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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 31 March 2007

project of pop

The last month has been something of a creative splurge for me - the month started with the Rock Takeover podcast, and then I started work on a feature for the Festival Live radio station that was on-air during the Audio & Music Festival.

Each member of the team involved in the radio station had to create a ten-to-fifteen minute audio article about the subject of their choice. My idea was to do a light-hearted report on what makes a good 'Eurovision' song, since the UK entries this year were so woeful.

I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out - you can play the whole feature with the little player below. You can also download the 'big finish' song (if you like that sort of thing!)

AnatomyOfAEurovisionSong-192k.mp3 : Anatomy Of A Eurovision Song (17MB MP3 @ 192kbps)

Shopping High.mp3 : Shopping High (3MB MP3 @ 128kbps)

Thank you so much to the following folk:
  • Vikki for going well out of her way to record the lead vocals
  • Beth (the birthday girl, yesterday!) for working so hard on the fine backing vocals
  • Trev for the A&R man skit
  • Doug for the producer interview
  • and to the radio heroes who contributed, but who are very unlikely to venture to this corner of the web!

That's really what's taken up most of my life over the past week - plenty of evenings spent in the studio, and time at work trying to pop in on the presenters at just the right time!

The A&M Awards 2007 at the Royal Courts of Justice, LondonI may put some excerpts of my live radio show on-line if I have the chance (and if it isn't too mortifying a listen!) - I was priveleged to do an interview with Jenny Abramsky (the overall head of our division) during my stint as a radio presenter, which I think went well. Oh, and I was also fortunate enough to be offered a last-minute ticket to attend the Audio and Music Awards ceremony at the terrifyingly opulent Royal Courts of Justice, which closed the festival. I've never been to anything like it before - it's the strangest of social occasions, but it's free food, and I didn't have to dress too smart so I'm certainly not going to complain.

Back to the grind on Monday, though.. I have the Easter weekend (which also includes Lenni's birthday) off, so that will be some quality family time.

Posted by james at 10:17 PM

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Generic Host Process for Win32 Services - nasty error!

A brief blog entry about an irritating problem that's emerged on Beth's laptop. It's this one:

Generic Host Error in WIN32

She certainly doesn't seem to be the only one suffering from such errors -- and it looks like it's a Microsoft 'hotfix' that's gone a bit awry.

Microsoft gave this message when I clicked the link suggested by the report.. hopefully there'll be another update out soon.

So... do we 'wait and see' or start rolling back the updates? I'll keep you posted.

Posted by james at 7:02 PM

Not in the slightest bit snow.

While we weren't making the most of the spring warmth (which dissipated so quickly as dusk approached and the northerly wind started whipping across the hill.. wow it was cold) outdoors, I thought I'd put on Classic FM in the kitchen. There was a programme called Baroque and Roll. This week had an interview with a dead composer; or it would have been if his agent had allowed him to ask many questions!

Beth sent me an interesting link (you'll notice, incidentally, that the snap.com thing has been installed) to a collection of more ecological colours for one's website! If I can work out how to do it easily I'll probably add a button to this blog!

more Pocket PC software
What else, what else? Oh yes, I've finally found a free (at the moment, since it's in beta?) sftp client for Pocket PC/Windows Mobile - there's no easy way for me to download stuff to the iPAQ from my Mac when I'm not at home. It doesn't offer the quickest of transfers, but it's reliable.

podcast and music
Another podcast to add to my collection - this time an interesting musical "anatomy" one, called Pandora Podcast. One of the most recent includes a feature on a technique called pedal point, which I inadvertently used (I played the bassline a bit wrong!) during the chorus of "Summer In Britain" ().

Finally, here's an interesting mood-drive music site that I've just been told about - www.musicovery.com.. another redefinition of radio, in a similar vein to Pandora.. cool!

(oh, and Happy Mothering Sunday to all you mothers out there!)

Posted by james at 2:03 PM

Thursday, 15 March 2007

another four days of work over...

I have two days off, then I'm back on Sunday. Busy busy life (as always!) I'm hoping to get a bit of production work done tomorrow evening, though, for the Audio & Music Festival feature I'm working on. We'll see how it turns out...

Then it's just catching up with various bit and pieces in the house.. tidying up, attempting to fix the broken things and maybe having another attempt to dub some of our old videos onto DVD before I stash them in the loft. The "normal" ones are straightforward - I just play them into the DVR; it's the Macrovision protected ones that irk me. Fortunately, the combination of a Tevion PVR-TV 713X and good ol' VLC streaming it to a MOV file that can be compiled on the Mac using iDVD seems to be a good way of doing it - just a shame it has to be done in 'real time'!

It looks like the Gizmo Project people have come up with some interesting new services - GizmoSMS (free text messages) and Gizmocall (free telephone calls!) - I've not tried either of them yet, but either way, free stuff is good!

Well, I'd better get to bed - more multimedia posts soon (I'm aware that there've not been many pics of late!)

Posted by james at 11:02 PM

Monday, 12 March 2007

Rock lobster podcast!

We made this: rock.thepodcastnetwork.com/2007/03/12/tpn-rock-takeover-with-the-north-south-divide.

It's quite good..

More from me when I've had some coffee!

Posted by james at 6:29 PM

Sunday, 11 March 2007

random things for Sunday evening..

Trivia to enjoy..

Probably the most unusual baby name ever? : www.newbabynews.net/hospitals/stf33/public/stf33birthannouncement.pl?babyID=h33-440 (apparently the first-name is pronounced "Your Highness").

Beth and I have found two Geocaching podcasts :

Those classic drum lines : www.phatdrumloops.com/old_site/drums-main.html (including the famous 'amen break')

Snap's contribution to "Web2.0" : www.snap.com/about/spa1B.php - previews of websites (although not necessarily the most popular)

Posted by james at 7:05 PM

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Another sunny day..

I'd better make the most of it - another four day run of work shifts starts on Monday!

In fact, we're doing OK so far, having taking a trip up the hill to the library this morning (and to drop some glass into the bottle bank) - after a delicious traditional Saturday lunch of sausages, mashed potato and beans, we're heading off to the park this afternoon, the children well-wheeled (both have insisted bringing their bikes).

I received a comment a couple of days ago from David, an old schoolmate (thanks for getting in touch!) Wow - I've known him for nearly 25 years! It's amazing how life can take people in such different directions. It's been a good while since I've looked at Friends Reunited, so I shall have to have another browse to see who's doing what now.

Otherwise, not much to report. I've been working on a few projects in the studio lately - one of them's nearly finished (but "top secret"!) and the other - the feature for an internal 'special event' radio station - is making very slow progress.. I've made a jingle/theme thing that I'm hoping will be used, but there are also a couple of emails to which I'm awaiting responses, and I've got some vox pops to do.

Of course, there hasn't been a more annoying time for my beloved iRiver to go wrong - the hard drive is making painful sounds - since I rely on it to do field recordings. My laptop is appalling for doing that, and I've discovered that my minidisc walkman needs a little medical attention, too. Even more frustrating is the fact that Toshiba, who make the hard drive, are just about to launch a larger capacity one in the same case.. I think I might see how long I can hold out without it (I have a 1GB USB stick MP3 player which will suffice for the time being, but it doesn't have a radio, high quality recording capability, video playing, games..!)

I suppose if one has this much technology, it's bound to start going wrong, especially if it's in constant use! I shall make the most of what I have, though...

Link of the day:

  • www.wallofwords.org.uk : A campaign by I CAN to enlist surfers to record their favourite word. There's a sub-campaign by Luton Freecyclers to make 'freecycle' among the most popular words, too!

Posted by james at 1:34 PM

Monday, 5 March 2007


Miniature CrocusesThe crocuses and a bit of vegetable bedJust a quick one to document the afternoon that Lenni and I spent in the garden. Way back in the middle of last year, we covered the larger of the two beds with black plastic to prevent the remnants of the plants that used to overrun it from respawning after we cleared them.

This worked perfectly - within about an hour and a half, Lenni and I had removed the stumps of the rotten plants and turned the soil over. Because it's still a little early, and subject to the potential of frosts, I recovered the majority of the bed, and we sprinkled some lettuce and leaf beet seeds (kindly donated by Emma) in the right-most quarter of the bed. As we were covering the seeds with a thin layer of compost, it started raining - perfect timing, really! Of course, the success depends on no more severe frosts (on which we can't really count, even at this time of year) but we'll see how things go.

I'm exhausted now, though. I'm hoping for some studio time this evening, once Christopher has returned from Beavers - if I make anything good, I'll be sure to let you know!

Posted by james at 4:45 PM

Friday, 2 March 2007

heroes and eclipses

Just a quicky after a stressful day at work..

There's going to be a lunar eclipse tomorrow, between about half-past ten and midnight.. hopefully it'll not be raining quite so hard as it was tonight! I have work in the morning, though, so there's a good chance I'll miss it, more's the pity.

I'm not normally one to get hooked on TV programmes - I know Lost has resulted in many addictions and box set purchases (despite the disappearance of Sky One from Virgin Media) but the risk of missing a critical episode has put me off, as it did when I was hooked on Stargate SG1 all those years ago...

Not so, Heroes, which was introduced to me by Rob (thanks, mate!) and which I have been making good use of PVR and iriverter technology to transfer episodes on to my iRiver to watch on the way to and from work when I want to watch them. It comes highly recommended - perhaps a little too much suspense for a supposedly relaxing journey home from work, but a compelling distraction from the tedium of the M1!

Posted by james at 9:57 PM

Thursday, 1 March 2007

mac mini memory mistake - bean there, done it..

I'm still not too old to learn important lessons. Or perhaps to relearn them. The most recent was, after a long day at work, when I arrived home after the recent arrival of a much-needed memory upgrade for the Mac Mini.

Compare, for example, the time it took to put another 512MB in Christopher and Lenni's PC (less than thirty seconds), with the two hours of struggling with the Mac, before which I finally gave up and went to bed, disppointed and frustrated at my folly.

To cut a long story short, once I'd prised the lid off with a putty knife(!) and proceeded with the dismantlement of the various tightly-packed layers, one of the instructions said that I should remove a jumper cable, ending in a plug that connects to the motherboard. It was rather stiff, so I gave it a bit of a tug and successfully managed to misjudge it, and pulled the whole socket away. I could have kicked myself.

Once I'd given up attempting to reconnect it (the solder pads were completely obliterated, so my endeavours were futile), I completed the upgrade - with extra care! - and tested the system. Everything started up in record time, and it performed faultlessly - save for the constant whooshing of the system fan, which was running at full tilt.

I quickly reached a conclusion as to the reason for this, confirmed by this article - www.macworld.com/weblogs/.../index.php.

mac apps.
To counter this behaviour, I scoured the internet for applications that would regulate the fan speed, but only found some that could set the minimum rate (for those folks who like to overclock and supercharge their macs, or are concerned that it's getting too hot). iCyclone is an excellent piece of software, since it displays the fan speed and system temperature graphically, too. Still, disappointed by my now swift yet antisocial Mac Mini, I went to bed with intentions of moving it downstairs near the studio PC.

Fortunately, shortly after I arrived at work the next day with this on my mind, I found just what I needed here -
episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/.../909001931831 - a collection of scripts that could be used to set the SMC to run the fan at a fixed speed. Coupled with iCyclone, I'm happy enough to regulate the fan speed myself!

Here ends a cautionary tale... I'm definitely going to have to give up the late night computer fiddling!

On a brighter note, though, my miniature crocuses (they're not winter pansies.. where on *earth* did I get that idea?) have started to flower, co-inciding with the beginning of March. They look lovely - one I've completed this four day run, I shall upload a photo.

Christopher has brought home from school a single bean. The class's current topic is 'growth' - something to do with the onset of spring, I would imagine. A happy co-incidence is that the latest Alternative Kitchen Gardener podcast covers sprouting, so I've listened to that again, and discovered a little propagator downstairs. Having given it an overnight soak, he's at the waiting and rinsing twice a day stage. Apparently, there'll be a prize for the tallest and shortest sprout at the end of March!

One of my work colleagues was playing a wonderfully chilled-out version of Coldplay's God Put a Smile Upon Your Face () earlier this week, and, on asking, I discovered that it was by Mark Ronson. http://www.markronson.co.uk An ex-pat Brit, he had a hit in 2003 with Ooh wee () and has subsequently made some wonderful funky jazz versions of Toxic () by Britney Spears and Radiohead's Just ().

Videos of the day.

Posted by james at 10:05 PM

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