Saturday, January 16, 2010

Surfing Sunset Beach LA

Here's the beach (Sunset) I was attempting to surf Wednesday morning after arriving in LA. It was a bit much for my whitewater beginner status, with boulders on the shoreline meaning you had to jump in between waves and then paddle like crazy just to get out before the next wave claimed you on the rocks. I spent a couple hours giving it a go, and mostly got paddling practise - either paddling out of the way of the larger sets coming through, or attempting to paddle for waves, and not quite having the positioning right.

Here it is working - a near perfect Southern California righthand pointbreak...

Generally, as the waves jacked up underneath me I was pretty glad that I didn't quite get them, as I ended up on a good few balanced on the top as it feathered looking down the front of the wave, and muttering swearwords to myself about the carnage that would ensue if I actually tried to throw myself down a green face that large, and then in my inept beginner phase try to struggle to my feet in the half a second before it detonated on my head.

I'm free on Sunday afternoon and the swell is supposed to be much smaller (in fact, I'm not sure there'll be anything), but I expect I'll give it another go and see what happens.

Here's one of a stand up paddle surfer making their way outside, with Santa Monica in the background.

747 @ Schipol

Here's the 747 that kindly and without breaking sweat transported me the 5500 miles from Amsterdam to LA on Tuesday, sitting in the snow at Schipol prior to the journey.

Without doubt the most beautiful airliner ever, this shot was an attempt to somehow capture the grace and massiveness of it.

NAMM 2010 - Eigenlabs Eigenharp

Here's a slightly different but very impressive looking offering:

The Eigenharp is a new musical instrument from a company by the name of Eigenlabs.

There are two models - the Alpha, which is a pretty tall thing, and looks like a thin fretboard almost, except it's populated with a vast array of buttons which are astonishingly touch-sensitive, pressure-sensitive, and can detect both roll and yaw (so effectively every button is a 3-dimensional controller). To add to that, there's a ribbon controller down both sides, the whole thing is driven by a breath input (not unlike a bassoon crook) at the top, and supported by a cello-style spike at the bottom. Confused yet? Don't be - despite an eye-watering $5,900 price tag, it's a stunningly gorgeous piece of design, especially in the custom-available dark wood variations (to see one is to want one). It's great to see companies coming out with genuinely new ways of physically playing live music.

The other model is the Pico, which is a cut down version, much smaller with less buttons (but just as sensitive), also featuring a breath controller and one ribbon controller up the back - all for just $590.

Both units have a cable that runs to a main brain, that then feeds to a computer - but the physical unit you play really does look amazing, especially the big one, and both are shipping now.

Nicely done!

Friday, January 15, 2010

NAMM 2010 - Teenage Engineering OP-1

First cool thing from NAMM 2010 - the Teenage Enginering OP-1.

I mentioned this last year, and it's looking cooler all the time. There's a new tape function which seems to basically work like an old-school 4-track, talk of multiple sequencing modes including "very basic" and possibly some "quite random" variations, and the whole unit just seems extremely immediate and exciting. I'm planning a massive studio strip and rebuild (if anyone wants to buy a large mixer in Ireland, please shout - more on that soon) - new ways of working are the order of the day, and anything which strips out administrative overhead and allows you to get the music down fast is going to be a winner. The OP-1 sounds awesome in it's current format, and the emphasis on a slick and fast physical user interface and quick results puts it very high on my list.

The question now is, how long is it going to take to ship? TE currently say they're shooting to get into beta this year, but notwithstanding the fact they need to get it correct before they ship, they also need to get it out before some larger company cherry-picks the best part of the idea and eats their lunch.

Come on TE, get this thing shippable and get it out there - as long as it's a viable proposition at shipping, you can add more bells and whistles as future updates!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

98 Toyota Avensis - Spinning Key / Central Locking problem

So in the hope that the wonders of blogger's high google search rankings might bring someone knowledgeable to stumble on this... I've got a problem with an Irish 98 Toyota Avensis.

The issue seems to be that the key is spinning endlessly in the drivers door, without ever 'catching' the mechanism to lock or unlock the car. It's been getting progressively worse over the course of months, and it's finally refusing to actually lock the car full-stop today - it just won't catch the locking mechanism or engage the central locking at all. It either spins endlessly, or if it ever does 'catch', then it jams and won't turn the mechanism.

Has any wonderful person out in internet land ever come across this problem, and a solution? It has been degenerative, so it's gotten slowly worse and worse over time, but it's just suddenly jumped from really bad to totally broken today. The garage (who are normally very very good) have said it can be fixed but it's the barrel in the door that needs to be replaced, and that's the thick end of €900... could it really be that?

The key will start the car perfectly, so there's no problem whatsoever using the key in the ignition chamber - but it just will not work now in the drivers door, which is the only way to get in/out of the car and lock it. The car was 2nd hand, and never had an electronic key fob for remote central locking, so there's no way to try that. (Though that'd be a great solution if there was a way to get a fob for the car and program it to work with this specific 98 Avensis... is there any way to do that?)

Anyone? Is there a reasonable cheap solution to whatever this problem actually is?