The Drowned Man. These shows are more like what Crichton envisages in Westworld. If Disney plays external, the Punchdrunk experience internalises much of what happens.

    To begin with, every 'guest' wears a mask. A cloak as well for the Red Masque.

    Then it's free format to browse the entire huge set. Arrived with others? You'll get split up. It's inevitable- maybe even on the way in through dark and winding corridors or through mis-functioning elevators or stagger unexpectedly through black curtains.

    Stumble across desert hotels, cowboy camp sites, the middle of arguments by jilted lovers. Find altogether freaky moments, crazy science experiments and still wonder how much you are missing.

    Know that sometimes the fastes way to a new experience might really be by walking into the back of a cupboard filled with clothes or even into a fireplace chimney. I missed a whole bar filled with people the first time I visited Drowned Man, and in another area could only watch a show from on the stage itself.

    And then, sometimes get picked out by a "host" for an unexpected one-to-one interaction.

    Be stopped from entering areas by the police, and then wonder why others get through.
    Untitled
    It's an altogether different experience from the lightheartedness of Disney, and designed to play with your head as much as Disney plays with your heart.

    And what about Westworld? I remember the original movie, which maybe at the time had some of the effects that others have copied.

    It was made back in 1973 and dreamed of robot snakes, a combustible crazy robot gunslinger, pixellated night vision scopes and the exterior of a monorail that still looks cool in 2016.

    Other aspects were sometimes a bit Benny Hill meets Up Pompeii meets Monty Python and no-one in it was given more than haphazard styling, but there was some underlying design that has been revamped to a modern future history world with its 3D printing and nano-tech.

    Me? I'm wondering how to get into the McKittrick.

    Friday, 14 October 2016

    designated survivors of campaign trail


    I’ve been watching Designated Survivor (24 meets The West Wing meets House of Cards - I don’t have time to explain etc.) and that dark 2015 German movie 'Er ist wieder da’ which both, in different ways, play out alternative politically motivated futures and the effects on the political class, media class and the populace.

    One is set in America, the other in Germany. They both explore the reactions of ordinary people when pushed into unusual situations. We now have an unusual situation here in the UK, with the Brexit process running, based upon ordinary peoples’ votes. We’ll soon be able to see how the Americans handle their next unusual situation after their General Election.

    What does voting for Trump now achieve? Large areas of the US will automatically vote for him in any case.

    However, if the Republican Party has more-or-less rejected him, and he already hints at running vendettas against people who don’t agree, then the US could conceivably get someone without a party.

    An independent loose cannon in charge of the United States? Maybe it's an Apprentice reality TV show trait to keep loose cannons in the team?

    The US result is mainly down to a few states too, Florida (29 seats), Ohio (18 seats), Georgia (16 seats) and North Carolina (15 seats). The candidates consider there’s no point in visiting the dead-cert states nor the unchangeable ones. It seems almost bonkers that the whole political machine slows to a crawl for 25% of the time (one year in every four) whilst this strangely distracting process takes place.

    It’s also interesting to look at the mainly central casting-like range of Republicans that have been seen off by Trump in his journey. Trump has passed 25 Republican competitors including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina.

    Does this mean there were 25 less-suitable Republican candidates? It’s legally unchallengeable for the next month, but may re-appear when the results are known.

    Using current Politico poll positioning, I offer a few unscientific percentages.
    • Trump wins and the Republicans regroup around him 5%.
    • Trump wins and the Republicans disown him 10%.
    • Trump wins and the Republican Party splits 10%.
    • Trump wins and somehow gets deposed 10%.
    • Hillary wins and Trump declares the results rigged 35%.
    • Hillary wins and Trump somehow goes quietly 5%?
    • Hillary wins and something else happens 5%?

    That's me interpreting the swing state Politico battleground percentages, which still leave about 15% unaccounted.

    And I'm wondering who will be the designated survivors after the results are in.

    Thursday, 13 October 2016

    subterranean homesick blues


    Bob Dylan gets a Nobel literature prize.

    Here he is in an alley alongside the Savoy Hotel in London, with Allen Ginsberg and Bob Neuwirth in the background. Card graphics by Donovan, Neuwirth and Dylan. Packing it all in to 2 minutes 18 seconds

    "Subterranean Homesick Blues"

    Johnny's in the basement
    Mixing up the medicine
    I'm on the pavement
    Thinking about the government
    The man in a trench coat
    Badge out, laid off
    Says he's got a bad cough
    Wants to get it paid off

    Look out kid
    It's somethin' you did
    God knows when
    But you're doin' it again
    You better duck down the alley way
    Lookin' for a new friend
    A man in a 'coon-skin cap
    In a pig pen
    Wants eleven dollar bills
    You only got ten.

    Maggie comes fleet foot
    Face full of black soot
    Talkin' that the heat put
    Plants in the bed but
    The phone's tapped anyway
    Maggie says that many say
    They must bust in early May
    Orders from the DA

    Look out kid
    Don't matter what you did
    Walk on your tip toes
    Don't tie no bows
    Better stay away from those
    That carry around a fire hose
    Keep a clean nose
    Wash the plain clothes
    You don't need a weather man
    To know which way the wind blows.

    Get sick, get well
    Hang around an ink well
    Ring bell, hard to tell
    If anything's gonna sell
    Try hard, get barred
    Get back, write Braille
    Get jailed, jump bail Join the army, if you fail

    Look out kid
    You're gonna get hit
    But losers, cheaters
    Six-time users
    Hang around the theaters
    Girl by the whirlpool is
    Lookin' for a new fool
    Don't follow leaders
    Watch the parkin' meters.

    Ah get born, keep warm
    Short pants, romance, learn to dance
    Get dressed, get blessed
    Try to be a success
    Please her, please him, buy gifts
    Don't steal, don't lift
    Twenty years of schoolin'
    And they put you on the day shift

    Look out kid
    They keep it all hid
    Better jump down a manhole
    Light yourself a candle
    Don't wear sandals
    Try to avoid the scandals
    Don't wanna be a bum
    You better chew gum
    The pump don't work
    'Cause the vandals took the handles.

    Wednesday, 12 October 2016

    i can't believe it's not stocked


    If Unilever really ask for an extra 10% for all of their products, based upon the Brexit affected GBP to Euro rate change, then it will be interesting to see how many supermarket chains beyond Tesco refuse to stock the many household name brands.

    Marmite already seems to be in short supply, although I thought it was made in the UK. At least we are past the main ice cream season.

    Monday, 10 October 2016

    the football with switches


    Like many, I knew I was being lied to in the referendum debate. It illustrated a next level of division between the politicians and the people, where there was ever smaller regard paid to giving truthful renderings of what was happening.

    I'm sure there's plenty of good and well-meaning folk in the Palace of Westminster, but when the primary spokespeople are diffident to accuracy, then it brings everyone down with it.

    Politicians in America seem to have a more advanced form of the malaise. Not just peddling fibs and half truths, but instead just saying whatever is considered will appeal to the particular voter cross-section being targeted.

    Since I watched the Republican and Democrat conventions back in July, Sunday evening's town hall debate showed how far the whole thing could rumble in a couple of months.

    To me, it comes across as about picking the least worst of two questionable choices. An insider with some track record but a wide range of unanswered questions about past behaviours or an amateur political bragging billionaire. It's surprising that the dollar is holding up, given what could happen in about a month.

    Come to think of it, when I say the least worst I suppose it goes further and becomes about the least scary. Now where is that nuclear football?

    Sunday, 9 October 2016

    news flash as flash boys flash crash with flashy excuses

    The recent dollar to pound situation causes me to muse further on the rise of robots and control systems. Like when I asked a speech recognition system about service stops on the A1M between London and Newcastle, it gave me a fishing shop in North America.

    Alexa (Amazon) still can't provide coffee house music and when I asked it (as a deliberate test) to play "Set the controls for the heart of the sun by Pink Floyd", it responded in all its dust gathering finesse with "I cannot find Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun (Remastered 2011)", like an echo taunting me.

    So it's little surprise that apparently the Flash Boys on the FX desks can't tame the algorithms used by their trading systems to keep the pound/dollar at a sensible level.

    What it hides is a kind of economic destruction which is taking place in the microseconds whilst currencies are all over the place. It's years since the 'wars of the wires' when traders used to institutionally rely on shorter path lengths to exploit the microseconds to intercept and fiddle the value of stock trades.

    It intrigues me that this recent pound drop was even referred to by our Chancellor as a flash crash, which is the terminology of those rogues from the days of the intercepted stock trades. High Frequency Trading, bought and sold (or sold and bought) in milliseconds.

    Nowadays it's the 'algos' which get the blame. Algorithms which reputedly trade on the back of news sites and Twitter. It's all very convenient as a form of excuse. Like saying it doesn't work with Apple, the van's broken down, or it's an effect of Brexit uncertainty.

    But behind it I can't help thinking there's someone making a very fast buck. Or billion bucks.

    Friday, 7 October 2016

    kicked snug together


    I received one of those emails from HM Treasury today explaining that the Lloyds Bank retail share sale was off. That's another of the Osborne agenda items biting the dust.

    I must admit to buying a few shares around the time of the original Osborne announcement. After all, Lloyds were quite low-priced at the time and the now defunct Osborne statement implied that they would add about 20% to their value.

    The revised Hammond plan is to quietly sell off the shares via Morgan Stanley to larger organisations. Re-privitisation by stealth. I suppose it keeps the potential gains in the hands of the institutional investors.

    At the time of the Osborne announcement, 73.6p was the point at which to sell to make a profit for a retail sell-off. My oops diagram below shows that it has slipped somewhat from that point, this afternoon at around 51p.

    Philip Hammond's revised calculation conveniently makes the necessary selling point around early today's 53p, to be sure of breaking even at £20.3bn after all the shares have been passed back into the private sector. In effect it bundles prior sell-off gains into the equation to make a break-even point.

    The currently achieved £16.9bn needs just another £3.4bn to get back to the original figure. It's like Hammond giving away £1.34bn compared with Osborne's statement.

    This revision gives the Chancellor something to talk about at the IMF.

    For me, I'll hang on to my low-priced Lloyds shares, take the dividends and predict that the 53p price is really much undervalued for this equity.

    "Kicked snug together, precious home solutions. Excited breathe confident calm breeze."

    As the branding agency might say.

    Monday, 3 October 2016

    in which I try DMX lighting with a MacBook Air


    For the last of the current series of FANS shows it looked as if we'd have no lights. Everywhere else we'd had proper lighting rigs, including 8 metre motorised gantries and movable LED systems. For the last show, we'd maybe have a few house lights. On wall switches. In a cupboard.

    I decided to see whether it would be possible to create a small DMX rig from scratch, using a few LED fixtures and my MacBook Air. There wasn't really time to get to grips with a portable DMX console, and I really wanted something that would provide drag-and-drop user definable lighting.

    Fortunately, there's a few programs around for this and the one I hastily selected is called Lightkey. It does the job in pretty much the way I'd want it to. You define the fixtures, set them up on a 512 channel DMX grid, define presets for them and then drag the presets onto buttons to control the lights. It even gives a usable pictorial representation of the design.

    For this show, it was all about inexpensive fixtures, so I hit up Amazon and got most of the bits based upon the comments in the reviews of the cheapest LED PAR style lighting.

    The front four PAR64 individually addressable lights were about £16 each and to that I added a couple of budget LED PAR partybars, which even included the full tripod. This was definitely a case of reading the specs carefully before buying anything to sure that they would do what was required.

    Add a few bulk purchased 2 metre DMX connector cables, a couple of 20m DMX cables, some 5 metre kettle leads and the various adapters to go from 5 pin (stage)to 3 pin (domestic) DMX and it was almost ready for business. Oh yes, and a USB to DMX converter.

    I could then sketch out a lighting design on the Mac, before we even got to the venue. We honestly set up the whole rig in about 20 minutes, including around 45 lighting cues I'd pre-programmed in, including some fancy loop sequences.

    If I'd had more time to learn the software, we could have done even better, but the first time we'd connected the software, USB-DMX dongle and lights together was the evening before the show. It still worked fantastically well, creating lighting that was well beyond the switch-on switch-off level. Note to self to bring a bigger power adapter for the MacBook though.

    I've been idly looking at proper DMX consoles, but honestly think a Midi-style button set such as a Novation LaunchPad might be a better and kind of more modern option.

    And going forward, a couple of inexpensive moving head lights would really add something creating a complete kit for smaller and pop-up venues.

    Now, about the next show?