Friday, 10 May 2013
Back Garden Bird Webcam
(normally online between 06:00 and 21:00 daily).
Now powered by Yawcam - and hosted on my Linux box (so it may not be online all the time!)
Please note: This will stop streaming after 10 minutes to preserve bandwidth. Simply hit 'refresh' to start it again.
Friday, 22 March 2013
As another week ends, with the threat of snow and a wind chill factor that makes me glad I'm indoors (and yes, it is the penultimate week of March!) I thought I'd write a long-overdue blog post. This one is about podcasts.
I still listen to quite a few podcasts, although the method by which I receive them has changed over the years; it used to be Juice, which downloaded to my hard drive, so that I could copy the MP3s to my Samsung SGH-i600 until I got an iPod Touch and iTunes took over.
When Downcast eclipsed Apple's software offering, I considered it a worthwhile investment, given all the good reviews, and used that until I decided that carrying both an iPod Touch and an Android Phone was a little unnecessary. The question was, is there a decent 'podcatcher' for my Galaxy S?
Well, there is now - it seems that PocketCasts (for Android and IOS) has come of age, and I am really happy with it - the 'Smart Playlists' option is impressive, and, now I'm used to - and can remember - how the interface works (there's a fair amount of subtle gestures that are required to get things done) I don't really need anything else.
In fact, I think podcasts are the main listen for me, certainly while I'm doing the housework or sitting at my computer; driving tends to mean my attention is shared with the radio (either BBC Radio 4 or Radio 1 - for research purposes, naturally!)
Being a creature of habit, I have certain listens at various times of the week:
- Friday mornings
- Friday evenings (just before bed):
A Point Of View
- Sunday evenings
The Colonel Radio Show (rather rude, but quite entertaining to fall asleep to)
It's just something I wanted to remark upon - in the same way as television broadcasts used to be 'appointments to watch' I now have certain times to listen to podcasts... I am sure there are others that pop up when they've been published on certain days of the week (Prime Minister's Questions on a Wednesday, for example).
The rest of the week is scattered with a variety of offerings - I nearly four years ago I wrote a blog post about the shows I listen to, and some of them still exist! A more recent arrival, however has been Audioboo and the art of the 'audio journal' - it's interesting to hear what's going on in other folks' lives and so - I guess a little like listening to the Archers, but in 'real life' I will have the narrative tales of Richard Vobes, Lloyd Bayley, StriderPaul and many others play out in my ear.
It's amazing how much audio content there is out there - especially speech based, and as a real alternative to the anodyne hit radio that squanders the FM (and DAB) broadcasting spectrum. And as for internet radio... well, I'll save that for another blogpost, I think!
If you're interested, here's the current list of podcasts I listen to in a rather untidy (but podcatcher compatible) XML format: http://www.mus-ic.co.uk/other/rss/podcasts.xml.
Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Silophone - an amazing on-line audio effect, and it's still going!
I was looking for an interesting effect to put on a backing vocal, which reminded me of an interesting internet phenomenon I stumbled across a few years back. Designed as an artistic endeavour by Thomas McIntosh and Emmanuel Madan, it was wonderful to see that it is still going.
Visit www.silophone.net to listen to the device. It suggests you need Realplayer, but it's possible to listen using VLC (which, if you don't already have it, is definitely worth having as a versatile media player) - downloadable from www.videolan.org/vlc. Simply select Media -> Open Network Stream and enter:
You can submit your own recordings to be played out - if I have a caveat it would be that it has to be as loud as possible; there is a fairly strong noise gate, so quiet sounds won't get through.
Here's an example of a recording I've made this evening, with the output from the Silophone, and then mixed (with a bit of stereo magic) to make the 'full' sound; you'll need Flash to hear it, although you can also download the associated MP3.
Silophone sound - 'dry'...
Amazing-Silophone-dry.mp3 (112kB MP3 @ 192kbps)
Silophone sound - 'wet'...
Amazing-Silophone-wet.mp3 (549kB MP3 @ 192kbps)
Silophone sound - 'mixed'...
Amazing-Silophone-mixed.mp3 (550kB MP3 @ 192kbps)
Wednesday, 9 January 2013
'Free' cloud storage (the cheapskate's approach to backups!)
There's been a growth in free on-line storage services of late, both independent - like box.net and dropbox - and affiliated with service providers (like Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive). Of course, if you want real peace of mind, you can spend anything from a little per GB (Amazon Glacier, which is like a 'long term savings account') to a fixed price for unlimited storage for one PC (Carbonite) - more of a 'current account'. At the moment, I'm currently opting for the 'as cheap as possible' approach to online storage - for reasons which I will explain, but there may well come a time where I invest in a live 'offsite backup'.
Here's what I'm using:
I use Dropbox for two purposes - for collaboration (I have created a folder called 'shared', and within that are all the folders that are linked to others' dropboxes) and for transferring files between my mobile devices and desktop computers.
Much like the other cloud storage solutions, Dropbox works like a hard drive or shared folder in Windows, so it's easy to drag and drop information onto the internet. There's an excellent piece of sofware called ES File Explorer for Android that makes dropbox available within the filesystem there, too. Very handy for transferring lots of files!
The bonus with Dropbox is that the more people you refer (or who open an account to share with you) the more storage you get, up to a limit of 16GB.
Oh, and there's even a version for Linux - I use the command-line based Dropbox service to upload my security camera motion detected photos to the cloud; even if the computer gets stolen, I can at least get a glimpse of the perpetrators!
Much like Dropbox, Box can live as a shared folder both on my desktop and my phone; the main benefit to this is that they have had special offers to give away 50GB of storage. It's like having an enormous USB stick (although I obviously need an internet connection to use it!)
I use Google Drive somewhat differently; it's the on-line backup for my website, SQL databases and Linux configuration scripts.
To achieve this, I use a Linux command-line programme called Grive which simply synchronises items between the local drive and the cloud using web-based requests. It's a bit buggy and clunky, but I'm not after anything complicated - just a spare copy of my site in case the PC stops working, or I need to move it elsewhere.
All in all, then, I've got quite a few GB of data on-line, but nothing I don't keep a copy of at home as well. That said, there are some files - such as archive DVDs and backup drives - that I really could do with having a spare copy of... that's something to explore when I consider whether to pay a single on-off price for a large external hard drive (an enormous 3TB for less than £100) or a monthly 'rental' of on-line, secure, backed-up space. Decisions, decisions - as soon as I come to a conclusion, I'm sure I'll write a blog post!
Thursday, 3 January 2013
Happy New Year
Since it's 2013, I thought I ought to make a return to blogging. What to write about? Well, mainly it'll be techy stuff - for example, the new podcast app I've got for my Android phone. It's not free (but then, neither is Downcast - a remarkable podcast catcher for Apple iOS devices). However, a couple of pounds isn't much to spend if it's a good application and Pocket Casts is certainly approaching the best one can get for Android at the moment.
Who knows whether I'll be able to sustain posts into 2013, but it's worth a go. I started a new job back in October, which is really interesting (it's Unix and DB2 based, which gives me a chance to stretch my shell command line muscles!) but I need to find more to do in my leisure time. I have a studio to make music in; you can find some of my more recent noodlings here: cacophonyx.posterous.com and I'm working with my pal Simon on some collaborative music under the name 'Jamfolder'... hopefully I will be inspired to make more this year.