Saturday, November 24, 2012

Baubles on BandCamp

Finally! Baubles, one of the original Gbloink! albums, is now available for download on BandCamp. The perfect ambiance for sitting in your arm-chair by the flickering fire on a snowy evening, contemplating a fir-tree decked with shiny coloured glass balls.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tory Polluters Win Energy Bill

BBC News - Government delays setting carbon target until after election

How does one read this?


a) refuse to commit to CO2 reduction
b) as a "compromise" continue to commit to funding of
c) I bet that that includes nuclear, hence the Tories plan to funnel money to their friends in nuclear industry



Friday, November 16, 2012

Extra Judicial Assassination

Glenn Greenwald:
Obama - the killer of Anwar al-Awlaki, Awlaki's 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman, and countless other innocent men, women, teenagers and children - could not possibly condemn Israeli actions in Gaza without indicting himself. Extra-judicial assassinations, once roundly condemned by US officials, are now a symbol of the Obama presidency, as the US and Israel converge more than ever before: if not in interests, than certainly in tactics.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ethics Concern

Glenn Greenwald :

[An] amusing New York Times headline from this morning - "Concern Grows Over Top Military Officers' Ethics" - illustrates that point: with all the crimes committed by the US military over the last decade and long before, it's only adultery that causes "concern" over their "ethics"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Electronic Demon Costume

I'm impressed by this Electronic Demon Costume. Don't the lights make some pretty impressive facial expressions? I guess this would be pretty good for cheap affective robotics too.

At the Palais Ideal

Facteur Chaval is my new hero.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cheap Chinese Gadgets

Is it my imagination, or have cheap Chinese-made gadgets made a bit of a jump since I was last paying attention to them, bringing more cool stuff even cheaper than ever. Checking out LighTake I'm seeing quadcopters for £30, remote control vehicles with cameras, some really rather nice Arduino controlled autonomous vehicles, serious Android powered computers in pen-drive format for £40 while the same thing in netbook format is £50. Laser fingernails and other cute LED decorations.

I'm sure most of this stuff isn't really very good (quality, capacity). But can anyone doubt that a tablet-controlled, GPS enabled, Android powered quadcopter with video camera for around £30 is just around the corner?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Logic Of The Future

John Robb :

One way to accomplish [trading energy for computation] quickly (before the old system completely fails) is to decentralize production with networked resilient communities.  At that point, the global economy would be 98% information and all basic needs would be provided for locally.  Information only economies built on a base of self-sufficiency can be as different from capitalism as capitalism is from feudalism.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Mind Controlled Drones

Not only interesting in its own right, but I'm quite struck by the fact that this comes from a Chinese university.

We've long become used to the fact that the West has lost much of its earlier technical leadership over China. But there's still an assumption that we have the edge in "creative play" of the kind that will stimulate the next generation of products and applications.

This video looks awfully like "creative play" to me. And, frankly, while I've thought a lot about drones over the last couple of years, I hadn't thought of the application of allowing someone in a wheel-chair to inspect a some flowers.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Case Against Obama

  1. Obama terrorizes innocent Pakistanis on an almost daily basis. The drone war he is waging in North Waziristan isn't "precise" or "surgical" as he would have Americans believe. It kills hundreds of innocents, including children. And for thousands of more innocents who live in the targeted communities, the drone war makes their lives into a nightmare worthy of dystopian novels. People are always afraid. Women cower in their homes. Children are kept out of school. The stress they endure gives them psychiatric disorders. Men are driven crazy by an inability to sleep as drones buzz overhead 24 hours a day, a deadly strike possible at any moment. At worst, this policy creates more terrorists than it kills; at best, America is ruining the lives of thousands of innocent people and killing hundreds of innocents for a small increase in safety from terrorists. It is a cowardly, immoral, and illegal policy, deliberately cloaked in opportunistic secrecy. And Democrats who believe that it is the most moral of all responsible policy alternatives are as misinformed and blinded by partisanship as any conservative ideologue. 
  2. Obama established one of the most reckless precedents imaginable: that any president can secretly order and oversee the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. Obama's kill list transgresses against the Constitution as egregiously as anything George W. Bush ever did. It is as radical an invocation of executive power as anything Dick Cheney championed. The fact that the Democrats rebelled against those men before enthusiastically supporting Obama is hackery every bit as blatant and shameful as anything any talk radio host has done.  
  3. Contrary to his own previously stated understanding of what the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution demand, President Obama committed U.S. forces to war in Libya without Congressional approval, despite the lack of anything like an imminent threat to national security.
More ...

Coloured RepRap

Beautiful multi-colour print from a modified RepRap.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grave Wave?

I think I preferred "Witch House" better. It's all Gothic High-tech anyway.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cog Art

This is absolutely awesome and I am totally jealous.

I wish I had done this. (Some of my work last year was reaching in this direction.)

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Data Mining Idiosyncrasy

Hmmm ... a year or two ago I suggested that it was useless to try to turn Google-style statistical learning algorithms on the data of a single individual. I figured that the idiosyncracies of the individual meant that there was way too little data available to make viable models and predictions compared to tackling the population at large.

To emphasize my point I claimed that Google, sensibly, weren't trying to apply their algorithms to the contents of my Gmail mailbox.

Except, now, it seems they are.

I'll wait to see if I'm proved  wrong and they can make a success of this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cardboard Bicycle

This is the most awesome thing I heard today.

I want. Where's the Kickstarter project?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Braid Maker

This is clever. And a good example of how 3D printing is going to provide a multiplier for all kinds of other small-scale, local fabrication technologies. Think about the humble multi-headed drill, and think what else you could do if you could design and make your own specialised heads for it.

The Wrong Kind of Magic

The Arch-Druid on the Wrong Kind of Magic

Friday, June 29, 2012

Made In Chicago

Recent FL sketches

Barclays and Libor

So let me get this straight. Banks self-report how trustworthy other banks find them. This information goes into a statistic that is used across the world to set interest rates and make other policy decisions. 

Now it turns out for the three years up to the financial crash of 2008 they were basically "making shit up" to scam more money. Then, when the crash hit, they continued lying to make themselves look more reliable than they were. (Barclays, remember, were the bank that famously didn't need a UK government bail-out because they found private sector loans to support them. Perhaps based on their faked credit-rating?) 

More : , also my Quora Question )

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wands Are So Last Year

At least if this Leap Motion thing comes out.

For $70 we'll all be making like the Palpatine and blowing away planets with a limp crook of our fingers.

Of course, it will turn a pencil into a mean wand too of course. Looks pretty exciting.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Spirals and Plant Growth

I think I've seen an earlier version of these, but I guess this is a revamp for the Khan Academy.

Anyway, Vi Hart is absolutely stunning in this three part lesson :

Friday, May 18, 2012

My SoundCloud

Just to give you a bit of warning. I'm going to be re-organising my SoundCloud account soon. At the moment, it's full of the back-catalogue of my old 4-track tape demos and bits of random creativity from over the years. A useful archive in many ways, but I already used my 12 hour time-limit, and now I'm starting to write some new tunes.

I think I'd really like to use SoundCloud more as a music social network : a place to showcase some new ideas and to connect to other musicians I admire. So I'm going to clear a lot of the old stuff away. Partly to make room for new tracks, and partly so that it's clear what I'm doing at the moment.

I will keep cycling through some highlights from the back-catalogue. But the tunes won't be permanent, so if you like them, download them when you get the chance.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

80s Nostalgia

I've never been a musical nostalgic who thinks that things were so much better when I was young. Every now and then I manage to convince myself that "music is over". That everything that needed to be said musically already has been. That all extremes of the map : noise and quiet, speed and sensuality, romanticism and experimentalism have been explored. But I know that this ennui is likely to be quickly blown away by the discovery of an entirely new sound that shocks me into new enthusiasm.

And I've plenty of experience of hearing oldsters complaining that 80s pop was all crap compared to the wonders of the 60s or 70s. So I just find it comical to hear my own generation now making the same complaint against what's coming out today.  90% of everything is crap, so we shouldn't expect pop music to be different.

I love sounds that have surfaced in the last few years, from Caribou to Maribou State, Lucky Dragons to Hudson Mohawke, Unicorn Kid and Slugabed. I loved dubstep and bassline house. I dig acts that are fresh even though they have a high dose of retro, from Gayngs to Belbury Poly to Dam Funk.

All of which is just a caveat really, an excuse that you should bear in mind when I say I've been ... er ... making an 80s playlist on You Tube!

It's just a bunch of stuff that I like (either since I was a teenager or more recent discoveries). They range from pretty cheesy to pure synth-pop to more indie and obscure. Although most tunes will be reasonably well known, I'm not going for ultra-popular things, unless I really liked them. This is my personal take on the 80s.

But what, I'm, ahem, having to admit is how good all this stuff suddenly sounds. The melodies, song writing and arrangements, even, in several cases, the lyrics. And the exuberant imagination. OK, I know I'm obviously cherry picking stuff that I like. And that tends to be quirky. But there's a sense these people feel free to invent themselves, without trying to be too like anyone else. If they're copying role-models, it's often not obvious who those role-models are.

For a horrible moment, I caught myself thinking "they don't make them like that any more."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Buying Music

Just caught myself buying more music. Fortunately it's mainly off BandCamp where I'm also getting free give-aways. And a couple of tracks from BeatPort.

Here's what I've been getting (and now thoroughly enjoying) :

However, my current jam is Marc and the Mambas

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Britain's Record "Debt"

 Will Hutton :
Nor is it true that Britain has record public debts. It did have a record annual public deficit in 2009/10 as the budget papers say. But that is not debt. Debt is an aggregate figure, the consequence of cumulative deficits over decades. Expressed as a proportion of GDP, debt has been higher than current levels for most of the last 250 years. Indeed, with the cost of servicing public debt at the lowest since the 1890s there have been very few decades since the 1760s when the cost of servicing public debt has been so low. Britain, despite the Orwellian attempt to misuse language, does not have a debt crisis.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Project ThoughtStorms

Over on SmartDisorganized you can read how I've become enamoured of Ward Cunningham's new wiki.

Ward is, of course, the guy who invented the original wiki and is someone renowned for being extremely insightful in a low key kind of a way. With his new project, the Smallest Federated Wiki he's reinventing wiki for an age of mobile devices and rich browsers. Where each of us has our own wiki (as we have our own blog) but want to to share data between them, through a voluntary "pull" pattern closer to distributed source control managers such as git. And a world where we want wiki to act as a dashboard to an array of servers, sensors and data-streams.

This is an exciting, forward-looking vision of wiki, and I've completely re-oriented my thinking around it. I've now ported ThoughtStorms wiki across to the new engine, bringing it into the federation. I'll be doing the same with my other wikis. And I've decided that this is now the future of SdiDesk. I'll be writing converters for SdiDesk pages and SFW-plugins to handle the network diagramming etc. aspects.

This is exciting. Even seeing ThoughtStorms in the new format (where drag-and-drop refactoring is extremely easy) inspires me to start tidying it up with re-writes, purges of dead-links and other outdated material. That's not going to happen overnight, it happens at the organic rate of wiki's life, death, composting and rebirth, but this spring ThoughtStorms is definitely recovering from its recent hibernation. And I hope we'll soon see SdiDesk throwing up new shoots.

Food Delivery Drones

Tacocopter, delivers ... er .. Tacos by quadcopter.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


John Robb comments on The Fall of Stratfor.

Wikileaks notices the hypocrisy of an organisation that hates Julian Assange but still uses Wikileaks material in its intelligence collecting.

Saturday, March 03, 2012


Seriously. Why has misogyny become one of THE political campaigning issues of current times?

One of the few shreds of legitimate criticism that Westerners have made of Middle-Eastern and Islamic cultures over the last 10 years, is of the status and treatment of women in those societies. And yet, right-wing conservatives in the West seem hell-bent on rivalling that. ???

Friday, March 02, 2012

Musical Quadcopters

Another demonstration of just how well co-ordinated (in time and space) quadcopters are these days.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Peter Thiel

Naked Capitalism on Peter Thiel :
A few more details to consider here, in case you’re curious and not satisfied with the “our wives made us do it” theory [of Ron Paul's tacit support for Romney]:
* Ron Paul’s SuperPAC sugar daddy, Peter Thiel, whom I wrote about for The Nation, has a proven track record of using his money to play the cynical game of politics. According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle profile, “libertarian” Peter Thiel is funding a Democrat and former Obama trade official, Ro Khanna, in a primary challenge against anti-war, anti-PATRIOT Act liberal Democrat Congressman Pete Stark.
* Ron Paul’s SuperPAC sugar daddy Peter Thiel also funds other candidates supposedly anathema to antiwar, anti-PATRIOT Act, pro-gay marriage libertarians, including frothing pro-war GOP social conservatives Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce and Dan Lungren.
* Dr. Paul’s SuperPAC sugar daddy Thiel also donated the maximum allowable to the 2010 gubernatorial campaign of Meg Whitman, who was Mitt Romney’s campaign finance chair in 2008. Whitman was a protege of Romney’s when she worked at Bain capital; later, when Whitman was CEO of eBay, she made Peter Thiel rich when she bought out his PayPal in a deal roundly slammed as bad for eBay, but good for Thiel and Whitman.
Look, I’m just laying out some interesting leads here for journalists with budgets, leads that involve money and oligarchy in politics—someone out there with an expense account, for fuck’s sake, do your work! Sure, there may be nothing there—heck, it may have been Dr. Paul’s wife who suggested to Mrs. Romney what a wonderful idea it would be to base Paul’s SuperPAC in Salt Lake City. But if the media is willing to raise the question about the strange and rather unnerving alliance, it should be willing to look in strange places for unsettling answers.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Subsidy Of Limited Liability

Vinay very interesting on the implicit subsidy that government gives to business in the form of limited liability.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Micro Drones

I'm, frankly, gob-smacked by this video :

Both by the implication of how cheap and simple it will be to manufacture micro-drones (or anything else) with cut laminates and folding techniques. And the widespread ubiquity of drones that it implies.

via Global Guerrillas. (WarpLink RoboFold)

DIY Drones also links a printed quad-copter : 

We have no idea what's about to hit us here ... 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Something Moon Wiring

This Moon Wiring Mix looks (and indeed sounds) awesome.

Hauntology, England's Hidden Reverse, G-Funk, Trip Hop, IDM, Dilla, Zelda, Grime, Wonky, Witch-house ... and then some really crazy stuff.

Only thing missing is my new favourite sound : Maribou State (think Lucky Dragons meets James Blake in a Glo-fi House vibe.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Resilient Manufacturing and SpimeScript

Something I'm thinking about a lot at the moment is resilient, local, sustainable, on-demand manufacturing :

  • I'm currently organising the London Future Manufacturing meetup. And having some parallel conversations at the London Hackspace. If you're in London and into this stuff, get in touch.
  • I have a new project in the works which I'll be unveiling soon ...

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Swarm of Nano-Copters

This is probably the thing that will change the world more profoundly and shockingly than almost anything else over the next 5 years.

That's about the time it took smartphones to become ubiquitous in the developed world, and for business and culture to re-organize themselves around them. (If you're conservative, you can assume it took 10 years.)

Now imagine that nano-quadcopters (with video surveillance) hit hundreds of millions of cheap units in the next 5-10 years. What happens when everyone from concerned parents to nosy teenagers, criminals to police to political protestors have them. What happens when they routinely monitor traffic in the streets? Routinely carry out inspections of industrial infrastructure? Routinely patrol your house when you're out? When they're a standard tool of industrial espionage and gutter journalism? Where they guide automated cranes and architectural scale printers in docks and on construction sites? Where they monitor pollution and conduct ecological surveys in forests?

Nano-quadcopters and sousveillance are coming. And the world is going to be unimaginable.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Idea For The Film Industry

Dave Winer has an idea for the film industry :
Here's the idea. Set up a trust for the movie industry. A bank account that we can deposit money into but only movie-makers can withdraw from. When you download a movie via BitTorrent that you watch all the way to the end, deposit $5 into the account for the movie. When the owners decide to accept BitTorrent as a legitimate distribution system, which someday they are sure to, they can have the money. The amount of money in the account is always public info. So it becomes an important statistic, part of the "box office" for a movie. Then you'd probably find a funny thing happening -- independent movie producers who can't get distribution any other way will start promoting this site as a legitimate way to pay for movies. It wouldn't take long before the MPAA realized that there are a huge number of people who want the convenience of watching movies at home on their own timetable, instead of having to deal with the inhumane system the movie industry created for them.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Printed Record

How awesome is this?

A 3D printed record that can be played on a toy turntable! And it was generated from Processing.

(WarpLink) Contrast : Pot Jockey

Monday, January 23, 2012

Europe’s Deadly Transition From Social Democracy to Oligarchy

Read this

I know I'm sounding like I'm just repeating the same story again and again. But what the hell else is there to do? This is now so blatantly happening. Another week, another story of a redistribution of wealth and power from the 99% (and government agencies that still have democratic responsibility to them) to the 1% wealthy elite.

So many people seem to vaguely perceive this. Many people are talking. But no one seems capable of stopping it.

Money quote :

This competition between banks and government explains the false accusations made that government credit creation is more inflationary than when commercial banks do it.

Sites Fixed

Thanks to WebFaction support. My sites are fixed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Sites

Several of my sites (,, etc.) seem to be down giving database errors. Nothing to do with me. Probably something with the hosting service.

I'll post here when I find out more.

What Is SOPA?

Wikipedia, Craiglist, Boing Boing and several other sites are going black today to protest SOPA. I wholeheartedly agree with them. But here's something I haven't heard mentioned yet.

SOPA is not about stopping piracy. Everyone (even the RIAA and friends) know that it won't stop piracy. Instead SOPA is an attack on the visibility of piracy.

I once called home-taping "civil disobedience against industrial mass-commercialization of music". And I believe it was. Copying is overwhelmingly supported (in practice) by the citizens of every country where the technology to do it is available. It is mass civil disobedience against a law which most people think is an ass.

SOPA is an attack on the public affirmation of that position. An attack on the "normality" of piracy. It stops me visibly and proudly displaying my disobedience and forces me into doing it (shamefully) in private.

And this is its main aim : to try to roll-back the perceived legitimacy of copying that has arisen because on-line "everyone is doing it". It's not about stopping pirates, it's about cutting off their "supply lines" of public support by criminalising everyone who "gives succour" to them.

Your Information Footprint

Good video :

Network from Michael Rigley on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Google Gives Up On Search

I think this story is really important.

As Google adapt their search engine to be more personal and more real-time popularity contest, we see the accelerating rise of Netocratic epistemology. Remember, under Netocracy, the idea of a cannon of commonly accepted knowledge collapses into ever changing flows of hot-ideas. The search engines came in, promising to put all human knowledge at our finger tips, but what happens when they decide that filter bubbles sell better than "objective facts" and they've already put the rival institutions such as libraries out of business?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Richard Stallman Was Right All Along

Thom Holwerda :

I, too, disregarded Stallman as way too extreme. Free software to combat controlling and spying governments? Evil corporations out to take over the world? Software as a tool to monitor private communication channels? Right. Surely, Free and open source software is important, and I choose it whenever functional equivalence with proprietary solutions is reached, but that Stallman/FSF nonsense is way out there. 
But here we are, at the start of 2012. Obama signed the NDAA for 2012, making it possible for American citizens to be detained indefinitely without any form of trial or due process, only because they are terrorist suspects. At the same time, we have SOPA, which, if passed, would enact a system in which websites can be taken off the web, again without any form of trial or due process, while also enabling the monitoring of internet traffic. 
Combine this with how the authorities labelled the Occupy movements - namely, as terrorists - and you can see where this is going. 
In case all this reminds you of China and similarly totalitarian regimes, you're not alone. Even the Motion Picture Association of America, the MPAA, proudly proclaims that what works for China, Syria, Iran, and others, should work for the US. China's Great Firewall and similar filtering systems are glorified as workable solutions in what is supposed to be the free world. 
The crux of the matter here is that unlike the days of yore, where repressive regimes needed elaborate networks of secret police and informants to monitor communication, all they need now is control over the software and hardware we use. Our desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and all manner of devices play a role in virtually all of our communication. Think you're in the clear when communicating face-to-face? Think again. 
How did you arrange the meet-up? Over the phone? The web? And what do you have in your pocket or bag, always connected to the network? 
This is what Stallman has been warning us about all these years - and most of us, including myself, never really took him seriously. However, as the world changes, the importance of the ability to check what the code in your devices is doing - by someone else in case you lack the skills - becomes increasingly apparent. If we lose the ability to check what our own computers are doing, we're boned.