Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Reality TV and Poptarts

"I had an amazingly strange night last night starting at BAFTA where I attended an event called "Truth or Dare: The Reality of Television" which pitted a selection of imaginary reality TV scenarios to the likes of Greg Dyke, Kelvin MacKenzie and a host of other high-up TV producer types. After being exposed to what *really* goes on behind the scenes in a Reality TV show (there will be a follow up blog on this I think), I then went off to actually appear on live TV (QVC UK in this case) at 1:00 in the morning - which was a very surreal thing to be doing, especially after the televisual wool had been firmly pulled from my bleary, overtired eyes.

... so I got back to the house at 3.00 am and woke up at around 1100 - (it's OK, any self-respecting technology journalist is allowed to wake up whenever they want, after all, "online" is a 24-hour city) ... and here is where you join me, speaking this blog whilst trying to work out how to optimally toast a chocolate pop tart that my friend Ivy sent me from me from Seattle, USA. In case you're interested, my aim is to warm it through, but not burn it, and (geek that I am) I'm trying to calibrate the exact number at which to set the toaster. In case you're still interested, it appears to be 2.5.

In case you haven't realised from the (undeniably) creative procrastination above, I've got a few days to myself this week and I don't have to be on TV until Friday night. Today I'll be talking to a journalist from The Times (UK) about mobile blogging and technology in general (I'll link to this in my next blog), then after a spot of Facebooking (is that a word?), I'll probably beach myself in front of some reality TV after all, as there's no Stargate Atlantis.

Speak to you soon, it was lovely to check in."
spoken through SpinVox, tweaked by LJ

Thursday, 24 January 2008

I wish I was Hiro from "Heroes"...

... because if I just concentrated really hard, I'd suddenly have a whole glut of time - then there'd be half a chance of completing the gargantuan schedule of errands, documents, and general odds and ends well before this weekend - you see, on Sunday I'll be on the telly for around 24 hours and therefore unable to do anything apart from drinking copious amounts of coffee and wrestling with AV cables, which is why the sudden rush.

So, I've decided (in the time-honoured "Let's play Minesweeper" tradition) to post a little bloggette (is that how you spell it?) on the art of procrastination instead. In honour of this, I will now decide exactly what font to use for this article.
Right, After a few minutes of deliberation, I have decided to use the same font anyway.
I am, as you possibly know, a fully paid up geek -I actually had a conversation on the phone this morning with a business colleague about the fact that the number "42" was mentioned in Stargate Atlantis the other night - they agreed it was a humorous reference - we both snorted appreciatively.
Apart from the encyclopaedic knowledge of sci-fi and pointless but amazing trivia, my geekiness is displayed with superhuman skills when it comes to organisation and recall... although this streak comes in useful when I'm reviewing technology (I actually do read the manual - and enjoy it), I also get far too much enjoyment from colouring in the cells in Excel, so it's a constant left-brain/right-brain battle for me.
This week I amazed some people at work because I have absolutely NO desktop icons OF ANY KIND on my laptop's Desktop display, as I like things to look neat and tidy.
On the other hand, at the moment (this is where the title of today's blog comes in) my Real World Desktop is currently invisible under 25 items inventoried below for your "pleasure":
  1. many DVDs of varying importance
  2. promo bags from CES (Alienware, UA, Panasonic)
  3. contact lenses (unused)
  4. Sharpie Markers (wide, black)
  5. keyboards (Creative Prodikeys music keyboard)
  6. microphones (one for Skyping, one for Singing Vocals)
  7. business cards (copious quantities from CES, mostly entered into my system)
  8. handbag (why??)
  9. dri-wipe marker (there's a bit of velcro on its side -probably from before it emigrated...)
  10. Belkin USB hub (rotating 4-port)
  11. some post-it notes (these appear to be from an infinite source, I can't remember buying this many)
  12. a 15cm ruler (blue, transparent)
  13. Wacom Graphics Tablet (pen resting on groove)
  14. Galileo thermometer (showing 25 degrees Celsius)
  15. Musician's Union Newsletter (unread)
  16. Ergostation and Laptop (this bit looks quite organised)
  17. Receipts (Marks and Spencer, Muji, Borders)
  18. Nokia phone for review (with box)
  19. indeterminate USB cables (who knows what the other end fits into?)
  20. JVC Everio Camcorder (on telly with this over the weekend)
  21. PDA cover (I was looking for this)
  22. phone bill (laughable)
  23. notepad (inedible, medical-style scrawl)
  24. towering pile of paperwork (terrifying)
    and of course,
  25. nice cup of tea that I'm drinking (now lukewarm and therefore undrinkable)
Let's keep the RW desktop a secret, boys and girls. It'll all be back to normal next week, once I've completed the editing for two videos - one for Virgin Media about the future of gaming (I'll post a link here when it's done) and one for this weekend (which I'll upload to Youtube in advance of the airing for anyone who wants a sneak preview). Meanwhile, if you need any post-it notes, just let me know :-)

Monday, 14 January 2008

Back in Blighty - Back to Work

So I've finally returned back to the UK, absolutely tired out, and completely and totally culture shocked by the craziness that is Las Vegas and the ridiculousness that was CES.

I found out that there were 2 million square feet of exhibition space of which I probably only managed to get across a fraction- and even then that was with incredibly hard work and very, very, very comfortable shoes.

For now I'm back in the UK - once I've finished unpacking and sorting through my email, I'll be spending time getting ready to talk about JVC's MG330 HD camcorder on QVC UK . For the purposes of this blog, and for general curiosity, I've found out that a) QVC is the biggest electronics retailer in the world, b) Marco Polo House, where the studio is, was named after real broadcasting Satellites in Space and c) the UK arm reaches 21 million households, which explains why people come and chat to me in really odd places like Milton Keynes British Rail Station.

Actually, it's great fun when people come and say hello most of the time - although I once got recognised at a certain large 24hour supermarket at 3am buying Imodium - that's the not-so-glamorous side of life in the public eye - "Hi LJ, how are you? Oh, not too well I see" was the gist of that particular conversation.

On the plus side, when I was flown over to QVC in America, where it's the 5th most watched channel in the States, I went to the mall the day after the show, and someone came up to me and said "Wow, you're that videogame girl from England!" - that made my week!

So I'll be broadcasting live for 24 hours on the 27th January and it will feature JVC's hard drive camcorder that I took around CES with me to Vegas. So that should be quite fun. It's still quite surreal chatting away to my phone and I really am enjoying this blogging service, it has to be said. SpinVox might even come over and film me doing this which should be even more fun, although I don't think it will be very telegenic to have SpinVox film me doing what I'm doing right now which, at the moment, is my laundry :-)

I can't believe it's already halfway through January... I'm in the studio with Graham Wood working on some exciting music projects, and this week I'll pop over after the initial recording session to do what is known in the trade as "Tweakage" - I'll also be composing a mini ident (that's about 3 seconds of music) for a digital device, which is always exciting, as I love to take into account the acoustics of the device, and what it looks like before working out what tune it should have!

spoken through SpinVox tweaked by LJ

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Lost at The Venetian in Vegas

Take a look at the picture on the left - what really got me is that I wasn't outside, I was on the 3rd floor of the gargantuan Sands Expo / Venetian Mutant-Sized Hotel Complex.

So I spent today at the Billboard Digital Music Seminar at CES. If you add 8 hours of interesting interviews about the state of the music industry, together with (for some reason) air conditioners in the conference room set to "superconducting", and a quite frankly impressive amount of coffee, I was not just disoriented, I was M&S disoriented.

Just to give you an idea of how odd it is to happen upon a mini Venice, this is the back view that I came from. It's not enough that you're wandering around St Mark's Square, eating gelato and hearing opera music piped through the hidden speakers - to make it even more italian, the gondoliers are all accomplished singers, warbling sweetly as they punt you around the man-made canal.The more I see of this city, the more I'm falling in love with it. It's so bonkers, I feel more normal.

Last night, I bumped into a whole bunch of female gamers, one of whom had the same birthday as me. We're chatting in the taxi queue, and then we're in a taxi to Caesar's Palace, where we go to a place called Pure, a very exclusive club. I wish I could have stayed there, but, dear reader, I had to get back to do some editing, dedicated as I am to the cause.

I tried my hand at Craps tonight, and appear to have quite the knack of throwing the dice - I'm still amusingly foggy over the rules of this baffling game, but I put 20 bucks on the table, and walked away with 32 - yes, the last of the big spenders, but I'd rather spend my money on the coffee so I can make the most of my last few hours here. By the way, today's vid is TV with a twist. Catch it at www.virginmedia.com/digital, or type "LJ Does Vegas" into Youtube and do please write something nice after you've seen it!

p.s. Here I am at 2am watching FileZilla do its thing from the hotel. I love the fact that because there are over 180,000 geeky tech folk converged in one place, myself included, we're all trying to get online, all the time. The internet connection is pitiful :-) I also love the fact that the queue for Starbucks downstairs in the morning is amusingly long - every time I stand in it, I wonder if there would be the same queue for coffee if there was some kind of holistic health show on instead. I swear, caffeine is the drug of choice for the tech industry. Apparently, the coffee place in the convention centre actually ran out of beans on the first day of the conference, they'd underestimated the caffeine consumption of a bunch of techies by quite a large margin ! Right, I'm *really* going to bed now. Goodnight.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

PC Building, Overclocking and CES Mania

It's Day 2 of CES, and I am still shellshocked by the whole thing... not only did I attend Tiger Direct's annual PC building race last night - I left there with a PC building apron and a great bit of footage! That's already on Virgin's site. This was like a modern-day gladiatorial event, with some of the audience shouting so loudly, I could feel the sound vibration going right through my camcorder!

I then went on to Corsair's Pirate Party, which was even more surreal that I expected - there I got to chat with Fugger and Kingpin, two of the world's premier overclocking afficionados.

They talked me through exactly what overclocking involves, and then showed me a computer that looked like it might have been built by the Borg. I'm FTP-ing the footage across right now, while I'm in the "Blog Pit" in the Sands Convention Center, Vegas, before recording some audio voiceover material in the booth to go with the piece.

To have a look at the video footage, which will probably be available tomorrow, UK time, just head on over to http://www.virginmedia.com/digital

Monday, 7 January 2008

Vegas or Bust

It's crazy out here! I'm at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show - and it hasn't even started yet, and I'm already overwhelmed. Nothing you see on the telly can truly prepare you for the opulent experience that is Las Vegas. Mix that with gadgets and I'm in a very happy place indeed. That, plus the fact that the hotel I'm in has a sushi bar downstairs that is absolutely incredible.

I've just been trimming footage for my video blog with Virgin Media, which should be reachable here: www.virginmedia.com/digital and it's taking a lot longer than I thought - I got off the plane and haven't stopped since, there's so much to look at, and hopefully the vid will give you a taster of the gadget banquet that is CES.

Tomorrow (today!) I'm going to the Yahoo! keynote speech, and visiting Gibson to see their self-tuning guitar, which sounds heavenly. I once tuned someone's guitar at Stratford Platform 8 because their B string was so painfully flat, tuning was the only non-violent solution.

Currently I should be asleep, but I want to ftp those files over to Virgin so you get to see the vid at around 5pm UK time - too excited about "nearly live reporting" to sleep a full night, so I'm going to finish sending these files over, and see if I can get a quick bath and snooze in before Yahoo's keynote speech at 11am. Back soon!