I played a festival*! This was my set!
* OK, it was our work summer party
Hey, I’ve been really busy on my Cityscape renderer thing and it’s looking really good now! It almost looks exactly like a photo of New York at night from the top of the Rockefeller center!
(ok, yes, it’s New York, but I’m sort of surprised just how much like my programmatic cityscape it does look; I’m almost inspired enough to go back and do some more work on it. Almost…)
So, this week, it’s Histon Feast Week. A Feast Week is a thing they have in Cambridgeshire villages that’s a bit like a week-long village fete. There’s a parade, and a funfair and… well, apparently, there’s a bunch of other stuff, but I can’t find out what it is.
See, the organisers of the feast don’t publish details of the week’s programme online. They do this deliberately, so you’ll go and buy a programme. They’re available from “most local retailers” for £2. That’s fine, they want us to support the feast and it helps fund it. That’s good. Except, by “local retailer”, they mean all the actual small local village shops, not the Tesco Express or Co-op or any of those kinds of things. Again, I understand – they want local people to support local shops and not national or multinational chains. That’s also good. The problem is, these local shops are the kind that are open from 9am until 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. I work from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. I can’t buy a programme from a local shop because they’re not actually open when I’m in the village.
Even today, at the parade – where most of the village was out watching and joining in with the celebrations and having a jolly fun old time, no-one was selling programmes. None of the local shops were open. Of course, Tesco and Co-op were, and they were doing a roaring trade selling ice creams and sweets and fizzy drinks to people. But not programmes, because they’re not allowed to. Genius.
Can everyone else on the internet stop writing stuff for a bit so I don’t spend all my time reading it and have some brainspace to write something myself for once? That would be lovely, thanks.
So, this is the product of this afternoon’s noodlings, and at the expense of only 15 manliness points (it would only have been 5: I’m supposed to be at a stag do but I’m ill, so instead of driving gokarts and drinking unhealthy amounts of beer, I’m remaking showtunes for my wife’s school assemblies)
So, I’ve spent some of this evening noodling around in Ableton Live, putting together the bones of a tech house style track. The arrangement is a bit all over the place at the moment, I’m not totally happy with the pacing or anything and it needs more tension/release and whatnot, but the skeleton is there and maybe with a bit of tidying it might almost be worth listening to. Anyway, should you feel the need to listen to four-odd minutes of pounding repetitive bleepy beats, you can:
So, there’s a wonderful thing called the Gallagher Index, which is basically a measure of how representative of popular opinion the outcome of an election is – basically, a measure of the difference between the popular vote and how that translates into representation in parliament (or equivalent). There’s a Wikipedia article on it here, but basically all you need to know is that lower numbers are better.
Well, I’ve run the numbers for this election through a spreadsheet (which you can see here, if that sort of thing interests you) and the UK comes out as about 15.2-ish (we’re still waiting on results, but it’s unlikely to change). Which is sort of interesting to know, but what’s far more useful is to put it in some kind of context.
So, I added a column to the spreadsheet that compared us to the most recent election in, well, pretty much every other democracy in the world. And, in a list of 100 countries, we come 11th from bottom.
(the 2007 US presidential elections don’t fare much better, either)
So, yeah, are we ready to talk about electoral reform, yet?
Edit: At 648 of 650 seats declared, the index now stands at 14.98, which is a smidgin lower, but still bloody awful.
Well, a backing track for one, anyway. It sounds a bit worship-songy, but without any lyrics it’s kind of hard to say what it is. You can listen to it by clicking here.
In case you care, gear list:
All recorded and mixed in an afternoon, and it kinda shows, but I like it anyway.
So, for quite some time, I’ve been using Windows Media Center and have generally been very happy with it. Sure, the remote is ugly as hell, and the recording format is a bit impenetrable, but as a user experience it’s really very, very good, and it generally works exactly as you’d expect. Combined with an extender like an XBox 360, and it’s really quite a slick bit of kit.
However, lately I took delivery of a second-hand Mac Mini from work, and I thought I’d put it to service as a little media box under the telly. Everyone keeps telling me how wonderful Macs are, so I left OS X on it, and shelled out for a copy of EyeTV so I could use it as a PVR, too. Well, it turns out that’s a mistake because, compared to WMC, EyeTV is utterly terrible.
For example: Even though Freeview in the UK has a perfectly serviceable set of programme guide data, EyeTV instead defaults to fetching programme information from an company called TvTv – which seems to lack a bunch of random channels, and although you get a year for free with EyeTV, it actually charges for the data after that. You can use the over-the-air programme guide, but you have to select that for every single channel manually, and it seems virtually impossible to get full details for a programme, even though they’re visible on my TV’s built-in EPG.
Or how about recording? Tonight, I had QI scheduled to record at 9:30pm. Naomi wanted to watch Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas, at 8:00pm, but was marking books, so I set that to record too. Just before 9pm, Naomi finished work, and I switched to EyeTV and zipped back to the start of Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas, and we started watching it, assuming that as it had recorded, we’d just be watching the recording, and EyeTV would record QI at 9:30pm, as scheduled. But oh no – EyeTV assumed that because we were watching the channel it was recording, we wanted to continue recording the channel we were watching, and it did so silently. So, instead of recording the programme I’d asked it to, it silently continued recording whatever was on after Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas, and totally failed to record QI.
And that’s not even beginning to mention the picture quality – which is, frankly, poor compared to Media Center or even my TV’s built-in tuner. It’s washed out, and the de-interlacing is awful.
It’s bad enough that I’m on the verge of wiping OS X from my Mac Mini and replacing it with Windows 7, just for Media Center. As a PVR, the Mac Mini with EyeTV really doesn’t cut it.
Well, tonight was the first Manchester Flashmob. I’m not going to write a full report because doubtless there’ll be one on the aforementioned website before long, but I’ll just jot down a few thoughts before I go to bed.
The event was intended to take place in the Filmworks – we were supposed to gather there, open our umbrellas, bob up and down and cheer periodically for about five minutes and then leave, no harm done. Unfortunately, someone (the media are currently blamed) had alerted the Filmworks and when we arrived the barriers were down and the security were out in force. Attempts were made to move the mob to Norweigan Blue instead, but we were thrown out of there as well, and ended up congregating in the centre of the Printworks. This worked fairly well, and several hundred people jumped up and down with umbrellas opened, cheered for a few minutes and then left. The media attempted to interview people as they left and were mostly left with the perplexing reason that “we’d come to see the rain man”.
During the event, I felt quite strange. I was cheering, jumping up and down and holding an umbrella, with several hundred other people, but the thing was, none of us were quite clear on why – there was a big, jubilant party atmosphere for no reason at all. Also, we all felt aggrieved that the Filmworks and Norweigan Blue wouldn’t let us in – but equally, none of us could have told you, if pressed, why they should have let us in. At some level, I guess you could burble on about repression of free speech and that, but the thing is, the whole Flashmob principle is so completely absurd that analysing it in those sort of terms is a pointless – it was never meant to be anything more than harmless fun and to talk about it in terms of more than that is daft.
What is clear is that Flashmobs are a strictly short-term phenomenon. As the media latch on to it, and the organisation becomes trickier (how do you attract enough people without attracting the “wrong” people?) they are inevitably going to “work” less well – as tonight showed; the media had caught on before the mob was due to take place and this had disrupted the apparent spontenaity of the event. The Filmworks closing their doors is understandable (the potential for something like this being hijacked for political/religious/terrorist/whatever reasons is obviously not insignificant), if disappointing, and it is probably to be expected that these sort of countermeasures will be commonplace for future mobs. A further Manchester mob is being planned, as are several more around the country, but I can’t see it lasting much longer.
But that said, we made North West Tonight and we all had a good time. Which is the main thing. Even if I did get accused of being in a cult.
(I didn’t even say “brolly good time” there, either. Oh, bugger…)