[You have selected: David Inkpen] Merry Xmas, one and all of Alex’s festive (synonym: drunk) readers. While you are inevitably sipping on some form of alcoholic beverage, waiting for Doctor Who to come on and playing with your new aquistitions from some distant relative you’d forgotten exists (and to whom you’re pretty sure you have no blood relation), I present to you my addition to this mighty blog. My topic is that which the lucky (or unlucky) ones of you will have unwrapped this morning and are currently wrapping your head around. Technology. 2010 has been a very interesting year for new tech and I will discuss but two of the newcomers to the field here on this, the 200th birthday of Alexandros Rhizos Rhankaves, Greek poet and statesman (d. 1892). First, Evil Corp. USA (aka Apple)’s flagship product – the infamous iPad. iPadWith prices starting at a lovingly overpriced £429, the iPad is literally nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch. Boasting the same processor, memory, storage capacity and operating system as the only difference between the two devices other than the £250 disparity in price (£499 for 32GB iPad vs. £249 for 32GB iPod Touch) is the fact that the iPad is missing the camera. Oh, and the size. Don’t listen to what people say: size does matter. It matters in the way that, for what is effectively a portable device, the iPad is extremely unportable. iPad users’ can often be found sitting on trains, cradling their love in one arm while trying to type website addresses on its non-haptic screen with one hand, or crouched over the table in front of them with the device laying flat. Contrary to what adverts may suggest, it is not a breeze to use but rather has the ergonomic ease of walking straight into a gale-force wind. Of course, you could always buy the keyboard for the iPad, creating a perfect stand for your device and allowing you to type with two hands. It’s the obvious accessory to buy your iPad-endowed friend. But in the end, you’re left thinking… haven’t I seen this before? You do have to hand it to Apple though; they have sparked a market for this kind of device. Not to be left behind, every electrical company under the planet (exaggeration) has produced their own emulation of the iPad. Nothing overly spectacular has come of this yet. This is still a product in its infancy, only time will tell if the campaign to get a tablet for every child will succeed or whether the skips of 2011 will be filled with Apple’s legacy. The Kinect“A-ha!” thought the evil scientists at Sony, “Nintendo will cower in our shadow for we have created a superior controller! Gone are the days of people only being able to play motion-controlled tennis games on the Wii! Once again, we will control the market!” “Oh shit” thought the evil scientists at Sony, when Microsoft announced Project Natal, which would later become the Kinect. The Kinect is the coolest thing to come out of the gaming sector in a long time. Sure it’s a little laggy, but who cares when it’s doing effectively what would people would be burned for witchcraft for not 10 years ago. Sure there’s no games that I would buy for it, but that’s not the point. The Kinect is what it is, and what it is, is what butter was to sliced bread. Sliced bread was good, it was great, it was the best thing ever. But it needed something more, just a small addition to make it that perfect complete package that we all know and love. Now, I’m not saying that the Xbox is sliced bread. Far from it. I’m saying computers are sliced bread (albeit sliced by a blind, dyspraxic hamster). The Kinect, thanks to the developers releasing a SDK for it, have given nerds everywhere a toy to play with. A toy which will help you, oh lowly user, do what you have dreamed of doing since 2002: So that’s it. Merry xmas and peas on earth (as the card to my cousin, with an image of some peas on a mound of soil, states). About the author: David Inkpen is a man with serious brandprejudices. Luckily, as far as this site is concerned,they are the right prejudices. Like Sam Lewis, heis a handsome member of The July Days. Unlike Mr.Lewis, he has his own, sadly undernourished, blog.
Okay. So it’s the first Monday of December. That’s got to be something important, right? Right here, right now, it is. For the rest of the month of December, Alex-Spencer.co.uk shall be exploding into a crazy new format. The traditional end-of-year list is a bit boring as a format, innit? And I’ve been working the Quarters all year, so you could probably take a good guess at what I’d pick and see what lengthy rubbish I’ve got to spout on the matter. Having spent a while thinking it all through, I had a suddenly-awake 3am revelation. It was a lot like Batman’s recent moment of epiphany (unlike Batman, however, I didn’t need to vomit a load of black stuff that transformed into a demonic bat to reach this conclusion). I’ve realised how much I rely on my allies, my online brothers in arms. Bruce Wayne launched Batman Inc. I’m launching Alex-Spencer … & Friends! This is my blogging superteam, the Justice League of words, the Online Avengers. What exactly does that mean? Well…-Articles on all manners of seasonal stuff: from festive food to, hopefully, at least one guide to Christmas ukelele tunes.-Discussion of all the best stuff from the last year: 2010’s essential reading, listening, viewing and every conceivable type of cultural fallout.-Essays. Lists. The odd stray review we’ve been looking for a reason to finish.-And most importantly, an even wider range of specialities/insanities. Allow my to briefly introduce our players for this entertainment: More on each and every one of these characters as they (hopefully) submit stuff. Stuff that will sear off your eyeballs with its brilliance, I promise. See you at the aftermath. Peace.x Danny Stoker has posted his intentions for the …& Friends! season over on his exceedingly tasty-but-difficult-to-type-into-an-address-bar blog Lunch&DinnerMadeMe. They’re rather exciting, and I say that only 50% as someone who’s likely to benefit from his cooking experiments.
David Inkpen is a polymath. A physicist, writer for Redbrick music, member of The July Days and infrequent blogger. Mr. Spencer has commissioned me to comment on my favourite song for his ever-pretentious 30 Days of Music fiasco. I did briefly consider doing the whole 30 days at the start of the month, perhaps with my own twist (I was thinking counting down all the non-prime numbers then the prime numbers: I’m a physicist so had to do something nerdy). Looking at the topics however such as “A song that makes you happy” and emotional things like that I passed as music does not seem to stir the same feelings in me as other people.* I look as music as more of an analytical thing, appreciating good composing, performance and the like. Not to say I haven’t got a chill down my spine when listening to music. It happened once. I think it was cold day. To that effect, I feel I should choose a “favourite” song based on compositional quality and not perhaps on how much I enjoy it. On the other hand, what does that portray me as? Some form of robotic musical scoring system which does not appreciate any human values attributed to songs? Perhaps. So no, I will not choose music on its musical nuances, nor the skill or subtlety of the artist in question, I will choose a song I like. But what is my favourite song? This is an impossible question I feel. To say out of the whole of music – THE WHOLE CABOODLE – that Song X by Artist Y is the thing I’ve most enjoyed ever is somewhat of a crazy concept. Must it be by your favourite artist (which then poses the same question with relation to artist)? I think not. And to narrow down one song seems crazy and imposes too great a limit for one to actually choose a song. So I will answer this question with not my favourite song**, but with one I enjoy, have enjoyed for a while and think I will appreciate for a good while to come. Smiling at Strangers on Trains by Million Dead is a song I’ve loved for a while and know very well as I have played it at acoustically at open mics probably too many times. With such fantastic similes as “you were a single red blood cell but I lost you in the knot of capillaries”, along with the original guitar lines that only Million Dead can provide. Frank Turner (of Frank Turner fame) delivers an ever passionate and angsty performance. I think his lyrics were perhaps the best and most poetic when he sang for Million Dead and it’s a real shame he grew up and became less serious. Have a listen, I hope you enjoy it. Mr. Inkpen adds: If it is a little too “heavy” for you people of a fragile demeanour then here is Mr. Turner doing a cover of himself, with only some swearing in the beginning.****Note: Mr Spencer had a similar discovery.**This is a cop-out. Wuss.***Those rockstars, eh?