July 8th, 2002

Low cost portable DAB at last..

Digital Audio Broadcasting is wonderful. Especially if you live in the poor RF propagation environment of a big city. So, it's no surprise that I'm a great fan of digital radio (if only for the BBC's excellent 6Music - which is digital and web streaming only). Unortunately it's not easy to drag a Wavefinder around with you, and mine is plugged into the back of my main desktop PC in the study.

But now you can preorder a £100 DAB radio - may be this will be the tool that will finally bring DAB into the mass market, where it belongs. We'll have to see what the take up is like, and how well the receiver works. Pity it's not a Jonathan Ives design...
  • Current Music
    Mike Oldfield - Tr3s Lunas - Sirius

The Monday Bowl Of Soup Review: Howl's Moving Castle

A week of deep technical content at TechEd made me reach for some light fantasy as soon as I got home to the UK. Luckily, thanks to a long conversation with Farah and Caro at gummitch's summer party, I'd ordered some Diana Wynne Jones from Amazon, and Howl's Moving Castle was sat near the top of the trade paperback to-be-read pile...

Ostensibly a young adult novel, Howl's Moving Castle uses the tropes of the fairy tale to show the meaning of responsibility. A family of three sisters finds themselves in reduced circumstances, and must learn to live with the choices they make. The eldest, Sophie, cursed by the Witch of the Waste, makes her way to the Moving Castle of the Wizard Howl, which is currently circling their little country town, becoming his cleaner. But as time passes we find ourselves in layers of deception and curses, where no one is what they seem - and the only way out is for everyone to accept their situations, instead of ignoring them.

Diana Wynne Jones' light touch is very much to the fore here, with Howl's Moving Castle a quick and easy read - much like her Chrestomanci series (which share similar themes and structures). The characters are well drawn and act as an ensemble, and combined with the limited number of sets this makes the book feel at times like a BBC drama. That's not bad - I have many pleasant memories of Sunday evening classic dramas, sat in front of a blazing fire - and get something of the same sense of comfort from the slim volume.

Pity about the cover art, though...
  • Current Music
    Marillion and The Positive Light - Tales From The Engine Room - 80 Days

I had to buy this...

...I was out buying lunch, and I happened to be going past a record shop, when I found an album by a band called Arpanet...
...Then I saw it was called Wireless Internet...
...And then I read the track listing...

  • The Analyst

  • Illuminated Displays

  • I-mode

  • Wireframe Images

  • P2101V

  • NTT DoCoMo

  • Software Version

  • Devoid of Wires

  • Wireless Internet

...What else was I to do?

(Actually it turned out to be rather good French style synth pop - somewhere in style between Daft Punk, Air and Jean Michel Jarre... though it appears that the band are actually American...)
  • Current Music
    Arpanet - Wireless Internet - NTT DoCoMo

A Bibliophile's Anthem

I, like many geeks, have a tendency to obsess about things - getting caught up in something, hyper-focussing, and having to follow it through to the end no matter what.

One obsession in the mid-nineties was the music of The Divine Comedy, when one single on the radio led to me buying all the albums, and playing them one after the other for several weeks... I still enjoy their (well, really his) music, and recently ripped all my CDs and poured them onto the iPod. One the tube home tonight I finished reading my current book, and instead of background music, I was listening to the words again. And one of my favourite songs was playing... It's one of The Divine Comedy's list songs, when he takes a musical theme and runs an almost freeform list over the top of it.

Starting with a sample from A Room With A View, the song lists various writers, along with an apposite little voice in the background. It's a literary game. trying to find the link between the name and the quote...

And considering the readership of this LJ, I felt I should share the lyrics with you...

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  • Current Music
    "If a Tree Falls" by Bruce Cockburn