Saturday, May 31, 2008

Samsung SGH-L870

Expansys have Samsung's latest slider available for pre-order. As someone who admires Samsung's engineering, but hates their software, their latest offering it intriguing because it is running the latest incarnation of the Symbian 9 operating system with the S60 3.2 interface (think Nokia E- and N- series).

In fact, it looks a lot like a brushed-aluminium Nokia E65 with stereo Bluetooth, an FM radio and an improved camera, but lacking WiFi. If it were just a bit thinner and lighter (at 113g and 102 x 50 x 13.5mm it is no thinner or lighter than the E65) it would be on my 'to look at' list.

London, Lincoln, London 31-05-08

Zombie For Love - Green On Red
One Day In Your Life - Michael Jackson
I Blinked Once - Steve Forbert
Now Always and Forever - Gay Dad
So Good to Be Back Home Again - The Tourists
Drive Away Slow - Abi Tapia
Capturing Moods - Rilo Kiley
Hopeless - The Wrens
Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen
It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back) - Eurythmics
For the Turnstiles - Neil Young
Catfish Blues - R.L. Burnside
Bitter - This Mortal Coil
Love Is A Treasure - Lizzy
So This Is Goodbye - Stina Nordenstam
My Baby Walked Off - Howlin' Wolf
Year Of The Cat - Al Stewart
Calling Out Your Name - Rich Mullins
Bloody Dub - Stiff Little Fingers
Man Has To Struggle - Van Morrison
The New Face Of Zero And One - The New Pornographers
She's So Modern - Boomtown Rats
True Love Is Hard to Find - Toots & The Maytals (w/Bonnie Raitt)
Story Of My Life - Loretta Lynn
In My Bones - Groove Armada
Stronger - Kasey Chambers
Church On White - Stephen Malkmus
Playboy - Hot Chip
If the Kids Are United - Sham 69
Night Of The Living Baseheads - Public Enemy
The Embers Of Eden - Bruce Cockburn
Sweet And Tender Hooligan - The Smiths
I Gave It Up (When I Fell In Love) - Luther Vandross
Three Questions - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
What You Waiting For? (Elevator Mix) - Gwen Stefani

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere - Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett
Born to Hum - Erin McKeown
You Don't Love Me (No No No) - Dawn Penn
Bandages - Hot Hot Heat
Justified and Ancient - KLF & Tammy Wynette
Alarm Clock - The Rumble Strips
Smile (Radio Edit) - Lily Allen
Michael (Jump In) - No More Kings
Can't Stop Movin' (Radio Edit) - Sonny J
Valerie - Mark Ronson & Amy Winehouse
Since U Been Song - Kelly Clarkson v. Blur
School's Out - Megadeath
My Favourite Things - Julie Andrews
She's a maniac - Michael Sembello
Girlshapedlovedrug - Gomez
Wilbury Twist - Traveling Wilburys
Heart Shaped Box - Nirvana
Make Mistakes (Radio Edit) - Infadels
DVNO (Radio Edit) - Justice
Bunsen Burner - John Otway
Why Can't I? - Liz Phair
I'm Good. I'm Gone. - Lykke Li
You're a Star - Josie and the Pussycats
Are You Gonna Be My Girl (alt) - Jet
Queen of the World - Ida Maria
It's Raining Men - The Weather Girls
You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything - The Faces
You Are The Life Inside Of Me - Paul Young & The Q-Tips
After Hours (Radio Mix) - We Are Scientists
Private Number - Judy Clay & William Bell
Two Doors Down - Mystery Jets
Let's Dance To Joy Division - The Wombats
The Size of a Cow - Wonder Stuff
I'm Like A Bird - Nelly Furtado
White Wedding - Billy Idol
Emily Kane - Art Brut
Echo Beach - Gabriella Cilmi
Idlewild Blues - Outkast
Space And The Woods (Radio Edit) - Late Of The Pier
Hip Hop Is Dead - Nas
The Dark of the Matinée - Franz Ferdinand
Girl You Know It's True - Milli Vanilli

Friday, May 30, 2008

Audica MPS-1

I got an email from on Tuesday advertising the Audica MPS-1. I'd read reviews on it before and they were all very positive (if you're interested, just Google 'Audica MPS-1 review'). But at £250 it wasn't an 'impulse buy'. However, the BigPockets offer was (is) £89.99, including delivery. So, I ordered one.

It's broadcasting my iPod's 'audiophile' playlist at the moment, and I am very, very impressed. It doesn't have a sub-woofer, so if you're into dub reggae or you want something that will keep a party going, then the Logitech Z-2300 is probably a better bet. However, the sound quality of the Audica is more natural, involving and plenty loud enough to fill a large room.

I'm not sure how many BigPockets have in stock, but if you're in the market for a sub-£100 iPod amp/speaker combo, this one is worth a look/listen.

Now I've just got to work out who I'm going to give this one to.


Wired has a superb gallery of vintage japanese robot toys from a Seattle-based exhibition.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dell to release Eee PC competitor

Register Hardware reports: [edited]

Pictures of Dell’s upcoming Eee PC look-a-like have been revealed, rumoured to be called the Mini Inspiron.

According to Gizmodo, Michael Dell has since told the news site that the upcoming small form factor PC has been designed as a low-cost notebook for developing countries.

The PC being held by Michael Dell had three USB ports, a memory card reader and Ethernet connection.

Fujifilm Finepix Z200fd

Digital Photography Review reports: [edited]

Fujifilm have announced the launch of the 10 megapixel FinePix Z200fd. 134g. 92 x 55.7 x 20mm. 5x optical zoom. Face detection technology and dual image stabilisation. Available August.

Plustech Oy Walking Machine reports: [edited]

In the works for a decade and a half, the Plustech Oy Walking Machine is supposed to be an eco-friendly, log-hauling monstrosity; its six massive legs spreads the weight of the machine evenly, the company claims, to minimize any impact on the forest soil.

"Depending on the terrain, the ground pressure can be adjusted by changing the machine’s six 'shoes,'" according to Plustech Oy. "When the machine confronts obstacles, it simply steps over them... avoiding significant ground disturbance and minimizing damage to tree roots.

Free font

FontShop has a free download of the semi-bold version of Dutch designer Fred Smeijers' Fresco typeface (registration required).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2009 Yamaha V-Max

Motor Cycle News reports: [edited]

This is the first official picture of Yamaha's 2009 V-Max. Although details are sketchy, we're expecting the new Yamaha V-Max to be the world's fastest accelerating production motorcycle, regaining the title its forerunner held when it was launched back in 1984.

A standing quarter mile in under 10 seconds is expected, thanks to a massive V-four engine, expected to be at least 1800cc, and more than 200bhp.

Thanks to Aaron for the link

Paris, Texas

Paris Texas is 147 minutes of slow, beautiful cinema. From its intriguing beginning to its emotional end, it draws you in to its complex and messy narrative. This is all complemented by the hauntingly sparse soundtrack, which sounds as if Ry Cooder sat down with a slide guitar and played along to the movie.

The acting is subtle and complex. The denouement is as heartbreaking as it is redemptive. And the cinematography is beautiful, if rather low-budget. Do yourself a favour, set aside two hours of your life to be captivated by this movie.

Word Clock

Simon Heys reports: [edited]

Word Clock is a typographic screensaver for Mac OS X. It displays a list of all numbers and words sufficient to express any possible date and time as a sentence. Word Clock displays time by highlighting appropriate words as each second passes.

Word Clock uses the Mac OS typesetting engine which allows for hyphenation and alignment (e.g. fully justified text). You can position and resize the text however you like and can have it displayed in any of the included languages.

Thanks to Jason for bringing this to my attention.

Samsung to launch 256GB solid-state drive

Electronista reports: [edited]

Samsung has promised a breakthrough in solid-state drives with the launch of its first 256GB SSD. It reads sequential data at 200MB per second, twice the rate of the original [128GB] model, while also seeing an even greater increase in write speeds: where the earlier drive writes at 70MB per second, the new SSD writes at 160MB per second.

This comes in a 9.5mm chassis, and Samsung has managed to develop a multi-level cell (MLC) storage drive that transfers as quickly as the best SLC storage while costing much less to produce than past SSDs. Improvements to the storage controller have also extended the longevity to as long as SLC drives, giving the drive longevity as good or better than rotating hard disks.

Samsung expects its new drive to be sampling for computer manufacturers by September and shipping to those clients by the end of the year; this applies to both a 2.5-inch drive for more traditional notebooks and a 1.8-inch drive for ultraportables.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Canon EOS 450D

Digital Photography Review have just published an in-depth review of Canon's latest sub-£500 DSLR (including 18-55mm lens). They are impressed.

Excerpts from the conclusion include:

"The new sensor is superb, and from a resolution point of view puts the EOS 40D to shame without losing any of the high ISO performance that has been Canon's trump card for so long."

"The EOS 450D is capable of superb results and it has a feature set that offers an excellent balance between beginner-friendly ease of use and the manual control / customization demanded by those wanting something a little more serious."

"The stabilized 18-55mm lens is a distinct improvement on some of Canon's earlier kit zooms. That said, you really need to be using primes and pro-level zoom lenses to really see what the sensor is capable of.

"The EOS 450D isn't without its annoying foibles and weaknesses... but virtually all the things we found to complain about can be dealt with easily if you know your way around a camera, or by shooting RAW if you don't like Canon's processing.

"...compared to many of its competitors the EOS 450D feels like a more 'sorted' camera."

"...if you want to move to the next level of image quality and performance, and are prepared to take control of parameters (and ideally shoot raw) to get the best possible results, the EOS 450D is an easy recommendation."

Laser-etched skateboard art reports: [edited]

Seven is an exhibition of lasered skateboard art. A world first of its kind Seven allows artists to explore the idea of lasering away at the seven layers of ply to make their mark on the board.

A select group of artists have contributed their works to explore this new technology. Only 50 will be produced per artist. The aim of the show is to have a series of unique decks that collectors may choose to ride or display. The exhibition will have its first show in Sydney Australia scheduled in early March, to be followed by New York, L.A and scheduled tour of Europe.

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: To appreciate how intricate this laser-etching is visit their flickr page and click on the 'all sizes' option.

Butterfly light

Vinta reports: [edited]

This light came from the idea of folding a piece of paper. The function of its adjustment of light and the space created by that are a result of simple action of one surface (the panel) being divided by two.

The two panels with slight shifts to each other at its closed position remind a user to open this object up.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Phoenix Lander arrives on Mars

Bloomberg reports: [edited]

NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander touched down safely today on the Red Planet, where the probe will sift through the icy soil for any signs that it once harboured life.

"We've passed the hardest part and we're breathing again," Mars Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein said. The Red Planet's rocky terrain and equipment problems have led to the failure of more than half of all Mars missions, including a Phoenix predecessor destroyed in 1999.

After its landing, Phoenix relayed pictures from the planet showing the plain and horizon, a foot of the craft on the soil and its solar panels extended so that it will be able to generate power, according to NASA.

The Phoenix, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., will be NASA's third probe active on the planet, along with the wheeled rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Like Phoenix, they were given three months to live after touchdown. To NASA's surprise, the vehicles are still working four years later.

"Who knows?" Lemmon said. "We may get lucky again."

On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode 1

Play Greenhouse reports: [edited]

On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is an episodic RPG-adventure game series set in a deranged comic-book meets-pulp-horror 1920s universe. Armed with unconventional weaponry and witty repartee, you join forces with the Gabe and Tycho, the crime-solving team of the Startling Developments Detective Agency to make war on bizarre enemies and solve the mysteries hidden deep in the sinister heart of New Arcadia.

From the hilarious and twisted minds of Penny Arcade creators Mike "Gabe" Krahulik and Jerry "Tycho" Holkins, legendary game designer Ron Gilbert and veteran producers at Hothead Games comes a 100% authentic and hilarious Penny Arcade experience.

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: If you're suffering the kind of bleak, rain-soaked Bank Holiday Monday that I am, this might be worth a browse. There's a YouTube trailer of the game, and Windows, Mac and Linux demo versions available to download on the site. Thanks to Teifion for bringing this to my attention.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dell XPS M1710

Register Hardware has reviewed Dell's latest 'gaming' laptop.

Excerpts follow:

"The XPS M1730 represents Dell’s most focused gaming laptop to date. You’ll find the use of high-end components, two cutting-edge graphics chips and every feature you’re ever likely to need, all wrapped in a 17in chassis that screams for attention."

"Dell has christened this machine 'The Beast'. It measures 56mm at its deepest, and weighs 5kg. The bulk manifests itself in several plus points, one of which being excellent ventilation... the M1730 remained cool to the touch at all times."

"The spacious keyboard is ideal for all-night gaming sessions, and is one of the most comfortable we’ve used on a laptop. The large, individually mounted keys respond to the lightest of touches, yet have a long enough travel to prevent typos... the keyboard is backlit."

"The chassis is constructed from a combination of plastics and magnesium alloy, and the results are impressive. Both the palm rests and the screen surround resisted pressure with ease, and you can pick this machine up from the very corner without fear of any creaks or groans."

"...the display featuring a native resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, with pin-sharp images on offer. Colours remain accurate across the width of the panel, and it’s a pleasure to use. Reflections can be problematic in direct sunlight – as with all such glossy panels - but it remained viewable in all but the brightest of lighting conditions."

"The display is supported by the best graphics set-up you’ll currently find on any laptop: two Nvidia GeForce 8800M GTX GPUs in an SLI configuration. With each chip connected to 512MB of dedicated video memory, the Beast promises far better performance than past gaming laptops."

"...the M1730’s 3D capabilities are quite frankly astonishing. The previous range-topping XPS offered good performance for a laptop, but it was always its all-round abilities that helped it to impress. In this case, the Dell comes as close to bridging the gap between desktop and laptop as we’ve seen to date."


Paul St George writes:

"Hardly anyone knows that a secret tunnel runs deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean. In May 2008, more than a century after it was begun, the tunnel will finally be completed. Immediately afterwards, an extraordinary optical device called a Telectroscope will be installed at both ends which will miraculously allow people to see right through the Earth from London to New York and vice versa."

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: The skeptics among you may want to visit The Telegraph. Me, I prefer Paul St George's version.

The Dark Knight

The third trailer has just been released. I'm now looking even more forwarderer to the film than ever.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sigma DP1 review

Digital Photography Review has published an in-depth review of Sigma's pro-orientated compact. The reviewer isn't impressed, here are a few excerpts from his conclusion:

"One can only encourage the Sigma engineers to go back to the drawing board and continue the promising work they have done so far. Let's also hope that a few of the 'big boys' can see the potential of the DP1 and present their interpretation of the concept in the not too distant future. The prospect of a DP1-like camera with reasonable speed, DSLR-like High ISO performance and a zoom or interchangeable lenses would be more than tantalizing."

"As it stands though the DP1 has not been developed to its full potential and can only really be recommended for landscape photography (and similar applications) in reasonable light and to photographers who can live with a frustratingly slow speed of operation and the other shortcomings..."

"In the vast majority of situations you'd be better off with a good 'conventional' compact camera and even if you think the DP1 would serve your specific purposes well you'll have to decide if you're willing to shell out the premium that Sigma is asking for."


Subway is the first Luc Besson film I watched. Time Out raved about it on its cinematic release, and a couple of years later it caught my eye in the (tiny) 'World' section at my local Blockbusters.

Like Diva this is a film that is as much about style as it is about substance. And, like Diva, it plays pick'n'mix with genres and themes. One minute action, next minute noir, with generous helpings of humour and romance.

Plot-wise it is even weaker than Diva, but the film is such a visual treat that it doesn't matter. Treated as an extended music video it makes sense. The (pure 80s) soundtrack is excellent and any film that includes a rollerskate chase through a subway, a drum solo from Jean Reno and a screaming tantrum from Isabelle Adjani can't be all bad.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tokyoflash 'Infection' watch

Tokyoflash reports: [edited]

Housed in a smart new case, Infection is ergonomically designed to neatly fit the contours of your wrist, the tapered edges providing a smooth transition between the case and lens.

Twenty-seven multi-colored LEDs pulsate and move like cells across the curved face to present the time from beneath the attractive mirrored mineral crystal lens.

Twelve red LEDs indicate hours, eleven yellow LEDs represent the progression of time in groups of five minutes and four green LEDs show single minutes.

A single touch of the upper button animates the LEDs, a single touch of the lower button shows the time immediately.

Price: ¥13,900

Napster selling DRM-free MP3s

Napster has joined eMusic and Amazon by adding a purchasing option to its usual subscription services.

5 million songs are available, 79p per track, with albums from £7.95.

Only available to Windows users.

Batman: Gotham Knight

Wired reports: [edited]

Like The Matrix franchise before it, the Batman franchise has learned that filtering your mythology through the kinetic template of anime can do wonders for your upgrades. Batman: Gotham Knight is that upgrade.

The visionaries of this iteration, as with eye-popping, brain-crunching Animatrix, are the mostly Pacific Rim directors hired to stylize Bruce Wayne's superego for the 21st century, including Shojiro Nishimi, Futoshi Higashide, Hiroshi Morioka, Yasuhiro Aoki, Toshiyuki Kubooka and Jong-Sik Nam.

- - - - - -

For more details, visit the Warner Brothers site.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Shoot 'em Up

Don't let the typographic atrocity on the posters put you off, Shoot 'em Up is a superb movie.

First things first. If you are squeamish or super-sensitive, this is not the movie for you. And if you restrict your movie-watching to films that 'mean something', this is definitely not for you. As a good friend remarked, you half-expect to have to wipe the blood off the screen after watching it.

This is an ironic, hyper-kinetic action comedy. From the opening scene, where Smith (Clive Owen) helps a pregnant woman (who is being chased by baddies) deliver her baby while shooting the bad guys (and the umbilical cord... yep, I said not for the super-sensitive), the pace never lets up.

The gorgeous prostitute Donna (Monica Belluci) is the person Smith picks to look after the baby (oh, yeah, the mother got shot).

Delightfully oleaginous gangster Hertz (Paul Giamatti) is relentless in his pursuit of the baby (you find out why later in the movie).

The dialog is witty in a self-consciously shallow style. The action scenes are impossible without being cringeworthy. It's not based on a graphic novel, but the storyboard could easily become one. Like a colour Sin City, with more jokes.

And for techy-nerds, the image and sound quality is superb on standard DVD, even better on Blu-ray.

Vye mini-v S37B sub-notebook

Register Hardware has reviewed the latest super-ickle PC.

It comes with a 7in, 1024 x 600 swivel-mounted touchscreen, a 120GB hard drive, and decent battery life. Register Hardware's conclusion is:

"If all you need is a spare notebook for email, internet and some basic office applications then a cheaper model such as the Asus EeePC will suit your needs adequately, but if you have the budget and you're looking for a more fully featured device, particularly in terms of battery life and the tablet functionality, then Vye's mini-V is definitely worth checking out."

Monday, May 19, 2008

L.A. Confidential

I'm not a great lover of detective movies. But I loved every minute of L.A. Confidential. Based on James Ellroy's 'noir' novel about corruption and crime among members of the LAPD in the 1950s, the pace is fast, but never rushed. The sets are fantastic. The lighting is artistic and rarely intrusive.

And the cast... Kevin Spacey, smooth and assured. Russell Crowe, damaged and struggling for honour. Guy Pearce, intelligent and morally ambivalent. Kim Basinger, multi-faceted, warm and intelligent... and then there's James Cromwell, Danny Devito, Ron Rifkin, David Strathairn... all playing their parts entertainingly and convincingly.

If you want to know more, visit IMDB. Better still, purchase the DVD (you can get it on Amazon from from 99p) set aside two hours and get immersed in something very, very good.

Magnetic fields affect speech

Slashdot reports: [edited]

An editor for the UK Telegraph, Roger Highfield, recently volunteered to allow a UK researcher to shut off the speech center of his brain with a high-powered magnetic pulse. Regular speech is controlled by a section of the brain called Broca's area.

Once the precise location is determined in the subject, a magnetic pulse can temporarily disrupt speech without impairing other cognitive functions. The link contains a video in which you can watch Highfield stutter and twitch while attempting to recite a nursery rhyme.

A later test shows that he's able to sing the rhyme without difficulty, since singing is controlled in a different part of the brain (as you may remember from Scott Adams' speech disorder). Researchers believe that the ability to stimulate or quell activity in specific areas of the brain may help in treating conditions like epilepsy and migraine headaches.

Etch-A-Sketch clock

angelabuilds reports: [edited]

I built this Etch-A-Sketch to draw out the time and then erase itself every minute. It was built on the Arduino platform and references several projects/sites including Ferguson's CNC Etch-A-Sketch and Jones on Steppers.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

London, Lincoln, London 18-05-08

I.O.U. (7" Version) - Freeez
One Way Ticket - The Darkness
Don't Call Me Baby - Voice of the Beehive
Walk Of Life - Dire Straits
Jump (For My Love) - Pointer Sisters
Oh Boy - Mud
Love Of The Common People - Paul Young
Resurrection Shuffle - Ashton Gardner & Dyke
Hey you Rocksteady Crew - Rock Steady Crew
Little Green Bag - Tom Jones & Barenaked Ladies
Is It Really So Strange? - The Smiths
Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell
Spit It Out - Brendan Benson
I'm Stone in Love with you - Stylistics
Gimme Some Loving - Steve Winwood w/Spencer Davis
Fine Time - New Order
Take Me Home - Cher
La Discoteca - United State Of Electronica
Under The Boardwalk - Drifters
The Future's So Bright... - Timbuk3
Something Like That - Tim McGraw
This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us - Sparks
You Were Right - Badly Drawn Boy
Back Stage - The Donnas
I Love Rock and Roll - Joan Jett
Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons
Once In A Lifetime - Talking Heads
Fun fun fun - The Beach Boys
You Give Love A Bad Name - Bon Jovi
Stop, Stop the music - The Hollies
Black Betty - Spiderbait
Can't help falling in Love - A-Teens
Caribbean Queen - Billy Ocean
Pinch Me - Barenaked Ladies
Video Killed The Radio Star - The Buggles
I Whistle A Happy Tune - Julie Andrews
Eloise (mad version) - Barry Ryan
Demons - Battle
Good Dancers - The Sleepy Jackson
Do Wah Diddy - Manfred Mann
A Minha Menina - The Bees
Balance Beam (Fairy Tale) - Blue October
Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy - Queen
The Things We Do For Love - 10cc

Black Light Blue - Shelby Lynne
Apeman - The Kinks
When I First Came Here - Dwight Yoakam
Guilty as Sin - Lucy Kaplansky
Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head - They Might Be Giants (TMBG)
We Came Down From The Trees - Kathryn Williams
Gold Into Straw - Brendan Benson
Feels Good - Bobby Wilson
Punk Rock Paranada - Gogol Bordello
Love Missile F1-11 - Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Walls - Cara Dillon
Imaginary - Evanescence
Girlshapedlovedrug - Gomez
Somewhat Off The Way - Dogs Die In Hot Cars
Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again - The Fortunes
Inconsolable - Jonatha Brooke & The Story
Rumours Of Glory - Bruce Cockburn
Wake Up Dead Man - U2
You Are The Life Inside Of Me - Paul Young & The Q-Tips
In the night (fashion show intro) - Pet Shop Boys
Jet (Live) - Jellyfish
Black Crow - Vigilantes Of Love
Jupiter & Teardrop - Grant Lee Buffalo
Too Far Gone To Turn Around - J R Bailey
Weekend - Big Boy Tomato
Wiggley Fingers - Patty Griffin
Learning to Breathe - Nerina Pallot
Nothing Can Help You Now - Lenny Curtis
Trouble On The Line - Loretta Lynn
The Great Deception - Van Morrison
Private Number - Judy Clay & William Bell
Hands - Four Tet
Dead In The Water - David Gray
Emily Kane - Art Brut
I Never Talk To Strangers - Tom Waits
Ready 2 Wear - Felix Da Housecat feat Devin Drazzle
Chameleon Me (Pin My Hope) - Bill Mallonee
Last To Know - Vigilantes Of Love
Saturated - Kasey Chambers
All At Sea - Phil & John
Road - Nick Drake
This Is No Chanson - Twizzle
Not The Doctor - Alanis Morissette

Takeshi Miyakawa Design

Takeshi Miyakawa Design has a range of intriguing furniture ideas. Not sure whether they are, or will be available for sale, but don't expect to see any of it in your local Ikea in the near future.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

London, Lincoln, London 17-05-08

Zoo Station - U2
Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart - Nick Lowe
Tripe Girl - I. Roy
Me & Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin
protect your mind - dj sakin
Only In The Movies (live) - David Mead
Stride Of The Mind - Patti Smith
Midnight Special - Van Morrison
One More Day - Rosie Thomas
People Like Us - The Mamas & The Papas
Never in a Million Years - Cara Dillon
Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Nina Simone
Country Darkness - Elvis Costello
Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson
L.A. - Elliott Smith
Broken Face - Pixies
The Earth Is In The Sky - Tom Verlaine
Crystal Days - Echo & The Bunnymen
Uffington Wassail - Half Man Half Biscuit
Don't Laugh - The Wedding Present
Doctor's Orders (ext) - Carol Douglas
Dear Doctor - The Rolling Stones
Casanova - Martina Sorbara
You Cannot Win'em All - Steve Forbert
What Would Willie Do - Gary Allan
Oh Susanna - The Be Good Tanyas
Rock Me Baby - Bloomfield, Hammond, Dr. John
The Boxer - Emmylou Harris
You Ain't Saying Nothing New - Henry, Virgil
When I'm Sixty-Four - The Beatles
Amazed - Lone Star
Cold Roses - Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
Rock The Boat - The Hues Corporation
China - Greg Brown
Radio Gaga - Queen
Honey Now - Gillian Welch
Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins
Cold Irons Bound (New Version) - Bob Dylan
Diminishing Returns - Harvey Danger
Avenue - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Stray Dog And The Chocolate Shake - Grandaddy
Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) - US3
Decent Days And Nights - The Futureheads
When I Think Of You - Janet Jackson
Too Young - Phoenix
Got To Get - Rob 'N' Raz feat. Leila K
Ca Plane Pour Moi - Leila K
Shake It Up - The Cars
Queen of the World - Ida Maria
Tokyo Moon - Windmill
Dhoom Dhoom - Tata Young
Heat Wave - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
The Boat That I Row - Lulu
Sweet Gene Vincent - Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Start Talking Love - Magnum
That's Not My Name - The Ting Tings
White man in Hammersmith Palais - The Clash
DVNO (Radio Edit) - Justice
Oh L'Amour - Dollar
Where The Streets Have No Name - Pet Shop Boys
The Boys Of Summer - The Ataris
Tragedy - Steps
A Thousand Miles - Vanessa Carlton
It's All Been Done - Barenaked Ladies
Hot In The City - Billy Idol
Reverend Black Grape - Black Grape
Oh My Gosh - Basement Jaxx
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom! - Vengaboys
Whiteboy (Radio Edit) - James
Tonight I Have To Leave It - Shout Out Louds
Save The Lies - Gabriella Cilmi
Gloria - Laura Branigan
Do You Love Me - Brian Poole Of The Tremoloes
Space And The Woods (Radio Edit) - Late Of The Pier
Black Betty (ext. guitar solo) - Ram Jam
How Far - Shame Club
Boy from School (Radio Edit) - Hot Chip
Billy Don't Be A Hero - Paper Lace
I Can't Wait For Summer - Captain Ahab
Tears Of A Clown - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Video Challenge - Anamanaguchi

Friday, May 16, 2008


iwoot reports: [edited]

Mad as it sounds, someone has invented an electronic cigarette. It looks like a cigarette, it tastes like a cigarette, it smokes like a cigarette, but it isn't a cigarette, it contains no tobacco, and the 'smoke' is just vapour.

As you inhale, a tiny battery vapourises liquid inside the cigarette, producing smoke. You can insert cartridges (it comes with a set of them) that will release nicotine - or of course choose to skip the nicotine altogether and just puff away on what is virtually nothing.

£49.95 + p&p

Adapting to high definition

msnbc reports: [edited]

There are flaws in any human face, especially one that has seen a little mileage. Usually, the makeup department can do wonders on nooks, crannies, crow’s-feet, rashes, pimples, nose hairs or any other natural imperfection that might cause the camera lens to wince, and the audience along with it.

But with the advent of high-definition photography, which is rapidly becoming the industry standard, that pockmark can look like a crater if a makeup artist isn’t careful.

“For middle-aged women, it should be outlawed,” noted cinematographer Bill Roe (“The X Files” movie, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”). “You watch a basketball game in HD and then you wonder what a close-up will look like on a 40-year-old woman. You gotta go, ‘Wow.’ You can see the makeup. You can see stuff.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

XDA Orbit 2 smartphone

Register Hardware have just published a very positive (90%) review on O2's latest Windows Mobile smartphone.

Key quotes:

What we have here is basically a traditional Windows Mobile smartphone loaded to the gunwales with Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, 3.6Mb/s HSDPA, quad-band GSM/GPRS/Edge, three-megapixel camera, FM radio, 8GB-capable MicroSD slot and a touchscreen.

Under the hood the Orbit is driven by the same 400MHz chip as the Touch Dual, and comes with the same 256MB of program memory and 128MB of storage. It's once again powered by Windows Mobile 6 Professional.

Weight: 130g. 110 x 58 x 15.5mm. 2.8in, 240 x 320 screen.

There's no slide out keyboard, but that's not really a problem as text can be entered at a fair old clip using just your finger and the rather nifty new virtual keyboard.

The Orbit 2 comes with a 1GB Micro SD card, half of which is taken up with the CoPilot Live 7 Western Europe maps and navigation software bundle. As far as satnav software goes, the CoPilot system is not at all bad.

The handset's three-megapixel auto-focus camera, while a leap forward from the rather hum-drum two-megapixel devices common on most recent HTC handsets, still isn't likely to inspire you to take photographs that could grace the pages of National Geographic.

Battery life as usual is wholly dependent on what you have running. We left the GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi switched on and flattened a full battery in two hours and ten minutes. Being a little more considerate we got a full days usage, including an hour or so of talk time, half an hour of GPS usage, and an hour of Wi-Fi activity, all still with Bluetooth on.

ASIMO conducts

I recently blogged about Honda's ASIMO's imminent conducting of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Here's a video of the event. ASIMO even takes a bow at the end... all together now... AWWWW!!!!

Sorry, couldn't find this on YouTube, so if you haven't got it already, you'll need to download Adobe's Flash Player to view it.


My first viewing of Diva was in the early 1980s, just after it was released on video. I haven't seen it since then, but 25 years on, I can still remember the impact it had.

It is an ambitious, genre-jumping piece, one moment a romance, then a thriller, all seasoned with visual and verbal comedy.

The plot isn't complex. Young postal messenger Jules (Frederic Andrei) is obsessively in love with opera singer Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez). Jules has made a bootleg tape of Cynthia (Ms Hawkins refuses to let her work be recorded). This gets 'swapped' with another tape that puts him high on the wanted list of some very nasty people.

The cinematography is excellent, the Parisian settings are uber-cool, and the soundtrack is superb. Diva's director Jean-Jacques Beineix (along with Luc Besson and Leos Carax) is associated with the 'Cinema du Look', whose slogan is 'The image is the message'. When I saw my first Luc Besson film (I'm reviewing that soon), I immediately thought of Diva.

If you want to read a lot of intellectual stuff about Beineix's themes, Google his name. You'll find a large occurrence of the words 'postmodern', 'values' and 'information'.

But watch the film first. All the characters are enjoyable and the themes are clear without being too obvious. I've just ordered the DVD on Amazon for a very reasonable £6, and am looking forward to revisiting it soon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New iPhones soon?

iPhone 'Currently Unavailable' at US Apple Store.

The Phoenix is landing

New Scientist reports: [edited]

NASA's Phoenix spacecraft will experience a harrowing few minutes on 25 May when it hits Mars's atmosphere and attempts to land safely on the surface – without any airbags to cushion its fall.

Phoenix launched in August 2007 on a mission to Mars's icy north polar region. Changes in the Red Planet's tilt may have allowed the abundant ice there to melt as recently as 100,000 years ago, raising the possibility that microscopic life forms could once have eked out an existence in the region. Life might even be present there now in a dormant state.

The lander will dig down as much as 50 centimetres below the surface, collecting samples of soil and ice to better understand the region's past climate and check for carbon-containing molecules that could be associated with life.

But first, the spacecraft must make it to the surface in one piece. A host of critical manoeuvres have to go off just as planned in order to get the spacecraft safely to the surface, all of them designed to occur automatically. If it is successful, it will be the first probe since the Viking missions more than 30 years ago to land safely without airbags.

If this stuff floats your boat, the rest of the article is excellent.

Battle Angel Alita

Known as 'Gunnm' (lit. 'Gun Dream') in Japan, Battle Angel Alita was Yukito Kirisho's first published project. It originally featured in Business Jump from 1990-1995.

Battle Angel Alita tells the story of a head and upper torso that are found in a state of suspended animation by cyber-medic genius (and all-round whack-job) Daisuke Ido while out searching for useful scrap. Ido revives her and, upon discovering that she has lost her memory, names her Alita, after his recently deceased cat.

The rebuilt Alita soon discovers that she possesses instinctive knowledge of the legendary Martian martial art Panzer Kunst. Alita must learn to navigate, exist, and fight in the Scrapyard, whose inhabitants live in the shadow of the floating city, Tiphares.

The mood of the stories is a curious mix of dystopian and hopeful. The pace is frenetic, and the content ultraviolent. Kishiro mixes and melds real and fanciful science and philosophy to construct an intriguing but often frustrating narrative.

There are two series, the 9-book 'Battle Angel Alita' and the 10-book 'Battle Angel Alita: Last Order' (of which the last book is still to be published in English). The style of the artwork is monochrome and intricate. And you have to get used to reading books from 'back-to-front', which when you're used to following graphic novels in the opposite direction can take a bit of getting used to.

James Cameron is a fan, and is on record saying that he plans to turn the Alita stories into a film.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ultimate machine

Michael reports: [edited]

About 7 years ago I was reading an article on Claude Shannon and came across one of the funniest ideas I had ever heard. Claude, you see, was one of these incredibly brilliant engineers with an obviously great sense of humor.

As I understand it, he, along with Marvin Minsky came up with an idea they called the "Ultimate Machine". Basically a plain box with a switch on the top. When you flip the switch, a hand comes out of the box and flips the switch off. Thats it.

Well, after reading the article, and laughing out loud, I decided that I had to build one of these boxes. So simple, and yet so funny.

A plastic box I had lying around, a couple of hobby servos, a PIC Microprocessor, and a little code was all it took. Over the years I've brought this box to friends' houses, businesses, and bars. I get a pretty consistent reaction - First no one wants to touch it. Next, someone reaches out tentatively and flips the switch. After that, all you hear is laughter and everyone's trying it out.

Thanks to Conrad for the link


PicWash reports: [edited]

PicWash is the first beauty-oriented site dedicated to providing professional touch-ups for everyday photos. Our expert photo editors use the most advanced retouching tools available to optimize the way you look in your photos.

We optimize your photographs to even skin tone, remove blemishes, soften wrinkles, whiten teeth and make other changes to keep you looking your best.

The results are meant to be natural and refined, so that your closest friends will likely just say "that's a nice picture of you!"

Mind reading

Guardian reports: [edited]

Scientists have developed a computerised mind-reading technique which lets them accurately predict the images that people are looking at by using scanners to study brain activity.

The breakthrough by American scientists took MRI scanning equipment normally used in hospital diagnosis to observe patterns of brain activity when a subject examined a range of black and white photographs. A computer was able to correctly predict in nine out of 10 cases which image people were focused on. Guesswork would have been accurate only eight times in every 1,000 attempts.

Writing in the journal Nature, the scientists, led by Dr Jack Gallant from the University of California at Berkeley, said: "Our results suggest that it may soon be possible to reconstruct a picture of a person's visual experience from measurements of brain activity alone."

However the team have warned about potential privacy issues in the future when scanning techniques improve. "It is possible that decoding brain activity could have serious ethical and privacy implications downstream in, say, the 30 to 50-year time frame," said Prof Gallant. "[We] believe strongly that no one should be subjected to any form of brain-reading process involuntarily, covertly, or without complete informed consent."

"I think it's a significant advance," said Prof Marcel Just, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "It's much more exciting than mind reading and police interrogation ... These people are finding how the brain codes naturalistic scenes. They understand what the brain is saying."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bioshock - the movie

Wired reports: [edited]

Gore Verbinski's next film will take us back to Davy Jones' locker - but this time, into the undersea world of BioShock.

Verbinski, a fan of games who delivered the keynote address at the DICE summit earlier this year, praised BioShock's "utopia-gone-wrong" storyline, saying, "Of all the games I've played, this is one that I felt has a really strong narrative."

BioShock, released last autumn, is a first-person adventure game that puts the player into the ruins of a mysterious undersea world called Rapture, where he must discover what went wrong in what was supposed to be an Ayn Rand-style objectivist paradise.

In an interview with Variety's games blog, Verbinski elaborated on how he'll tackle the game's creepy moral dilemmas. "I think we'll go right up to the edge with the Little Sisters. I don't want to soften it to the point where the core audience feels betrayed," he said.

Denon DVD1740

Want a decent, 'upsscaling', region-free DVD player that handles avi files? Don't want to pay more than £100? Richer Sounds still have some stocks of the Denon DVD1740.

I bought one because the PS3 won't play my region 1 DVDs and because my (reassuringly heavy, aesthetically pleasing) Primare V25 DVD player doesn't upscale or have an HDMI output.

Kinda humbling to have to admit that something that cost a decimal place less outperforms the Primare in every area except playing CDs. But it does. It really, really does.

Oh, a word of warning. It weighs almost nothing, so budget for four blobs of Blu Tack to stop it sliding around every time you attempt to insert a disc.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Good fat, bad fat...

New Scientist reports: [edited]

Not all body fat is bad. Your body may store 'good' fat and 'bad' fat, similar to good and bad cholesterol.

Researchers know that not all body fat is equal. The worst kind is excess fat on the internal organs, which causes a pot belly and is known as visceral fat. People with this are more likely to suffer from heart disease and insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes, than those who put on fat under their skin on their hips and thighs. But it was assumed that such subcutaneous fat was merely the lesser of two evils.

Now it looks like it could be positively beneficial. C. Ronald Kahn and colleagues at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston transplanted subcutaneous fat into the bodies of some mice and visceral fat into others. They found the mice that had received subcutaneous fat ended up with lighter, leaner bodies and less insulin resistance than the animals that got visceral fat and, crucially, those that received no fat transplant at all.

If subcutaneous fat also has benefits in humans, the results could explain why liposuction, which removes this fat, does not reduce diabetes or other side effects of obesity.

Image courtesy of Worth1000.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Typewriter ribbon tins

Janine Vangool collects typewriter ribbon tins. In her own words:

"I am infatuated with typewriters and typewriter ephemera such as brochures, advertisements and promotional products. This collection began two years ago when I came across the beautiful red "Type Bar" ribbon tin.

"There is a marvelous range of design styles on these ribbon tins, since they span the history of the typewriter starting from the early 1900s."

Friday, May 09, 2008

James Bond covers

Michael Gillette has been commissioned to illustrate the covers for a set of hardbacks for the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming's birth by Penguin UK.

He has done an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the Bond franchise.

100 most misspelled words has produced a list of commonly misspelled words, along with mnemonics to help remember how to get them 'right'.

Two months with the Playstation 3

On the 15 March I walked out of the Harrow branch of Game with a 40GB PS3. Its primary purpose was to act as a Blu-ray player for my InFocus IN81 projector and Fujitsu P50XHA40 (catchy name that) plasma screen.

I blogged on my initial impressions, and after a couple of months using the PS3 here are some further thoughts...


- At under £300, the PS3 is the best-value Blu-ray player available.

- With its built-in WiFi, it also makes an acceptable web-browser.

- It plays avi/divx files, from CD/DVD or USB memory stick.

- It runs cool and quiet. MUCH quieter than the Xbox 360.

- The user-interface is fast and easy to navigate.

- The Sixaxis controller works fine as a 'remote', especially because it uses Bluetooth, so you don't have to point them at the PS3, meaning it doesn't have to be in 'line-of-sight' to be workable.


- It is fussy about where you put your files. Video files have to go in a folder called 'Video', etc.

- USB memory sticks have to be formatted to FAT32 (that's MSDOS if you're using the Mac OSX Disc Utility).

- The PS3 has to be left on to charge the Sixaxis controllers.

- It is 'region-locked', which means I can only play Region 2 DVDs. And yes, I have scoured the web for 'unlock codes' with no success.

- If you get an 'out of range' message when you are using an HDMI cable, it doesn't mean that your cable is faulty, or too long, it means that your screen doesn't accept the signal the PS3 is sending. In my case that means de-selecting '1080p' in the screen options before I connect it to the plasma screen.


- It plays games (Thanks to Brook and Zak for discovering this 'hidden feature').

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lenovo ThinkPad X300 sub-notebook

Register Hardware have published an extremely favourable review of Lenovo's £2,000 MacBook Air rival.

Key comments include:

1.33kg. That’s the weight of the cut-down model with a three-cell battery and no optical drive, while our review unit had a six-cell battery and a super-slim DVD writer that together raised the weight to 1.54kg. Even the power cord and AC adapter are lightweight, together amounting to 370g. So the travel weight of the package is well under 2kg.

The X300's screen resoultion is 1440 x 900.

The direct benefit of the SSD is that the Lenovo is nearly silent. The only noise is the processor cooling fan and as Lenovo has chosen a low-power Intel Core 2 Duo SL7100 that runs at 1.20GHz the cooling doesn’t have to work very hard.

The blistering performance of the Samsung SSD makes up for the rather slow Intel processor and gives the X300 a level of response that is quite unexpected in such a small, quiet laptop.

The keyboard and TrackPoint are beyond reproach, the keyboard light is present and correct, and the lid locks shut with a solid feel that you simply don’t get with other laptops. The only complaint is that the Touchpad is on the small side.

Its LED backlight and SSD combine to give a battery life that is three minutes shy of three hours. That’s constant heavy use so you can expect the X300 to have a working life of six hours. Unlike a MacBook Air, the X300 can have a spare battery slotted in to get you to the end of the longest journey.

Lenovo has come up trumps with wireless connectivity so the X300 packs Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n and Bluetooth. You won’t find a modem port next to the Ethernet as Lenovo has gone for state-of-the-art technology: there's a Sierra MC8775 HSDPA 3G modem inside the laptop with a SIM card slot under the battery.

Walking Bike

Max Knight reports: [edited]

Here is a bike that I designed for Yorgo Tloupas at Intersection magazine.