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It is not often one gets to see the UK’s only venomous snake species out in the wild. Jo and I were walking in the North Downs, in Kent’s Trosley Country Park, when we stumbled upon this little beauty lying in the path, probably waiting for a small mouse or lizard. It didn’t bargain for my boot, and was hissing and striking at it much better.
Fortunately I had my Panasonic Lumix TZ20 available and was able to take a short video and a few photos. I have since looked up the snake and it’s a Vipera Berus or Adder or Viper. Males are grey, whereas females are brown in colour. They all have a distinct “V” or “X” shaped marking on the head.Â These snakes have vertically slit pupils, dorsal surface and flanks are indented and have zigzag stripes on the back, and the flanks usually have a row of dark oval spots.
The females get to about 75cm in length. This one was roughly 30cm. Check out this website for more detail on this snake.
The answer is YES, but only one mobile can do both functions really well and that is the Nokia N8.
The Nokia N8 appears on a lot of mobile phone, gadget websites and that is because it’s one of the latest Smartphones to be released by Nokia. I received my trial N8 from the wonderful people over at WOMWorld/Nokia on Monday and have been getting use to it over the past couple of days. Full specifications are on the Nokia website. There are lots of N8 reviews online and here are a few websites that have covered the Nokia N8 in great detail; The Nokia Blog, The Guardian.co.uk, MobileMentalism, TrustedReviews, All about Symbian etc.
The obvious selling point for the N8 is the 12MP Carl Zeiss Tessar Auto Focus Lens with Xenon flash. The photo quality is incredible and it is difficult to comprehend that a Smartphone can take such great photographs.Â I have few ‘point and shoot’ cameras from top brand names and can honestly say the Nokia N8 takes better photographs than them at certain settings. It’s a pity Nokia didn’t add a 3x optical zoom. That would have been the cherry on the top.
But wait, the N8 has one more awesome trick up it’s sleeve and that is it can record High Definition (HD quality) 720p resolution video in a 16:9 format. Videos are captured in 720p 25 frames per second (fps) with codecs H.264, MPEG-4.
So I decided to put the HD video camera to the test and shot a two minute video of my Tonkinese kitten Bailey, playing catch with a squeaky mouse. (Everyone loves a cat video).
Note: you can change the resolution on the YouTube video (360p, 480p and 720p HD)…
It is incredible to think that a mobile phone (Nokia N8) shot this video.
If I were to rate both video and camera I would give them an 8 out of 10. If the camera had a 3x optical zoom and if the xenon flash was a bit more powerful, then I would most certainly give a 10/10. They are that good!
Below is a photograph I took this morning (Friday) after the snow stopped but the big freeze set in.
Bailey the resident video star and Tamsin (Miss I sleep all day) sitting on the bed.
It is really GREAT being a cat in the Bowen household. Sleep all day, eat food, stink the cat litter out and then keep us awake at night. What a life?
Which brings me nicely to the next point?
Nokia UK have this fantastic competition which started on Thursday 2nd December. It’s called Nokia N8 Producers. They want anyone with a N8 to shoot an incredible video with their phone and then to submit it on the site.
Capture your skills in action or tell the story you always wanted, share it with the world and you could be on your way to an amazing Zero Gravity experience! We will be sending the eight best producers along with one lucky friend each into Zero G!
Have you heard the new song “NANANA” from My Chemical Romance? – if not, here is the video which is equallly AWESOME.
I can’t wait for their new album “Danger days:Â The true lives of the fabulous killjoys“. It out on the 22nd November 2010. If it’s anything like their last album “The Black Parade” then it’s going to massive.
Here are the lyrics for NANANA…
Drugs! Gimme me drugs Gimme me drugs,
I don’t need it but still what you got,
still take the cash and I’ll keep it.
Eight legs to the wall, hit the gas at the mall
Every crawl, every crawl, every crawl, now hit that detonator.
Love, gimme me love, gimme me love,
I don’t need it but I’ll take what I want from your heart
and keep it in a bag in a box on the floor with an X,
gimme me more, gimme me more
Now sing it with me:
For my security, to every enemy,
we’re on your property standing in a V-formation
let’s do it properly, plastic surgery, we’re not an apology
get us more, give us your detonation.
Let me tell you about the Snagman,
shut up and let me see your jazz hands,
or remember when you were a madman, thought you were Batman,
and hit the party with a gas can.
Let me see you run it more.
We’re on your property,
We’re a public enemy,
I think we better find more, burden your information.
Let’s pull the lottery,
it’s like plastic surgery
we won’t giva an apology,
Give us more detonation!
And right here, right now,
All the way in Battery City,
the little children, raise your open filthy palms like tiny daggers up to heaven
And all the you guys, and the river rats,
as angels made from neon eating garbage are screaming out
“why don’t you save us?”
and the sky opened up
Everybody wants to change the world, everybody wants to change the world.
But no one wants to die, wanna die?
Make no apology
this is way to fun to me
I’m not your authority
Crash and burn,
We’re young and loaded,
Drop like a bulletshell,
just like a sleeper cell,
I’d rather go to hell than be in a purgatory,
cut my hair
gag and bore me.
pull this pin,
and let this world explode
We witnessed the most fantastic, incredible, awesome Green Day concert at Wembley Stadium. We’ve never seen them live until tonight, but wow! was it worth the wait? Singing along to all their songs with the crowd singing in unison was an amazing feeling. Wembley Stadium as a venue for bands such as Green Day is just brilliant!
They kicked off their show at 8pm with four songs from their latest album “21st Century Breakdown”.
The crowd went ballastic. Then a few recent awesome songs from the American Idiot album and then Billie Joe got into gear singing some of the older songs from Dookie (Basket Case, When I come around, Burnout etc).
The three main band members – lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer TrĂ© Cool were brilliant and played their part well and looked like they were really enjoying themselves on stage.
Billie Joe is certainly a wonderful showman and could easily get the crowd to sing and clap at his command. Even TrĂ© Cool is a showman in his own right and quite a funny guy.
TrĂ© sang a song or two while Billie Joe played the drums and there was a moment where the two of them went for some record by singing and dancing to the song “shout” made famous by the Isley Brothers. It was quite funny though.
The band even dressed up in drag and sang one or two songs while lying down on the stage.
Some people in the crowd went mental especially where we were standing. That can be a good or bad thing depending on what you are expecting from the concert. I personally don’t mind people jumping around if they think of others, but when they push and kick and punch just for the fun of it, then it can become a bit unpleasant. There were definitely a few English idiots in the audience.
There was a good mix of stage videos behind the band and on the side screens.
With the various lights going on the atmosphere was electrifying.
The concert went on for well over 2 and a halfÂ hours with two encores. The last 6 songs were just incredible, with spectacular fireworks, fireballs, ticker tape even toilet paper being thrown up into the air.
Below is the playlist for the concert.
33 songs in total made it one helleva good evening. If they were playing another night in London I would definitely go again.
All photos taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 and belong to lookatbowen.com
I was walking towards Bank Station this evening when behind me I heard what sounded like a flute playing. It’s quite an unique sound so I turned around and behind two police horse riders were a squad of men slow marching behind a man that looked a little like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. To his left was a drummer keeping the beat.
The men were dressed in tradional red uniform with armour plates on their chest. Some of the men were holding pikes (a long pole with a spike on the end), while the others at the back of the squad were holding old style Matchlocks.
The matchlock was the first mechanism or “lock” invented to facilitate the firing of a hand-held firearm. This design removed the need to lower by hand a lit match into the weapon’sflash pan and made it possible to have both hands free to keep a firm grip on the weapon at the moment of firing, and, more important, to keep both eyes on the target.
The main disadvantage of the matchlock was the time it took to reload after each shot. To solve this problem, musketeers in the front line fired their matchlocks and then they retired to the back to reload.
The pikeman carried pikes that were between twelve and eighteen feet long. When the enemy employed a cavalry charge, the musketeers sheltered behind and between the pikemen. During the cavalry charge the pikemen aimed their pikes at the chests of the oncoming horses.
Something was definitely going on, because behind the Pikemen & Musketeers were a few fancy cars, a Bentley and one very large black Rolls Royce. Normally the number plate is a give away, but this one had normal letters GCX 342J, so it wasn’t immediately obvious. It turns out that one of the duties of the Pikemen & Musketeers is to escort the Lord Major to civic functions. So there is the answer I think! I didn’t catch a glimpse of the Lord Major, but it was wonderful display of history.
The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers are veteran members of the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest regiment in the British Army.
The HAC can trace its history as far back as 1296, and received a Royal Charter from Henry VIII on 25 August 1537.
Related Sources and Links:
The 1st, 4th & 5th photos and video were taken using my Nokia N900
The Mede8er has a new firmware out today. Version 3 has finally been released and there are a whole host of new features making this awesome media player even more incredible. By the looks of things, it has been worth the wait.
I have only had the Mede8er high definition multimedia player for a few weeks and have played all types of media on it without fault and with extreme ease. I am very impressed, so to see the new features available today is just testament to the guys behind this media player.
You can download the latest firmware from the Mede8er forum. They have instructions on the site which are straight forward to follow. I have included a change log, which I got from their website.
Mede8er Change Log V3.0 — 1 June 2010
1. Added: Updated SDK
2. Added: BDISO and BDMV chapter support (No Menus)
3. Added: Icon based screens — Menu – Goto – Subtitle
4. Added: Lock feature for Folder / Delete / File Manager/ HDD Format protection (Default password: 0000)
5. Added: Pin Protection on/off setting Setup Menu
6. Added: Folder Protection on/off setting Setup Menu
7. Added: Watched Indicator on/off setting Setup Menu
8. Added: Watched movie status indicator
9. Added: “A-B” button provides about.jpg in-folder zoom functionality (same as “SLOW”)
10. Added: Play video directly from in-folder about.jpg preview (press “ENTER” or “>” to play movie)
11. Added: Play video file folder — Play button
12. Added: Browse cover art “about.jpg” up/down nav
13. Added: Video Screen Transparency — Setup Menu
14 Added: File or Folder rename — Pre-populate text window
15 Added: Change System Font — Automatically picks up font.ttf on boot up.
– Place font.ttf in folder called “Resource” on HDD or USB or SD Card on root
16 Improved: GUI updated
17. Improved: Media Library Menu now remembers last state when returning
18. Improved: File Manager on-screen prompts
19. Improved: Screen size configuration in Setup menu determines about.jpg display area
20. Improved: Filter about.jpg and folder.jpg under â€śAllâ€ť tab
21. Improved: SAMBA stability & performance for streaming & network copy
22. Improved: NAS startup after reboot
23. Improved: Music player
24. Improved: Language issues
25. Improved: Navigation of video files in the Media Library with preview “on”
26. Fixed: “Autoplay” from HDD or USB or SD CARD — removed stop & start icons during autoplay
27. Fixed: Issues related to no internal HDD / no Mede8er-formatted HDD
28. Fixed: HDD format issues
29. Fixed: Mirrored MP3 tags issue
30. Fixed: DVD eject
31. Changed: In-folder JPG permitted display size increased to 5MB
32. Changed: Plasma Mode now only adjusts GUI transparency and not Screens during Video Play
o Network (SMB) write not available to Non-Mede8er-formatted HDD (NTFS-only) — Under investigation
o DVD resume on VIDEO_TS structure – Not working — SDK
o Repeat A-B on BDISO — SDK
o AAC 6 channel passthrough – only stereo — SDK related
o Restore from v1.x or v2.x backups — not restoring all fields correctly
o On certain 16:9 DVD menus – selection highlight is misplaced — SDK issue
o Simultaneous audio output via both HDMI and SPDIF — SDK restriction
o Extension .divx unsupported — SDK – temp fix rename file to .avi
o Resume dialogue DVDISO — SDK
o Resume play DVD VIDEO_TS — SDK
o File format: .ogg unsupported — SDK
Related Web Links:
Newzbin is no more after losing a battle with the courts. They have now been put into administration because they couldnâ€™t pay their debts. I always said the subscription to the site was too low. It was ridiculously low (as in ÂŁ2 for 8 weeks worth of downloads).
Word is that they owe the Motion Picture Association (MPA) ÂŁ230,000 just in interim costs, and thatâ€™s without a full costs ruling or a decision on damages. Apparently they also owe a software development house over ÂŁ500k.
Newzbin is one of the original Usenet indexing sites and the creator of the immensely-popular .NZB format, which opened up simplified Usenet downloading to the masses.
While the major BitTorrent sites were in Hollywoodâ€™s spotlights as the major source of copyright infringement, Usenet sites such as Newzbin remained untouched.
This changed, however, when the MPA, the MPAAâ€™s big brother, sent a threatening letter to the siteâ€™s operators in 2008.
This letter was followed by an official announcement of a lawsuit against the Usenet indexer early 2009. The case eventually went to the High Court in February of this year where Newzbin was found liable for copyright infringement.
Let’s hope a clone site can open in it’s place soon else websites such a Giganews and Grabit will suffer as a result.
After reading many reviews, comparing dozens of media centre devices, and waiting for over 2 years for the ultimate media centre to arrive, I have finally settled on a product made in South Africa of all places. It’s called the MEDE8ER. I will be blogging and giving my opinion of the device as soon as I get it! I just ordered it from Digital Era.
Some of the highlights that ticked my boxes was that it supports the latest 2TB SATA hard disks, is HDMI 1.3, has SD card support, NTFS / FAT32 file system support meaning connecting to will be a breeze from any PC in the house. It’s got a remote that exists in the Logitech Harmony One database and has some awesome recommedations from the likes of MPC Club.
Processor: Realtek RTD1073 – 128MB SPI Flash – 128MB DDR2 SDRAM
Video Codec Supported: MKV, H264, DVD (VOB – IFO – ISO), DIVX, XVID, DAT, AVI, MPEG, HD MPEG-2, TS, HD MPEG-4, SP, ASP, AVCD (H.264), MTS, M2ts, WMV9, FLV, VC-1, Real Networks (RM/RMVB) 8/9/10, up to 720p
AudioÂ Codec Supported: MP3, MP2, OGG Vorbis, PCM, LPCM, AAC, RA, Dolby AC3 Passthrough, Dolby AC3 Downmix, DTS Passthrough, DTS Downmix, FLAC, WAV,
WMA Standard (DRM, & Advanced Profile not supported)
HD Audio support
Dolby digitalÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â – support decode & bypass
Dolby digital PlusÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â – support decode – bypass is in testing
Dolby digital EXÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â – support – compatible up to 5.1
DTS digital SurroundÂ Â Â Â Â Â – support decode & bypass
Photo format Supported: JPEG, BMP
File System Supported: FAT32, NTFS – UI Format Feature
Input / Output
â€˘Â HDMI 1.3, Component video, Composite Video
â€˘Â Stereo RCA audio for analog audio connection
â€˘Â SD / Sony Pro Duo Card Slot
â€˘Â S/PDIF optical Output / Coaxial Digital RCA Output
â€˘Â Video output resolution – NTSC, PAL, 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 1080p24hz
â€˘Â USB – 2.0 HOST port x 2 (compatible to USB 1.1)
â€˘Â USB – 2.0 SLAVE port
â€˘Â 3.5″ SATA Internal Hard Drive Bay up to 2TB compatible
â€˘Â Built in 40mm cooling fan – TPE mounts for low noise
â€˘Â Playlist creation from remote
â€˘Â Built in NFS Client
â€˘Â Screensaver â€“ Selectable in GUI setup
â€˘Â In folder JPEG preview feature
â€˘Â Easy navigation button use (excl DVD files)
â€˘Â Time Bar FF/FR and Time Bar jump
â€˘Â Media Library Jump To file number feature
â€˘Â Resume playback feature
â€˘Â Photo slide show with background music
â€˘Â Network – Ethernet 10/100 Mbps – Streaming MAX Samba 26Mbps / NFS 36Mbps
â€˘Â Optional Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n)
Achievable Streaming G router – Samba 12Mbps – NFS 18 Mbps @ 1m – unprotected
Achievable Streaming N router – Samba 14Mbps – NFS 22 Mbps @ 1m – unprotected
(Typical MKV 720p Play 10Mbps max FF/RW 15Mbps)
â€˘Â Samba server – NAS storage
â€˘Â A/V streaming via UPnP Media Server (CNN – YouTube etc via optional program such as PlayOn, Tversity etc)
â€˘Â Internet Radio (SHOUTcast)
â€˘Â File Copying – Card, USB, HDD and Network
â€˘Â Subtitle: SRT, SSA, SUB, SMI format