Archive for June, 2007

Fun with kites

Friday, June 29th, 2007

So, inspired by this, I attached my old cameraphone to one of my ever-increasing collection of kites (a little diamond-shaped single line thing), set it to timer mode and snapped some pictures, and this is what came out:

…and all the rest

For those who are interested in mechanics and things like that, I spent about 15 minutes buggering around trying to figure out how to attach the camera to the kite such that it would still fly: the problem turned out to be that I was hanging it off the bottom, which is wrong. Hanging stuff off the bottom means that the kite is being pulled vertical – and in order to take off, the kite has to be angled into the wind, like a wing. Ideally, you want the phone suspended such that the force due to the weight of the phone is directly inline with the piece of string between you and the kite, as this will have no effect on the angle of the kite. My kite has a line between the centre of the kite to the base, and you attach the handle-line to the middle of that – suspending the camera from that point seemed to work best.

Anyway, considering the considerable lack of high-tech equipment involved, I’m quite pleased with the results.

Dates

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Yes, I know the dates on the posts are wrong. There’s a reason for this, but I can’t be bothered to fix it right now as it involves going through a few thousand database entries and updating them all.

Give anarchy a chance

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

For about half an hour or so this afternoon, Britain had no government. No Prime Minister, or any ministers of any kind at all, for the time in between Tony told Liz he didn’t want to be PM any more (lying basticle that he is), and Liz asking Gordy if he fancies moving next door. Now, assuming Gordy doesn’t come to his senses and tell Liz to stick the job up her arse, we’ve got a PM again now, but for a while there, we didn’t, and the country conspicuously failed to collapse into a screaming burning heap of anarchic rubble. So, I reckon it’s time to give anarchy a proper chance – Gordy can go on holiday now, and form a government in September or so, and in the meantime we, the people, can run things ourselves for a bit. I reckon we’d do alright.

Justice – “Cross”

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Right, let’s get this out the way straight up front. Yes, they sound like Daft Punk. They sound a lot like Daft Punk. But they are also clearly not Daft Punk, because Daft Punk’s last album was, well, a bit rubbish, whereas this is probably the best album of the year so far. It’s the best album Daft Punk never made.

Describing Justice’s sound invariably requires use of phrases like “if robots made music” and “the sound of a factory, in the future, set to a drumbeat” and “heavy metal disco funk music from the future”. It’s dirty and noisy and loud and funky and designed from the ground up to make you grin from ear-to-ear and fight an overwhelming urge to get up out of your chair and dance around like a big spazz.

Okay, it’s not perfect – “The Party”, featuring guest vocals from labelmate Uffie, is a bit of a letdown, mainly, in fact, because of said guest vocals – Uffie’s talking-chav stylings don’t really mesh terribly well with Justice’s backing and for me the track would work better without them.

But that aside, this is easily the finest dance album of recent years, and if this isn’t in every top-ten at the end of the year, I’ll eat my infamous bread-shoes, again. You need this album in your life.

Two atheists go undercover

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

This is rather fabulous. I especially like the dinosaur with the saddle. And I want their t-shirts.

Very woo

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Rob has always been, shall we say, quite “into” flying and planes and stuff. So it is quite good news that he has not only passed all his exams and things that let him call himself a Proper Airplane Flying Type Person, but he’s also got himself a job at Flybe as a First Officer, based in Belfast. So, yay Rob!

Birthday advice

Monday, June 11th, 2007

The good thing about birthdays is that everyone is usually nice to you and some even give you presents; the down side is you’re a tad older
than you were yesterday. Hope you have a really good day. Dad.

I dunno, that just seemed to chime perfectly with the mood of wistful melancholy I’ve been in for the last couple of days. I blame Neil sticking several days worth of Daniel Kitson bootleg MP3s on the network.

So, yes, I’m 28, which is the last perfect age I will ever be, unless medical science really, dramatically improves within the next half-century or so. Lots of people have wished me happy birthday on my facebook, which on one hand is quite cheery; on the other, you know that it’s just because on their facebook it’s popped up a little thing to say “Birthdays today: Chris” and they were bored at work or something, and that sort of cheapens the whole thing slightly.

Paul Potts

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

In case you missed it, you really, really need to see this video. It’s from ITV’s latest tedious Simon Cowell-fronted derivative talent-show thing, “Britain’s Got Talent”. Except it’s actually brilliant, and totally unexpected. I watched this along with Naomi and her family on saturday night whilst waiting for the result of the Joseph thing on BBC1, and we were all gobsmacked.

In other news, I will be 28 in seven minutes, and I’m not looking forward to it. Boo.

Forza Motorsport 2

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Scene: A corner shop. “Tiger Feet” by Mud is playing.

HARRY ENFIELD enters. His appearance suggests someone who hasn’t been informed that the 1970s – specifically, the Glam Rock era – hasn’t ended yet. He approaches the counter, behind which stands PAUL WHITEHOUSE.

HARRY: Do you have any copies of Barbican Gran Turismo 4? It’s just like normal Gran Turismo, only with all the boring shit about getting licenses and passing pointless tests and having to tweak your car to an astonishingly minute level taken out?

PAUL: Why yes, sir, we do. It’s called Forza Motorsport 2, and it’s for the XBox 360.

…and that about sums it up, really. It’s like Gran Turismo, except you don’t have to pass tests before it’ll let you out on the racetrack. Also, you don’t have to endlessly tweak baffling numbers to improve the setup of your car in order to stand a chance in the races. Sure, all that stuff is there if you want it, but if you don’t care about that sort of stuff and just want to get on with the actual racing part of things, you can, and with minimal impact; in fact, the most amazing part of the thing is the way it caters for both the hardcore uber-tweaker style racer, who will turn all the assists off straight away and spend days in the setup menu – and yet is still accessible to heathen like me who don’t really know the difference between a ride height of 5cm and 5.1cm.

Graphically – well, it does the job. The cars are recognisable, as are the tracks. It’s not going to win any awards for graphical innovation or anything, but it’s pretty enough. But it does run at a steady 60fps, nearly all the time – and that’s more important – you never feel like you’ve been punished by the game not quite running fast enough, and I’d rather have that than silly HDR bloom effects or whatever.

So yeah, I like it. There is the nagging feeling that it’s lacking in any kind of personality – there’s no human face to the game in any way, no “story” as such, no ultimate goal or anything; but I don’t know if it really needs any of that anyway. It’s pretty damned good as it stands, I reckon. Recommended.

Nokia N95

Monday, June 4th, 2007

So, after protracted negotiations with Orange, I got myself a shiny new N95 to play with. It’s Nokia’s new flagship phone and it pretty much Does Everything – it’s got a 5 megapixel camera, WiFi, GPS, high speed mobile internet, video and music player and more – oh, and apparently it makes phone calls and sends text messages too, should you care about that. The question is, though, with such a multifunctional device, is it jack of all trades and master of none?

Well – yes. But that needs unpacking a bit. The N95 is clearly meant to represent a new generation of mobile device, and Nokia have thrown pretty much everything they have at it. Inevitably, some stuff sticks and some stuff, well, doesn’t so well.

So, the good: everything that is advertised is there and does fulfil at least basic functionality: the camera is a full 5 megapixel job with a full range of settings that you’d expect to see on a consumer compact digital; the GPS tells you where you are and how to get where you’re going; the WiFi detects wireless networks simply and the built in web browser is a massive improvement over anything Nokia have ever done before; the media player is good and the screen is excellent so video playback is lovely, and finally there’s a standard 3.5mm headphone jack so you can use your own headphones rather than the shitty Nokia ones. Additionally, the Series 60 software is mature and works well – the active standby screen is as good as any other PDA’s home screen with appointments, messages, to-do lists and other information cleanly and clearly displayed.

The problem is, though, that whilst it’s all there, there’s quite a lot of rough edges. The GPS takes quite a long time to get a lock, especially around tall buildings, and the accuracy can suffer if there are dense trees or big buildings around – and it basically doesn’t work at all unless the keypad is open; the camera – whilst clearly better than pretty much any other phone cam out there – is still not that good compared to most mid-range compacts, and compared to my PowerShot A710, it’s pretty useless – the images have too much noise reduction applied and there’s quite a lot of fringing; the web browser is much better than previous incarnations, but the Opera for Mobile is still streets ahead; the WiFi detection works, until you want to try and assign an IP manually, in which case you’re digging through menus and fighting a total lack of documentation; the media player is good but won’t replace my iPod and there’s quite an annoying hiss in the background if you’re listening to anything quiet. In addition, whilst the thing looks great, and the dual-slide is a neat trick, the build quality doesn’t seem to be as good as it could be – my slide is quite wobbly, and this appears to be a common fault. And the battery life is short – very short – even for a smartphone: you’ll be charging it every day – at least.

All that said though, there’s nothing deal-breaking here – everything works, and mostly works pretty well. The trouble is that it’s being pitched as a top-end device and, unless you’re in a position to argue a free one out of your service provider like I was, it’s fairly pricey too – and the rough edges takes a bit of the shine off. Overall, I’m happy with it – but with a few bits polished and tidied up, I could be even happier.

Oh, and this post was entirely written on it, with minimal pain, so it can’t be that bad :)