February 27, 2005

Add "Smap" to 'Spam'?

Japan is a funny little country. In their own world them Japanese.
Fashion at the moment includes Mr Potato Head, Camo pants and black & red stripes. The 80's you say? They're farking with your head man.

Jpop is huge in Japan. It's Eiffel 65-tastic pop music (and pop-ular it is!) commonly with 4 or 5 guys or girls, doing dance moves while singing songs. Japans biggest Jpop group (see: boy-band) is Smap. Their biggest singles include 'Gambarimasho' and 'Celery'. To make you feel a little more knowledgable (and to put names to the generic faces they are), Smap are Nakai Masahiro, Kimura Takuya (Kimutaku for short and often voted sexiest man in Japan - erk), Katori Shingo, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi and Inagaki Goro. Here's a pic:

Smap are big news in Japan at the moment. The group recently met George Lucas and their fans are ecstatic at this news.. okaaay.

The boy band thing died in 2001 globally, yet Smap appear in TV ads, TV dramas (yes, more than one), Concerts, Musicals, Radio, Magazines and of course on MTV. Their agents are masters of marketing. Its interesting how successful a boyband, er Jpop group can be, considering if you juggle the letters around, you get SPAM. Email filters must be a bitch to manage.

I was listening to UpFM a few weeks ago, and heard a NZ Club DJ talk after just returning from Japan, and said that the Dance scene there is just emerging into what we had in NZ back in '98. There's light in the tunnel yet, but its still a shocker. All the clubs still play euro-happy Vengaboys stuff.

I pity Japanese youth. Leaders in technology, Losers in modern culture. Smap IS Spam sorry.

The Booth

Fun times innit? You can't help but get excited before you enter into a recording session. Some studios are just lovely, I want to spend the rest of my life there. They shouldn't be too big, or cramped. There's gotta be enough room to put a couple of pizzas on a table nearby, with plenty of distractions that serve as inspiration inside a recording studio.

Then theres the voicebooth. sniff that airconditioned air ahhhhh. You put on some headphones, move up to the mic and say hello. The mic is an expensive enormous thing that resembles a Mere and a spice grinder. "Hello. This is GOD speaking".

I wish for some strange reason that every male NZ born citizen has a deep god-like voice, and then our country would be the international home of corporate voices. At the Olympics, we would be introduced as Uhhh Newwww, Zealannnnndahhh, to which our party of athletes and coaches will hold one hand up to an ear, with the other waving hand signals while muttering to themselves "thanks announcer, it's grrreat to be here at this maaarvelous event, and the people of (pause) New Zealand, are thrilled to be here, and to participate in such..." and so forth. Meanwhile, the simulcasting TV station announcers will mute our comments, overdubbing our deep-voiced athletes with their own "it never ceases to amaze me why New Zealanders have such deep voices".

The room is dead. There are no echoes, no reverberation, its probably as close to outer space as you could get in terms of isolation. Your ears have no reference point for distance in this booth, sometimes you feel short of breath because of it. Some people are addicted to these places, which would explain their weak immune system.

[slate: rolling]

That's the engineer advising me that we are recording. I take a little breath and knock out 30 seconds of pure sausage factory bliss, mentioning the word 'sale' four times. Throughout, my voice acts as a carrier of apparent good fortune to those who care to hear the message. I speak from the heart as if I know what Im talking about, done in waves of energy to sell the message put forth.

"Is that alright?" I ask.
[slate: thats perfect, thanks. you're done]

I carefully move back, place the headphones down, and exit the booth not knowing when I shall return.

Where the wooorld is watching

I surfed the web today as an extreme sport.

I don't quite know if there is a sniglet for it, or a reference in the Urban Dictionary, but today I was mackin' it like Mangum PI.

Clue #1. Look at a picture, and if there is something distinguishable in it, for example a phone number on a wall, cafe name, a roundabout next to a train station with an overbridge on the other side, you can do a little sniffing and become like Tom Selleck and investigate something.

I had a picture and I was trying to work out if the HappyFunTimeShow Podcast was based at a radio station, or someone's bedroom.

Clue #2: I found their website and discovered a pics page. From there I looked through the pictures and found one with a poster that had call letters on it. Some of them were blurred in the picture too, so there was a bit of guesswork too. I searched UCFM and came across some bible stuff. Not right. Oops, check the letters again.

Clue #3: Americans like their station call letters written like "WXYZ-FM". I tried WUSC-FM and landed with a search page resulting in finding their homepage straight away.

I clicked their links page, and just what happened to be listed there? A link to the HappyFunTimeShow. My question had been answered. They recorded their show at a radio station (yet they claim that it's not broadcast - I wonder why..).

More to the point though, I did a Magnum PI and stormed in from the back door.

Among my travels, I found a couple of interesting websites for ya.

February 24, 2005

Santa causes MED headache

Ministry of Economic Development - Business Update

This just came through from the MED Newsletter - shockingly boring news from December 24, 2004:

At 5:30pm on Friday 24th December, the RSM National Coordinator, who provides a 24/7 contact point for emergency services to advise of interference issues, passed a call from the Maritime Safety Authority’s Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) to Joe Den Exter in our Auckland office. Maritime VHF channel MM16 (the international distress channel) was being jammed at MOC’s Auckland and Bay of Plenty sites.

A call by Joe to the MOC determined that the noises overheard indicated a vessel with a jammed microphone was out at sea and underway, somewhere in the thousands of square kilometres of sea covered by those radio sites. While our Radio Inspectors sometimes achieve miracles, walking on water has never been one of them. Accordingly, Joe commenced the co-ordination process of calling on organisations that have the resources for water-bourne assistance; the Coastguard and the Police.

The Auckland Volunteer Coast Guard was able to determine that they could hear the problem on their Sky Tower receiver, but not on the local receiver at Mechanics Bay, indicating that the offending vessel was well out to sea. One of the Coast Guard’s vessels was able to hear the jamming transmission in the Whangaparaoa Peninsula area, but did not have direction-finding (DF) equipment to try and trace it. No Coast Guard vessels were available in the Auckland vicinity to pick up Joe so he could exercise his equipment and skills, so his next call was to the Police.

The Police Launch team at Mechanics Bay was available and do have DF equipment, so set out towards Whangaparaoa in search of the interference source. At this point Joe was making phone calls to the Maritime Operations Centre, the Coast Guard and the Police Launch to keep all parties up-dated. Unfortunately, before the Launch reached the vicinity of Whangaparaoa, and before they could pick up the jamming signal, they were called to an emergency at Waiheke Island.

By this time, the Coast Guard vessel that had originally been able to hear the interference had returned to their base at Stanmore Bay, and although on return they had initially been able to hear the problem on their base set, the signal disappeared a little later on. As the MOC were still getting the problem on the Auckland site, Joe continued to work with the Coast Guard, checking for reports from other vessels that could hear the problem. Although there was some indication that the signal could be heard (in different areas), no report was sufficiently firm to follow up at that point.

These various processes had taken the time through to 10pm and complete darkness. Locating a vessel at sea in darkness by chasing a faint radio signal is virtually impossible, so further action on the chase was postponed until daylight the following morning. Sometime between 4am and 5am Christmas morning, the offending signal had disappeared, so no further action was possible to identify the offender.

Next time you are out boating, spare a thought for care of your radiotelephone, and ensure that your microphone is put away properly in its holder, so that misplaced equipment cannot jam the transmit switch.

February 23, 2005

Hows your flatty?

I found a groovy blog today - and has quotes by The Guardian, Boing Boing, The NZ Herald and some guy named Garth. This blog is about one thing only: the flatmate, and how she pisses him (I assume) off.


Not only are there groovy retro pictures that help illustrate the delicate balance (it would seem) this blogger has towards breaking point, but you have to read the comments too for a laugh.

I have so lovingly perma-linked it on my list of favourite blogs here.

Toilet humour

Whats on your toilet wall? Care to share?

February 22, 2005

Geeks get free Napster

Using Cut n Paster today:
America Online is disabling a feature of its popular music software that had been used to evade copy-prevention features of digital music services, the company said Friday.

The company's Winamp software was identified by bloggers this week as part of a process that transformed copy-protected music downloads into songs that could be burned by the thousand to CD. The tool had potentially affected any subscription service that used Microsoft's media format, including Napster, Virgin Music and even America Online's own music subscription plan.

AOL programmers are taking a series of steps to prevent its software from being used in this way, a representative said.

February 21, 2005

Variety Sho'

I caught Cedric The Entertainer on TV3 last night.

This is one of those Variety shows holding a mix of comedy, reality and a whole lotta singing. TV Execs once loved these type of shows, with all sorts of slightly different propsals in their 'in-tray' - say back in the 50's and 60's, and over the following 30 years, the broad range of Variety Shows thinned right out, and either became a talk/variety show like Johnny Carson/Letterman/Rove, or a skit show like the Rove-produced Skithouse, or Mad TV/Ali G. [translata]

My first experience of these shows was the Tracey Ullman Show, in the late 80's and In Living Color in 1990. America still has Saturday Night Live, as a much loved weekly full spectrum entertainment variety show. Luckily it survived by evolving.

So it comes as a surprise to see this very overdone show format on Television. Cedric The Entertainer is not really that funny, in comparison to many other comedians. He has a good profile though - I first saw him in that Barbershop movie with Ice Cube a year or so back. I like him though. He's safe, slapstick and surprisingly real, in comparison to someone like say, Mika on Maori TV (eeek!). I noticed the set used for Cedric's show looks very much like the Whose Line Is It Anyway set. The opening camera flyover and the giant red drapes gave it away.

Whose Line Trivia: Colin has done just about everything to get out of singing a proper hoedown/bartender/whatever. Past tricks have included fainting, having a heart attack, singing in German, walking out half-way through, stopping and smiling through the rest of the song, or shouting out "Instrumental!".

I look forward to the 2005 series of What Now (returning March 6), produced by Whitebait TV (Jason Gunn). I liked What Now circa 1987 and 1998. I'd like to see more kids shows on TV - for example 'After School' is needed now more than ever to educate kids on the fast crazy world we live in, filled with dangerous situations and often unprecedented obstacles and stress. Jason Fa'afoi (sp?) would be the perfect host. Sticky TV over there at TV Works is on the right track, taking the crazy messy games of Noels House Party/What Now '98 out to our own Crinkleybottom streets and parks. Mums will like that bit.

February 19, 2005

Fa' Sheezy!

Wanna see the web through the bloodshot eyes of Snoop Dogg and Bootsy Collins mackin' a spliff under the blazing sun, washing down tequilas?

Then click this puppy to refresh my blog.

February 15, 2005

Peas for my Pod

As it seems with anything these days in the gadgety world we live in, once we think we 'got it', it evolves. iPods have been floating around for a few years now, and only now it's quite obvious that having your choice of music on demand is not changing our source, but adding to the array of ways we can absorb entertainment.

A development I have been shunting to one side since October is the arrival of Podcasting. Simply put, you subscribe to an audio feed that interests you by using a piece of software such as "iPodder", when there is a new file added (whenever the creator uploads it), your software downloads it to your computer. The idea is to have your iPod plugged in, and your updates will automatically download to your iPod for you to run off and listen at your convenience. For me, I do not have an iPod, but can still listen from my PC.

The shortcut icon for the iPodder software may prove fateful (image of a Lemon, above), considering that anyone can now become a 'radio star' by having their choice of music, talk show, brag or take on any subject at all. The key is to keep the podcasts coming!. It's the same type of thinout that the Blogging world may experience soon. Blogging is still expanding, however a lot of early adopters have since given up. The same thing could happen with Podcasts.

I work in the Radio Industry, and pre-produced programming like this is nothing new. From my perspective, the part about it being FREE and the other bit about no 'waiting around for courier bags to arrive' and 'non-exclusivity', bucks the trend that's been around since Casey Kasim's Weekly Top 40. I could quite easily create a programming feature which devotes a night of the week, or a roster which exclusively broadcasts podcasts.

I might just go ahead and do it. There are many pro's and cons in considering this new found option. On the one hand, I now have thousands and thousands of hours of pre-produced programming waiting for me, in an equivalent of every podcaster acting as a show producer for my radio station. The biggest staff list the world has ever seen. It's free, it gets updated all the time and anyone can do it - hell, my listeners can make a show at home and I can broadcast their podcast on my station, which they can hear themselves!. Wow.

On the other hand, the fact remains that podcasting is not really intended to be a program for radio broadcast. Its intended to be a copy of a programme (broadcast or not) for one to listen to at their own leisure. I would lose control of programming because instead of programming what goes into the show, I just programme the show as a slot. Sure, its easier, but this has the potential to have the BSA sending me fines for offensive programming which is beyond my control, yet I'm responsible for. Now if I program 8 hours of podcasts a week, I have to audition each show beforehand, and it's highly unlikely I'll have the time to do that.

Where does this leave me? Should I be careful with my iPodder subscriptions if I do intend to broadcast some podcasts? Should I just leave it altogether, or maybe because I'm interested in it myself, should I have a podcast of my own?

I explored that idea, and the first brickwall I hit was storage. I have no money and want everything for free. The indie world is built on no money yet is strong, so if you were about to say that money makes the product better - you'd better hush your mouth, child. Sometimes it does, but something so openly global should not restrict or prevent someone from doing it because it has a cost. I found Streamload who offer "about 4 hours of high-def video, 2,000 MP3s or 10,000 digital photos and send/access about 20 MP3s or 100 photos" for free - although you can only download 100Mb per month. If your mp3 podcast* is say, an hour long and you update it weekly, then you may blow your monthly allowance after three weeks! There are other options to use, with better deals - but they cost moneeeeeey.
*based at 128kbps

The next brickwall you'd hit is how to do it. There is a simple explanation here, but boy-o-boy there's a bit of groundwork to do. Remember, you have to have an idea that can sustain itself week after week, or month after month. The best advice is to cover a subject you know a lot about, and use that (or have a vault of already produced material like Dubber does)

If your podcast is of you talking about something (spoken word), you should have no trouble with recording your voice (editing it if you make mistakes) and putting your show online quite quickly. If its a show (mix of voice and music), you could be raped of your time putting it together - be vewy vewy careful. Oh, and of course you'd have to use proper audio editing software. Try the opensource program Audacity (good for Windows/Mac/Linux). It's pretty easy to use and you can save directly to mp3.

Once you've finished your show, then file size and quality is of importance. If you used Audacity, then go to the next paragraph, otherwise you can use dbpoweramp to convert your audio files and adjust the quality here too. The latest version of this software only allows you 30 days of mp3 conversion then you have to pay $14 for it, so I suggest downloading version 10 which will run unrestricted (at least for now - and Windows OS only). If you are feeling adventurous, you can install the WMA codec or better still, the Ogg codec to really shrink the file size and keep audio quality up!.
note: You will have to instruct your end user to covert the file back to mp3 once downloaded, as most iPods do not play Ogg files yet.

File Format Settings for mp3 podcasts:
• Good Quality: 80kbps (approx 1Mb per minute) - ideal if you have music.
• Okay Quality: 64kbps (approx 1/2Mb per minute) - this is a common setting for voice only.
If you change the setting to 'mono', the file size will reduce and your audio quality will stay good.

If you are happy with using Ogg to compress your audio, then stereo 64kbps at a variable bit rate will sort you out no problems. You could go down to 24kbps or lower for voice-only recordings (knock it to 'mono' as well to shrink file size even further!).

I've decided to put online a short run podcast - of Bob & Eric. Two special guys who see the world differently. Stay tuned, otherwise here are a couple of links to copy and paste into your iPodder that I have found over the last few days of looking around. Enjoy!


The latest Podcast uploads here

February 14, 2005

Bits - Feb 14

• Why is Donna Marie Lever not listed?
• Does anyone play Lotto anymore?
• Sending Valentines TXT message(s) today?
Did you know that the 'kiss' symbol (the letter x) originated when upon signing a document or letter - if you couldn't write, you had to mark it with an X (or someone would), and before witnesses, place a kiss upon the "x" to show sincerity. Thats how it's synonymous today.

February 10, 2005

Lets buy it!

Moments when I think a Credit Card is something other than evil. This new triple CD set is filled full of old rarities - looks great!

Disc One
1. A Forest-The Cure [Extended Mix]
2. Walk Out To Winter-Aztec Camera [Long Version]
3. Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go?-Soft Cell [12'']
4. Tears Are Not Enough-ABC [12'' Mix]
5. Promised You A Miracle-Simple Minds [12'' Mix]
6. To Cut A Long Story Short-Spandau Ballet [Long Mix]
7. Never Stop-Echo & The Bunnymen [Discotheque]
8. Love Is A Wonderful Colour-The Icicle Works [12'']
9. Our Lips Are Sealed-Fun Boy Three [12'' Mix]
10. Precious-The Jam [12'' Mix]
11. Spellbound-Siouxsie And The Banshees [12'' Mix]
12. She's In Parties-Bauhaus [Extended Mix]

Disc Two
1. Love Action-Human League [12'' Mix]
2. Wood Beez-Scritti Politti [12'' Green]
3. Fade To Grey-Visage [Extended]
4. Situation-Yazoo [U.S. 12'' Mix]
5. Quiet Life-Japan [12'' Mix]
6. It's My Life-Talk Talk [U.S. 12'']
7. Kiss Me-Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy [Mixe Plural]
8. My Ever Changing Moods-The Style Council [Long Version]
9. Money's Too Tight To Mention-Simply Red [Cutback Mix]
10. Obsession-Animotion [U.S. 12'']
11. Wordy Rappinghood-Tom Tom Club [12'' Version]
12. I'm In Love With A German Film Star-The Passions [Long Mix]

Disc Three
1. Pull Up To The Bumper-Grace Jones [12'' Mix]
2. I'm A Wonderful Thing (Baby)-Kid Creole And The Coconuts [12'' Mix]
3. Diggin' Your Scene-The Blow Monkeys [Extended Mix]
4. My Bag-Lloyd Cole [Dancing Remix]
5. The Honeythief-Hipsway [12'' Mix]
6. Sinful-Pete Wylie [Tribal Mix]
7. Shout-Tears For Fears [US Version]
8. Hip Hop Be Bop-Man Parrish [12'']
9. Ever So Lonely-Monsoon [Extended Mix]
10. Down To Earth-Curiosity Killed The Cat [12'' Mix]
11. Wonderful Life-Black [12'']
12. Dr Mabuse-Propaganda [12'']


A lot of us who access the web daily, often visiting online newspapers for something interesting, new or odd, might find this of interest.
You can visit The New York Post online, sure you can read The Daily Mirror, or The Herald, but they're websites of newspapers, not newspapers themselves... until now.

Would you like to digitally begin at A1, and work your way through?
I only recommend you click this link if you have broadband. The Herald is one of about 200 other actual newspapers across the globe, thanks to PressDisplay.com

The New Zealand Herald: http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/shownewspaper.aspx?cid=1126

They continue to be brilliant

I imagine if there is a list out there of people who are against living in outer space or space travel that professional jugglers are on it somewhere near the top. Jason Gallagher Sr - Feb 3, 2005

..it occurred to me that New Zealand, as a songwriting nation, for all the classic performances (and there have been countless) hasn’t yet matured sufficiently to produce standards as Australia, for example has. Perhaps it’s the result of a largely moribund recording industry for many years and the lack of any airplay (and the sad over compensation now that leads to ghetto-isation like the recent Kiwi FM, where a song is played because of its origin, not its quality..it does no-one any favours.. Simon Grigg - Feb 8, 2005

February 9, 2005

Looking and Listening

Been to the NZ Listener website recently?
Turn on your PC speakers, and when a little ghost box hovers on the right hand side of the page, click it. I suspect its only there after 3pm.. you'll see why.

February 8, 2005

Weeding out the nasties

Thanks for your recent recommendation to remove a word from Urban Dictionary. Our editors have reviewed your suggestion and agree that the definition of "Lassoing the log" should be removed.

We appreciate your input.

Urban Dictionary

Happy to help.

February 2, 2005

Search yourself

Yeah, im a famous writer or something. Whats more impressive that I am an international corporation. Crikey!

What if one day, you received a phonecall from a company with your own name, asking you to join their team, and the entire team is comprised of people sourced and trained from around the world, all sharing your name.

"Good Afternoon, Richard Phelps International.. Richard speaking"
-yeah hi, can I speak with Richard Phelps
"Sure thing. One moment"
(then transfer to any old extension)

Imagine the horror of..
..the staff photos
..company payroll
..email addresses

If that became too much of a problem, maybe they could hire people with slight derivatives of the main name: Richard Pholps, Richard Phillips, Richard Flips, Richard Fops, Richard Phets, Richard Phits.