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We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!

Saturday May 22 2004

Well well...

Who'd have thought it?

Posted at 6:28 pm by Jim Woods

Thursday May 20 2004

Bah humbug

Seems to be some sort of weirdness with my email. Actually driven to using Outlook Express just for eliminative purposes...

How hath the mighty fallen.

Posted at 2:36 am by Jim Woods

Wednesday May 19 2004


the tragic failure to happen of the online multiplayer side of things (Uru Live, possibly now better termed Uru Dead) Uru is amazing. For those not in the know, it's one of the Myst series of games. These are essentially graphic adventures with tricky puzzle solving, set in the most gorgeous imaginary worlds. With Uru the leap has been made to provide a fully 3D environment to wander about in. Well, there was a 3D adaptation of the original Myst, RealMyst, but I never got that to run properly. Anyway, if your PC's got the hammer to run it and you like this sort of thing get Uru. It's astonishingly attractive.

For reference, I run an Athlon XP 2200 (on a Gigabyte board) with 256 meg of RAM and a Mercury (£20 to you sir) 64 Meg GeForce 2 MX400 graphics card. It's running XP Pro, and my reckoning is that a bit more memory would be nice for this game - Ubisoft recommend 512. I, however, recommend drinking my money rather than constantly buying more and newer hardware. The game runs on 256, but best not have a load of other stuff running in background at the time. There speaks the voice of experience.

Really, the game's beautiful...

Posted at 1:50 pm by Jim Woods

Tuesday May 18 2004

In which I discover,

to my delight, that Sound On Sound magazine has a great website. And on that website is loads of past content. Essentially, I reckon there are two sorts of people who read tech magazines like this one. On one hand there are those who like to read reviews and buyer's guides and suchlike, and keep up on new products. They are concerned with acquiring new kit and playing with it, and I'm not knocking them for it because without them the rest of us would have little access to the stuff they've got bored with via the used market.

The second type of reader is more concerned with method, and reads the magazines for the light they shed on the whole process of recording. I fall into the second group, so the opportunity to read around the subject for free online is a great plus. Of course most readers are a mixture of the two types, and are not as polarized as I have probably made them sound; that's just my disappointment at the number of people filling their spare rooms with all kinds of tech gear and then using it to produce derivative dreck. In the vast majority of cases access to the means of making a good recording was never the prime obstacle to success. Having something to offer that would persuade backers to get the recording (usually relatively expensively) made was. Cheapishly available digital gear has removed this obstacle, and made it possible to turn a substandard recording of crap into a shiny, edited recording of crap at a lowish cost.

Of course we'd have had cheapish (and I'm "ishing" all my cost-related adjectives here because a few grand is a lot of money to most people, even if if it represents a huge drop in the cost of a good recording rig) analogue recording a long time ago had it been technically possible to cut and paste easily on it, not to mention retrospectively put stuff in tune and in time.

'Twas ever thus that what happened after the artist laid down the track could not create a great performance where one had not in fact taken place. Creative use of recording technology aside, and of course there's a lot of recording where that is precisely the point - and fair enough, what one tries to do in the studio is take something that sounds great when you're there and try to get as much as possible of that live experience to come over via a stereo. In most cases a pretty humble stereo, possible even the radio. Tricky, but resources such as Sound On Sound's website contain the information to help make great recordings.

Posted at 12:15 pm by Jim Woods

Monday May 17 2004

These days

one can find oneself in the ridiculous position of being unable to connect to the net for long enough to download the patches you need to keep worms out without worms getting in. Really. It's that bad. I can't offer a magic bullet, but it's clear that you certainly can't be pissing about with dialup given the race that's on to (Windows) update your fresh install. In fact, if you live outside ADSL range of your exchange you may as well go back to carrier pigeon or tying letters to arrows or something; your chances of running a safe, clean PC are pretty much shot.

What a state of affairs. If your operating system were a car it'd be recalled.

When I see something on the net that helps with this vicious circle I mention it, and here's the latest. An article you should read, as much for its general background as for specifics. Might I suggest that if you have a clean, broadband-connected PC running right now you go and download all the current security updates for it from MS and keep them safe on CD(s) so that you can install them next time you reinstall? Obviously this only applies to Windows users. Other operating systems are not necessarily absolutely secure, but they are outside the scope of my ranting right now. You do need to be able to patch the system before you connect to the net.

And have a look at all the neat architecture and building projects that have arisen from the humble shipping container too. Ace.

Posted at 10:49 pm by Jim Woods

Sunday May 16 2004

The Blues

Opinions differ widely on this series of films about blues music. One particular person I know was very scathing about the whole thing. Given that this person knows more about the blues than anyone else I know, I made the initial error of assuming that it wasn't worth watching. Actually, that's not the case.

Now I'm not a blues purist, and in fact I don't have an especially in-depth interest in the subject, but I do like a decent documentary on most musical subjects. It costs nothing to tape the stuff, so I did. And I rather enjoyed several of the films. They may well leave something to be desired as far as ultimate accuracy or authenticity are concerned; I wouldn't really know. Or especially care, in fact. They're entertaining, and if you get BBC 4 (terrestrial analogue medievalists need not apply I fear) then I can't see what you lose by giving them a shot. Two or three of the seven are still to come - the schedule is on the website.

Posted at 1:05 pm by Jim Woods

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