Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Hive

2014 saw "Book Hive" in the City Library here in Bristol. I don't know why I didn't get round to blogging about this at the time but better, late than never. This is a short video I put together from sequences taken at the library and a Dorkbot event where the artists talked about how the installation was put together.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


Pomplamoose are an interesting indie band. Some of their covers are great, some of their original songs are great, and some not so much to my taste. But they are nearly always entertaining and I really like the way their videos often expose the way way in which they are put together. The Pharrall Mashup (Happy Get Lucky) is a case in point.

I also find Pomplamoose interesting because they are an example of an indie band as a small business. Jack Conte (the half of the band that isn't Nataly Dawn) recently exposed the economics of their latest tour with this article on Medium.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Rainbow in Curved Air

Last night saw me in Bristol's Old Vic theatre for the third night in a row, this time to see and listen to a performance of Terry Riley's "A Rainbow in Curved Air" by Charles Hazlewood's All Star Collective and Danceroom Spectroscopy. I'd seen the All Stars perform the piece last year - in fact, embarrassingly, their performance was my introduction to this seminal work - and was keen to hear it again, and whatever else they'd play in the concert.

Charles Hazlewood educates the audience prior to the performance
I wasn't disappointed; not at all. Charles Hazlewood introduced the piece with a short lecture about the nature of minimalist music and explained that the night's performance would follow the form of Rilley's piece but would be improvised and that the musicians would be interacting with Danceroom Spectroscopy's visuals.

Charles Hazelwood, Will Gregory, Ross Hughes 
And what a performance it was. Danceroom Spectroscopy' visuals were spot on, a great blend of abstract, photographic and algorithmic, and I enjoyed seeing the band members interacting with the visuals. Sonically the performance was grounded in the late 1960s with parts coming straight from Rilley's original and parts sounding like they'd been sampled from the more experimental parts of Pink Floyd's The Piper at The Gates of Dawn or from the first two Soft Machine albums. The piece became very free-form at times, and just as it seemed on the edge of falling to apart Tony Orrell's drumming would bring structure back into the piece and bring the audience to edge of their seats. 

Overall a great evening. I hope someone has recorded it and a copy finds its way in to my hands. The Pit at The Old Vic was a great place to see the performance from - although the next time I'll opt for standing rather than sitting. The only other thing I'd change would be to project the visuals over the whole performance area rather than on a screen - then we'd really be back in the 60s. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Catching up after my summer break, I'm delighted to have discovered some iBeacon activity going on here in Bristol. The CPAgroup are "making sense of iBeacons and their application in the real world" and they have an interesting project "Shufdy" with its own iPhone app which is experimenting with the technology around Bristol. 

Me, I'm going out to see whether I can find any iBeacons.

Friday, May 09, 2014


Forget watches, health sensors and the rest. Clothes - as in fashion - are going to be the end-game in wearables. This is an interesting article electronics and fashion. Although the iMiniSkirt retails for £3,750, I don't think it will be too long to move wearables from CuteCircuit to Primark.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Generation Y considers driving to be a distraction to texting

I've just spent two days at The Future World Symposium organised by the NMI (trade association for the UK Electronic Systems, Microelectronics and Semiconductor Communities). With a broad agenda covering the Connected Home, Connected Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Autonomous Systems, the standard of presentations was high. I thought the following were the most significant:

  • James Younger, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Intellectual Property at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. This was significant because of his appearance rather than what he said. Several years of effort by the NMI have resulted in the UK government recognising the existence of our important industry sector. It was also interesting to hear a Conservative minister talking about Industrial Strategy.
  • Hossein Yassaie, CEO Imagination. Interesting analysis comparing the UK and South Korea, and a restatement of his views (expounded in the ESCO report) on the importance of developing global brands.
  • Keith Robertson, Linn. Argued that as things in the home become connected, opportunities arise to rethink (reimagine) how products and services are constructed. Keith looked at the recored music industry and how Linn has evolved its thinking. He gave a very nice example of product personalisation where the acoustic properties of individual speaker drivers are measured at assembly time and the digital processing within that speaker is tweak to optimise playback. Being Linn, it's not "mass customisation" but it points the way.
  • Wally Rhines, Mentor. Interesting analysis of cost structures in microelectronics and the end of Moore's Law. To me he seemed to end up saying "but it will be alright, something will happen to make sure we continue of the learning curve". I have some sympathy for this view, I've seen the industry overcome enough "fundamental barriers" to have hope but.....
  • Simon Knowles, Xmos. Set out his view that machine intelligence was a field ripe for commercial implementation if only we could do it economically. At the moment we are one or two orders of magnitude short of computational power, and with the death of Dennard scaling and the decline of Moore's law, we're not going to get their with conventional computer. Furthermore, some of the techniques we use to gain performance in conventional computers and GPUs (caches, vector units) don't work for machine intelligence applications. We need new, parallel architectures, to deliver machine intelligence at the consumer scale. Simon is positioning this as the largest opportunity since the computer.
  • Finella Frost. Explained why I need to spend £2000 to improve the lighting in my home. Not many people I spoke to appeared to be convinced by Lighting 2.0.
  • Anthony Baxendale, MIRA. Useful insight into some of the problems of increasing the amount of automation in road vehicles. Enjoyed the characterisation of different types of automation as "hands off" (e.g. parking assist) and "foot off" (adaptive cruise control) with "brain off" being the challenging step.

Stepping back from the details, there were a number of themes that came through. Everything will be connected; there will be disasters along the way. Autonomy will come to vehicles (and aircraft) in time, but but may take generational change for it to become acceptable; "Generation Y considers driving to be a distraction to texting".

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