Tuesday, 29 July 2008

NYC Waterfalls

I took some time out last week and popped down to New York to take a look at The New York City Waterfalls.

Well, it was interesting, although I guess some of the power of the installations was dissipated by our few days at Niagara Falls.

Nevertheless, the view of a waterfall thundering from under the Brooklyn Bridge was intriguing and curiously unsettling, although for me the technical aspect of how it was done occupied me more than the artistic quality of the work.

Incidently, the journey back to Princeton on NJT was a nightmare. The train was absolutely packed ... every seat filled and people jammed in the aisles. Is the price of petrol/gas here really having an effect on people's travel options?

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

My Panama Hat

In my journey towards fogeydom I have long cherished the ambition to own a Panama Hat.

I don't know why. I have no ambition to look like Harry S. Truman or Doctor Who - DH7 - for that matter. Nor even a secret hankering to look like I'm on my way to a Crown Green Bowls match in my Honda Civic ...

So, the other day, I was idly browsing through eBay when I saw an offer of Panama hats direct from the makers in Ecuador - yes, who knew? Panama hats are from Ecuador.

After a little wait - it is a handmade, virtually to order item after all - during which I was regularly kept up-to-date by the vendor, a hat box with an Ecuadorian postmark turned up in the mail.

To say I couldn't be more delighted would be an understatement. I bought a fairly basic model, but if this is entry level, then the higher grades must be fantastic.

You can see for yourself at http://panamahatsdirect.com/ where you can watch videos of hats being made and prepared. The vendors seem to have a good relationship with the makers so I'm hopeful that everyone gets a fair deal.

I highly recommend this site.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Steam Radio ...

Whatever happened to old-fashioned radio?

Of course, it's still around. Small boys still listen to short-wave under the bed clothes ... don't they?

For me, one of the biggest developments on the web in the last couple of years has been internet radio. This is especially true since the introduction of stand-alone, wifi devices such as the Noxon iRadio and Sangean WFR-20.

I mean, listening to BBC Radio5 in real time in New Jersey, USA, let alone any of the other 14,000 or so stations around the world. How neat is that?

The interesting question is, what's happening to real radio?

There are now a number of ways of listening to radio other than over the analogue airwaves; in N America, satellite radio; Europe, DAB - Digital Audio Broadcast; via cable/satellite on your TV and via the internet.

The main problem for these new methods of delivery seems to be quality. Currently, it seems that nothing compares to a BBC Radio3, over-the-air, FM broadcast.

Contrary to DAB/satellite claims of cd quality, bitrates are far below those found on cd. In fact, many internet stations are starting to surpass DAB stations. In addition, other means of cramming stations onto limited bandwidth means that compression technology is impinging on quality and dynamic range.

For me, internet radio seems to be the way to go. There are problems, particularly if you're mobile. In-car internet radio seems a way off yet, although I see that people are already using European unlimited 3G access via an appropriate mobile device to achieve this end.

However, quality and access is rapidly developing.

I like it.


*See my hifi / media index here.

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