Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Monday, November 27, 2006

26 recommendations for November

are here. And don't forget, the reading is on Saturday. Meet at the Baker Street Bar at 2pm. Yikes! It's on Saturday!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Commercial: The Jarvis Cocker record


In case you needed any further inducements to go and get said item, please note the following text lifted from the CD itself. It's with thought, packaging and wit like this that downloads shall be held at bay!


The Jarvis Cocker Record

On The Use Of This Album


JARVIS should not be used as a sedative or an accompaniment to exercise.

You may sit if you wish - kneeling is really not necessary.

JARVIS can be broken into convenient bite-size pieces but probably works best when swallowed whole

Do not adjust your tone control, it's meant to sound like that. It's not LoFi or HiFi - it's MyFi and hopefully YourFi, too

A song isn't really a song until somebody hears it - so thanks for listening

Remember! As always, please do not read the words whilst listening to the recordings

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Commercial: Mobile film

From the Guardian's arts blog last week, a post regarding the danger of the Sundance Film Festival getting into bed with the GSM Association prompted the two responses below.


Imagine - Paris, the late 1890s:

"Messrs Lumiere, why how simply frightful of you both to invite me, one of the nation's most famous and respected director of the theatrical arts, to even participate in one of your 'cinematreical' experiments. It is outrageous! People will never wish to see mere simulcra of the real flesh and blood actors! They want to see the breath of the performace, the sweat, the tears of passion... (continue ad infinitum)"

Seriously: it's a new medium. Why not mess about in it? Play, see what happens. Sure we might not - and might not want to - call it film, but what's the harm in trying? Through experimentation, all arts progress. Including film.


Actually, the more I think of it, the more I think the prospect of short films on mobiles has a great potential. At the moment, most content available for mobiles is generally not repurposed from its original source (film, TV, music video etc), so it's not fit for viewing on the mobile device or whatever. Add to that the fact that you do generally have to go through a portal run by a mobile operator to get access to content which is not good value for money, not great picture quality, and then yes, sure it's not a great sell.

Now the positive flip side: film-makers experimenting and actually making films that take advantage of the device and its affordances (lower-res camera/lens, less memory so shorter scenes?) to create new types of short films, scenes etc. With a Wi-Fi enabled device you could distribute via YouTube, or indeed a version targeted at mobile users (MobTube?), as well as send on directly to people via Bluetooth or more traditional MMS. Or even, distribute on SD cards which could be popped into phones the same way a DVD is now.

Does it mean staring at small bits of plastic? Yes. But seriously: are people saying we should stop watching DVDs because I tend to watch these on my own, or with my girlfriend, rather than inviting North London round to my gaff?

It might even stop short films being viewed as the cinderlla medium that they sometimes are.

Hell, I've made myself excited. If someone wants to start a mobile short film production and distribution company, gimme a call...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Listorama: Paper sizes (old style)

Emperor 72 x 48in
Antiquarian 53 x 31in
Grand Eagle 42 x 28.75in
Colombier 34.5 x 23.5in
Atlas 34 x 26in
Imperial 30 x 22in
Pinched Post 28.5 x 14.75in
Elephant 28 x 23in
Princess 28 x 21.5in
Cartridge 26 x 21in
Royal 25 x 20in
Sheet and 1/2 Post 23.5 x 19.5in
Medium 23 x 18in
Demy 22.5 x 17.5in
Large Post 21 x 16.5in
Copy Draught 20 x 16in
Small Demy 20 x 15.5in
Crown 20 x 15in
Post 19.25 x 15.5in
Foolscap 17 x 13.5in
Brief 16 x 13.5in
Small Foolscap 16.5 x 13.25in
Pott 15 x 12.5in

Source: The Guardian G2, 19.06.06

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Blood pressure and directions

Blood pressure diary

Found a few months ago, on a Northern Line train (I think) going southbound, a scrap of paper offers an inriguing insight into a life.

It is A5 in size, rules of normal width, and folded vertically down the middle.

On the left-hand side there is a diary of a day's events; on the right, what appear to be blood pressure measurements:

Wake up, relax and say prayers * 99 1040
Make and eat some breakfast * 79
Around house doing various things 50 [blank]
Eat my lunch and take a bath * 99
Finish up and then leave house * 79
Pass and and visit with Yvonne them 95 [blank]
Underground ride to London Euston * *
collect Sally and take her to Edmonton 60 [blank]
Travelling to a specific location 150 *
Leisure walkabout in the area [blank]
Do whatever comes to mind now 33 *
Miscellaneous activities completed [blank]
The return journey back home 50 [blank]
Check information on the internet [blank]
At home chilling out around there 140 [blank]
Have something for dinner and chill [blank]
Telephone calls to family members [blank]
Getting prepared to go to bed to sleep [blank]

What's intriguing is towards the latter part of the day. What was it about chilling out which meant that the rate went up to 140? How was it that calls to family members, which is often a stressful business, was not worthy of any recording? And what is the difference between 'chilling' and 'relaxing'?

The most enigmatic note is not, as you might assume, the one about Yvonne (who is she? What has been passed? Who is being visited?), but instead, four street names on the reverse of the pressure counts:

(Fire?) Street
(Brettenham?) Road
(Reacter?) Mews
(Lyndhurst About) Road

Are these to do with the visit with Yvonne, or the trip to Edmonton? The latter is more likely: a quick Google Map check suggests that Brettenham Road, at least, exisits in Enfield, N18. And there is a Lyndhurst Road nearby.

I'm not sure what value this piece of paper has. But its existence is oddly comforting - that life is lived, and to live is to be concerned about the small details of life.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Listorama: (Former) gangs of New York

The Baxter Street Dudes
The Bowery Boys
The Buckoos
The Car Barn Gang
The Chisel Gang
The Crazy Butch Gang
The Daybreak Boys
The Dead Rabbits
The Fashion Plates
The Forty Thieves
The Five Points Gang
The Frog Hollows
The Gas House Gang
The Hudson Dusters
The Kerryonians
The Little Doggies
The Molasses Gang
The Neighbour's Sons
The Plug Uglies
The Red Onions
The Roach Guards
The Shirt Tails
The Swamp Angels
The Strong Arm Squad
The Tub of Blood Bunch
The Whyos

Source: Guardian, G2, date lost

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Grist. Mill. Liberalism: The Stern Report

and in particular, Charlie Brooker's description of the mammoth tome, as seen on Have I Got News For You this weekend:

It's Armageddon as told by Microsoft Excel.

The paperclip as the fifth horseman of the apocalypse, anyone? "Hi! You appear to be sufferring from an irreversible change in the planetary ecosystem. Can I help you format a letter about it?"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Commercial: Retrievr

The wonderful world of web 2.0 just gets more wonderful, worldly and web 2.0.

SystemOne in Austria, have created Retrievr, which currently appears to be in beta. Another of the ever-growing apps that piggyback off Flickr, it allows you to search for images either by referencing another image, or a sketch that you draw yourself.

So, as an example, you start here:

retrievr at rest

and then draw a sketch. And as you do, in real time, the search results are updated:

retrievr stage 1

You can then, like me, try to get meta, take an image of the results, sketch that image and see what comes up:

retrievr stage 2

and then try again, with the actual image:

retrievr by image match

Leaving aside the obvious addictive qualities, and the boon that this should be for designers, what it does show is that image-based/driven searching is getting closer. The general belief is that if an easy way to search images/pictures/video can be found, then a whole new wave of innovation will be unleashed. At the moment, the only real way is tagging (hence the success of Flickr) or social recommendation (hence YouTube, and Google's purchase of it, so it at least gets a foot in the world).

The French, of all people, are trying to develop a search engine which utlises these properties. Called 'Quaero', there's not much information about it publicly yet. Best so far is an Economist article from a few months ago (subscription required), and Wikipedia sums it up quite well.