Saturday 30 December 2006

The Twitter Machine

John Chow included my review of his blog. Thanks John. Does this mean that I'm now a fully-fledged Chowderhead? Congratulations to the winning entry, submitted by Jennifer Lynn of Broken-Ass Student, which was well deserved.

Maury McCown, over at RAILhead Design, is adding the finishes touches to his TwitterPost application (for Mac OS X). Twitter (direct link to my page), for those of you not in the know (myself included until recently), is a global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?

This is my final post for 2006. See you in 2007.

Wednesday 27 December 2006

Sleigh Ride

Part two of my Review of the Year.

*Album - Future Sex / Love Sounds. Justin Timberlake (aided and abetted by Timbaland) finally puts to rest any doubts as to the identity of the new King of Pop! Runners up: The Sound Of Girls Aloud: Greatest Hits (Girls Aloud) and Loose (Nelly Furtado).

*Single - Promiscuous. Nelly Furtado's stellar follow-up to Maneater needs no introduction! Runners up: Fergalicious (Fergie) and Rock Steady (All Saints).

*Movie - Adrift. An unrelenting study of fair-weather friendship set against the backdrop of the ocean. Runners up: Superman Returns and Pirates Of The Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest.

*DVD - Dungeons & Dragons. Runners up: Doctor Who - The Complete Series 2 Box Set and Lost - The Complete Second Series.

*Television Drama - Battlestar Galactica. Last year's winner recaptures the number one spot with the coolness of a Cylon agent! Runners up: Bones and Lost.

*Television Sci-Fi - Doctor Who. No change. Runners up: Battlestar Galactica and Torchwood.

*Merchandise - Doctor Who - Tardis Electronic Playset. Character Options continues to produce products worthy of everyone's favourite Time Lord! Runners up: Marvel Legends and Star Wars Transformers.

Saturday 23 December 2006

Oh Happy Day

A few weeks ago, I was reading Darren Rowse's ProBlogger post - Increase AdSense Earnings with Competitive Ad Filter - and, as Fortuna (AKA Lady Luck) was on my side, followed a link from this post - New Google Ad Placements - to John Chow dot Com! John Chow was extolling the virtues of using the Competitive Ad Filter to increase AdSense earnings.

Prior to this, the name John Chow meant nothing to me! However, John has clearly masterminded the art of near-transparent monetisation and is prepared to share his considerable and, by extension, invaluable knowledge with others.

Since adopting the Competitive Ad Filter (using, my earnings have increased from a few cents to dollars per day! I certainly have much to learn from John Chow and am now an avid reader of his blog.

You could do worse than read both John Chow and Darren Rowse's online money-making musings.

Friday 22 December 2006

Stay Another Day

Still stumped for last minute gift ideas? Why not send Gift Certificates to family and friends?

Wednesday 20 December 2006

The Spirit of Christmas

While I finalise the second (and last) part of my Review of the Year. Here's Google Zeitgeist 2006, which Darren Rowse, at ProBlogger, has highlighted for his readers. - Top Searches in 2006

1. bebo
2. myspace
3. world cup
4. metacafe
5. radioblog
6. wikipedia
7. video
8. rebelde
9. mininova
10. wiki

Google News - Top Searches in 2006

1. paris hilton
2. orlando bloom
3. cancer
4. podcasting
5. hurricane katrina
6. bankruptcy
7. martina hingis
8. autism
9. 2006 nfl draft
10. celebrity big brother 2006

I hope to break the top ten by the end of next year!

Tuesday 19 December 2006

Stop The Cavalry

Where has the year gone? Wasn't it only yesterday that I posted this?

Read on for the first part of my Review of the Year. And the prizes go to:

*E-Commerce - aStore by Amazon. Amazon's new aStore format has impressed me (as has your willingness to purchase from the links) and I hope that this store concept is developed further. An urgent request to Amazon's Associates team - please add RSS as soon as practicable. Runners up: ReviewMe and PayPerPost.

*Web - MySpace. Now that the dust is settling around RSS, I'm hard-pressed to recommend any significant web-based product this year! That's my tenuous excuse out of the way. Social networking websites (and bookmarking) are all the rage, and it would be churlish to ignore their profound dominance. Runners up: RSS and Facebook.

*Buzz Word - Wi-Fi. Wires are so passé. No logo, no go. Runners up: RSS and VoiP.

*Application - Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta. Why? Well, the all-new UI has to be seen to be believed and the significant speed gains can't be ignored (even on my ageing LCD iMac G4). Runners up: Firefox 2 and iTunes 7.

*Gadget (formerly Console) - Wii. It's garnered acreages of coverage both here and elsewhere. Nintendo has delivered a revolution with Wii and the only flies in the ointment are product availability and the replacement remote strap fiasco. Both will be addressed in the New Year. Runners up: Nintendo DS Lite and iPod Shuffle.

*Video Game - The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess (Wii). Hyrule rendered in lush panoramic 16:9. Runners up: Rayman Raving Rabbids (Wii) and Killzone Liberation (PSP).

Stay tuned for Best Album, DVD, Movie, Television series and much more.

Saturday 16 December 2006

Requiem of December

Last week The Power of Love (performed by Frankie Goes To Hollywood) was on heavy radio rotation. The song was officially licensed for use during the end titles of December Duet, my 1996 video major project at Bournemouth University, and it's only appropriate to repost the following audio clips for those who may have missed them the first time around:

Opening narration (performed by Bob Sessions) (MP3)
Soundtrack suite Part 1 (MP3)
Soundtrack suite Part 2 (MP3)

Those of you with a keen ear will hear fragments of The Power of Love, arguably one of the greatest ballads ever written, interpolated in Part 1! It's worth noting that this was more an act of serendipity than calculated design! The composers were unaware that I had elected to use a commercial pop song; an oversight that I never intend to repeat.

The source material is taken from TDK SA (Type II) cassette tape (Dolby HX PRO B NR) and is subject to the inherent limitations of the medium i.e. reduced fidelity.

Wednesday 13 December 2006

Passion for Fashion!

As I've noted previously. A lot of you are buying products from both my Amazon and associate links. Thank you once again for supporting my passion for blogging in this way. Please don't underestimate its significance.

Because Bratz are an ever-popular holiday gift with readers, I've decided to add another aStore.

Bratz Shop

David Rowan, editor of the Jewish Chronicle and a Times columnist, wrote this compelling article; The Times Magazine: How Bratz beat Barbie.

There are lots of bargains available online, but please note that the last day to place orders for delivery before Christmas is December 22nd (by Express Delivery).

Monday 11 December 2006

Wii Play

Wii arrived this afternoon. Looking forward to some retro-goodness (via Virtual Console) from this coming Friday.

UK Virtual Console releases, December 15:

Urban Champion (NES)
Solomon's Keys (NES)
Pinball (NES)
Columns (Mega Drive)
Gunstar Heroes (Mega Drive)
Ristar (Mega Drive)
Dr. Robotonik's Mean Bean Machine(Mega Drive)
Alien Crush (Turbografx)

UK Virtual Console releases, December 22:

Donkey Kong Jr. (NES)
Soccer (NES)
Tennis (NES)
Space Harrier II (Mega Drive)
Toe Jam & Earl (Mega Drive)
Military Madness (Turbografx)

UK Virtual Console releases, December 29:

Baseball (NES)
Ice Hockey (NES)
SimCity (SNES)
Super Probotector (SNES)
Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
R-TYPE (Turbografx)

Saturday 9 December 2006

Wii-Envy You

Following the launch of the Wii across Europe at midnight last night, Nintendo UK has reported that 50,000 units of the console were sold in just 12 hours!

That equates to one sale every second, according to Nintendo - much to the satisfaction of UK boss David Yarnton.

"We are delighted with the amazing response to Wii and that people of all ages and gaming experience are embracing the way that we are turning the industry on its head," he commented.

"With so many units sold it is great to see that people will be enjoying Wii with their families this Christmas."

The official launch took place at HMV's flagship Oxford Street store, where 17 year old Londoner Marwan Elgamal became the first British gamer to pick up a Wii. Other shops opening at midnight included the GAME store down the road, which saw even longer queues and also sold all of its stock.

PC World Ipswich witnessed a queue of onlookers who wanted to participate in Wii Play! The glorious Gears of War point-of-sale wasn't enough to diminish Wii-envy!

Tuesday 5 December 2006

Nintendo's Post-Christmas Crackers

Wii will not be with me until next week! That's OK as I'm too penny-pinching to pay for First Class delivery!

GAME (UK retailer) employees are purportedly alleging that there's going to be significant hardware and software shortages pre-Christmas, and are banning software and accessories-only pre-orders! Nintendo Wii Fanboy is seeking confirmation on this story.

Zelda is the only Nintendo franchise represented in the UK launch. However, Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption are not too far behind! In homage to the latter, the rest of this post will be of particular interest to video game merchandise hunters!

With the instantly recognizable bulky round orange shoulder pieces, Samus Aran’s Varia Suit has served the interstellar bounty huntress well. Her Varia suit, with the ability to resist even the most extreme of temperatures, has helped Samus on her quest of aiding the Galactic Federation in defeating the Space Pirates and eradication of the deadly Metroids.

First 4 Figures is extremely proud to present Samus Aran’s Varia Suit, the first collectible statue in First 4 Figures’ highly anticipated suit series based on Retro Studios’ Metroid Prime game trilogy.

First 4 Figures has used the official game files in order to create an extremely accurate recreation of the Varia suit, with pose inspiration taken from official Metroid Prime Varia Suit artwork.

The suit series will include, but not limited to, Samus Aran’s Light Suit, Dark Suit and Phazon suit.

Cast in high quality poly-stone, the statue is hand finished and hand painted with metallic paints to give an authentic representation of the suits.

Comes packed in a foam interior full colored box with a card of authenticity.

Wednesday 29 November 2006

Ready. Set. Shop.

Not content with's Wii-Order Tuesday, Black Friday or even Cyber Monday? Then don't miss the Apple Store's special one-day shopping event. Friday, December 1st. Only on the online Apple Store.

Come back to the online Apple Store on Friday, December 1st for a special one-day only shopping event where you will find dozens of great gift ideas.

Mark your Google Calendar now. Until then, start your research by visiting the online Apple Store Christmas Gift Guide to find Mac and iPod gifts for everyone on your Christmas List, after all who wants a Walkman or, worse, Microsoft's Zune? An iPod Shuffle is on my Wish List.

Tuesday 28 November 2006

The Sound Of Christmas

A Whole New World of Entertainment is the UK's leading provider of downloadable spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programming.

Audible has over 11,000 titles to choose from 400 content partners, including leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers.

Because there's no CD or cassette, Audible offer customers great audio content at prices well below the high street equivalent. All Audible titles are at least 30% off the high street RRP.

Customers can listen to Audible's titles and programmes either on a PC or Mac, iPod, hard-drive MP3 players, smartphones, PDAs, car navigation systems; in all over 220 different device types and models. You can even make a CD copy of your audio.

Monday 27 November 2006

Cyber Monday

Yesterday's Sunday Times Business section featured an article on Cyber Monday! The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving and the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shopping season.

Similar to Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year when retail stores often offer significant discounts, Cyber Monday has in recent years become a busy day for online retailers, and one in which online stores offer similarly low prices and promotions. It has gained cache since the 2005 holiday season.

Unlike bricks-and-mortar, my online stores are open 24/7:

Disney Shop
Doctor Who Shop
PlayStation Shop
Wii Shop
Xbox 360 Shop

Looking for The Legend of Zelda merchandise? Here's Link!

Friday 24 November 2006

Black Friday

A belated happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, is historically one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year. Many consider it the "official" beginning to the holiday season. Most retailers will open very early and usually provide massive discounts on their products.

Although Black Friday is typically the busiest shopping day of the year in terms of customer traffic, it is not typically the day with the highest sales volume. That is usually either Christmas Eve, the last Saturday before Christmas, or December 26th Boxing Day.

Happy bargain hunting and be sure to return on Cyber Monday!

Wednesday 22 November 2006

Wii A Minute's initial allocation of Nintendo Wii consoles sold-out within seven minutes yesterday!

The scheduled 9:00AM (GMT) start was delayed until 9:38AM (GMT) due to the sheer number of site visitors (all hitting browser refresh or using a clever Firefox extension). This unprecedented event has garnered considerable global press and television coverage.

"We expected a high number of people to visit the site but the response was phenomenal," said James Schall, videogame manager for Amazon UK. "It's the fastest-selling pre-order item we have ever encountered - even eclipsing Harry Potter and Coldplay."

I'd like to thank all my readers who purchased a Wii console, games and accessories via my associate links. Your support is very much appreciated and, most importantly, at no additional cost to yourself!

Tuesday 21 November 2006

(There's No Place Like) Hyrule For The Holidays

Following last evening's online chat with Gedeon Maheux, one of The Iconfactory's principle pixel pushers, I was more determined than ever to procure a Nintendo Wii!

Against the odds and following the somewhat predictable disappointment (there was no way they could've fulfilled 9000+ pre-orders due to allocation shortages). This morning I managed to secure a Wii pre-order from!

Pre-ordering went live at, about, 9:40AM (GMT) and lasted for mere minutes, with some customers reaching Amazon's place order now page too late (according to various forums)!

Roll on December and some serious holiday time spent in Hyrule.

Monday 20 November 2006

Nine To Five (9 to 5)

With its innovative motion-sensing controller and family-fun orientated games, Nintendo's Wii console will revolutionise how we play. You can pre-order yours at from tomorrow, November 21, during business hours (9am - 5pm GMT). will stop taking pre-orders once they've pre-sold all the consoles Nintendo have allocated to them for release day. Order early to avoid disappointment!

Thursday 16 November 2006

PlayStation Shop

In anticipation of the North American release of the PS3, I've launched a dedicated shop for all things PlayStation!

PlayStation Shop UK

PlayStation Shop USA

Buy hardware, software and accessories under one roof and be assured of excellent order fulfilment (provided by Amazon).

Christmas is less than six weeks away! Happy holiday shopping and please bookmark.

Tuesday 14 November 2006

Wii Shop

With the imminent release of Nintendo's Wii, I'm launching a store dedicated to a console revolution:

Wii Shop UK

Wii Shop USA

Buy hardware, software and accessories under one roof and be assured of excellent order fulfilment (provided by Amazon).

Get your Wii-orders in early!

Sunday 12 November 2006

Wii-Order with

Finally has announced the pre-order date for Nintendo's Wii! Mark Tuesday, November 21st, 2006 in you calendar! Stocks are limited therefore it's first come, first served.

Unlike, will cease taking pre-orders once its pre-Christmas allocation has sold-out!

The line starts here! Wrap up warm and bring plenty of hot mocha!

Thursday 9 November 2006

Meet & Greet

Last evening I received a telephone call from Sony BMG Music UK! I've won tickets to see Beyoncé, in concert, later this month at an exclusive BBC event! What an amazing pre-holiday surprise!

Don't ever recall winning a competition before, and am therefore, if you'll excuse the informality, stoked! I've been a fan of Beyoncé since 1999 when I saw Destiny's Child perform, seminal song, Say My Name on MTV.

Hmm, wonder what future Sony swag is in-store for consumers following the release of the P!nk co-branded PSP? One endorsed by Beyoncé or Jennifer Lopez? Yum, yum!

Friday 3 November 2006

Super Mario 64 DS

Stuck for holiday gift ideas? Then checkout my latest listing on eBay!

Nintendo's critically-acclaimed Super Mario 64 DS.

Super Mario 64 was a genre-defining classic. Now it arrives on the Nintendo DS with all-new features that take advantage of the new portable system's dual screens, touch screen and wireless features! Mario, Luigi and Wario are invited to a royal party for Princess Peach. When they arrive at the castle, it is strangely empty and the 3 of them try to learn what happened. When they disappear too, Yoshi must rescue them from their old enemy Bowser.

*Play as Yoshi, Mario, Luigi or Wario -- each has their own unique abilities and you'll need them all

*Collect the 150 Power Star Bowser hid on the castle grounds

*In Adventure Mode, you'll control the four friends by using the stylus on the touch-screen

*Play and win fun touch-sensitive mini-games

*Battle up to three friends in Wireless Versus mode, which can be played with only one Super Mario 64 DS game card

Remember to subscribe to my newly relaunched eBay Feed!

Wednesday 1 November 2006

Media Manager for PSP®

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Announces a Content Organiser for PSP

London, 1 November 2006 – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced the launch of Media Manager for PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) allowing users to easily transfer, share and manage their PSP content with their Personal Computer (PC).

Developed by Sony Media Software, the new Media Manager for PSP will enable users to transfer video, photos, documents, podcasts and music to and from the PSP system using the simple drag-and-drop method. Users will be able to simultaneously transfer multiple items from their PC to their PSP system and a media previewing function will also assist in the easy flow of content to and from the PSP system.

Media Manager for PSP will support a vast majority of file formats (see Notes to Editors) and will automatically convert files to allow users to easily view or listen to a massive library of content that is available to the PSP community. Along with simple management of content, users will also be able to transfer Internet Explorer favourites to their PSP system plus easily backup games saves and move game saves between Memory Stick Duo™.

''We are delighted to launch Media Manager for PSP in Europe. Media Manager adds a great deal to the everyday running of the PSP system and ensures that it will remain the ultimate entertainment companion for all present and future PSP users’’ said Stephane Hareau, PSP Senior Brand Manager for SCEE. ‘’Consumers will now be able to organise and manage non-game content like videos, music, photos and much more on their PSP with the utmost ease’’

Media Manager for PSP will be available to download for €9.99 (£7.99) from the 3rd of November (details at and boxed in store for €19.99 (£14.99) from the 8th of November. Vouchers to download Media Manager for PSP will be included with specific PSP bundles.

Tuesday 31 October 2006

Something Kinda Ooooh

May I wish all my readers a happy and safe Halloween. As with Halloween '04, here's a photo of the demure Jennifer Love Hewitt. A bewitching treat, wouldn't cha say?

Love Hewitt is enjoying deserved success with Ghost Whisperer, a television series that soon started to deliver chills after a cold start (no pun intended)!

Thursday 26 October 2006

Star Fox

I'm back from Essex! A Halloween-themed visit mixed-in with some PlayStation quality time!

Killzone and FIFA '06 deliver the goods including sharp artificial intelligence (AI). Now if only I'd tried scoring serviceable goals as opposed to performing 'fancy footwork' from way outside the goal mouth!

My Estuary English still needs work - an early New Year's resolution! However, Received Pronunciation (RP) is an entirely different matter!

Mozilla's Firefox 2.0 is now available in your favourite OS flavour! Were you one of the lucky FF users who got to play with the official release a few hours before its debut last Tuesday?

Friday 20 October 2006

Mayo meets Woz

Things have been a little quiet around here! Aside from very flakey iDisk and BlogSpot servers precluding updates. I've been busy creating new banners for a client, Forbidden Planet International (see Marvel Legends) whilst, simultaneously, cutting my teeth on Adobe Photoshop CS2!

Thursday's edition of The Daily Mayo, broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live will be of interest not only to Apple Computer fans, but anyone with a modicum of interest in video game and PC history.

Simon Mayo was at London's Science Museum today sneaking a peek at the Game On exhibition opening on Saturday, and spoke to the inimitable Steve Wozniak or "Woz", the designer of the first Apple PC.

Steve Wozniak is currently promoting his new book, iWoz, which is available now from all good online and bricks and mortar stores.

Wednesday 18 October 2006

Reuters Second Life

Reuters, the global news agency, has launched a virtual bureau in Second Life, to cover events and business from within the online simulation game. I first learnt of this strategic partnership whilst listening to Today on BBC Radio Four.

The office will be staffed by Reuters media correspondent Adam Pasick, known as Adam Reuters within Second Life, who will report to players within the game as well as being Reuters' Second Life expert.

"In Second Life, we're making Reuters part of a new generation," said Tom Glocer, Reuters CEO. "We're playing an active role in this community by bringing the outside world into Second Life and vice versa."

Second Life has over 600,000 users worldwide and is looking to open a UK office.

Will Bloomberg follow in Reuters steps?

Friday 13 October 2006


Were you one of the many millions who grew up on SMASH HITS as I did? Did you collect the stickers, pull out the posters, read the lyrics to La Bamba and suddenly realise it was a song about 'doing the goat'? (hmmm). If you remember catchphrases such as 'Uncle Disgusting' and 'sniiiip!', if you kissed your poster of Morten Harket before you went to bed or thrilled when a SMASH HITS journalist fearlessly asked David Bowie 'you're not very good at acting, are you?' - then this book is for you.

In its heyday in the mid to late 1980s SMASH HITS enjoyed a circulation of over one million passionate readers. THE BEST OF SMASH HITS is for all those readers: a glorious, full-colour celebration of all the best (and some of the worst) bits. Including all the best features (Morrissey and Pete Burns' legendary joint interview!); the weirdest cover stars (Strawberry Switchblade!), the strangest song lyrics, the best 'black type' letters and more, it will also include memories from those who worked on the magazine.

Genuinely engrossing, THE BEST OF SMASH HITS is a hugely entertaining jaunt back to a time when journalists asked irreverent questions and pop stars had to answer them.

Thursday 5 October 2006

Sony VTX-D800U EPG update

Traversing Digital Spy's Terrestrial forum, I noticed that there is an (EPG) update available for the Sony VTX-D800U Freeview set-top box. The following is taken from Sony's official site and is for informational purposes only.

The planned improvements to the capabilities of the VTX-D800U has now passed the stringent Sony tests for quality and reliability. The software upgrade is for all users. It will not affect the way you use your VTX-D800U and it will not change the way you enjoy the digital TV channels. It merely improves the performance of your VTX-D800U.

You do not need to do anything to receive this improved software, it will be performed in the background while you watch a BBC channel on Multiplex 1 (e.g BBC1/2/3/News 24).

The software upgrade will be broadcast from 10:00 on the 5th October 2006 until 09:00 on the 8th October 2006.

The Upgrade
To receive the upgrade, ensure that software upgrade on the Technical Information Menu page is turned ‘on’. The unit should be powered on and tuned to any BBC channel on Multiplex 1. It will take approximately 30 minutes and can be done anytime during the update period.

The new software will be available once the unit has been placed into standby, and then back to normal operating mode.

If you wish to check that you have received the software, go to Manufacturer Information from the Technical Information Menu page. If your box has updated, the Software Version will read v1.14.02 U

If you do not wish to receive this upgrade simply disable software upgrade from the Technical Information Menu page.

MHEG engine update.
Corrected MHEG issues with SkyText and BBCi News Multiscreen.
Improved handling of time shared services.
Corrected EPG issues due to hidden services.

Sony would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our VTX-D800U customers. We hope that you are enjoying using the product and that this upgrade will further enhance your enjoyment.

If you have any concerns or questions about this enhancement, please feel free to call the VTX-D800U help line on 0870 241 3624 for further information.

It's worth mentioning that the VTX-D800U digital set-top box was voted as the best buy in "What Video & TV" magazine November 2003, and is now retired. However, if you do find one I can't recommend it highly enough. Its successor should include a HDD.

Thursday 28 September 2006

That's hot

Toy retailer Toys "R" Us has unveiled its coveted "hot toy" list for the upcoming holiday season, and this year it includes a video game console for the first time - Nintendo's Wii.

"The PlayStation 3 is really geared to a savvy gaming enthusiast," said Kathleen Waugh, a spokeswoman for Toys "R" Us, of the decision to add the Wii to the list. "The Wii system appeals to young kids as well as adults."

The following is Toys "R" Us' "Fabulous 15" list of hot new toys for the 2006 holiday season:

* Blue Man Group Percussion Tubes from ToyQuest,

* Designer's World from Tiger Games,

* Dora's Talking Cash Register from Fisher-Price,

* ESPN Fast Action Football from Fisher-Price,

* Kid-Tough Digital Camera from Fisher-Price,

* Laugh & Learn Baby Grand Piano from Fisher-Price,

* Mindstorms NXT from Lego,

* My Scene My Bling Bling Styling Head from Mattel,

* Pink Nitro Notebook from VTech,

* Power Rangers Deluxe Manticore Megazord from Bandai,

* Speed Stacks StackPack from Play Along,

* Sound City Railway from Imaginarium,

* Tap Dancing Mumble from Thinkway,

* T.M.X. Elmo from Fisher-Price, and

* Wii from Nintendo.

Friday 22 September 2006


Need some reading for the inaugural weekend of the Fall (also called Autumn)? Then why not read my brand new eBook, which chronicles an early Millenium obsession with computer-generated imagery (CGI). Download the PDF here.

This is the first in a series of free eBooks that will encompass collected movie and video game reviews and more!

Spread the word. Thanks.

Tuesday 19 September 2006

The Entertainer

In time for the holiday season, let me introduce The Entertainer.

The Entertainer is the largest independent retailer of toys in the UK, with over 25 years offline and 8 years online experience. The brand ‘The Entertainer’ has been well established amongst parents through its network of 41 stores.

The Entertainer’s target audience is young children to late teens together with a small adult market (via board games). The product range includes many brand names such as Bratz, Doctor Who, Pixel Chix, Tamigotchi, Playmobil, Thomas & Friends, Hasbro, Mattel, Lego, Hornby, Star Wars, TP Activity Toys , MB Games, Barbie, Fisher Price, TOMY, Play-Doh, Heelys and many more.

Saturday 16 September 2006

Do you need a Wii?

Looks like a lot of us do! Hit the stores to pre-order and secure some quality time with Zelda and Samus this holiday season!

Canadian readers

UK readers

US readers

Apologies to international readers not served by Canadian, UK and US retail markets! I'm endeavoring to explore new affiliate programs and will post updates as and when applicable.

Thursday 14 September 2006

7 Up

iTunes 7 sports a blemished GUI, diminished by an absence of Aqua scroll bars, and Apple breaks another of its own HCI guidelines! However, I'm delighted to note the quiet inclusion of CD-Text (see Preferences/Advanced/Burning). This small feat only took 5 years to add!

Monday 11 September 2006


Mark your calendars for two important dates this week!

Starting with Tuesday September 12th and the launch of iTunes 7 (surely this update will warrant more than an incremental number change), store overhaul and iPods... I'd like to see CD-Text, AAC Plus and Vorbis support added to iTunes.

On Friday September 15th Nintendo Europe will officially announce the launch date and pricing of Wii. Approximately the size of three stacked DVD cases, Wii's elegant design makes it an inviting addition to your entertainment setup without monopolizing it. Thanks to the Wii Remote, you're given more freedom to place the console where it best suits your lifestyle.

Will Wii become Nintendo's iMac and reverse their desktop console fortunes? The pre-order queue starts here.

Thursday 7 September 2006

Redefined performance

What wasn't expected was Apple Computer's refresh of its ubiquitous iMac range yesterday! Tuesday's prediction was pretty much on the mark. The high end machine now boasts a panoramic 24" screen and GeForce 7300GT GPU.

From an avid gaming and computer graphics perspective, it's comforting to see nVIDIA back in the consumer desktop range, which is in preference to ATI. I'd start writing my Christmas wish list if it weren't for the following!

So, what's Santa Steve Jobs got in his toy sack that's so special and warrants an early iMac debut?

Wednesday 6 September 2006

Playtime postponed? (not on your Nelly Furtado)

This morning's SCEE Press Office announcement regarding the delayed launch of PS3 came as no shock!

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Announces New March 2007 date for European Launch of PLAYSTATION 3

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Announces New March 2007 date for European Launch of PLAYSTATION 3 No change in launch date for Japan and North America

London, Wednesday 6 September 2006
– Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced that it would revise the launch date of its PLAYSTATION® 3 computer entertainment system in the PAL territories of Europe, Russia, Middle East, Africa and Australasia from 17th November 2006, as previously announced to March 2007.

Launch dates for Japan and North America will remain the same, which are November 11th and November 17th respectively.

The revision of the launch date in the SCEE territories is caused by the delay in the mass production schedule of the blue laser diode within the Sony Group, thus affecting the timely procurement of key components to be utilised in PLAYSTATION 3.

The previously announced PLAYSTATION 3 shipment forecast of 6 million units globally within the fiscal year ending 2007 is not changed.

Given the above, both Microsoft and Nintendo will certainly capitalize on this weakness during the lucrative holiday season! The Wii is far more compelling and can viewed as the 'wild card' in the next generation console pack!

Tuesday 5 September 2006

We'll Always Have Paris

I hope that The Pointer Sisters won't mind me cribbing the following lyrics. "I'm so excited and I just can't hide it!" Apple Computer has confirmed speculation regarding a special event to be held next Tuesday, September 12th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, California.

The event will most likely usher-in new iPods, iMac HD (new footprint, Intel's new Core 2 Duo mobile processors and GeForce 6200 or better GPU?) and, possibly, one more thing! What that 'one more thing' is remains to be seen. However, AppleInsider isn't short on ideas.

Now, where's my invitation to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory? No fair!

Monday 4 September 2006

MySpace minus FairPlay

In the wake of Google's strategic partnership with MySpace, and the appointment of Google chief executive Eric Schmidt to Apple Computer's board, comes the (not unexpected) announcement that MySpace is to compete directly with the all-conquering iTunes by offering artist downloads in MP3 format. This is without the aid of Digital Rights Management* (DRM).

MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe told my former employer Reuters: “Everyone we’ve spoken to definitely wants an alternative to iTunes and the iPod. MySpace could be that alternative.”

I'm more than delighted to see a strong competitor for iTunes as this will only serve to improve Apple's offering further; especially in view of the alleged forthcoming iPod/iTunes updates. Yes, critics continue to besmear the vertical integration (hardware/software) between iPod + iTunes, but it's a near-perfect paradigm irrespective of FairPlay*.

Whilst the onus appears to be on MySpace vs iTunes. What impact (if any) will this have on beleaguered record labels? I will monitor this development with great interest.

Friday 1 September 2006

Universal Jedi

Although my gaming coverage has been frugal of late.

On January 23rd 2004 my review for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy was published on Inside Mac Games (IMG). Now, nearly three years hence, Aspyr is providing a Universal Binary at no additional cost to the consumer. Like Blizzard they should be applauded for embracing such an ideology.

Aspyr Media's promised Universal Binary update for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy has been released, giving owners of Intel Macs the chance to enjoy the popular action game. The patch also fixes network gaming and adds support for Apple's version of OpenAL, a 3D audio library.

In Jedi Academy players assume the role of a student who must choose between the light and dark sides of the Force while facing a new threat to the Jedi Order.

Here are the release notes for the patch from Aspyr:

• Jedi Academy is now a universal binary. Mods that use code DLLs will likely have to be rebuilt as Xcode-based universal binaries.

• The multiplayer app now disconnects from servers properly, and no longer forces you to quit and relaunch.

• Now uses Apple's version of OpenAL, which allows for true 3D audio.

I haven't played Jedi Academy for sometime. This might be the motivation I need to enroll for the Fall/Winter semester.

Wednesday 30 August 2006

aStore opening

Please drop by my new aStore, which has been designed specifically to cater for my blogger readership.

aStore by Amazon is a new Associates product that gives you the power to create a professional online store, in minutes and without the need for programming skills, that can be embedded within or linked to from your website.

What self-respecting store doesn't have a suitable logo to identify it from the crowd? Because aStore (at time of writing) doesn't allow users to generate more than one store (per affiliate account), I decided to combine the look and feel of both my blogs and incorporated their favicons.

Unintentionally I think it compares favorably with Gap and Apple Computer's current addiction to the '+' branding!

Tuesday 29 August 2006

Genie In A Bottle

Coke has officially launched its iTunes partnership in the UK! Customers purchasing 2 litre bottles are guaranteed a free song (to the value of £0.79). This beats the US-only Pepsi promotion hands down. What's not to like?

Coke + iTunes bottles have started appearing in Essex as of last week!

Wednesday 16 August 2006

Sussing IT

After some late night template tweaking, I've sussed that (at present) my current Blogger templates cannot be automatically updated to use the new features, which includes a comment feed (I'll burn this using FeedBurner - I'm a veritable stats junkie)! However, the modifications can be applied manually. So, I'd better backup my templates!

Tuesday 15 August 2006

Designer Labels (Blogger goes beta)

I'm sure you already know that Google has lifted the wraps off of a substantial upgrade to Blogger! This was foreshadowed by the soft launch of RSS 2.0.

While the majority of users (myself included) await confirmation to migrate their existing accounts. You can get a sneak peek of what's in store for both my blogs here. Labels is a long awaited category/tag mashup that will enrich Technorati listings. Of course template trammels could render things "dunzo" as they say on Laguna Beach!

Please note that at time of writing, there's no auto-detect feature for RSS (amongst other technical foibles), at least until I've augmented the html code.

Tuesday 8 August 2006

Monetize MySpace

Google will snatch away affluent eyeballs from Yahoo!

The ubiquitous search engine company has signed a lucrative search and contextual advertising deal with MySpace.

"Under the terms of the agreement, Google will be obligated to make guaranteed minimum revenue share payments to Fox Interactive Media of $900 million based on Fox achieving certain traffic and other commitments," the companies said.

As an avid AdSense publisher, I'm hoping that there will be opportunities to customize MySpace templates and add content banners (AdSense for RSS whilst you're at it). Plus MySpace referral links, which would garner payments for new sign-ups (see sidebar for current examples).

Perhaps, in light of the above announcement, Yahoo! Publisher Network will now open to international publishers. The company needs to, yesterday.

Monday 7 August 2006

Hasta la vista, Vista

Today's the day!

Friday 4 August 2006

The Year Of The Leopard

Next week heralds Apple's annual WWDC and another opportunity for me to miss my Mecca! This year I'll refrain from too much speculation (such are the rigors of maintaining more than one blog!).

Here's an alleged scoop regarding what we might expect in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (taken from O'Grady's PowerPage):

*Spotlight 2.0
*Dashboard 2.0
*Safari 3.0
*iChat 4.0
*Automator 2.0
*QuickTime 7.2
*Mail 3.0
*iCal 3.0
*Address Book 5.0

Application updates are a no-brainer and there's no big ticket items. Remember kids, this is only hearsay. Don't get me started on a musical tangential!

Thursday 3 August 2006

Photographer's panacea?

Google has released an iPhoto plug-in and standalone uploader for Picasa Web Albums (membership required).

Now there are two ways to upload your photos to Picasa Web Albums -- from directly within iPhoto or using drag-and-drop from a standalone application.

For iPhoto users
The Picasa Web Albums Exporter lives right inside iPhoto. Select photos, choose Export in the File or Share menu, and upload them directly to your web album.

For a standalone application
Use the Picasa Web Albums uploader -- just drag photos from the Finder and click the Upload button.

However, this isn't a port of the application and Flickr remains the de facto photo sharing platform amongst Mac Users.

Wednesday 2 August 2006

Crossed Widget Wires

It's almost a decade since I first worked for Reuters*, that wire service of wire services. And Reuters released a useful Mac OS X Widget (download page) today! Neat gift, huh?

The Reuters Widget gives you access to news and information directly on your dashboard.

Forget the hassle of searching for articles - let Reuters bring them to you. The Reuters Widget updates information as soon as stories break.

You can display up to ten of the top headlines from your favorite Reuters news channels - including Top News, Business News, Technology, and Oddly Enough, among others.

However, there was considerable confusion amongst Mac Users (myself included) as to why it wasn't playing nice with Dashboard? Disaster was averted when it came to light that the widget is intended for use with Yahoo! Widget Engine.

Please ask, nicely, Reuters' developers if they would kindly write a self-updating Dashboard edition too? Based on Web Kit technologies, Dashboard Widgets are created using a mix of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Deliciously simple. Thanks.

Bloomberg isn't it time you supported us too? I'd be more than happy to offer my coding services!

*Disclaimer. I left the company in January 2000 and very briefly returned to the fold, Reuters Knowledge, in 2003.

Tuesday 1 August 2006

August already!

...And, aside from template tweaks and seeing to affiliate business, I've had virtually no time to post! Apologies.

A friend asked me whether or not I've seen Superman Returns yet (or any other blockbuster for that matter)? The answer is no! The notion of going to the cinema is increasingly unappealing and it makes more sense, for me, to wait for the DVD release or, perhaps, more conveniently, the sky movies premiere. Why compromise, eh? What have I been watching?

*House of Wax
*Batman Begins
*The Italian Job
*Ghost World
*Die Hard With A Vengeance
*King Arthur

With the advent of 'free' Film 4, there's another reason not to make the journey to the Exeter Odeon or Picture House.

Thursday 27 July 2006

RSS video for PSP

Video podcast support is coming to the PlayStation Portable (PSP) thanks to a new firmware update Sony Computer Entertainment has published today.

The update takes the PSP firmware to version 2.8. It allows the PSP to receive video clips through RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds from blogs and other websites. Sony first added RSS and podcast support in November 2005 and expanded it in April this year.

Additionally the firmware update adds compatibility for the ".3gp" audio format used by some mobile phones, and greater access to content stored on Memory Stick memory cards.

This update also includes a demo for World Tour Soccer 2.

At least one more update is expected before the end of this year. The update will add VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephony and the ability to boot games from Memory Sticks, according to plans outlined by Sony in March this year.

Users can download the new firmware through the PSP's "network update" feature or here.

Tuesday 25 July 2006


Online speculation is rife regarding rumors that Apple's next generation iPod may include the capacity to play classic Nintendo games? This is based on several suppositions, not least Apple's appointment of a game developer last year and Nintendo's adoption of Apple aesthetics.

If so, this would most likely be part of a co-branded offering including the licensing of iTunes for Nintendo's Wii and, perhaps, DS! Is it that farfetched?

Sunday 23 July 2006

Kylie La La La

I've followed Kylie Minogue's career since Neighbours and developed an adolescent crush, on her, when she embarked on a pop path that has confounded and delighted critics in equal measure! Incidentally, the album Kylie was my first ever CD purchase after buying a Sony Discman D-88 in the summer of 1988.

Further to the above. I read with unfetered interest that Kylie begins her Homecoming Tour later this year! Must secure seats at Wembley Arena for her January 2007 concert dates.

When "Kylie - Showgirl; The Greatest Hits Tour", her sold out world tour, opened in Scotland in March 2005, it was her most ambitious show yet. The show itself was a triumph and represented Kylie's finest moments in music, performance and style and is an homage to the showgirl, one of the most exotic, decadent and sensual icons of our times. Inspiration came from the Moulin Rouge to the Folies Bergere, from the Doris Girls of the Paris Lido to the entertainment palaces of Las Vegas, from the underground burlesque bars of Soho to the Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930s. Kylie's show pays tribute to the showgirl in all her forms and guises.

Thursday 13 July 2006

The Final Frontier

With the popularity of MySpace eclipsing the, not too shabby, success of Friends Reunited and boasting celebrity endorsements. It's high time for me to establish a network of friends too!

Join me.

Friday 7 July 2006

Brit Art

Yesterday I received an e-mail from the Saatchi Gallery inviting me to exhibit my artwork.

Charles Saatchi, of Saatchi & Saatchi fame (and laterly M&C Saatchi), founded the Saatchi Gallery as a means to showcase new talent. The Saatchi Gallery is moving to the Duke of York's HQ in Chelsea, and will open again in early 2007.

Saturday 1 July 2006

King of the Castles

In the summer of 2004 Bournemouth University's Alumni Association interviewed me for a special magazine feature focusing on graduates who are now successfully working in the media industry. The article was published in The Talbot (Summer 2004) magazine. Download the PDF (13.9MB).

Thursday 29 June 2006

Speak & Spell

Surprises are rare. Yahoo! has removed the shrink-wrap from Yahoo! Messenger for Mac 3.0 Beta 1.

Nearly 3 years ago I trashed Yahoo! Messenger 2.x.x, a dated carbon application, for the last time and never gave it a second thought. Looks like the Mac developers (Konfabulator?) at Yahoo! had other ideas! This is a sweet update, applied with Tiger lip gloss:

*New look and feel for OS X
*New features including Avatars, sounds, iTunes current song and display images
*Coming soon: IM with friends that use Windows Live™ (MSN) Messenger

There's currently no chat room support. However, the final release should find its way onto most docks; it's already on mine!

New Nike iTunes is ready for download too. Hm, wonder how the Cola wars will shape up now that Coca-Cola has purportedly signed an international marketing deal with Apple?

Tuesday 27 June 2006

Ministry Of Sound

AOL Radio has been updated and can now be used with free AIM accounts.

Listen to AOL Radio featuring XM's 200+ streaming radio stations on broadband or dial-up. Integrates with iChat and provides a desktop overlay for song changes.

This application is a great compliment to iTunes, which, lets face it, is somewhat lacking in terms of radio support!

Whilst listening to AOL Radio, Jessica Simpson's new single, A Public Affair, debuted! This dance anthem evokes early era Madonna (Angel is a prime example)! Very catchy.

Can't wait to hear Jessica's new album (Epic records). This will be followed by Beyoncé's B-Day, the follow-up to Beyoncé's 7.6 million selling 2003 solo debut Dangerously In Love. A line-up of top producers including The Neptunes, Rodney Jerkins and Swizz Beatz have contributed to the set, which will be released on September 4, Beyoncé's 25th birthday. B-Day is sure to be ushered-in with the pomp and circumstance once reserved for Michael Jackson!

Friday 23 June 2006

Too Low For Zero

With the FIFA World Cup coverage now at saturation point! I'm inspired to impart the following football anecdote, which first appeared here.

In the summer of 1989 Dad, Uncle Allan, Mike and me watched Torquay United play Bolton Wanderers at Wembley Stadium. We'd secured VIP tickets and therefore were able to park in the VIP car park.

The guest of honor, Sir Elton John (obese, bold, pallid and dressed in what can only be described as Parson's attire), arrived in his signature black Bentley! His driver was promptly told not to park in the private members area! His royal highness, Sir Elton John, stepped out of the car. But, security were nonplussed and reiterated, to the driver (whose protestations had incensed security), to move the car or it would be towed away!!!

Whilst this was going on, I took the opportunity to ask Sir Elton for an autograph? His driver informed me that Mr Elton wasn't signing today, before returning to argue with security! Nice. I couldn't resist telling Sir Elton that I was a Michael Jackson fan! And the car was driven away!

So, there you have it, unequivocal proof that Sir Elton John is an incorrigible diva! Can't wait to meet Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey one day!

Thursday 22 June 2006

Mario Warez

Amazon UK has confirmed dispatch of my eagerly awaited Polar Ice DS Lite. In anticipation of its arrival tomorrow and some quality time playing Mario Kart DS, Mario 64 DS and Metroid Prime: Hunters. Here's a Wii post!

Whilst I applaud Nintendo's decision to include the Virtual Console in its next generation games machine - the download service will feature classic titles from past Nintendo consoles (from the NES to the N64) as well as from formerly competing systems, such as the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and PC Engine/TurboGrafx 16 - what impact (if any) will this have on the emulation market?

What intrinsic value (aside from legalities) is there for a paid-for download service, when ROMs and software emulators can be (relatively) easily obtained online? Yes, Nintendo (and third party companies) can issue suits (and have done so to protect their intellectual property).

In terms of mainstream consumers there's little doubt that the service will be a boon: finding and maintaining emulators and working ROMs is time intensive. And perhaps Nintendo will offer value-added features such as full screen anti-aliasing and extra levels for example?

Of course customization is part and parcel of emulators such as NESCafe and Genesis Plus. So, to the PokeROMs community there's perhaps zero benefit. I, for one, will support Virtual Console as long as the UI compares favorably with Apple's iTunes Music Store experience.

Is it too late to change the pervasive all you can eat (for free) culture?

Opera 9 has been announced and their DS browser debuts in Japan.

Monday 19 June 2006

Super Sounds

In April 2005 I reviewed John Williams' Revenge of the Sith score. This morning a preview copy of the Superman Returns (merchandise link) soundtrack CD (pre-order link) fell through my mailbox courtesy of Rhino Records! The retail release is July 10th.

Expectations are nigh high! Would John Ottman's score rekindle the sense of wonder that this author experienced at the Exeter ABC Cinema (circa 1978)? Would my yearning for unabashed heroics transport me back to Boots Corner and take flight?

01 - Main Titles (3:49)

John Williams' iconic leitmotif, arguably one of cinema's greatest and most recognizable themes, returns with joyous gusto, aplomb and new flourishes. Christopher Reeves' memory has been served well.

02 - Memories (3:07)

After the jubilant opening salvo. This cue quotes from John Williams' original score before Ottman begins his enigmatic musical journey. Shades of Fortress of Solitude and Batman Returns (1992).

03 - Rough Flight (5:13)

Bernard Herrmann collides with John Williams heroics in a dazzling display of audio pyrotechnics.

04 - Little Secrets / Power of the Sun (2:49)

The original Love Theme is introduced albeit in troubled form!

05 - Bank Job (2:21)

In a post 9/11 world there's no reprise of John Williams' humorous March of the Villains. Owes much to the brutal mechanization of movie composers Jerry Goldsmith and Basil Poledouris.

06 - How Could You Leave Us? (5:49)

Conjures comparison with Edward Scissorhands (1990) and The Abyss (1989).

07 - Tell Me Everything (3:13)

Enter the Jedi! Feel the force.

08 - You're Not one of Them (2:22)

A solitary piano and yearning string section, which culminates in a choir. Ultimately left unresolved.

09 - Not Like the Train Set (5:12)

Urgency underpins the action with a nod to John Williams' abstract Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) soundtrack! Overcast by the shadow of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine (The X-Men).

10 - So Long Superman (5:31)

The main theme is deconstructed as discordant voices duel string and wind instruments. This orchestration is an evocation of Return of the Jedi (1983) and Revenge of the Sith (2005)!

11 - The People You Care For (3:27)

Batman (1989) confronts Darkman (1990).

12 - I Wanted You to Know (2:56)

Sentimental and poignant.

13 - Saving The World (3:12)

Does what it says on the tin.

14 - In the Hands of Mortals (2:11)

Melancholia meets enchantment.

15 - Reprise / Fly Away (4:15)

If this doesn't draw a tear... Life affirming.

In summation. I'm giddy from my sonic flight and can't wait to see the movie. Rejoice in the return of THE super hero! My deepest regret, listening to Superman Returns, is that my Mother will never be able to savor the sights and sounds of Krypton as she once did...

Wednesday 14 June 2006

Know Your Roots

Since picking up a Nintendo Game & Watch with Multi-Screen in 1986 (along with Transformers Autobot Ultra Magnus), I've owned gaming portables from each generation. With the spectacular release of DS Lite. Here's my list of hardware owned to date.

*Nintendo Game & Watch with Multi-Screen (Mario Bros)
*Atari Lynx
*Game Boy Advance
*Game Boy Advance SP
*DS Lite

Switching to the PSP for a moment. Sony's mini-marvel has been a revelation! PSP is more media-centric than gaming nirvana per se. I've spent more time surfing the web (via Wi-Fi) and listening to music than playing the shockingly brilliant Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and WipEout Pure. PSone emulation will be available in a forthcoming firmware update. And then there's the Sony Location Free TV Base Station.

Tuesday 13 June 2006

Tron Scherzo

The release of PIXAR's Cars has prompted me to reprint an article that I wrote, for my online portfolio, a few years ago.

An interest and appreciation of CGI began, like many of my contemporaries, with watching the movies 'Tron' (1982), 'The Last Starfighter' (1984) and playing video games at arcades and on consoles - from the Atari VCS CX2600 to Sega Genesis/Mega Drive - in the 1980s.

In the summer of 2000 I began reading 3Dworld. The inclusion of Bryce, a 3-D landscape generation application, reignited further self development within this flourishing arena.

Off-the-shelf software, such as the Academy Award®-winning Maya and Shake, had developed to the point where many of the DTP (Desk Top Publishing) skills for fine art and graphic design can now be successfully transferred to a 3D context without exhaustingly steep learning curves! The artist can now focus on issues of composition - colour, movement through the frame et al - without trying to reconcile with an alienating UI (User Interface).

Alias' decision to provide Personal Learning Editions (PLE) of Maya and now MotionBuilder (from its purchase of Kaydara) is fostering consumer loyalty. Using their free FBX Converter I'm now able to import older projects into Alias applications for future enhancement. The FBX SDK will be worth investigating.

This is a sample collection of original 3-Dimensional images created using Bryce, Corel Photo-Paint, Maya 6 PLE, Painter and Poser (and retouched in Photoshop).

Now you can add Google SketchUp to the Mac OS X application honor roll!

Sunday 11 June 2006

Attention Bounty Hunters

You can now subscribe to my new eBay RSS Feed, which displays live auctions from across the world.

Once its been tested for robustness (isn't yet compatible with Firefox) I'll be customizing the feed - by keyword, category, price, location and more! Incidentally, I'm testing GBuy (Google's answer to PayPal), which has been enabled in Google Base.

Happy bargain hunting.

Friday 9 June 2006

World In Motion

It's that time again! FIFA World Cup. Crank up your copy of New Order's World In Motion and... Altogether now... We're playing for En-ger-land...

Go Becks!

Thursday 8 June 2006

Introducing RSS 2.0

On Monday night I noticed that Blogger had soft launched RSS feeds in addition to Atom! This had been reported as early as May 31st! Until now RSS was only available to Pro Blogger users and via services such as FeedBurner.

In anticipation of new enabling technologies, from today I've switched (on both blogs) the FeedBurner Full and Summary Feeds source from Atom to RSS. There is no need for existing subscribers to resubscribe. Apologies for any transient service bumps, bruises, cuts and grazes.

At time of writing there is still no official announcement from Blogger!

Google adds another peice to the GooOS puzzle. Firefox users can now download Google Browser Sync! I'll soon be cancelling my .mac account and trashing Microsoft Office in favor of Writely and Google Spreadsheets!

Wednesday 7 June 2006


Google Video Player is now available in Mac OS X flavor and is sure to quench your thirst for eye candy! As a follow up to yesterday's PS3 post. Here's the PS3 Network Information keynote from E3 2006.

Expect to see more embedded video clips in the future!

I really hope Picasa isn't too far behind! I mean, if Linux users can play photo editor why can't we?

Tuesday 6 June 2006

PS3 at Play

UK gamers can pre-order Sony's PlayStation 3 with 60GB HDD from This configuration is purportedly the only option available to European consumers at launch and weighs in at a hefty £549.99. Will consumer resistance and Sony’s stratification afford Nintendo’s Wii an advantage?

Due to an expected European shortage of the PS3, retailers are unable to guarantee delivery of your PS3 before Christmas. All pre-orders will be fulfilled on a first come, first served basis and game titles in the package may be changed, subject to availability.

My best advice would be to pre-order a PS3 today (even if you're still undecided) because there's no deposit and you'll only be charged once the item is dispatched. I'd better download the LocoRoco demo and complete my PSP product review!

Saturday 3 June 2006

Super Mario Sunshine

Blue skies over the South West of England, sunburn, high humidity and high street retailer WH Smith are already taking deposits for Nintendo Wii, which isn't available until the profitable holiday season!

The DS Lite is only a few weeks away and Amazon UK bumped their pre-order price from £89.99 to £99.99 within hours of listing Nintendo's trailblazing portable. I'll wait until a few Amazon Gift Certificates (to the value of £5) come my way before bagging Metroid Prime Hunters and New Super Mario Brothers (selling like hotcakes in Japan)!

Thursday 1 June 2006

These Words

Keeping pace with enabling technologies is a desirable, if inherently problematic, goal. Pursuant to this, I've branched-out from HTML into that of its more exotic sibling. XML.

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a subset of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). Its goal is to enable generic SGML to be served, received, and processed on the web in the way that is now possible with HTML. XML has been designed for ease of implementation and for interoperability with both SGML and HTML.

The first fruits of XML authoring (using Dreamweaver 8) can be found in the Full Feed where I've added bespoke FeedFlares. FeedFlares are on open API developed by RSS stalwarts FeedBurner.

This June posting frequency may slow for a while! However, time permitting, I'll be reviewing Writely which allows you to edit and publish documents online, either privately, in collaboration with specific people, or publicly on the web.

My initial impressions of Writely are highly positive - the ability to save files in other formats including HTML, Microsoft Word and PDF is forward looking. New sign-ups are currently closed. If anyone would like an invitation, please leave a post.

Tuesday 30 May 2006

The Triforce Grants Gaming Greatness

For Generation X the name Zelda is synonymous with teatime television hit Supermacromation series The Terrahawks and Nintendo!

Like Mario, Zelda is the brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto thus sharing the high production values of its sibling. Zelda has, inevitably, spawned its own lifestyle merchandising. From action figures to cereals. And lest I forget to mention the animated series too, which is now available on DVD!

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) introduced me to the wonders of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

A Link to the Past follows the adventures of Princess Zelda's and Link's ancestors, referring to the characters from the two Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Thus, A Link to the Past takes place before the events of the first two Zelda games. The game's endurance was typified by its inclusion on the Game Boy Advance (GBA) title The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords.

With the imminent arrival of the Zelda franchise on both the Nintendo DS (Phantom Hourglass) and Wii (The Twilight Princess). The continuation of Link's award-winning adventures is assured and I, for one, don't intend to miss out.

Sunday 28 May 2006

Domino Dancing

Our Spring Bank Holiday excursion to Colchester has been jam-packed!

From purchasing and successfully installing a new Freeview box without the expense of an aerial upgrade. This now enables my Grandfather to watch BBC News 24 and participate in the 'press red for interactive' conversation during the upcoming FIFA World Cup. To eating beer baked battered plaice at our Essex family's local, The Whalebone (where I went last week). Followed by KFC in the evening. Yummy!

We managed to cram in a late night movie too! The twisted bounty hunter biopic Domino starring Keira Knightley. Whilst the movie was somewhat flawed, there's no denying Keira's ability to 'do dark' with plummy aplomb and Tony Scott's visuals are tirelessly arresting!

Tuesday 23 May 2006

Lite Launch

Big N has officially announced the European launch of the DS Lite. Mark June 23rd in your Google Calendar!

Whilst the DS Lite is available in a spectrum of colors in Nintendo's native Japan. On launch day Europeans will have a choice of black and white. Black is clearly proving popular, but I'll stick with white in order to compliment my existing desktop and portable lifestyle products.

Get your pre-orders in early as prices are already creeping up. is the cheapest at £97.99 (subject to change without notice).

At time of writing there is no word regarding what bundles (if any) will be available. Surely including a copy of New Super Mario Brothers is a must?

Friday 19 May 2006

Westward Ho!

Once again I'm safely ensconced back in the South West of England following a most excellent week with relatives. The PSP arrived safely sans dead pixels. The only fly in the ointment is Sony's inexplicable decision not include a PC to PSP USB mini cable! The latest firmware update will have to wait.

Our trip to Blockbuster AKA "Blocky Buster" culminated in hiring Flightplan and The Island.

Flightplan is a stylish hodgepodge of poorly executed ideas and aspirations that exceeded the director's abilities. A claustrophobic, Hitchcockian thriller. A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet the child vanishes and nobody admits she was ever on that plane. File under sub-Hitchcock and Spielberg.

The Island was an altogether improved experience. The chemistry between Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson is intense and they look like they're having fun, an ingredient that is in short supply in post Star Wars Hollywood.

Much has been made of the abundant advertising in The Island. However product placement is nothing new in commercial movies for example Back to the Future II and Minority Report. I smiled at the Apple Computer and MSN Search logos. Incidentally, unlike Google's fluctuating search engine antics, MSN Search still lists my portfolio site in pole position. Thanks Bill. The Calvin Klein commercial self consciously embraced post postmodernism as Jordan Two Delta admired her 'true' self Sarah Jordan (Scarlett Johansson lends her likeness to Calvin Klein amongst others).

Wednesday 17 May 2006

Look East

Currently enjoying a break in Colchester, Essex, and savoring the charming delights of Rowhedge and Fingringhoe villages! If you're ever in this picturesque region of the UK, may I suggest a pub meal at the Whalebone public house? Their tuna and cheese melts are truly delicious!

Wonder if my Ceramic White PSP has arrived safely back home?

Time to visit Blockbuster (with one of my cousins). This will be a novelty as I haven't hired a movie in years!

Sunday 14 May 2006

Play Away

A Ceramic White PSP Value Pack (including a free copy of WipEout Pure) is on its way!

I'm psyched about playing Ridge Racer, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Monster Hunter Freedom and, in June, Tekken: Dark Resurrection. Over the coming months, portable gaming should transform the train journeys from Exeter to London and London to Colchester!

Full product and game reviews to follow.

Wednesday 10 May 2006

Planet PlayStation

Yesterday's announcements from SCEE have sent a clear message to gamers and competitors alike. Sony has no intention of losing its enviable market share (it is theirs to lose)! PS3 and Ceramic White PSP are coming to stores near you.

I've drooled over the prospect of adding the Ceramic White PSP to my lifestyle mantelpiece and intend to order one over the coming weeks.

And then there's this black beauty. Sony's third-generation PlayStation embodies sleek chic.

Sony's official PS3 press announcement read thus.

Equipped with Blu-ray and Pre-Installed HDD Available at €499 (20GB HDD) and €599 (60GB HDD)

Los Angeles, May 8, 2006 – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) announced today that it would launch PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3) in “Clear Black” throughout mainland Europe and Australasia on November 17, 2006, as part of a worldwide simultaneous launch.

PS3 is the most advanced computer system that serves as a platform to enjoy next generation computer entertainment contents in the home, realized through the combination of Cell and RSX™ processors, in addition to the playability of a vast catalog of PlayStation® and PlayStation®2 software titles.

Having Giga-bit Ethernet and a pre-installed hard disk drive (HDD) as standard in PS3, users will be able to download a variety of contents as well as access on-line games and services over the network.

Equipped with basic input/output ports, PS3 supports a broad range of displays from conventional NTSC/PAL standard TVs to the latest full HD (1080i/1080p) flat panel displays, offering the joy of the most advanced computer entertainment contents to homes around the world. For use in living rooms, maximum heat and noise reduction has been achieved with a noise level equivalent to that of the current slim-line PlayStation 2.

With the overwhelming computational power of the Cell processor, PS3 is capable of playing back content from Blu-ray (BD) disc at a bit rate of multiplex 48Mbps with ease, the maximum bit rate defined in BD standards.

The new controller for PS3 has been created by refining and improving the world’s most popular PlayStation controller which has shipped more than several hundred million units worldwide. The controller for PS3 employs a high-precision, highly sensitive six-axis sensing system that is capable of processing all parameters within the controller itself, thereby eliminating the need for any additional settings on the display system. By applying this technology, it will become possible to freely control the PS3 system over the network.

While further enhancing the joy of entertainment on PlayStation 2 and PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable), SCEE will vigorously promote PS3 as the next generation computer entertainment platform.


Product name: PLAYSTATION®3

CPU: Cell Processor


Sound: Dolby 5.1ch, DTS, LPCM, etc. (Cell-based processing)

Memory: 256MB XDR Main RAM, 256MB GDDR3 VRAM

HDD: 2.5” Serial ATA ○ (20GB) ○ (60GB)

I/O: USB 2.0 ○ (x4)

MemoryStick /SD/CompactFlash - ○

Communication: Ethernet ○ (x1 / 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)

IEEE 802.11 b/g - ○

Bluetooth 2.0 (EDR) ○

Wireless controller (Bluetooth) ○

AV Output: Screen size 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p

HDMI OUT - ○ (x1 / HDMI NextGen)



BD/DVD/CD Drive (Read Only): Maximum Read Speed BD 2x (BD-ROM)


CD 24x (CD-ROM)


Dimensions: Approximately 325mm (W) x 98mm (H) x 274mm (D)

Weight: Approximately 5 kg

About Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd. As at 27 April 2006

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), based in London, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and sales of PlayStation®2 and PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable) software and hardware in 104 territories across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania. SCEE also develops, publishes, markets and distributes entertainment software for these formats, and manages the third party licensing programs for the platforms in these territories. Between its European debut on 24th November 2000 and the end of March 2006, over 38 million PlayStation®2 consoles have been shipped across the SCEE territories, over 103 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful consumer electronic products in history. Between its European debut on 1st September 2005 and the end of March 2006, over 5 million PSP systems have been shipped across the SCEE territories, with over 17 million shipped worldwide since its Japanese launch in December 2004.

Tuesday 9 May 2006

Eat Apple Pie

I'm currently working on a PlayStation-themed post. However, anyone who has been following the Apple Computer vs Apple Corps case, heard at the High Court, may wish to read the full version of the final decision.

Apple Corps is appealing the decision as is their privilege. But, it is very doubtful that Mr Justice Mann's ruling will be overturned! My advice would be to complete the remastering of the Beatles back catalogue and release the material on iTunes.

Monday 8 May 2006

Nothing Compares 2 U

On May 11th this blog will be celebrating its second anniversary and the party will be held in Times Square (joking)! It only seems like yesterday that Tom, a friend, suggested that I start a blog. Ironically, to date he has yet to start his own!

Since the blog's inception, the organic nature of the web has evolved exponentially. Web 2.0 anyone?

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) have become, arguably, the de facto multimedia content distribution channel.

Google has launched a raft of enabling services; from AdSense and Analytics to Page Creator and Sitemaps. The latter should be on the top of every web authors to-do list since Bigdaddy sent 'shock waves' through the web community! Google's competitors, such as Yahoo! and MSN, are responding. Content authors and consumers can only reap the benefits of this dynamic competition.

Bloggers are increasingly becoming the source for new journalistic talent - their voices cannot be ignored and the audience is, literally, listening (subscribe to the text-to-speech podcast)! Mainstream media has taken note and is now making inroads into joining the 'conversation' and leveraging these valuable assets to mutual advantage.

Further to the above. Pluck has now launched BlogBurst (beta), which is an opt-in syndication service that provides editorially approved bloggers the opportunity to reach a large audience via top-tier publishers such as the Washington Post.

My blogs are now part of the BlogBurst network and I'll be monitoring this exciting development moving forward.

In summary. Not only has the blog afforded me the luxury of an extensible writing medium. The network of new friends and acquaintances has far transcended my very, very modest hopes. A big shout-out to Matt Shobe, FeedBurner co-founder, for all his incomparable help and advice with both FeedBurner and template chores. Imp for her most helpful hints. All the bloggers whom have shared link exchanges and their experiences. And, you dear reader, without whom, well you know...

Thanks for reading and please tell your friends, family, pets, neighbors...

Wednesday 3 May 2006

Creating Fireworks

A couple of months ago I wrote a post that documented the chronology of my web designing adventures to date. To recap. My workflow includes (but is not limited to) Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, Photoshop, BBEdit and, on the very rare occasion that Dreamweaver outwits me, GoLive CS.

Until recently Photoshop has been my preferred end-to-end image editor. However, Ryan referred me to Fireworks! Never one to ignore his good advice, I took a closer look and am hooked on its balanced compression. So much so that eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the bespoke Forbidden Planet animated GIF above my first post! Adobe would be unwise to retire Fireworks.

Off topic. Please be sure to visit Cloister Bell for my latest musings on Doctor Who, Lost and cool collectibles.

Monday 1 May 2006

Sony's Boombox

Sony continues to empower the PSP. As a member of SCEE Press Office I received the latest announcement with great interest.

Apply the update. Then grab the instrumental (MP3) version of Def Track's single Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover to play on the ubiquitous portable. I'll post a 'live' version soon.

Latest Firmware Upgrade Available for Download Now

London, 25th April 2006 – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced that the latest firmware upgrade for PSP, available now, would dramatically enhance the capabilities of the PSP™ (PlayStation® Portable), with the ability to now playback most popular music file formats, stream podcasts to the PSP and save them to Memory Stick, and display Flash® content in the internet browser. The latest upgrade also prepares PSP to act as a receiver for Location-free TV, the exciting innovation in remote TV viewing to be launched by Sony in Europe in May.

As part of the continual upgrade and enhancement programme that ensures PSP owners are able to exploit the cutting edge of entertainment technology and functionality, the latest firmware upgrade (Version 2.70) allows users to enable Flash within the PSP browser and enjoy web content created with Adobe Macromedia® software. Mainly used for website content featuring multimedia and interactive applications, the Flash capability of the browser will significantly enhance users’ multimedia internet experience.

With the RSS feature enabled, the PSP system can link to audio content on Web pages that provide RSS-distributed audio content. When connected to the Internet via the PSP’s WLAN, the system will automatically update the list of audio content items that have been added to these pages, and you can then either stream and play the new content or, with the new firmware enhancement, save it to a Memory Stick Duo™ for playback later.

The latest upgrade also now provides PSP music file compatibility with the most popular music file formats, including MP3, ATRAC, AAC and WMA, providing the PSP entertainment system with one of the most versatile music players available.

With the 2.7 upgrade the PSP will also be prepared to act as a receiver for the revolutionary Sony innovation, LocationFree™ TV. LocationFree is a completely new way of seeing TV. Instead of going to the television set, the TV comes to you (via your home TV tuner) wherever you are. You can watch live TV, play back recorded programmes and even set up future recordings, all from your PSP. LocationFree will be available in UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands from May 2006.

Together with a wide range of free content to enhance the entertainment value of your PSP, the latest firmware upgrade can be downloaded directly to the PSP browser via WiFi or from from Tuesday 25th May 2006.

Friday 28 April 2006

Wii Want

Nintendo has announced that its next generation console (code-name Revolution) is officially known as Wii. The company explains:

"While the code-name 'Revolution' expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer. Wii will break down that wall that separates video game players from everybody else."

"Wii will put people more in touch with their games … and each other. But you’re probably asking: What does the name mean? Wii sounds like 'we,' which emphasizes this console is for everyone."

"Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii. Wii has a distinctive 'ii' spelling that symbolizes both the unique controllers and the image of people gathering to play."

"And Wii, as a name and a console, brings something revolutionary to the world of video games that sets it apart from the crowd. So that’s Wii. But now Nintendo needs you. Because, it’s really not about you or me. It’s about Wii."

In addition, Nintendo hit on a number of Wii-related points. Nintendo stated that "A number of Wi-Fi-enabled launch titles are in development that will employ Nintendo's newly announced wireless gaming service, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection."

Also mentioned was an SD memory card expansion bay that will allow users to complement the 512 megabytes of internal flash memory.

The company also touted Wii's two-format disc drive. "Instead of a tray, a single, innovative, self-loading media bay will play both 12-centimeter optical discs used for the new system as well as Nintendo GameCube discs. Owners will have the option of equipping a small, self-contained attachment to play movies and other DVD content."

At first I scoffed at Nintendo's nomenclature! However, who would have thought that TiVo and iPod would become part of our consumer lexicon? And controversy sales.

Wii, like the original iMac, will be available in an assortment of candy colors. To paraphrase Steve Jobs. Wii is gaming for the rest of us. Nintendo may have struck marketing gold by mining Apple Computer's rich lifestyle brand ethos.

Thursday 27 April 2006

Scoring Pictures: Part II

In this second part of my scoring pictures feature. I'm releasing the second soundtrack suite (MP3) (composed and performed by Barrie Cole & James Makin) from December Duet and address the use of non-diagetic sound.

For this production I had always desired and envisaged an emotive classical score. Rendered in the tradition of American film composers such as Eric Wolfgang Korngold who pioneered the swashbuckler scores for early Hollywood, up to present day practitioners such as Danny Elfman and Jerry Goldsmith. Who, themselves, had drawn inspiration from Tchaichovsky and other baroque composers of the 19th Century.

Although in the original story, there was to have been a song with which to resolve the drama. The composer decided to renege on his commitment, which, initially had an adverse affect. However, although disillusioned, I submitted, at the suggestion of my tutor (Mik Parsons), a script to a local art college for approval. It proved to be very productive. I auditioned two individuals who were very receptive to the story and its themes. Their enthusiasm was consolidated when I showed them the opening computer animation.

Whilst they worked, independently, on scenes. The end result was that both the characters of Lewis and Claire/Eleanor had, their own, individual and highly stylised scores. This further delineated and embellished their respective identities. This musical form is refered to as Leitmotif. This briefest of signature tunes, which can be orchestrated any which way, was pioneered by the 19th Century virtuoso Richard Wagner. Wagner's most famous accomplishment was The Ring - four full-length operas that depicted dwarfs, wizards, dragons, teachers, philosophy and gold.

This approach to composition has been used, extensively, by cinematic composers to signify, a character, a prop or an emotion.

Tuesday 25 April 2006

Scoring Pictures: Part I

"How much do we see when we hear? How much do we hear when we see?" - American film composer John Williams. From the liner notes of Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back album.

Transfering archive analogue recordings has afforded a rare luxury to revisit many of my audio recordings! And I’m delighted to finally present the evocative score composed for December Duet (1996).

This suite (MP3) was composed and performed by Barrie Cole and recorded at Knighton Heath Music Center, Bournemouth and Poole College.

What follows is taken from my production analysis.

Why use sound when, surely, pictures, alone, can tell the full story? Obviously television and cinema are, inherently, about visuals. But an important aspect of these mediums is also sound. Often implicitly ignored by audiences. It’s there, but on an almost subconscious level. Sound masks editing, jump cuts and the passing of time. Without sound, it would be, arguably, impossible for the director to suspend audience disbelief. That what they are watching just isn't real. And, as a result, the audience will have no means with which to relate and engage the characters and the story. In essence sound underscores the illusion of reality.

Whereas the means in which pictures are mediated to an audience hasn't technically progressed (apart from a few rare exemptions / attractions such as IMAX Cinemas and 'La Geode', in Paris), commercially, for some time, due to the inherently vast development costs. And the unwillingness of theatres to embrace such undertakings, until the costs come down. The way in which sound is exhibited has undergone constant evolution. The advent of Dolby Stereo, showcased to dramatic effect in Star Wars (1977), made such a cultural impact on movie making. And latterly domestically. It created an entire industry devoted to post production sound. This has filtered down to television, in recent years.

Who can forget what a dazzling contribution John William's epic compositions for The Star Wars Trilogy (1977 - 83) made to the onscreen F/X and action. Would the films have been so highly praised if it had been unaccompanied by music and ground breaking sound design engineered by Eric Tomlinson and Ben Burt?

I wanted to convey my affection for beautifully recorded soundtracks, both diagetic and none. Essentially create a stereo soundtrack to compliment the visuals. I wanted to apply the knowledge that I had learnt from the previous two years whilst doing audio and video. The culmination of which was last summer's (1995) integrated project.

Simon, who undertook the role of PPS, sympathised with me. He fastidiously sculpted a rich sound stage which depicted, clearly, the vocals, sound F/X and musical score. We were able to draw a very fine line between complimenting the visuals and sounds. The temptation to over do one element, at the expense of the other, was avoided. It never descended into OTT melodrama. It lent a 3-Dimensionality to the 2-D environment of the screen. And also it adds another important element, that of directing the audiences emotions. I personally believe that you cannot have good visuals without good sound. It seems such a loss of creative potential, and a human sense, to apply effort to the visuals (in video) and give little, or no, consideration to the sound design.

During post production sound, sounds can be repaired and smoothed. Voices, crowds and additional dialogue etc can be added via A.D.R (Automatic Dialogue Replacement). This technique is used extensively in film / television production. A recent example is the movie Speed (1994), in which sound design takes the action to a new level of experience and audience participation. Foley adds footsteps, additional sound needs (not normally accessible during location recording).

To be continued.