The Blog


02 Mar 2015

The Future of the Future at Futurefest. As seen from hipster London in Borough Market, Hoxton and Hackney, late Mar 2015. It's also tied in with a series of concerts put on by Convergence.

I've got my tickets for Portico+SnowGhosts. I'd quite like to have seen Tricky+Gazelle Twin but missed the tickets and that's probably 20 years too late.

I maybe should have done the full Futurefest weekend but £80 is a bit rich for me. The speaker list though is curiously hilarious. Edward Snowden, Vivienne Westwood, George Clinton, Maggie Philbin; Together at last!

http://futurefest.org/
http://www.convergence-london.com/

I hope somebody there talks about AD 02100 and the 22nd Century.
 FutureFest »
What might the world be like in decades to come? FutureFest is Nesta's flagship weekend event of immersive experiences, compelling performances and radical speakers to excite and challenge perceptions of the future. Join the conversation #futurefest. Updates. Tickets on sale here.

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25 Feb 2015

Google Play music has upped it's limit to uploading 50k tracks instead of 20k. This may take some time!

It's still annoyingly hard to upload .pls or .m3u playlist files.

And I still find it hard to understand the benefits of uploading your music to the cloud so you can download it again, played through a web music player that's a lot less effective than a local player.

http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/25/google-play-music-50000/
 Google Play Music now lets you store 50,000 songs in the cloud »
Even if you're not paying for All Access or YouTube Music Key, Google Play can be a useful way to stream your personal music collection. With its free "l

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21 Feb 2015

Not your typical track day bike
http://bikeweb.com/node/2952

Here's the Press Release.
http://bikeweb.com/node/2951

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In Feb 2015 at a Niche Vehicle Network supported MIRA wind tunnel session, the British designed and built Monoliner race bike recorded an aerodynamic coefficient of drag that was one of the lowest ever demonstrated.

“Getting efficiencies close to the historic benchmark Cd figure of 0.19 at our first attempt is very satisfying” said Monoliner team Principal Colin Russell.

“The figures we recorded are nearly 3 times better than any other current production road or racing motorcycle”. “It is a vindication of the research and development of pioneering FF designer Royce Creasey”.

“Monoliner is our petrol-engined 'development mule', but results in the MIRA wind tunnel has given us the confidence and motivation to progress our plan to design and build an even more aerodynamically efficient, all electric Monoliner race bike and enter it in the MotoE electric motorcycle racing series”.

Rob Anderson programme manager Niche Vehicle Network R&D programme said “The Niche Vehicle Network has provided funding and support to enable low volume automotive manufacturers to develop new technology and test prototype vehicles. We are thrilled that our wind tunnel funding has enabled a pioneer such as Monoliner to test and validate their innovative motorcycle design, showcasing how the Network is playing a vital role in supporting UK engineering innovation.”

Rupal Patel Director of MotoE commented: “Our goal is to drive competitive innovation and provide a platform to test, prove and market the technology that ultimately succeeds in the championship. Racing has been proven to accelerate development, raise interest as well as educate and ignite passion. We are very pleased to welcome the Monoliner team to the MotoE grid, becoming part of the next generation of motorsport. Their unique aerodynamics expertise and chassis design will add to the excitement of the series.

Colin concluded, “I believe that e-Monoliner will bring significant technical interest to the MotoE motorcycle racing series and this will be our target for 2015/16”. Colin is quietly confident that he's on the path to building a championship winner.
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Build photos here
http://bikeweb.com/image/tid/143

The engine is a BMW F800 Twin.
 Prototype FF at MIRA | FF Web »
Prototype FF at MIRA · Newbie to FF website · Voyagers - hunting in a pack. 2010 Cmax for sale · Peraves advice and info sought · Insuring an FF 3 · Positive media reponse to race FF, shock · Rob Horne's back catalogue · Insuring an FF 2 · FF racing, next installment ...

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This is all very well and I like the style. But when will I be able to buy the outfit from M&S for £250 instead of £2500 from Saville Row?

Not entirely convinced by the pink stripe in the light grey pinstripe. A darker grey and a chalk pinstripe would have been better.

The Prince Of Wales (Charlie of that ilk), has been wearing this for 40 years or so, taking after his father and uncles. And it's still a classic. So why did it need to be re-discovered?
 A suit fit for a kingsman - FT.com »
The suit is the modern gentleman’s armour,” observes Harry Hart, the hero of Matthew Vaughn’s new action film. “And the Kingsmen are its knights.” Released this month in the UK, Kingsman is a spy drama in which a Savile Row tailor’s shop serves as a

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15 Feb 2015

We need a design philosophy for sustainable, post-peak, technological living now more than ever. And preferably one that will last till the 22nd century and beyond. The Viridian movement needs a reboot.

Without it, we run the risk of being distracted by futile arguments between Radical Greens and Techno-utopians. Better living through science is no more an answer on it's own than an extreme localism that is busy knitting yogurt into yurts. It's not just a choice between Catastrophism and Denialism.

http://www.viridiandesign.org/
The Last Viridian Note. The end of a design movement. Being a re-statement of ways of living in the 21st century.

This post brought to you by
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/15/green_party_policy_uk_election_economics/
https://plus.google.com/104092656004159577193/posts/A9T8Jysd6tj
http://shift-magazine.org/magazine/see-no-evil-the-morality-of-collapse/
 The Viridian Design Movement »
The Last Viridian Note. Key concepts: summaries, farewells, Papal_Imperial sermons, the end of a design movement. Attention Conservation Notice: This is the last one. Links: A new steampunk manifesto. Wow, steampunk is a LOT older than Viridian, and look how lively steampunk is now.

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09 Feb 2015

Remember this next time somebody tries to tell you that climate change and unrestrained economic growth is probably not that bad in the medium term. Because they read something that refers back to the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Bjørn Lomborg and Richard Tol. Because it turns out the Copenhagen think tank probably accepted money from Paul Singer, billionaire funder of the Republicans and one step removed from the Koch brothers.

Tainted by association? I think so.

http://www.desmogblog.com/2015/02/09/exclusive-bjorn-lomborg-think-tank-funder-revealed-billionaire-republican-vulture-capitalist-paul-singer

Of course this is just one news report and might be an inaccurate smear. But it has the smell of truthiness.
 Exclusive: Bjorn Lomborg Think Tank Funder Revealed As Billionaire Republican 'Vulture Capitalist' Paul Singer »
A billionaire “vulture capitalist” and major backer of the US Republican Party is a major funder of the think tank of Danish climate science contrarian and fossil fuels advocate Bjørn Lomborg, DeSmogBlog has found.

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08 Feb 2015

Looking for a book to read? Pretty much everything on this list is worth reading. It's Bruce Sterling's 1988 announcement of the Slipstream Genre.

https://w2.eff.org/Misc/Publications/Bruce_Sterling/Catscan_columns/catscan.05

I'd add Lewis Shiner, John Shirley, Paul DiFillipo, Pat Cadigan, Jeff Noon, Michael Swanwick. But mainly, Lucius Shepherd's entire output (RIP). 

I do have a small problem though with the Slipstream genre name. I really like Slipstream. The problem is that what I think of as Slipstream doesn't necessarily match what everyone else thinks it is!

And I think we need a replay of the New Worlds group. Where's 2015's JG Ballard?
 Bruce Sterling CATSCAN 5 "Slipstream" In a ... »
Bruce Sterling bruces@well.sf.ca.us CATSCAN 5 "Slipstream" In a recent remarkable interview in _New Pathways_ #11, Carter Scholz alludes with pained resignation to the ongoing brain-death of science fiction. In the 60s and 70s, Scholz opines, SF had a chance to become a worthy literature; ...

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Today's physics question is brought to you via the Russian self defence firearm carried into space. The TP-82 is basically a sawn off shotgun with a 3rd rifle barrel, and a butt that can be converted into a shovel or machete. It's there in the landing module to help you survive an attack from Siberian bears and to kill an Elk to eat when you land 500 miles off course.

In the comments was this: EVA on the ISS for no other reason that to blast skeets in low earth orbit

So let's get all XKCD about this. You're on an EVA untethered, and wearing your Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU). The Clay Pigeon Launcher MkIV on the ISS launches a target for you. You give it both barrels of your TP-82 sawn off shotgun. What happens next? And where do the pellets and the cloud of clay pigeon fragments end up? More to the point, where do you end up!?!

http://io9.com/did-you-know-soviet-cosmonauts-carried-a-bear-killing-s-1684410938
 Did You Know Soviet Cosmonauts Carried A Bear-Killing Shotgun To Space? »
Anything can happen during a launch or landing of a crewed spacecraft, and just in case the crew would end up stranded in a remote area of the world, astronauts and cosmonauts undergo survival training and carry survival kits. The kits contain items such as food rations, water, extra clothing, items for making a shelter and other miscellaneous survival gear.

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So there goes Zero the Hero
Turning on around the wheel of births and deaths
And meanwhile the Octave Doctors
And the Pot Head Pixies
And all the other characters of the Planet Gong
Have to leave you now with a last little song

bye bye

http://www.factmag.com/2015/02/05/gongs-daevid-allen-tells-fans-he-is-dying-of-cancer/

http://www.planetgong.co.uk/

http://lyrics.wikia.com/Gong:You_Never_Blow_Yr_Trip_Forever

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31 Jan 2015

#FridayCocktail (a day late!)

Rum Martinez
- 40ml Myers rum
- 40ml Carpano Antic, red Vermouth
- Barspoon Luxardo Maraschino
- Dash orange bitters
- Dash Angostura bitters
- Stir, Martini glass, lemon peel twist.

Not a whole lot different from the Palmetto which is basically the same but misses out the Maraschino. Some people may find it a bit sweet but it should come out all silky smooth. A good winter drink.
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I ain't going to work on Maggie's farm no more.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/31/i-quit-my-job-to-set-up-commune

If you're waiting for the apocalypse so you can be free. Or you want to try some post-apocalyptic living as preparation, it's probably not going to happen the way you think it will.

And that's the challenge. How do we engineer a soft landing to the decline and fall of the global civilisation, this time around. Because a bunch of yurts on a scottish hillside is fun for a few weeks but it's not an answer.
 I quit my job to set up a post-apocalyptic commune »
Dylan Evans was worried about the end of the world. So he sold his house and headed for the Scottish Highlands with his cat, Socrates, and a couple of yurts. What could possibly go wrong?

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27 Jan 2015

I wish I could be as optimistic as this.
http://blog.longnow.org/02015/01/26/jesse-ausubel-seminar-media/

Why nature is rebounding – a summary by Stewart Brand

Over the last 40 years, in nearly every field, human productivity has decoupled from resource use, Ausubel began. Even though our prosperity and population continue to increase, the trends show decreasing use of energy, water, land, material resources, and impact on natural systems (except the ocean). As a result we are seeing the beginnings of a global restoration of nature.

Some of the examples are a little bizarre. eg 10,000 foxes in London is an example of nature returning? And it's repeating some of the old canards about increasing CO2 levels and temperate region temperatures is leading to greater plant growth. Mostly it feels like trying to say that if we can just put a few more sticking plasters on, we'll be able to mend the broken leg.

So what are we to make of the relentless optimism of the Long Now people? Or the relentless pessimism of the environmental people?
 Jesse Ausubel Seminar Media »
This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation

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26 Jan 2015

Ah, Politics. The sentiment below is of course about Scotland and the SNP. But lots of us feel exactly the same way about England. Remember that when the election comes round and all the choice you get is various colours of Tory.

The Party leadership remain infected by managerialism. It is easy to convince yourself you are doing good things while not changing anything fundamental, and at the same time building a very well paid career and a personal powerbase. I don’t want devo-max, I don’t want more powers, I don’t want something “as close to federalism as possible”. I want freedom for my country. I want independence. I want to live in a country which does not illegally invade other countries, collude in torture, carry out mass surveillance of its citizens, or possess nuclear weapons. The idea of running the Union a little bit better, making it a teeny bit more humane and competent, does not interest me. Nor does dulling the edge of austerity, when it is going to behead us anyway.

The article as a whole is about Greece and the way that they are not alone in being caught up in the wholesale corruption of gifting the citizen's cash to the bankers. And paying for it with a debt that we'll end up paying for forever in tax and VAT.

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2015/01/greece-london-scotland-and-europe/
 Craig Murray » Blog Archive » Greece, London, Scotland and Europe  »
The entire purpose of this blog is to ask you to think outside the box. It therefore cuts across the lines of dogma of any group, and is formed purely by my own independent thought. As I have frequently stated, if anybody agrees with every point I make, something is wrong.

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24 Jan 2015

So farewell then, Edgar Froese,
http://reynoldsretro.blogspot.com/2015/01/interview-with-edgar-froese-rip.html

I used to love your analogue synthesiser noodlings with Tangerine Dream and found them strangely hypnotic. But my Mother-in-law complained that the bleepy repetition gave her a headache.

It's Kosmische, Motherf*cker.
 interview with Edgar Froese (RIP) »
RIP Edgar Froese, who I interviewed eight years ago for this piece on the analogue synth epic genre.  THE FINAL FRONTIER: The Analogue Synth Gods of the 1970s Groove, 2007 by Simon Reynolds Ask people about synthesisers in ...

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21 Jan 2015

Another good reason to avoid Nuclear power. It's centralised, needs centralised control and centralised military protection.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-20/paris-terror-spurs-plan-for-military-zones-around-nuclear-plants.html 
 Paris Terror Spurs Plan for Military Zones Around Nuclear Plants »
Lawmakers in France want to create military zones around its 58 atomic reactors to boost security after this month’s Paris terror attacks and almost two dozen mystery drone flights over nuclear plants that have baffled authorities.

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19 Jan 2015

Think Bigger!

in <134> "It seems to me that the Chinese are the ones who still get it about legitimating a government with concerted, focussed efforts of mega-engineering."

To add further substance to that point, here's two recent articles on Chinese megaprojects:

108 Chinese Infrastructure Projects That Are Reshaping The World
http://www.businessinsider.com/108-giant-chinese-infrastructure-projects-that-are-reshaping-the-world-2011-12?op=1

In China, Projects to Make Great Wall Feel Small
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/13/business/international/in-china-projects-to-make-great-wall-feel-small-.html?_r=0

via http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/478/Bruce-Sterling-Cory-Doctorow-Jon-page06.html#post150

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18 Jan 2015

A review of King Crimson live. In 2015! It makes me pleased that one of the greatest bands of the 20th century is still producing great performances. http://thequietus.com/articles/17026-king-crimson-live-at-the-orpheum-review

And then this in the comments:- For my own part, I think the really interesting part of this equation is the fact that there's clearly a compelling demand from music fans of all stripes for nostalgia as mainstream entertainment. Why do we seem to have developed a morbid inability to just let go of the past? It's like we're participating in the collective recital of a Really Important Dream, lest its details slip away...

"The collective recital of an important dream, lest its details slip away" This. I've recently been listening to FourTet/Floating points 6hr set and then dipping into Caribou's 1000 track playlist. And in both I was struck by their reverence for the late 60s and early 70s mainly in the form of barely remembered soul and funk. Do we have to keep deliberately remembering this to avoid forgetting it? Or is this turning into some tribal memory kept alive by the elders repeating it to each new generation.

btw. Go and listen to "Starless" and "One more red nightmare" again off King Crimson's album Red. And turn it all the way up to 11. Fair makes the hair stand up on the back of the neck. But this is the one that gets me every time. The Letters from the album Islands.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2dPNF2Jt24

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14 Jan 2015

Re-visiting a theme that is much on my mind, this January.
Here's William Gibson paraphrased:- In the 20th century, everyone spoke with reverence of the 21st, while here, deep into the 21st, the 22nd century never gets a look-in.

Where's the SciFi being produced now that describes short to medium term futures? Like say, 50-100 years hence. Because 2100 is only 85 years away or one (reasonably lucky) lifetime for somebody born today. It seems like there's a gap in the middle. Between 5 minutes in the future SciFi which is really about now and ages quickly getting overtaken by events. And far future space opera, which requires an alternate physics to make it work. The middle ground is about both imagining realistic futures but also creating narratives that help to explain where we're going. I'm convinced we need this to counter the endless dystopianism. How are we going to fix pervasive economic injustice, catastrophic climate change, rampant sexism (manifest by white guys holding forth etc.), media conglomeration, network interference, terrorism, etc.? Just describing all that is not enough. We need people to imagine some solutions. 

Bruce Sterling's call to arms. Write more about the 22nd Century #22C
http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/478/Bruce-Sterling-Cory-Doctorow-Jon-page01.html#post8

Neal Stephenson's Call to arms. We need more optimistic SciFi to counter the dystopianism.
http://hieroglyph.asu.edu/book/hieroglyph/

Kevin Kelly's Call to arms. A request for 100-word descriptions of a plausible technological future in 100 years that he would like to live in.
https://medium.com/message/a-desirable-future-haiku-ff01d63c93c6

Stewart Brand's call to arms. Try and imagine a 10,000 year future for mankind.
http://longnow.org/

Jem Finer's call to arms. A 1000 year long song to listen to while it plays out. Longplayer has now been playing for 15 years 013 days 20 hours 16 minutes and 27 seconds (as I write).?
http://longplayer.org/

Meanwhile this is just so last century. King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man (BBC Sessions - 1969)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4eRpwRJgzk
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/k/king+crimson/21st+century+schizoid+man_20078587.html
Fripp & Sinfield (& the others) were talking about You, Now.

And here's a shallow look at how 2015 was perceived by historical SciFi
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/how-the-year-2015-is-depicted-in-science-fiction
 The WELL: Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow & Jon Lebkowsky: State Of The World 2015 »
The WELL: Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow & Jon Lebkowsky: State Of The World 2015

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13 Jan 2015

Assorted music irritations

Yet another music limit that's getting in the way. Google's Play Music has a 20k song restriction on uploaded music. This has a side effect on Chromebooks, tablets and phones. Since they don't really understand local storage and especially local network storage, you're expected to store everything in the cloud. Except the cloud isn't big enough! Even within the 20k limit, actually managing and dealing with a 20k track library is hard with the UI provided. For instance you can delete/remove tracks and albums but not artists. Meanwhile the upload "Music Manager" program is still fairly brain dead and still doesn't understand .pls or .m3u playlist files.

The next problem is that DNLA compatible media servers and clients are universally horrible. It's the kind of thing that gets built into "Smart" TVs and home NAS. So why does Buffalo's NAS fail to index all the files? VLC locks up when trying to display them. The "smart" TV just gives you a huge long list of tracks instead of any kind of Artist or Album display. MS Windows Media Player fails to actually provide any kind of list when acting as a server and is just as useless at working as a client as all the rest. Just about the only bit of "Smart" in the TV I actually liked was the Youtube app.

Another year has gone by and Winamp still survives but there's been no developments, bugfixes or updates while the new owners try and work out the various licensing issues. It still works pretty well but runs out of steam somewhere around 50k tracks. Several people I know have given up and just use VLC with a sensible directory structure. The remaining problem is searching on track metadata rather than just filenames and directories. For actual desktop programs with library management I've yet to find anything as good as or better than winamp. 4 synced window panes for Artist, Album, Track, Playlist, just kind of works. And just kind of works better than tree or any of the other approaches like drilling down into a folder structure. VLC may be good for playing media, but it sucks for managing a library. As for Itunes, it's still horrible on Windows. Maybe it's better on OSX but I wonder. 

One tip for using Youtube. Open one tab to play your "Watch Later" playlist. Then use other tabs to find and cue up more music. Click the "Watch Later" icon on each and they'll get added to the end of the main playlist. It kind of works. And see above about the Youtube TV App.
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09 Jan 2015

This post got deleted by the mods in the SciFi community. Hard to tell exactly why. Anyway, it's quite a tasty little short story from one of my favourite authors.

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One side effect of the nowt protocols is suppression of Saccadic Masking in the visual processing functions of the brain. This makes them more aware than the rest of us of the 50/60 HZ flicker of LED and energy saving fluorescent light bulbs. In extreme cases the simple act of walking through a new housing development at night can produce petit mal epilepsis unless the nowt is careful to avoid sliding their gaze across the typical fake tudorbethan door lights.

Julian Bond originally shared this post:
Paul di Filippo short story.
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/faster-now


 Faster Now »
Some decades ago, neuroscientists discovered that the moment of nowness is actually a composite of everything we've experienced in the past fifteen seconds. Naturally, somebody decided to hack this. T…

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