rashbre central: April 2006

Sunday 30 April 2006


Amanda's rocketboom flies high in the vlogosphere - so here is an episode - they are three minutes per day and well worth a visit.

I'm really practicing ways to package my own content at the moment and thinking about a graphic (like the TV set) as a way to highlight any vlog type entries. Oh yes, I started with a square blue television and then gradually photoshop took over.

movie mogul

I've been watching Freevlog to understand how to broadcast an internet video channel from this blog. Their great site walks you through the process of creating your own videoblog using free internet tools. They don't cover making the movie, but once its edited, freevlog shows you what to do to get it loaded and accessible on internet video channels.

If you click on the videoclip above or here, then you can see my short version of Ryan and Michael's introduction to vlogging. Do check out their freevlog site too!

The basics:
1 create the video
2 compress it to a size suitable for web streaming.
3 load it to a site (eg archive.org) as a .mov or similar format.
4 make a reference to the video from within the blog in the same ways as referencing a picture
5 configure your blog to create a feedburner RSS 2.0 feed (ie set up a feedburner feed as if you want to podcast)
6 add a feed icon button to your blog to allow people to select the feed
7 and yippee you have an internet video channel

Then tell some of the aggregators (like fireant.tv and vlogmap.org) that you are in the movie business!
Go on, click my feed!

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Saturday 29 April 2006

fireant, mad science and music

I've posted a few video extracts here over the last few months and think it will be fun to consolidate them into a fireant.tv channel.

My most recent attempt was the little video clip I added for Christina and Jenny's 'Hey DJ' song (They're called 'the cj'). The full version of the song is across on Christina's site. I'm posting the cut down video here as well, as a way to get some initial content for the tv channel (if I can eventually get it working).

I like the idea of FireAnt, which delivers video through a simple viewer which displays content without having to worry about which format.

And Yay! its up and running. Click the fireant.tv picture above to get fireant tv and the rashbre central channel! There's only one video on it at the moment, but give me time!

Here's the video...looks like I'm on the way to becoming a Vlogger (!)

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parallel universe

I've been using my iMac with the Intel inside for a few weeks and have not re-booted it since it came out of the box. Until today when I installed the clever software called parallels workstation, which allows me to run the iMac with slave environment(s) of any version of Windows underneath Mac OS X.

Now don't get me wrong, I use Mac OS X for just about everything in my non work world, and with the Apple software that comes with the iMac it does most of the useful things straight out of the packet.

But having a Windows environment which can be simply booted like another browser session is quite useful for the times I need access to a piece of Windows world. And this brilliant utility lets me do it. Its far better than Apple's 'Boot Camp' because it works without rebooting, and lets the Windows session run 'inside' the Mac OS X environment. Its also fast because the Windows is running natively on the intel chippery.

I emphasise that I use Apple's standard Safari as my browser and iLife for lots of things like photography and making DVDs and iWork for word processing and similar.

And for the record I've rebooted Windows twice whilst I was writing this (installing updates etc), but of course MAC OS X didn't even blink.

If you are keen on Bootcamp itself, there's a handy little article about it here

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look out


Friday 28 April 2006

The Smithy Code Solution

The Da Vinci Code carries on getting publicity - now we have the film with Tom Hanks, but also the coded message the Judge embedded in his 'no plagiarism' judgement. He set some of the letters in the judgement to be italic. The secret text reads as:


Justice Peter Smith has dropped hints that the cryptographic methods in the books concerned (The Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail) have been used. Options: substitution? number series? decoder? keyword? I'll keep an eye open for someone solving this - I think it has something to do with his entry in Who's Who. If you want to see the full (surprisingly readable) trial judgement (printed with the strange italics), its here

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UPDATE 28 Apr 06:
The excellent solution, via Tom, is here and the answer would seen to be about Admiral John "Jackie" Fisher and the battleship Dreadnought.

Justice Smith's interests (as I originally commented, they are listed in Who's Who) include the history of Jackie Fisher, noting him as an admiral who modernized the British Navy.

Wednesday 26 April 2006

art bomb

Traffic in West London stopped today after five packages containing nails were found in doorways in Shepherd's Bush.

The emergency services, including police helicopter were called to the area shortly after 08:00. The concern was related to some kind of terrorist activity and police closed many commuter roads and tube lines around the area.

Four of the suspect objects were given the all clear by later in the morning, but a source said the fifth was mistakenly picked up by dustmen and police had to track the lorry down before putting a cordon round it and checking that it was safe.

Later in the morning, a woman walked into a nearby police station in connection with the packages.

It turns out to have been an art installation, which happened to feature packages with nails sticking out of them. One, on closer examination, consisted of three cardboard tubes supporting a polystyrene "altar" on which stood some flowers and a note which talked about the loss of a "Pelagius" and included the phrase: "Your absence has gone through us like thread through a needle. Everything we do is stitched with its colour."

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Tuesday 25 April 2006

Mont Broc

broken mont blanc pen
I've think I'm more of a biro person than a smart fountain pen user. There's always an unlimited supply of free ballpoints, everywhere, except next to telephones.

That's not to say I don't have a 'cheque signing' pen, which was a free gift after I took a couple of flights. Its a Mont Blanc, but has been rather unlucky.

Although I've had it for some time, there's an unfortunate design fault when it goes into a plane, where it seems to squirt ink into the pen, sorry - writing instrument - top.

As I don't use it very often, it also seems to run out of ink in a mysterious way, beyond the small amounts it leaves in pockets and bags. I used it for a while with a big bottle of Mont Blanc ink, but then switched to the more compact cartridges.

Then the barrel cracked and the specialist explained it was made from resin imported from Switzerland. I received the replacement but continued to use Argos and Reader's Digest freebies.

Now, today, I find the pen in the corner of my bag, in pieces. The cartridge doesn't make quite as much mess as the old rotary filler, but this time the Swiss resin will stay broken and I will use the twisty rollerball I picked up from the hotel yesterday.

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Monday 24 April 2006

the big city

I was in Central London for a meeting today, in a hotel near to Park Lane and Mayfair. At the end of the meeting, I was in an elevator with a couple of London tourists, who were looking a little bit lost in the hotel surroundings. They were Brits and spending a couple of days on a shopping mission to the big city. I chatted breifly with them and then accelerated away.
I caught a couple of tube trains, then walked the last ten minutes to my next destination, spent around half an hour there and was then leaving when I saw two people pausing outside the entrance to the building.
It was the same two tourists, and they had remembered me from the hotel. We greeted one another and were equally surprised at the co-incidence that our paths would cross again in the busy-ness of London. Today's photos are from my phone, taken during the tube journey.

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Sunday 23 April 2006

Cry "England and St.George"

It is St George's Day today. St George is the Patron Saint of England and is famous for his dragon slaying. I had a quick browse for relevant pictures, but on most, the dragon was only the size of a carry-on bag, which I found somewhat disappointing. I expect that is why the Catholic Church demoted St George to a third-class, minor saint in the first half of the twentieth century.

After I wrote this, I noticed craziequeen has a good description of St George's day. Only in the year 2000 was George elevated once again to the role of 'national saint' and awarded his "day of solemnity" by the Pope. If little is known about the man, the myth is legendary - a maiden-rescuing hero triumphs over evil in a punch-up with a dragon.

Some say this goes back to the story of Perseus (son of Zeus) who fell in love with fair Andromeda. She had been chained to a rock as appeasement to insulted deities who sent a dragon-like sea monster to take revenge. Perseus (already slayer of the Gorgon Medusa) turned into an eagle and then caught out the winged monster and rescued Andromeda.

And back to George - as an historical figure, he was a soldier who destroyed Diocletian's edict against Christianity, which led to martyrdom following his execution in Lydda, Palestine (in AD 303).

So, circa nine hundred years later, at the Council of Oxford in 1222, St George's Day was declared a public holiday. Then later Edward III instituted the Order of St George and encouraged the battle cry 'England and St George!'

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Hey DJ

I help out across on Christina Nott's site and had a request to add some video (any video!) to a recent track made by Christina and her friend Jenny. I was also asked to do this quickly so that there was some sort of version of the track on Christina's web site whilst Jenny is still in Europe.

The hurridly assembled result is across at Christina's. I've had several people asking me about Vlogging (video blogging) and as I suspected, the amount of time it takes is significantly more than the time to create a normal blog entry (circa 10 minutes). So I think I'll keep to my current format of text and a picture with maybe a very occasional video.

Do check out the music at Christina's - both today's video and some of the earlier material like the music track 'Wind'.

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Saturday 22 April 2006

bug spattered on windshield en route to the enchanted castle


A 520 mile round trip today and one of the things I noticed was the windscreen of the car was splattered with insects by the end of the journey. It is quite early in the season for this and probably the first time this year that I've had to use the wipers to sweep away such carnage rather than to remove frost or rain.

I'm told that driving at less than 50mph gives bugs a chance to slipstream out of the way, but above that they can't take evasive action and its beyond their exoskeleton design point.

We are also in the time of year for low flying birds. Fledgling pilots take to the skies around now and some of them don't get the hang of crossing roads higher than the height of an average car. I noticed several examples on the twisty lanes on the way back.

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Friday 21 April 2006

my little piece of sky

Working from home today, I started with a telephone conference with Amsterdam and Brussels at 08:00UK. I've been on the phone pretty much continuously since then, interspersed with some email and IM-ing (is that a word now?). That was until my enforced break about an hour ago, which now finds me with adhesive fingers, a hole and some water in the wrong place.

Essentially, we had one of those moments when the sky fell, or at least a piece of ceiling decided to fall, accompanied by a reasonable amount of water. Lets just say I wasn't the cause of all this and the remediation to a couple of areas of home was already under way before I became involved, but it has disrupted the flow of the day with the flow of water, somewhat.

Most of the wet stuff is now back in places where wet stuff is supposed to be, the sky is back in the air again and a large expanse of carpet currently makes a squelching sound. By tomorrow I expect things will be back to normal and in about seven minutes I can resume my schedule.

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Thursday 20 April 2006

Thursday Thirteen (V19)

1. I thought I'd show a picture of the original blogger machine I used when I started this blog.
2. That was nearly a year ago and in that time I've published around 500 entries.
3. I've had about 5 different 'looks' for the blog.
4. I ran it for the first two months without getting any comments and only about 2-3 readers.
5. I didn't know anything about blog formatting and had to work it out by typing enquiries into google.
6. I've got a couple of other minor blogs I sometimes use to test new ideas and where I needed something in order to get userids, but everything points back to this one.
7. I've probably tried most of the weather pixie, sesame alert level, clocks, pet animal animations, counters, and so forth and have the majority of them retired into an old entry date on the blog, where they live happily on.
8. I keep my photos on flickr and have a separate domain where I park special files and little snippets of javascript.
9. Having helped get the Christina Nott site started, it still has my layout and blogroll. One of these days, I'll fix the sidebar so that Christina gets her own stuff instead of a copy of some of mine. And then there's the use of my flickr account which still needs fixing!
10. I've been tempted to look at other blog software, but remind myself that I do this for the content and interaction rather than lots of computer hacking.
11. Is still my favourite number;
12. I started my comment system with the blogger system and then moved them to haloscan. This lets me manage comments and trackbacks in a simple way.
13. I'd originally set myself to run the blog for a year as an experiment and then to stop. I suspect I will continue!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
Leanne, Chickadee, Judy, Raehan, Janne, Andrea, cq, amanda, venus, elle, mar, tnchick, kimmy
(leave a comment, I'll add you here!)

Get Thursday Thirteen code here!

Leave your Thursday Thirteen link as a comment and I will link to you!

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Wednesday 19 April 2006


So here, find the final mix of Wind - the Twittering Machine remix, from Simon.

This mix is neither ironic or idealizing, but rather a product of the imagination, which Simon's art affirms at every turn. Crank it up, and between the main verses, strange birds start to sing their hearts out against a vast, atmospheric wash backdrop that opens up a space beyond measure.

The strength lies precisely in how the subtle guitar riffs reveal vulnerability in small-scale sonics that are nonetheless vast and deeply profound. Somewhere between nature and the mechanical, between the comic and the tragic, the birds twitter with a music that expresses how frail and vulnerable existence is, especially in the modern world.

The song taps the primitive inner child in all of us with a sophisticated wisdom and wit. "Something's coming," sings Christina, "I can hear it." There is a combination of the intuitive and the mechanical, the rational and the fantastic in an art that defies stylistic reduction or categorization.

There is no "ism" that can encompass this vision; This is more than taking a walk with a beat, which is exactly what Simon does in limitless variations on the theme. In "Zwitschermaschine" we hear a different version of the machine aesthetic, suggesting how the machine can stimulate fantasy and the imagination. Though working at an intimate breathy scale, this art is capable of addressing both the comical and the tragic. The focus is always on the creative process. "I am not at all graspable in this world, for I live as much within a parallel universe. Somewhat closer to the heart of creation than usual. But not nearly close enough."

Simon is a member of the esteemed faculty of the Holy Hoses (corrupted from the original German Heiligehaus). Part of the utopian celebration of a machine aesthetic, the Holy Hose slogan says it all with: "Polymath thought - A New Xinssxz." But the curriculum of the Holy Hose was well-rounded and interdisciplinary: they study everything from crafts to architecture, sculpture, painting, stage design, typography, music, dance, and eastern philosophies and religions. For the members of the collective, there is "no essential difference between the artist and craftsman," and technology and spiritual growth are not only compatible, but co-dependent. Teachers were expected to exercise creative flexibility outside their "expertise."

Students work alongside their instructors according to a collaborative group model rather than the traditional academic hierarchy of the "expert" handing down information to the lowly students who dare not question authority. Taking on real-world commissions in design problems, the school is self-sustaining, teaching through creative problem-solving and collaboration. The art is socially oriented rather than art for art's sake.

The members are part of this positive, communal approach to the problems of the industrial machine age, but what is offered is an art that focuses on the imagination and the creative process as that which makes us most human. "The work of art is above all a process of creation," it reminds us, "it is never experienced as a mere product." Many members fit into the transcendent, visionary side of the Holy Hose philosophy: 'Art does not render the visible," it tells us, "rather, it makes visible."

Enjoy the tune - truly the sound of painting.

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Tuesday 18 April 2006

alice in chains?

A rather amusing music quiz across on Jo's site. I fell into trying it, tricked by the simplicity of Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Scissor Sisters, but the finding some (like the white people) - could it be average white band? - and the yellow person standing outside the shop?

Click the picture for a full sized version or hop to Jo's site where we are gradually constructing the answer comprising circa 72 band names. And what I thought was the Small Faces is, of course, the Lemon Heads. Blur was easy and the spilled packet of m&ms was also straightforward...A couple I didn't suggest included Pet Shop Boys and the Scorpions, because I inadvertantly cut off part of the picture!


Sunday 16 April 2006

egging me on

Today I've had a break from normal things to pause to admire some easter eggs. Smashing, really.

I'm not sure about the chocolate overload however, I may need to lay down for a while to recover.

Chocolate sandwiches, anyone?

Here's an interesting recipe for toasted bread with chocolate in the middle. Enough to scare the Easter bunny away!
Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches

Serves 4; Total time: 15 minutes
Brace yourselves for this one...

2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
4 large slices granary Bread (cut 3/4 inch thick)
4 ounces thin semisweet chocolate bar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Icing sugar, for dusting

1. In a large, shallow dish, whisk together eggs and milk; set aside.
2. Form two sandwiches with the bread and chocolate (break chocolate as necessary to cover bread without extending over edges); dip both sides of sandwiches in egg mixture to coat.
3. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat; transfer sandwiches to skillet. Cook, pressing occasionally with a spatula, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. Cut in half, and dust with icing/dusting sugar before serving.


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Saturday 15 April 2006

new earth

Ceremoniously watched the new Dr Who this evening as a kind of Easter event, which plays to the BBC's intentions. A condensed plotline of Burning Chrome meets Matrix meets a feline NHS. A new Doctor, a body-swapped Rose, some cringeworthy 2000's references (Chav, anyone?) a meeting of lips and some chain swinging in improbably deep lift shafts complemented the sonic screwdriver appearances. Glossy and well-executed, it will be interesting to see whether the BBC can sustain this as a quirky British Sci-Fi institution. Others seem to think so and I hope so, too.

My campaign for Dylan Moran as the next Dr Who continues, although I am told it is to be a woman.

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Friday 14 April 2006

asparagus at the castle

Thursday evening was the blog party at craziequeen's castle and the first chance to try this season's asparagus. Dawn seemed particularly entranced by the heady blend of this char grilled seasonal specialty with a hollandaise sauce and washed down with a glass of Kristal.

And then the next morning there was time for a croissant and cafe au lait with cq before launching into Easter.

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Thursday 13 April 2006

Green Man

Well I went for Extreme Wordless Wednesday yesterday by not posting at all.

This evening is the start of Easter which is apparently named after the pagan goddess Eostre (Latin: Oestre), an Anglo-Saxon maiden-goddess of fertility. I was chatting about this today and how so much of the season has pagan derivations (the hot cross buns, the bunny and so forth).

And we are on our way towards the mystery of the Green Man appearing as a lord of mis-rule alongside the sprouting of new leaves.

Monday 10 April 2006

ornamental poultry

With all of the talk about H5N1 chicken viruses and so on, one 's mind can't help but turn to ornamental poultry.

I can't quite remember what its for, but this suitably extreme example should help other people realise the potential. For more examples, where else to turn, other than (ahem) chickscope. And how do you mail chickens?

Why, in an hen-velope, of course.


I've been using zoom clouds to generate a cloud of tags based upon my most frequent posts, for a few days now. However, the tag lists it creates seem to be somewhat unpredictable.

I'm sure there is logic in it somewhere, but I'm finding the results somewhat puzzling. I shall leave it in my page for another couple of weeks to see whether it tunes itself and gives a more rational set of tags than at present.

Saturday 8 April 2006

Hot Cross Buns

I'm sure this post title may confuse Americans, but we Brits are coming into the period where we eat Hot Cross Buns before Easter Weekend. I have seen the American varieties of these with icing/frosting/chocolate for crosses and various additional surfaces, but only a proper candied peel version which has been toasted and then drenched in butter will do!

The origins of hot cross buns are mixed with pagan traditions with Saxons offering them as sacrifices to their goddesses.

The cross represented the four quarters of the moon to certain ancient cultures, while others believed it was a sign that held supernatural power to prevent sickness.

To the Romans, the cross represented the horns of a sacred ox (bun/boun means 'ox' in ancient English). The Christian church adopted Hot Cross Buns as part of their missionary conversion of pagans.

It is popularly dated back to the 12th Century that HXBs were first linked with Christianity, using small spicy cakes stamped with a cross. It is said that families hung the buns from their kitchen ceilings to protect their households from evil for the year to come. Then during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign in the 16th Century, ‘backward - lookers’ were reportedly tried for Popery for signing the cross on their Good Friday buns. The accused often claimed that it was necessary to mark a cross on the dough, to ensure that the buns would rise.

Me, I'm just about to pop one in the toaster!

Friday 7 April 2006


Looking forward to a visit from Ray the Sax at the weekend. I suspect a little Jazz may occur.

Thursday 6 April 2006

Thursday Thirteen (V18)

1. I was surprised last night that some people had already loaded their Thursday Thirteen blogs. Very keen.
2. Today I noticed that the Apple announcement about Windows working on a Mac was circulating.
3. You can get Apple's info about the software to make this work here and there's a handy little article about it here

4. I ran a link to the Windows story back on the 20th March.
5. It is strange seeing the long list of Windows style driver and installation errors published on the Apple web site. I'm used to running Macs that just work.
6. There's around 150 photos of the Mac running WIndows on flickr here
7. BBC Radio is doing a survey of how much music we all listen to in an average day. You can download the diary to complete here
8. Spent part of the day PowerPointing for a presentation tomorrow.
9. Had a strange IM debate about the continuum between tweaking, twiddling and frobnicating.
10. Just enjoying a slice of Emmental cheese.
11. Is still my favourite number;
12. I have turned over the cushion with the large hole in it, but I still know its there.
13. I threw away an entire 1.75mx1m filing cabinet's worth of paper during this week. Is that spring cleaning?

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
Leanne, Chickadee, Judy, Raehan, Janne, Andrea, cq, amanda, venus, elle, mar, tnchick, kimmy
(leave a comment, I'll add you here!)

Get Leanne's Thursday Thirteen code here!

Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! Leave your link as a comment and I will link to you and you can continue the chain!

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Wednesday 5 April 2006

almost wordless wednesday

Here's one I took earlier. Del Coronado, San Diego.
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Tuesday 4 April 2006

around the world twice

I've just gone through the 50,000 mile barrier in my car. Its actually on around 52,000 now and the car is 29 months old. Thats 1,793 miles per month.

With an average of 600 miles and 14 driving hours between refills, that makes my average speed 43mph at 13.4 kilometres(8.3m) per litre or 37.9 miles per gallon (thats 31.6m per smaller US gallon)

I calculate that I've filled it 87 times averaging £62 ($108) per refill which totals £5,373 and spent 1,213 hours behind the wheel or 51 days of 24 hours (say 20 full days per year, or 1.5 days per month). Buying the same amount of fuel in the USA would cost around half, in US dollars.

The distance I've driven in that time is around the equivalent of twice around the earth at the equator and the equivalent of driving 58.9 miles every day that I've had the car.

Sunday 2 April 2006


First sighted yesterday. Click the icon to experience.

record label logo

March was supposed to be the month to finish the edit of 'The Triangle' - which was the NaNoWriMo novel from last November. I'm only about two thirds of the way through that, but I suppose its because we started the Christina Nott project at the same time.

We already have several tracks worth of songs and when we get to thirteen, I suppose I could post them as a Thursday Thirteen (a few weeks yet!). However, we've decided to set up a record label in any case and are doing this via last.fm. That way we can also showcase the songs - and ideally other folks' re-mixes - somewhere.

Like the novel, this is all really just a bit of fun. We will use the same name for the record label as the media company being used for the production at the Edinburgh Fringe in August. Christina's site has already described the Bongo Club, which is where that show will be featured. We have already got the website working but I won't publish a link yet, as we still have some cleanup to complete before its ready for prime-time and a suitable launch party.