Saturday, 26 April 2008

U2 Roundup

Thanks to the kind folks at U2.com I can pass on what is going on with the band at the moment.

The band are back in the studio continuing to work up new material with Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. It's going well, is what we hear, fingers crossed for a new record in 2008.

The three landmark records the band made before ever going into a studio with Brian and Danny - Boy, October and War - are about to be re-released. Following the recent remastering of The Joshua Tree, Edge has now overseen a similar remastering of U2's first three albums from the original audio tapes. They'll arrive in July. Read more here.

And finally, if you didn't catch John Legend's stripped-down, piano-based cover of 'Pride (In The Name of Love)', it was part of a two hour TV special marking the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. See below.

Friday, 25 April 2008

In The Right Direction

The BBC has reported that a director has now been appointed to work on two prequels to the three Lord of the Rings films. Guillermo del Toro, director of Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth, will direct the movies which are to be released in 2010 and 2011 and are to be again filmed in New Zealand.

The first will be an adaptation of The Hobbit, the second an "original story" bridging the 60-year gap between Tolkien's first Middle Earth story and the events of the Fellowship. It is not clear yet who the writer of this new story is, but the fact that Tolkien never wrote anything about this period, means that I dread it being another Hollywood demolition of a classic. See Winnie The Pooh as an example.

There has been no details of cast released yet, but it is hopeful that Sir Ian McKellen will reprise his role as Gandalf. Peter Jackson will produce both films despite an earlier alleged falling out with New Line Cinema.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

The Magnificent Seven

As seems to be the trend at the moment, it looks like we might be treated to yet another remake (or re-imagining to use the jargon) of a classic television show from the 70's or 80's. Doctor Who aside, as I am hugely impressed with how that has been handled, these are largely disastrous. Knight Rider, Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman, the list is long.

This time it looks as though a childhood favourite of mine, Blakes 7, has been targeted. Sky has announced that it has given the go ahead for two 60 minute scripts to be written for television. I'd like to say I'm looking forward to hearing more but to be honest I'm worried. If it were the BBC I'd be a lot happier but Sky have been known to really mess these kind of things up. Take the recent atrocities that were supposed to be Terry Pratchett stories as an example.

Now I realise that Blakes 7 was cheesy. Wobbly sets and wooden acting are often cited by people who simply missed the point. The writing was so good, none of that mattered. Created by Terry Nation (who famously also created the Daleks) it ran on BBC1 from 1978 to 1981. It had quite a dark tone to it, which appeals to many as a bit of antidote to the cosy feel of say Star Trek. I know it made a lasting impression on me.

So let's keep our fingers crossed that Sky surprise us all and make something that Terry Nation would have a) been pleased with b) would recognise.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Multi-Clock

Today I read about a very cool clock. Designed by Christiaan Postma, a Dutch designer living in Sweden, the clock is made up from the workings of over 150 individual clocks linked together. The hands are arranged and timed to spell out words of numbers to display the current hour, "One" through to "Twelve".

The simplicity of the design balanced with the obvious thought that must have gone into this piece really appeals to me. I don't know if he plans to market it or not, but I am confident that he would have no trouble in selling them if he did. It is very eye catching and a superb talking point.

An animation showing the clock sped up, so the transition between each hour can be clearly seen, can be found here.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Some New Additons

Two posts in one day, I can tell you're shocked. I thought I'd spend some time improving the blog for my readers. To this end I have created a means whereby other sites (such as Technorati and Google Blog Search) will get to hear of any posts I make much quicker.

You might also notice that I have added the ability for readers of my posts to easily email them to friends, submit them to Digg or del.icio.us etc

Hopefully these additions will help publicise the blog a little more and get more readers.

Little Boy With A Big Heart

Once again I post on the very sad subject of the loss of some of the Greshlets. As I did for Angel, I'd like to wish Thor a very happy birthday and to let his family know that he will forever be in our thoughts.

It seems an ideal opportunity also to help publicise a charity auction in memory of the Greshlets and in aid of the Notts and Lincs Air Ambulance. It's to be held at this years LRO show at Driffield. Click the picture below to find out more.

Friday, 18 April 2008

I Can Has Cheezburger?

Like many dog and cat owners (yes I own both) I am a sucker for pictures of them doing cute and funny things. Which is why I have fallen in love with a site I recently discovered. OK I realise it's not new but there are a lot of sites out there. Anyway, I Can Has Cheezburger? is a site that allows users to upload their pictures of cats (and sometimes other animals) and include a funny caption. The fact that caption is usually written in LOLspeak makes it all the funnier. The title was inspired by the very first post. Users get to vote on their favourites. Some of mine are below. There is a version for dogs as well.

humorous pictures
see more crazy cat pics

humorous pictures
see more crazy cat pics

funny pictures
see more crazy cat pics

humorous pictures
see more crazy cat pics

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Starting Over

I used to be very interested in photography. I say used to as I rarely take pictures these days but I'm really not sure why, as photography still fascinates me. Before digital cameras became affordable to the masses, I owned several all singing, all dancing 35mm SLR's. I had several types of lenses, a tripod, lots of different types of filters, flash units, brushes, cloths and of course the obligatory bag to keep it all in. But somehow I got left behind. I never properly made the switch to digital as I should have. Sure I own a mobile phone that has a camera. I'm also on my second dedicated digital camera but both are not suitable for anything more than "snaps" in my opinion. I need to get a digital SLR.

My interest was rekindled this week as a friend has been staying with me who owns a Canon EOS. Watching him take pictures made me realise what I have been missing. I wasn't sure before as I thought my interest lay in effects you can get in a picture like exposure, mood, lighting etc. I incorrectly assumed that there was no fun in that with digital as no skill was required. It could all be achieved in "post production" using Photoshop (other photographic manipulation software is available). But watching him I realised I was wrong. The thrill is getting that perfect shot first time. Being able to "play" with the pictures afterwards is a bonus but not the goal.

So now I need to start some research. I'm clueless as to the complexities of what is on offer. I also need to start saving by the look of it. I have some catching up to do. Watch this space!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

New Earth

Google yesterday released an update to Google Earth. Version 4.3 has some very nice new features and if you're like me and are a fan of the software, then I urge you to upgrade.

The new features include day/night lighting effects which make for some nice imagery, new 3D buildings with photo realistic skins, new 3D navigation gadgets, and, best of all, Street View imagery which was previously only available in Google Maps.

Frank Taylor of Google Earth Blog has produced a video (below) explaining how the new features work and a review.



v4.3 is one step closer to never having to leave the house again. :-)

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Ethereal Sounds

I first became aware of the Theremin a few years ago after watching a Bill Bailey DVD. Bill's comic genius and musical talents were familiar to me but this strange musical instrument was not. A Theremin, sometimes called an Aetherphone is one of the earliest electronic musical instruments. Invented in 1919 by a Russian called Léon Theremin, it is unusual in that it is played without touching it. It usually consists of two antennas to sense the position of the player's hands. These control audio oscillators for frequency or pitch with one hand, and amplitude or volume with the other. The sound it makes will be very familiar to sci-fi fans as it has been used extensively in television and film where an eerie futuristic soundtrack is called for.

Below is a clip of Mr Bailey performing his version of some TV news themes. He briefly uses the Theremin during the "BBC rave".



Of course it is not fair to say that the Theremin is just a comedy instrument. It is often used in pop, jazz and classical music. Dmitri Shostakovich amongst other even composed especially for it. There are many fine examples available on the Internet and I do urge you to seek them out, but a favourite of mine so far has to be this cover version of Gnarls Barkley’s "Crazy" performed by Randy George. Very nicely done.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Big Bang

I read today about a Second World War German mine that washed up on a beach in Somerset, which had to be detonated by bomb disposal experts. At 1,500lbs it was a particularly large example and a one mile exclusion zone had to be created prior to the explosion after it was spotted in mud by a fisherman on Thursday.



A crowd lined the coast at nearby Burnham-on-Sea to watch the 10ft long mine explode on Stert Island in Bridgwater Bay. It certainly highlights the quality of German engineering but begs the question of how many more are still out there.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

An Angel In Every Sense...

Today's post will depart from the normal e-clecticism fodder.

My thoughts today only focus on a little girl whose fifth birthday would have been today had she not been so tragically taken from us, and with her family as they so bravely carry on with true class.

Happy Birthday Angel. God Bless. Is túisce a éagann an óige mar aon leis an mhaith!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Worth1000 Contest

As I am attempting to teach myself Photoshop at present, I'm always keen to look at good examples by others. This is how I stumbled across a rather unusual contest organised by the folks at Worth1000.com. The rules were simple. To take any piece of art from any era and subtly alter it so that it is obviously a fake. They even posted an example, called "Alien Autopsy" that was not that subtle but superbly done the less.


The quality of the entries is extremely high and puts my meagre skills to shame. But at least I am now beginning to recognise many of the techniques used. The contest and it's entries can be viewed here. It's well worth a visit.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Shadows

The street light above my head pathetically fails to light the way. The blackness of the night is contemptuous in it's unwillingness to yield to the glow. A bitter wind bites at my skin, it almost helps. Fearful of encounter, I pull my coat about me, and quicken the pace. The embers of spirit, previously consumed, fade and a waning moon reveals itself for the final time. A marionette's head looms toward me with malice and I recoil and retreat into my own mind. I know it is safe there.

I cross the street and the halfway point. The urge to return to the smoke and whiskey is replaced with a need to reach my sanctuary. With aching legs I leave a trail in the wet grass until I see the light on the hill. It's aura, highlighted by the mist, serves to renew my energy.

Reaching the house, I turn the key and the warmth creeps into my senses. I close the door and steady myself with my back to the fear. With a final effort I discard my keys and climb the stairs. Kneeling at each child in turn brings back remorse. Once in my room, moonlight only reveals she is sleeping. I shed my clothes and climb in beside her. Her soft breath and warm skin comfort me. Self loathing gives way to love. Of partner, lover and friend. There is none better.

Sleep comes quickly, but not before realisation. It doesn't have to be this way and yet it should never be any other.

Jon Hunt - December 2001

Friday, 4 April 2008

...And Breathe

Did anybody miss me? It's a busy few days that I just haven't been able to get to making a post, so sorry about that. At work we are in the process of closing one office and opening two new ones. This means I have been organising contractors of various types in an effort to get moved in as soon as possible.

On the personal side I have been helping a friend move his forum from phpBB2 to phpBB3. The actual changeover has been fairly smooth, but trying to reintegrate all the mods that were installed, such as a gallery, members map etc. has been a little tricky. I think the problem lies with the fact that phpBB3 is still quite new and the mod writers haven't quite caught up yet.

Anyway, things are looking healthier now, so hopefully I can relax a little. I'm not a betting man, but it's the Grand National tomorrow which I always place a small bet on. I know nothing about horse racing and usually make my selection based on the name of the horse alone. If you want a tip, you can use the Red Rum widget below. Yeah OK, it's just random, but then so is the race.

Red Rum's Grand National Tips

Grand National

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