Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Just a bit of fun.
The above picture requires you to cross your eyes so that a 3D picture appears.
Some people find this difficult if not impossible. But if you get the hang of it the effect is pretty darn good. You might experience a bit of eye ache afterwards as your eyes re-adjust to normal viewing but that's because you're using muscles you wouldn't normally use.
Anyway, if you get it and you like it let me know on Twitter and I'll post some more.
That's if you can type straight.
How does it feel to have a camera strapped to your head?
In all honesty I do feel a little bit silly. As you can see from the photo above the camera is quite noticeable even in silhouette. Pedestrians seem to stare at me a bit more. They're probably wondering if they'll end up on YouTube, there's very little chance of that though.
What I have noticed is that motorists notice it more and I seem to be getting a wider berth. This may be because I'm aware of the camera and haven't noticed how good the majority of drivers are, which they are. The kind of drivers who wouldn't notice are quite probably the same people that the camera will catch doing reckless stuff.
As time goes by there'll be a lot more cameras on the road. Cyclists and motorcyclists will be the more obvious users but dashcams in all kinds of vehicles are becoming more widespread too. Buses and lorries use them already but I suspect that more car users will own one in case of a collision. What's better than a video to prove you're not in the wrong. At some point insurance companies will probably give a discount if you use one and it can't be long before Garmin or TomTom will integrate a camera into their satnavs.
What I'm not so keen on is people sharing their accidents and near misses on the internet. There is I suppose an entertainment value there for some and others see their uploads as some kind of revenge. Naming and shaming has a place but most of the time it smacks of some kind of call for vigilantes to take the law into their own hands. This can have the effect of creating some kind of hysteria at which point things get out of hand. This might be taking the argument too far but I also believe there's some truth in it. The idea is that all road users get along and that the roads become safer because everyone is responsible and I do mean everyone.
Hopefully there will be a day when helmet cams are only used for recording fun stuff and not used in insurance claims.
I look forward to that day.
Even though I got hold of a decent camera for my travels I recommend strapping a bicycle torch to your helmet if a camera is too expensive for you. I can almost guarantee it'll have the same effect as the real thing and will also be useful at night. I kind of wish I'd thought of that before I bought my camera.
NB I've just re-read my Insurance post below and I don't agree with what I wrote about posting videos online. It just goes to show that how enraged people, including myself can get at incidents like the one below. In retrospect and before I owned my camera I thought that that would be a good course of action. I was wrong.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I smoke. I like it.
Sometimes like over the last four weeks I've been smoking roll-ups. They're OK, and convenient but they lack that something that elevates smoking from the ordinary to the special. Pipe smoking is much better. The choice of tobaccos is like wondering into a specialist off-license and being presented with a myriad fine wines.
The art of preparing a pipe is like karma. The more effort one puts in the greater the pleasure. Apparently as I learned on Sunday through one of the national newspapers pipe smoking is going through a bit of a renaissance. In other words it's getting a bit trendy and one may buy a £500 trendy pipe to prove one is dedicated.
Smoking is aided by the type of pipe one uses but the experience is about good tobacco. A cheap Falcon pipe with its history and unchanged design with a decent tobacco is a much better union that some of the off the shelf brands and a new trendy pipe.
While I applaud the interest I can by comparison still enjoy fine wine in a mug. As long as it's been decanted. Pipe smoking has gone from the ordinary man's choice of smoke to being seen as somehow elite. It's not. It's cheaper than cigarettes and in these days of austerity it should be adopted as the nicotine intake of choice for everyone.
I'm certainly convinced.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Today is an exciting day for me.
The reason being is that I've booked some train tickets to finally, finally meet up with PalmSounds. It's been a long time coming, years in fact. Here's how the story goes.
I love good blogs. Ones that interest me and that are fairly concise and easy to read, no flim-flam just great solid information. So it was a long time ago that I stumbled across the PalmSounds blog and I was hooked. It was a permanent fixture in Google Reader before they decided to nuke it and now it's a permanent fixture in Flipboard. At the time I was getting into Twitter I discovered that PalmSounds was on there too, brilliant, instant follow. I really can't remember the first Twitter interaction but the fact that I got a reply was to me, well, amazing, especially as I respected his opinion and advice so much.
Over the years we've interacted a lot. We've become online friends, and we've never met in all that time. But that is soon to change. As I've said, the train tickets are booked, arrangements have been made and although we've spoken online many many times there are years worth of chat that we have to cram into a few short hours.
I don't think I've looked forward to meeting anyone so much in a long long time. They say "never meet your heroes". I say that's rubbish.
I simply can't wait.
NB ConcreteDog couldn't make this meeting which is a pity but badges will be worn and his ears will be burning.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
A Contour Roam2 will be my next purchase.
I've been thinking about getting a helmet cam for a while now. I suppose I've put it off because mercifully my encounters with bad drivers have been few and far between. This mornings very near miss has made me decide to bite the bullet and spend some money.
I ride to work each day on my Dutch bike wearing a lot of Hi-Vis and with my lights on, even in broad daylight. I abide by the rules of the road and I use cycle paths when I can to minimise risk to myself. I won't go into details but there was no way you could miss me this morning giving a right turn hand signal on the roundabout. I had a good breeze behind me and was travelling at the same speed as the cars. So why would you force me from following the roundabout round just so that you could go straight on? Why speed past me and force me to swerve in front of another car just to avoid being hit?
I can only imagine the answer is that you're a complete prick. Rant over.
If I had a helmet camera you could have watched it all. I haven't so you can't but that'll change soon and you can all have a laugh at just how dangerous people can be.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no evangelical cyclist, I see enough cyclists doing stupid stuff because I drive a truck five days a week. I'm thinking about making a short film pointing out everyone's faults as road users.
I'll certainly have enough footage.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I've started thinking about my creativity again.
I gave myself three years to sort out where I was going with my art. I'm in my second year now, the experimental year. This year is about trying all kinds of disciplines to see what I'm good at or not good at. What I like and what I don't.
I suppose the big surprise this year has been video. I'm enjoying video again mainly because of the iPad and brilliant little Kodak cameras. Pinnacle Studio has proved to be a very versatile app. VJing for years eventually put me off video. It wasn't so much the editing or creation of motion graphic as the billion codecs I had to deal with in order to get anything done. Unfortunately nothing much has changed.
My thoughts are now turning to watercolours again. The idea is to sketch with my pencils because I'm happy with that, then block colour with watercolour paint and finally add detail with Indian ink. What I want to end up with is a pen and wash over sketch. This allows me the freedom of sketching with an almost cartoon / illustration finish.
I'm finally coming round to the idea that graphic illustration is fine as art. Ive made a lot of posters in my time and I've made a few that I've been really pleased with.
This idea that I can be more graphic than classic with a certain medium has come from using acrylic paints. I'm rubbish with acrylics. Because I'm rubbish and don't know the rules I've been more expressive, messy and free. What I'm ending up with on the canvas I'm working on is an over Photoshopped montage that has no style and so creates its own.
I'm going to start the watercolour work in late summer. In the meantime I'll carry on experimenting and chanting to myself...
...f*#% the rules.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
While I have no love for Mrs M Thatcher I have even less love of censorship.
At some point in our lives we will all be subject to a decision that goes against us. If this is a sensible and considered decision then we must live with it. That's the way of the world. Like it or not.
When the decision is made for us by a corporation that says it represents fairly the views of the whole population and that corporation is paid for by its users then the decision is up for scrutiny. If after scrutinising the decision it is seen as unrepresentative then the decision should be changed.
As far as I'm concerned it's that simple.
I am aware of the spelling mistake in the open letter. It's a little late to correct it now. Sorry for the error.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Podcasting is something I've always wanted to do.
I've never really got round to it, I'm not sure why not. Since I've had my iPad I've hoped that an app would come along to make the whole thing one easy painless experience. In my case it's not one but many apps.
Firstly the really excellent Bossjock came my way. It's an app with the sole purpose of producing professional podcasts and it does just that extremely well. Then there's the much awaited Koalasan which will send audio directly to an audio server for live streaming (can't wait for that one). Both Bossjock and Koalasan will be bolted together through the Audiobus app which means because of the fx slot you'll be able to add some decent compression to the audio before it's broadcast. These three apps will be the holy trinity of live mobile broadcasting. As long as you have a wifi connection you'll be a broadcaster. It won't get much better.
The other apps in my arsenal are of course my music apps which I've started using to create some idents and beds. iSequence (above) has a particularly good library of sounds which sound as good as those used by pro radio stations. One still has to do a bit of composing and sound design but its fairly minimal and the results as you'd expect are very good.
That's what I've been doing this evening, getting the audio bits and bobs together in anticipation of Koalasan being released and me getting myself on the air. Not forgetting that Bossjock can record what goes through it and I'll use those recordings as podcasts for this blog.
Exciting times are ahead.
Friday, April 12, 2013
It's not often I go to bed early at the weekend.
Tonight is different though because tomorrow I'm meeting my sister in town for a day out. Like any good useless brother I live in a different city to her and so don't get to see her that often. In fact the last time I did see her was before her birthday and so I've still got her present here with me. It's not like I couldn't post it or otherwise get it to her but I'm a useless brother so I still have it.
I've made sure that I'm up to date with stuff so that I'll have a nice day tomorrow and not have to rush around because there's other stuff to do. I've even got the coffee percolator primed and timed so that when I'm out of the shower there's a nice brew waiting for me. How organised is that?
So that's it. I'm off to bed to dream about a fish.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I love Neville the cat.
He's getting on a bit now and he feels the cold. With this in mind I bought him a cat type igloo thing. He loves me back and constantly wants to sit on me so I put a T-shirt I'd worn inside so that he felt at home in the strange shaped cat house thing. I put some of his favourite biscuits inside as a welcome. Like chocolates on a hotel pillow. Everything was in place. The new cat igloo thing was next to the radiator so that it was snug inside. What more could a cat want?
A bloody shoe box that's what!
The git ate the biccies and then wandered down the hall to where my girlfriend had left an open shoe box near a radiator. He shunned the special (not cheap) comfort and squeezed himself into a shoe box which is just about big enough to accommodate him.
Tomorrow I'm going to get the shoe box and put it in the loft. That's terrible I know but this calculating cat has just met is match.
After 15 years I will score one victory.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
I just can't help myself.
As much as I love good music and innovation in music technology and new sounds and software and apps I love "Styles" more. I think I need to explain what a style is first though.
Styles are musical styles, the kind you get on arranger keyboards like the Yamaha Tyros or on my QY100. The Styles emulate musical styles like country and western or surf rock or polka. You get the idea. As time has gone on modern arranger keyboards have got better at recreating the styles of real musicians. What I like about the Styles is that they never quite make it, they're always a bit duff, a bit like naff lift musak. I really do like that sound. I also like the fact that whenever I see people using Styles and playing some instrument or other the musician is really into it. They're either the exuberant showman or deep in concentration, something more like a concert pianist rather than a button presser.
I love anything that contains Styles like ChordPulse (above) that got its resurrection tonight thanks to a table to sit my netbook on. I love Chordbot on the iPad and of course my QY100.
What I like about all this software and hardware is that they all produce MIDI files which I use in other software or apps to re-voice. What I end up with is a mixture of questionable composition with some amazing sounds.
I think it's time to embrace my love of Styles and enjoy the fact that other people think its naff.
That'll only make me smile more.
You know the situation.
You're lying in bed and you need to get stuff done. You probably need space for a coffee and a bun, maybe a netbook or similar thing that needs a flat surface. The thing is that the bedside table is too small and it's full of clocks, phones and radios. What you need is an over-bed table. You know the kind. You get them in hospitals and old folks homes.
Maybe you thought you could do without one until retirement, but with a proliferation of gadgets and things to be done before you start the day it could be time to invest. I did and I'm glad I did. My iPad can sit next to my netbook while I decrypt messages with a Windows only piece of software. I can have a notebook handy too so that I can scribble temporary stuff and now I have flat surface to lean on. I'm no good at writing while leaning on my leg, I don't know why I'm just like that.
Anyway, go get one of these tables and have a mini iPad, drawing or food studio at your fingertips.
You know you want one.
Monday, April 08, 2013
I still love and hate video.
I've spent this evening, yes all of it, working out how to get different types of footage into different bits of software. For one thing Blender, despite it being a world class 3D program is rubbish as a video editor. Hopefully that will change one day.
I found a Windows product on my PC that will convert .mp4 footage into wmv files so that's good. It's Windows Live Movie Maker and it's free on the web.
I know from the other night that Pinnacle Studio on the iPad is brilliant at handling my mp4 files and that getting them on the iPad is a breeze so that's still my favourite route.
So there you go, iPad or good old Windows Movie Maker are still quite basic but with a little imagination they can be used to good effect. If anyone knows of any decent free Windows NLE's I'd love to know as I still haven't found one.
There must be one somewhere.
Sunday, April 07, 2013
The best days are always unplanned.
Today is a perfect example of that. Despite a bit of faffing around earlier what happened after made Sunday afternoon a time to enjoy. The picture above is of some homemade chilli and garlic popcorn. I hadn't planned to make any but a lack of snacks made it a bit of a necessity. It turned out to be the best thing ever as far as snacks go and guilt free at only a few (ish) calories a bowl. Not that I'm worried about that kind of thing but it did justify a second helping.
The dull Sunday afternoon TV was entertaining enough and supper was very tasty.
All in all the kind of Sunday afternoon you'd want if you hadn't planned on doing much at all.
I might just not plan another soon.
I didn't have much to film today.
I went to the pub and that was about the highlight of the day. What to do? I know, I'll take some footage anyway, colour grade it, mix it with some older footage and spend a couple of hours with the virtual razor.
The result is what you see above. When in doubt.
Chop it up.
Saturday, April 06, 2013
This is what I get up to when I'm not driving a truck around the UK.
My Matrix Mixer was made by the very talented ConcreteDog who can be found on Twitter under the same name.
Disclaimer: This video contains noise and not much else. That includes me going on.
The reason is that my PC really doesn't get turned on anymore and I've been having a lot of problems with mobile blogging applications. Some are good while others are really bad but all have had at least one fault that stops me from using them. I like the look of my posts the way they are without strange formatting introduced by app developers.
I think this app Blogsy is the best now that I've worked out how to rid each post of their little footer add. There's a lot to catch up on and hopefully this is the start especially now that I'm making videos again.