Is this the real life? or is this just fantasy…

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005

…well, apparently not. In one of those moments that makes it seem like your whole world has just gone and eaten itself (and ended up looking a bit like a haggis), news reaches us that The Flaming Lips have just completed recording a cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” for a future Queen tribute compilation album.

No, I am not making this up.

If any of you weren’t on our Xmas card mailing list, you will have missed our little tribute to the wonder that is “Bo Rhap”, so in honour of this excellent, if somewhat disturbing news, I’ve stuck it up again here.

Personally, I’m just a teeny weeny bit miffed that we never got asked to get involved… I wonder why? I mean, they must have got the idea from somewhere


True faith

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005

I must extend exceedingly warm thanks and praise to the good folks of The Birthday Party in Manchester, who did an splendid job in putting on one of the most excellent parties I’ve had the pleasure to play at in some time this Saturday.

From the delight of seeing Tony Wilson scowling over a pair of CD decks (apparently for the first time ever!) whilst delivering a set that ranged from Patti Smith and “Venus In Furs” to some decidely evil sounding electro tinged hip-hop, to the gallic-erotic delights of The Lovers and the hardest working Samba/Funk crowd-surprise you’ll ever see in your life (alright, Johnny!), I spent the hours before my own bout of laptop scowling constantly scooping my jaw off the ground at the wide ranging intensity of it all, lapped up by a splendid, more than up-for it sold-out crowd.

Oh, and they seemed to like my contribution a bit too. Which was nice.

I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005

Been quietish for the last couple, for which I must apologise – there’s been an influx of new tech chez Klep, and as most of you will know, new tech means soldering, scowling, googling, scowling some more, regediting, rebooting, rtfm-ing and so on. Still, about 75% of things are working as intended, and other things are in process, which is a pretty good strike rate for now.

So after a couple of weeks of the above, it made me smile to see that we’ve been getting a raft of hits from this article on the Modgods site.

Podshanking? Well, we’re honoured to be the trigger to inspire a new hack even if it looks more like good old tape-to-tape to me. Still, quotes like this:

“I’m sick to death of our devices fighting us. I bought this iPod to carry music, not enforce an Apple-branded morality to replace my own internal compass. We all know how our devices should work, but in this tumultuous age we do not yet have casual, home manufacturing and so Sony and Apple and TiVo will continue to break our hearts while we must lick their boots.”

…always warm my heart, are the reason why I won’t buy, say, an iPod. I adore the concept of the Airport Express, but I don’t want to be restricted to iTunes – hell, forget other mp3 players, I might even want to use it to stream music that I’m actually working on, from Ableton or Acid or whatever to another room, but no can do. (And yes, before you mail in, There are other options… I know about things like the Squeezebox – I’m waiting on the reviews of the v2 of that before I decide).

The technology is there, it’s in the little box you’ve bought, which is more than capable of delivering, but you can’t use it – they broke it’s legs on the journey between the design board and the factory.

Like I said above, new tech always means new issues, and invariably it means finding out how to make what you’ve bought do the bulk of the things you really bought them to try to do – i.e. Getting online and finding the hacks. Just looking around here… Router? hacked firmware for better quality wireless. Soundcard? discontinued driver so running a hacked one. DVD player? Hacked to play VCDs and SVCDs etc… etc…

It’s one thing hacking to get something to work in a way it was never supposed to do in the first place, but with a whole generation of people being forced to hack to remove ridiculously restricting shackles or, in most cases, to get something to do what it was supposed to do in the first place, but can’t because of a format or location issue, it really makes you wonder where things are heading…

So where’s the communication? Ed Costello, once he’s given us a namecheck (grazi!), points to a well-timed article in the Economist discussing “The rise of the creative consumer”.

It’s as typical an article as you would expect, half futuristic optimism, half “Hey, guys, look, you can get your users to do the R&D and all the re-coding for nothing”, but nowhere does it actually come clean and say the obvious – that a fair and growing proportion of this hack and mod work is being done out of bare necessity. I doubt the future of such innovation will be as harmonious as the Economist imagines it, given the growing millions of examples that are staring us in the face…