Friday, August 28, 2009

Motorola S9 headset


I'm not known for being an overly sensitive person. But my skin is. I don't like wearing jewellery, and the majority of my clothes are made of natural fibres. For that reason, I have always disliked conventional headsets, as I am constantly aware of the wires snagging and tugging my skin/clothing.

So when I was looking for a Bluetooth stereo headset for my iPhone 3GS, I was dismayed to find that most 'wireless' stereo headsets still have wires!

The S9 does not, however comments following online reviews of the unit regularly mention:

1. The intermittent Bluetooth connection.

2. Its susceptibility to sweat.

3. The lack of compatibility with the iPhone.

4. Its poor microphone.

However, I saw a pair of them online for less than £30, so I took the plunge. The set I received contained a charger, a nylon carry bag and an armband that holds my iPhone and a house-key for when I go out running.

Pairing it with my iPhone was simple. The volume and play/pause buttons work fine, but not the next track/last track buttons. I have yet to received a phone call while wearing them, so can't speak for that function, nor have I got them wet.

It is a one-piece unit that loops behind your neck, clamping the earpieces into your lugholes. On a baldy like me the appearance is faintly comical, as if someone has fitted me with a grabhandle. But they sit comfortably enough, WITH NO WIRES!

Build-quality is generally good, but the flap that covers the charger socket fits poorly.

The sound quality is OK, probably on a par with the 'standard' wired iPhone headsets, with slightly stronger, less-controlled bass.

Sound dropouts do occur, especially if you are holding the iPhone in your hand. It seems to be better when the headset and transmitter are kept at a constant distance, as when I leave the iPhone in my backpack, or in the supplied armband.

Overall, I am happy with my purchase. Motorola has released an 'HD' version of the headset in the US which is identical in shape, but with 'SRS WOW HD technology, better background noise isolation and new side control buttons with improved moisture protection' which I will be checking-out when it become available in this country. For a review of the HD unit visit blog.treonauts.com.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Living with the iPhone 3GS: First Impressions


Since its launch in June 2007, I have wanted an iPhone. However, my dislike of its 'tied-in-to-a contractnessness'™, low storage capacity and the lack of Bluetooth stereo support kept me from making the jump from my Nokia E65. However, when the iPhone 3GS was announced, I finally gave in and placed my order.

- It is a beautiful piece of engineering, lovely to look at, hold and use. My only mechanical gripe is the ring/silent switch which has sharp edges and sits just a little too proud from the casing, meaning that it sometimes gets switched to silent when being slid into its case.

- Weight and bulk are bearable, but you do notice its 'pocket-presence'.

- Set-up was fast and painless, apart from the migration of my mobile no. from Vodafone to O2, not sure whose fault it was, but it took 3 days of constant phone calls before I could get reliable mobile internet access.

- The onscreen keyboard is much easier to use than I thought it would be.

- Battery life is an issue. If used fairly constantly, you're looking at a maximum of 7 hours between charges.

- Web-browsing is excellent. Pages load fast and text and images are beautifully rendered.

- The GPS and Maps 'app' work very well indeed. I use them when walking around London, and it came in very handy when returning to my car on a recent visit to Lincoln town centre.

- I don't do many phone calls, but the sound quality is natural and clear.

- The camera's image quality is similar to that of a Pentax Optio S camera I owned in 2003. OK for quick snaps, but not much more.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Typedia


Typedia reports: [edited]

Typedia is a community website to classify typefaces and educate people about them. Think of it like a mix between IMDb and Wikipedia, but just for type. Anyone can join, add, and edit pages for typefaces or for the people behind the type.

We love type, and we have a burning desire to learn as much as possible about typefaces: where they come from, who made them, and why they look the way they do. We want everyone to be able to share in that rich knowledge and enjoy the art and artists of type design. Over time, we think Typedia could grow into a great educational resource for people to learn about their favorite typefaces and discover new ones.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

FreeAgent Go for Mac


Seagate have made backing up, storing and transporting digital data a lot more convenient for Mac users with their latest range of external drives.


— Mac formatted and TimeMachine-ready
— FireWire 800 and USB interfaces
— Support for for FireWire 400
— Desktop dock
— Carrying case and compact cables
— Range of colours
— Up to 500GB capacity
— 1.75 x 8.0 x 13.72cm
— 220g
— £120 for 500GB from Amazon


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Friday, August 21, 2009

London-Lincoln-London, 20-08-09


Audacity of Huge - Simian Mobile Disco
Replica - Sonata Arctica
Wild Young Hearts (Edit) - Noisettes
Whoo! Alright - Yeah... Uh Huh. - The Rapture
Bonkers (Radio Edit) - Dizzee Rascal & Armand Van Helden
Dilemma - Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland
Borderline - Madonna
What's New Pussycat? - Tom Jones
Infinity 2008 (Klaas Vocal Edit) - Guru Josh Project
Golden Recruit - Panama Kings
Babylon - David Gray
Broken Wings - Mr Mister
Take Me Back to Your House (feat. martina sorbara) - Basement Jaxx
Staring at the Sun - The Offspring
Arrows of Eros (Single Version) - Golden Silvers
The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani
Over the Hill - Alessi's Ark
Hasta Manana Monsieur - Sparks
Inaugural Trams - Super Furry Animals
Hey Joni - Spek
Ladyflash - The Go! Team
New In Town (album version) - Little Boots
Lucille - Little Richard
The Most Beautiful Girl [In The Room] - Flight Of The Conchords
It Feels So Good (Dance Mix) - Sonique
Unpack Your Adjectives - Schoolhouse Rock
True Romance (True No. 9 Blues) - Golden Silvers
Something Good Can Work - Two Door Cinema Club
Kids - MGMT
Smells Like Billie Jean - Michael Jackson vs Nirvana
Daniel - Bat For Lashes
Back of The Van - Ladyhawke
Hold It In - Jukebox The Ghost
Evacuate The Dancefloor - Cascada
French Navy - Camera Obscura
Something Is Squeezing My Skull - Morrissey
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go - Wham!
Jump In the Pool (single) - Friendly Fires
Pirouette - Stickboy (UK)
Dance Me In (Edwyn Collins Version) - Sons And Daughters
Big Yellow Taxi (featuring Vanessa Carlton) - Counting Crows
Potential Breakup Song - Aly & A.J.
Don't Walk Away - The Four Tops
Inner City Pressure - Flight Of The Conchords
Wake Up Little Susie - Everly Brothers
Independent Love Song - Scarlet
Motorbike Beat - The Revillos
School of Rock - School Of Rock
Girlie Girlie - Sophia George
Daydream In Blue (alt) - I Monster
Please Don't Touch   - Polly Scattergood
The Fear (clean version) - Lily Allen
In My Arms - Mylo
More Than A Woman - Bee Gees
Farewell to the Fairground (Single Mix) - White Lies
Kilometer (Aeroplane Radio Mix) - S├ębastien Tellier
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) - Florence + The Machine
So Human - Lady Sovereign
Walking On A Dream - Empire Of The Sun
Shock Horror - The View
Nutrocker - B. Bumble And The Stingers
She's A Lady - Tom Jones
Cry Just A Little Bit - Shakin' Stevens
Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros - Flight Of The Conchords
Feel the Beat - Darude
Ray Of Light - Madonna
The Joker (ext) - Fatboy Slim
Claudia - Martina Sorbara
Heart of Glass - The Puppini Sisters
Applejack - Dolly Parton
The Love Cats - Paul Anka
Alcoholics Unanimous - Art Brut
Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) (bootleg?) - Frank Wilson
Toy Boy - Sinitta
Sense - Lightning Seeds
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

London-Somerset-London, 17-08-09 & 18-08-09


I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio - Monty Python
Last Night - Vitamin C
3 Little Words (single) - FrankMusik
Exceeder (Original Mix) - Mason
Summer Girls - LFO
You Make My Dreams - Daryl Hall & John Oates
Sick Muse - Metric
Silence Is Talking - Reverend And The Makers
New York Groove - Hello
Can You Give It - The Maccabees
Showing Out (get fresh at the weekend) - Mel & Kim
Telephone Man - Meri Wilson
Uprising - Muse
Twins - Paul Evans
Never Leave You (Single Version) - Tinchy Stryder & Amelle
Pepperpots - Monty Python
Red Lipstick (Radio Edit) - Skint & Demoralised
Give A Little Bit - Goo Goo Dolls
You Don't Love Me - The Kooks
Suspicious Minds - Fine Young Cannibals
She's Fallen In Love With A Monster Man - The Rezillos
Sisters - The Puppini Sisters
I Like Chinese - Monty Python
Tokyo Girls - Matinee Club
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
The Last of the Famous International Playboys - Morrissey
Ready for the Weekend - Calvin Harris
Junior's Farm (DJ Edit) - Paul McCartney & Wings
Fidelity - Regina Spektor
Numb - Linkin Park
When I Grow Up - Garbage
Knock Knock Who's There - Mary Hopkin
Du Hast - Rammstein
Rocks - Primal Scream
Get Low - Flo Rida
One Week of Danger - The Virgins
Otto's Journey - Mylo
Kyrie - Mr Mister
Reason 45 - Apples
Sweets for My Sweet - C.J. Lewis
Snoopy vs The Red Baron - Royal Guardsmen
All Day And All Of The Night - The Kinks
Dance - ESG
When You Were Young - The Killers
Munich - Editors
Rock With You - Michael Jackson
Ice Cream - New Young Pony Club
So Good (radio edit) - Rachel Stevens
Beat Surrender - The Jam
Apply Some Pressure (Radio Edit) - Maximo Park
Alternative Baby - Reel Big Fish
Sing It Back - Moloko
Better Off As Two (single) - FrankMusik
Invaders Must Die - The Prodigy
Flying Saucer Attack - The Rezillos
Jilted John [LP Version] - Jilted John
Mean Eyed Cat - Johnny Cash
Das Testament Des Dr Mabuse (13th Life Mix) - Propaganda
A Noun is a Person, Place or Thing - Grammar Rock
Blue (Da Ba Dee) - Eiffel 65
That Great Love Sound - The Raveonettes
Jerk It Out - Caesars
Babylon's Burning The Ghetto - Lethal Bizzle
Back Of My Hand - Jags
Staring At The Rude Boys - The Ruts
Joy! - Gay Dad
What Ifs And Maybes - Bromheads Jacket
I'm Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman - The White Stripes
Moonlight shadow (trance remix - Mike Oldfield
(Is This The Way To) Amarillo - Tony Christie
How Do You Do - Roxette
A Glass Of Champagne - Sailor
National Express - The Divine Comedy
John, I'm Only Dancing - David Bowie
girls - moments & whatnauts
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Really Free - John Otway
On The Radio - Regina Spektor
Shiver - Natalie Imbruglia
Freaky Friday - Aqua
Push the Button - Sugababes
Big In Japan - Alphaville
I Love You Always Forever - Donna Lewis
Relax, Take It Easy (single) - Mika
Dance Hall Days - Wang Chung
I Love You 'Cause I Have To - Dogs Die In Hot Cars
We're All Gonna Die Someday - Kasey Chambers
We Will Become Silhouettes - The Postal Service
Sugar Pie Honey Bunch - The Temptations
Rich Girl - Gwen Stefani Feat. Eve
Destination Venus - The Rezillos
I'm Gonna Love You Too - Blondie
Mr Vain - Culture Beat
Good Grief Christina - Chicory Tip
Who put the bomp - Viscounts
Love Action (I Believe In Love) - Human League
Belle - Beauty and the Beast
I Wish - Skee Lo
Bring Back That Leroy Brown - Queen
Time Stands Still - The All-American Rejects
Out Of Space - The Prodigy
Baggy Trousers - Madness
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - Bachman Turner Overdrive
Solsbury Hill - Erasure
Dignity - Bob Dylan
Rhythm of the Night - DeBarge
Harper Valley PTA - Jeannie C. Riley
Do Ya Think I'm Sexy (feat. Rod Stewart) - N-Trance
Camaro - Kings Of Leon
Walking With a Ghost - Tegan & Sara
Deep Inside of You - Third Eye Blind
Confusion Girl (single) - Frankmusik
Kiss me - Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy
Creepin Up the Backstairs - The Fratellis
Sat In Your Lap - Kate Bush
You're Unbelievable - EMF
Wasted Time - Kings Of Leon
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Samsung ST500 & ST550


Register Hardware reports: [edited]

Taking self-portraits using a compact camera can be tricky: extending your arms far enough so that your nose doesn’t fill the shot, for example. But Samsung may have solved the problem by building a user-facing screen onto it two latest models.

In addition to the ST500’s 3in rear-mounted screen and the ST550’s slightly larger, 3.5in main display, both models have a 1.5in LCD on the front which should help ensure self-portraits are always perfectly framed.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sony Party-shot IPT-DS1


Register Hardware reports: [edited]

The Japanese electronics giant’s Party-shot personal photographer – also known as the IPT-DS1 – is essentially a self-rotating camera dock that snaps pictures of its surroundings.

Simply dock your camera onto Party-shot and it will pan 360° and tilt 24°, automatically detecting faces, adjusting the image composition and, of course, taking photos of you when you’re least aware.

You’ll have to own a Sony compact camera in order to use the robotic docking station, which currently is only compatible with the WX1 and DSC-TX1 Cyber-shot cameras.

Party-shot can be mounted on almost any tripod, Sony stressed, so you’ll be able to enjoy lots of varied photographic heights and angles. The dock is powered by two AA batteries, which will keep it going for up to 11 hours.

Sony’s Party-shot dock will be available in September, priced around £88.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gran Torino


I've never watched a Dirty Harry movie. But I know who Dirty Harry is, Clint Eastwood playing a 1970s macho, pragmatic cop with very little respect for petty rules and regulations who has a habit of getting results. Without him there would be no Jack Bauer.

Clint Eastwood (now 78-years-old) has said that Gran Torino is the last film he will act in. And it could have been called 'Redeeming Dirty Harry'.

Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a curmudgeonly, racist, working-class Korean war veteran. The film opens with the funeral of his wife. The camera pans around the church, showing Walt's grief mingled with his obvious lack of respect for many in the congregation.

And from there it moves into what could easily have become a Dirty Harry movie for pensioners. The fact that Clint Eastwood manages to fashion it into a film that champions honour, rough justice, atonement and community is remarkable and heart-warming.

The cast is solid, with special mention going to Christopher Carley as the young, determined Roman Catholic priest who has been given the unenviable task (by Walt's wife) of extracting a confession from Walt.

Choua Kue (Youa) also provides us with an excellent performance as the neighbour who sees that Walt is an honourable, hurting old man, and works very hard to befriend him.

The film is gripping througout, with an ending that is as satisfying as it is unexpected. If this is Mr Eastwood's last movie role, he will have exited with dignity and honour.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nikon unveils world's first projector camera


Digital Photography Review reports: [edited]

Nikon has unveiled the world's first compact camera with a built-in projector. The S1000pj projects images up to 40 inches in size with a VGA resolution and a maximum distance of 2 meters. The camera is supplied with a remote control and stand for ease of use. It features an optically stabilized wide angle 5x zoom lens (28-140mm equiv.), 2.7 inch LCD and a 12.1MP sensor.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Iron Giant


Wired has published an excellent piece to mark the 10th anniversary of one of my favourite animated films.

If you haven't seen it yet, the 'special edition' DVD is available for a few pennies short of a fiver from Amazon.co.uk
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Friday, August 07, 2009

Rocket-powered BMX


Oh! Gizmo reports: [edited]

The BMX bike’s heyday may have ended back in the 80s, but Rintendo+ has found a way to make me want one again. They’re currently selling this little contraption known as the Fire Trick Bob which appears to be a rocket-powered bicycle.

According to their site (Google translation) the turbine engine spins at a rate of 120,000 RPM and produces the equivalent of 4.4 horsepower. The 1 litre fuel tank is good for about 7 minutes of continual thrust, and you’ll probably want to be careful about where you’re riding this thing since the exhaust can reach about 700 degrees.

So is it dangerous? Yes. But is it worth 1,000,000 Yen or about $10,000? Double yes!
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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Meantime Coffee Porter


I think I have finally found a drink that my daughters will hate even more than beer... it's a 6% proof porter-style beer with coffee flavours!

I found it an enjoyable enough brew, the coffee taste is prominent, but not overpowering. It might have just been the bottle I purchased, but there was no discernable 'head' to the beer, and it was a little too 'flat' (bubble-less) for my taste.

According to the Meantime website: [edited]

"Our Coffee Beer is made with real coffee and has a caffeine hit to match. The natural flavours of the beans selected and hand roasted by our friends at the Union Coffee Roasters go well with the roast barley in the beer to give a silky-smooth drink with distinct chocolate and vanilla notes."

"Our first formulation of this beer was the first UK brewed beer to carry the Fairtrade logo, and, although we have reformulated it to create an even better blend of malt and roast coffee flavours, we can no longer get enough coffee in each bottle to qualify for Fairtrade status. However we are still using the same Faitrade Araba Bourbon beans from Rwanda’s Abuhuzamugambi Bakawa Co-operative."
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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

LG-BL40


Register Hardware reports: [edited]

The LG-BL40, the second-generation 'chocolate' candybar, sports an 800 x 345 pixel, 4in display. The screen’s 21:9 aspect ratio is, according to LG, perfect for “panoramic, cinema-like quality” viewing.

The display’s also overlaid with curved tempered glass, LG said, that’s supposedly seamlessly encased within a gloss-black body featuring “iconic red highlights”.

LG’s yet to say much about the phone’s features, aside from confirming that the phone will run a “Dual Screen UI” enabling you to display two different types of content simultaneously.

The images reveal the presence of a rear-mounted 5Mp camera.

LG has promised that the LG-BL40 will be available in 54 countries at the beginning of Q3. A price hasn’t been released.
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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mobile reminder


You've got a mobile phone with a 'wallpaper' function.

You want to remember something.

Make a note.

Take a picture of the note with your phone.

Make that picture your 'wallpaper'.

Now, every time you look at your phone you'll be 'rememberated™'.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Photoshop Top 40



Imaging expert and author Deke McClelland is presenting his list of what he considers the top 40 features in Photoshop.

If you use Photoshop CS3 or CS4 and you can cope with Deke's bombastic presentation style, this page is worth bookmarking.
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Vicky Christina Barcelona


Woody Allen is someone I know more by reputation than experience. I have still to watch any of his earlier critically acclaimed films (Manhattan, Annie Hall, Crimes & Misdemeanours…) and probably know him better for his stand-up comedy and 'complicated' personal life.

Vicky Christina Barcelona is a superbly acted film, Javier Bardem is like a young, Spanish hybrid of Robert Downey Jr and George Clooney, honest, warm and vulnerable. Rebecca Hall plays her intelligent, uptight character with just the right amount of unease to make her subsequent actions believable without being inevitable. And Scarlett Johansson is far less annoying than she has been in a lot of her recent work.

Kevin Dunn, Chris Messina, Pablo Schreiber and Patricia Clarkson play their parts with aplomb, but the (intentional) star of the show is Penelope Cruz. Gorgeous, dishevelled and mad as a box of frogs, her character is pivotal to the film, fascinating and exasperating by turns.

To talk about the plot of the film would be to ruin it. Instead, put aside 96 minutes of your life and enjoy an example of narrative film-making at its best.
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