Friday, February 29, 2008
Yahoo! reports: [edited]
Maxim magazine has apologized for publishing a negative review of the Black Crowes' new album by a writer who hadn't listened to the whole CD.
The review in Maxim's March issue gives the Crowes' "Warpaint" a rating of two-and-a-half stars out of five. The band posted an exasperated statement on its Web site last week saying the Maxim writer hadn't heard the entire album because advance copies weren't available. The Crowes' manager, Pete Angelus, said the magazine explained that its review was an "educated guess."
Maxim editorial director James Kaminsky responded Tuesday with this statement: "It is Maxim's editorial policy to assign star ratings only to those albums that have been heard in their entirety. Unfortunately, that policy was not followed in the March 2008 issue of our magazine and we apologize to our readers."
Apartment Therapy reports: [edited]
One of the new items from Umbra takes a twist on the traditional bulletin board. It's made from a bunch of stacked reprocessed paper with a recyclable paper board frame. You can either stick push pins in to hold notes, or simple wedge them in.
They will retail for around $21.00.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Google reports: [edited]
Google Sites is the easiest way to make information accessible to people who need quick, up-to-date access. People can work together on a Site to add file attachments, information from other Google applications (like Google Docs, Google Calendar, YouTube and Picasa), and new free-form content. Creating a site together is as easy as editing a document, and you always control who has access, whether it's just yourself, your team, or your whole organization. You can even publish Sites to the world. The Google Sites web application is accessible from any internet connected computer.
Single-click page creation
Creating a new page for your Google Site just takes the click of a button.
No HTML required
Creating a Google Site is as easy as editing a document, which means there's no markup language for you to learn -- just get started.
Make it your own
Our customization options let you give your Google Site your own look and feel
Get started with templates
We offer a growing list of page types -- web page, announcements, file cabinet, dashboard and list -- to help you get started with your Google Sites pages.
Upload files and attachments
Use the file cabinet to upload files up to 10MB in size. Each Google Apps account receives at least 10GB of storage in Google Sites. Google Apps Premier and Education editions get an additional 500MB for each user account.
Embed rich content
Google Sites is integrated with other Google products, so you can insert videos, docs, spreadsheets, presentations, photo slide shows, and calendars directly onto your Google Sites pages.
Work together and share
Our permission settings let you designate owners, viewers and collaborators (meaning they can edit pages) for your site. And you can make your Google Sites available to just a few people, your entire organization, or the world.
Search with Google
You can search across Google Sites pages and content using powerful Google search technology. You'll find specific pages and documents instantly, the same way you would on Google.com.
The South by Southwest Music and Media Conference is a yearly festival that showcases hundreds of musical acts from around the globe on over fifty stages in downtown Austin, Texas.
For more information on this year's participants visit the showcase page. Many of the acts have provided free song downloads (look for the anachronistic cassette logo).
There are a 764 songs available.
The Bravia DAV-DZ home cinema range incorporate a 'Night Mode'. Sony claims this allows actors’ speech to remain clear, while ensuring that the volume of sudden noises are suppressed.
Range-limiting systems are not new. Many DVD players have a 'night-mode' that uses Dolby encoded information to compress the dynamic range of film soundtracks. Sony don't give any details as to whether the DAV-DZ range is using a cleverer system, but in my experience any kind of dynamic range limiting also ruins the 'feel' of the audio.
If you need to listen to a film at lower volume levels, it is often better to choose the 'stereo' or '2-channel' option (if there is one) in the DVD's menu setup.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
xdrive.com reports: [edited]
Introducing the new Xdrive Desktop Lite beta
This new lightweight application utilizes Adobe AIR technology, which allows you to easily upload files and folders right from your hard drive, desktop, USB devices, or removable storage drives directly into your Xdrive web storage.
Xdrive Desktop Lite gives you the power to manage and organize documents, photos, music, videos and more in your personal online hard drive.
At this time, you can only register for the Xdrive service with an AOL or AIM screen name. However, if you would like to use an existing e-mail address as your Xdrive user name, you may register via our related product at bluestring.com. Once you have completed the registration process, just come back to Xdrive and log in with that e-mail address.
Brett's 2p'orth: The Bluestring method of registering seems to require that you live in the United States. However, signing up to AOL is free, and not too laborious. First impressions of the software are positive, however you do have to disable pop ups on your browser for the web version to work.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Solid state storage is more durable and power-efficient than conventional hard drives. It can also be faster, and with the price of 'flash' storage continuing to plummet, it is now becoming a 'premium' option on lightweight portable computers.
However, there are those of us who remember reading that flash storage is good for about 100,000 writes and rewrites before it packs up. This is fine when you are using it for storing data, but what happens when it is playing host to a modern operating system with its millions of little men running around juggling bits and bytes?
Well, while the results have the suspicion of bias, Engadget reports that according to Samsung's Michael Yang (who bears the wonderful title 'flash marketing manager'), a flash device rated at 100,000 write cycles can write 100,000 times "to every single (memory) cell within the device," and it won't continuously write to the same cell over and over thanks to a process dubbed 'wear levelling'.
He also stated that "a pattern could be perpetually repeated in which a 64GB SSD is completely filled with data, erased, filled again, then erased again every hour of every day for years, and the user still wouldn't reach the theoretical write limit."
Keith Tanner reports:
The craziest brochure you've ever seen is ahead. It's for the 1968 Mazda 110S, otherwise known as a Cosmo. It was picked up at the Toyo Kogyo factory by my father after a thorough tour of the Hiroshima plant.
All of the dashboard labels are in English, and the brochure is obviously for someone with a strong English ability. It was drawn by a young Tadanori Yokoo, a famous Japanese pop artist.
Brett's 2p'orth: Powered by a Wankel rotary engine, the Cosmos was produced between 1967 and 1972. No one seems to be quite sure how the brochure got past the client, but I'm very glad it did, in all its bizarre 'Japlish' beauty.
Evernote reports: [edited]
EverNote Corporation's mission is to give users the ability to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform they find most convenient, and to make this information searchable and accessible at anytime, from anywhere.
Built on a unique metaphor for information management and powerful image recognition engines, our flagship EverNote product allows users to capture and retrieve text notes, web clips, mobile phone snapshots, images containing printed and handwritten text, digital ink notes taken on tablet PC and PDA, and more.
Brett's 2p'orth: If the OCR (especially on hand-written text) is as impressive as the EverNote video suggests, it could prove to be an excellent way of managing data in an organic and intuitive manner.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Onyx have just released a tiny mobile phone (60g, 91 x 35 x 18mm) targeted as a 'pub' phone', the idea being that you swap the SIM from your bulkier primary phone before heading out for a drink.
It's a nice looking item, however I'm guessing this is not going to be a winning idea for the following reasons:
1. Swapping the SIM is a pain on a lot of mobile phones.
2. The Liscio has no camera. The pub is exactly the place where a mobile's camera tends to get used.
3. Most people with 'bulkier' phones don't carry their contact/calendar data around on their SIMs.
4. Its £130 asking price puts it beyond the 'impulse/gift buy' category.
5. Most people want LESS items that require charging/organising/looking after, not more.
PC World reports: [edited]
The Tale model ($3650) is a single-size bed that folds up to become a computer desk. Astonishingly, you don't have to move anything off the desk to open the bed. In fact, you can leave everything plugged in, and your desktop remains fully accessible when the bed is open, so you can grab your laptop or a book to read.
The Tale comes in six finishes. It includes a 6-inch-thick foam mattress and has a fingertip lift mechanism.
Also available as a full or queen-size double-bed.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Amazon.com is selling Issue 53 of Visionaire. Packaged inside a specially produced domed case, it consists of five 12-inch vinyl records, imprinted with images (picture discs), that together contain more than 100 minutes of sound content - from audio experiments to unreleased songs, samples and spoken word pieces.
Also included is a MINI Clubman 'Vinyl Killer' record player: a battery-operated toy car, containing speakers and a needle. As the little car moves along a record's groove, it plays each track, acting as a fully portable record player and sound system.
Beyond all this, the issue also includes two CDs with all of the sound content gathered digitally, as well as a booklet of credits and instructions. Contributors include: musicians David Byrne, Courtney Love, Michael Stipe, Adam Horowitz (Beastie Boys), Antony & the Johnsons, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Karl Bartos (Kraftwerk), Andrew WK, Chan Marshall (Cat Power), Danger Mouse, Malcolm McLaren and Ruyuichi Sakamoto
A snip at $225.00
Saturday, February 23, 2008
LONDON to LINCOLN
666 - Yazbek
Tell That Girl To Shut Up - Transvision Vamp
Beauty and the Beast - Beauty and the Beast
Bride Of Theme From Blinking Lights - Eels
Wedding Bell Blues - Laura Nyro
You're Gonna Lose Us - The Cribs
People gonna talk - James Hunter
Bill McCai - The Coral
For No One - Michael Weston King
Jacks And Aces - Michael Walton
Butterfly Sunrise - Jeff Bjorck
No Better - Jonatha Brooke & The Story
No More - Yazbek
Bad Weekend - Art Brut
Stepchild - Bran Van 3000
Comfort Eagle - Cake
Jig Of Life - Kate Bush
Wild Seed - Morten Harket
Ghost In A Spitfire - Peter Bruntnell
What's The Use - Thad Cockrell
The Day We Caught The Train - Ocean Colour Scene
Raglan Road - Van Morrison & The Chieftains
Sympathy - Vigilantes Of Love
Knowhere - David Gray
Non Alignment Pact - Pere Ubu
Like A Honeycomb - British Sea Power
Battle of Who Could Care Less - Ben Folds Five
Lotta Love - Nicolette Larson
O God My Heart Is Ready - Chris Whitley
The Blues Don't Bother Me - Matt "Guitar" Murphy
Get It On (Bang A Gong) - Power Station
Oh Happy Day - Mahalia Jackson
Swing From Limb To Limb - Sophie B. Hawkins
More Adventurous - Rilo Kiley
Surface Tension - Yazbek
Kings Of The Wild Frontier - Adam & The Ants
Confusion - Electric Light Orchestra
It's All Right - Van Morrison
Living With The Law - Chris Whitley
Air On A G String - Jacques Loussier
zebra - Man Man
Equation #6 - The Willowz
LINCOLN to LONDON
Oh Boy! - Buddy Holly
Lounger - Dogs Die In Hot Cars
The Staunton Lick - Lemon Jelly
Universally Speaking - Red Hot Chili Peppers
A-Punk - Vampire Weekend
Summer Of '69 - Bryan Adams
September - Earth Wind & Fire
Mercy - Duffy
Ghostbusters - Ray Parker Jr
Great DJ - The Ting Tings
That's That - Cass McCombs
Jimmy Mack - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
Ain't Goin' To Goa - Alabama 3
London Girl - The Pogues
Theme from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - Hugo Montenegro
Death to Los Campesinos! - Los Campesinos!
Hard To Handle - Black Crowes
Belfast (7" Version) - Orbital
What Do You Want From Me - Monaco
Dreaming - Blondie
Hang on to Your Love - The Vessels
Stella (youtube rip) - Ida Maria
Lido Shuffle - Boz Scaggs
Don't Copy Me - Robots In Disguise
Mr Understanding - Pete & The Pirates
Snow Is Gone - Josh Ritter
Skinny Marinky Dinky Dink - kids
I’m A Cuckoo - Belle & Sebastian
She's a Rainbow (Radio Edit) - World Of Twist
Candy Man - Sammy Davis Jr.
What Is Life - George Harrison
Fasten Your Seatbelt - Pendulum featuring The Freestylers
Slam - Pendulum
Crying At the Discoteque (Radio Edit) - Alcazar
White Collar Boy - Belle & Sebastian
Daddy Cool - Boney M
Leave It Alone (Radio Edit) - Operator Please
Great DJ (7th Heaven Radio Remix) - The Ting Tings
Live It Up - Mental As Anything
Psycho - The Sonics
Let the Good Times Roll - Ray Charles & The Count Basie Orchestra
Jesse Hold On - B*Witched
Umbrella (Brits 2008 performance) - Rihanna with the Klaxons
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Mobile Burn reports: [edited]
Last week at the 2008 Mobile World Congress, the Bluetooth SIG announced that Bluetooth will soon be able to make use of an existing 802.11 radio for the transfer of large amounts of data. When transferring music, groups of photos, or large documents from one device to another, the new technology will allow the Bluetooth radio to temporarily use an existing 802.11 radio for the larger file, and then switch back to Bluetooth for smaller file transfers.
The new technology will offer a significant speed boost for Bluetooth and will maintain the same security and convenience that Bluetooth already has. The core specification enabling the Alternate MAC/PHY is expected to be available to manufacturers in 2009, though work is already underway.
Face37 reports: [edited]
Brief: Design a witty & informative game for students and designers.
Response: Type Trumps, a play on the game Top Trumps, in which different typefaces are attributed numerical values. These figures are then used to enable the cards to be won or lost using some of the tried & tested ‘Top Trumps’ rules.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Reg Hardware reports: [edited]
Nintendo has revealed that both Mario Kart and Wii Fit will be released in the UK in April.
The official UK release date for Wii Fit, which has already sold over 1m copies in Japan since its release in December, will be 25 April.
Mario Kart comes bundled with a Wii wheel, officially dubbed Wii Drive, that incorporates the console’s Remote into a central slot. The game will be available in the UK on 11 April.
Although Nintendo has confirmed that Mario Kart will cost £40 in the UK, it hasn’t said yet how much Wii Fit will set UK gamers back.
Register Hardware reports: [edited]
Sony has unveiled the latest Walkman media players, now with Bluetooth connectivity. There is a choice of 8GB or 4GB capacity - dubbed the NWZ-A828 and the NWZ-A826, respectively - with both standard and Bluetooth earphones.
Both capacity players have a 2.4", 240 x 320 pixel display and support H.264 and MPEG 4 video formats. JPEG images can be displayed on the player, which mimics Apple’s iPod Touch by incorporating an accelerometer that lets it display images in different orientations when its position is changed from vertical to horizontal.
A wide range of audio formats are supported, including AAC, MP3, WMA and WMA DRM.
You’ll get around 36 hours of audio playback when using the supplied cabled headphones, falling to about 15 hours when streaming music wirelessly to the supplied Bluetooth-enabled cans. Video playback is claimed to be around ten hours.
The 8GB NWZ-A828 and 4GB NWZ-A826 Walkman DMPs will both be available in Europe from April.
Brett's 2p'orth: I find wired headphones irritating so it is good to see Sony taking the erm... lead on this, if only because it might 'inspire' Apple to start implementing stereo Bluetooth on their iPod/iPhone ranges.
BBC reports: [edited]
Gamers will soon be able to interact with the virtual world using their thoughts and emotions alone. A neuro-headset which interprets the interaction of neurons in the brain will go on sale later this year.
"It picks up electrical activity from the brain and sends wireless signals to a computer," said Tan Le, president of US/Australian firm Emotiv. "It allows the user to manipulate a game or virtual environment naturally and intuitively," she added.
The Epoc technology can be used to give authentic facial expressions to avatars of gamers in virtual worlds. For example, if the player smiles, winks, grimaces the headset can detect the expression and translate it to the avatar in game.
It can also read emotions of players and translate those to the virtual world. "The headset could be used to improve the realism of emotional responses of AI characters in games," said Ms Le.
The Emotiv said the headset detects more than 30 different expressions, emotions and actions. They include excitement, meditation, tension and frustration; facial expressions such as smile, laugh, wink, shock (eyebrows raised), anger (eyebrows furrowed); and cognitive actions such as push, pull, lift, drop and rotate (on six different axis).
The $299 headset has a gyroscope to detect movement and has wireless capabilities to communicate with a USB dongle plugged into a computer.
Thanks to Aaron for the link
Macintouch has produced an exhaustive test of Apple's sylphlike portable, including comparative tests against some current and not-so-current Macs. If you're thinking of upgrading your laptop, the article is worth a read.
"Although the MacBook Air has much to criticize — battery and hard drive foremost — its benefits are compelling. A bright, clear, full-size display and backlit keys make it usable without the squinting and crunched fingers that characterize most ultralights. It's so thin, and so light, that it slides into a bag and makes hardly a bulge; even with its power brick and video and USB-Ethernet adapters, it seems hardly to add any weight to the load.
"And MacBook Air's industrial design is a stunning union of form and function. The curved bevels make it look even slimmer than it is, yet create a super-stiff chassis, which doesn't flex or bend, and make it easy to pick the computer up off a table one-handed. Its wedge profile makes typing easy, and it settles into the lap comfortably.
"And the Air is lighter than any Mac laptop ever made before, including the legendary PowerBook Duo. Not since the black PowerBook G3 series have we used such a tactile machine; not since the PowerBook 500 series has an Apple laptop so enthralled us.
At the end of the day, the MacBook Air isn't about speed, features, or bang-for-the-buck. Its value is simply this: it's both beautiful and a pleasure to use."
Pocket Lint reports: [edited]
The key update for this new S60 candybar model is its camera - with its Carl Zeiss lens, 5-megapixel sensor, and Xenon flash.
The phone also boasts a high-speed HSDPA connection, which means that users can update blogs or upload photos and videos to favorite sharing sites like Share on Ovi or Flickr straight from the handset.
Images can also be viewed on a television screen with the integrated TV-out feature, sent from phone to phone via wireless Bluetooth connection, or viewed in full colour on the phone's 2.2-inch display.
It comes loaded with the new Nokia Maps 2.0 application which helps consumers find the best routes or explore any city for new restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions and other points of interest.
The Nokia 6220 Classic also includes internet browser, email, music player, FM radio with RDS and up to 8GB of memory.
The Nokia 6220 classic is expected to start shipping in the 3rd quarter of 2008 with an retail price of around 325 euros.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
37 Signals reports: [edited]
I’ve now been using the Air for some time as my only laptop. The Pro still hasn’t left the desktop and I doubt it ever will while I own it. My girlfriend replaced her regular MacBook with an Air as well. The verdict after extended use? L-o-v-i-n-g it. Both of us.
The machine is plenty fast for emailing, browsing, photos, programming, and more. Probably the only people who wouldn’t find the performance of the Air good enough are the people lusting after an 8-core Mac Pro.
Most people are not like that, though. I think we’ve reached the point where the computational firepower for laptops is simply 'good enough' in the Innovator’s Dilemma sense of the term. Meaning that the puck is going to go somewhere else. That we’ll start caring about other things now.
For a laptop, those other things are exactly what the Air is optimizing: Thin, light, and sleek. But what I continue to be impressed with the most on the Air is the build quality.
The Air also works great with a 24” screen hooked up. I actually enjoyed working on one of those at the office the other day. No, it’s not as gorgeous as the 30” running at home, but it’s still pretty alright. So the only reason I still have the Pro is to run that 30” at home and even that is somewhat of a dubious argument if I hadn’t already invested in it.
The Air is a perfect one-machine solution for a heck of a lot of people. Dismissing it as merely a 3rd computer vanity accessory, as I’ve seen many do, is misguided and not based on actually using one for a longer period of time.
If you fall into the category of feeling your machine is fast enough to do what you’re currently doing, I’d strongly encourage you to take a look at the Air and enjoy somebody optimizing for other factors than just performance.
Gizmodo reports: [edited]
Whether it's pigs, UFOs or beer kegs, there’s a Miidio Vibro speaker for you and, for £50-£80, you too can turn any household surface into a speaker. That’s the claim, anyhow.
Hook it up via 3.5mm jack to any MP3 player and place your vibro speaker on any solid surface like a table, shelf or window ledge and watch it do its thing. The inner core and base plate drive sound waves downwards causing the surface of whatever it's sitting on to vibrate and amplify the sound. The three on offer are the:
Miidio UFO - Funky, retro and chic, this speaker is shaped to look like a classic UFO in high-shine metal-look red, white or black and comes with an integrated volume control. RRP £69.99
Miidio Keg - in matt silver or matt black, this compact speaker is made of machined metal with an integrated volume control. RRP £79.99
Miidio Piggy - in the shape of a pig with a brightly coloured nose and detailing in green, pink or blue. RRP £49.99
PC World reports: [edited]
Straight from the august maker of Frank Lloyd Wright office furniture, in association with the respected Mayo Clinic, comes the Walkstation - a combination computer desk and treadmill.
This treadmill is capable of a maximum speed of 2 mph, in 0.1-mph increments. By standing and walking at a leisurely pace, you'll burn as many as 100 extra calories per hour, elevate your base metabolic rate, and increase your focus and productivity, according to Mayo research.
A privacy screen and near-silent operation make the Walkstation usable in open-cubicle settings, and you can order it in any of Steelcase's usual wide array of colors and finishes.
The Steelcase Walkstation retails at $6,500.
Monday, February 18, 2008
advancedmp3players.co.uk are selling a 4GB touchscreen music/video player for £54.99.
Housed in a stainless steel case, it features a high resolution 2.8 inch touch screen with up to 4GB internal memory. The ICE 1000 supports Micro SD cards for additional capacity.
Screen: 320x240 pixels
Power supply: Li-polymer rechargeable battery
Speaker: Built-in speaker
Dimensions: 90 x 55.5 x 12mm
Display function: (Frequency: 18 Frames/Second)
Recording: Voice & FM stereo
Audio files: MP3, WMA
Video files: AVI(XVID) format files
The Sydney Morning Herald reports: [edited]
An Israeli startup has convinced mobile carriers in three countries to try a new concept: a tiny mobile phone that pops into interchangeable "jackets" to become a bigger, smarter phone - or into other gadgets to connect them to the internet.
The company, Modu, announced on Thursday that it will launch the phone, also called Modu, on October 1 with Telecom Italia SpA in Italy, OAA Vimpel Communications in Russia and Cellcom Israel Ltd.
Telecom Italia Mobile and Cellcom are the largest carriers in their respective countries, while VimpelCom is the second-largest in Russia.
The Modu is slightly smaller than the current iPod Nano and weighs 43 grams. It has a small colour screen and a limited keypad, which allows it to work as a rudimentary mobile phone on its own.
The jackets that will come with the Modu look like mobile phones, with standard numeric keypads and other features like cameras. But they lack they lack the antenna and chips that communicate with a wireless network, and this is where the Modu comes in - it pops into a slot, turning the jacket into a fully functional phone.
Modu founder Dov Moran said in an interview that the Italian carrier is excited about the concept because it can make mobile phones more like fashion, tempting consumer to update their looks every few months.
Moran also founded M-Systems, which pioneered USB flash drives. The company was acquired by California-based SanDisk in 2006 for $1.6 billion.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
zdnet reports: [edited]
Search titan Google and mobile phone carrier AT&T have been stunned by iPhone users usage patterns according to reports in recent days.
AppleInsider reports that Google has seen 50 times more search requests coming from Apple iPhones than any other mobile handset. They were so shocked, in fact, that they suspected that they had made an error tabulating their data.
Vic Gundotra, head of Google’s mobile operations, said that if other handset manufacturers follow in Apple’s footsteps and make Web access easier on their handsets the number of mobile searches could outpace fixed internet search “within the next several years.”
I know that my Google searches from my iPhone are high because Apple makes it so easy. The Google search bar pops up right below (and as large as) the URL field. Why guess at a URL when Google is right there? I know lots of people that don’t even try URLs any more, they just Google everything – even domain names!
In related news René Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG, says iPhone is driving up average wireless data usage as much as 30 times higher than on other phones. The average Internet usage for an iPhone customer is more than 100 MBytes. Which is 30 times the use for their average contract-based consumer.
Reg Hardware reports: [edited]
Sources cited by Japanese broadcaster NHK this weekend alleged that the consumer electronics giant will stop making HD DVD players and recorders at its Aomori Prefecture province plant.
They also said Toshiba's board has convened an extraordinary meeting to ratify the plan.
Last week, rumours coming out of the US had Toshiba conceding defeat to the Sony-led Blu-ray Disc format within a matter of weeks. While Toshiba itself did not comment on the claims, the language used by its executives indicated the company might be willing to admit that HD DVD had lost the format war.
Chris Pirillo is a "Geek, Internet Entrepreneur, Hardware Addict, Software Junkie, Book Author, Once TV Show Host, Technology Enthusiast..."
He has recently published 50 reasons to switch from Microsoft Windows to Apple's Mac OS X. Whether you are a Windows fan, thinking about 'switching' or a long-term Mac fan, it is an eirenic and informative read.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
After watching the last episode of Deadwood, I googled for similar series. Carnivale kept coming up. I bittorrented a fairly ropey version of the first series. The quality was so bad that I gave up after a couple of episodes, but I found myself intrigued enough to buy the first series on DVD. The second series arrived in the post courtesy of a kind reader of my Amazon wishlist, and so began my journey into its bizarre, puzzling and often troubling tale.
Set in 1930s dustbowl America, the series begins with a young man being screamed at by his dying, cross-clutching mother. Upon her death, Ben finds refuge in a travelling circus. The characters include a young tarot card reader and her catatonic/telekinetic mother, a blind, alcoholic mind-reader, his bearded-lady partner and a host of other freaks and misfits.
Samson (a dwarf) is the manager of the circus, but he takes orders from 'The Management', a figure whose form (and existence) is a mystery.
Early on we discover that Hawkins is an escaped prisoner, and the reluctant possessor of dramatic healing powers. And so it continues, a dark, complex and intriguing story where reality and dreams are blurred and intermingled in a powerful and disturbing way. In the opening words of Samson,
"Before the beginning, after the great war between Heaven and Hell, God created the Earth and gave dominion over it to the crafty ape he called man. And to each generation was born a creature of light and a creature of darkness. And great armies clashed by night in the ancient war between good and evil. There was magic then, nobility, and unimaginable cruelty. And so it was until the day that a false sun exploded over Trinity, and man forever traded away wonder for reason."
Carnivale explores a war between good and evil and a struggle between free will and destiny. The storyline borrows freely from gnosticism, fundamentalist Christianity and Masonic themes.
Carnivàle was intended to run for 6 seasons, but was cancelled after just two, due to dwindling audiences. This may explain why the least satisfactory episodes are the last two, where the style moves from that of mystery play, to that of a more conventional action movie.
It is an excellent series. The acting is intense, the camera-work superb, and the themes explored linger on your mind for days after watching an episode. In typical HBO-style, the content is extremely 'adult', and definitely not for the squeamish. But for anyone who is tired of lightweight, predictable TV drama, this will provide a marvellous antidote.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Veer.com reports: [edited]
Ministry’s OpenType features include contextual and stylistic alternates, swash characters, and a galaxy of ligatures. A single face with over 1,000 characters to explore.
Alejandro Paul designed Ministry Script to be “A time capsule that marks both the American ad art of the 1920s, and the current new-millennium acrobatics of digital type.” The idea was to make as many possible variants of each letter as he could possibly handle.
Ministry Script goes overboard with ligatures, which involve standard, discretionary, contextual, and even swash features of the font. Says Paul, “At one point during the long, long testing phase, I found myself looking at twelve noticeably different visual instances of the same word, all set with this same font. I believe this sort of flexibility is not currently offered in any single script font on the market today.”
Ministry Script contains 99,814 kerning pairs.
BBC reports: [edited]
An engineer has promised that within a year he will start selling a car that runs on compressed air, producing no emissions at all in town. The OneCAT is a five-seater with a glass fibre body, weighing just 350kg and could cost just over £2,500.
It will be driven by compressed air stored in carbon-fibre tanks built into the chassis. The tanks can be filled with air from a compressor in just three minutes. Alternatively, it can be plugged into the mains for four hours and an on-board compressor will do the job.
For long journeys the compressed air driving the pistons can be boosted by a fuel burner which heats the air so it expands and increases the pressure on the pistons. The burner will use all kinds of liquid fuel.
The designers say on long journeys the car will do the equivalent of 120mpg. In town, running on air, it will be cheaper than that.
Mr Negre has been promising for more than a decade to be on the verge of a breakthrough. Independent observers are more convinced this time because he recently secured backing from the giant Indian conglomerate Tata to put the finished touches to the engine.
Tata is the only big firm he'll license to sell the car - and they are limited to India. For the rest of the world he hopes to persuade hundreds of investors to set up their own factories, making the car from 80% locally-sourced materials.
"This will be a major saving in total emissions," he says. "Imagine we will be able to save all those components travelling the world and all those transporters."
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Want to look just like Master Chief Petty Officer John-117? For just under a £1,000 your wish could come true, as a 'costume armor kit' is currently being offered on eBay .
Word of warning, "The armor parts that you will receive are unpainted... The armor will require some sanding (keying) before painting."
Nearly two years ago, I blogged about Will Wright's latest creation.
An official worldwide release date of September 7 has been announced. Spore will be available for the PC, Macintosh, Nintendo DS, and many mobile phones.
For more information, visit the Spore site.
Apple Touch reports: [edited]
If you’re afraid your iPod might get stolen, you might need a bit of camouflage to keep it safe. Not everyone may appreciate vintage technology, but if you do an 80s Walkman might be just the thing.
This particular case was ground out by hand and all of the pieces removed. Then they placed white leather on the inside to line the case. This Walkman is the WM-F10 Sony Walkman and the iPod it was modded to fit for is the 60GB video iPod.
Yanko Design reports: [edited]
Don’t you love the days following a rainstorm? The streets seem to gleam, the air is cleaner, and people are generally in a better mood to finally see the sun again. The only thing that sucks are all those wet benches and chairs. Fortunately clever designers Sungwoo Park, Yoonha Paick, Jongdeuk Son, Banseok Yoon, Eunbi Cho & Minjung Sim came up with a simple solution. The slats on these benches can rotate to the dry side by cranking the handle.
Brett's 2p'orth: Clever idea. However the temptation to turn that handle while someone is sitting/sleeping on the bench might be just a little too strong to resist.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Reg Hardware reports: [edited]
Anyone with a hunger for shed-loads of memory card capacity will soon be satisfied, because Panasonic has announced that its 32GB SDHC card will be available to buy worldwide in April.
The card carries a Class 6 speed classification, allowing it to transfer data at a sustained rate of at least 6MB/s.
It is expected to retail at around £350.
Radar Magazine reports: [edited]
In 1951, A.C. Gilbert introduced his U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, a radioactive learning set. Gilbert, who American Memorabilia claims was "often compared to Walt Disney for his creative genius," had a dream that nuclear power could capture the imaginations of children everywhere.
For a mere $49.50, the kit came complete with three "very low-level" radioactive sources, a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter, a Wilson cloud chamber (to see paths of alpha particles), a spinthariscope (to see "live" radioactive disintegration), four samples of uranium-bearing ores, and an electroscope to measure radioactivity.
The toy was only sold for one year. It's unclear what effects the uranium-bearing ores might have had on those few lucky children who received the set, but exposure to the same isotope - U-238 - has been linked to Gulf War syndrome, cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma, among other serious ailments.
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