Monday, June 29, 2009

Brett's in Vassiliki

For a week of sailing, reading and relaxing. Blogging will be taking a back seat, but I will be taking photographs & uploading them to my Flickr pages.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Glastonbury 2009

The Big British Castle is providing excellent, mud-free coverage of Glastonbury 2009.

I drove up to Lincoln yesterday afternoon to view Cyan's A-level art exhibition entranced by 6Music's coverage of the event, and drove home listening to The Specials, Bloc Party and Neil Young, followed by archive footage of Radiohead's legendary, rain-drenched, equipment-failing 1997 performance. It was 2.00am in the morning, so it might have been sleep-deprivation talking, but I think I now 'get' Radiohead!

To enjoy the lovingly-edited madness, click here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Treat Me Like Your Mother

The Dead Weather is workaholic Jack White's latest project.

Comprising vocalist Alison Mosshart (of The Kills), guitarist Dean Fertita (of Queens of the Stone Age), bassist Jack Lawrence (of The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes) and Jack White (drums/vocals).

Their sound is somewhere between Rage Against The Machine and (not surprisingly) The White Stripes.

To download their latest single for nowt, click here.

SXSW 2009 Free Tracks Review #4

SXSW 2009 posted 1267 songs for free download in March. I've now listened to all of 'em, and kept 889. Here's six that are worth special mention:

Absence - Carrie Rodriguez: I first came across Carrie's singing/fiddle playing when she was duetting with Chip Taylor. Her solo stuff is grittier and more adventurous, although she lacks Chip's talent for memorable hooks and melodies.

Ornamental - Scissors For Lefty: They've toured with the Arctic Monkeys, The Smashing Pumpkins, Erasure and Fiery Furnaces. Their music doesn't break any boundaries, but is anthemic and tuneful.

This Is Exile - Whitechapel: The second I hear the characteristic growling vocals and speed-drumming, I usually dial in the '1 star' rating that means 'delete this track'. But there was something about this slice of deathcore that kept my attention. I still can't help smiling when I listen to it however.

Weighty Ghost - Wintersleep: A demo version of their single, Wintersleep have the ability to compose and play strong, catchy songs.

School Bus Driver (The Stop Song) - Daddy a Go-Go: Jonathan Richman-style hokum. Great fun.

Whatchadoin? (Villains Remix) - N.A.S.A. Ft. M.I.A., Spankrock, and Santigold: Relentless big beats, fat analogue synths. If I liked dancing, I would enjoy dancing to this.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Folding three-pin plug concept

Register Hardware reports: [edited]

Although still just a prototype, designer Min Kyo Choi has rewired a UK three-pin plug into design that's just 48 x 44 x 10mm.

By fixing the live and neutral pins onto a twisting body, both can be rotated from a horizontal to vertical position so that they sit underneath the plug’s earth pin. At the same time, the plug’s body can be folded closed like a book – reducing much of its bulk.

When it comes to slotting the plug into an outlet, the process is as simple as twisting the two bottom pins into the horizontal position and opening up the two flaps.

In between the flaps there’s a finger slot for pulling the plug out of the socket once you’re done. This section also contains the plug’s fuse.

No plans to mass produce the plug have been announced.

For a video presentation click here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It Might Get Loud

Apple Trailers reports: [edited]

'It Might Get Loud' tells the personal stories, in their own words, of three generations of electric guitar virtuosos – The Edge (U2), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), and Jack White (The White Stripes).

It reveals how each developed his unique sound and style of playing favorite instruments, guitars both found and invented.

The movie revolves around a day when Jimmy Page, Jack White, and The Edge first met and sat down together to share their stories, teach and play.

To view the trailer click here.

Photos taken with the iPhone 3G S Camera

MetzoBlue reports: [edited]

This weekend I tried to take a few more photos than normal to get a feel for what the new camera in the iPhone 3G S is capable of.

I'm quite pleasantly surprised at the results. I did run most of these through some quick post adjustments in iPhoto, so take 'em with that grain of salt.

(also, the colour is a lot better in a browser that supports image colour profiles, basically just Firefox 3 and Safari at the moment.)

via Daring Fireball

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Apple Trailers reports: [edited]

From the Academy Award-winning director and world-renowned Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki comes PONYO, a story inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale 'The Little Mermaid'.

Already a box-office success in Japan, the story of a young and overeager goldfish named Ponyo (voiced by Noah Cyrus) and her quest to become human features an outstanding roster of voice talent, including Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson and Lily Tomlin.

To view the trailer click here.

Free font - Moo!

Fábio Duarte Martins has made MOO! available for free download.

It is a particularly well-drawn example of an ultra-fat geometric, in the tradition of Baby Teeth & Sinaloa, and comes with an inventive range of diacritical marks.

Monday, June 22, 2009

128GB on a USB stick

Kingston's DT200 range of USB memory comes in three flavours, 32GB ($120), 64GB ($213), and 128GB ($546). UK pricing not currently available.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Yahoo! have an exclusive trailer of Roland Emmerich's latest blockbuster.

It looks like the CGI team had a great time (and an even greater budget), and I'm pleased to see that the kerning has been improved since the teaser trailer, although the '1' could still do with a wee nudge to the right.

Friday, June 19, 2009


BravoBug Software reports: [edited]

BravoTunes puts iTunes in your Mac's menubar, providing scrolling track information for the current and upcoming songs, plus a system-wide menu to switch tracks, pause iTunes, or adjust shuffle and repeat settings.

Adjust font, size, style, scrolling speed, track information (title, artist, album).

BravoTunes has options for the processor-conscious. Adjust the scrolling framerate, sync time, and other options to reduce BravoTunes CPU footprint to an ideal level.

Requires OS X 10.4 or later, Intel or PPC.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A-Data NH92

Register Hardware reports: [edited]

The A-Data NH92 external hard drives are 12mm thick and weigh 152g.

There is a choice of three colours: “light silver”, “cherry pink” and “ocean blue”. Each model comes with a leather carry pouch.

A USB 2.0 port will let you hook the drive into your PC and available storage capacities range from 250GB to 500GB.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

iPhone 3G S review

Engadget has published one of the first reviews of the iPhone 3G S.

Conclusion: [edited]:

"For current [iPhone] users the iPhone 3G S is a solid spec bump to a phone you already own... but it is, at its core, a phone you already own."

"At this stage, we wouldn't recommend anything but the 3G S for newcomers planning on getting into Apple's game."

"It's tough to argue with the package Apple has put together (a stellar device with just enough new to make it nearly perfect), we couldn't help feeling a bit let down by the 3G S. We're not saying it's time to jump ship, but we've come to expect a bit more pedal to the floor from Apple - you've raised the bar guys, now it's time to jump over it."

Snow Leopard explained

Short answer: Snow Leopard...

– is the next incarnation of the Macintosh operating system
– will be available September 2009
– will be faster, leaner and wizzier™ than Leopard
– will only work on Intel-based machines

and Leopard users will be able to upgrade for $29 (UK pricing TBA)

Long answer

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nikon D5000

Digital Photography Review have published an in-depth report on Nikon's 'just-that-bit-better-than-entry-level' (JTBBTEL) DSLR.

"It's impressive that so much of the D300's technology has, in the space of just 18 months, gone from appearing in an $1800 camera to one that can be had for under $700. The high ISO performance is very good as is the dynamic range."

"The D5000 sits slightly awkwardly between categories - it's a large camera but one that, in common with the much smaller D60, relies on menus or its info screen for accessing many settings."

"In terms of handling, the D5000 is a much more elegant camera to hold than it is to behold - it might look a little lumpy but it sits well in the hand."

"Ultimately, whether the D5000 is the right camera for is likely to hinge on what you think of the flip-out/swivel LCD. In every other respect, the D5000 is exactly the solid product you'd expect of a camera put together from so many well-proven parts."

"The underlying features are well done, so that it's easy to get good picture out of - the autofocus is sophisticated, reliable and easy-to-use and in difficult-to-meter situations, the camera's exposure errs on the side of underexposure, to prevent detail being lost."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Alphabet drawers

Kent and London reports: [edited]

Inspired by vintage printing blocks, this beautifully finished chest of 26 drawers is made from solid oak - the perfect place to file everything from A-Z.

H800mm x W1200mm x D300mm, £2700

Friday, June 12, 2009

Waste Not Want Not

If you own a digital camera, there is a good chance you have a charger similar to the one in the above picture.

If you own a Macintosh laptop computer, you probably have a plug similar to the one pictured below.

Connect it to the charger, and you have a neat, lead-free charger. Hurrah!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Casio Exilim EX-H10 ultra-compact superzoom

Digital Photography Review reports: [edited]

— 10x optical zoom
— 24mm wide angle lens
— 164g
— 103 x 62 x 24mm
— 1000 shot battery life
— £299

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1: First impressions

Way back in 1995, I purchased a Sigma SD9 DSLR camera. It was the first digital camera to produce images of a quality that compared with 35mm film (remember film?) cameras. However, like most SLR cameras, it was a heavy thing to carry around and the software to process the RAW images it produced was slow and clumsy.

In 2003, I purchased a Pentax Optio 555. At the time it was a very impressive piece of kit, with a 37-187mm lens and a 5 megapixel CCD. It soon became my primary camera, its optical limitations outweighed by the fact that I could carry it with me everywhere I went.

Since then I have purchased a variety of digital compacts, including the Fuji F30, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 and DMC-LX3. Each one has produced incrementally better images, but their tiny recording sensors prevent them from matching their bigger DSLR cousins.

Recently I found myself browsing reviews of a number of semi-pro DSLRs, including the Nikon D700, Canon 5D Mk II and Sony A900. The image quality of all three cameras is quite stunning, especially in low-light situations. However, their physical size prohibits them being included in my 'always-with-me' bag. And the price of a 'body' (before a lens has been added) is close to £2,000.

Which brings me to the subject of today's blog. The DMC-G1 is an attempt to bring DSLR quality to a more compact format (for more about the format, click here). And, at the moment anyway, you can purchase one from Jessops complete with a 14-45mm and 45-200 lens (equivalent to 28-400mm on an old-school 35mm camera) for £650.00.

I bought one a couple of weeks ago, and so far I am delighted with it.

– I can (just) squeeze it into my current laptop bag.
– Its controls are well laid-out and lag-free.
– The image quality is much better than the LX3.
– Hurrah for blurred backgrounds!
– The articulating viewing screen is excellent.

Things I miss include:

– Lack of proper macro
– I love the shutter sound, but would be nice to have a 'silent' option

Also, the viewfinder is better than any other video viewfinder I have used, but still grainy and artificial, especially in low-light.

The RAW format images are noticeably better quality than the JPEG option. I began by using a standard SD card, but the Sandisk Extreme III card I purchased last week is noticeably quicker, especially when taking sequential shots.

Time will tell whether this becomes my 'Goldilocks' format, or whether I will continue to long for the superior image-quality of the bigger DSLRs. Right now the DMC-G1 is providing me with a lot of fun for the same price as a 'medium-quality' lens for one of the semi-pro DSLRs.

Now if Panasonic could just bring out a 'compact' using the four-thirds format...

- - - - -

For in-depth reviews and sample images, visit Photography Blog and/or Digital Photography Review.

To see some images I have produced using it, visit my Flickr site.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Defiance is a film very, very loosely based on the story (visit IMDB if you want to read some really good rants) of the Bielski brothers' struggle to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

It is a strangely old-fashioned film, that is by turns shocking, moving, action-packed and entertaining.

The performances are involving, human and believable. The tensions between the brothers are well-played. Daniel Craig is excellent as the reluctant leader, but Jamie Bell emerges as the real star of the film.

And if you have a Blu-ray player, the image quality is startlingly good.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Convergence continues...

If you own an iPhone and are contemplating purchasing a satnav device, or an in-car charger/bracket, you might want to wait a while.

TomTom are releasing a turn-by-turn navigation app for iPhone including IQ Routes and latest maps from Tele Atlas to coincide with the release of Apple’s OS 3.0 operating system.

The TomTom car kit for iPhone, a specially developed car kit for docking, enhanced GPS performance, voice instructions, hands-free calling and in-car charging will (inexplicably) be available 'later this summer'.

Prices haven't been announced, but for more information, and a lo-res video presentation click here.

MotoCzysz E1pc 150mph lecky bike

Hell for Leather reports: [edited]

The E1pc can accelerate to 120mph in just "seven or eight seconds" according to Michael Czysz, the company's founder. That's as fast as the 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

The E1pc uses 10 battery packs and three motors, as well as chassis and suspension know-how borrowed from MotoCzysz's aborted MotoGP effort.

MacBook Pro range updated

Apple have added a 13" model to their existing 15" & 17" 'unibody' MacBook Pros, along with a range of incremental speed/storage increases across the range. It has also made its 'long-life/non-user-replaceable' battery standard across the range.

For more details, click here.

iPhone 3G S announced

Apple have announced an upgraded version of their cash-cow.

– It's faster
– It does video
– It edits video
– Its camera has gained a megapixel
– It has voice control
– It has a compass (?)
– It cuts/copies/pastes
– It has MMS
– It has Spotlight
– You can use it as a modem

For a guided tour click here.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Infamous is a non-linear 'sandbox' style game for the PS3, in which a bike messenger (Cole) survives a massive explosion and develops electricity-based powers.

With great power comes great responsibility (yes I know, I know...) and Cole soon finds himself using this power to fight various baddies in the dystopian Empire City.

My experience in videogaming stops at Scrabble on the Nintendo DS, or bowling on the Nintendo Wii, but watching Zak play the game was very enjoyable indeed.

The graphics are realistic, detailed and smoothly rendered, and Cole's super-powers are awesome enough to be impressive, without gifting him with the boredom of invulnerability.

For a full review, videos and screen-grabs visit

Sunday, June 07, 2009

iPhone 3.0 rumour graphic

The Green Room reports: [edited]

Here’s a graphical representation I put together of the dozens of rumors that have been circulating over the past few months regarding the third generation iPhone that’s likely to be announced next week at WWDC 2009

Click here for a higher resolution version.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Horizon is a Beltway

Low Anthem are a difficult band to define. The current members are Ben Knox Miller - a folk musician and painter, Jeff Prystowsky - a jazz bassist and baseball scholar, and Jocie Adams - a classical composer and NASA technician.

The list of instruments used by the band (as listed in Wikipedia) include voice, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, upright bass, electric bass, banjo, clarinet, violin, mandolin, harmonica, keyboard, piano, fun machine, casio, Eb horn, trumpet, trombone, drum kit, tongue drum,, cell phones, music box, zither, pump organ, Tibetan singing bowl, broom, shakers, tambourine, wood block, cowbell, filing cabinet, and oil drum.

Their current single, The Horizon is a Beltway, is available here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Mac Motorcycles

Motorcycle News reports: [edited]

Design studio Xenophya Design and Ellis Pitt have joined forces to launch a new British motorcycle company called ‘Mac Motorcycles’. Its first release will be a range of 500cc single cylinder bikes. Designed over the past nine months the bikes are set to use a 500cc Buell Blast single cylinder motor with a tubular steel backbone chassis.

Ellis explains “Between us we’d designed, modified, built and ridden all sorts of motorcycles over the last 30 years and thought it was time to produce a motorcycle that reflected our philosophy. Our influences have been diverse and we’ve made unusual connections between genres of motorcycles such as choppers, Italian singles from the 1950s, flat-trackers and competition specials."

There are 4 different models ; ‘Spud’, for dossing about on, ‘Ruby’, the motorcycle equivalent of ‘the girl-next-door’, ‘Peashooter’, for squirting to your favourite pub and gassing with your mates and the ‘Roarer’, a modern-day dinosaur-chaser! The company initially plans to produce a few hundred bikes in small batches increasing production as appropriate.

For more information, visit Mac Motorcycles' website

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sony take on the Wii controller

Get past the fact that the demonstrators are uber-geeks, and that the prototype controller is comically phallic and you will get a glimpse of why the PS3's sale figures may be threatening the Wii in the near future.

3 months without alcohol

One of my resolutions for 2009 was to abstain from alcohol from 1 March to 31 May. This was for a number of reasons including:

– My suspicion that I was becoming psychologically dependent on it
– A fascination with what it would be like to live without it
– To see what effect it would have on my health/physique

What follows is an unedited record of my weekly log followed by a brief conclusion.

First week - 78kg

– Dull headache
– Don't enjoy food as much
– Films aren't as interesting
– Ennui
– Constant temptation in evenings to open a bottle of wine
– Increased hunger (especially for sugary things)
– Increased desire to drink tea/diet coke

Second week - 77kg

– Stomach fat reducing
– Dull headache still present, but fading
– Feel more outgoing/confident
– Wake up more alert/rested
– Craving for a glass of wine in evening still v. strong
– Better body temperature regulation
– Joints seem less stiff

Third week - 76.5kg

– Much more awake during day
– Seem to have 'more time' at evenings/weekend
– Reading more

Fourth week - 76 kg

– Dull headaches occassionally recurring
– Sleeping better, and waking refreshed
– Wake up in morning not busting to go to toilet
– Able to nap in afternoon without feeling awful when waking up
– More enthusiastic about work
– More decisive & outgoing

fifth week - 76 kg

– Don't need to nap at weekends in the afternoon
– Body fat percentage still (slowly) reducing

Sixth week - 76kg

– Desire for alcohol much less, but remains
– Seriously considering long-term teetotaldom
– Facial skin less sensitive after shaving

Seventh week - 75.5kg

– Desire for alcohol returned with a vengeance
– Maybe linked to a cold/hayfever, but not feeling brilliant
– Muscle-strength/fitness reduced
– Able to concentrate on reading for longer

Eighth week - 75 kg

– Cravings still strong, but not as bad as Week 7
– Stomach fat levels still reducing
– Weight stable, strength returning
– Positive attitude/clearer thinking

Ninth week - 75kg

– Skin on face noticeably clearer
– Ingrowing hairs seem to be decreasing
– Sleep noticeably better, more refreshed on waking

Tenth week - 74.5kg

– Sub 8-minute miles on 4 mile run
– STILL missing alcohol!

Eleventh week - 74kg

– Tired during weights sessions, upped protein/calorie intake
– Noticeable fat loss around mid-section

Twelfth week - 74.5kg

– More energy during weights sessions
– Skin on face noticeably healthier
– Hatred of shaving not as great

Thirteenth week - 75kg

– A couple of people at the gym noted that i was 'looking more solid'
– Friday: incredible craving for alcohol in afternoon
– Saturday/Sunday: drive to Lincoln far less arduous


It was a fascinating experiment.

– The cravings for a drink of wine were surprisingly strong
– The reduction in body fat levels was a welcome side-effect
– The improvement in skin health was also a bonus
– The changes in mood and attention span were significant

Oh, and the first glass of wine was a disappointment, but the second was an epiphanic experience.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

£199 (inc. VAT & p+p) 'Hackintosh' vehicle arrives

Dell reports: [edited]

Inspiron Mini 10v – Equipped with Linux Ubuntu and an 8GB solid state hard drive, this Mini 10v is your new stylish friend on the go.

- - - - -

[Add a larger hard drive (£40 for either a 16GB SSD, or 120GB SATA), Leopard (£83, don't read the T&Cs) an assortment of downloadable install files and in no time you could be carrying around an awesomely plasticky but undeniably cute OSX-powered netbook. Ed.]

Monday, June 01, 2009

Next-gen Sony PSP 'Go' details leaked...

Register Hardware reports: [edited]

The PSP Go will have a smaller screen than the PSP-3000: 3.8in down from 4.3in, helping make the latest model 43 per cent lighter.

The screen slides upwards to reveal the gaming controls underneath. UMD disc support has been ditched and users get 16GB of on-board Flash storage, but with the option to add more using the Memory Stick Micro memory card slot.

There's a single analogue controller stick on the keyboard. The PSP Go is set-up for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications.

Sharp developing 5-colours-per-pixel LCD screen

Register Hardware reports: [edited]

Sharp has developed a LCD panel that mixes the hue of each pixel from a palette of five colours rather than the usual three. The result, the company claims, is the ability to render faithfully the colour space of the human eye.

Sharp's 60" prototype has a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Each one of those 2,073,600 pixels has the usual red, green and blue colour elements, plus cyan and yellow sub-pixels.

The extra colours extend the colour gamut to the point where it can reproduce more than 99 per cent (so, 100%? Ed.) of real surface colours as defined by the Pointer colour space, a standard for real surface colours derived from measurements of real-world colours from paints, inks, coloured paper, and other materials and pigments.

Sharp will demo the prototype at the Society for Information Display conference in San Antonio, Texas this week.