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September 23, 2007


I've known ever since iTunes launched its 'Plus' range that I would at some point dip my toe in, after umpty-um years of not purchasing any iTunes content (I have a little due to a £10 voucher). Problem; I couldn't easily browse the iTunes Plus material for stuff I wanted; as soon as you start browsing, it navigates you away from Plus. But today I clicked on a link to the new Rachel Unthank album, and, oh yummy, it's Plus. Downloading now.

But elsewhere on iTunes is the first Red Box track to be released in a generation, the 2007 reworking of "Lean on Me". It's not iTunes Plus, and I know it's only 79p. But. Which is more important to me; my commitment not to buy DRM'd music, or my commitment to support the campaign for a re-release of 'The Circle and the Square'?

Posted by Alison Scott at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2007

A few other things you may be interested in:

Posted by Alison Scott at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

Pontificating on the new iPods.

Apple released new iPods, and I want all of them. Once again I'm like a donkey with too many appetising bales of straw: I have been waiting for six years for an iPod that was substantially bigger than my iTunes library, and now there is one; the 160Gb iPod Classic. I could really carry all my music around at once. But would I? I moved to smaller iPods with the iPod mini and never really missed carrying a brick around. My iPod nano is only nine months old and remains gorgeous, but is now completely obsolete. The new nanos are an excellent mesh of size, functionality and price, and I think Apple will sell them by the truckload. And the iPod touch looks great, but I'm worried by the functional overlap with my Nokia 770. By which I mean that the Nokia 770 has a bigger, better screen (800x480 instead of 480x320, with a higher pixel density than the new nano, at about 225dpi), and it's a superb ebook reader. A compromise product would work very well for me, with the physical size and capacity of the iPod touch, the screen density of the Nokia, a 640x480 screen, and applications including an ebook reader. That doesn't sound like a big ask, so watch out for an update to the iPod touch next year including ebook sales through the iTunes store.

And on the subject of the iTunes store, why isn't there a setting that says 'never show me any music other than iTunes Plus'? I won't buy music with DRM, and I never will other than by accident. So making it impossible to browse the iTunes store for Plus music only isn't actually a smooth move; I find it very difficult to work out what's available.

Posted by Alison Scott at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2007

How much is enough Geomag?

an unfinished Geomag model of a tetrix or 3d Sierpinski gasketI have been faunching after Geomag, the magnetic building toy, since first discovering it at a friend's house. But it's very expensive and I didn't just want a little. Oh, no. And I didn't want a knock-off, though some of the clones are as strong as Geomag (and nearly as expensive).

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered an eBay seller, selling new, presumably discontinued packs, at just a shade over a quarter of their RRP. So I have bought some. Quite a bit, in fact, though not in the leagues of the people who are serious about this.

Today was the first day that I really got the chance to play with it; I'd made some simple objects (such as the stellated icosahedron known as Spikey) but I hadn't really tried building stuff. By 'stuff', of course, I mean, mathematically interesting models. And I thought a nice model to start with would be the 3d analogue of the Sierpinski gasket; which also has a cute name, the Tetrix.

Well, obviously I had plenty of Geomag for n=1, 2 and 3. But n=4 requires 384 rods, which is still slightly beyond me. The photo here shows 3/4 of n=4. Over on Flickr is a chap who has the 1536 rods necessary for n=5 and is saving up for n=6. As an aside, sierpinski is one of the most fun single-word searches I've ever done on Flickr. There are printouts, graphics, drawings, blankets, quilts, statues, sculptures from pepsi cans, cookies, gardens and memorials. And the Triforce.

Yes, I've bought enough Geomag to finish the job. Yes, I know that I will discover that I don't have enough Geomag for the next job. I'll worry about that later.

Posted by Alison Scott at 01:18 PM | Comments (1)