Saturday, 30 June 2012

CubeStormers on Show!

Back in March of this year I posted a video of the ARM-powered CubeStormer robot made of Lego that solves standard Rubik's Cubes in just a few seconds.

Since the first model, the team including ARM's David Gilday has developed the range, including the ability to handle larger versions of the cube up to seven-a-side (the original cube was three-a-side; and in fact they go up to at least twenty-per-side), and David will be bringing several along to a computer club event in central London in a couple of weeks from now.

If you're interested, do come along to The Blue-Eyed Maid public house in Borough High Street (London SE1 1HR) on Monday 16 July, where the club will be meeting upstairs from 6 pm (David Gilday's talk/demo event itself starts at 7.45), and I hope to join them on this occasion – which will be the day before I turn 63 years of age – health permitting.

In the meantime, here's another video, this one featuring a seven-per-side cube full solution...

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Rosie and Raggles at West End Live 2012

Yes, it's true! That great duo, Rosie and Raggles, were at West End Live (which featured acts from every one of the 39 shows currently on the West End) in London's Trafalgar Square today – and they'll be back tomorrow. Rosie is a really lovely character, and Raggles is just about the best-written and nuanced character in pre-schoolers' TV. Here they are in a scene from the programme...

Not only were the two around during the event, they also put on a short item on the stage. That performance, and some of their other appearances around the double-width Everything's Rosie activities tent, is in this movie I have today edited and uploaded overnight.

There were plenty of their production staff on hand too, including the producers Stephen and Vickie Corner. Indeed, just for the weekend, Trafalgar Square became a square with six Corners...

Oh, in case you were wondering: the numerous cuts and dissolves were done simply to keep children's faces out of the finished product as far as practicable. I've done the best job I could without losing anything vital...

UPDATE: Here are some photographs I took on the Sunday. Clicking on any image will, as usual, display a larger version...

One for Latin Fans

Invented by JuliaM, commenting at this post...
"This was a classic Homo Knickerstwistius defending its offspring situation.. "
JuliaM's own take on the same story is here.

I know we have at least one fan of Latin in my own local area.

Reading the story, though, one can easily understand Julia's reference. One to remember, as it will no doubt come in handy from time to time....

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Music – The Ecstasy of Gold

For some reason, it seems to me at least that a work such as this is even more powerful and stirring in live performance with orchestra, chorus and soprano (Susanna Rigacci, I think) with the master himself conducting...

Music – Sukiyaki

Here's another very distinctive musical item from the days of my youth (early teens when it came out, I seem to recall) by the Japanese fellow Kyu Sakamoto. Sukiyaki wasn't its real title but was easier for us Westerners to say than its proper title Ue O Muite Arakou, which means "I look up as I walk".

This video includes English subtitles, so we can all now appreciate what Sakamoto-san was singing about, all those years ago...

Music – Il Silencio

While I am musically in the period, I thought it useful to include a couple of the most atmospheric songs/tunes of that era of my youth, so many years ago now. Il Silencio, by Nini Rosso, was a real stop-and-listen trumpet solo as you can judge for yourself...

Theme – The Avengers (all versions)

This is the complete set, right from the time Ian Hendry was the main star, and Patrick McNee was playing second fiddle. I recall the opening theme and sequence very well, though in those days I was a bit too young to stay up and watch the programme itself.

After that we go through the Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson series' openers, as well as those for the two New Avengers seasons.

Although the famous second theme might get a bit repetitive as one goes through this compendium, it really is worth is for the delightful accompanying sequences – surely the most stylish of any programme ever created, at least until the advent of the New Avengers, which lost most of that...

Monday, 18 June 2012

Music – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A longish piece, this, lasting a little over ten minutes. After the opening minute or so, there's some mildly discordant stuff – deliberately setting the tone.

This is followed by a section that, at four minutes or so in, includes a motif that Morricone re-used many years later in the lovely film Mission to Mars. If you've seen that movie you'll spot it here straight away, I promise! (Think: Gary Sinise going up the tube at the end.)

 There are a few of the well-known themes from this movie, though, in the second half of this piece, culimnating in that most famous theme of all from these so-called "Spaghetti movies"...

Funny of the Day – 18 June 2012

From the Fish Marketing and Publicity Solutions website's home page...
"Fish! Marketing and Publicity Solutions works with sole traders"
Further down it asks...
"Are you a sole trader"
Well, yes, someone might reply; sole, and plaice, and haddock, and...

Theme – Rawhide

One of the most powerful and evocative Western series themes was that for Rawhide, which series also introduced us to Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates. I remember it well!

It works even better with the cracking whip, but as far as I can find, none of the online versions has that, so we'll just have to make do without. Keep them dogies movin'!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Theme – Department S

The TV series that introduced us to Jason King (and spawned a spin-off series about his escapades) also had a cracking theme and opening sequence, probably the best in its genre that decade.

This extended version (with stills) runs through the main theme twice, then goes to the ending as per the original, so is entirely consistent with the TV intro...

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Videos Advance Notice

Just to let everyone know...

I am still editing my video recordings from last weekend's Bicentenary Dickens Festival, and this weekend am recording at the FUSE Festival. I recorded nearly three GigaBytes of material today, and I might add to that tomorrow, weather and health permitting (I am not very well this evening).

Both finished products should go up during this coming week, in that order – in parts again as it is obvious that, for some reason, YouTube is not handling the longer uploads correctly, despite its perpetual banner reminding me that I am now allowed to upload longer videos.

I mention this now only because I have had a fair amount of interest expressed in these 'event' videos and enquiries about both of these new ones.

Meanwhile, I hope that visitors here have now viewed the rest of the River Festival that I recently added to the original post. There is some good material in the new parts, including the full sail-by of the Kingswear Castle paddle steamer and the complete award ceremony.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Stargate SG-1 – Learning Curve

Stargate SG-1, in its long run, had the opportunity to try out all sorts of things, including parodying itself and other programmes on several occasions.

It could be funny, serious, happy, sad, philosophical – all manner of emotions and styles.

Occasionally it was quite thought-provoking in the true sense and ultimate purpose of science fiction: "what are the implications of such-and-such, the what if? scenario.

This is explored in episodes such as the third season's Learning Curve, which has just this afternoon been shown (in the latest repeat showings) on Sky One. The premise of this story is a society whose children do all the learning, then pass on that knowledge to the adults via transferable nano-tech 'machines' inside them (nanites).

This is probably the most beautiful of all the SG-1 episodes, particularly in its second half. In the sequence where Colonel Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) takes the alien child Merrin on an unauthorised trip off-base, to a school where he is well known, and in just about all that follows, we see a wondrous unfolding of the (in many ways most un-childlike) Merrin – excellently played by Brittney Irvin – and the interplay between her and O'Neill is truly superb television, the acting near-enough perfect with excellent writing and direction too.

Merrin's parting smile just before stepping through the Stargate on her journey back home tells us that O'Neill's ploy has worked, as we see in the final part of the episode. It is a very, very clever twist.

I always find this episode very moving, no matter how many times I watch it; and the brilliance of the 'painting a flower' scene is a particular delight. You can't help but smile! Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Medway First Annual River Festival – The Video

After the technical difficulties (entirely at YouTube's end, by the look of it) of uploading the complete video, I am now doing it in chunks instead. I have a theory...

As I write this post initially, just one part is up (with no problems, I notice with interest!) but I shall add the later parts as they eventually get up the line and are "processed" (in YouTube parlance). UPDATE: Part 2 is now up, as is Part 3 (at last!), and these are also embedded below.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three 

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Sorry for the delay...

YouTube decided to wait until it had fully uploaded my video of the first Medway River Festival before telling me there was a fault (of undisclosed nature) and it had just wasted almost thirty hours with no result.

I have completely remade the video from the project file and am now uploading that.

It seemed to play through all right here, so I am reasonably confident that there is no fault in the source file.

Whether it'll get up the line successfully, a day or so hence, I shall not know until the end of that 28-hour period; but if all is well I shall be able to embed it here late tomorrow evening. (UPDATE @ 0055 hrs on 11 June: It has failed again! I don't know what to do about this. There seems to be nothing whatsoever wrong with the source file here. I am now trying uploading it in three shorter parts, to see if one part fails or all do. FURTHER UPDATE: Exactly the same edited file has now gone up successfully, in three parts, proving that it has been a YouTube failure all along!)

In the meantime, I have another GigaByte or so, in 51 video clips from today's Dickens Festival, to start cataloguing in preparation for editing all of that. I shall probably add something like as much source material again tomorrow, on the festival's final day.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Missing the World

In recent years I have noticed a distinct trend of more and more people in the street, on the 'bus, in shops or wherever spending seemingly every moment they have 'living in the 'phone' as I term it.

If they're not speaking, they're texting or similar, almost completely oblivious to the world around them.

It seems to me to be a very sad kind of life, when passing through the world but experiencing next to nothing of it. I have never made that mistake, even when treading a route or taking a 'bus or rail journey that I have done perhaps hundreds of times before.

Every time, it is for me a new and fresh experience, to be relished and not missed.

It was (and is) bad enough in modern society with Walkman-type gadgets, now replaced by iPod-type devices; but with 'phones it takes all the user's attention away from the world outside that little bubble, not just the ears...

I wonder what would happen if the entire mobile 'phone failed and it took at least a week to get it back up and running. Would these people re-join the rest of us on Planet Earth? I suspect not: they'd be lost for the duration; and as soon as it was restored there'd be million of text messages flying around along the lines of...
"gr8 too b txtng agin LOLOL"
Believe me: I see such messages from time to time, including on Twitter, usually from teen and twenty-something females, when they happen to include a word that one of my standing searches finds. For example, there's a recent arrival on Twitter who calls herself Waybuloo_ (why?) – so I now have to wade through all her dross along such lines, and from those responding, on a regular basis.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Let's All Go Down The Strand

"Have a banana!"

But for those who were unable to do so today, or whatever reason missed the Community Safety event held at The Strand Leisure Park in Gillingham, here are a few photographs I took at the event.

Although the event was in general quite busy, I managed to grab moments when the stands were relatively quiet – mainly to avoid accidentally getting children in-shot, as we as a society are so sensitive about such things these days. As usual, the following images can be enlarged by clicking on them: they are linear quarter-size (i.e. a sixteenth of the originals' area) so should still fit on most computer displays comfortably...

I also went for a stroll along the riverside, and here are a few of the images I took along the way...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Chatham Jubilee Beacon

As promised, I was there for the entire beacon-lighting event and what went on before, and have now edited and uploaded my video-recording of not only the lighting of the Beacon, but highlights (such as they were!) from the preceding half-hour and all of the fireworks display from the Great Lines Heritage Park that followed shortly after the lighting itself...

UPDATE: This is all that remained of the beacon, now contained within a much smaller enclosure, by the following afternoon...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Tweet of the Day – 3 June 2012

My own this time, while watching the Queen's diamond jubilee event on the River Thames – the thousand boat pageant...
"Today's event in London reminds me yet again of how having a Monarchy & of such a calibre lifts our species above the level of the robotic."
...along with the immediate follow-up...
"Today is a vital part of what makes us truly human."
This was in response to a small number of miseryguts anti-monarchists, little Englanders and others who cut themselves off from this event because they hate the monarchy, hate the Union Flag (or what it represents to them) or some other equally tenuous reason.

These folks' own agenda and its overriding importance to themselves (though not to most others), and their resultant detachment from the rest of humanity today, show them and their stances to be weak – but there are always some like that.

As for the anti-monarchists, they generally turn out to be Lefties; and as we surely all realise by now, Lefties want absolute power for themselves, either directly or via those who will corrupt the laws of the land to facilitate this for them all. They cannot stand the idea of even an almost powerless monarch: the psychology behind this attitude becomes obvious if you put yourself in a Lefty's shoes for a moment or two. Fortunately, there were hardly any of them protesting at today's event (UPDATE 4 June: about sixty, it would appear).

The "cutting off one's nose to spite one's face" nature of the flag-despisers who allowed that rather odd outlook to spoil the event is sad indeed, especially as their perceived loss of what it means to be British is, or can be made to be over time, corrected, but not if one simply gives up and doesn't bother.

Some people come across as living for the excuse – any excuse – to moan and be negative: they can never form part of our future as they prefer to live their way. It's an almost mechanical, and certainly predictable, form of existence. It is therefore up to the rest of us to deal with the issues, with a positive and involved approach, living rather than merely existing and being a part of the new future.

As for Britain as a nation: it can never go back to how it once was – Gordon Brown and Co saw to that – and for the same reason it will take many years to undo (hopefully most of) the damage those Labour traitors deliberately did to our country. Some will never be fixed; but the balance of population ethnicity, the balance between the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom and other issues can be brought into a more appropriate relationship.

That was always going to be something that will happen tomorrow, one step at a time and taking a whole generation to finalise. We get to tomorrow by going through today – not mechanically but by living it. Far from being divise, today's event unites the whole nation, with a somewhat small minority whose outlook separating them from the rest of us.

No doubt they will have their criticisms of us, and in particular what I have written here – but the truth is that today's event really has been a vital part of what makes us (okay, most of us) truly human. We live, rather than merely exist, and are big enough to handle an imperfect world.

Anyone else might as well emigrate right now. If you're not part of the solution...

Apple Cuts Apple

Here is a demonstration showing an Apple MacBook Air being used as a kitchen knife. So that's what is meant by "cutting edge technology"...

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Medway River Festival

Me in action with camcorder. Photo by Chris Irvine
This was the first such event we have held here in Medway, forming part of our local Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations this weekend, and it has been promised to be repeated next year at least, and hopefully every year thereafter.

It was a good event, spread along the Chatham waterfront from the 'bus facility right the way to the far end, with a fairly extensive programme and lots of ongoing activities for visitors, especially (but not only) children.

I was there from before it opened to after it closed, apart from a spell back at home to upload the video clips I had by then shot and to partly quick-charge the camcorder's battery. I met friends and acquaintances, and also colleagues from the council, made a new friend or two, and enjoyed the day.

I shall be editing the (more than eighty!) clips into a proper production to upload to my YouTube channel, probably during the next few days. I shall embed it here once that has been completed. There's so much material that – even after editing – it will probably end up in at least two parts, owing to the YouTube 15-minute limit imposed on those of us without mobile 'phones (yes, that's the only reason I can't change that limit).

UPDATE 4 June: Meanwhile, the always-excellent Rochester People has now posted three galleries of still photos from the River Festival...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Testing if Religions are Valid

I'm not that good at talking to the camera; but please excuse any such personal imperfections when watching the following, which is intended to show how – with just a little common sense – it is easy to determine whether any particular religion is or is not likely to be truly the word of God, by applying three simple tests...