Thursday, December 31, 2009


Register Hardware reports: [edited]

A US court has turned back an appeal of a 2008 ruling that declared that if you blow out your ears by listening to your iPod too loudly, it's your own damn fault.

In a victory for common sense and personal responsibility, the court sided with the iPod manufacturer in the case of Birdsong v. Apple, Inc, originally filed in the Western District of Louisiana by one Joseph Birdsong, who was later joined by Californian Bruce Waggoner.

In Wednesday's ruling (PDF), Judge David R. Thompson of the Ninth Circuit notes that: "The plaintiffs argue the district court erred... They alleged that the iPod (1) comes with 'stock ear buds...designed to be placed deep into the ear canal rather than over the ears, which increases the danger of hearing damage,' (2) lacks 'noise isolating or cancelling properties,' and (3) lacks any volume meter."

Ignoring the mischaracterization of iPod earbuds as being "designed to be placed deep into the ear canal," Judge Thompson's ruling gets right to the point: "The district court did not err."

Thompson's reasoning is straightforward: "The plaintiffs recognize that iPods play music, have an adjustable volume, and transmit sound through earbuds," he writes, adding that their complaint states that - and the italics are Judge Thompson's: "(1) the iPod is capable of playing 115 decibels of sound; (2) consumers may listen at unsafe levels; and (3) iPod batteries can last 12 to 14 hours and are rechargeable, giving users the opportunity to listen for long periods of time."

Summing up his argument, Thompson writes: "Taken as true, such statements suggest only that users have the option of using an iPod in a risky manner..."

In other words, the law isn't responsible for stopping an idiot from being an idiot.

Thompson goes on to write that "the plaintiffs make no allegations of any history of malfunction, but merely suggest possible changes to the iPod which they believe would make the product safer," such as noise-reducing earbuds, warnings beyond the Apple's existing 60-word Avoid Hearing Damage tips, a digital decibel meter, and "volume-control software" - whatever that might entail.

"The plaintiffs fail to allege, however, how the absence of their suggested changes caused any user an injury," Thompson writes,

In fact, he writes, the plaintiffs didn't even claim to have been injured, nor did they cite any injuries to other. "The plaintiffs simply do not plead facts showing that hearing loss from iPod use is actual or imminent."

Judge Thompson's ruling is akin to the commonsense understanding that if you put your hand down a garbage disposal, then turn it on, you can't blame the disposal's manufacturer if your new nickname is "Stumpy" - especially if that manufacturer had warned you not to be such a thorough chowderhead.

Apple is off the hook, and the nanny state takes one in the teeth thanks to the levelheadedness of one Northern California judge.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

London-Broomfield-London, 28 & 29-12-09

Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) - The Darkness
40 Day Dream - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
The Kids Are Sick Again - Maximo Park
Silence Is Talking - Reverend And The Makers
Over It - Dinosaur Jr.
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) - Florence + The Machine
Readers & Writers - Idlewild
Inaugural Trams - Super Furry Animals
Northern Lights - Renaissance
Living by numbers - New Musik
Sink or Swim - Bad Lieutenant
The Fixer - Pearl Jam
Animal - Miike Snow
Think I Need It Too - Echo & The Bunnymen
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - Jackson 5
Tthhee Ppaarrttyy (Radio Edit) - Justice
Kingdom Of Rust - Doves
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
Rock The Boat - The Hues Corporation
Panic Switch (UK edit) - Silversun Pickups
You Try Sober - Absentee
Walking On The Sun - Smash Mouth
Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
Sticks & Stones - Jamie T
Farewell to the Fairground (Single Mix) - White Lies
Spinnin - Speech Debelle
In For The Kill - La Roux
Wheels - Foo Fighters
Toccata - Sky
Dominos - The Big Pink
Horchata - Vampire Weekend
Let's Go Surfing - The Drums
For What It's Worth - Placebo
Papillon - Editors
Half Asleep - School of Seven Bells
Bad - Michael Jackson
Crying Blood - V V Brown
Ulysses - Franz Ferdinand
Feed the tree - Belly
ABC - Jackson 5
Lisztomania (Radio Edit) - Phoenix
Weighty Ghost - Wintersleep
That Golden Rule - Biffy Clyro
The Happening - Diana Ross & the Supremes
Misdemeanour - The CB's
True Romance (True No. 9 Blues) - Golden Silvers
I'm Still Standing - Elton John
Man In The Mirror - Michael Jackson
Protection Racket - Fionn Regan
Mr Jones - Counting Crows
Over the Hill - Alessi's Ark
The Thrill of Thirty Seconds - Skint & Demoralised
Night Boat To Cairo - Madness
Happy Up Here - Röyksopp
Kiss of Life (Bonus Track) - Friendly Fires
My Perfect Cousin - Undertones
I Wish It Was Christmas Today - Julian Casablancas
Eet - Regina Spektor
Black Or White - Michael Jackson
The Safety Dance - Men Without Hats
Islands - The XX
Daniel - Bat For Lashes
Place Your Hands - Reef
French Navy - Camera Obscura
Four Dreams - Jesca Hoop
Fire - Kasabian

Broomfield - London
Lady Rosales - Mariachi El Bronx
Treat Me Like Your Mother - The Dead Weather
Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons
Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros - Flight Of The Conchords [feat. Rhymenocerous and the Hiphopopotamus]
Walking On A Dream - Empire Of The Sun
I Like Chinese - Monty Python
I'm Not Alone (Radio Edit) - Calvin Harris
A Lancashire DJ (2009 Version) - The Lancashire Hotpots
Daydream In Blue (alt) - I Monster
The Boys Of Summer - Don Henley
April Skies - The Jesus & Mary Chain
Can't Stop Movin' (Radio Edit) - Sonny J
Handsfree (If You Hold My Hand) [Radio Edit] - Sonny J
The Walls Are Coming Down - Fanfarlo
Tonight’s Today - Jack Peñate
I Shoulda Loved Ya - Narada Michael Walden
Bonkers (Radio Edit) - Dizzee Rascal & Armand Van Helden
Cheat On Me - The Cribs
Angel - Hypertraxx
I Need You - N-Dubz
Meet Me On the Equinox - Death Cab for Cutie
Warm Heart of Africa - The Very Best
Billie Jean - Michael Jackson
The Fear (clean version) - Lily Allen
Knock Knock Knocking - Deaf School
Thriller - Michael Jackson
Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine
Criticize - Alexander O'Neal
Redneck Girl - Gretchen Wilson
Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap
Jeepers Creepers - The Puppini Sisters
The Reeling - Passion Pit
Sick Muse - Metric
Love etc. - Pet Shop Boys
Something Is Squeezing My Skull - Morrissey
Omen - The Prodigy
11th Dimension - Julian Casablancas
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Moxy Fruvous
The Road - Frank Turner
Bad Things - Jace Everett
Pump Up the Volume - Marrs
Mirror Mirror (Mon Amour) - Dollar
To Lose My Life - White Lies
Computer Camp Love - Datarock
Julia - The Very Best
Living On The Ceiling - Blancmange
One Fine Day - Carole King
That Look You Give That Guy - Eels
You Don't Love Me - The Kooks
I'm in the mood for dancing - The Nolans
Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head - B.J. Thomas
Ambling Alp - Yeasayer
Hunger - Frankie & The Heartstrings
What's New Pussycat? - Tom Jones
Move On Up - Curtis Mayfield
Little Bitty Pretty One - Huey Lewis and the News
Hasta Manana Monsieur - Sparks

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Resolutions 2009 Review

My resolutions for 2009 were:

1. Get building work done on house
2. Clear out clothes/junk from house
3. Improve handwriting
4. Work on 'inhabiting space' concept
5. Stop biting nails/fingers
6. Watch or dispose of the unwatched DVDs in my collection
7. No alcohol from 1 March to 31 May
8. Run 4 miles in under 31 minutes
9. Book Wildwind dinghy sailing holiday
10. Read through Bible
11. Work on '66 Books' blog
12. Learn how to use FontLab
13. Create a typeface
14. Scan 365 photographs
15. Book lessons with a Pilates instructor
16. Design & produce Christmas card
17. Host Wednesday film nites
18. Monthly ‘pizza nite’ with Antony & Emma
19. Sort broadband/computer for mum and dad


1. Nope, but not for want of trying!
2. Lots gone, lots more to go
3. Yep
4. Yep
5. Nails much better, skin around nails, better
6. Partial success
7. Yep
8. 31 minutes, 55 seconds
9. Yep
10. Yep
11. Fail
12. Some progress
13. Fail
14. Yep
15. Yep
16. Yep
17. Yep, but invited group mainly too busy to attend
18. Yep
19. Yep

Friday, December 25, 2009

First Coming

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

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

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

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

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

Madeleine L’Engle

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pentax K-x

Digital Photography Review has published an extensive review of Pentax's latest budget DSLR. Their conclusion:

"The K-x is a very capable little camera indeed. Pentax has managed to squeeze what is, for this class of camera, an impressive feature set into the camera's miniscule, rather inconspicuous, body and the image quality, especially in low light, is the best we have seen so far in the entry-level bracket of the DSLR market.

"To put some icing on the cake, all of this comes at a currently, compared to the closest rivals, very attractive price point. To us the lack of visible AF points is the camera's only real drawback but if you can live with this omission you can't go wrong with the Pentax K-x."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Toaster concept

designboom reports: [edited]

Othmar Muhlebach recently won second prize at the Berner Design Award 09 with this toaster design. Sliced bread is stacked and fed from the top, it's then toasted and ejected onto the base.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vodafone gets iPhone

Register Hardware reports: [edited]

Vodafone will begin selling the iPhone on 14 January 2010

The 3G will cost you nothing, provided you sign up for a two-year, £35-a-month contract, or you can have it for £59 if you're only willing to pay £30 a month.

The 16GB iPhone 3GS is free on a £45-a-month package, rising to £59 (£40 a month), £89 (£35 a month) and £149 (£30 a month).

The 32GB version is free at £75 a month, £89 at £45 a month, £149 at £40 a month, £179 at £35 a month and £239 at £30 a month.

Orange will do you a 3G for free for just under £30 a month, and, like O2, offers the iPhones on 18-month terms too, though at a reduced subsidy of course. But then you have to pay Orange £44-odd quid a month to get the 16GB 3GS for free - O2 is the same.

Note that current Orange and O2 prices include VAT at 15 per cent, which will rise to 17.5 per cent on 1 January 2010. Vodafone's figures include VAT at 17.5 per cent.

Both Orange and O2 offer the iPhone on pay-as-you-go packages, which Vodafone is not doing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jean De Florette & Manon Des Sources

Set in 1920s Luberon, France, this two-part film is a complex, cleverly-written, superbly-acted tragedy.

The first film is dominated by Gerard Depardieu's powerful performance as a city man striving to follow his dream against insuperable odds. The second film is a wonderfully skewed revenge piece, enhanced for me by the transcendentally gorgeous Emmanuelle Béart.

If you can bear subtitles (or speak French) and have a fiver to spare, treat yourself to this sublime cinematic diptych.

Thanks to Rory for this wonderful present

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Give Me Back My Google

Give Me Back My Google reports: [edited]

Searching for products on Google can be annoying: nothing but Kelkoo, Pricerunner et al clogging up your search results. Now don't get me wrong, these sites have their uses, but sometimes you really don't want them in your search results.

So I wrote GiveMeBackMyGoogle.

Iron Man 2 have just uploaded the latest Iron Man 2 trailer. Roll on May 2010.

Living with the iPhone 3GS: Eucalyptus

The £5.99 Eucalyptus App allows you to download any text from the Gutenberg Project, and have it converted into an attractive and easy-to-navigate e-book.

The interface is excellent, and choosing from the 30,000 available texts is eased by the 'staff picks' section, presented in a browsable bookshelf with 'library card' outlines of the content.

When you have selected a book, it is downloaded and converted into an e-book, complete with a 'Penguin Paperback'-style cover. The text is elegant, legible and zoomable. The page-turning animation is interactive without being obtrusive.

For more information and a link to the App Store, click here

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Google phone?

Engadget has pictures of what they claim is Google's 'Nexus One' phone.

Mobius bagel

Gizmodo reports: [edited]

Here's a little breakfast trick. If you cut a bagel just right, you can spread your cream cheese across the smooth curves of a Mobius strip.

Full instructions here.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Backblaze reports: [edited]

For $50 per year, Backblaze backs up everything on your computer except your operating system, applications, temporary files, or those over 4GB. Whether directly connected or over WiFi, if you are connected to the Internet, you are backing up.

Your data is encrypted on your computer, sent over an encrypted connection, and stored encrypted. Want more security? You can use your own private key so nobody but you can ever have access to your backups.

Use a USB or Firewire-connected drive for additional storage or backups? Backblaze will backup those too.

Backblaze backs up Windows XP 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit, Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit, and Intel-based Mac OSX 10.4 and newer.

Backblaze has developed a unique FSCAN Engine that ensures no slowdown of your computer; how fast you can backup is limited only by your Internet connection. Typical home connections can backup online 2 - 4 GB per day. Backblaze provides a throttle option if you want to use more or less of your Internet connection.

Backblaze de-duplicates, compresses, and backs up incrementally to backup as efficiently as possible. Have the same photo stored twice? Backblaze will de-duplicate to back it up just once; if you restore, it will be put back in both places. Have some large files? Backblaze will compress them when possible. Change a file multiple times? Backblaze will only back up the changes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gimme Friction Baby

Jay is Games reports: [edited]

Gimme Friction Baby by Wouter Visser of The Netherlands, is based on a very simple idea

1) Click the mouse.

Clicking the mouse fires the swinging turret and blasts a white orb up into play. Notice that when the orb comes to rest it will expand until it touches a boundary edge or another orb. Each and every orb you shoot behaves in this way.

The objective is to score points but to do that you must never, ever let an orb bounce back down and cross the dotted line. Ever.

2) Click the mouse again, but this time try to aim your shot while keeping in mind the warning just given.

Notice that when the orb in motion comes in contact with a stationary orb, it reduces the counter on the stationary orb by 1. Once an orb's counter reaches 0 it explodes and is removed from play, and you receive 1 point for doing so. This is the only way to earn points.

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: These are the kind of games I enjoy, simple to learn, with a good mix of skill and luck in the gameplay, that can be played for a minute or an hour. It has also inspired a 59p App called Frict.

Google Chrome for Mac

Google's beta version of its browser application is available here

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: First impressions are that it is as quick as Safari, but not as aesthetically pleasing. I'm using it to play BBC 6Music, Safari for browsing and Firefox for Blogger/Flickr stuff.

Free font - Patagonia

My Fonts has made this soft sans available for nowt (registration required). I don't like the lower case 't' much, but the rest of it has a pleasant 'old/new' tension.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Living with the iPhone 3GS: reports: [edited]

- Crop, rotate, change color with just a touch.
- Give an extra glow with Soft Focus.
- Get artsy with Sketch.
- Apply one-touch effects like Warm Vintage and Vignette.
- Try any edit - you can undo it.

Upload a photo. Open a free account to upload, store, and share all of your iPhone photos. Enjoy thousands of photos in your pocket by accessing your entire photo library right from your iPhone.

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth:
This free App has been around for a while in the US, but has just been released for UK users.


Tunechecker reports: [edited]

When you type in a song or album it zips to nine major music download retailers to find the best price. Currently the following retailers are included in the TuneChecker: iTunes, Amazon, Play, 7digital, HMV, we7, Tesco, Orange & Tunetribe.

Thanks to Gareth for the link

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Living with the iPhone 3GS: Musée du Louvre

This informative and well-built App provides you with a virtual visit to the Louvre including commentary on some of its more famous exhibits including the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samothrace, and Mona Lisa. And it is free.

Available here

World's fastest computers

New Scientist reports: [edited]

Twice a year the operators of the world's fastest computers eagerly await their latest ranking compiled by the Top500 project.

A new entrant at No. 5, China's fastest computer is capable of more than 500 trillion operations per second. A simple calculator's power is typically about 10 flops.

The computer combines 6144 Intel processors with 5120 graphics processing units made by AMD, normally found in computer graphics cards.

New in at No. 1, is the US Department of Energy's Jaguar, capable of 1,800,000,000,000,000 operations per second.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Panasonic G1 vs Canon S90 vs Ricoh GR Digital III has published an excellent comparison of images from these three cameras. The differences in image quality are significant, but may also convince you that they're not significant enough to lug a 'Slightly-Smaller-Than-A-SLR' (SSTASLR™) camera around with you.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Min Kyo Choi's plug concept update

In June I blogged on Min Kyo Choi's reimagining of the UK 3-pin mains plug.

He's taken things a a few steps further, incorporating multi-plugs and USB sockets.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Leamington to London 05-12-09

The Diplomat - Maria Muldaur
Skip to the Bip - Kitty the Bill - Kitty the Bill
Cracked and Broken - Diana Jones
I Can Hear The Grass Grow - The Move
She's Not You - Elvis Presley
No More Mosquitoes - Four Tet
The Straight Life - Mudhoney
Take Me With U - Prince And The Revolution
brokedown engine - Peter Case
Kill Your Remix - Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Memphis - Catie Curtis
Bowling Green - Neko Case And Her Boyfriends
Wake Up And Make Love With Me - Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Stop Kissing Me - Do Me Bad Things
So Many Things - Francoise Hardy
Treat Her Like a Lady - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
Babe - Styx
Sunday Mornings - Mary Coughlan
Kiss Me Like You Mean It - The Magnetic Fields
Spunky - Eels
Disappointed - Ivy
Turn On Your Lovelight - Them
It's My Will - dc Talk
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - Bob Dylan
Tennessee Waltz - Sam Cooke
Vincent (long version) - Don Mclean

- - - - -

Oh, the joy of a mature smart playlist... (click image for larger view)


Friday, December 04, 2009

Crazy Diamonds

John Nack reports: [edited]

Should you encounter someone who doubts the importance of context in color perception, you might try whipping out this little demonstration.

Selections from the comments section:

"The diamonds are all gradients, with the tops lighter than the bottoms. This makes the diamonds on top appear darker, since the bottom of the top diamonds is darker than the top of the lower diamonds. - Gary"

"Decided to have some fun with the concept - click here - Michael Glasser"

Living with the iPhone 3GS: Love Art

Love Art (£1.79) is an App that I find myself dipping into on a regular basis.

Featuring 250 of the National Gallery's paintings, you can view the images while listening to well-crafted audio commentaries.

Click here for more information and a link to the App Store.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

They're joking... right?

Firebox reports: [edited]

Wenger Giant Swiss Army Knife


2.5" 60% Serrated locking blade
Nail file, nail cleaner
Adjustable pliers with wire crimper and cutter
Removable screwdriver bit adapter
2.5" Blade for Official World Scout Knife
Spring-loaded, locking needle-nose pliers with wire cutter
Removable screwdriver bit holder
Phillips head screwdriver bit 0
Phillips head screwdriver bit 1
Phillips head screwdriver bit 2Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5mm x 3.5mm
Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6mm x 4.0mm
Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0mm x 6.5mm
Magnetized recessed bit holder
Double-cut wood saw with ruler (inch & cm)
Bike chain rivet setter, removable 5mm allen wrench, screwdriver for slotted and philips head screws
Removable tool for adjusting bike spokes, 10mm hexagonal key for nuts
Removable 4mm curved allen wrench with philips head screwdriver
Removable 10mm hexagonal key
Patented locking philips head screwdriverUniversal wrench
2.4" Springless scissors with serrated, self-sharpening design
1.65" Clip point utility blade
Philips head screwdriver
2.5" Clip point blade
Golf club face cleaner
2.4" Round tip blade
Patented locking screwdriver, cap lifter, can opener
Golf shoe spike wrench
Golf divot repair tool
4mm allen wrench2.5" blade
Fine metal file with precision screwdriver
Double-cut wood saw
Cupped cigar cutter with double-honed edges
12/20-Guage choke tube tool
Watch caseback opening tool
Snap shackle
Mineral crystal magnifier with precision screwdriver
Compass, straight edge, ruler (in./cm)
Telescopic pointerFish scaler, hook disgorger, line guide
Shortix laboratory key
Micro tool holder
Micro tool adapter
Micro scraper - straight
Micro scraper - curved
Laser pointer with 300 ft. range
Metal saw, metal file
Micro tool holderPhilips head screwdriver 1.5mm
Screwdriver 1.2mm
Screwdriver .8mm
Fine fork for watch spring bars
Pin punch 1.2mm
Pin punch .8mm
Round needle file
Removable tool holder with expandable receptacle
Removable tool holder
Special self-centering screwdriver for gunsights
Flat philips head screwdriver
Chisel-point reamerMineral crystal magnifier, fork for watch spring bars, small ruler
Extension tool
Spring-loaded, locking flat nose-nose pliers with wire cutter
Removable screwdriver bit holder
Phillips head screwdriver bit 0
Phillips head screwdriver bit 1
Phillips head screwdriver bit 2
Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5mm x 3.5mm
Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6mm x 4.0mm
Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0mm x 6.5mm
Magnetized recessed bit holder
Tire tread gauge
Fiber optic tool holderCan opener
Patented locking screwdriver, cap lifter, wire stripper
Key ring

Product open - Approximately 22.5cm (H) x 24cm (W) x 3cm (D)
Product closed - Approximately 8.5cm (H) x 24cm (W) x 3cm (D)
Product boxed - Approximately 10cm (H) x 28.5cm (W) x 26cm (D)


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Pictures & Words

Film for NZ Book Council. Produced by Colenso BBDO. Animated by Andersen M Studio.

via SwissMiss

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Google Wave

Google reports: [edited]

Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: I watched the 80-minute introductory video a few weeks ago, and was curious enough to search out an invite to try it out (thanks Jason Clark, via Philip Schonken). My first impressions are that it is a bit of a mess, combining most of the disadvantages of email and instant messaging.

Paul Bucheit (one of the creators of Gmail) seems to agree with me. His blog article is available here.