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March 26, 2007

Either those curtains go or I do

Death in a William Morris patterned shroud and Jonathan in an anorakSo it's officially summer, or at least summer time. Not that you would have been able to tell at the William Morris birthday party, which we went to with our friend Abi. It was absolutely perishing cold. I played some tunes on the melodeon with others from the folk club, and we met a giant skeletal figure of DEATH dressed up for the occasion in a William Morris patterned shroud. There was a remarkably good turnout; by the time we arrived they had run out of raffle tickets.

You can tell it's summer time because we are once again struggling with the timer switch. Our timer switch -- the one that wakes us up in the morning -- is a masterpiece of human interface design. People sat around for hours going 'how could we make this less intuitive?' and implemented everything they thought of. So the switch that turns it on and off is the same switch that switches from manual to auto. These are indicated by tiny LCD microdots as well, but you aren't about to see those when half asleep in the dark. It has a special 'random' setting, that turns the radio off at random times or wakes us up at random times in the middle of the night. It's very easy to set this by accident. Oh, and it steadily gains time, which is a far better thing in an alarm than steadily losing time. But still.

The timer switch lives between the mains power and the active speakers. The DAB radio, by comparison, stays on all the time. Except when it crashes, which, being fundamentally a computer, it does from time to time. As we use this bit of Heath Robinson as an alarm clock, we have another problem here. Critical systems should not fail to danger, and this one does. If we screw up the timer switch setting or the radio we don't wake up.

We use this very elaborate system as an alarm clock so we can hear Phil Jupitus from 7am on weekdays, but wake later at weekends. But all good things come to an end, and Jupitus finishes his breakfast show on 6Music next week. Last time it took months of grumping around before we found a radio show we could tolerate.

If we used a backup system it would presumably wake us early, and unnecessarily, at weekends.

We looked for stereo systems with inbuilt alarm, aux input (for the iPod) and DAB, but found very few. I suppose I could try again. But that 7 day alarm requirement seems to scupper us. Are we so unusual? It doesn't really seem odd to me. Worse, the day it's most likely to go wrong is the day I'm most likely to need an alarm; the Monday after the clocks go forward.

What I need is the Apple iWake; it's a little box that plugs into your wall and your iPod (or DAB) and speakers, and communicates wirelessly with your network. You can set it from iCal in any computer on your network, either to come on at pre-programmed times, or to wake you automatically a certain amount of time before your first appointment of the day. Something like that.

Finally, a ghastly warning. It is possible to download a playable (PC) demo of the new DS and PSP game Puzzle Quest. This game is a Japanese style RPG in which the combat mechanism has been replaced by a souped up version of Bejewelled. Yes, it's a little bit like Puzzle Pirates. Yes, it's completely addicting. Don't do it. But if you do do it, Druid is by far the most challenging starter class.

Posted by Alison Scott at March 26, 2007 12:31 AM


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