Monday, December 31, 2007


Some nice ideas making use of the iPhone's motion detector.

Super Mario Galaxy

One of my kidz Christmas presents was the third Mario 3D platformer (after Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine). The game takes Mario on a quest to save the ever-needy Princess Peach from the ever-evil Bowser.

It is one of the few games to have received a '10' score from Edge magazine (the others are Super Mario 64, Gran Turismo, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Halo: Combat Evolved, Half-Life 2, Halo 3 and The Orange Box).

The game is a delight to watch (I'm not allowed to play the games, cos I'm far too rubbish), with Mario scuttling around a series of mini planets, fighting a wide range of weird enemies.

As I observed Brook working his way from planet to planet, I was once again struck by the uniqueness of the Nintendo gameplay, the way it transports you into a world that is 'other', in a similar way to which Tolkien, Lewis and Pullman do with their narratives.

Where games like Call of Duty 4 - Modern Warfare are copying reality, Super Mario Galaxy takes you into an Escherian super-reality, providing excitement, intrigue and fun without the usual gore quotient.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

London-Somerset-London, 27-30 Dec 2008

Bathtime In Clerkenwell - (The Real) Tuesday Weld
Jerk It Out - Caesars
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day - Wizzard
Take Her Back - The Pigeon Detectives
Touchdown Turnaround (Don't Give Up On Me) - Hellogoodbye
I Want To Be Your Boyfriend - Rubinoos
Believe (rhythm promo) - Cher
Jeepers Creepers - The Puppini Sisters
Hey Ya - Outkast
Rock Me Gently - Andy Kim
I Won't Let You Down - PhD
Louie - Ida Maria
Knock On Wood - Amy Stewart
Cinnamon - The Long Winters
Lazy guy - Slobberbone
Sunday Morning After - Amanda Marshall
Build Me Up Buttercup - Foundations
I wanna be sedated (Ramones cover) - The Offspring
Dude looks like a lady - Aerosmith
For America - '87 - Red Box
Catch My Disease - Ben Lee
Bing Bang - Lazy Town
Afternoons And Coffeespoons - Crash Test Dummies
Cotton Eye Joe (remix) - Rednex
Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
Smoke From A Distant Fire - Sanford Townsend Band
Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps, Please - Splodgenessabounds
Murder on the dance floor - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Baby, Now that I've Found You - Foundations
Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
The Christians And The Pagans - Dar Williams
Hey Mickey - Toni Basil
When You Are A King - White Plains
Oh Lori - Alessi brothers
Too good to be forgotten - Amazulu
Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Andy Williams
Marilyn Monroe - Santa Baby
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk
Crying at the discotheque - Alcazar
Girl All the Bad Guys Want - Bowling for Soup
I Love You Always Forever - Donna Lewis
Pop Goes The World - Men without Hats
Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep - Middle of the Road
Magic - Pilot
She's So High - Tal Bachman
One More Night - Yellow Dog
Never Do A Tango With An Eskimo - Alma Cogan
Centerfold - J. Geils Band
Crush (new) - Jennifer Paige
Do You Believe In Magic - Lovin' Spoonful
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
Zambesi - Piranhas
Wombling Merry Christmas - The Wombles
Feuer Frei - Rammstein
Daddy's Girl - Red Sovine
Frankie - Sister Sledge
Nellie the elephant - Toy Dolls
Come Back My Love - The Wrens
Alisha Rules The World - Alisha's Attic
Shang-A-Lang - Bay City Rollers
Rasputin - Boney M
Metarie - Brendan Benson
Are You Ready for Love - Elton John
Hey Whatever - Westlife
welsh-potato - Lee Mack, Edinburgh Fringe 2006
bum-look-big - Lee Mack, Edinburgh Fringe 2006
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - Bachman Turner Overdrive
It's Getting Better - Mama Cass Elliot
I Can't Wait (extended) - Nu Shooz
Secret Smile - Semisonic
Yes Sir I Can Boogie - Baccara
The Ketchup Song (Asereje) - Las Ketchup
I'm Not Okay (I Promise) - My Chemical Romance
Hey There Georgie Girl - New Seekers
Don't Start Me Down - Pink vs. ELO
Bread and Butter - NewBeats
Resurrection - PPK
(I Hate) Everything about you - Ugly Kid Joe
Take On Me (techno remix) - a-ha
Japanese Boy - Aneka
I Dunno If That Milkshake Is Worth 5 Dollars - Cameo vs. Kelis
Sk8r Boy - Avril Lavigne
Robert De Niro's Waiting - Bananarama
Rollin' (Ballad of Big and Rich) - Big & Rich
The Bad Touch - Bloodhound Gang
You Spin Me Round (like a record) (ext) - Dead Or Alive
Dragostea din tei (Mai Ai Hii) - O-Zone
Leader of the Pack - Shangri-Las
Let Me Be In the Mood - Eminem vs. Glen Miller
Help Yourself - Tom Jones
Good Looking Woman - Joe Dolan
Good Weekend - Art Brut
Everytime We Touch - Cascada
D.I.S.C.O. - Ottawan
Sign Of The Times - Belle Stars
Kitty In The Basket - Diana Dekker
Mary's Boy Child - Boney M
He Said He Loved Me - Reverend and the Makers
I Like the Way (Radio Edit) - Bodyrockers
All Through The Night - Cyndi Lauper
Enjoy The Silence - Depeche Mode
All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey
Just a Song About Ping Pong - Operator Please
Downtown - Petula Clark
It's Not Over Yet - Grace
Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney & Wings
Calling You - Blue October
Don't Call Me Song 2 - Blur vs. Madison Avenue
Where Have All The Cowboys Gone - Paula Cole
Tropical-Iceland - The Fiery Furnaces
B.A.B.Y - Rachel Sweet
Happy Slap - Ashok
It's Not Over Yet - Klaxons
Are You Gonna Be My Animal - Jet vs. The Muppets
Jolene - Strawberry Switchblade
You Talk - Babyshambles
Christmas Countdown (The Twelve Days Of Christmas) - Frank Kelly
iPod Xmas - Hello Saferide
Away in a Manger - Hyperbubble
Oi To The World - The Vandals
2000 Miles - Pretenders
Brother Louie - Modern Talking
Sandstorm (Italian DDR Poison remix) - Darude
We Wish You A Merry Christmas - John Denver & The Muppets
Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) - The Darkness
Gonna Make Betty Sweat - Ram Jam vs. C&C Music Factory
Six white boomers - Rolf Harris
Little Town - Cliff Richard
Step Into Christmas - Elton John
Cruel To Be Kind - Nick Lowe
Oh, Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
Hooked on a Feeling (Ooga Chucka) - Rusted Root
Waiting For A Star To Fall - Boy Meets Girl

Online gaming 2008: Let the battle commence

BBC reports: [edited]

Challenges to the dominance of World of Warcraft over online games and gamers look set to emerge in 2008. During the year Blizzard's flagship title consolidated its hold on gamers as its subscriber base kept growing. But debuts by Age of Conan, Warhammer Online and many others may mean that hold begins to weaken.

At the start of 2007, the number of active subscribers playing World of Warcraft was eight million but by the end of summer the number had passed 9.3 million. According to statistics gathered by Nielsen the average WoW player racks up 17 hours of play per week - 12 hours more than its nearest competitor The Sims. As such it was the most played PC game between April and November 2007.

Mr Younger said online games such as Lord of the Rings Online, Tabula Rasa and Hellgate: London were widely tipped to poach significant numbers of players from Blizzard but, he said, it was not clear that had happened.

"There seems to be an inability by other massively multi-player game makers to capture what Blizzard managed to capture," said Mr Younger. "There's plenty of choice out there for players now," he said "You can even play massively multiplayer dancing games, if killing monsters isn't your thing."

Conan is familiar to many from Robert E Howard's original stories, the films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and the many contemporary novels that explored the world of the iconic barbarian.

Warhammer is the creation of UK firm Games Workshop and has many fans who played the tabletop game, the role-playing system, the earlier games and has read the books set in its world.

Perhaps more importantly the titles are attempting to move online gaming on from the mechanics established by Blizzard.

In Warhammer many areas of the game are contested and factions will battle to regain control of these areas. Solo players as well as those who prefer pitched battles will contribute to this back and forth that will see a lot of the game world's territory change hands many times.

By contrast Age of Conan is explicitly aiming at a mature audience - in particular combat will be bloody and realistic. The game will also allow player teams, or guilds, to set up and run their own cities or lay siege to each other's strongholds.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The megapixel myth reports: [edited]

A digital camera with 12 million pixels is better than one with 6 million. ‘That is correct’ is what you would probably say because you’ve always heard more pixels are better.

It’s not true, we have to say when it comes to compact cameras. We, the staff of Image Engineering which is an independent testing laboratory that, amongst other things, tests digital camera for the German magazines Color Photo and c’t. Quite a while ago we noticed that the image quality of digital cameras was getting worse instead of better. The reason is that today’s sensors are divided into more and therefore smaller pixels. We want to clarify the consequences on this website.

The reason we bring this up is the vicious circle we are in and have to break out of. Most people have heard that a lot of pixels make a good camera hence they buy the cameras with the most pixels. Thus, manufacturers produce cameras with more and more pixels so that they will sell better. But this does not improve the quality of the pictures.

6 megapixels is the best compromise between number of pixels and image noise (using the current size of compact camera CCD).


Visit the site for the full explanation.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sony Alpha DSLR-A700

dpreview have posted a detailed review of Sony's new 'semi-pro' DSLR.

One (long) sentence summary: Apart from some issues with image noise at high ISO levels, it offers improvements in dynamic range and some excellent new features, providing performance comparable to the Canon D300 and Canon EOS 40D, for less money.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

First Coming

He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait

till hearts were pure. In joy He came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
He came, and his Light would not go out.

He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait until the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Madeleine L’Engle

Monday, December 24, 2007

The gift that keeps giving

One of 2007's more enjoyable albums was 'Hey Venus!' by Super Furry Animals.

If you haven't bought it yet, they've made the seasonally titled 'Gift That Keeps Giving' available as a free download.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Running Windows on a Mac

Tidbits reports: [edited]

Our friends over at MacTech have taken on the laborious task of running benchmarks on the popular virtualization programs Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion, comparing them against each other, running both Windows XP and Windows Vista, against Apple's Boot Camp, and against a standard PC laptop.

Windows XP outperforms Windows Vista by 17 to 30 percent in virtualization, so if you want the fastest Windows performance, stick with Windows XP.

When running Windows XP, Parallels Desktop was somewhat faster than VMware Fusion, and even a bit faster than Boot Camp.

If you want to run Windows Vista, VMware Fusion provides noticeably better performance than Parallels Desktop on all tasks involving raw processing, whereas Parallels Desktop offers significantly better integration with Mac OS X (and thus real-world performance) for all cross-platform tasks.

Keep in mind that these conclusions are relevant only for the things MacTech tested, which did not include gaming (where Boot Camp probably has the edge over both virtualization options) or applications that can use multiple processors (where VMware Fusion would probably outperform Parallels Desktop).

If you want to analyze MacTech's results further, you can download an Excel spreadsheet containing all the test data from their site.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Big galaxy picks on smaller galaxy

Wired reports: [edited]

The latest act of senseless violence caught on tape is cosmic in scope: A black hole in a "death star galaxy" blasting a neighbouring galaxy with a deadly jet of radiation and energy.

A fleet of space and ground telescopes have captured images of this cosmic violence, which people have never witnessed before, according to a new study released Monday by NASA.

"It's like a bully, a black-hole bully punching the nose of a passing galaxy," said astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York.

The larger galaxy has a multi-digit name but has been dubbed the "death star galaxy" by Daniel Evans of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Tens of millions of stars, including those with orbiting planets, are in the path of the deadly jet, said study co-author Martin Hardcastle of the University of Hertfordshire.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

3 Skypephone

In the middle of November I got an email from Matt at offering me a couple of the new 3skypephones to try out. I hardly use my phone for voice calls, so I got them sent to my eldest daughter and her boyfriend.

Here is their feedback:


- Very small and slim.

- 3 provides a lot of useful tariffs on pre-pay.

- Skype chat is fast, history shown, easy to delete.

- Camera is good, with options to optimise images for MMS.

- Attractive, clear layout of phone menus.

- Nice (unusual) keypad tones.

- Allows access to simple text websites.

- Voice calls work well.


- 'Roaming' function is unpredictable, can be in the same place and suddenly be 'roaming' (outside of the 3 network).

- Fiddly keypad buttons.

- Don't like having to press 7 instead of * to unlock.

- Gets VERY hot during voice/skype calls.

- Deleting contacts on Skype is slow and frustrating.

- Irritating dial tone.

- Couldn't find a way to lock the keypad.

- Doesn't seem to like sending '3mails' with images.

- Voice volume is too quiet.

- Scrolling around takes a bit of getting used to.

- Predictive text only works with text messages.

- Interface can be fussy.

- Slow access to text messages.

- "Connecting your call - hold on" message is unnecessary.

- Expensive on contract (£12 for 100 texts or minutes plus Skype).

- Prominent Skype button is annoying. Could be on side instead of the "change apps" button and use middle button as menu key.

- Takes a long time to charge.

- Doesn't support MSN, but still shows the options.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

HTC X7500 Advantage

Softpedia has a comprehensive review of this 350g UMPC.

To summarise

The Good:
It features high-end chipsets and technologies. This is a well-designed all-purpose tool featuring 8 GB Hitachi microdrive, powerful Intel processor, GPS receiver, HSDPA technology, 3 Megapixel camera, big capacity battery, large display and QWERTY keyboard.

The Bad: HTC nerfed the multimedia part which offers a mediocre sound for music fans. Other than that, everything is above average.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ida Maria

Norwegian-born, Ida Maria is a missionary-educated (just HOW MANY singers have religious backgrounds?) newcomer to the music scene. She is the first singer I've heard for a long time who manages to combine fun, excitement and originality into her performances. Think Bjork's rockier younger sister.

Quoted as being "sectionable but sensational", her live performances are meant to be excellent. If you're going to listen to just one song, visit her MySpace page and click on 'Louie'.

I'm looking forward to her album, which is due to be released next year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

London, Lincoln, London 16-12-07

Foxy Lady - Jimi Hendrix
Picture to Burn - Taylor Swift
Honolulu Rock a Roll a - Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
Blue (Da Ba Dee) - Eiffel 65
Shiny Happy People - R.E.M.
Turn To Stone - Electric Light Orchestra
Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While) - The Isley Brothers
Take Her Back - The Pigeon Detectives
Mushaboom - Feist
My Little Red Book - Love
Dare (Radio Edit) - Gorillaz
Touchdown Turnaround (Don't Give Up On Me) - Hellogoodbye
Beg Your Pardon - Kon Kan
Louie - Ida Maria
Beauty And The Beast - Jump 5
Touch Me - Angel City
Gimme All Your Lovin' - ZZ Top
Bing Bang - Lazy Town
I’m A Cuckoo - Belle & Sebastian
An Honest Mistake - The Bravery
Right Now - SR71
Week In Week Out - The Ordinary Boys
The Wrath of Marcie - The Go! Team
Love Your Money - Daisy Chainsaw
Jerk It Out - Caesars
I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die - They Might Be Giants (TMBG)
What's New Pussycat - Tom Jones
In The Key Of C - Jim Noir
Play Something Country - Brooks and Dunn
Sunday Morning After - Amanda Marshall
Valerie - Steve Winwood
In the Middle of Nowhere (Remix) - Dusty Springfield
Dead Sound - The Raveonettes
Jolene - Strawberry Switchblade
Words don't come easy (techno) - Modern Talking
Wouldn't It Be Good? - Cascada
Love can't turn around - Farley Jackmaster Funk
Gonna Make You A Star - David Essex
I Think I'm In Love With You - Jessica Simpson
The Whole Of The Moon - The Waterboys
Alive and Amplified - Mooney Suzuki
Set You Free - N-Trance
Amylase - Cajun Dance Party
Daydreamin' - Lupe Fiasco featuring Jill Scott
Candy - The Addictions
Cruel To Be Kind - Letter to Cleo
Angel Eyes (Techno Remix) - A-Teens
Professional Widow - Tori Amos

Handbags And Gladrags - Stereophonics
Evil One - The Sapphires
Sweet Side - Lucinda Williams
Hi-De-Ho - Blood, Sweat & Tears
Hercules - Mercury Rev
Downtown - Petula Clark
Brassneck - The Wedding Present
Hippy Hippy Shake - Georgia Satellites
Respect - Aretha Franklin
Blue Suede Shoes - Elvis Presley
Urizen - David Axelrod
Glue of the World - Four Tet
Little Bonnie - Drive-By Truckers
Waiting For An Alibi - Thin Lizzy
Down In Hollywood - Ry Cooder
Boys Wanna Fight - Garbage
Your latest trick - Dire Straits
Far Away - Martha Wainwright
Accidentally Kelly Street - Frente!
Infomercial - The Martini Henry Rifles
Motion Pictures (For Carrie) - Neil Young
All Through The Night - Cyndi Lauper
Feel The Pressure - The Charlatans
Just my imagination - The Temptations
Gamble Everything For Love - Ben Lee
Burst Noel - Malcolm Middleton
Girlfriend in a Coma - The Smiths
Just Getting By - Catie Curtis
Skin - ‹‹Rinôçérôse›› (Rinocerose)
Long Live The UK Music Scene - Helen Love
I Don't Know - Menlo Park
Space Oddity - The Langley Schools Music Project
Jelly Bread - Booker T & The MGs
Comfortably Numb - Dar Williams
This Is Not America - David Bowie
The Mountains New Dellray - The Go-Betweens
I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down - Elvis Costello
Listen For The Laugh - Bruce Cockburn
Come Play With Me - The Wedding Present

Saturday, December 15, 2007

London, Lincoln, London 15-12-07

Your Cheatin' Heart - The The
Gonna Make You A Star - David Essex
Blessed But Not Favored - The Jeff and Vida Band
Set Yourself On Fire - Stars
Out on Patrol - The Offspring
Many Too Many - Genesis
Feb 14 - Drive-By Truckers
The Mayor Of Candor Lied - Martyn Joseph
Goin' Away Baby - Jimmy Rogers
After All This Time - Simon Webbe
Flint (For The Unemployed And Underpaid) - Sufjan Stevens
Doll Parts - Hole
After The Ordeal - Genesis
Lady Luck - Vigilantes Of Love
Skank Bloc Bologna - Scritti Politti
chihuahua - Phil Kelsall
Fly - Nick Drake
Every Woman Alive - Marion Loguidice Band
Harvest Moon - Neil Young
Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole - Martha Wainwright
Walk To Slide - G. Love & Special Sauce
Days Of Pearly Spencer - Marc Almond
Disney Girls - The Beach Boys
Dr. Phibbs - I. Roy
Komakino - Joy Division
Goodbye Honey - Ryan Adams
Can't Stop This Thing We Started - Bryan Adams
Cloth Of Life - Vigilantes Of Love
I Honestly Love You - Olivia Newton-John
How Does It Feel? - Wan Santo Condo
Good Morning Judge - 10cc
Funky Nassau - The Blues Brothers
Just To Have You - Jennifer Paige
Vitamins V - Kristin Hersh
'Cause I Love You - Johnny Cash
Walking On The Surface Of The Moon - Wreckless Eric
What Kind Of World - Michael Ruff
I Know There's A Word - Aimee Mann
Pinnochio's Nose - Yazbek
Light My Fire - The Doors
Happy talk (fast version) - Captain Sensible
In Case We Die (Parts 1-4) - Architecture In Helsinki


Happy Slap - Ashok
Long Road to Ruin - Foo Fighters
Enjoy The Silence - Depeche Mode
It's Not Over Yet - Klaxons
Excerpt from a Teenage Opera - Keith West
Another Night - Real McCoy
Hippy hippy shake - Dave Clark Five
Twist and Shout - Salt-N-Pepa
Ask - The Smiths
Tidy Up Tidy Up (Edit) - The Barcelona Pavilion
The Box - Johnny Flynn
Mahna, Mahna - Cake
The Letter - The Box Tops
B.A.B.Y - Rachel Sweet
Devil's Radio - George Harrison
Stuck Between Stations - The Hold Steady
Spin Me Harder - Daft Punk vs. Dead Or Alive
Everybody In Between - Cure vs. Black Box
Walls Come Tumbling Down! - The Style Council
Crash - The Primitives
Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above - CSS
Hounds Of Love - Kate Bush
I Like the Way (Radio Edit) - Bodyrockers
Just a Song About Ping Pong - Operator Please
Sweet Harmony - The Beloved
Flux - Bloc Party
Superstar (RWL Remix) - Jamelia
Dolls - Primal Scream
Fake Tales of San Francisco - Arctic Monkeys
Where's the Pleasure? (Radio Edit) - Protocol
Ooh Wee It's Jenny From The Block - Mark Ronson vs. Jennifer Lopez
We're All Gonna Die Someday - Kasey Chambers
Stronger - Kanye West
Empire (Single Edit) - Kasabian
Wapiko's Weather Forecast! - Yoko Ishida
Stupidly Happy - XTC
C'mon Everybody - Eddie Cochran
Have I Been A Fool - Jack Penate
Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses
Somebody Told Me - The Killers
One Fine Day - Carole King
Drop The Pilot - Joan Armatrading
We're All Going to Die - Malcolm Middleton
Highway 61 Revisited - Karen O & The Million Dollar Bashers
Happy - Ned's Atomic Dustbin

Friday, December 14, 2007

Five free typefaces

A few more interesting examples from

AEROFOIL is delicate and calligraphic.

AMPERSAND is chunky and felt-tippy.

DISPATCH is a fancy ultra-bold.

ELLIANARELLE'S PATH is curvy and extravagant.

SOCIAL ANIMAL is a distressed condensed sans.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Guitar Hero III, now available on PC (& Mac!)

MacWorld reports: [edited]

Aspyr Media’s Macintosh version of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock will hit retail stores beginning December 10, 2007. It will be appearing on store shelves as a hybrid Mac/PC bundle, for $79.99, including an X-Plorer USB guitar game controller

In Guitar Hero III, you’re a struggling musician who’s trying to climb to the top by making deals with record producers, getting bigger and bigger gigs, sealing endorsement contracts and getting good reviews.

You do so by playing along to popular rock songs on the X-Plorer guitar controller, tapping out and strumming according to instructions you see on the screen, in time with the music. Do it well and you’ll move on to bigger and better things — do it poorly and the crowds will boo and eventually you’ll tank.

As you play songs successfully, you’ll unlock new songs you can play. You’ll get to play everything from “Anarchy in the U.K” by the Sex Pistols to “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam, “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by The Scorpions, “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine, and many more.

Guitar Hero III features many songs by the original artists, with guest appearances by Slash from Guns N Roses and Velvet Revolver, and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. The game has unlockable content, a multiplayer action-inspired battle mode, support for bass guitar if you want to play with a friend and online multiplayer game modes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Glitter graphics

I hate glitter. It doesn't stick to what it's meant to stick to. But it sticks to everything it's not meant to. Oh, and it is common, cheap and tacky.

This site hosts a collection of animated gifs that 'glitter'. They're common, cheap and tacky. But they won't leave shiny bits of plastic on your skin, hair, furniture and carpets.

Spelling it out

amaztype allows you to spell out your favourite recording artist or author with copies of their published work.

Yep, that's pretty much what it does.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Toshiba releasing 128GB solid state drive

Toshiba reports: [edited]

Toshiba Corporation today announced its entry into the emerging market for NAND-flash-based solid state drive (SSD) with a series of products featuring multilevel-cell NAND flash memories.

Offered in a range of form factors and densities, Toshiba's solid state drives are designed primarily for notebook PCs. They will be showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, from January 7th to 10th. Samples and mass production will follow from the first quarter (January to March) of next year.

Moving NAND-based storage architecture forward, Toshiba's first solid state drives offer three densities: 32 gigabytes (GB), 64GB and 128GB.

Toshiba's new SSD integrate an original MLC controller supporting fast read-write speeds, parallel data transfers and wear leveling, and achieve performance levels comparable to those of single-level NAND flash SSD.

By applying MLC technology, Toshiba has realized a 128GB density in a 1.8 inch form factor. Toshiba expects the launch of its SSD line-up to speed up acceptance of solid state memory in laptops and digital consumer products, and to widen the horizons of the NAND flash market.

The maximum read speed is 100MB a second, and the maximum write speed of 40MB a second with the SATA2 interface (transfer rate of 3Gbps), which is compliant with high speed serial interface. The operating life is 1,000,000 hours.

Figaro on the French train strike

The recent strikes have revealed something very interesting about the French rail system.

According to Figaro's Christian Gerondeau, not many people use it.

Politicians and media pundits warned darkly that the railway stoppage would bring France to its knees, but it didn't turn out like that. Parisian commuters found it a nuisance, but in the rest of the country, where most people drive to work anyway, 90% said they hardly noticed it.

This should make us think long and hard about the amount of taxpayers' money used to prop up our railways. Receipts from train travel account for just 5% of what we as a nation spend on cars and lorries, yet the state pumps an annual 12 billion Euros into it, more than it would cost to buy every single rail user a brand new car every year.

What's more, in the Ile de France, the French state actually bans coach services which compete with the trains: if that ban were lifted the number of train travellers would dwindle even further.

Yet we spend more money to sustain a transport service hardly anyone uses than we spend on our desperately underfunded universities. If the strike makes us see sense about this 'profligate waste' it will have done the country a service.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Slowing down light reports: [edited]

Lene Vestergaard Hau can stop a pulse of light in midflight, start it up again at 0.13 miles per hour, and then make it appear in a completely different location.

"It's like a little magic trick," says Hau, a Harvard physicist. "Of course, in all magic tricks there's a secret."

And her secret is a 0.1mm lump of atoms called a Bose-Einstein condensate, cooled nearly to absolute zero (-459.67 degrees Fahrenheit) in a steel container with tiny windows. Normally — well, in a vacuum — light goes 186,282 miles per second. But things are different inside a BEC, a strange place where millions of atoms move — barely — in quantum lockstep.

About a decade ago, Hau started playing with BECs — for a physicist, that means shooting lasers at them. She blew up a few. Eventually, she found that lasers of the right wavelengths could tune the optical properties of a BEC, giving Hau an almost supernatural command over any other light shined into it.

Her first trick was slowing a pulse of light to a crawl — 15 mph as it traveled through the BEC. Since then, Hau has completely frozen a pulse and then released it. And recently she shot a pulse into one BEC and stopped it — turning the BEC into a hologram, a sort of matter version of the pulse.

Then she transferred that matter waveform into an entirely different BEC nearby — which emitted the original light pulse. Einstein may have set that initial speed limit of light, but he only theorized about BECs. "It's not breaking relativity," Hau says. "But I'm sure he would have been rather surprised."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Invision G5

Reg Hardware reports: [edited]

The G5 weighs in at just 6g and measures only 3.3cm long and 1.6cm wide. It fits over the ear with what Nextlink calls a Soft Spring design, which means it’ll adapt to the contours of your ear.

The headset is charged by mini USB and users will get up to four hours' talk time, Nextlink claimed. The G5 will sit in standby mode for at least 30 days.

The company said the G5 will sport a 20-hour talk time but to get it you'll have to store the headset in a special Zippo lighter-like case. It has a built-in battery that's good to charge up the G5 five times before requiring a refresh itself. It's an optional extra.

Compatible with Bluetooth 1.2 and 2.0, and available now. The G5 is priced at £80.

Droplet collation has put together a fascinating collection of liquid photography.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pong hits 35

Wired reports: [edited]

November 29, 1972: Pong, the first popular videogame, is released in its original arcade-game form.

Pong was the brainchild of Nolan Bushnell, a founder of Atari, who was inspired to develop it after playing an electronic table-tennis game at a trade show. But, having recently designed an arcade game he deemed too complicated because you had to read the instructions before you could play, Bushnell strove for utter simplicity.

"I had to come up with a game people already knew how to play, something so simple that any drunk in any bar could play," Bushnell said later. The first coin-operated Pong arcade game was installed at Andy Capp's, a tavern in Sunnyvale, California, where Atari was located. It was an instantaneous hit.

Four months after its appearance at Andy Capp's, there were upwards of 10,000 Pong arcade games scattered across the land. This caught the eye of Magnavox Odyssey, developer of the game that had inspired Bushnell to dream up Pong.

A lawsuit followed, resulting in an out-of-court settlement in Magnavox's favor. By then, however, Pong had moved to a home-console model, which was very different from the original.

Bushnell cut a deal with Sears to act as Pong's exclusive retailer, and the 1975 Christmas shopping season was a lucrative one. This can fairly be said to have ushered in the era of home videogaming.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Flickr adds editing capabilities

If you have a Flickr account, click on one of your photos, and you will notice a new 'Edit Photo' button has been added between the 'Rotate' and 'Delete' functions. If you click on the 'Edit Photo' option, you will be asked permission to be connected to the company that provides the services, before being offered a number of basic editing options

The editing functions are provided by a company called Picnik, who have offered online editing for quite a while. However, integrating it with the Flickr site is an excellent idea.

Trailer flash

Wired Magazine (Feb 2007) reports: [edited]:

It may be a mobile home, but the Glassic Soho won't be mistaken for any of the single-wides dotting trailer parks across the US.

Developed by San Francisco architect and furniture designer Christopher Deam, it's a sleek, modem alternative living space. At just north of $59,000 for the fully furnished house (wheels included), the Classic costs at least $10,000 more than a typical trailer.

But its target market - think Eames-loving design sophisticates - seems shocked by how cheap the 400-square-foot abode is. "We're attracting a customer who says, 'We wouldn't buy anything else you sell, but we love this,'" explains Denise Walsh, a sales rep at Breckenridge, which manufactures the Classic.

Pick from three floorplans: one-bedroom, two-bedroom (no kitchen), or studio. All units come standard with a floor-to-celling wall of glass (motorised roller shades optional).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The perfect guitar?

Gibson Guitars reports: [edited]

It took Chris Adams 10 years to perfect the auto-tuning system on the Gibson Robot Guitar. While he was at it, Adams developed the technology that allows it to switch effortlessly between multiple tunings, keep a guitar perfectly intonated, and even [allegedly, Ed.] change strings.

Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins loves it. Matt Bellamy from Muse puts it in his guitars. Steve Vai is telling everybody how great it is.

The only thing you have to do to start is pull a knob, strum the strings, and when everything on the display is blue, you are done.

In select stores December 7, 2007 as a first run limited edition, only 10 per store. £1,400.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A possible niche for the 'MacBook Nano'

Rumours continue to grow that there will be an ultra-slim MacBook released early next year, with Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster being quoted as saying that the likelihood of one being released at Macworld San Francisco is about 85%.

Without wishing to try and work out how Mr Munster got to that figure, a couple of years ago I would have said that an ultraportable Mac would be a Very Desirable Thing (you'll need to scroll to the bottom of the article to see the 'nano' bit). However, a lot has happened since then, in particular, the iPhone, which for many people serves as a perfectly serviceable UMPC.

However, there are some things the iPhone lacks that a MacBook Nano could provide, including:

- Storage space
- Screen real estate
- Usable keyboard/trackpad
- Speakers
- OSX apps (Pages/Photoshop, etc.)

Now, here's a thought.

Suppose the MacBook Nano came with 128GB of flash-based hard drive space. Big enough to fit most people's entire digital life on. And a 1280 x 800 pixel screen, plenty big enough to browse the web and view the majority of OSX apps. And a full-size keyboard and trackpad. And that's about it. No CD/DVD drive. Not many ports. Not much of anything. It could be as thin as a very thin thing, and weigh less than a kilogram.

This beautiful thing is then carried around with you wherever you go, in your backpack or designer handbag. But there are times when using a laptop computer, no matter how small and sexy it is, really isn't practicable.

Now, here's the 'Brilliant Idea'. When you 'sleep' the MacBook Nano, you get the option of it being 'iPhone Wakeable'. In this mode, the MacBook Nano is intelligently paired with your iPhone, via the most appropriate method, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPRS (and next year, 3G!).

In this mode, the screen isn't illuminated on wake up, and the processor is controlled to use as little power as possible. So, when you want to play music, you're not restricted to your iPhone's storage capacity... you can stream it from your MacBook Nano's iTunes collection, either to Bluetooth stereo headphones, or to your home's Airport Express, using your iPhone to monitor and control the music.

When you want to check a Pages or Keynote document, you can browse your MacBook Nano's archive wirelessly on your iPhone without removing the MacBook Nano from your bag.

Your iPhone effectively becomes a 'thin-client', with your MacBook Nano hosting the majority of your data. The potential for symbiosis extends, because the MacBook Nano could use the iPhone as a wireless modem in those situations where you have the opportunity to browse the web on a larger screen, or even to perform regular iSyncs to your .Mac account.

Never enough...

My iTunes collection has just reached 30,000

- 104 gigabytes of files

- 1913 hours of recordings

- Most played song, Say You Don't Mind: Colin Blunstone (43 plays)

- Earliest track added, Whole Lotta Rosie: AC/DC (Jan 2004)

- Latest track added, Days Of Armageddon: Songdog

- Longest music track, Haq Ali Ali: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (25 mins)

- Shortest music track, Field Day for the Sundays: Wire (28 secs)

- Number of Bob Dylan tracks, 334

- Number of Jamiroquai tracks, 0

Xdrive - 5GB of free online storage

Xdrive allows you to upload up to 5GB of your files to their servers with no individual size restriction, and allows you to send them in folders without forcing you to zip them first.

Xdrive also has a mobile interface for your smart phone.

Backup and folder syncing software is available for Windows-users.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

London, Lincoln, London 02-12-07

Shake It Shake It - Thomas Tantrum
Even Better Than The Real Thing (dance version) - U2
With A Little Luck - Wings
Fox on the Run - Dondero High School
The Wrath of Marcie - The Go! Team
Eddie's Gun - Kooks
Rendez-Vu - Basement Jaxx
California - Phantom Planet
Sha La La La Lee - Small Faces
White riot - The Clash
Love Me Like You - The Magic Numbers
Zambesi - Bert Kaempfert
American Idiot - Green Day
The Biggest Horizon - Clint Boon Experience
Achy Breaky Song - Weird Al Yankovic
Oh My God - Lily Allen & Mark Ronson
Rule the World - Take That
Backfire At the Disco - The Wombats
Juke Box Jive - The Rubettes
I Like the Way (Radio Edit) - Bodyrockers
Bend Me, Shape Me - Amen Corner
Maybe tomorrow - The Chords
We're All Going to Die - Malcolm Middleton
I'm Gonna Love You Too - Blondie
Long Road to Ruin - Foo Fighters
Saving My Face - KT Tunstall
I Loved the Way She Said - Spitalfield
Cold As Ice - Foreigner
Bring me Edelweiss - Edelweiss
Ready to Go (Dance Mix) - Republica
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House - LCD Soundsystem
Staring At the Rude Bois (feat. Lethal Bizzle) - Gallows
Have I Been A Fool - Jack Penate
What Ifs And Maybes - Bromheads Jacket
Godhopping - Dogs Die In Hot Cars
Back Of My Hand - Jags
Heartbeatz - Styles & Breeze
Needle In A Haystack - The Velvelettes
Week In Week Out - The Ordinary Boys
The Boys of Summer (single) - DJ Sammy
Joe's Head - Kings Of Leon
Bum Bum - Mabel
Summer - Sum 41
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! - Erasure
Don't Tell Me - Blancmange
She's A Rebel - Green Day
Hooked On A Feeling - Vonda Shepard
How Do You Do It? - Gerry & the Pacemakers
He's So Fine - The Chiffons
The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani
What you need is… (radio edit) - Sinead Quinn


Down In The Alley - Peter Case
Handclapping Song - The Meters
If You See Her, Say Hello (alt) - Bob Dylan
Reflection - Prince
Acrobat - U2
Cupid Must Be Angry - Nick Lowe
Radiation Vibe - Hem
Last Exit - Junior Boys
Look Over Your Shoulder - Randy Stonehill
Caterpillar - Lambchop
What Used To Be French - Secret Machines
Fire and Rain - Blood, Sweat & Tears
You've Been Gone Too Long - Ann Sexton
We Come in Peace - Bobby Conn & The Glass Gypsies
Lay Down Sally - Eric Clapton
That's How I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart - Aimee Mann
The Other Side Of Summer - Elvis Costello
Paper Wings - Gillian Welch
The Distance - Cake
High Of 75 - Relient K
Motherland - Natalie Merchant
Perfect Blue - The Wedding Present
Rock N' Me - Steve Miller Band
Gloria (live) - Van Morrison
Voice Of My Savior - Jimmy Martin
When The Revolution Comes - The Last Poets
Catch My Disease - Ben Lee
I Think I'm Falling In Love - Bettye Swann
If It All Comes True - Chagall Guevara
Enjoy The Silence - Depeche Mode
Something Changed - Pulp
Sign O The Times (single) - Prince
Heart Of The Country - Paul McCartney & Wings
Ride Like The Wind - Christopher Cross
Isolation - Joy Division

Oxfam unwrapped ads

These ads seem to have upset a lot of people.

They got my attention.

They kept my attention.

They didn't try to make me feel guilty.

They made me smile.

They made me think about how I spend my money.

Not many charity ads achieve that.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

London, Lincoln, London 01-12-07

30 Seconds Over Tokyo - Pere Ubu
For Heaven's Sake - Wes Montgomery
Automobile Noise - The Blue Nile
Mr. Mistoffelees (Cats) - Andrew Lloyd Webber
Pouring Water On A Drowning Man - James Carr
One Tree Hill - U2
If She Knew What She Wants - Bangles
My Shirt Looks Good On You - Catie Curtis
Get Up And Go - Cinerama
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da - The Police
Ghost of a Girl - Bluerunners
Strange Little Girl - Stranglers
Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off - Panic! At The Disco
Nutopia - Meg Lee Chin
I Mon Bitter (curfew time) - Mau Mau Chaplains
Just Like A Birthday - Kathryn Williams
Should've Been a Cowboy - Toby Keith
Cabin Essence - Brian Wilson
Mama, I Got A Brand New Thing - Undisputed Truth
Mr Blue - Garth Brooks
Any Road - George Harrison
Michelle - The Beatles
Souvenirs - Architecture in Helsinki
Flirt (With Me) - Zeromancer
Poppa Joe - Sweet
Lighten Up - Morcheeba
High Into The Sky - Pilot
City Of Chicago - Christy Moore
Shotgun - Jr. Walker and The All stars
Saturday Night - Kaiser Chiefs
Silverscreen Showerscene (Thin - Felix Da Housecat
teen angst - m83
Crazy Train - The Waifs
World Came Tumbling Down - Al Anderson
I’ll Come Running Back To You - Sam Cooke
My Heart Would Know - The The
Tonight - Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
Street Life - Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music
Where Does This Ocean Go? - Yoko Kanno
Five To One - The Doors
Outlaw Blues - Bob Dylan
Let Us Humbly Worship Jesus - Bryn Haworth
Stop Draggin' My Heart Around - Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks
Old Shit/New Shit - Eels

Just a Song About Ping Pong - Operator Please
I Want You To Want Me - Letter To Cleo
Freed From Desire - Gala
House Arrest - KRUSH
I Eat Cannibals - Toto Coelo
(Is This The Way To) Amarillo (2005) - Tony Christie
Love You To Death - Kill Hannah
Let The Day Begin - The Call
Memphis In The Meantime - John Hiatt
Charlie Brown - Coasters
Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That - Dolly Parton
Riders on the Storm (Fredwreck Remix) - Snoop Dogg feat. The Doors
Twist & Shout - Chaka Demus & Pliers
Crazy Angel - Kill Hannah
Aquarius - Let the Sunshine In - Dondero High School
Rockin' All Over The World - Status Quo
Last Train To London - Electric Light Orchestra
New Song - Howard Jones
Teddy Bear - Elvis Presley
I Found Out - The Pigeon Detectives
Soldier Girl (Album Version) - The Polyphonic Spree
Kill Your Television (album mix) - Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Honey Honey - ABBA
Brilliant Mind - Furniture
Heaven Is A Halfpipe - OPM
Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) - Erasure
Down On The Corner - Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Boys Are Back In Town - Thin Lizzy
Any Way You Want It - Journey
The Box - Johnny Flynn
Confetti - The Lemonheads
The Pretender - Foo Fighters
Sailormoon (English Extended Dance Mix) - Sailor Moon
Land Of 1,000 Dances - Wilson Pickett
Good Morning Britain - Aztec Camera
What Dreams Are Made Of - Hilary Duff
Lipstick On Your Collar - Connie Francis
Shine Silently - Nils Lofgren
I Can't Wait - Nu Shooz
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Moxy Fruvous
Put A Penny In The Slot - Fionn Regan
Flux - Bloc Party