Friday, April 27, 2007

Blue Tulip Rose Read

The story of an obsessed Mike Read fan:


Blue Tulip Rose gets a T-Shirt Made

Blue Tulip Rose writes a letter

Blue Tulip Rose Read visits Classic FM

Blue Tulip Rose Read sings the classics

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman 3

At the Spiderman 3 Premiere in London

Kirsten Dunst - Spiderman 3 Premiere - London
Good lord.


Bizarre Brazil Aircraft Deaths

Photo of crashed microlite in Brazil
On Saturday in Brazil, a microlite pilot was killed when the aircraft he was flying crashed into the side of a block of flats. His wife and co-passenger was critically injured in the accident. Why am I mentioning this? Well, this isn't the first time that the hapless pilot has brought death and destruction from the air.

Last year, he decided to suprise his aunt by flying to visit her on her idyllic hilltop retreat. Hearing the noise of the aircraft, she ran on her lawn only to be decapitated by the landing aircraft's wing. Police are investigating.

Source: a work collegue and Globo (Brazillian television network)

Monday, April 23, 2007

HDTV may not be rubbish after all

Evangeline Lilly in HD in Lost
Contrary to an older post, HDTV may not be rubbish after all. I have had the opportunity to watch some HDTV recently and can report back that it is rather good. As with most technological nonsense, it's not that cut an dried:
  • You need an HDTV
  • You need a source of HD pictures
  • This means money
If you go out and buy an HDTV-ready TV from the shops and plug your analogue picture into it, it may look WORSE than it did before. Digital screens are pretty uncompromising with flaky source material.

LCD/Plasma TVs have several drawbacks over their archaic cathode-ray-tube ancestors:
  • The number of lines on the screen differs from the number of lines being sent to the television so the TV has to scale the picture, resulting in a less than ideal quality
  • LCD panels don't do movement too well. Fast-panning shots can look blurry
  • Black isn't necessarily black; it's more of a murky grey

HDTV when it's good, it's good

When you get a good digital source (like Sky-HD, Blue-Ray, HD-DVD or X-Box) the pictures are really good. You can see every detail - it's like when you're prescribed glasses for the first time and you get actually see the twigs on the trees. Lost (featuring Evangeline Lilly, pictured) in HD is particularly good. The trouble is, there's not much HD content out there. There are only a dozen or so HD channels on Sky amongst all the junk, but I imagine more will come soon.

Even normally tele can look good

All is not lost for normal TV because modern TV programmes, films and DVDs look good on a big screen too. New "high definition" content, broadcast at standard definition seems to benefit being filmed on higher quality "stock".

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Steve McQueen revisited

Prefab SproutThe other day, I wrote an article about the "forgotten album" Steve McQueen by Prefab Sprout. It turns out the album isn't actually forgotten because it has been re-released this week.

It is remastered and features a bonus disk of re-recorded versions of some of the songs. The first disk positively sparkles in its new, shiney coat. The acoustic versions are complete re-workings; with Goodbye Lucille being transformed into 3-time and Faron Young gaining flamenco flourishes. Paddy McAloon's voice is deeper than twenty years ago but startlingly melodic.

For balance, it should be pointed out that McAloon is also the author of the world's worst pop song: "Farmyard Cat" from the "Gunman and other stories" album.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fun with garages

My ramshackle wooden garage has been replaced by a smart aluminium thing. It's made by the nice people at Yardmaster whose website is in need of a revamp. It still says "Copyright 1998" on it.

Before - but after demolition

Wooden garage is demolished


New aluminium garage

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kylie swimwear robot

Kylie, like Madonna, has teamed up with the H&M retail chain with a range of swimwear. In the promotional photographs, published in the Sun this morning, Kylie looks like an airbrushed robot doll.
Kylie Swimwear RobotI'm not really bothered about the swimwear being launched, but if they start selling a life sized Kylie swimwear robot then I may be interested.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Online music file formats

An old fashioned CDThe other day, EMI agreed to sell its catalog on Apple's iTunes without copy protection measures. Presently, if you buy music from iTunes it can be burned to CD or played on up to five computers before the restiction kicks in. When EMI's music goes live, it will be unrestricted. Obviously, it's not that simple.

File formats and music quality

Current iTunes sales are encoded using the AAC file format. This is rival format to the popular MP3 file format but is:
  • free of any royalty payments
  • provides better sound quality than MP3
iTunes music files are compressed to 128kb/s but the unprotected EMI music will be at 256kb/s.

Only a careful ear will be able to hear the difference between the two. I listen to AAC encoded music a lot and I only occasionally hear things which I believe to be different to the CD. In most cases, I haven't listened to the CD version at all because I've ripped it and shelved the CD or bought the music directly from Apple.

But there's a catch, or is there?

When the unprotected music goes live, the customer will be able to buy single, copy-protected 128kp/s for 79p as normal, or single, unrestricted 256kbp/s for 99p. The good news is that the album price will stay the same at £7.99 and deliver the latter files for the same price.

And then

Presumably, the other record labels will follow EMI's example and soon all online music will be free of copy protection or DRM, as it is euphemistically known. This benefits the consumer because they are getting better sound quality for the same price (if they buy the album), the files can be used without restriction on any music player that supports AAC files.

This is the cunning bit. Apple, by selling their music on AAC, files are still maintaining the link between iPods and iTunes because not all MP3 players can play AAC files, but I would imagine they soon will be able to.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Manics vs Nina Persson

Manic Street Preachers and Nina PerssonThe new single by the Manic Street Preachers features the vocal talents of the Cardigan's Nina Persson. You can see the video for "Your love alone is not enough" here.