I once told her…

I am that man.

(Shame the sound quality on the video’s so poor though.)

j-star 08, Holotronica, and Pierre/Gondry at onedotzero_adventures in motion at the BFI

Here are some words and some (mainly excellent) music videos for you.

The above is the gorgeous video for the equally beautiful and gentle song “Omstart” by Cornelius. It is one of two things I saw three weeks ago at the British Film Institute which particularly caught my eye/ear. The other is this 1998 video, “Deadly Media” by Hexstatic:

Actually, that’s a lie; several other vids caught my eye/ear to a similar if lesser extent…

I’d gone to London to see Bash, to hear Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie talk about Lost Girls at the V&A, and to go to Bash’s flat-warming party. On Sunday afternoon she had to work, so I was at a loose end and popped along to the National Film Theatre to catch j-star 08, “the latest and most inspiring music videos, motion graphics and shorts from some of japan’s finest moving image-makers and young talent” — part of the onedotzero_adventures in motion event taking place that weekend. I rather like shorts, and music videos, and the Japanese aspect promised an interesting time. While the results were mixed, I wasn’t disappointed.

On the way in, I noticed a “Holotronica” exhibit and, while scoffing at the hubris of an artist claiming to “devise” a term, and while unimpressed by the 3-d aspect of the display, I did rather enjoy the music playing as I walked past: the Hexstatic piece linked above. I thought it was a bit old-fashioned, but good for it — and of course now I see it’s 10 years old, so that makes sense. The use of vocal samples was reminscent of JMJ’s pioneering and wonderfully cheesy yet still compelling Zoolook (the video for which introduced a young me to the lovely word “Djibouti”), and the audio/video link made me think of Lasse Gjertsen’s modern classic Hyperactive.

The j-star show was very enjoyable, though a bit tedious in places. Many of the shorts were too long, and it was very very CGI heavy: only a few pieces weren’t entirely CG, and it often felt like it didn’t add anything, or wasn’t used imaginatively. The Cornelius video above was the standout exception, indeed the best thing in the show — thoughtful, subtle, and making the most of the total possibility of CG without just being a bunch of flashy effects. A number of other vids were just flashy effects (usually to some generic breakbeat music), a few were “in love with the underlying model” (exposing wireframes, etc., which is cute but ultimately empty) and some were cartoonish, and kinda fun but not soooo amusing. On reflection I think my enjoyment was often coloured by the music as well, of course. With that in mind, a few (non-exhaustive) comments…

Three of the pieces which weren’t totally CGI were excellent. Kosai Sekine’s video for Maledict Car by Jemapur used real world footage and imaginative symmetry to very good effect, I thought — and the music was great. K+Me’s Screaming Dance by Leonard de Leonard was very good fun and again had the advantage of a rather stonking tune. Finally, this Nike cosplay ad by Kan Eguchi is classic Japanese madness, and utterly awesome. The other vids with a substantial reality presence were Junji Kojima’s video for You-you-you by Polysics, which I quite enjoyed but didn’t find beautiful, and “Evening Before the Hangover” by Ichiro Sato, (I can’t find it online) of which I wrote “Alien disco, but so what?”. It was a cute joke, but basically dull.

Clear Skies In May by Tetsuo Suzuka was beautiful, imaginative, classical, and beautifully typographical. Well worth a look.

There were two 8-bit nostalgia trips, only one of which I enjoyed. Yosawya San by Tsuyoshi Hirooka & Yohei Ito was great: musically interesting, and a very cute video. Compared to the other (below), it seemed truer to the 8-bit gaming tradition, and with some really imaginative touches, perspective, etc. (Look out for the Go game on the TV screen.) The other, Hideyuki Tanaka’s video for Ram Rider’s hello_8 bit edition seemed more lego than 8-bit (in the video, anyway), and was about 2 minutes too long; I didn’t like the music though, which can’t have helped — although on reflection it was truer to the 8-bit tradition than the other offering, so there you go. Well, there it is: you might enjoy it, but I certainly didn’t.

On the cartoony side, it probably suffices to just mention Usavich – Beware of Dance — the first of three Usavich cartoons, and quite funny (I wrote “Tyres goes disco bunnies”, meaning Tyres from Spaced), but by the third I was really bored of them.

Afterwards, I took a saunter round the BFI, experienced and enjoyed The All-Seeing Eye (The Hardcore Techno Version) by Pierre Bismuth & Michel Gondry, and, wrote on a wall. I can’t remember the details of whose installation this was, but projected onto this wall/whiteboard was a cartoon view of a town, on which we were invited to draw “where you live” using the available coloured pens. I found a suitably rectangular collection of roads and drew a simple commutative diagram encapsulating commutativity of function application, which felt like as a good an explanation of where I live just now than anything else I could think of.

Then I went back to Bash’s and cooked a mighty vegetarian lasagna for the six of us there present.

To conclude: a great day (and weekend!), and one which made me think it might be worth living in London (for a while) after all.

Bash had her iPhone stolen

Bash had her iPhone stolen yesterday, in a rather ugly-sounding scam — and then wrote an eloquent and reflective blog post about it. Kudos.

Portrait of a Kitteh

Portrait of a Kitteh

Late April Keepalive Ping

Heyup.

Lots going on, but blogging sorely neglected. Partially I’ve been busy with work, partially I’ve been busy with going away.

Three Big News Items:

  1. I properly completed and submitted my MPhil thesis; more on this later (including a PDF for anyone masochistic enough to want to read it).
  2. I went to Budapest for a week; photos later. They’re on flickr now but awaiting tags and descriptions; I had done those things but lost them by not listening to the nagging voice telling me not to use crappy software that doesn’t save its state (yes I’m talking about you, kflickr). Executive summary: great city, well worth a visit.
  3. I have a new job! Starting in August, I’ll be a Research Assistant working for Harold Thimbleby on a three-year project on formal tools for analysis of and design for usability, particularly on small devices. Again, more on this later.

There’s a fourth Big News Item but I’m keeping it under my hat for now.

So, lots for me to follow up on, but for now I’d just like to draw your attention to the latest clutch of lovely photos from Bash, who’s sadly been laid low by a bad cold for the last little while.

And stuff Marigold ninja Blossom in the sun How things used to be The lone seagull flies alone

Adam, my nephew

I love this woman

Bash in grurple

… and have done for five years.

Random beauty/design samizdat

I have know idea where/how she came across this, but Bash sent me a link to some really beautiful images (including the cover of a Lisp book). There’s even some Richard Scarry in there, ftw.

Gimboland sidebar now shows Bash’s photos

I’ve modified the sidebar so it displays the last 5 photos from Bash’s flickr photostream rather than mine. I haven’t uploaded any photos to flickr for forever, and Bash’s are just better anyway. Tis an honour.

Bash’s BoxingDay Bimble

Bash and I spent Christmas in Callington, at my parents’ house. It was, for both of us I think, a much needed (though in the end too short) break away from the accumulated pressures of Swansea – even though I was working on my thesis I certainly came back refreshed.

On Boxing Day, while I slaved away on chapter two’s lovingly delivered description of the Common Algebraic Specification Language, Bash went for a mooch around Callington with her camera. The results show Callington in the most interesting light I’ve seen… All crumbling walls, flaking paintwork, strange corners. Classic Bash, in fact. :-)

I won’t pick out several, because it’s worth looking at the whole set — as much as I love filling my blog with little square snippets of her work. Instead, just one, my favourite, well worth viewing at a high resolution and/or using as wallpaper. Its subtle beauty reminds me of this classic piece by my beloved Brandon Bird.

the painted branch

What Bash did with her Sunday

Bash cut her hair today. Photos (mainly by me) here.

(Photos of the Circles of Sound gig should be forthcoming soonish, but she’s got about 500 to wade through – ’twas a good night!)

Emo Bash Mohawk down Easier than shaving a goat The serenity of the recently shorn II

A not-camp-at-all weekend in London

Two weeks ago, we spent the weekend in London, to attend a civil partnership ceremony (I call it a wedding as, I’m sure, would the happy couple) and a house-warming. The wedding was on Friday morning, so (after giving up on trying to find reasonable rail tickets) we drove up Thursday night and stayed with Jason & Sid, whose party was on Saturday. The wedding was lovely: Robin & Oliver, South-African compadres of Bash’s who came to ours (front row/right in this photo), so we were very happy to return the honour. :-) They made a lovely couple, and the ceremony was very touching. The wedding took place at Old Marylebone Town Hall (“Reception Room”) – a very nice venue, with lovely officers (though marginally and amusingly haphazard a couple of times), followed by reception at The Groucho Club. I shudder to think how much it cost them, but the food and wine were both delicious and copious. No, we didn’t see anyone famous. :-)

We milled around Wimbledon on Saturday, wombling on the common and browsing expensive charity shops. In the evening, the house-warming party… Continuing the geeky tradition begun at New Year, some of us did some programming: this time on the classic Amstrad CPC-464 at the top of the stairs (Jason is Very Retro). This being a bit old and light to run a python interpreter, Jason and I knocked up a simple BASIC program to print “Welcome to Jason & Sid’s party” at a random place on the screen every 5 seconds. We even had to RTFM.

It wasn’t all geekery, of course: evidence here. My choice cuts follow.

Will, Bash, Andy Rena doing the chicken dance Crafty smirk Me and the missus Jo worship Lush I left my heart in syntax error Exactly what it looks like Oh, you! Gorgeous Martina I have no idea

A few photos of Familia Gimboland

From Bash, a great portrait of my father and I:

Andy and Terry

… and from Gimbo, three pictures of our cats:

Fudge, resplendent Kisses and disdain Eye to eye with Sophie

Bonus from Bash, just ‘cos it made me say “wow”:

Heart, take flight

Bash, Singleton Park, 2003

Thumbnail: Bash, Singleton Park, 2003

She so foxy. 4 years ago now, mind! Oh, but still foxy. Don’t hit me, Bash. Ow.

That is comedy.

Thanks, moderate spender.

Robot beauty is just… incomprehensible.

Bash, while watching Futurama

Popgadget, and some thoughts on domains

Bash pointed me to popgadget yesterday — cool gadgetry and “stuff”, reported mostly from a geek girl PoV. Some representative goodies: Mmmm… Non-alcoholic malt liquor flavored with beef extracts! · go grammar girl! · your very own space age shower and turkish bath · skateboarding robot (rollerskating, more like?) · awesome inflatable iceberg climbing wall.

Peeve: once upon a time, .net domains were (albeit informally) reserved for people providing network services, eg ISPs, registrars, etc. These days it’s “just another” gTLD which anyone can buy space in, and I think that’s a shame. The appeal of the domain to its purchasers – as far as I can tell – is that you get to say “look! We’re on the net!”. Well, so? I mean, you have a domain, so clearly you’re on the net. Saying .net tells us nothing more about who you are. I guess what I’m trying to get at is: why have a variety of gTLDs if they have no actual meaning? As far as I can tell, the country TLDs have some meaning, but the gTLDs are just one big pool now.

Irony: I’m guilty of this too, having registered both gimbo.org.uk and gimbo.co.uk; in my defence, requests to the latter are rewritten as requests to the former, as I wish to discourage use of the latter, while retaining ownership. But why should I retain ownership? What if some fellow Brit forms a company called “gimbo” and wants the domain? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? I’d be rich! Rich! Rich! ;-)

Two great photos by Bash

This is where we live:

view from our spare room

This, thankfully, is not:

anti-shoplifting sign

All the girls love me ‘cos I’m so depressed; also I have oil.

After graduation, Seyhan decided he’d had enough of computers, and moved into haulage:

Trucker Seyhan thumbnail

(Photo by Bash on Fabian Way, apparently.)

The tide was in and no-one was home (cos they were on the beach anyway)

I’m pleased to report that Bash’s Budget Birthday Beachparty Bonanza went rather well. A few no-shows, but a respectable picnic, some kite-flying (complete with little girls gleefully chasing the tail as I trailed it before them with my l33t k1t3 skills), four of us swimming (not so cold, and big big waves), and a brief panic over a not-actually-lost wedding ring. Apres ca, back to ours for Dr Who (ooh, what a tearjerker) and an evening of nibbly chatty goodness. Today is relaxation day – watching Michael Palin and fiddling with wmii, of which, more shortly…

Best. Invite. Ever.

This Friday is Bash’s birthday. On Saturday we’re celebrating by going to the beach: Langland Bay, just round the corner from Mumbles. We’ll be there from about 4pm onwards. Anybody reading this is invited, and so are their friends.

More details and a link to a map may be found in the fabulous invite which Bash made using Mac Magic yesterday:

Bash's birthday party invite (PDF, 36KB)

She says it was accidental…

For the record: Bash put mayo in her coffee on Saturday.

Consider the lilies… They’re well chuffed!

Via Bash, it’s The Happy Poster project.

In other Bash news, apparently she read the link to this story as “Police Rescue Mouse Tangled in Swingset” – her first thought was “how did they know it was there?” and then, when she saw the picture, “wow – that’s a really huge mouse”. :-)

Moving house, anniversaries, and project management

I just haven’t had time for blogging lately, which means I’ve been busy, which nominally means I’ve got a lot to write about, I guess. So here are the big random snippets from my life of the last three weeks:

Mainly, we moved house, from number 6 in our street to number 1. We’d been at number 6 for two years, and while it was a nice, large house we had compelling reasons to leave. The main reason was the landlords, who fitted the stereotype of wanting your money but not wanting to do anything much in return. Feel free to skip the next paragraph if you’re not interested in me moaning about them…

For most of the two years we spent at number 6, we were unable to use the shower. First, the pipes made this horrible screaming noise every time we tried. That did get sorted, after a number of phone calls, but a few months later we noticed that water was trickling down the kitchen walls and the plaster in the ceiling was rotting – a leaky seal around the bath. More than a year later, we’re moving out and the problem still hasn’t been fixed. Numerous phone calls and letters eventually stirred them into action and they sent a man round to sort it out, who did a botched job – so the problem wasn’t fixed at all. This cycle happened three times (with three different sets of cowboys), and it’s still not fixed. There’s also is a leak in the roof, leading to a similar problem in the bedroom ceiling (and during hard persistent rain, a pleasant drip-drip-drip onto the bedroom carpet). They never really showed any real interest in getting that fixed. In general dealing with them has been unpleasant – they’re a pair of solicitors and when phoning their office one always gets the impression their reception has been instructed to be unpleasant and obstructive to tenants…

Despite these outstanding problems, they were quite happy to raise the rent again, so we decided it was time to get them out of our lives. They seemed quite surprised, for some reason.

The new place belongs to our erstwhile neighbours, a very pleasant couple who’ve headed out to Sri Lanka for eighteen months or so doing NGO work of some sort, I believe. The contrast between old landlords and new could not be greater. Old were motivated by greed, new are motivated by wanting to find someone nice to look after the house and the cat. The place is smaller, but that’s good because we had too much junk lying around and now we’re forced to sort it out. The rent is lower, and the other bills should be too. They’re even paying us some money back for cat food!

The weekend before last we did most of the moving, with a lot of help from our friends. I’ve put some photos here (and oh dear, it looks like I have to fix the stylesheets for those pages – something has gone horribly wrong). Will also took some photos which are in the usual Will style and thus look great but don’t give you much of an impression of what the new place is actually like. :-)

Sophie, the new cat, has welcomed us with open arms. Actually I think she’s mainly welcomed us with an open mouth, and so long as she’s being fed she’s happy. Fudge is having a harder time of it, and isn’t happy having another cat around. There’s been quite a bit of hissing and growling. Some days she’s better than others, however, and we’re still hopeful that they’ll end up being friends…

Sophie on beanbag Fudge shadow

I’m enjoying having a decent garden and – oh yes – a shed. The shed came packed with goodies, including a couple of boogie boards (roll on the summer!) and a workmate, which I put to good use at the weekend, cutting down the legs on a nice glass-topped dining table we don’t have room for, which transformed it into a nice glass-topped coffee table we do have room for. It was fun.

The TV got broken in a stupid fashion during the move, so we’re currently borrowing Jason’s projector, and watching Family Guy on one of the living room walls – which is kinda cool.

Last weekend George and Lidia had a house-warming/pizza-eating/brownie cooking/eating party, which was most pleasant. Being party animals, we spent a good deal of that time watching Black Books and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which I’ve wanted to see for years, since reading the book. Naturally it wasn’t as good, but it wasn’t too bad and Penelope Cruz, pheweeee. Hearing her accent, I did want her to say “we will tape over him with the snooker”, however.

In other news, we watched The Apprentice last night (the Alan Sugar thing). Not my choice, but Bash wanted to check it out. I mostly tried to ignore it, instead playing with some nifty new project management software on my Palm, but I did get sucked in a few times. Yeah, it was quite enjoyable, but afterwards I think I summed it up by saying it’s still rubbishy TV – it’s just Pop Idol for people like us, ie people who, for example, have project management software on their Palms. :-) Instead of cringing, laughing, and screaming at the contestants’ terrible singing, we’re cringing, laughing, and screaming at their terrible thinking, organisation and communication.

Finally, it was our second wedding anniversary two days ago – as close to it as we’ll get this year, anyway. We had a quiet night in and I cooked. Among other successes, I learnt that asparagus tips fried in butter and cashews have a pleasingly high tastiness-to-difficulty ratio. Oh yes, and it snowed that night, just as it did at this time two years ago (though I didn’t get a snowman on the desk in my lecture this year, sadly).