Saturday, 22 August 2009


Map of Spain showing the population densities ...Image via Wikipedia

I'm really sorry that I have been so quiet over the last few days. My work life has taken off like a rocket and has seen me working all hours. Whilst I am certainly not complaining (I spent long enough out of work for anyone) it has meant that I have not had much time or energy to dedicate to e-clecticism.

I fly out to Spain later today for a much needed break with my wife. I'm telling you this as although I am bringing a laptop and smartphone (well I am a geek) I really don't know how much access to the Internet I will have. Hopefully the blog will continue uninterrupted, but you may well be staring at this post for a few days.

Either way I hope to return refreshed and armed with some great photos. ¡Buena suerte!

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009


Philips have released the world's first ultra-wide TV that perfectly matches the original 2.39:1 movie format used by film directors rather than the usual 16:9 format. Without sounding like an advert, the Cinema 21:9 offers a 56 inch ultra wide screen with Ambilight Spectra 3 and Perfect Pixel HD Engine to maximise the cinematic feeling. To celebrate this release they commissioned an interactive film called Carousel which features one frozen time tracking shot lasting exactly 2 minutes 19 seconds.

You can watch Youtube's version below or see it in the original 21:9 ratio complete with interactive bits here.

If you're interested there is also a "making of" film below.

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Monday, 17 August 2009

Touchable Holography

Using a combination of Wii Controllers to track movement and ultrasonic technology to create the sensation of touch, scientists at the Shinoda Laboratory at Japan’s prestigious Tokyo University has been experimenting with touchable holography.

Is this a beginning to the realisation of the Holodeck technology featured on Star Trek?

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Saturday, 15 August 2009

Owed Two A Spell Chequer

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea,
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say,
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me straight a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee four two long,
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
Am shore your pleased two no,
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

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Hopefully those of you that have only recently started reading e-clecticism will find the new feature I have added useful. LinkWithin is a blog widget that appears under each post, linking to related stories from my blog archive, complete with a thumbnail.
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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

You Are Always With Us

It is often said that music and art transcend language. After watching the following video I would have to agree. I don't speak a word of Russian but I just had to find out a little more. This is a 24 year old artist by the name of Kseniya Simonov. She appeared on Ukraine's version of Britain's Got Talent and eventually won it. Her constantly evolving artwork tells a story of how her countrymen were affected by World War 2. The title of this post his what she writes at the end.

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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Our Small World

Do you ever feel insignificant? Well the following film won't help. A compilation of various planets and stars with correct scaling in 3D. Based on this.

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Monday, 10 August 2009

Oh Four Tuna

O Fortuna is, without doubt, a very famous piece of music. It opens a collection of Latin poems written in the early 13th century, that were set to music by Carl Orff and called Carmina Burana. I would doubt that any reader of this post would not recognise it and that it would stir some kind of emotion (not always positive) within them. But how many of you could sing along? Or better still, know what you're singing about? Well, fear not, the video below has the answers. Enjoy!

Oh OK, I was kidding. Here are the real lyrics.

O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Which translate to...

O Fortune,
just as the moon
Stands constantly changing,
always increasing
or decreasing;
Detestable life
now difficult
and then easy
Deceptive sharp mind;
it melts them like ice.

Now don't tell me that e-clecticism is not educational.

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Saturday, 8 August 2009

Teenage Wasteland

As many of you will know the great John Hughes sadly passed away this week. People of a certain age (like me) will identify this man as having a huge influence on their teenage lives. As a director, writer and producer of such films such as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, She's Having a Baby, Pretty In Pink, Home Alone and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (I could go on a lot longer), John gave us a backdrop to the 80's like no other. He will be sadly missed.

Below is a montage of some iconic scenes from some of his films which I found on Why, That's Delightful! and as Graham suggests, you also might like to read this.

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Abseil Update

Just a very quick post to say that I just heard from the Children Today Charitable Trust, that I managed to raise the most money on my charity abseil last month. A huge thank you to everyone that donated, I'm really very grateful, and so is Children Today.

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Friday, 7 August 2009

Replacing Sky

Such was the great feedback I got after my HDRI tutorial, I thought it might be nice to post some more Photoshop tips and tutorials from time to time. I am no expert by any means, just a keen amateur, but perhaps I might inspire you to take the plunge and start improving some of your pictures (or try at least). As always, click the images to see a larger version.

So today I thought I'd show you a very simple and easy way to replace the sky in one of your photographs. I'm sure this has happened to you. You take an otherwise great landscape photograph but mother nature has let you down by providing a very dull, flat, uninteresting sky. Using Photoshop CS4 (or your preferred application) you can easily replace this with another one you might have taken on a different day. Now before you start leaving comments, there are several ways of doing this. I'm showing you this way, because it is very easy. If you'd prefer something a little more in-depth and professional, you might prefer this video.

I have a picture that I took last Winter of some rooftops. It is a perfect example of what I have been talking about. I open it in Photoshop along with a second image of a nice blue sky with some clouds that I took a few weeks ago. Using the Move tool, drag the sky image and drop it on to your original picture. It will automatically create a second layer.

Now click on Edit -> Free Transform and drag and position your sky until it covers the desired area. It is better to overlap with your landscape a little to ensure no gaps. Once you are happy, confirm it.

In your Layers palette, choose Multiply as your blending option. This will allow the original layer to show through a little. Now choose the Eraser tool and pick a brush size of around 150px. Ensure the Hardness level is set to 0. Carefully erase any overlap with your horizon. I have done the right hand half of it in the picture below. You don't need to be 100% accurate but take your time.

You're nearly done now but there is one more step to add a little realism. As I am sure you are aware, a sky is always paler close to the horizon and the colour gradually deepens the higher you go. To re-create this in our picture we must ensure that our standard colours are reversed so we have white as a foreground and black as the background. If you don't the effect will be back to front.

Now use the Gradient tool, and choose Foreground to Transparent from the tool properties drop-down box.

Now a draw a vertical line in the middle of your picture, starting just below the horizon and stopping approximately three quarters of the way up your sky. You might need to experiment a little to get the right look. But once you're happy, you should get something like effect below. First the before...

And now the after...

I think you'll agree it improves things greatly. I hope this was of use to you, and that you enjoy experimenting.

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Thursday, 6 August 2009

New Tree

I apologise, I had promised to keep you up to keep you up to date with my Bonsai activities and it completely slipped my mind. I still haven't got around to getting to a nursery to purchase more seeds. Things are very busy around here at the moment (I'm not complaining) and so that may well be some way off. In the meantime, I did purchase a mature tree that was in a bit of a sorry state. But with much care and attention and some quite drastic pruning, I am very proud to show you some pictures I took recently.

There is still quite a bit of work to do until I'll be happy but I'm a lot closer than I was.

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Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Hacking The Brain

This is great. At this year's World Science Festival, singer Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale, using audience participation.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

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Monday, 3 August 2009

Mouth Organ

OK its not a mouth organ but a mouth guitar. I grant you its rather a strange a talent, but its a talent nonetheless. Playing the beautiful "Parisian Walkways" by Gary Moore is...This guy.

The Man is Playing Guitar with His Mouth - The best bloopers are here
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Sunday, 2 August 2009


Being a professional nerd you would think I'd be good at backing up. Those important files that we all have that we'd be devastated if we lost. Well actually I'll let you in to a little secret. Like a lot of people who work in IT, I'm terrible at it. I could easily copy them to a memory stick, or even set-up a scheduled task with a tape drive, but I don't. I'm just not organised enough.

If you're the same, I may have an answer for you that has been perfect for me. Dropbox is a free* service that gives you the opportunity to backup your important files to the Internet. As the website says, if you...
  • email files to yourself
  • rely too much on USB drives
  • want to access your files anywhere
  • want to share large files but can't
  • need automatic backup of documents
  • want to share photo albums
...Then Dropbox might be for you. Whether you use Windows, Linux or MacOS, the software creates a folder on your machine, the contents of which are not only automatically synchronised with your own personal encrypted online store but also with any other machines you choose to install the software on. Even if you are at a machine without the software installed, a handy web interface allows you access to your precious files which means it is ideal for use with your iPhone or other mobile devices. Dropbox also allows you to share specified files with others.

Normally you are given 2Gb of space but if you use this link to sign up you'll get an extra 250Mb.

*You can pay a reasonable charge to increase the allocated space if you so choose.

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