Wednesday, 28 April 2004

Version 4.5 of Apple's excellent iTunes is now available for download. I can't help thinking that if the music industry would have embraced the Internet years ago, they wouldn't be having all the 'problems' they are (allegedly) having with illegal downloads.

Apple | iTunes

Monday, 26 April 2004

In an unprescedented move, a group of more than fifty ambassadors have jointly signed a letter condeming President Blair's Middle East policy, saying it was time for the prime minister to start influencing America's "doomed" policy in the Middle East or to stop backing it. So, Tony, if you won't take notice of the British public, perhaps you'll take notice of these chaps?

BBC NEWS | Politics | Diplomats slam Blair on Mid-East

Photo: © NHL/San Jose Sharks/Courtesy of Rocky WidnerAbsolute leading edge technology is now being used by some NHL coaches on the bench to help analyse play actually during the game:

A digital video recorder hooked up to a server records the game and then wirelessly transmits the data to a tablet PC. Hunter [San Jose's coach] can then use a stylus or a remote to mark key moments in the game - like a goal for, goal against, power play or penalty kill - so that he can return to them with a quick click. He can diagram over the video as well.

Wired News | With a DVR, the Puck Stops Here

Wednesday, 21 April 2004

BT plans to test a longer range option for ADSL broadband in Milton Keynes. The previous limit was 6km - you had to be within a 6km length of wire from the exchange for ADSL to be available and in MK that meant large chunks of the city couldn't get it.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Broadband to reach million more

Monday, 19 April 2004

Proof, if it were needed, that art critics are out of touch with the rest of us, are their continued shunning of popular Scottish artist Jack Vettriano, whose famous image 'The Singing Butler' goes on sale at Sotheby's today. Of course, the rest of the proof is the annual farce known as the Turner Prize...

"I think the public turn to him with relief, thinking here's something they can understand, that they can take in almost at a glance," says Veteran London critic Richard Cork. Relief indeed from the utter crap that sometimes passes as 'art' today.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Arts | Vettriano: The people's artist

You can see, and judge, some of Jack's excellent work for yourself at the Portland Gallery from 19th June to 31st July 2004.

Saturday, 17 April 2004

As an update on the padding I gave the Logitech Sphere, I have since found a better-spec product for little more cost - its called SmileCam

Thursday, 15 April 2004

Cost of printer ink under fire

"Consumers are at risk of being ripped off, said editor Dylan Armbrust." No kidding Dylan - its got to the stage that a new printer, with a pair of cartridges, is just a quid more than a pair of replacement cartidges. Isn't printer ink now the most expensive liquid in the world?

BBC NEWS | Technology | Cost of printer ink under fire

Logitech SphereFinally received my Logitech Sphere webcam from Amazon after around a month's wait. Whilst looking impressive, its not a very impressive performer. Pan and tilt is very jerky and prone to jamming; there is no limit sensing and so, according to the readme text, its possible to damage the mechanism - not the sort of thing you'd want people having full access to over the Internet. The zoom is not optical and hence quality quickly drops as soon as you zoom in more than 100%.

Compatability proved to be a problem too. The first machine I tried it with has USB 1.1 ports but the Windows 2000 driver would not see the camera until I'd enabled 'legacy USB support' in the BIOS. Next to try was an old Notino notebook also running Windows 2000 - this was the machine it was intended for. Whilst the drivers installed OK, plugging the camera in resulted in an immediate 'blue screen of death'. Last machine to try was a Macintosh G3 Powerbook. The driver software is currently more limited under OS-X but the essentials are there. Once installed, the camera worked fine on this machine.

Once operational, you find that there is currently no webcam software that will allow remote control of the camera, although I guess that will come along eventually.

Conclusion: the camera is a bit of a disappointment, especially compared to their excellent Quickcam Pro 4000 which we use at work on a wide variety of hardware. Unless you desparately want to play with the motor control, skip this product.

Wednesday, 14 April 2004

Master and Commander
Just in, and watched the same evening I received it, the single-disc DVD release of Master and Commander. If you've not seen it yet, this is a fantastic movie and is apparently quite true to the original novel by Patrick O'Brian. A great deal of work was put into the visual authenticity, including the building of various models and replicas. The story is good too with excellent character development.

Wednesday, 7 April 2004

Here's an update on my friend Stuart Hughes, who lost an arguement with an Iraqi landmine a year ago. His cameraman sadly died in the same incident. Stuart is once again covering stories around the world as a BBC producer.

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | 'Life has been enriched beyond measure'

Monday, 5 April 2004

This story is kinda like those you hear where some guy has built a big yacht from a kit in his back garden without realising it won't fit through the garage door. Only this thing weighs 200 tonnes. And without it, the first Airbus A380 won't fly.

BBC NEWS | Wales | North East Wales | Jumbo wing starts marathon trek

Friday, 2 April 2004

...a report by researchers at Harvard and North Carolina Universities has suggested that swapping songs online has had no negative effect on music sales. The report said high levels of file-swapping had an effect on CD sales that was "indistinguishable from zero". The research, conducted over 17 weeks in 2002, blamed "a reduction in music variety" and "a consumer backlash" for declining sales.

But official music industry bodies have branded the study "skewed".
Surprise, surprise. If the music industry had woken up and realised the potential of the Internet years ago, there wouldn't have been an issue with illegal file-swapping in the first place. But no, they persisted in pushing their absurdly-over-priced shiny little discs.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Legal song downloads rise tenfold

Thursday, 1 April 2004

Ha - music industry lawyers get their noses bloodied in Canada: - Music industry loses in downloading case- CTV News, Shows and Sports -- Canadian Television