Kickstarter: Sinclair ZX Spectrum Bluetooth Keyboard

A novel retro idea of recreating a ZX Spectrum as a Bluetooth keyboard for tablet computers. Personally I’d have thought concentrating on it as a keyboard first, rather than as a gaming device, would’ve had more wide-ranging appeal.

It’ll be interesting to see if they meet their goal with the gaming as their first aim.

BBC Video Ident

As another year passes and progress continues towards wearable tech etc. I like to keep reminding myself of how far we’ve come even in my lifetime.

As a child of the 70s, you can’t underestimate how revolutionary the synthesiser sound was to fresh ears. And look at these ‘cutting edge’ futuristic graphics. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the future! (in the 1980s)

The Lego Movie

The Lego franchise has been branching out in many ways over the years, reinforcing the toy’s position as still the most adaptable and fun toy that encourages children to creative play (ok i’m biased as I’m a big fan).

The pending release of a movie could go one of two ways, but from the evidence of the latest trailer I’ve seen it looks like its going to be fantastic.

Watch for the little details like the 80s Space Guy minifig with the chin-strap cracked; a fate that befell many brave space explorers of our Lego time.

What do you think of this, then?

Musical shoots

Music is always innovating. There’s been a focus in mainstream pop of finding strong and quirky vocal performers to make records stand out. The BBC’s Sound of 2010 winner, Ellie Goulding; the excellent Regina Spektor and the BBC Sound of 2007 winner, Mika.

Multi-track and chorus effects have been around for many years but auto-tune technology seems to have sparked a backlash. Similar to the vocoder at times, I suspect it’s the ‘fire and forget’ nature of auto-tune that doesn’t have the musical source input like the vocoder that maybe accounts for the hatred it receives.

In this post, I’ll consider both sides of the argument and leave you with my two favourite examples of auto-tuning at the moment (which are worth reading to the bottom for!)

Continue reading Musical shoots

Farewell Morse

It was a sad day yesterday. Morse, a part of my family for 11 years, died suddenly. In many ways it’s a blessing. He was very much loved and didn’t suffer at the end. One minute he was with us, the next he’d gone.

Never overly affectionate, he knew when he wanted things like clockwork and never let you forget who was boss. He was the pioneer of ‘The Human Catflap’: a technique where you keep walking up to near where Linz and I live to say ‘There’s no answer from those folks upstairs, here, come follow me and let me in’. We’d invariably ignore him the first time, when he’d come back again, act all cute nearer to us this time and when we’d inevitably go and try and give him a stroke, he’d be off up the path. Cunning lad was our Morse.

Forever rolling over on the ground to show just how cute he could be, he was a lovely cat.

Like Martin Clunes said of dogs recently in his ITV1 documentary, the bond we get with dogs and cats is often bordering on the irrational. However for all of the demands they make of us, the love we get back from seeing them stick around and seek us out is enough to melt our hearts for every day they are with us.

We all miss you Morse, including your brother Paddy. Farewell dear friend.

It’s full of stars!

It’s amazing what a weekend stuck in a loft can achieve. No, I don’t mean the arms full of fiberglass we got (apparently a tip is to cover yourself in talcum powder first).

A fibre of a different kind ended up creating a magical star ceiling for my brother’s soon-to-be-completed home cinema.

Attention to detail in planning is never overlooked and he’d written a C# program to randomly generate a star field which took into account the joist locations.

So we had a round of ‘Stars in their eyes’ on Saturday where we auditioned starfields and finally came up with a winner. Not only did this software generate a GIF of the starfield but also a CSV file of coordinates that we used from the loft space above to detemine where we drilled.

Add in some HomeEasy automation kit from B&Q and he’s got one funky ceiling that also colour changes. Also as the fibres are clear, when you turn it off you can’t see any evidence of them!

Job well done as you can hopefully see! The first image is the view from the loft with no lights on except the fibreoptics. The second is the ceiling from below.

So horribly good!

Just in case you’ve managed to miss the spectacle that is Joss Whedon’s ‘Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’ then you really are missing out. With the release of the soundtrack on iTunes UK today you really have no excuse not to get caught up in the magic.

A project born from the Writer’s Strike in the US, Joss and his talented crew and cast have produced one of an internet viral video that oozes quality from every frame. 

Go visit the official site where you can watch the video via [update: only if you’re in the US. Damn copyright issues]. Can’t wait for the DVD release so we can continue to fund these good people. A diamond in the spam, for sure.

Hole in the wall

I hope for our sales the BBC don’t make a cheesy hash of ‘Hole In The Wall’ but with Dale Winton at the helm it sounds like it’s headed that way. ‘Human Tetris’ or ‘Tunnels’ in Japan is a successful game show where contestants stand in the way of an advancing polystyrene wall with a shape cut from it. The aim of the game is to pass through relatively unharmed and not get knocked into the pool directly behind you. Celebrities dressed in all-in-one silver latex suits are challenged to ever more complex and speedy shapes.
If you’re into daft please go and search for ‘Human Tetris’ on YouTube ( I’ll paste links when I’m home and not blogging on my iPhone).
No doubt the Uk version will ditch the shiny suits and make another National Lottery gameshow lame clone but I prepare to be corrected if people behind the show are true fans.

British Summer

I love the UK and all it’s quirkiness including the weather. It’s a lovely day here in Nottingham and was yesterday. It’s been very meditteranean here at the moment. No doubt it’ll be raining tomorrow.
So what’s to like? It never gets boring that’s what. I’m no good in very hot weather. You can always get warm but getting cold is more difficult. Yes I accept that a long period of hot weather would give us the opportunity of planning barbecues without using umbrellas. But it’s that adaptability to change that is our strength.
So roll on the sun and the rain. It’s crazy and ours.

Advertising Words

I certainly seem to watch more TV these days as I sit down after a busy day at Esendex. As much as I try and switch off during the adverts, I do keep hearing odd words crop up which seem to become the ‘vogue’.


Whilst cosmetic companies are forever coming up with random chemical sounding names for their additives for ‘the science bit’, there seems to be one which is this year’s in phrase.

What did we do before products offered ‘tautening’? Were we reduced to saggy “A-zones”, reduced to contemplating if a pony tail dragging the scalp back with hair would be our only salvation? No, obviously not. But that doesn’t stop advertisers trying to make the gullible feel that they need tautening.


“It’s more than a detergent, it’s a safetergent”. Oh get over yourself already. It’s a non-soap surfactant if you want to be picky, but safe-tergent? Come on Woolite, you’ve invented an advert so annoying that it’s actually actively putting me off the product. Own goal.

I’m sure there’s plenty more. At least the Glade ‘sooooothing light’ advert has disappeared now too.

What are your pet hate adverts, given we have to watch the things still? (Sky+ owners withstanding, which my brother loves to say how he doesn’t watch adverts anymore. Until they take the wheels off that kart and force you to watch adverts when you start playback off your HD 🙂 )