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.