Monday, March 10, 2008

'I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me from Being the Master' by Electric Six

I've commented before that - despite being a generally contented, non angry and not prone to mood swings type of guy - I have a peculiar liking of angry music and art which is 'dark'. This probably explains why I really quite liked Electric Six's first album 'Fire' (2003). Most folk will only remember the hits 'Danger! High Voltage!' and 'Gay bar' both of which were (lyrically) quite rude but (musically) an intriguing mix of rock and disco which I quite liked. Since then Electric Six have released 'Senor Smoke' (2005) , which was disappointing, 'Switzerland' (2006), which I didn't like that much, and now they have a new album (OK, so it came out in November, but I've only just heard it) called 'I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me from Being the Master'. Nice title.But is it any good? Well, first listen shows promise, some good tunes, silly humour and a few angry expletives... Watch this space for my more detailed thoughts later...

...much later.

Well, after quite a few listens, I think its safe to say that this album falls quite well into the 'guilty pleasure' category. I like it a lot but it contains such a mixed bag of negative emotions that I probably shouldn't be filling my mind with stuff like that. Probably need to listen to Delirious?'s entire back catalogue to balance up the karma. Or something.

There are a few great stand out tracks in the first half of the album, jam packed full of humour and punch-the-air angry rock moments. The album opener, "Its Showtime" sets the tone for the album, its an intro to the themes of dancing, entertainment, sexiness and so on that are to come; "...and put a little mustard on it!" is a great metaphor for taking the entertainment to the next level. Cool.

The trio of "Dance pattern", "Rip it" and "Feed my f$%#ing habit" are the core of the album, the first being quite reminiscent of the first Electric Six album and the others being so full of anger its almost astonishing. This is not an album to listen to in the company of anyone who can get offended at anything.

The rest of the album is full of good songs, mostly in the same kind of flow as the first 5, but none stand out as being significantly better or worse than the rest. But its all entertaining stuff, and certainly as good as, if not better than, the first album.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fotobook gripe

I've been compiling a photo album of all the best of my digi-photos from 2007. I decided to use the Fotobook software to create the book (can be done offline, unlike Photobox who I have used before), which you then upload to their website and they print the book and post it to you.

The book hasn't arrived yet. I'll comment on the photo quality when it does.

But I am annoyed by their software. It ate all the free space on my hard disk. Before I started working on the book, there was 19Gb of free space on my 'C' drive. I saved the file to the desktop. As I added photos (about 280 of them) the thing grew to a whopping 1.8Gb. But still nowhere near enough to clog up the hard drive.

Last weekend, while saving a near-final version of the book, the computer gave me a 'stream writing error' warning. I had a look and discovered that the hard drive was full! A bit of snooping lead me to the discovery of over ten '.tmp' files, each well over 1Gb in size, buried away in a temp directory. The Fotobook software doesn't delete its temp files! And everytime you use it it creates a new file rather than over-writing a previous one.

That is really sloppy.

Labels: , ,

Torchwood: S2E8 'A day in the death' & S2E9 'Something borrowed'

I watched both the BBC2 and BBC3 episodes, back to back, on Wednesday. So here are my thoughts on both. There's probably spoilers in here, so go carefully.

Episode 8: A day in the death
Life is worth living, even if you're dead. That seemed to be the message of this episode. I'm not sure how long they can sustain this Owen is dead plot. If he doesn't regenerate, can't eat and can't have sex, I'm not sure he'll stay a useful character for very long. But this episode was quite good. I enjoyed it at the time, although now I'm finding it hard to remember what actually happened. It was more character centred than plot centred, but was entertaining enough.

Episode 9: Something Borrowed

I liked this one too. This was one of those 'only in Torchwood' episodes. Humour, emotion, action and Nerys Hughes as a battle axe mother in law and as a violent shape-shifting alien...

The amnesia drug is too handy a plot device though.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Time for a new gadget?

I'm wondering if its time to upgrade my gadget PDA-phone...

I've had my i-Mate JAMin for about two years now and its beginning to show signs of age. But if I replace it, what should I replace it with?

Good features of the JAMin I'd like to keep:
  1. Windows Mobile. OK, its not perfect, but I'm used to it now and would rather not have to change to Symbian or something else.
  2. Touch screen control (i.e. Windows Mobile pro)
  3. Wi-fi
  4. Bluetooth
  5. General overall size. It fits in my pocket, anything bigger wouldn't.
  6. Memory card slot
  7. Ability to play videos. Handy on short plane flights (i.e. those without in-flight movies)
  8. Camera. Actually a low light, higher res camera would be great. Like the LG Viewty.
But I'd also like:
  1. Some form of keypad. It is close to impossible to send texts using stylus entry on a bus or in a car (as a passenger!). Either a full QWERTY keyboard or just a simple numeric keypad with predictive text is highly desirable on the new gadget.
  2. A bigger screen. Although this may not be possible in the same size of unit, I'd like a bigger screen, maybe just longer for widescreen movies. Like the Samsung F700? (but it doesn't have wi-fi or Windows, so its out - nice screen though), or possibly
  3. Higher screen resolution. If the screen was the same size but had higher resolution, that would be good. Full VGA would be excellent, especially for PowerPoint previews.
  4. VGA out. This is the ultimate. The ability to run a PowerPoint presentation from the gadget on an external projector or monitor. More and more gadgets have this. Cool.
  5. GPS. This started appearing on phones not long after I got the Jamin. Would be nice as a bonus.
  6. SDHC. That is, the ability to have memory cards with a capacity of more than 2Gb.
  7. HSDPA. That is, 'mobile broadband' on the 3G networks.
Anyone any ideas as to what I should choose?

Eten Glofiish M700 and the HTC Tytn II seem to fit most of these requirements and the forthcoming i-Mate 9502 and Toshiba G920 look good too. Any advice?

I've compared the sizes of the new gadgets compared to the old one. All slightly larger, but hardly significantly so. Indeed the only one much bigger is the Toshiba. But because of the clamshell design of the Toshiba, it is the only one of the four considered here that wouldn't need some form of protective case, so the sizes probably ballance out totally.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Walk the line (2005)

I saw 'Walk the line' the other night. Quite good. Would have been much better if I had never seen 'Ray' though. It seems the ingredients for a successful solo music career in the 60s were:
  1. Death of a sibling as a child.
  2. Strongly religious parents
  3. Married & kids before success
  4. Living on the poverty line
  5. Meeting the right producer
  6. Infidelity on the road
  7. Marriage break up
  8. Drugs and alcohol addiction
So much of the film felt like a re-run of 'Ray', which is a shame as the performances - both acting and singing - were good and Johnny Cash came over as a more likable character than Ray Charles did.

However, I felt that the wee scar on Joaquin Phoenix's upper lip and Reece Witherspoon's gargantuan chin both kept reminding me that these were actors playing parts and I never totally came to see the people on the screen as the characters themselves. Shame.

Labels: ,