Unemployed, former local journalist. Nerd, living in the North West of England. I like tech I can't afford, things I don't need, TV, movies, firmware updates, The Tick, Warcraft, and music. This is the sort of stuff I'll probably write about here. In short this blog is a distraction from pondering if I will ever get a new job and to stop me obsessively rep farming all of my toons. You have been warned. If you want to advertise or give me free stuff to write about, get in touch!Read more about me »
March 17th, 2010 by defaultnerd received Comments Off
About nine years ago, at some strange hour on Channel 4, this appeared.
I was wholly amazed. It was weird. And great.
The animator is Satoshi Tomioka, and I didn’t know it at the time. In fact, it wasn’t until I saw an advert for Honda called “OK Factory” that I went looking for him again. (You can see the video for OK Factory, and a number of others here).
I don’t have much to tell you about him, as I do not know much about him. I do know you should watch the following videos because they’re superb. (Of course, they look better in hi res, so you can always buy a DVD of Tomioka’s best videos from PlayAsia
Watch Justice Runners on the Nexus Productions page, then.
Then watch this.
Whilst I’m on the subject of the unusual. Here’s the new video from Hot Chip. It’s directed by Peter Serafinowicz, you should all go and buy a copy of his DVD, The Peter Serafinowicz Show, or else.
March 16th, 2010 by defaultnerd received Comments Off
Yep, that’s what we’re going to get this year at Eurovision. Did you watch the debacle that was Your Country Needs You on BBC1 on Friday? We were all expectant as this year’s song for Europe is written by Pete Waterman and Mike Stock, two of the gurus of pop. But what did we get? We got six amateur acts, who couldn’t keep key or tune for the length of a SAW hit, and a song which starts like it’s going to be a stomper but withers away just before it hits one of the most boring choruses of all time.
The six acts, all about ten-years-old, apart from that woman in Miss Fitz, who claims to be “25″. I mean REALLY BBC? Really? You had a year and you gave them just two weeks to form up and get everything right? What a shambles of shit. The production of the programme was also a mess. A bit like someone had sacked the entire production team in the morning, only to replace them for the live show in the afternoon and hope for the best.
The group UNI5, gave a disclaimer at the start “we were put together by the BBC”, what their disclaimer should have been were “we’re not very good at singing, but we’ve been brought in to pad out the show”. They hadn’t ‘gelled’, they couldn’t sing, they could barely dance, what was going on? Poor Pete Waterman even had to restrain his disbelief at their sheer awfulness.
Each of the six acts sung a SAW hit and then Pete whittled it down to the top three least shit acts. Then they each sung the Eurovision song, “That Sounds Good To Me” (ho ho the irony), the same arrangement each time. And just when you didn’t think it could get any worse than having to hear the song three times, back to back, Esma forgets the words. Good.
Well, Josh won.
Josh, he’s like an even more sexless Cliff Richard from Basildon in Essex. He almost sung the song in tune, so at least we might not look too bad come May 29th in Oslo. We will be in the bottom ten. I guarantee it. Here he is singing a Jason Donovon song, almost. Once more with feeling, son.
Now is the time to get the BBC back into either getting Lord Webber involved again, we didn’t do too badly with him did we. Or bringing an open competition back. There’s a lot of good songwriters and performers out there, some who can actually carry a tune for three minutes without screwing up. Let people submit their songs, let the nation decide, please, for the love of “Bob”, don’t make us listen to the amateur, shiny children fest again. What on earth were you thinking?
Two members of Scooch, our entry from 2007 appeared on Harry Hill’s TV Burp on Saturday. They sung for about 40 seconds but it was all in tune, they could hold a tune. Okay, we came second last, but it wasn’t boring, it was fun, I can remember this song three years on. I heard that new one three times in a row on Friday, I couldn’t remember a word of it. Bring back the quirk! We won’t win, but we’ll have fun. If we carry on this way, we’ll not only lose, we’ll have wasted time giving up seriousface to people who don’t care.
I’ve not been so annoyed at my television in ages.
Here are some of my favourite Eurovision entries to keep you entertained.
What Eurovision needs is more transvestite Ukranians.
The best, non-novelty Eurovision song on years. It didn’t win.
Here’s our song for this year, performed by “Josh”, written by Mike Stock and Pete Waterman.
 – My disclaimer is that my partner co-wrote a Eurovision song which was an entry for the UK a few years ago. I’ll let you guess which.
March 10th, 2010 by defaultnerd received Comments Off
With the exception of maybe, Snow Leopard (which doesn’t count), I have never purchased and installed an entirely new operating system for any of my machines in the many, MANY years I have been using them. I’ve always either bought a new one, with a new OS on it, or soldiered on with whatever I had.
Last weekend I decided it was time to give the PC the gift of Windows 7.
I consider myself to be about 90% proof when it comes to PC use. I’m good at fixing things (Google helps), and I am technical to the point of everything before altering things in the registry. So I’m not sure why I panicked when it came to installing. Everything was backed up, as far as I was aware, so I wasn’t going to lose anything. Perhaps I thought the main hard disc would corrupt itself when I formatted it and I’d have to spend yet more money on the PC to get it working. That didn’t happen either, in fact, everything went smoothly.
Which gets me wondering, how many people are putting off changing or upgrading the OS simply because they’re petrified. Must be loads of people. LOADS.
Not only did I get over the OS upgrade fear this week, I have updated the software for my motherboard. I thought about getting some RAM but there’s conflicting details about just how much I can put in it (it’s a very basic board, folks), and I’ve even installed a brand new graphics card (I needed an HDMI output). I’ve located software and drivers for all my innards and installed and sorted them all out. Hell, I even bought a can of compressed air and cleaned out the dust mine. And wow, that was a LOT of dust I got rid of.
The PC has had a hardware and software spring clean, it’s kind of liberating. I should do a wipe once every six months to get rid of all the applications I just don’t use. The MacBook is doing all the photo processing, the video editing and the music production, the PC is for email, internet browsing, Twitter and games. That’s how it’s worked itself out now.
The MacBook has a new companion, a 1 terabyte drive, and backs up automatically with Time Machine – I don’t even have to remember to back it up, it does it itself. What an age we are living in. This and iPhone 4.0 is likely to be announced at some point (someone says Sunday, but when have Apple ever made an announcement on a Sunday?)
Meanwhile, if you’re in the UK and fast on your feet, you can find the PC edition of Bioshock for £7.00 at Asda. I have started playing today with my Windows Xbox Controller, which, incidentally, Windows 7 also thinks is a floppy drive.
February 23rd, 2010 by defaultnerd received Comments Off
Tomorrow I am lucky enough to be going to see Lady Gaga at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. I say “lucky” it was more a case of being in the right place at the right time for a chance to buy some tickets that weren’t £100 each. This, after three months of searching for some I could afford to buy without selling a kidney.
I like pop music. I’ve always liked pop music, although there was a period at the end of the nineties I would have classed myself as music snob – in reality, I just started liking indie. Mostly I liked indie that sounded like pop. I stopped being a music snob when I stopped listening to new music, I grew up and ended up sticking with my favourites instead of constantly demanding something new.
Occasionally, something in pop will make me happy, in the last few years I’ve found new things to like, Alphabeat, The Sounds, Miike Snow, Little Boots, Delphic, and Pendulum have got me dancing around a bit, and I don’t dance lightly. I even think Girls Aloud make excellent pop songs. But in the last year one force has made me stand up and cheer pop on, and that force is Gaga.
I didn’t get her at first. I stopped listening to Radio 1 with regularity at about that time that song Get what you give by the New Radicals came out, it was played to frequently. I didn’t listen to radio for about a year, the first song I heard when I finally went back was Music in you by New Radicals. So I was out of touch. I had heard the Gaga hype, but when I finally heard Just dance I was a bit disappointed, it sounded too mainstream. It wasn’t until Paparazzi that I started to enjoy her work. The album/s are/is (Fame/Monster) brilliant.
The strange costumes, the wigs, the peculiar press conferences, the playing of the media, brilliant, and thus far she’s not had an affair with a sportsman, said something about being bigger or gayer than Jesus or turned back to drugs. These are just the sort of theatrics, both on and off stage, that pop needs every so often. So why do so many people not get her. People seem mystified by the costumes, the act and the raunchy songs. It’s a bit like they’ve forgotten what showmanship is. There’s not enough of this about. People have reacted in the same way as the squares reacted to Bowie coming on stage in a unitard and make up and being a bit bisexual with a man on Top of the Pops. iT’s 2010 and I can’t understand why people don’t see it and thing it’s peculiar to want to play dress up and sing. And she can sing. And play the piano. And write songs. That’s right, she actually DOES have talent. Here’s some pre-glossed footage.
I think her current work is quite satirical, and amusing, along with the raunch, perhaps that goes over the heads of some people. The fact that’s she’s worked herself into a persona is somehow alien to people and that the costumes and acting are somehow a detraction from her song writing talents (or to some, her non-talents, as if the whole package cannot contain any worth). It’s very frustrating. It’s the first time in ages I feel like I’ve had to defend a popstar, I haven’t followed anyone this big and current, well, ever.
What’s peculiar about pop at the moment is though, is that a lot the things I liked in my snob years are now the sounds of the UK top ten. Twee popster Owl City sounds like The Postal Service, after being dipped in a bowl of pot-pourri, most of the male-led UK R’n'B which is charting is synth heavy and there are occasional acts that break through, like La Roux or Delphic who make me think that all is not lost because the UK public have started listening to the same odd stuff I was when I cared more about music, only now it’s acceptable and all those years I was bullied for liking it seem pointless. In fact having Owl City at number one shocked me, it’s such a peculiar record to be at number one, I blame digital downloads. More people are hearing peculiar music and enjoying it.
What’s most fun about Gaga is the anonymity of it all. If she walked down my road, in civvies, RIGHT NOW, I wouldn’t know it was her. Despite the publicity, the persona, the hype, when (unless you trawl a few non-authorised stories about her) have you ever seen Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta? Never, that’s why. You know what, that’s great. Yet for some reason, we get a lot of Cheryl Cole, and no one asked for that.
I like the theatrics and the pop and that’s all it ever needs to be about. Removing the make-up doesn’t make the music purer. In the same way that adding the make-up does not take away the talent.
 I was trying to find some information about sales figures for Owl City’s number one but these aren’t given to non-industry sorts, and my skills at tracking them down have been fruitless thus far. More on sales in the future.
February 22nd, 2010 by defaultnerd received Comments Off
Have you seen this yet? It’s the new Red Band (mature viewers only please) trailer for Kick-Ass which is due out either March or April, depending on which poster you see or trailer you watch.
Hit girl is my favourite anti-hero since The Chainsaw Vigilante from TheTick. I have followed the comic with much joy. I loved the story and I loved the raw violence of it, it’s felt more authentic than any other superhero comic I’ve read in years.
I am so looking forward to this film. I’m even looking forward to the cash-in merchandising, especially the figures. Oh yes I am.
Anyway, speaking of TheTick, don’t you just hate it, when someone has a go at tackling your favourite comics franchise and then shits on it with such force that you want to bite through brick? Well it happened to me last Autumn when, after a period of silence from New England Comics with Tick publications, I found the first issue of The Mangalicious Tick in my local comic shop. I didn’t know it was coming out so I was highly excited by the thought of a new Tick series.
In some ways, there having been no knowledge or expectation of this series was a good thing, because what was delivered was awful. It was meant to be in a Manga style, but it looked like it was drawn by a 12-year-old Manga fan, the sort whose career officer might point them in the way of plumbing as an option, post GCSE. And the story and dialogue, it hurt, it felt like whoever had written it hadn’t ever read the Tick, or merely browsed an issue (I’m sure they knew the Tick, it just felt, wrong). It mad me sad. So very sad. Yet, I still went on to buy all four issues.
I expect this is what people who follow a sport feel like when their team loses.
Thankfully though, all is not lost. A new series has begun, the first issue was out at the end of last year, and the latest issue of The Tick New Series was out last week. It’s a joy to behold. Whilst it will never meet the brilliance the original few series, it’s still The Tick, by someone who knows him, Benito Cereno
I can’t remember if I first saw the Tick in cartoon form on the television or in a comic. I know I liked them both. For years I’ve been slowly picking up lost Tick comics, missing from my collection – thankfully over the course of the last year or so NEC have reissued mostly all the Tick comics in trade paperback form. They’ve been wonderful to re-read, and in some cases read, for the first time. I highly recommend you pick one or two of them up now and begin your Tick journey. Every yard will be worth it.
Whilst I’m here, I will also say I enjoyed the live-action Tick. But as we’re about to see some fairly non-Marvel(y) superhero films making their débuts on the big screens of the world, isn’t it about time there was a Big Tick Movie? He’s ripe for the picking.
One last comic based thing to mention. My favourite World of Warcraft based web-comic, Dark Legacy Comics have created a FREE iPhone/iPod app so you can now download and read all of the back episodes AND receive the new ones too. Here’s the iTunes link:
February 19th, 2010 by defaultnerd received Comments Off
Not so long ago it was almost taboo to give out your address and even your real name on the internet, people feared you’d be murdered, or conned, or kidnapped, or eaten by a cannibal.
It seems funny now how willing we are to give out these details to the world. Facebook gives you an air of mystery, you can at least be selective about who sees what about you, at the user end anyway. But now you can tell the world where you are at any given time via a million different applications.
Foursquare has had a mild kicking this week with the launch of PleaseRobMe.com, a site which uses a simple bit of code to extract information from people who have chosen to post their ‘check-ins’ to the Twitter public timeline, to note home addresses which are ‘empty’.
With an average Twitter post you can chose whether or not you give out your location, either in the text of the Tweet itself or via a number of other settings. Google Buzz on the other hand places you squarely on a map whenever you send a new message, and they can be seen by anyone.
When Buzz launched a couple of weeks ago, I was quite excited. Hooray, something I can finally claim to have been having a go with, there at the start.. As you will know by now though, Buzz hasn’t been met with a massive fanfare due to its terrible flaws in privacy, and general panning about a lack of real beta testing among other things.
Buzz, currently integrating with your Googlemail account, allows you not only to post arbitrary messages to the world about anything you want, whilst sticking you at a location on map, it also links with other social networking and hosting sites such as Flickr, Google Reader, Twitter and Youtube. Posting up videos and photos of the world around you.
We’re in an age where we’re easier stalking targets than ever before! Initially liked the idea of Buzz, but I’ve started to think more about whether or not I want people to know where I am, especially if I’m Buzzing from home. I don’t live in the middle of a town or city, so I’m fairly easy to spot. And if Google thinks Buzz will be picked up by celebrities to push it along, I expect they’re going to be disappointed. I can’t see Ashton Kutcher giving out his exact location to 3 million baying fans, not by choice anyway.
There’s a slight possibility, that Buzz may have jumped the social networking shark. We’ll see what happens when they tighten up the controls on who can see what and who can follow who. My initial excitement has wavered in favour of pessimism, there really is a limit on how much information we should be giving to the world beyond our personal networks. My overriding concern is handing out a tool to people who don’t know how much of their information they are freely broadcasting. You can never underestimate the stupidity of the general public.
 I refused to join MySpace for a long time because almost every time I encountered a page, it was one belonging to a Nazi, what does that say about me? Not sure. I didn’t like it anyway. I didn’t want to join Facebook, but in the end I did (although I’m trying to leave), and I only really *got* Twitter after Stephen Fry got trapped in a lift.
February 15th, 2010 by defaultnerd received 1 Comment »
Watch this synth fans:
Now, tell me you don’t want one. I bet you do. It’s an Eigenharp Alpha. It’s £4000 of sheer joy. I know it’s joy because I haven’t got one, and when I haven’t got one I know it’s good. I want one, I want one more than any other instrument I’ve strived for in my moderately short life so far.
It’s basically a new musical interface, it’s chords, it’s notes, it’s a drum machine. You can play the keys, use the touch sensitive keys to bow or use the mouth piece to blow into it. Look at it:
It’s pretty, it has pretty lights, it makes the synthetic sounds of my dreams. I have still, yet to see one in the wild, but I may venture to PMT in Manchester when they get them in so I can have a go – I imagine they’re way to big for me but I simply don’t care.
The Eigenharp has been developed by Devon entrepreneur John Lambert and his team of designers. He wanted to make the world’s most expressive electronic musical instrument, and eight years later it arrived.
I am a self-taught musician. In this case, that is shorthand for not being brilliant. The only instruments I have had any training in are recorder (two years, forced), violin (one year, disagreement on what was good to play me = hits of the Pet Shop Boys, teacher = nursery rhymes), saxophone (one year, got to play the theme from Poirot, my goal). I play none of these instruments any more – the only one of those I still own is a recorder – although I bought a plastic Irish flute just after Christmas, I’ve get to get more than three notes out of it.
I got my first guitar in 1995, I taught myself how to play it and it wasn’t until I got my Hohner G3T in 2007 that I decided to get a few lessons – I can play you chords, I can create a tune but I can’t really play other people’s music. In contrast my brother can play just about anything he’s ever head. The G3T is a pretty empty sounding guitar, it works well with pedals, but it’s perfect for me, it’s small and I’ve never been able to string normal guitars, this has double ball end strings, and no head.
Despite almost always owning a keyboard, I never really taught myself how to play and has only been in the last three years that I really got to use MIDI keyboards – it’s all been about MIDI and being able to play into a computer and edit what I make. It’s been because of this technology that I’ve had the chance to learn a bit about playing and composing and whilst I couldn’t cut it live, I can create. I currently use an M-Audio Axiom 49 with Logic Studio, and sometime Cubase.
The Eigenharp looks like a performance instrument, and I really REALLY want to have a go at it. A lot of people have made some hilarious ‘this is not a real instrument’ noises about it – but it’s clearly just as much an instrument as any other keyed device. You still need skill and some degree of music theory knowledge to play it, as with any instrument. What’s nice about a new instrument is that most people playing it will be starting at the same level as you – everything is new. Imagine the guitar had only just been invented and everyone learned together how to play it and work out new styles and learned together, all the things you can do with it. That’s part of the excitement and it doesn’t happen very much these days.
As well as the Alpha, Eigenlabs have also produced the Pico – a £400 model and the, yet to be released £1900 Tau, a middle model, about the size of an electric guitar.
There will be an update on Eigenharp when I finally get to have a play on one/own one.
FACT FANS: I bought my first guitar from PMT’s Southend, Essex store. It was a Fender Sunn Mustang, and I still own it.
 Out of interest to no one, here’s a list of my musical instruments; M-Audio Axiom 49, Hohner G3T, Johnny Brooks precision bass, a blue Lazy ukulele, a yellow Mahalo ukulele, at least one Hohner mouth organ, a Dixon D one-piece polymer flute, Coloursound (I think) light operated theremin, several tin whistles, Fender Sunn Mustang, MoogerFooger ring modulator, Korg MultiFX pedal (heard on a lot of the guitar parts on Attery Squash tunes, and a Stagg electro-acoustic guitar. I use almost all of it rarely.
Oi! Not all of us girls wanted to be Princess Leia, some of us aspired to higher things. So why, in your line of kicks have you decided that only the Princess Leia shoe be in a size fit for the small-footed lady-nerd?
The Princess Leia shoe starts in a UK size four (I’m a UK 4/4.5), so thanks for that, but I don’t want Leia shoes. I want Skywalkers, SKYWALKERS, but they start in a size six, I can’t wear them. BASTARDS!
In fact most of the other shoes in the Star Wars range start at a size six. So unless I can convince my GP to prescribe me some sort of foot-only growth hormone, I’m never going to have pair. Or at least if I get some, I’m going to have to keep them mint in packaging so that future generations can admire them at sic-fi fairs thirty years from now.
I”m pretty pissed off, on behalf of all small-footed Star Wars fans out there. I was really looking forward to getting a pair of these trainers – I’ve never said that about footwear before, never, and I imagine, will never be said again.
Now all I have to do is wait for Nike to bring out some celebratory kicks for the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and I would hope that the Bashirs come in my size or I’m going to have to perform my own foot surgery.
I suggest joining the Rebellion, let us march with our tiny feet on the headquarters of the Adidas Empire and voice our dismay. CHAAAAAARGEEEEEE!!!!
You know what that means? It means staying up until the wee small hours in order to watch wacky winter sports. Got to love time differences.
Last Olympics I was enthralled by Snowboard Cross, and the first mens round of that is this evening, 6.30pm UK time. I’m so excited I feel sick.
If you tuned into the games four years ago, you may have seen American boarder Lindsey Jacobellis make a fool of herself by showboating down the last 43 metres of the course during the final, at which point she screwed up the landing of her jump and Swiss racer Tanja Frieden raced past, to victory. It was brilliant.
What’s more brilliant is the actual racing. Four boarders race down a steep course, shoulder to shoulder. It’s like BMX on snow, and very exciting. There is also Skiier Cross this year, I can only imagine how much more exciting that will be, what with all the poles flying about. Woo.
February 15th, 2010 by defaultnerd received Comments Off
Let me be honest with you, obviously, I want an iPad.
Who would want a new shiny gadget? Look at it!
Shiny shiny thing
I’m like a magpie, a robot magpie who not only likes shiny but also likes smooth, glassy, bleepy things on which I can play Bejewelled, check Twitter and send email. Thing is, I already have two of these things, both of which are better suited to my needs.
I, like a lot of tech nerds, sat and watched/listened to all the available sources from the Mac event on iPad launch day back in January. LIke a great majority of them, I too was shocked by the price. But what’s it for? I can’t see a use for one, for me anyway.
Last year I bit the bullet and bought a MacBook Pro, I use it for writing music, editing video, art things and web stuff. The iPad can’t do that. I also finally turned to an iPhone (after a year of refusing its worth), and almost anything an iPad can do, my iPhone can also do (it runs the iPhone OS), only this can fit in my pocket and it can make calls (the OS SDK has now opened up VoIP I believe, so the iPad may be able to use applications like Skype).
In fact, the only feature I think is of any use to me is the iBook store and reading books, however, I do very little travelling at the moment, most of my book reading is done in the bath, and we know the rules about taking technology into the bathroom. Don’t do it. Something will fall into something which has been filled with water, and then you will cry. You can’t fool the moisture sensors.
What will anyone else use it for? Reading and internets, I suppose, commuters mostly I expect – I’d rather have a paper on a train though, no one is going to mug you for your copy of the Metro. Also, is 3G coverage really that good? Really? I can barely get a 2G O2 signal here, so my iPhone lives on WIFI most of the time. Okay, I’m out in the sticks, but can you imagine a carriage of iPad using commuters, all trying to call up the same newspaper websites at the same time – I know some of you who have been using the O2 network for iPhone use in London have suffered some network overloads.
So apart from commuting/reading on travel, what else? Maybe reading lecture or presentation notes from, and playing Bejewelled, that’s what. Anything the iPhone can do, but with a bigger screen.
It does look lovely though doesn’t it, and I like the keyboard/stand/case stuff. I’m not sure how I could ever justify buying one though when there’s no need for it. I’m finding myself more excited about the prospect of iPhone OS 4.0 than the actual day when the iPad goes on sale so I can have a look at it.
Ah well, I’m sure if I trip over a large pile of money when the iPad is launched I may dive in. I spent a good year denying the point of an iPhone until I tried it, maybe I would find a suitable use for it. Star Trek TNG conventions, perhaps.
Let us not forget one downside to this sort of device though. As well as looking like a show off at whichever coffee shop you frequent, you may also become a tragic sufferer of Gorilla Arm.