Saturday, 3 August 2013
Lego Galaxy Squad at the National Space Centre!
We were very fortunate to be invited to the launch of a new range of Lego, that took place at the National Space Centre in Leicester. It's enough of a treat to visit the Space Centre (we have been there annually for the past three years!) but to be part of this special event was a real bonus. The children had been looking forward to it since the beginning of the summer holidays, and we were welcomed into one of the meeting rooms where there was a goodie bag for the children and pastries for us all.
There were quite a few events going on that day, including a very interesting talk and Q&A by Bright Bricks' Duncan Titchmarsh about his role as the UK's only Certified Lego Professional.
Chris made an interesting stop-frame video involving Lego Spaceman (it's called "Broken 4th Wall"):
Both children made a contribution to an enormous (45,000 1x1 brick) mosaic of the Lego Galaxy Squad logo. There were a lot of different coloured 'oners' to choose from!
In fact, we had a fantastic day all-in-all (although I was on-call and spent far more time on the phone and my work laptop than I would have liked) and we couldn't be more grateful to Elyssa at Norton & Co for the invitation, and to Lego and the National Space Centre for having us!
Here is a selection of other photos taken during the day - there are more, as always, in the Gallery.
Saturday, 25 May 2013
An afternoon on Dunstable Downs
We wanted to make the most of the reasonably dry weather (who knows what can happen on a Bank Holiday weekend, let alone spring half term!) so we drove to Dunstable Downs, which is almost always a good place to fly kites.
It was fun - with the bonus of seeing (and hearing) a pair of traction engines chuffing towards the car park.
Our journey home diverted to the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral - which is an amazing venue for a wedding - to pick up a couple of geocaches, which marked a suitable start to the half term break.
A few photos of our trip are below, including (if it works!) an interactive panorama of the view from the Downs. It's only a first-attempt, using hugin to stitch the images, and a neat bit of jQuery by GayaDesign.com to display it (both free!)... I will try do make more sophisticated one on my next trip.
Oh, and as always, there are more photos in the gallery.
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)