Thursday, April 30, 2009

iPhone vs netbook rally challenge

cnet reports: [edited]

In this video, we decided to pit an iPhone against a netbook to see which is the true king of mobile productivity. Our challenge was simple: hop into the passenger seat of a £1m rally car alongside 14-time European Rallycross champion Kenneth Hansen, hurtle around Lydden race track in Dover, and attempt to type, 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog' on to each device.

*spoiler/helper for those who don't have 5 minutes to spare - the iPhone wins*

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Video vs Photography: The borders blur

Esquire reports: [edited]

For the first time in Esquire's history a cover image was shot as a video. Using the RedONE, a video camera that captures images at four times the resolution of high-definition, photographer-director Greg Williams recorded ten minutes of loosely scripted footage with Fox — getting out of bed, rolling around on a pool chair, inexplicably lighting a barbecue.

"It allowed her to act," Williams says. "She could run scenes without being reminded by the sound of a shutter every four seconds that I was taking a picture. As in still photography, a lot of it is capturing unexpected moments. This takes that one step further."

He then chose the best images, which you can see in Esquire's June issue.

We Love Typography

We Love Typography reports: [edited]

WLT is an image, video, & text ‘bookmarking’ site that is wholly dedicated to type-related content. Think of it as a type-centric and visional delicious.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dreams of Flying

Jan von Holleben is a photographer, picture editor and photographic director. His work is widely published in magazines and books and he has had solo exhibitions in London, New York, Berlin and Paris. His Dreams of Flying collection is a lot of fun.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Blankets is a graphic novel by Craig Thompson. Its 580 pages of black and white illustrations chronicle Thompson's childhood in a fundamentalist Christian family, his first relationship and his eventual making peace with where he comes from and where he is heading.

None of these are new themes, but Thompson handles them in a refreshingly sympathetic and even-handed way. He is observant, perceptive and non-judgmental in the way he portrays the characters.

All-in-all, a simple story, beautifully drawn and elegantly told.

Thanks to Mike Stonelake for the heads up

Friday, April 24, 2009


From the creators of Worth1000, Aviary is...

A suite of free, online design tools. Aviary also allows you to share and work on files with other people in the Aviary community.

4 applications have been released into public beta, with more planned:

- Phoenix: an image editor (similar to Adobe Photoshop / Gimp)

- Raven: a vector editor (useful for logos / and clothing design)

- Toucan: a color editor

- Peacock: an effects editor

- - - - -

PS: Thanks to Sky for pointing out their killer app

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Typographica site relaunched

Typographica has celebrated its relaunch with an extensive review of their favourite typefaces of 2008.

Gorilla-friendly glasses

BoingBoing reports: [edited]

The Rotterdam Zoo is giving away 'gorilla-viewing glasses', intended to avoid incidents in which gorillas attack visitors for making eye contact with them. The glasses' introduction follows a serious attack.

The spectacles are sponsored by an entrepeneurial health-insurance company.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dell mini 9 running OSX

Accelerate Your Mac reports: [edited]

For $488 you get a 1.6 GHz hyper-threading processor (a poor man's dual core), 2GB RAM, a 16GB SSD, 8.9" screen, 4-hour battery, and wireless. It also has an SD card reader and three USB ports. This amount includes the purchase of a copy of Mac OS X.

The Dell is surprisingly well constructed. It's small but not too small (at least not compared to the netbook crowd). It's very sturdy. It's light and completely silent, because there are no moving parts (not even a fan), yet the bottom of the case never gets more than slightly warm. It's about the size and weight of a small hardback novel. It could fit easily in a woman's purse.

The screen is small, but at 1024 x 600 it's not too bad. It's very sharp and the Spaces feature of OS X was made for this kind of machine.

Netbook keyboards are simply not ideal for touch typing unless you have small hands or are patient. Like the iPhone, I have learned how to be competent typing on it, but no one would want to write "War and Peace" using one. These things are for light duty typing, like iChat or short e-mails.

Probably the biggest question is whether the Dell functions like a Mac. The simple answer is absolutely! I was very surprised at how few issues I found. Every major piece of hardware worked as expected, including wi-fi, bluetooth, the webcam, sound in and out, the SD card reader, the Ethernet port and the USB ports. You wouldn't know this machine wasn't made by Apple except for the Dell logo staring you in the face. Even the power on LED pulses gently when the Dell is in sleep mode, just like Apple hardware!

All connections (i.e., Airport, Ethernet, USB, sound, etc.) work as expected. The webcam worked with iChat, Photo Booth, Skype. The built in mic and speakers work very well. The speakers are quite loud and sound better than you might expect for their size.

Though the machine has only a 1.6 GHz Intel processor and the Intel 950 integrated graphics, it felt similar in many respects to my 2.5 GHz MBP. For example, Safari loaded in less than one dock bounce, iTunes loaded in about three bounces, and Mail loaded in one dock bounce.

Overall, I found this experiment to be a huge success. The Dell-to-Mac conversion process was relatively painless, and there were no on-going tweaks required to keep the machine running in daily use. You just use it like you would any Mac.

The only consideration is the price. After you properly configure the Dell, the price creeps toward $500 (assuming you don't already own a retail copy of OS X), which means you are only another $500 from buying a refurbished Macbook Air or true Macbook. On the other hand, those machines are considerably larger, and The Dell at $500 is still significantly less than $1,000 for a true Mac.

I wouldn't recommend this Mac to a first-time Mac user or very inexperienced Mac user, since there are bound to be some glitches from time to time. But for the experienced Mac enthusiast, the conversion is a lot of fun.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Barbie - looking good for 50

The Daily Telegraph published an article on Barbie's incredible life.

Excerpts follow:

"She hits her half-century in 2009 but... she is still pulling in $3.3 billion a year. Barbie – or, to give her her full name, Barbara Millicent Roberts, is no ordinary 50-year-old."

"Mattel employs hundreds of people [to market Barbie] including 50 designers, 12 hairdressers, a huge marketing operation, and almost 100 who devote themselves to licensing the Barbie name to about 800 companies producing everything from clothes to bedroom furniture."

"Barbie owes her existence to the daughter of Polish immigrants. Ruth Handler and her husband, Elliot, drifted into the toy industry after the Second World War with doll’s houses fashioned from picture-frame offcuts."

"Elliot was the 'el’ in Mattel, the company he founded with Harold 'Matt’ Matson. Their first hit was a toy ukulele. The rising prosperity of the 1950s, greater leisure and the post-war baby boom combined to make toys a thriving industry. And, with careers beginning to open up for girls, the conditions were also ripe for a new kind of doll."

"Existing dolls were mainly helpless infants to be cuddled, but Handler noticed how her daughter, Barbara, preferred to play with paper cut-out dolls, enacting imaginary adult situations instead of treating them as babies. She began to contemplate a new grown-up doll that would allow girls to project fantasies of independence and glamour."

"On holiday in Switzerland she came across a German doll called 'Bild Lilli'. Although Handler did not know it, Lilli was based on a prostitute from a German adult cartoon, and marketed not to children but to men in bars and tobacco shops."

"Back in California, Handler used Lilli as a prototype for her new doll. The 11½in doll was launched at the 1959 New York Toy Fair, named after the Handlers’ daughter. Like Lilli, there was overstated make-up, an exaggerated body shape, a coy sideways glance, and a ponytail – but, unlike the German doll, there were no nipples."

"Industry buyers hated the doll, especially those breasts. Half refused to place an order, others bought small. But Handler’s instincts were soon vindicated. Girls themselves loved Barbie and word spread. By the end of 1959 more than 350,000 dolls had been sold, and sales continued to soar as Handler ploughed more and more into advertising."

"Mattel had to open a department just to deal with the 20,000 fan letters a week. By 1963 it was among the 500 largest companies in the United States."

"Barbie has so far tackled more than 100 careers ranging from air stewardess to palaeontologist, aerobics instructor to Marine Corps sergeant. One of her latest is television chef. She has also been Italian, Parisian, British Royal, Inuit, Japanese, Korean, Jamaican and Native American."

"Barbie’s designers have included Armani, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Dior, Versace and Vivienne Westwood."

"There have been failures. Barbie’s little sister, Skipper, launched in 1964, grew breasts when her arm was twisted. Her best friend, Midge, launched in 1962, came pregnant with a rounded belly; when this was lifted off, a baby dropped out."

"Mattel researchers visit children’s homes around the world. Barbie’s placement in a room is noted: lying on the bed or on the floor next to doll’s clothes is good – the first indicates love, the second active play. Sitting on a shelf, unless it is a collector’s Barbie, is bad..."

"Barbie designers take video cameras to girls’ birthday parties, and what they shoot is later examined and analysed. The video can reveal seemingly small but to Mattel vital insights..."

"Barbie’s overseas onslaught began in 1961. Now in 150 different countries, she rules the world. Surveys show 72 per cent of girls in Puerto Rico own a Barbie, 49 per cent in Chile. In Venezuela her usual garb is a ballgown. In Japan she sometimes looks like an anime figure with a large head and big eyes. One limited-production doll, Going Home Barbie, produced by Mattel’s Hong Kong operation and aimed at Americans travelling to China to adopt babies, is a blue-eyed blonde, clutching a tiny, black-haired adoptee."

"Globally, the Barbie licensing business yields $1.5 billion a year."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Helvetica: The Movie

Helvetica was developed in 1957 at the Haas type foundry of Münchenstein, Switzerland. The aim was to create a neutral typeface with great clarity and no intrinsic meaning in its form, to be used on a wide variety of signage.

In the 1960s Helvetica was introduced to the US by Linotype. It was an instant success with designers, and many companies adopted it as their primary typeface. Its later adoption in 1984 as the default typeface on the Apple Macintosh computer reinforced its hegemony.

When I discovered that a movie was being made about Helvetica I was intrigued, but not enough to visit a cinema to watch it. When I saw it was available to rent on Blu-ray DVD, i put it on my reserve list.

If you love type, it's a pleasant enough way to spend 80 minutes. Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones are informed and passionate and Erik Spiekermann is always good value for money, but I found a couple of the participant's opinions plain 'arty-farty'. In fact, the film is remarkably like the typeface it is about, clean, well-constructed, but ultimately bland and a trifle overated.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

London-Somerset-London, 18-04-09 & 19-04-09

Airstream Driver - Gomez
Burning Love - Wynonna
Rich Girl - Daryl Hall & John Oates
Arts & Crafts - Red Light Company
Sk8r Boy - Avril Lavigne
Ridin' - Chamillionaire Feat. Krazie Bone
Crush (new) - Jennifer Paige
Long Time Dead - F**kshovel
Nobody - Johnny Cash
Nature Boy [Edit] - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Bad Things - Jace Everett
Pirouette - Stickboy (UK)
The Fear (clean version) - Lily Allen
Man Must Dance - Johnossi
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk
Happy Up Here - Röyksopp
Come back my love - The Darts
Daniel - Bat For Lashes
She's So High - Tal Bachman
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) - Billy Joel
French Navy - Camera Obscura
Hey Ya - The BossHoss
Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) - Frank Wilson
Zero - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Love etc. - Pet Shop Boys
There's No Secrets This Year - Silversun Pickups
I'd Like That - XTC
I Wish That I Could See You Soon - Herman Düne
Speed - Bran Van 3000
This Faithless Will - Ironweed
Too Young (Zoot Woman remix) - Phoenix
Hey Now (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun) - Cyndi Lauper
I'm Not Alone (Radio Edit) - Calvin Harris
No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand
Better Off As Two - FrankMusik
Make Me Smile (Come up and see me) - Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
Too Fake - Hockey
To Lose My Life - White Lies
Bad Things (demo) - Jace Everett
Wake Up - Arcade Fire
White & Nerdy - Weird Al Yankovic
S Club Party - S Club 7
Splish Splash - Bobby Darin
True Romance (True No. 9 Blues) - Golden Silvers
Butterfly - Crazy Town
S-s-s single bed - Fox
Bonkers - Dizzee Rascal and Armand Van Helden
Something Good Can Work - Two Door Cinema Club
Farewell to the Fairground (Single Mix) - White Lies
Potential Breakup Song - Aly & A.J.
Sometime Around Midnight - The Airborne Toxic Event
The Reeling - Passion Pit
3 Little Words (single) - FrankMusik

So Human - Lady Sovereign
Boten Anna - Basshunter
The Boys of Summer - DJ Sammy
Breathe - The Prodigy
Breathe - Télépopmusik
Can't Fight the Moonlight - LeAnn Rimes
Castles in the Sky - Ian Van Dahl
Children - Robert Miles
Cotton Eye Joe (remix) - Rednex
Dance Wiv Me - Dizzee Rascal (feat. Calvin Harris & Chrome)
Days Go By - Dirty Vegas
Destination Calabria (Club Mix) - Alex Gaudino Feat. Crystal Waters
I Want You To Want Me - Letter To Cleo
Joyride - Roxette
Bread and Butter - NewBeats
Copacabana (Disco Remix) - Barry Manilow
Nowhere - Therapy?
Broke - Captain
Alcoholics Unanimous - Art Brut
Hold On - KT Tunstall
Irresistible - The Corrs
Downtown - Mrs Miller
My Way Or The Highway - Limp Bizkit
Beauty And The Beast - Jump 5
Waiting For A Star To Fall - Boy Meets Girl
Love is in the air - John Paul Young
(I Hate) Everything about you - Ugly Kid Joe
C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips - OK Go
Angel Eyes (Techno Remix) - A-Teens
One More Time - Daft Punk
Stacy's Mom - Fountains Of Wayne
Rock Lobster - The B-52's
Save The Last Dance For Me - Dolly Parton
Daddy's Girl - Red Sovine
Daddy Cool - Boney M
I Think I'm In Love With You - Jessica Simpson
Shang-A-Lang - Bay City Rollers
Japanese Boy - Aneka
Moi Lolita (Single Version) - Alizee
Three Small Words (Movie Theme Song) - Josie and the Pussycats
I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News) - Eagles of Death Metal
(Do I Look Like A) Slut - Dennis Christopher Vs. Tony Cha Cha
The Rain - Oran 'Juice' Jones
Breathless - The Corrs
Lean On Me - Club Nouveau
I Think I'm A Clone Now - Weird Al Yankovic
Hungry Eyes - Eric Carmen
Gudbye T'Jane - Slade
Are you Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
Dragostea din tei (Mai Ai Hii) - O-Zone
I Think I Love You - Partridge Family
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy - The Andrews Sisters
Reasons Not To Be An Idiot - Frank Turner
D.I.S.C.O. - Ottawan
Rollin' (Ballad of Big and Rich) - Big & Rich
Baby Come Back - Player
Song 2 - Blur
Where will the dimple be - Alma Cogan
What A Day For A Daydream - Lovin' Spoonful

Friday, April 17, 2009

Choosing colours have published an article that proposes a method to help choose colour palettes that people are most likely to like.

The theory is that if a combination follows the natural brightness of colors, most people will like it. If a combination contradicts it, most people won't like it.

Not surprisingly the method is least successful when tested on 'colour professionals'.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Scrabble 2009 (Nintendo DS)

Forget Killzone 2 and Grand Theft Auto, Scrabble is the best game in the world. And now it is available in a 'new and improved' form (using, allegedly, the Collins Official Scrabble Dictionary) for the Nintendo DS.

- Clear graphics
- Fast gameplay
- Reasonably priced (£15)
- It's Scrabble!

- Quirky (read 'limited/wrong') dictionary
- Annoying animated 'hints & tips' on top screen
- I'm fairly sure that Esme (cleverest opponent) cheats

If you enjoy Scrabble, and are willing to watch the DS getting away with some very suspect words it is a diverting way of spending the odd 15-30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Free typeface family

Font Squirrel is offering Aller, a postmodern sans family, for nowt. I haven't had any time to try it out properly, but I've posted the link immediately because with four weights and a proper set of italics it is worth a look and I'm not sure how long it will be offered gratis.

Kingston MobileLite Card Reader

Good things: Provides access to three of the most popular memory card formats (microSD, miniSD & SD) without the need for fiddly adaptors. Allows the cards to be stored/carried in the body of the memory card reader.

Bad thing: Bulky body blocks the use of other USB sockets (although a cable adaptor is provided).

Available from Amazon for about £6.50 inc. p&p.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe

Christopher Potter had risen to become a senior publisher at the massively successful Fourth Estate. At one point the publisher held the top three places in the Sunday Times bestsellers' list - 'Longitude' by Dava Sobel, 'Fermat's Last Theorem' by Simon Singh, and 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' by Jean-Dominique Bauby.

Then he had a mental and physical breakdown. He underwent conventional drug therapy (which he hated), followed by some more unorthodox approaches, including reflexology (which despite his skepticism, he claims worked).

After a three-month sabbatical he was fully recovered, and decided to write a book that examined the mysteries of the universe. 'You Are Here...' is certainly ambitious in its scope, looking at relativity, evolution, quantum mechanics, the big bang and the meaning of life.

And for its target audience (intelligent, but not necessarily science-based), it is a readable and informative book. It manages to present these big topics without being smug or credulous. His method of breaking things down into scales of size and time is simultaneously helpful and mind-boggling.

The reader is (on the whole) left to make their own judgements on matters of morality and religion, and while he is an evolutionist he states that scientists still have no clear answer as to how it began (pp 231-232).

It is better informed than Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything', and a lot more readable/understandable than anything I've read by a 'proper' academic. If you would like to find out just how small you are, without it making you depressed, this is worth putting on your reading list.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Coelacanth eggs get CT scan

The Japan Times reports: [edited]

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology carried out Wednesday what is believed to be the first CT scan of eggs inside a coelacanth, according to Norihiro Okada, a bioscience professor at the university and a member of the research team.

About 40 eggs were photographed inside each of the two coelacanths, which were captured off the coast of Tanzania, frozen and transported to Tokyo. The fish are 170cm long and weigh 70kg each, while their eggs are about 7 cm in diameter.

Coelacanths are thought to represent an early step in the evolution of fish to amphibians. The eggs hatch while still inside the female and the young grow to 30cm in length before they emerge.

First appearing about 400 million years ago, coelacanths were thought to have gone extinct 335 million years later, around the same time as the dinosaurs. Since one was discovered in the Indian Ocean in 1938, others have turned up in waters off Indonesia, South Africa and elsewhere.

Coelacanths, which live at least 100 meters deep, have oily and foul-tasting flesh and lack commercial value as a food fish, but they are highly sought after by museums and private collectors.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Paschal Sermon

John Chrysostom lived in the 4th Century and became the Archbishop of Constantinople. He was a brilliant public speaker (‘chrysostomos’ is greek for ‘golden-mouthed’) and regularly used this gift to criticise corrupt church leaders and politicians.

His Paschal (a latinisation of ‘Pesach’, the Hebrew word for Passover) Sermon was originally used as a teaching aid, emphasising God’s grace, and his absolute victory over the power of sin and death.

It is read aloud in most Eastern Orthodox churches on Easter Sunday. The congregation usually stands and participates during the reading.

I've conflated, precised and edited a number of English translations into the following text, which I am going to be opening our (conspicuously non-Eastern Orthodox) church's service with this morning.

- - - - -

If anyone is a sincere lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.

If anyone is a wise servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of their Lord.

If anyone has wearied themself in fasting, let them now receive their recompense.

If anyone has laboured from the fırst hour, let them today receive their just reward.

If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them keep the feast.

If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.

If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.

If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of their delay.

For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the fırst; he gives rest to the one that arrives at the eleventh hour, just as to the ones who have laboured from the fırst. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the fırst; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honours the work and praises the intention.

Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether fırst or last, receive your reward. O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy! O you faithful and you negligent, celebrate the day! You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today! The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry!

Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.

Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.

He that was taken by death has annihilated it!

He descended into Hades and took it captive!

He dumbfounded it when it tasted his flesh!

Anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed, “Hades was dumbfounded when it encountered you!”

It was dumbfounded, for it was mocked!

It was dumbfounded, for it was plundered!

It was dumbfounded, for it was purged!

It was dumbfounded, for it was chained!

It was dumbfounded, for it was abolished!

It took a body and met God, face-to-face!

It took earth and encountered heaven!

It took what it saw but crumpled before
what it had not understood!

“O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?”

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and life reigns!

For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the fırst-fruits of them that have died.

To him be glory and power forever.


- - - - -

For a printable PDF version, click here (the bold italic bits are where I encouraged the congregation to join in)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Another side of Dubai

The Independent has published an excellent, extremely disturbing article uncovering uncomfortable truths about Sheikh Mohammed's kingdom.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mark's Gospel, Chapter 15

At dawn's first light, the high priests, with the religious leaders and scholars, arranged a conference with the entire Jewish Council. After tying Jesus securely, they took him out and presented him to Pilate.

Pilate asked him, "Are you the 'King of the Jews'?"

He answered, "If you say so."

The high priests let loose a barrage of accusations.

Pilate asked again,

"Aren't you going to answer anything? That's quite a list of accusations."

Still, he said nothing. Pilate was impressed, really impressed.

It was a custom at the Feast to release a prisoner, anyone the people asked for. There was one prisoner called Barabbas, locked up with the insurrectionists who had committed murder during the uprising against Rome. As the crowd came up and began to present its petition for him to release a prisoner, Pilate anticipated them: "Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you?" Pilate knew by this time that it was through sheer spite that the high priests had turned Jesus over to him.

But the high priests by then had worked up the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas. Pilate came back, "So what do I do with this man you call King of the Jews?"

They yelled, "Nail him to a cross!"

Pilate objected, "But for what crime?"

But they yelled all the louder, "Nail him to a cross!"

Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted, set Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for whipping and crucifixion.

The soldiers took Jesus into the palace and called together the entire brigade. They dressed him up in purple and put a crown plaited from a thornbush on his head. Then they began their mockery: "Bravo, King of the Jews!" They banged on his head with a club, spit on him, and knelt down in mock worship. After they had had their fun, they took off the purple cape and put his own clothes back on him. Then they marched out to nail him to the cross.

The Crucifixion
There was a man walking by, coming from work, Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. They made him carry Jesus' cross.

The soldiers brought Jesus to Golgotha, meaning 'Skull Hill'. They offered him a mild painkiller (wine mixed with myrrh), but he wouldn't take it. And they nailed him to the cross. They divided up his clothes and threw dice to see who would get them.

They nailed him up at nine o'clock in the morning. The charge against him — the king of the Jews — was printed on a poster. Along with him, they crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left.

People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: "You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days — so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you're really God's Son, come down from that cross!"

The high priests, along with the religion scholars, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: "He saved others—but he can't save himself! Messiah, is he? King of Israel? Then let him climb down from that cross. We'll all become believers then!" Even the men crucified alongside him joined in the mockery.

At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o'clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

Some of the bystanders who heard him said, "Listen, he's calling for Elijah." Someone ran off, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down."

But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, "This has to be the Son of God!"

Taken to a Tomb
There were women watching from a distance, among them Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and Joses, and Salome. When Jesus was in Galilee, these women followed and served him, and had come up with him to Jerusalem.

Late in the afternoon, since it was the Day of Preparation (that is, Sabbath eve), Joseph of Arimathea, a highly respected member of the Jewish Council, came. He was one who lived expectantly, on the lookout for the kingdom of God. Working up his courage, he went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate questioned whether he could be dead that soon and called for the captain to verify that he was really dead. Assured by the captain, he gave Joseph the corpse.

Having already purchased a linen shroud, Joseph took him down, wrapped him in the shroud, placed him in a tomb that had been cut into the rock, and rolled a large stone across the opening. Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of Joses, watched the burial.

(Passage taken from Eugene H. Peterson's The Message translation)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Mosquito death ray

The Wall Street Journal reports: [edited]

A quarter-century ago, American rocket scientists proposed the 'Star Wars' defence system to knock Soviet missiles from the skies with laser beams. Some of the same scientists are now aiming their lasers at another airborne threat: the mosquito.

The scientists' real target is malaria, which is caused by a parasite transmitted when certain mosquitoes bite people. Ended in the U.S. decades ago, malaria remains a major global public-health threat, killing about 1 million people annually.

The mosquito laser is the brainchild of Lowell Wood, an astrophysicist who worked with Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb and architect of the original plan to use lasers to shield America from the rain of Soviet nuclear arms.

They face one big challenge: deciding how strong to make the weapon. The laser has to be weak enough to not harm humans and smart enough to avoid hitting useful bugs. "You could kill billions of mosquitoes a night, and you could do so without harming butterflies," says Mr. Myhrvold.

Not only can the laser target a mosquito, it can also tell a male from a female based on wing-beat. That's a crucial distinction, since only females feed on blood and thus transmit disease. Males in the wild eat sugary plant nectar.

"If you really were a purist, you could only kill the females, not the males," Mr. Myhrvold says. But since they're mosquitoes, he says, he'll probably "just slay them all".

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Based on real-life events in 1928 Los Angeles, single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) returns home to discover her nine-year-old son is missing. And so begins 140 minutes of brilliantly filmed, well acted drama.

Clint Eastwood is excellent at directing films like this (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby) that deal with loss, abuse and emotional pain in an intelligent and involving way that rarely succumbs to sentimentality.

Jolie is excellent as a strong, intelligent, loving mother working against desperate odds to see justice done (my daughter Cyan said that the acting was so convincing that she forgot that it was Angelina Jolie playing the part, oh and that her clothes were magnificent and that she hopes those fashions return soon).

John Malkovich breaks type as the Reverend Gustav Briegleb. He convincingly plays a difficult role, a determined man of God who is Christine's main ally.

It is an emotionally exhausting film that doesn't shrink from the difficult subjects it is addressing (police corruption, misogony, child abuse and murder) while managing not to exploit them for their entertainment value.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Register Hardware reports: [edited]

The 7" screened Joggler is a family calendar that sends text message reminders out to clan members about important events. Joggler doesn’t take SIM cards, O2 lets buyers send 50 text messages per month for free to any UK mobile. Texts can also be sent to Joggler.

It connects to your home broadband connection either wired or wirelessly and provides weather updates, traffic information, news headlines and sports updates – with the majority of content supplied by broadcaster Sky.

Joggler’s 1GB storage capacity can be used for storing photos, music and videos. Pictures can be transferred onto the device through its USB port, while music and video can also be streamed to the device and played through its built-in speakers.

Sudoku’s the only game currently available on Joggler, but O2 has promised that more will be coming soon. Other features include an alarm clock, calculator, radio and a calendar.

Available May 2009 for £150.

Monday, April 06, 2009

No more tan-lines reports: [edited]

Solar's unique patented fabric is made by using a special knitting technology which creates thousands of tiny pores in the fabric. These pores act as a shade cloth, and filter approximately half of the sun's light. This filtering process is comparable to a SPF between 5 and 10 depending on skin type, time of day, and UV index.

The Solar Tan Thru Suit is guaranteed not to be see through when worn wet or dry. This is achieved with Solar's unique prints which create a high contrast of colors. Such contrast tricks the eyesight, creating an optical inability for the human eye to see past these specially designed tan thru prints when the suit is worn.


For anyone who has been immunised against viral marketing Cloverfield is a film about a very big, scary monster attacking Manhattan viewed through the perspective of a bunch of pampered 20-somethings, via a wobbly camcorder.

The camera is your sole source of information which is by turns frustrating and claustrophobic. And the characters are convincingly superficial in their response to the mini-armageddon in which they have become embroiled.

As a concept Cloverfield is a success. As a film, I watched the credits wondering what the fuss was about. If you want gothic monster horror, Alien/Aliens is superior. And if you want confused, superficial yuppies dealing with an impossible situation, watch any current-affairs programme involving a bankers' response to the recent financial meltdown.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Palm Pre hands-on

Gizmodo have got their hands on a working Palm Pre. They like it.

Sin City

Sin City is the title of a series of adult comics by Frank Miller, published in 13 parts by Dark Horse between 1991 & 1992.

Sin City's style borrows heavily from film noir (itself based on a particular style of American detective pulp novels), with heavy use of black, dramatic lighting and occasional splashes of a red, yellow or blue.

All the stories take place in Basin City, a fictional 1950s-esque, post-goldrush town, dominated by a very rich, very nasty family, the Roarks.

Everything is extreme in Sin City, usually extremely corrupt. The police function as the Roarks' personal army. Prostitutes control their area of the city (Old Town) using an arsenal of hi- and lo-tech weaponry. And the rich and influential find pleasure in doing gut-wrenchingly bad things.

Each story functions as a twisted morality tale, taking recognisable caricatures from a range of genres and throwing them into a place where the only way to be good is to do bad things to very bad people.

A movie adaptation of Sin City, co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller with 'special guest director' Quentin Tarantino, was released on April 1, 2005. It faithfully interpreted the spirit and the look of the graphic novels using real actors, prosthetics (a superb Mickey Rourke as 'thug-with-a-heart' Marv) and a host of glorious digital effects.

Two film sequels are planned.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

126 mph land yacht

Wired reports: [edited]

It's taken 10 years, but Richard Jenkins has at long last achieved his dream of setting the land speed record for a wind-powered vehicle. The British engineer climbed into the land yacht he calls the Ecotricity Greenbird and peeled off a 126.1-mph run across a California desert Thursday to take his place in the record books.

Jenkins set the record in Greenbird, a land yacht he's spent the better part of a decade developing, on Ivanpah Dry Lake — the same place Schumacher set the previous record of 116.7 mph at the wheel of the Iron Duck on March 20, 1999. Perhaps more impressive, Jenkins managed to hit 126.1 mph with winds of just 30 mph.

Instead of a conventional sail, Greenbird uses a rigid wing that produces thrust in much the same way an airplane wing produces lift. The vehicle is made entirely of carbon composite materials, and the only metal parts are the bearings for the wing and the wheels. Jenkins says the aerodynamic design and light weight lets Greenbird achieve vehicle speeds three to five times greater than the wind speed.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Windows App Store... no, sorry, MARKETPLACE!

I had to check to make sure it wasn't an April Fool thing.


Thanks to Conrad for the link

SXSW 2009 Free Tracks Review #1

SXSW 2009 posted 1267 songs for free download in March. So far I've listened to 329 of them. Here's half-a-dozen that I haven't deleted...

Ghost Town - Shiny Toy Guns: 'Kill Hannah'-style high-energy, female-fronted, synthesiser-assisted rock. Long hair & skinny jeans optional.

Sushi - Kyle Andrews: Bedroom-recorded, hook-laden synth-pop. If David Mead hadn't learned to play guitar, he might have sounded like this.

Kicked Out - Bill Rice Band: With a hook-line like "They told me where to go, but they'd already kicked me out" it could only be country-rock. But it's good country-rock.

Say Whoa - A-Trak: Montreal-based DJ and turntablist Alain Macklovitch bangs out a lyrically-light, bass-heavy, disco-friendly dance track. Repetitively enjoyable.

Sunday Paper - Susan Hickman: A 'Yah-Boo, I never wanted you anyway'-style country yarn with an ending that made me smile.

Shake Your Tree - Tony Moore: Former Cutting Crew keyboardist rattles through a 'kitchen-sink-included' production that is crying out for a musical to be wrapped around it.

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For bittorrents of the songs click here