Archive for November, 2010

Djay for iPad

I definitely want an iPad – this is no secret. I also like to think I’m not too shabby at picking cool records to play and upset people with. At a friend’s wedding this year I played to no less than 3 people. Two of them said my music taste was “shit”. But I had fun – and now an app called Djay has come along to make me want an iPad even more.

You can select from any of the stored iTunes music on there and it can do things like beatmatching which is very important for the sort of DJs who like to do anything more spectacular than slowly dragging the crossfader to the opposite side when your first song’s almost finished.

Via Macrumors

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This might be good… The Sony Ericsson LiveView

The Sony Ericsson LiveView, a Bluetooth accessory for Android that will show notifications from your phone and let you control the music player, among other things, now has a UK price and date. It’s listed on Amazon at £55.99 with a date of 22nd November – and I have to say it looks pretty sweet.

It’s not too bad a price for what it can do – I can imagine using it on a watchstrap to control my HTC Desire’s music player (which it is, apparently, compatible with) and to read texts and stuff. Also to show off my status as an awesome gadget-owning nerd-hero.

Via Engadget

Super Mario Bros on Violin

OK, so this video is really old in internet terms – but I just saw it so it’s worth sharing.

The way this guy includes the incidental sound from Super Mario Bros? O.M.Goodness.

This is some of the most memorable and meaningful music of my life – which makes it all the more exciting that on December 3rd Nintendo is releasing Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition. This is exciting enough in itself (All-Stars was the first game I got with my SNES and I played that cart to death), but the fact that it comes with an audio CD of classic Mario music from Bros. all the way to Galaxy? Sold, my friends.

Kinect launches in the UK

Kinect, the full-body motion control device for the XBox 360 formerly known as Project Natal, has launched in the UK – and it’s hard to know what to make of it. The consensus around the web seems to be that while it’s a piece of hardware with an awful lot of potential, the launch games aren’t much to shout about. This is to be expected though, if you consider Kinect as a new console launch (which it may as well be), since very few consoles launch with a full complement of brilliant games. The 360 itself was mostly accompanied by tarted up tech demos, as was the Wii, Kinect’s likeliest competitor. The Wii, though, had the advantage of being first on the motion control scene – meaning that tech demos were enough to satisfy the wide-eyed, excited audience. The first time I played a Wii (pre-launch, thanks to a friend who worked for a games retailer) I could barely stop looking at the controllers, never mind the games.

Kinect, of course, doesn’t have controllers to gaze upon in wonderment. You, as the marketing bumf keeps repeating, are the controller. And I suppose the most interesting thing about the launch is that it is mostly being viewed with suspicion by gamers and games critics. We’ve all played with flawed EyeToys and supposedly flawless motion capture cameras before, and found that they can barely tell the difference between the player and the background. But it’s 2010 – and Kinect has like 400 cameras or something. It can probably see into your soul.

I haven’t used one yet, but it is hard to shake the scepticism. The suggestion is that things will get better, but the natural early adopter in me wants to jump in now, if only because the unit itself looks a bit like Johnny 5’s head.

Our Valued Customers

Our Valued Customers is a fun, single-panel comic strip drawn by a guy who works in a comic shop in the US. Anyone who’s ever worked in retail has probably wanted to do this – and even now I often find myself sharing anecdotes with fellow retail/customer service survivors about the stupidest or most self-entitled customers we’ve ever had. I like this one especially because it combines the sneery, elitist attitude of a Randall-from-Clerks with customers afflicted by the same disease.

Via The Daily What

This might be good…

Everyone had one of those Viewmaster things, right? I think I had one with Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles pictures in it (yes, Hero Turtles, not Ninja) to complement my TMHT lunchbox. It was kind of 3D, but it was mostly a case of just looking at a series of pictures like a Victorian animated peepshow for kids.

Anyway, Hasbro have now annouced this beast:

The Hasbro My3D fits over an iPhone and can create 3D images. It doesn’t say where the paper wheels fit in though.

What’s most interesting though is that it can apparently handle augmented reality by involving the iPhone’s camera, meaning that even though it’s a toy there could be some seriously interesting applications.  I’m sure it’ll get hacked fairly quickly.

Via Gizmodo

University Challenged – 8th November 2010


Here begins a record of my ongoing attempt to cover myself in glory while playing along with University Challenge on a Monday night. As this blog teaches me more about, well, everything, I hope to see my score progress at least a little.

I tend to set myself a target of ten correct answers (the rules being that I have to say it out loud before any contestant on the show does) – which does make it a lot of fun. Honest. I’ll generally do well on geography, history, art and literature, meaning that the areas I really need to get better at are things like science – which, while it fascinates me, eludes me now just as much as it did when I was at school. I also tend to tune out as soon as matters turn towards classical music and opera. I simply have no hope there, I’m afraid.  Often, of course, I get a lucky guess in there too.

My correct answers this week, then:

I was correct that the portrait of the queen used on stamps was thought to be the most duplicated portrait in history. It seems simple really, but was much more of a guess than I’d like to admit.

I also answered a maths question correctly despite tuning out almost the entire question. It was to do with a theory that a certain pattern of mathematical operations will always converge on the number one. It was a guess, pure and simple.

There followed a round on the flags used by armies of the world. The only one I knew was the army of North Korea (it helped that the country’s flag made up much of the design – which was not the case for the flags of the British or US armies). I’m pretty good on flags and national colours – largely, I fear, due to football above anything else.

I correctly answered a question about Peru, mainly because the question had involved altitude. I knew nothing else about the content of the question.

I got a science one correct! This was to do with stable metals left after the decay of uranium (the answer was lead) – which, happily, I was reading about only yesterday in Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. I wonder how many University Challenge contestants thank their lucky stars that they just happened to have picked something up the day before. Loads, probably.

Later on, following huge swathes of dreaded classic music questions and obscure histories of Italian universities (what course do these people study to learn things like that?!) I would pick up a few more answers. I correctly identified portraits of Napoleon and Joan of Arc, and guessed “Oslo” three times in a round focussing on Nordic capitals. I was right the third time. But at least, I suppose, I knew Oslo was a Nordic capital. Three times.

I knew that the Austrian city of Linz sits on the Danube because I happen to have been there, and guessed the answer to a question about a cemetery in Sydney because the question called for a city in the Southern Hemisphere and Sydney was the first that popped into my head.

So then – 12 questions right and the vast majority of it educated guesswork. It seems to suggest that my general knowledge is exactly that: general and unfocussed. I clearly have work to do.