Thursday, 29 September 2011

Staying connected

For as long as I recall staying connected especially in cyber life has always been a tricky business as I'm sure many of you recall early cellphones were just that phones for use on the move and texting was seen as a near miraculous thing you could use to set up social meets with a written record of who was going where to met with who.
The modern smartphone does more such as offering the ability to view and listen to media and well as messaging or even Email.
As good as they are the one disadvantage is the small screen size an area Apple tackled with it's iPad silly name but essentially a biggish tablet that makes reading online media such as newspapers easier using touch screen technology and 'apps'.
These have been generally quite expensive for the facilities compared with a notebook or budget lap tops which are also kind of portable but overnight Amazon the world online supplier of books and so much more announced an number of new products such as it's latest Kindle Ebook reader.
The one 'wow' product was however the Amazon Fire a tablet a little smaller than Apple's but with a much much lower cost - $199 (UK £130) offering much of the functionality you would expect of a more expensive model.
With a 7 inch
two touch screen set in charcoal grey case it's big enough to read websites clearly at normal distances and allow easy following of chatroom sessions - something that can be hard going on a smartphone - and takes many Android apps.
Featured apps for Amazon’s Android Appstore such as Pandora, Twitter, Facebook, and, most notably, Netflix Kindle store, Amazon MP3, and Prime Instant Video. Nearly all of Amazon’s recent news, Amazon Cloud Player, Amazon Cloud Drive, Kindle Cloud Reader, the streaming deals with Fox and NBCUniversal in the states , were in preparation for the Fire.

It seems obvious Amazon are gunning for the iPad's experience although it lakes camera, mic and 3G although frankly most users would be likely to use the built in wifi for series streaming.
Personally I'm very interested having a use to read certain web sites and follow 2 hour chat sessions without wishing to fire up my main energy hungry PC and that price is a killer.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Another release by Audio Fidelity another internet battle of the wills as mastering engineer Steve Hoffman who worked on this title recently gets arrowed online.
Frankly as someone who who just loves music and wants to hear it as good as possible I get sick and tired of this posturing which is why I left one site as the only thing that I'm bothered about is 'is it good' and 'is it worth my money'.
There have been many compilations by Heart issued by Epic/Sony covering the 70's and early 1980's and Capitol covering the more commercially successful period from 1985 onward but many of these coincided with the "Loudness Wars" where every new issue sounded louder and more like a wall of noise.
This disc is a remastering of a compilation put out originally in 1998 that featured one new track Strong, Strong Wind and a great selection of 16 outstanding cuts for their Epic/Portrait and Mushroom Records albums from 1976's Little Queen to 1983's Passionworks. an album reissued a few years back by England's BGO label that we talked about here.
Because of my negative experiences of albums such as Capitol's These Dreams -The Greatest Hits that only lived on my shelf for short period for the 'too loud sound' before it met the garbage can, I passed on the original and picked up the "Essential Heart" which sounds good and covers both eras instead figuring this was an album I didn't need.
This remastered version does generally speaking sounds pretty good although there are a some differences in the average levels between tracks where Mr Hoffman decided to leave alone rather than level them up, maybe adding a touch of compression too. Each to their own.
Personally I prefer this approach as it keeps the difference between the softest and loudest passages in the track intact although you may want to turn up the volume a little on the odd track.
The strong point to the sound on this release is the midband which does really enhance your appreciation of the Wilson Sisters vocal talents. This is one cd that does justice to them working well as a introduction to those early recording. For the £10 plus shipping I paid I considered it good value.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Cut some rug

You know one simple way to jazz up your living area and provide an instant conversation piece is through a Rug as not only can they help prolong the life of your carpet, many have interesting patterns.I noticed ths one at Kaleidoscope on special offer in hand crafted wool and viscose called the Oriental Blossom with delicate buds and blossom design.
Available in 60x120, 90x150,120x180 and 180x240 cm sizes.
I think it's lovely.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


It's been a long time in the making near enough 22 months since I ordered this cd when it's release was announced but on September 13th it finally comes out on gold mini lp style cd and 180 gram vinyl. I first remember buying this in 1979 being mightily impressed with the debut album released June 1978 and it's clutch of singles that charted well in the UK. The lead off single on this album was Let's Go a perky little 'new wave' number with It's all I Can Do being the second going from memory. I really like Mobile Fidelity, the Chicago based re-issue labels work which frequently sounds much better than the regular cd or lp issues and am really looking forward to hearing this remastered. In case any doesn't know the model in the body stocking is Candy Moore.The new issue to me has judged the sound of the percussion about right as one of the signature sounds of producer Roy Thomas Baker's work is the forward highly miked drum sound that is hard to pull off without sounding harsh .
The original cd a red coloured top one from the early 80's was generally a very pleasant sounding one easily one the best Cars cds of the time but suffered from quite a lot of his and also has a haze over the upper treble suggesting to me this was a few generations removed from the original master tape. In 1999 Joe Gaswirt remastered the first three albums using HDCD encoding in the United States and these were not made available in Europe.I like Joe's work a lot but while it's plain he had better tapes, his version of Candy-O sounds harsh with a funny splashiness effecting the percussion a lot so wasn't as enjoyable as it should of been even though the 'attack' was better.
I'd say this new version marries the better tapes and attack of the HDCD issue with the better rendering of the drums as well as that general listenable nature and certainly is the best cd version I've ever heard.
Strongly recommended.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Home Sweet Home edition

It's rare for me to say much about interior decor probably spending my formative years more on a make do and mend approach as we weren't made of money but one of things I always used to look forward to was jazzing cushions with newer covers and that was one of my 'chores' on a Sunday as a child. The results just seemed magical. Anyway here's some charming Champagne coloured cushion covers in a design called 'Lucia' that I like and are available from Debenhams.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

September musings

Wow! A warm dry late Summers day here that I spend a fair bit of my time out doors in due to my rotten internet service provider breaking up the broadband every 10 to 15 minutes and having momentary drop outs at all other times. England I'm sure must be home to some of the worst connections anywhere in the Western world so on top of everything else it sure doesn't surprise me some many do emigrate as the infrastructure is just so lousy here.

The major telephone provider is meant to moving toward high speed fibre broadband installation but I'll believe that'll come here when I see it!

You know I talked about the moral panic a few weeks back well we're at the start of another revolving around the case of an 16 year old boy who while left for a week to look after a four year old girl while his parents went away decide whilst leaving the four year old to her own devices to commit a bit of crime.

People are calling for the laws around the age children can be left on the own to changed and also the ages when older children can be left to look after younger siblings.

I really cannot understand this as the main thing is the person who is meant to look after the younger child has to be said to be mature (however we define that) which varies from child to child as well as tossing in the observation that in my experience some adults are insufficiently mature to be around children although they may give birth to them!

The benchmark is usually around from the age of 13 subject to your own assessment of your child which seems reasonable to me having looked after my older brother for periods when my folks weren't in.

This takes us to the universal requirement of children needing experience of handling responsibilities for themselves ready for when they become adults which as the adults we have to provide as we won't be around forever!!

Clearly this child has to reminded of the responsibility he undertook and how he let down his family, placing his young sibling in danger but I see little good from a Social Services investigation into the family.