Pikemen and Musketeers marching to a tune in London.

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 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.

Mede8er version 3 firmware available now!

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 “All” 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

Known issues:
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:

R.I.P. Newzbin, it was the best NZB website ever.

Newzbin is no more after losing a battle with the courts. They have now been put into administration because they couldn’t pay their debts. I always said the subscription to the site was too low. It was ridiculously low (as in £2 for 8 weeks worth of downloads).

Word is that they owe the Motion Picture Association (MPA) £230,000 just in interim costs, and that’s without a full costs ruling or a decision on damages. Apparently they also owe a software development house over £500k. :-(

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 Hollywood’s spotlights as the major source of copyright infringement, Usenet sites such as Newzbin remained untouched.

This changed, however, when the MPA, the MPAA’s big brother, sent a threatening letter to the site’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.

Mede8er – made in South Africa.

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

Audio  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 supportGUI Main Page
Dolby digital                  – support decode & bypass
Dolby digital Plus            – support decode – bypass is in testing
Dolby digital EX              – support – compatible up to 5.1
DTS digital Surround       – support decode & bypass

Photo format Supported: JPEG, BMP
File System Supported: FAT32, NTFS – UI Format Feature

Input / Output
•  HDMI 1.3, Component video, Composite Video
•  Stereo RCA audio for analog audio connection
•  SD / Sony Pro Duo Card Slot
•  S/PDIF optical Output / Coaxial Digital RCA Output
•  Video output resolution – NTSC, PAL, 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 1080p24hz
•  USB – 2.0 HOST port x 2 (compatible to USB 1.1)
•  USB – 2.0 SLAVE port
•  3.5″ SATA Internal Hard Drive Bay up to 2TB compatible
•  Built in 40mm cooling fan – TPE mounts for low noise
•  Playlist creation from remote
•  Built in NFS Client
•  Screensaver – Selectable in GUI setup
•  In folder JPEG preview feature
•  Easy navigation button use (excl DVD files)
•  Time Bar FF/FR and Time Bar jump
•  Media Library Jump To file number feature
•  Resume playback feature
•  Photo slide show with background music
•  Network – Ethernet 10/100 Mbps – Streaming MAX Samba 26Mbps / NFS 36Mbps
•  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)
•  Samba server – NAS storage
•  A/V streaming via UPnP Media Server (CNN – YouTube etc via optional program such as PlayOn, Tversity etc)
•  Internet Radio (SHOUTcast)
•  File Copying – Card, USB, HDD and Network
•  Subtitle: SRT, SSA, SUB, SMI format

Americans are NOT stoopid!

I was sent this really funny youtube video today and thought I would share it with you all.

DJ Format – Ugly Brothers

It is strange how music comes into your life. We were sitting on a bus driving down a steep mountain pass somewhere between Courchevel 1850 and Courchevel 1650 when we heard this song called “Ugly Brothers” by DJ Format.

I won’t lie when I say I don’t like hip hop or rap music. I could probably count the number of songs on my one hand that I like. But this particular song one is really catchy and funny and the lyrics are quite clever.(I couldn’t find the lyrics anywhere on the web).

UK Hip Hop give it a good review.

Here is a clever music video for the song by Barmie over at MySpace.

Step away from the N900!

My wife says I am obsessive! She is of course referring to me and my new friend/toy the Nokia N900, which arrived two days ago after a slight delay. You can read all about that in the previous post. Since then I have managed to run the device dry 4 times and when I say “run the device dry”, I mean use it “non stop” for 5 or so hours until the battery is dead. So I guess that is what she means by “obsessive”.

I read the manual that came in the box and it was pathetic, all 17 pages of it. It explained nothing. So I did a search for a manual or a how to guide and found a 231 page Nokia N900 User Guide. (now we are talking). It’s a PDF file and I now have it on the phone for easy access and will be reading it front to back and back to front.

So what is the big deal about this device? The first thing noticeable when it’s turned on is the fact that it runs 99% of the time in the horizontal mode (as in the image to the left). This is so the large 3.5inch screen can be utilized fully. One also notices the lack of buttons anyone on the front. Not even a red or green buttons for making or ending calls and that is because the N900 is more a mini computer than a phone. I received a call while on the train home and to be honest, I didn’t know how to pick it up (ha ha).

It runs “Maemo“, which in simple terms is an open source linux operating system. Open source means anyone can develop software for it and there is a ton of software available in various stages of development. I have loaded quite a few applications already and haven’t even touched the surface of whats on offer.

Here are a few of my favourites so far:

  1. Angry Birds – a very addictive game by Rovio (check out the trailer here). Simple idea but brilliant!
  2. FBreader – Ebook reader, also trying out MGutenberg.
  3. gPodder – Podcast player.
  4. Firefox – Yup, the N900 can display a full browser perfectly and it’s fast. Did I mention add-ins, just like the application on the PC. It’s awesome! One particular awesome add-in is called Weave and I quote;
    The Weave Sync add-on lets you securely take your Firefox experience with you wherever you go. You can now surf the Web on your PC, get up and go, and have everything waiting for you on your phone: your history, open tabs, bookmarks, the Awesome Bar – just as you had left it.
  5. Mauku – Twitter application – I also tried out Witter, but find Mauku to be more finger friendly.
  6. Mediabox – an alternate to the default media player.
  7. Pidgen – Instant Messenger application allowing me to be logged into MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk, and Skype. There is a whole host of other IM’s. Facebook chat would be nice. Actually Skype is built into the contact section, which is cool because one can chat, make VOIP calls etc.
  8. Facebook – Social networking application that we all love/hate/know!
  9. Extra media codecs for playing just about any video / audio format. All my files on my home server work perfectly and I got a real good mix (FLAC, MP3, MP4, MKV, AVI, DIVX, etc).
  10. Vagalume – it plays Last.FM and Libre.FM. As there is no Mobbler yet, this is the next best thing. Upon starting the application it soon becomes apparent that Last.FM will not work because of some licencing issues, but fear not as there is a hack or work around and it works perfectly if one follows the instructions over at NokiaAddict.com – Thanks @Gerrymoth.

One very cool feature is the ability to play Music / Video / Photos from my home media servers over wireless. The N900 makes uses of Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA). The device supports up to 4 media servers at one one. I currently have two connected (my iMac and Cubestation), so I have been streaming music and video to the phone with ease. No need for cables or SD cards etc. It’s so amazing.

It’s impossible to tell you all the features, because there are thousands all made possible by the Maemo operating system. Simply the best mobile device I’ve ever owned! Now stepping away from the N900.



For Sale: PS3 (40GB Version) + Bluetooth remote + Games

We have used our Sony Playstation 3 perhaps four or five times to watch hired Blue Ray disks from Blockbusters. It’s time this PS3 moved in with someone who is going to use it in the way it was meant to be used (games / movies  / online browsing / facebook / twitter / social entertainment console).

We have an XBOX which we use all the time so that is the only reason why I am selling the PS3.

Note: This is not the slim version of PS3.


This the the 40GB version that comes with a built in Blue Ray disc drive for high definition gaming, movies and entertainment. It’s got true 1080p HD support. The box includes the motion sensitive SIXAXIS wireless controller. The built-in hard drive means there is plenty of space for movies, music, games and downloads. There is also a Gigabit network port and full broadband connectivity for easy access to the Playstation Network and online entertainment. It’s WIFI certified (B, G), can support up to seven Bluetooth devices, has USB ports on the front, which support USB Keys, USB Hard disks etc. It outputs Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital, DTS Digital Surround, has an HDMI port and can read DVD Video/Rom. Finally it is a region 2 player with PAL support. The box weighs 6.5kg with everything packaged inside.

I am also throwing in a Bluetooth remote control + my only two games (Grand Turismo 5 Prologue and Formula 1 Championship Edition).

If you are interested, you can contact me via email on lookatbowen@gmail.com. I can also be found on Twitter under the name @lookatbowen and on Facebook if you are lucky enough to be in my circle of friends. Of course you can leave a comment below with your name and email address and I will get back to you. All comments are moderated as it is.

Name your price – I will tell you YES or NO!

Five amazing websites from Lookatbowen.com

Sadly this will be the last weekly top 5 list until Twenty10 as we are on holiday as of Wednesday evening. This weeks website theme is photo, painting and flashy websites.

FocalPop – It’s simple. Photo seekers tell us what they want. Photographers show us their best shots. Seekers buy the photo they like best. – A really clever idea.

PetaPixel – is a blog about photography geared towards tech-savvy digital photographers. Our goal is inform, educate, and inspire in all things related to photography.

Peter Bowen –  is an accomplished graphic designer and professional watercolour artist. His unique style of painting architectural subjects with humorous situations has earned him an international reputation during the last 25 years with much of his work in private collections in Canada, the United States and Great Britain.

I stumbled upon this site by chance after Kerry Wright of wrightaboutnow.com asked me a question about a painting. It wasn’t one of Peter’s, but I am glad I found his site. It’s been extremely interesting reading his posts and seeing his paintings. Having lived in England and travelled the country and visited the sights, Peter captures the true essence of the English coast, towns and villages.

No, he is not my brother (although has the same name, and strangely has visited the same places where my brother was stationed when he worked for Cable & Wireless. His ship was birthed in the harbour in Portland). He and I actually visited this very lighthouse on one very miserable cold windy day.

Andrew Zuckerman: Bird – For a flash site, this bird website is one of the best I’ve seen. I can only say go and visit it. You will not be disappointed. It’s incredible. There are even sounds for most of the birds and videos. So much detail (highly recommended).

African Fish Eagle by Andrew Zuckerman

Some other sites by Andrew Zuckerman (Wisdom, Creature, Highfalls).

Flash Thunderflash thunder – Simply a place for inspirational websites all with that extra something special – whether it be ground breaking navigation, the latest trends, great looking design, or just plain awesomeness…

Basically a very cool site listing a load of flash based websites.

Jo-Anna says – Son Of A Plumber

Here is a really cool catchy song by Per Håkan Gessle also known as SON OF A PLUMBER. He is also the same guy from the band Roxette & Gyllene Tider. A truly talented guy and one of Swedens most famous artist.

Jo-Anna spends an hour with her magazine
The day is kinda grey and so lazy
She goes ah-ah-ah-ah-ah…
And hey boy
Jo-Anna’s in the mirror in her dressing gown
Talking to a friend who lives uptown
She goes ah-ah-ah-ah-ah…

My love… and beyond
Oh, I wish she was
My love… and beyond

Jo-Anna says – I’m not the only one
Jo-Anna says – I’ll never be the one
But when she smiles there’s something in her eyes
That tells me I’m not like the other guys
Jo-Anna says – I have to give it time
Jo-Anna says – you just gotta make up my mind
Jo-Anna says – I have to wait in the line
And come back tomorrow

Sitting in a window in a cheap hotel
Lighting up the room with a candle, candle, candle
I go ah-ah-ah-ah-ah…
Hey boy
She says that I’m a mess any given day
But laughs as she leaves for a party
I go ah-ah-ah-ah-ah…

Jo-Anna says – I’m not the only one
Jo-Anna says – I’ll never be the one
But when she smiles there’s something in her eyes
That tells me I’m not like the other guys
Jo-Anna says – I have to give it time
Jo-Anna says – you just gotta make up my mind
Jo-Anna says – I have to stand in the line
And come back tomorrow yeah
Ummmmm na na na

Oh oh oh oh
Hey Jo-Anna
Oh oh oh oh…

My love… and beyond
Oh, I wish she was
My love… and beyond, beyond

Jo-Anna says – I’m not the only one
Jo-Anna says – I’ll never be the one
But when she smiles there’s something in her eyes
That tells me I’m not like the other guys
Jo-Anna says – I have to give it time
Jo-Anna says – you just gotta make up my mind
Jo-Anna says – I have to stand in the line
And come back tomorrow, yeah

I’m not the only one
I’ll never be the one
Hey hey Jo-Anna, uh uh uh uh…

Jo-Anna says – I have to give it time
Jo-Anna says – you just gotta make up my mind
Jo-Anna says – I have to stand in the line
And come back tomorrow oh oh oh oh

Jo-Anna says
Jo-Anna says
I never be the one
Jo-Anna says
Hey Jo-Anna
Hey Jo-Anna
Jo-Anna says
Yea yea yea yeaaaah
Jo-Anna says

The Real Guitar Hero – Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major.

Have you seen this video? I don’t know the full story behind the making of it, but it goes something like this;
There was this competition where contestants were asked to add their musical talents to the famous piece of music by German Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel. It was originally scored for three violins and basso continuo and paired with a gigue in the same key. (Information on Johan Pachelbel from Wikipedia).

This kid Matt Rach and his guitar came up with the following:

The video is just over 5 minutes. Watch it, it’s truly incredible.