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June 07, 2007

An updated new shiny blog cometh soon

Now that I have finished exams and suchlike I am getting round to updating this blog and shock horror may actually post on it more often.

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May 16, 2007

Will Gordon Brown be crowned Prime Minister in the next 24 hours?

So the labour leadership contest is under way. Everyone knows who is going to win but will he wrap it up sooner rather than later.

In order to run for leadership an MP must be nominated by at least 45 of their fellow peers.

Currently the lefty, John McDonnell has 29 nominations while Gordon is cruising on 297. If my calculations are correct there only 26 more nominations available. So, if John McDonnell doesn’t secure over half of these his campaign will be over before it has even started.

I expect it will be a busy 24 hours for McDonnell’s team before the nominations close tomorrow.

I think I’m right in thinking that everyone has to vote for a candidate and can’t abstain?

I have a feeling Gordon’s smile will be even bigger tomorrow. I can’t imagine there wll be many more rebels who will vote against him, but you never know.

BBC have just announced that McDonnell has conceded after Brown reached 308 nominations, so looks like good old Gordon will be the UK’s next Prime Minister!

April 27, 2006

Where do you find the next White House press secretary? Fox News of course..

Writing about web page http://www.foxnews.com/tonysnow/

Fox News was the recruiting ground that President Bush chose to find his next White House Press Secretary opting for the conservative political commentator, Tony Snow.

I still don't fully understand why Scot McClellan resigned from the post maybe he just got fed up of trying to defend his boss amid falling ratings or is there something else like maybe he found out Bush knew more about certain CIA and Iraq secret information leaks and is not prepared to lie to media about Bush's role in them. The timing of Lewis Libby saying Bush may have had a role in leaks does seem to be a bit of a coincidence.

So will Tony Snow bring with him the notorious inaccuracies and biased of Fox news. I guess thats what President Bush is hoping for as apart from a few policy disagreements Tony Snow is as much a Bushite, as Alistair Campbell is a Blairite and add 2 l's after u in Bushite and you have what he will talk about most of the time.

Seems quite a clever move to hire a journalist to do the job though, an insider from the white house press core seeing as they were his colleagues he's likely to get on with them well and already know them a bit. Is Bush setting a precedence by getting a journalist to do the job though instead of the usual PR men and women?

February 27, 2006

Its a little thing called competition

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4748022.stm

On my daily trawl through the BBC news website I came across this article about the commercial radio stations claiming the BBC is a threat to them and that the increase in license fee could force them out of business. Ok, they have a right to complain, its in there interest to, but some of the claims in the report make it sound like by increasing the license fee there killing off the creativity and variety of UK radio.

Come on they must be having a laugh. Most commercial radio stations play the same old dribble piped down to them from GCap media, apart from the idents and adverts its hard to tell the difference between some stations and to be fair if mercia fm packed up shop tomorrow becuse of it, I wouldn't miss tham there still be The Bear.h

I don't see ITV and Channel 4 complaining as much as this about the TV market, I mean after all competition is good for the listener and maybe it will help get rid/improve some of the local commercial radio's content instead of just playing the same old network songs from Gcap media. Also, I didn't see the BBC complain when capital radio group merged with GWR last year.

February 25, 2006

Pay per listen podcasts & subscription radio, the future?

Follow-up to The power of podcast and the Ricky Gervais show from The Blog of Craig

At the start of the week, the Ricky Gervais show announced they were going to do a 2nd series of podcasts but they were going to charge for them and although its only $6.95 for at least 4 episodes of the great comedy show, it got me thinking about the advent of subscription radio and podcasts.

Sirius & XM satellite radio started broadcasting in 2001 in the US and offer subscription radio starting at $12.95/month and they have literally become the Sky of radio with Sirius offering exclusive live commentary of all NFL games and having give Howard Stern, the Chris Moyles of US radio, a $500 million contract they are really starting to gain a foothold on the radio market especially with the technology getting cheaper.

Satellite radio is more free from regulations which suits the colorful language of Howard Stern very well, allowing him to swear on air as they can have 'adult channels' due to the fact they can control who listens and has subscriptions to his station. I suppose this can be seen as an advantage and I expect soon there will be adult sex talk radio stations if theres not already broadcasting on the medium. Also, in terms of sound quality apprently its far better which would be expected I suppose.

Satellite radio hasn't really happened anywhere else in the world yet and I can't see it happening in the UK anytime soon really due to the small size of the UK not making it that viable, saying that though it would only take Sky TV to branch into the area and make it happen.

Its weird really that satellite tv came before satellite radio its a bit like reversing evolution with radio origianlly coming before television and my Dad always says that if radio had originally came after TV it would be more popular. Although I somehow doubt that, it does seem subscription radio and audio is in the future whether thats a good thing or not, I don't know but when Sky began broadcasting in 1989 it certainly shuck up the UK TV market and maybe the same will happen to UK radio around the next corner.

January 24, 2006

The power of podcast and the Ricky Gervais show

Karl Pilkington-funny manPodcast seem to really kick off in 2005 and the worlds most listened to podcast is the Ricky Gervias show which now has over a quarter a million people downloading it a week which is phenomenol when you think that many people are actively clicking a button and downloading it although it should be more as its just so brilliant. It is just the funniest stuff I heard in ages and I can't wait to here it each week and I'm going to be as sad as though it is a tv series when the series of 12 comes to an end in 4 weeks.

The person who makes the podcast so funny is not Ricky Gervais or Stephen Merchant but the funny man that is Karl Pilkington (see photo).

His little tales of utter nonsense are so funny from his monkey news to his diary from Gran Canaria. Check it out!

December 06, 2005

The start of a big change in the world of radio?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4500094.stm

As the BBC and other news sources reported today music radio licensing for podcasts has finally begun admittedly mainly only indie music, the notoriously slow PRS and MCPS will probably soon follow suit.

I reckon this will change the face of online radio with people able to download their favourite shows and become their own program controller and compile their own schedule. Up until now podcasts have only been allowed to include non-copyrighted music.

I find it quite funny AIM (assoc. of independent music) who are offering this new online music license don't have an up to date website, although saying that while have been writing this post they have just updated their website but apparently this license for "bedroom" podcasters (whihc surely student radio can be classed as) for 6 months is going to be a couple of hundred and commercial much more which doesn't sound too bad although it depends on what actual record labels are included in this deal which could mean its a rip-off

Another interesting thing I have just realised is that does this mark the change for UK licensing by the record labels actually controlling it instead of mainly one company like PRS, which would surely create a headache in terms of sorting out licenses for radio stations and may see some restricted to set genres of music depending on what licenses they buy.

Any way just my thoughts, back to writing this lab report then I guess

October 25, 2005

Go RaW!!

Writing about RaW Nominated for Student Radio Awards from RaW Newsblog

Just like to say well done to all the people who produced and are starring on the entries for the RaW SRA (Student Radio Awards) entries that got nominated on Saturday. A nice selection of nominations in the SRA's (Student Radio Awards), hopefuly those nominations can be turned into fully fledged wins in November.

Must admit a bit at shock horror at RaW not getting nominated for best station likewise Surge's entry which was quite good with the judges choosing an interesting mix for this one although I beleive Royal Holloways Insanity have on best station in the past. Obviously I don't know as much as I thought about what makes a best station entry but C'est la vie theres always next year!

Also, like to say well done to Alex one of my best friends from home in getting nominated for best male as its a tough catergory and after listening back to his entry for it today its definitely well deserved and even though he is part of a competing station, I hope he does well and picks up a nice shiny medal in November. Maybe one year I will have the time and guts to produce an entry for best male. Your going far my boy!

October 22, 2005

New Pictures!!

Yes, I have finally started putting some pictures of my time in america online, admittedly so far only the ones that mainly don't have me in them due to actually getting photos off of people seems to be quite hard but there are a few with me in them.

They are HERE!!!
on Flikr which I did like until today when I realised you can only have a maximum of three sets without paying, will have to find another hosting system. Would use blogs, but can't be bothered zipping stuff and interface is less good.

Apparantly theres some photos floating around of me completely pissed with a bottle of vodka in one hand givind a speech last Saturday. I must get hold of those and destroy them plus they would be handy for me to have as due to excess alcohol I'm having trouble actually remembering anything that happened after 11pm on Saturday. The vodka was free though.

A couple of quick sport messages
(which you can guess who I'm on about if your bored),




October 10, 2005

New one from Shakira

As AOL put it I am one of the privilaged few to hear her Shakira's hit 'Don't Bother' which doesn't even hit the US radio stations until tomorrow, and I feel privilaged as its good.

The Shakira style, fresh and spiced up is probably the best i can describe and it feature some good changes in pace throught the song in true Shakira style but they actually seem to gel together better than normal.

Its off her album 'Fijación Oral 2 and the single in cd form are not out until November 29th in the US but I believe its going to be availiable to download later this month and I would advise having a listen to it if you get a chance.

On other news, its cold and winter is on its way now :( so next weekend will probably be my last chance to go kayaking/canoing.

October 06, 2005

Shiny new CSS + a promised update

Woo! I do know CSS! as you may have noticed there is now a tiny picture of me on the banner of my blog plus a couple of other subtle changes.

If you want to know where the pciture is taken it is Interstate Park, on the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin in the US on a climbing trip I went on 10 days ago now will put full pictures in gallery once I have cut them down to size due to taking them with my new 7mp camera (its lovely!) the whole pictures are over 2mb at the moment.

Worked 12 hour days for the past 3 days so rather knackered now.

And exciting news, it rained today, although I didn't see it, the ground was wet when I left the computer lab today where for some reason all the Dell PC's there I noticed have 9 usb ports, do they think people will seriously bring 9 periphials to plug into them?

Will do some more proper blogging soon, promise, so much have happened though, and I have so little time.

Anyway bed as it is nearly 1am here in central US timezone

September 14, 2005

IBC 2005: DRM is coming to the UK!

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4237010.stm

Finally a manufacture out there, Texas instruments has decided to produce a radio that can do DRM as well as DAB, FM (RDS) and AM making it basically futureproof and there going to be sold in the UK.

The great thing about DRM is the relatively small bandwidth typically 10kHz which is same as AM normally compared and I believe it uses AAC audio encoding or something along those lines which allows you to broadcast in pretty good stereo quality on par with that of FM and even DAB without taking up the 1.1MHz bandwidth which Dab does.

Saw the UK trials taking place at Radica at the start of the summer and must admit I was really impressed and glad there is now a retail radio soon available hopefully encouraging more broadcasters to take the hint and broadcast in this medium

And the BBC have announced they are starting to broadcast in DRM starting with the world service in Europe (where DRM has really hit off a lot more popular than DAB) and even commercial stations in the UK are starting to show some interest if only Ofcom would get themselves up to speed and start offering a comprehensive DRM licensing program.

Incidentally they expect the radios to sell for £169 but I imagine that price chipset so other manufacturers can make cheap DRM radios.

IBC 2005: HHB have pulled one out of the hat with a great professional digital recording microphone

I know I haven't blogged for a while but when I have a much work on as I currently have (a lot) I will procrastinate about anything.

And the subject about this post the IBC 2005 (International Broadcasting Convention for you non-media geeks out there), held in Amsterdam this year.

Unfortunately didn't get to go this year, but from speaking to people who did apparantly it was really good for techies due to all the tech developments taking place in the world of broadcasting at the moment.

But back to subject. HHB (a british company) launched a great new product called a flashmic there. It combine a sennheiser omnidirectional condenser mic with 1 gb of flash memory. The amount of settings you can control seem pretty comprehensive. !

I must admit not too keen on it being omnidirectional with it being aimed at reporters for interviewing use would be tempted to change the mic capsule if possible (i doubt it but never tried) to something a bit more select if it turned out to pick up too much background, but the ease of use with one button recording, no cables etc. and the large memory allowing over a day recording at high quality mp3 which in my opinion is good enough for most recording purposes (although it does of course do wav as well) really sells it.

It even has a heaphone socket presumably minijack on the base to listen back and stuff and knowing HHB it wouldn't surprise me if they have thrown basic editing features into it as well.

If only RaW hadn't just bought a Marantz PMD 660, i would recommend snapping one of these up straight away, and providing budget allows and price is right (below £350) it has to be a must buy for reporting and interviews.

It has pretty much same features as PMD660, (a sense a bit of copying going on there) including time stamping, so if you wanted to be really clever you could get a couple of these and record something from a variety of angles and mix it down later with no laying of cables setting up a multitrack recorder etc.

It even left Ian Piper and Chris McWhinnie of the BBC speechless and their article on highlights from the IBC can be found here .

And the best bit you don't need to buy a mic as it is one!

Blog entries about my american journey so far will appear on the blog in due course when I get around to writing them up, hopefully the 1st three weeks will be done soon(ish)

August 04, 2005

Getting a Visa – My Trip to the US Embassy

Yes, its the latest installment in the journey that is my american exchange year which after all the hype and paperwork and hassle actually begins in under 4 weeks.

I have held back on making this post public until I have actually received my visa to avoid the US governement when researching me reading this post and as a result not giving me one.

Anyway to the story, It started on a Virgin Train unfortunately not a nice Pendilino with air con but a couple of old slam door carriages pulled by a freightliner which transported me from Coventry to Euston.

I will now skip the boring bit of meeting up with friends and family for lunch etc. etc. and just get to the interesting bit of going to the US Embassy a.k.a the armoured fortress.

The perimeter of the place has 2 heavy duty fences and police with large machine guns patrolling between them. They even have those cool mirror things to look under delivery vans.

To get through the fences you have to prove you have a visa appointment, show your passport, put your bag through an X-ray machine and empty your pockets and walk through the airport style scanners. Once you get to the entrance of the building courtesy of an armoured escort all adding to the intimidation aspect you have to hand in any digital recording devices such as laptop, palmpilots, audio equipment but you are allowed to still carry your mobile phone on you providing it is turned off (and I expect they would take seriously any signs of use). This is likley only due to the fact that if they confiscated them there would probably be so many it would take ages to sort whose is whose afterwards.

Next step is to get your ticket like you sometimes do at the deli counter except these are obtained by scanning the barcode on your appointment letter into a machine. And then theres the first demoralising bit, there are 100 people ahead of you and you have to sit in this rather cramped waiting room for over 90 minutes just to hand your forms in and be fingerprinted for the first time. They fingerprint both your index fingers and at this point they take your forms away to be considered and investigated.

Next comes the lottery for an interview. Slightly bigger than the National Lottery with normally another 100 people in the draw. It all depends how long they take to read all your forms and check them and make sure there are no mistakes. I was glad I have double checked all mine meaning I only had to wait about another 90 minutes before my number 348 flashed up on the plasma screens. It makes you almost want to jump and cheer but with only few minutes to get to the interview room before you loose it there was no time.

Here I was fingerprinted again to make sure I was still the same person even though my photo is on my passport and application forms which they have had for 90 minutes by this point. The interview itself only lasted about 5 minutes with nearly everything being straightforward although I thought for a minute I might fail the financial section due to me not have having an up to date bank statement but I was ok and provisinally granted a visa subject to background checks. They kept all my documents and passports which I had to pay a cheeky £9.50 to get couriered back to me when they had finished processing them in about 5 days and I was free to leave the fortress/prison.

It was so nice to get outside seeing as even though this was an american building it definitely did not have any air conditioning on that floor and also it was nice to get my laptop back which I was surprised didn't get lost amongst the large pile of other IBM Thinkpads at the desk.

At least thats now the last box ticked on my list of major obstacles before I go to america although paying £150 for the privelage of sitting in a hot room for over 3 hours with 250 other people wasn't exactly my idea of a good deal.

July 27, 2005

Back to London

Yesterday was a long day in central London and first time I had been back since the bombings.

The tube seems just as busy as normal maybe not quite but certainly there was no noticeable diffference. You can now see everybody checking each other out though on the tube with an air of suspicion and asking the questions in their mind are you a terrorist?, what have you got in your bag? which I suppose is a good thing which were probablya ll guilty of at the moment that people are being observant and looking for signs of trouble but it just adds to the anxiety and unfriendliness of the tube.

One solution to this I read in the Metro yesterday suggested by a reader was to have voluntary bag officers on the tube which anybody could become where you wear something to signify you were one and ask to look in each others bags and have a chat to remove the suspicion and anxiety with the hope to create a more friendly atmosphere where everybody knows each other so there is no suspicion plus you know your safe with the people around you.

I don't think the TFL (Transport for London) will adopt it but its not a bad suggestion which does make some sense

Anyway entry on me going to US Embassy to get a visa to follow

July 18, 2005

The first of a number of reviews..

3 out of 5 stars

I feel like I have let the RaW Pop fans out there down by not reviewing this debut album from Charlotte Church sooner but I've been so busy I only remembered it had come out at the weekend

The best way I can describe Charlotte's singing style is a cross between Avril Lavigne and Anastacia.

It starts with track 1, Call My Name which has a great little beat but very similar apart from being slower and more relaxing to track 2 which is of course her first single Crazy Chick, but a good opener nevertheless.

Crazy Chick although its quite good gets a bit boring after listening to it more than once and I can see why it only made it to number 2 in the charts

Track 3 is Moodswings. with the main hook sounding awfully likeysomething from the Corrs, and already there seems to be a theme with the track titles and the lyrics seeming to depict Charlotte's life and what the tabloids say about her, almost emphasising too much that she cowrote most of the album

Track 4 is a nice ballad called Show a Little Faith and shows this album certainly has variety. A nice calming track and this would make a good single release. I always think ballads can always show if singers can sing (or not) and certainly shows she can.

Track 5 continues the ballad theme called Finding My Own Way and is even better than Track 4. Sounds a lot like a Natalie Imbruglia-ish song with a great bit of piano that really makes the track, and it gets better as it develops with a customary key change. So far this album is seeming well produced and certainly shows a lot of effort and energy has gone into writing these songs.

Track 6 – Lets be Alone is a complete change bringing back the more rockier feel of tracks 1 and 2, and in my opinion is the worst track so far with someboday going overboard with the voice effects and synth and is a bit like a bad Sophie Ellis-Bextor track, avoid this one if I were you.

Track 7 is called Easy to Forget which this track certainly is. Compared to the previous two ballads this one has a Spanish theme and is definitely not up to the same standard and rather boring.

Track 8 Fool No More, ditto track 7 comments I'm starting to get really bored now

Track 9 Easy way Out, is better but not by much, I thought it might improve at the chorus but it didn't

Track 10 Casulty Of Love sounds like it is a love song from a musical and brings back the Spanish flavour again

Track 11 Even God – OIf theres chance of a late comeback for this album from a downhill road this track might do it. Of the same callibre as tracks 2 and 3 with some more great piano. Complete, complete contrast in terms of style, instrumentation and lyrics to Crazy Chick and bit of a weird endsing with no perfect cadence (or those of you musically in the know) like the other tracks

Track 12 Confessional Song contues the religious theme in the title and lyrics like that of track 11 and is very similar in many other ways. This track can stand its own and is not a bad one to end

So overall its seriously let down by tracks 6–10 and makes me wonder what the 7 tracks were that Charlotte produced that didn't make it on to the album are like. The other tracks makes this album a solid 3 out of 5 but Charlotte seriously isn't challenging for the princess of pop crown let alone that of the queen of pop's yet and to be honest I expected it to better but I suppose it is her first attempt and I'm sure there will likely be another album eventually that may get higher up the scale and charts from this diva

May 24, 2005

Nooo! Crazy Frog theme tune outselling Coldplay, Speed of Sound

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/4576119.stm

This is serious people

The Crazy frog theme tune is outselling the Coldplay classic Speed of Sound.

This must be stopped,

How can the Beverly Hills theme tune (although it is reasonably good) with that most annoying crap Crazy Frog ringtone over the top beat Coldplay with their fantastic real music song.

I am calling on all people in the music industry to prevent Crazy Frog reaching number one by stop giving it so much exposure. Like Scot Mills discussing it for 5 minutes and subsequently playing it on his Radio 1 show today, Why!!!

It shouldn't even be allowed to be counted as 'music' and not included in anything deemed a music chart for starters

That ends my procrastinating rant

May 20, 2005

Univeristy of Wisconsin Madison here I come!

Well I pretty much told everybody now in my Warwick bubble that it seems that I will be study what they use to call the land of the free, America providing:

a) I pass this year (2:1 needed ouch!)

b) I get a US Visa

So I have started a special section of my blog to write down all the things I go through associated with this fantastic opportunity

Went to see those lovely people at STA Travel today to see about flights, looks like I will be stuck in a British Airways plane over the atlantic for 7 hours in August to get there, and the price I pay to be stuck in a metal can with 500 other people: £343, but can't grumble as I'm not paying! Just selling my soul to the Warwick University and Bournemouth Borough Council who will graciously pay for most my travel.

That will take me London-Chicago and from there will probably bus it. I wonder if its possible to see the musical Chicago in Chicago? that would just be cool!

May 07, 2005

What happened to this

Follow-up to Fitness Chart Day 1 from The Blog of Craig

Well I suppose at least went for a swim this week, but next week when I actually have free time will endeavour to relight the campaign to get and keep fit, (yeh right!)

So nearly there….

Woo, one assignment to go and then its time to really get stuck in to revision, can't wait to Monday when its in and I start the 4 week revision session.

God, i love this song: Globes and Maps – Something Corporate playing off the PC now, I wonder what the world would be without music? probably really booring

On other notes the 40th anniversary open day went really well in the end with RaW in the piazza apart from the initial wind/rain but the brilliant dj's and the great 40th anniversary productions made it fantastic.

Back to the work!! (just wrote this post to procrastinate seeing as didn't really have point)