Friday, 17 June 2011

Seasick Steve on Jools Holland 2011

I don't know how well know Seasick Steve is around the world but here in the UK he's getting to be well known. I've bought his last few albums on the strength of seeing him play on the Jools Holland show.

Make sure you check out his guitar that he made from an old cigar box and get a load of the drummer, Dan Magnusson. And yes, that is John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin playing bass.

Seasic Steve's new album "You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks" is out now, this track is on there. Check it out if you can, it's worth getting.

Google Music Beta - I've Finally Got An Invite!

I opened my emails this morning to find that I'd finally been given an invite to the beta of Google Music. I've previously installed the .apk file for the app on my HTC Desire but it's not much use beyond a simple music player without the invite for the cloud streaming behind it. That's changed now, so I'm going to let you know what I think to it now. I know that this is something that has been available for US users for a while but it's only just begun to spread over here to Europe so for me it's something new to investigate.

Signing in and accepting the terms of use for Music Beta was easy and I was impressed to see that I was offered quite a lot of free music. This is all stored in my Music account for me so that I can try streaming I suppose. Suprisingly, the music wasn't too bad. I was offered some Herbie Hancock, Nina Simone, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, a few Jeff Buckley tracks, some Jimmy Cliff, lots of music actually. Having quite a broad musical taste, I'm quite happy to take them all. Thanks Google!

Playing back the music is as easy as playing locally stored music. You can choose to have the player show you only locally stored music or you can also browse your online tracks. Locally stored music plays instantly, as you'd expect. Music stored in the cloud takes a few seconds to begin as you'd expect while it buffers but the music you are given for free seems to be of a high quality. The app downloads and caches the music on the micro SD card or streaming it, dependant on your choices made in the settings. Other than the slight pause before playing the cloud stored tracks, you wouldn't really notice any differences when playing back and the whole experience is really quite seamless.

The only minor complaint that I have with Google Music is that there isn't a Linux version of the desktop app that allows you to upload your music to the cloud. Windows and Mac versions are available though. Picasa runs using Wine, so I'm sure that along the way somebody will work out a way to got this running on Linux even if it's not doing so natively. I've used Spotify in the past and that runs very well under Wine so I've got hopes for this yet. Still, it would be nice to be able to simply point the browser at a folder and upload a few tracks. I suppose I'll have to use a virtual machine for my uploading of music because none of my computers runs Windows or OS X.

The interface for Google Music on the web.

Minor gripes about Linux friendliness aside, this is a great app and leaves me feeling that Apple's iCloud experience will have to be something great to beat the user-friendliness of the Google Music Beta.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Never noticed before...

I think that's now my new favourite palindrome. 

Monday, 13 June 2011

Car Boot Finds: Fat Lava

Some time last year I spotted a vase at a car boot sale that I liked. I picked it up for around £5. It turned out to be German pottery from the 1970s, loosely known as "fat lava" pottery due to the finish of the rough, bubbled glaze. You can see the first piece that I bought in the picture, the orange vase.

This weekend I picked up the tall vase at the back for the meager sum of £3. I quite like it, it's nice to have something a little bit different from all of the identical things you see from places like IKEA. I've got seven fat lava pieces now. Not to everybody's taste but I really like them and like seeking them out in junk shops and boot sales.

The antique collectables of tomorrow? It's possible!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Yellow Drum Machine: Born to be happy!

One of my all-time favourite videos from YouTube, I recently stumbled upon it saved in my favourites list. I thought I'd put it up here to share. Really makes me want to sit down and build one of my own. Perhaps when I get around to clearing the garage out.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Book Recommendation: Moonwalking with Einstein

I'm reading a book on my Kindle at the moment, it's called "Moonwalking with Einstein." It's about a journalist who was sent to cover the US Memory Championships, an event where people recite Pi to tens of thousands of places, memorise decks of cards and such. The journalist (and author of the book) was persuaded to have a go himself and ended up training for and winning the event himself just a year later.

Although it sounds a bit of a strange topic for a book it has so far made for a very compelling read. I'm around halfway through it and I've used some of the methods covered in the book myself and can memorise and recall lists of items much better already! I'll certainly be reading on to the end of the book.

Check it out.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Car Boot Sale Finds

This week I bought a wooden kangaroo and a mini Rubik's Cube. £1.50 and 10p respectively. Do you like them?