• 8:26 am, 10th April 2008
  • misc, web
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Links and things

  • Super Mario in 14kB Javascript
    That pretty much sums it up: someone has recreated (some of) Super Mario Bros in a very small amount of JavaScript. Amazing.
  • 2:40 pm, 14th December 2007
  • misc, music
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Radiohead on vinyl

As a fairly avid Radiohead fan, while most people were downloading In Rainbows for a few pence, I bought the £40 discbox release. After a month’s spent listening to the MP3s, I finally got my hands on the discbox this week which contains an additional CD, lyrics, artwork and the standard In Rainbows album on vinyl.

In Rainbows

In my teens and through university I went through a period of buying vinyl if I possibly could. My collection doesn’t extend far beyond a few DJ Krush and DJ Shadow albums and I haven’t bought anything new for several years, until the In Rainbows discbox arrived. I literally blew the dust off my Dual turntable (once I had moved our 3ft plastic Christmas tree which was sat on top), fiddled around with the phono and earth cables, found the power adapter, pulled out one of the Radiohead 45s and turned the volume up very high.

Dual turntable

My Dual is not great and could do with a new cartridge and Thom Yorke may have been sped up a little but the sound blew me away once again. Its incredible that a needle tracking the bumps in a piece of plastic can produce such a warm and accurate recreation of the original recording. The whole album sounded larger somehow with a much wider sound stage and the beautiful finale Videotape sounded especially rich and delicate.

I’m no purist but listening to vinyl does make you realise that the digital era comes with some very significant compromises. I’m not about to ditch my AAC collection and having my whole music collection in my pocket is quite incredible but I certainly won’t be letting the dust gather so much from now on.

Links and things

Paul Sandoz from Sun writes an interesting post about the RESTful-ness of our BBC Schedule API
I’ve never claimed to understand all the ins and outs of REST, perhaps now is the time to try..?

iTunes is offering Global Underground’s Afterhours Ibiza for £7.99
Not only is that a tenner cheaper than on the high street but you also get an extra 15 tracks… bargain. I’ve got about half way and its pretty awesome so far.

  • 7:24 am, 13th June 2007
  • misc
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Playing with Nabaztag

We’ve had a Nabatag bunny sitting in front of us for a few months and a couple of weeks ago it founds its way into a project we built as part of a physical prototyping workshop. As Tristan wrote, we used Randolf (our bunny) as the face of our Zoltar Bunny music predictor. By swiping objects across a special plate (read: RFID reader), Zoltar would recommend you music (read: query Last.fm‘s AudioScrobbler API). The result made its way onto the Nabaztag blog.

Nabaztag are also sponsoring this weekend’s Hackday London. I’m am currently putting the slides together for our presentation. Any suggestions for appropriate album covers…? :-)

  • 2:21 am, 18th September 2006
  • misc
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Links and things

  • 2:47 am, 13th September 2006
  • misc, music
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Its Showtime

At least to a point. Apple’s September 12th announcements did not include the highly anticipated widescreen-touchscreen video iPod but as an owner of a now antique 3rd generation iPod, I was happy with some of the updates to iTunes.

iTunes

First of all, Apple must have paid the rights holders (likely to be everyone’s friends: the record companies) a large sum of money to allow users to download album art for ripped CDs. This accounts for the majority of the music in my library so I’m pretty happy. The album view is something I thought iTunes should have included a long time ago and its better late than never.

Another long-time-coming feature is gapless-playback on the iPod, again somthing many people have been crying out for. Sadly as my iPod is oooooh, 3 years old, Apple have stopped supporting it with software updates so I don’t get this luxury. I listen to a lot of DJ mixes from Global Underground and gapless playback (without having to copy a single AAC of the mix to my iPod) is the feature which will probably make me upgrade – more so than a nice colour screen.

May be I’m behind the times but my iPod came with a remote control (back in the day when Apple were more generous) which I use daily (to the point that I had to get a replacement – thanks Duncan!) We are constantly reminded that the personal video player revolution is about to take place but I haven’t seen it yet. The technology is almost there (I’m sure Steve Jobs is playing with it right now) but perhaps watching movies and tv shows is something we enjoy doing with others and not on the train with fellow commuters peering over your shoulder? I don’t enjoy making phone calls on the train so perhaps its just me.

Numbers. numbers

I seem to have acquired an unhealthy infatuation with numbers. More specifically, numbers representing my experience in Xbox 360 gaming and the number of songs I’ve listened to and posted to Last.fm.

Sure, these numbers are simply a very quick representation of more significant information – which games I have played, to what level, how many people I’ve killed in multiplayer, my favourite albums, my favourite artist – but I find myself skewing the data they are attempting to represent by attempting to increase them.

Last FMLast.fm has a number of plug-ins and a more or less functional API which allows me to record my listening habits. Unfortunately these just don’t seem to work that well – especially recording my iPod listening – and I have felt it necessary to let iTunes sit playing to itself so my listening doesn’t go to waste. The aim of Last.fm is to provide a social network around listening habits and to suggest related artists. May be my infatuation is a good thing because the more information they have, the better my recommendations will be. I can keep telling myself that at least.

So this led me to think, do I want to listen to music if I’m not credited? I need a widget which posts songs to your Last.fm account as I listen to the radio….

GamercardMy desire to improve my Xbox Live Gamerscore has resulted in my joining SwapGame, a video game rental service. My intention is to rent games I can blast through and accrue some lovely Achievements. Most of the 10 day free trial ran out before I finally received my first rental but if I can get through a couple of games a month I think its easier and cheaper than buying games new and sticking them on eBay once I’m done with them. Perhaps I could work out how much my Achievements have cost me, that might put an end to my bad habit.

  • 10:22 am, 25th August 2006
  • events, misc
  • 1 Comment

Edinburgh Fringe

After managing to get hold of some Radiohead tickets, last weekend my girlfriend and I headed up to Edinburgh. The gig was part of the T on the Fringe festival which meant the city was in full festival swing during our stay. This was our first visit to Edinburgh but I can safely say we will be returning to take in more of the festival another year, it was great.

We didn’t plan any shows in advance but managed to pick up tickets for stand up from Nick Doody and the brilliant Mark Thomas. I’m currently halfway through Mark’s book As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela, all about his exploits in unearthing the arms trade and I thoroughly recommend it.

And talking of comedians, we shared a flight with Russell Brand (in fact he was sat right in front of us reading a review of his stand up show) which was nice.

Amy's bag doesn't make it to Edinburgh but Russell Brand does

Beck and Radiohead played on Tuesday night in Meadowbank stadium. There is a distinct amnesty on noise during Edinburgh festival – I couldn’t believe how it was granted a licence seeing how close it was to people’s houses. They were both totally awesome. A special note must be made of Beck’s string puppet theatre re-enacting everything at the back of the stage. Although Beck himself seemed a bit bored by the how thing.

A visit to Edinburgh also gave me the opportunity to meet up with a couple of my friends from university. Leo and Rob are now living the high life running their own fabulously successful media company. And good luck to them, its so very cool.

Remember me

I’ve been reading an interesting book recently, Persuasive Technologies by B.J. Fogg. It might be a little out of date as regards the web but the principles are sound and can still be applied. There is clearly a moral issue over the use of persuasion in marketing but it can be very subtle and benefit both users and web site owners alike. Take Amazon’s recommendations for example, its a useful service to be offered things which you might also like to purchase because the recommendations are based on other real-life customer purchases. Amazon obviously benefit from increased sales.

Other forms of persuasion promote loyalty of a service such as store loyalty cards or Xbox Live! Achievements. The latter is a simple but clever inclusion in the Xbox 360 platform. When games are released on multiple platforms there is usually only insignificant differences between the versions. By keeping a tally of your overall Xbox 360 score and offering milestones along completion of each game, Microsoft encourage gamers to play games on Xbox 360 and to keep playing. I’m currently trying to get to 250,000 points in Geometry Wars without dying, just to claim another achievement. It becomes addictive.

I’m not sure where I stand on the use of persuasion in technology but when it adds value to something I don’t mind.

  • 9:01 am, 28th March 2006
  • misc
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Blogger ampersand bug?

I was looking at the feed to my site today and realised one of my posts was garbled. All the HTML had spilled out all over the nice atom XML as character references. I tried republishing the offending post but no matter what I tried it didn’t make any difference. In the end I thought it might be the ampersand in a URL forcing Blogger to format the post explicitly. I removed it and hey presto it worked.

This isn’t the most exciting way to spend an hour or two and I’m not completely sure whether I’m right but it looks like Blogger has a problem with ampersands… so I’m going to avoid them from now on. This process also made me realise how my site is read and by the looks of things the feed it much more important than I first thought. May be I shouldn’t have spent so much time messing around with css…

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