Sunday, February 24, 2008

Man Dies From Cake Poisoning

Sometimes I wonder if this is how I'll meet my end:

This probably ranks right up there with the guy who got kicked to death while trying molest a horse for embarrassing ways to die.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Linky Love - Fun Stuff Round Up - 24 02

Well yesterday was a total geek fest so today I'm going to focus on fun stuff:

I've been meaning to share this for ages so it's likely that you may have already seen it, but I love planethiltron who photoshop celebs back to normality. if all magazines did this we would be rid of eating disorders at a stroke.

This collection of famous poems reworked as limericks is inspired as I proved when I had a crack at doing some myself and failed miserably.

I've heard plenty of great music mashups in my time, but this flash game mash up of Metroid and Megaman is awesome. You get to control Megaman taking on the space pirates on the original Metroid maps. Great stuff!

For those of you interested to know what desktop wallpaper I use on my machine at home you will be excited to know that I have this picture of Haggar piledriving a shark and yes it does come from a site called gay gamer!

This collection of HRD photography from Japan is hyper real. I Love the way that at first glance it appears to be a painting.

Got some time on your hands?
Why not fold yourself a towel monkey.

I haven't got around to downloading this crazy 2D physics simulation game
yet, but the demo video looks just great.

Staying on gaming. Nintendo have announced that they will be putting C64 games on the Wii virtual console. 500 points seems a bit steep though.

Finally this tiny Korean kid playing Hey Jude cracks me up.

Useful Digital SLR Links

A trip to London Zoo a few weeks back made me understand that a lot of people are investing in digital SLRs these days. I got one for Emily for her birthday last year, Although they take great shots in point and shoot mode you need to get to grips with manual mode if you want to get the best out of them.

I have collected together a few photography links from lifehacker that I found helpful:

The rules of photography composition

Master Your DSLR Part one

Master Your DSLR Part Two

Happy clicking!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Linky Love 22 02 08

So many links so little time.
I've been trying to reduce my backlog of links to post, but it keeps growing faster than I can prune it, not to mention that I promised to review my Sennheiser HD600 cans ages ago, but still haven't got around to it.
I'm going to give this entry a geeky flavor and post some funny stuff next time.

Cory Doctorow recently finished podcasting the whole of Bruce Sterlings "The Hacker Crackdown" which is a very geeky, but brilliant book about the history of hacking which couldn't be further than the nonsense peddled in your average Hollywood movie.

I've had this in depth Ars Technica review of KDE 4.0 in my to read list for absolutely ages, but haven't got around to reading it until now.
I've favored Gnome over KDE since I used Linux at uni, but this release looks good enough for me to consider switching. It doesn't seem like it will be worth installing until 4.1 appears in June though.
With Nokia buying the Troll Tech technology that underpins its development and becoming an official patron things are looking great for KDE at the moment. The port to Windows and Mac OSX might also win some converts.

Voz me is a nifty little web site that converts text to Mp3s which means you can make pretty much any document into an audio book. When I was revising 12 hours a day for my uni finals (I'm not a swat I just I hadn't been to any lectures that semester and it was a month till exam time) I had to sit in a dark room fending off migraines every so often and used a speach synthesizer
in conjunction with some Bit Torrented PDF files of the Harry Potter books to stop me going crazy. Whether I would have found them any less crap if Id listened to the Stephen Fry versions rather than having it read to me by a disembodied robot voice is another story.

Continuing the uuuber geek theme Neetorama had a rather groovy overview of early computing devices. Good stuff if you like letching over retro techno porn.

If you don't visit Lifehacker you really should. They recently published an overview of all their free productivity software. I use Better Gmail, Better GReader, Better Youtube, but they have a whole bunch of great stuff.

The security of encrypted hard drives received an almighty kick in the nuts this week as some researchers got around it with the aid of a spray can and a thumb drive. It's real James bond stuff.

Finally for todays over long and super geeky installment. If you have been wondering about dabbling with Linux, but can't be bothered with partitioning drives and all that technical stuff then try this easy method to run Linux inside your Windows desktop.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Film Review - Sweeny Todd

Never one to tread an obvious path the latest film by Tim Burton is a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's critically acclaimed 1970's musical about the demon barber of fleet street.

No one who who is a fan of Burton will be surprised to hear that Jonny Depp (switching from Keith Richards to Bowie for his performance cue) and Helene Bonham Carter play the main characters. The plot for those of you not familiar with the story is kind of The Count of Montechristo with the addition of some razor slashed throats. Evil judge Alan Rickman frames Benjamin Barker so he can have his wicked way with his wife and daughter. Fifteen years later he
returns in the guise of Sweeny Todd and begins a campaign of murder aided by the lovesick Mrs Lovett erstwhile pie vendor and sometime human butcher.

The film is up to Burtons usual superb standards and it is safe to say if you are a fan you aren't going to be disappointed, but it's not going to change the mind of critics.

To say the film is gory would be an understatement. It contains more gruesome scenes of closeup throat slashing and blood jetting than any film I've seen except perhaps Kill Bill and that might be a box office problem. I'm not convinced that the musical and extreme gore demographic has that much crossover, (as the difficulty I had finding somewhere that was showing it confirms) but Burton has to be admired for his decision not to go for the soft option and tone it down for a 15 certificate. I just hope that it doesn't tank and deprive the world of more of his surreal masterpieces because for those that do love a jaunty tune juxtaposed with a spurting carotid you will find few finer films.

Linky Love 17 Feb

I know I haven't written any serious content for a while, but I have a stack of links to get out of my GReader Starred list and so without further ado here is todays linky love.

Lets start with a bit of levity. The cast of Spongebob Redub Classic Movies This one has been doing the rounds now for quite some time, but if you haven't seen it you are missing a treat.

Amplive have remixed In Rainbows and after hairy moment where it looked like Radiohead's label would sue it's all kosher and you can get it gratis and at no charge.

With HDDVD dead and EA saying this year will be the PS3's year it's looking like this could be a good year to be Sony (now if only they would bring back Aibo). This Freview PVR add on which hooks up with the BT vision system isn't going to be the killer app, but it's one more
reason why PS3 is looking like the console to have in 2008.

I was shocked to hear that school kids are getting fed unscientific dross about Brain Gyms. The Guardians Ben Goldacre provides a typically excellent expose.

Finally if you want rock power look no further than this 250,000 volt tesla coil based guitar amp. Personally I would love to see what Matt Bellamy could do with one of these things!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

HD DVD is Dead Long Live Blu Ray!

It's official Toshiba have conceded defeat to Sony and have announced the closure of their HD DVD factories. An official statement is expected soon, but for now there is this NHK article for conformation.

After getting dumped on by, Best Buy, Netflix, Blockbuster, Woolworths etc it looked like it was inevitable that HD DVD was doomed, but I must say I'm astonished how fast Tosh have moved on this one.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Linky Love 15th February

First up Happy St Skeletors day alll you love haters out there.

EEE User have a link to a guy at laptop magazine who is trying to use an EEE as his only PC.
If you get external storage and a monitor I think it could make a great budget PC for people who just want to browse and work especially with Xubuntu installed.

Neetorama have a cool article with facts about Edison admittedly I am what my sister calls a "fact head", but I thought it was worth reading.

Some jerk has hassled You Tube into dropping the awesome guitar parody videos that showed up a while back, but Wired have rather excellently hosted them all and you can see them here I think Santana is my fav.

This colour tile illusion from Boing Boing really freaks me out. I love optical illusions and all that jazz.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines Day

I'm making a bit of a bold step this year and not celebrating it at all (and yes the missus supports that stance).

I have never been one for making a big fuss but I usually get some flowers or something.
I think Valentines day is cool, but I think it should be about telling someone you have worshipped from afar how you feel not about couples at all.

Hallmark and the like know that couples are better cash cows and as a result most singletons I know hate it when the day should be for them.

Though if you do want an excellent card without paying Hallmark these are fantastic:

Monday, February 04, 2008

Stephen Fry Reviews The EEE PC and Claims Linux Is the Future

In the most recent instalment of Stephen Fry's rather excellent blog he not only gives a very positive review of the EEE PC. He also claims that Linux is the future.

"The two great pillars of Open Source are the GNU project and Linux. I shan’t burden you with too much detail, I’ll just make the outrageous claim that your computer will be running some descendant of those two within the next five years and that your life will be better and happier as a result."

While I'm not as optimistic as Fry I find this very interesting because:

Stephen Fry is a very clever man

Stephen Fry is well known for being an obsessive Mac fanboy.

His blog gets published in the Guardian which is the kind of mainstream exposure that Linux doesn't usually get.

Review - Derren Brown - Tricks of the Mind

I should probably start the review by saying that I haven't been a long term fan of Derren Brown. At the time of his Russian Roulette stunt I had him tarred broadly with the same brush as David Blaine. However I have had his book recommended to me a number of times and was interested to hear that his outlook on life is much like James Randi whom I greatly admire.
Tricks of the Mind is the first book by Derren to be aimed at a mainstream audience (He has previously written a couple of textbooks on close up card magic). It's quite a hard book to nail down into any particular genre other than being a book about the things Derren is interested in, but covers three main themes. Firstly as you would expect it delves into the techniques that Brown uses to perform his tricks on stage. There are sections dedicated to Card Tricks, Improving Memory, Hypnosis and Suggestion, Mind Reading and determining when people are lying to you. To his credit he doesn't fob you off and claim that by reading the section in question you will develop any significant level of skill in the techniques described, but he provides an introduction and background to each technique along with a few examples for you to try that should be sufficient to pique your interest for further study should you be so inclined. One of the most valuable aspects of the book is the extensive bibliography which provides an excellent resource for further study. Intertwined with the first section are semi autobiographical passages that cover the development of his own interest in hypnosis and magic which also chart his transformation from a very devout evangelical Christian to a committed rationalist sceptic. The third theme which makes up the majority of the final section of the book is a scathing attack on alternative medicine, the psychic industry and all other forms of superstition and dogma. He illustrates this section with some excellent examples of how fake psychics and healers can trick you with Barnum statements, Cold Reading and the Placebo effect. People expecting nothing more than a book about mind reading may be surprised by some of the content where he espouses Dawkins and Bertrand Russell. However don't be fooled into thinking this book is a rationalist polemic in the style of Dawkins. Brown writes in a very light and witty style with a sense of whimsy that at its best is reminiscent of Stephen Fry. I laughed out loud at several occasions while reading. The best thing that I can say about this book is that it has started more conversations and requests to borrow than any book that I've reads since Freakonomics and for that reason I whole heartedly recommend it.