Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Mobile Me

For the past few months Blogger development appears to have been on hold at Mountain View! Code warrior, Kirk, noted the following automatic update. This new feature will purportedly enable mobile users to send a text alert to their contacts. There's still no official statement over at Blogger Buzz. Although I regularly customize/hack my blog's template, Categories would be a welcome addition.

If you're reading this using BlackBerry, please drop me a line before the litigation between BlackBerry and NTP culminates in a blackout for US consumers.

According to MacFixIt some Mac OS X 10.4.4 Tiger users are experiencing feed update issues in Safari 2.x. I solved the problem by opening Preferences, selecting the RSS pane and 'hitting' Remove Now.

Sunday, 29 January 2006

Boss Cat

After a little coaxing, I've encouraged Nick Smith (friend and author of Milk Treading and The Kitty Killer Cult) to release a free eBook entitled 'Cat Sense'!

Cat Sense touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ingenious biological make-up of cats.

Offering free books (or chapters) is an excellent opportunity to reach an audience that may have otherwise never come into contact with a writer. I authored the eBook using Adobe's InDesign CS, Acrobat 7.0 Pro and Distiller. A publishing triple threat!

Friday, 27 January 2006

Eternity Moment

During yesterday's trip to Cheltenham, Dad and me were subject to the "acausal connecting principle" whilst listening to the Big Show on Radio 2! Steve Wright was in a debate, with another presenter, regarding the correct pronunciation of Scarlett Johansson's surname.

As I started to explain to Dad who she was, a van passed by featuring an image of Scarlett's luminous face and pouting lips! Only minutes earlier we'd been drinking coffee in Starbucks! Was it something in the caffeine?

Thursday, 26 January 2006

The Gemini Apes

The following is a reprint of a feature written for my online portfolio.

A fascination with media production began when I was bought an Hitachi portable tape recorder (its contemporary is an Apple iPod). I started recording off television, my favourite television shows, and listening to the sounds back without the picture (mentally envisaging a different version). I would narrate stories and record conversations and sounds. It became a form of education via entertainment.

This acute interest in "the theatre of the mind" also encompassed Radio drama! The catalyst was BBC Radio Four’s dramatisation of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (1981).

During the second year of the BA (Hons) Media Production degree I specialised in audio and video. And undertook a 10 minute audio documentary. Director Dirk Maggs kindly agreed to an interview concerning his successful comic book to radio adaptations, which included DC Comics' 'Batman: Knightfall' (1994) and 'Superman: Doomsday and Beyond' (1993).

In 1998 Dirk invited me to work on 'The Gemini Apes'. My role as a studio assistant involved foley and sourcing original and prerecorded material from The Soundhouse's extensive recording library. This included original content from Skywalker Sound.

Meeting Christopher Lee (he played the character of Drake) during 'The Gemini Apes' recording sessions, was truly a defining moment. This was prior to his career renaissance in 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Star Wars' prequels. He is a gentleman and formidably intelligent. Christopher regaled us with myriad anecdotes. One of which concerned Johnny Depp with whom he was shooting Tim Burton's 'Sleepy Hollow' (1998).

From a journalistic perspective. Breaks during the recording sessions were a plumb opportunity to network with writers from Starburst, SFX and Dreamwatch magazines.

Wednesday, 25 January 2006


Talkr's automated text-to-speech, via RSS feed, service is worthy of its own iTunes Music Store listing! This morning Apple approved my submission. You can subscribe from today. Please note that this is in addition to my existing podcast, which includes multimedia content.

Monday, 23 January 2006

A Stroll Down Wisteria Lane

Another Birthday! Special thanks to Glen, Michael, Nick and family for the great gifts: from Batman to Star Wars, you know me too well! The Birthday celebrations began on Friday evening! I was invited to Carriages Restaurant and, aside from one other group booking, we had the place to ourselves.

A year ago I waxed lyrically about Desperate Housewives and how it blended the camp of The Stepford Wives with the noir of Twin Peaks. Due to various pressures, I wasn't able to continue following the blockbusting first season. And am currently enjoying the exploits of Bree, Susan, Lynette and Gabrielle on DVD once again.

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Be del.icio.us

This isn't an advertising spot for Donna Karan New York (DKNY). Those with a discerning eye will have noticed that all posts now support 'add to del.icio.us and Furl It' social bookmarking!

Social bookmarking is gaining mainstream momentum, enabling consumers to keep, share and discover links, and complements RSS.

The last few days I've exhausted my leisure time researching different methods of integrating social bookmarking: manual and automated. Whilst manual editing affords customization, automation was a priority given that there are nearly 400 archived pages, making the former method unrealistic, and it's the superior option going forward! So, undaunted I searched Google and result.

My next quest is to research and implement Technorati tags transparently.

Monday, 16 January 2006

E.B.E. in the Everglades

As part of Channel 4's content deal with Disney (including Desperate Housewives and Lost). They've acquired first-run rights to ABC's Invasion (produced by Warner Bros). This new series quietly premiered a week ago and already has me hooked!

Unlike Lost. Invasion is a slow burner filled with knowing winks to The Invaders (1967), Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956), 24, The Thing (1951), The Day of the Triffids (1962) and other staples of American/English Gothic. The inspired premise surrounds Hurrican Eve that masks the arrival of an alien armada. Is Florida's subsurbia being taken over by clones and what lies beneath the surface (both in the literal and metaphorical sense)?

Invasion boasts a photogenic and likeable ensemble (Lisa Sheridan is worthy of note) and the score is outstanding for episodic television. My sky+ series links are skewed towards US imports!

Thursday, 12 January 2006

May The "Frak" Be With You!

Tuesday heralded the feted return of Battlestar Galactica on sky one (UK commercial television channel ultimately owned by News International). Season Two's opening episode Scattered proffers a breathless and stomach-churning dramatic pace that lends verisimilitude to the story.

This is televisions equivalent of The Empire Strikes or The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Commander Adama is dying, Starbuck and Helo are trapped on Cylon-occupied Caprica and Baltar's shipwrecked on Kobol. The relentless Cylon force is in hot pursuit and engages the Galactica in an epic dogfight. A solitary Cylon centurion troop transport reaches the Galactica and its passengers disembark. To be continued...

I'd recorded the show on my Pace PVR and lamented the fact that sky has yet to add an optional audio commentary option. Come on sky, as a content author with a modicum of technological savvy, I know how easy this would be to add, especially given the increased bandwidth available in third generation hardware. For the moment I'll continue to subscribe to Ronald D. Moore's podcasts via iTunes.

Monday, 9 January 2006

California Dreamin'

This post is brought to you, dear reader, later than anticipated! Lets just say that offline life supersedes online. However, MWSF 2006 delivered on Intel-based desktop and laptop Macs. The MacBook (new nomenclature for PowerBook line) may take a lot of getting used to, but the machine looks devine. The iMac was a surprise, although I'd prefer to have seen an Intel Mac mini.

Whilst the hardware transition met or exceeded expectations. The software, for me, was far more interesting. Google Earth made its official public debut, Microsoft started offering Flip4Mac (for Windows Media playback in QuickTime) for free and Apple inevitably shipped iLife '06; a quintet of robust authoring tools. Get your order in today!

iPhoto received a major code rewrite and all-new gleaming GUI. Will its new sibling, iWeb, resurrect the simplicity of Adobe's PageMill 3.0 coupled with the clean code of BBEdit? If not, Karelia Software may have the answer with Sandvox!

Industrial Light & Magic

Timing is everything. And Adobe, breaking with its recent Windows-first agenda, today released Lightroom Beta 1 for Mac. "With its modular, task-based and streamlined environment, Lightroom's goal is to deliver a complete photography workflow," notes the company. At face value this is a welcome software salvo in response to Apple Computer's Aperture. However, Lightroom's inception dates from 2002!

Lightroom currently sports an attractive GUI that shares more than a passing resemblance to Apple's pro applications. I'll be importing photos (available from my Flickr photostream) and posting the results. The target price point is unknown, but expect to pay somewhere between Photoshop Elements and CS! I'm sold. Lightroom requires Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later.

Sunday, 8 January 2006

Home Improvement

Couldn't let Sunday's .Mac announcement pass without comment!

.Mac will be undergoing scheduled maintenance from 7:00 AM to 12:00 PM PST on 1/10/06. All .Mac services will be affected. We apologize for the inconvenience.

In 2000 iTools was launched: iDisk, Mac.com, KidSafe, and HomePage. Like many other Mac Users, I signed-up within a matter of days. When Apple announced that iTools (now known as .Mac) would no longer be free, I decided to stay because my site was well-established and the e-mail address had become indispensable! Here's hoping that the update is substantial and applicable to international users!

Saturday, 7 January 2006

The Search For Spock

A quiet weekend before the MWSF storm! I hope you find the new Search This Blog feature (see sidebar) a useful "value-added" tool. Time to play my pixel-perfect Nintendo DS.

Thursday, 5 January 2006

Archie Comics

Here is part two of my Dark Horse Comics Stellar Scribes feature. This chronicles the superlative reprint of the episodic Classic Star Wars strips (Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson). The most notable story featured Han Solo's legendary encounter with a bounty hunter on Ord Mantell!

The original strips were published in US newspapers prior to the first-run theatrical release of The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

Wednesday, 4 January 2006

The Incredibles

The Register, that custodian of cutting-edge technological reportage, recently reviewed the book droidMAKER. Written by Michael Rubin, droidMAKER chronicles the rise of Lucasfilm and emergence of Pixar (that other company owned by Steve Jobs). So, a highly literate Star Wars and an Apple Macintosh geek (like myself) gets a double dose of the really good stuff!

The author wisely made a couple of chapters freely available for download (PDF). Of particular interest is the chapter on Atari/Lucasfilm Games: the golden age of 8-bit gaming (listening to A-Ha's The Sun Always Shines On TV whilst loading the Commodore 64 port of Koronis Rift).

Here's a link to the droidMAKER Tour, you're on your own from there! I'll be reviewing droidMAKER following coverage of MWSF 2006.

Still Bay Area-related. In the early-to-mid 1990s the official Lucasfilm magazine and Dark Horse Comics published my scribes (a thrill for any discerning fan). I'll scan my Lucasfilm letter in the future. However, you can download part one of two Dark Horse Comics' Stellar Scribes letters - prequel musings and classic comic reprints. Excuse the quality, but these PDFs were taken from archived JPEG scans!

For those of you wondering why I'm not linking to both Dark Horse letters? The RSS 2.0 specification only allows for one enclosure per posting. Therefore part two (classic comic reprints) will garner its own post shortly.

Monday, 2 January 2006

Limited Offer

MacUpdate is offering a free membership to anyone who registers in the month of January. The membership will last through the entire year. A few years ago, the service was free and indispensable. Surely worth a second look and their Dashboard Widget isn't too bad either! That's a pretty neat New Year's gift.

Oh, have any other .Mac subscribers noticed that Apple has increased the monthly bandwidth to 1TB? A sign of things to come.

Sunday, 1 January 2006

Two Thousand & Sith

Due to the Small Round Structured Virus (SRSV), which has besieged both Derriford and RD&E hospitals. I spent New Years with Garfield, Jennifer Love Hewitt and friends! Bill Murray delivers Garfield's acerbic commentary with his usual aplomb!

May I wish all my readers, from San Francisco to Sydney, a safe and prosperous (not limited to the Capitalist definition) 2006.