I’m now a proud owner of a Pacemaker

Pacemaker still in its box

Yes I did get one. You can see the unboxing sequence here if you like. For me its the thing I've always been waiting for. I never quite understand why anyone would want a ipod or mass storage music playing device. I mean playing music can be done by your phone and when I tend to listen to music, its mixed up. Most of the time I would like to mess with the music, remix it maybe even just speed it up a little or slow it down. Well with a ipod or even a phone you can't (without some extra software). So the pacemaker is the ipod of the remix generation. Yes its expensive (but not bad value compared to the top of the range ipod), yes its going to get out paced by something better in the future and yes its 1st generation so theres lots of tweaks I'd like to see but it bloody works and is addictive.

I did a mix last night at 2am while lying on the bed (yes its super-light to hold) and got my first proper sounding mix going using A9 (original mix) and Body of Conflict (cosmic gate mix). The controls are tricky at first but now I'm pitching and control the tunes like I've been doing it for years. Actually the pacemaker is comparable to virtual turntables or VTT which was the first dj application on the market (way back in 1997). There seems to be no auto BPM but it does give you a BPM counter which you can use as guidance. I am still a little confused about looping and cueing but I can mix in the headphones and put out a decent mix. I expect to be doing more complex mixes pretty soon. I'm just transferring the rest of my tunes over as I type.

Which leads on to some issues I've had already. First thing I did was plug in the power and USB lead (yes it charges over USB and uses a standard usb to mini-usb cable, same as my phone and my bluetooth headset using a adaptor) it pops up as a mass storage device with a folder pointing to a executable for mac and pc. So I ignore that and copy some tracks over to a folder. Eject the device using the standard eject and the pacemaker complains its hard drive needs checking. 1min later its checked and said everything is fine, but can't see the music. So this time I install the pc application using Wine (windows emulator for gnu/linux, although it actually standard for wine is not emulation – those crazy guys). Anyway luckily it runs and doesn't require any weird libs. I load my music in and it starts to work out the BPM and lengths, etc. Then I start to transfer tunes. It only transferred the ones which it had analysed and look inside the .pacemaker folder I could see it wasn't just dumping the mp3 file somewhere. Nope it was renaming them, creating a xml file and adding them to a SQLlite3 database for quick look up. This now means you must use the editor to drag and drop files which is painful. I also can't seem to eject the device from the editor due to wine hardware support I guess, so I end up checking the disc everytime. Its no big problem now because I finally have everything on the device (all 1733 tracks, 15gigs). I'll have to start ripping stuff in FLAC because I got a stupid amount of space left over, plus it does support FLAC, Ogg, Wave, Mpeg3, AAC, etc.

That's my main issue really, but it would have been nice to have a bigger instruction Manuel or even a PDF. All the docs are online and I'm still not online. So generally I'm impressed by the speed and implementation of everything I've seen online in videos. There is another room to plug in a Bluetooth adaptor if I wanted to. It also does charge over USB, so no need to carry any big power adapter ever. My 3 hour train journeys between London and Manchester are going to get more musical it would seem.

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BBC Worldservice win Sony’s new multiplatform award

Snapshot of the website

BBC Worldservice won Sony's first Multiplatform award just recently. The project was the Bangladesh Boat Trip which involved a team of people from across the new media space. Ben Sutherland along with many others internally and backstage's own Premasagar & Annesley of Dharmafly created a complete experience across different platforms. From James Cridland's blog.

As Ben Sutherland says on the BBC Editors blog: If predictions about sea level rises come true, much of Bangladesh will simply be erased from the map. Our aim, therefore, was to hire a boat and use it to travel the long, wide rivers of the country to meet the people most at risk. There were amazing stories […] but not only was the method of getting these stories remarkable, but so was our way of getting it out. We weren’t just using tri-media, and we weren’t just World Service. We were on Radio 5 Live, News 24, Radio Scotland – and on Twitter, iTunes, Google.

In the words of the judges, “it embraced everything from podcasts to GPS and Googlemaps to add value to the listener/user experience and met those listeners where they really lived using third party sites such as Flickr.” They even had the foresight to put those photos under a CC licence, to enable people like me to use them again.

James is right, the foresight to put them under a CC licence but I would also say they went one step further by creating the API for the website. This meant people could look directly at the data underpinning the whole project. How many people did? Who knows, I assume not many. But having the foresight to do this is great and a true testament to the move from Radio to true multiplatform. Excellent work.
I'd better also say I use to work for the Worldservice and have many friends who work there.

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The Thinking Digital Conference – 21st – 23rd May

Thinking Digital

I've been meaning to blog about this conference for bloody ages, everytime I go to do it. I remember I'm still offline most of the time. Anyway hopefully this blog post will attract a few last minute choosers and attract more people to the several days of events.

So when I first heard about the thinking digital conference I was in a innovation lab in the north west. Herb Kim of codeworks was saying a bit about codeworks supporting BBC innovation labs and then at the end he did a sneaky pitch about the singularity and it all ended on a slide for a conference he was planning. When I spoke to Herb afterwards, he explained how he had gone to TED in the states last year and wanted to run something like TED in the UK. Those words I have heard else where but when he talked about some of the speakers he had at the time, I was much more convinced this could be closer that anything else I've been to before (i've never been to TED and I've only watched Pop!Tech streamed). So anyway I wanted to help make this a reality and part of that was telling people about the conference, recording it and sponsoring a couple of the events surrounding the event. So we came to conclusion which fit both parties.

So not only is there the conference which may seem quite high cost but actually isn't for the amazing array of speakers from across the world and ideaophere (yeah I just made that up) but its in Newcastle/Gateshead so the hotel prices are not stupidly priced and hell its good to get out of London sometimes people. Lets be honest, its only 3 hours on the train from Kings Cross and that train has plugs in every seat and free wireless unlike the bloody Virgin train which has 2 power sockets per table and no wireless at all. But another reason to go up to the conference is that on the Friday is there will be a geekdinner sponsored by Backstage.bbc.co.uk and then BarCampNorthEast on the Saturday and Sunday. The very first 2 day overnight stay barcamp in the North of England so far. This is a great chance to experience barcamp as it could/should be. I know quite a few Londonerners are traveling up for the whole thing, conference, geekdinner and barcamp, so thats great. But why haven't you signed up? Do you really have something better to do? Didn't think so.

There are still some tickets left over for the conference. Look at these great names.

  • Greg Dyke , former Director General of the BBC.
    I came in when Greg decided to leave. It was a shame because I heard so much about him afterwards and I would have liked to have worked under him.
  • Doug Richard , formerly of The Dragons' Den on BBC2 and founder of Library House
    I've spoken Doug before but not at length and I've not heard speak for a while now. So it would be good to see wheres he at now
  • Ray Kurzweil, noted futurist & author of The Singularity is Near
    Do I need to say anything about Ray?
  • The Fake Steve Jobs aka Dan Lyons, senior editor of Forbes Magazine & author of Options.
    I'm interested why a journalist would do this and whats been the outcome of this since. I also think this will be a session I would like Sarah over at reading the cluetrain to maybe hear.
  • Steve Clayton, Microsoft Partner Group, UK CTO
    Self confessed geek in disguise, this guy is a good guy making waves in Microsoft.
  • Tara Hunt, founder of Citizen Agency, San Francisco.
    Tara is simply awesome, every time I hear her talk she fill my mind with so many things that I had only briefly thought about. I also like to think of Tara as a friend so it will be good to catch up. I also know she'll be at the barcamp, which is great news.
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