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Tuesday 21 October 2008

Media Servings [Slim]

Been a long term fan of Twonky for my unpnp serverage needs. It's small, extemely fast, integrates with Itunes so you can share libraries and playlist and just kinda works. Except that lately it doesn't, playlist supports been on and off broke from version to version with playlists sometimes just disappearing until you load and re-save them, and it randomly not detecting the capabilities of my various devices so you get extra menu levels. Being offered videos on my Roku soundbridge is a bit daft. So I went on a new discovery of the various options and ended up back on Tversity.

This was one of the first I tried, and was written off for being slow, large with an utterly shit interface. Seems they've sorted it out. It's still quite large, Twonky's designed for embedded devices, and is bloody small, takes about 1mb of ram when running. Tversity on the other hand is currently consuming about 50mb and is slowly ticking upwards too, which sucks. Twonky also will rescan my entire media collection in about 5 mins, where Tversity takes over an hour. I also find the added stuff in tversity boggs your menus down a bit. There is a 'custom' setting which I haven't sussed out, so perhaps I can shed some of the unwanted menus, but for now it takes an extra menu level to get to my video's, which isn't ideal but not the end of the world. But then feature wise, the latest tversity kicks arse. It works properly with playlists and doesn't seem to barf randomly on rescanning like Twonky does.

Tversitys biggest draw is its transcoding. You really do want to play native as much as possible, but for the odd thing that doesn't work on the 360 or whatever, tversity will kick in and sort it out. What works really well is those old divx/xvid rips that have video supported just fine but some weird audio codec that the 360 barfs at. Tversity will just transcode this no probs, you wont even know it's doing it. Transcoding sessions are per directory or item you add so you can set it to not transcode if you'd prefer for a particular item.

What I really like though is its support for web feeds. You can now wap an xml feed in, such as a podcast or youtubes 'top favourites today', or even a youtube member name, or an image stream, whatever. Tversity will watch the feed, and present it on the 360 and transcode it on the fly. So I've got youtube and other web video's on the 360, I can bung on a podcast and then flick to a flkr photo stream and have a nice revolving set of soothing earth images while Stephen Fry talks his bollocks. I can piss myself to the Russel Brand podcast while rampaging round the streets of Liberty City in GTA4. It also seems to hook into some alternative feeds rather than just flash vid stuff. Not sure on the details here, might be like youtube goes to the apple tv thing where they offer alternative mp4 downloads?

It's also got a built in webserver and presents itself in Flash. Why is that good? It means it works as a media player on anything that supports flash, such as my EEE pc or my kids wii, video really is a bit ropey on the wii through the browser so you probably wouldn't bother but it's great for photos and music.

Oh they also seem to have improved the speed, it'll scroll quite happily through my mp3 albums, where it was a bit sticky before.

Sadly It doesn't work with your Itunes database, which is a real shame. I'd love to be able to easily share the playlists between Itunes and my media devices. There's a few m3u extractors for Itunes so you can do it manually, but that's not the same. Perhaps I can automate something, it's all xml after all innit...

Thursday 9 October 2008

body branding [shedir]

Like most guys I've thought for years about getting a tattoo done and always found reasons not to. Bad design, horror stories, whatever. This year just thought "why the hell not", so started hunting around for a suitabily patriotic tattoo.

Stage one of course is who.

Survey round friends and family in glasgow and one name always comes out on top.

A father and son business stretching back donkeys years, everyone had great things to say about them and got to say more than justified. Take great care of you and Stuart's manner was fantstic, dicussing the design and what'll happen during and after the tattooing.

Stage two whit!

This is something you've got to live with all your life, which is why I'm 39 and just getting this sorted! Always had an idea of the lion rampant on one arm, but that's going to run when you're old. Chances of me making 60 in this current world meltdown are slim, so time to give it a go!

While rummaging around the net I found the desgn which ticked my boxes, a plain map for Scotland but with a gap where the cross of our national flag runs through it.

Stage three bottle

So now it's about holding your nerve and not pussying out. Went in on Monday only to find they're closed Mondays! So now you've had your try, who can blame you for not going through with it eh? ME!

Spoke nicely to boss and 2 hours time in lieu from a server move last week saw me enough time to pop over.

Stage four waiting game

I was pretty surprised at how busy Terry's place was, I arrived at the back of 10 in the morning to find 4 people waiting and one already underway. Looked at designs there but nothing matched what I was after, so took a palce on the seats and waited.

What was really good is the other bloke in the parlour, he asked about design then took it away.

Stage five car-gh-tography

Came back with a cleaner better setup pic, which they then print onto. Your arm gets something squished on and shaved then the printout goes on your arm giving Stuart an outline to work with. The actual pain from the outlining being done was a surprise, sharp but in short bursts. Well within anyones tolerance I reckon. But the pics of folks with their entire back done, he says FIFTY hours to do that. Which does require real dedication and mental pain management.

Great postcare too, sold some goo to put on it 2 or 3 times a day to prevent it drying out. Only need to do that for a few days, with a pamphlet explaining what you need to do.

Stage six surprise

Pure adrenaline rush when done, I really wasn't expecting that at all. Guess it's the fight or flight choice finally being released from the chair and you are free to go!

Here it is, my finished article at £100 all in.

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Ministry of teh Food [Slim]

Caught the first episode of Jamies Ministry of Food last night. It's a revival of the government drive to get people cooking at home at the start of the century. Jamies mission is to target chavs who can't cook and eat takeaways and ready meals and teach them some meals, and then get them to teach their mates, and make a happier healthier country.

It's a noble cause, but why is it even required? How did we get into the situation where people can't fry an egg? How can anyone on benefits afford to eat a takeaway every night? The producers probably did this intentionally, but there's one scene with a young mother in tears because she can't afford to bus it to the supermarket to buy food so has to go to the chippy, a moving scene that's punctuated by her dragging on a fag to the background noise of her massive flat screen TV. How have people reprioritised food out of their lives in this way?

One thing I'd add to his campaign is that that people also could do with learning to use leftovers more. We do at least one soup a week with leftovers that would normally go in the bin. For a family of five, that's a fair ole bit of dosh saved.

What I don't get also is the skills issue central to the show. I can understand this from a convenience standpoint, you can't be arsed to chop veg, you'd rather just heat it up. But if you can heat up an Tesco ready meal, you can heat up a raw spud and make it into a baked spud. Cover it with cheese and salad and you've got a meal. How is this in any way challenging?