Saturday, December 29, 2007

Original music from Ysabella Brave

Not only a great performer of classics but also original music... A YouTube media star.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ysabella Brave

You can always spot star quality. This girl has it all: personality, talent and very pleasant on the eye.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

RFID for humans!

I'm glad the US is actually banning something . The California state Senate has approved legislation to bar employers from forcing workers to have RFID chips implanted under their skin. (Well, Duh!)

RFID tags have been used for years to identify pets, track inventory and more recently in contactless smartcards and other ID systems. State Senator Joe Simitian proposed the bill after RFID developer VeriChip was licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration to sell implanted identification devices. Simitian said that, so far, about 2,000 people have had VeriChip's devices implanted. "RFID is a minor miracle, with all sorts of good uses," said Simitian. "But we should not condone forced 'tagging' of humans. It is the ultimate invasion of privacy."

Some people actually want to be implanted though. Think of all those benefits like switching lights on and off automatically? (Seriously some people do think that's a great idea!)

Of course this issue is a central plot theme to SAURIA. Have you checked out my book at all? ;-)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Skyscraper Safety

Surely 9/11 is the biggest event in modern times not only politically but also for science, reason and engineering! Why can't we have a large scale and RATIONAL debate with ALL the facts? Why can't we have independent analysts investigate the Twin Tower (and WTC7) collapses? If skyscrapers are so likely to explode if there is a fire then shouldn't we stop going inside anything more than 10 stories high? How can engineers ever convince us that they are safe? WTC7 - a 48 story building with minor structural damage and a light fire exploded and collapsed in 7 seconds!!! Surely either a) ALL BUILDINGS OF SUCH HEIGHT ARE UNSAFE or b) THE BUILDING WAS DEMOLISHED WITH EXPLOSIVES - either way this is crucial information and must be investigated.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

WTC, NY, USA, Planet Zog

The illusion of the mind to create the effect of space and objects in front of us is profound and almost impossible to move away from. However, assuming the model perceived by my senses is some way an accurate reflection of "reality". And assuming that "New York" exists as recalled by from previous mental models of that environment. And that my memory retains two previous states of that environment: One with the twin towers and one without. Then I have to ponder exactly what changed the model from one state to another?

My experience with the substance known as "Steel" is passive. It appears to be immensively strong and not known to spontaneously collapse and melt (melting point of steel is 1800 degrees C) even when hit very hard or heated to 600 degrees C (max temperature of an open fire which is less than the temperature of a gas hob). Yet apparently on certain planets, for example on "Planet Zog", steel is all wibbly-wobbly and spontaneously melts when hit very sharply with a Boeing 767.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mac or PC Rap

I have been a Mac fan since 1991. Way before Apple became cool. The reason was simple: with a Mac, I was productive. In comparison, with a PC I felt like a klutz. The difference between the 2 machines in terms of usability has narrowed somewhat since 1991 (and 1997) but there are still the packaged apps: iLife. I'm sure there are probably individual programs on the PC that are as good as the iLife programs but who has the time to work it all out.

If you like I'm a Mac and I'm a PC adverts then this video is a must-see: "The Mac or Pc Rap"

And yet another plug for my favorite art program Robert Covington's Compositor - Mac users: check it out! :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The =Ultimate= Driving Machine

Does anybody else get a queasy feeling in their stomachs when you see those old TV cigarette adverts: an overly macho man offering an overly flirtatious female a white stick of death... The advert always stress the social interaction and not the ash fag-ends etc. And of course, not what =ultimately= would happen to the man or woman in 20 years time: the coughing, cancer and slow lingering deaths.

I am starting to get the same feeling with car adverts... yes, they do look nice. Very cute too. Happy Kids driving cars; people dancing in the streets; hey even cars spinning around acrobat style. Click that link and see that cute advert with kids driving an SUV again and think: those kids may never actually be able to drive that SUV. Ever. Even if we do overt the very worst excesses of the world's economy's dependence on oil, the price of oil is a one way bet: it is going to rise and driving in an SUV in say 10 years time will seem like Nero fiddling while Rome burns!

Meanwhile we hand out models of the Hummer H1 SUVs with MacDonalds. I feel queasy again: it feels just like giving kids sweet cigarettes to me. Who does that any more?

Consider: BMW's slogan "The =Ultimate= Driving Machine". They might be right. After the oil runs dry, imagine some post-civilization scenario, somewhere in Saudi Arabia, a goat-herder drives the last working vehicle over the desert. Yep, it could be a BMW.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Solartaxi - Around the World

3rd July 2007: An intrepid team of adventurers start a round the world tour travelling by a solar-powered Electric Vehicle. Hopefully this will stop jokes about needing a 24000 mile extension lead. Forget Hydrogen-powered cars, even Hybrids, Electric Vechiles are our best hope for transportation once the oil price goes completely out of control... my estimate: 2014! This gives us very limited time to transfer to a cheaper, cleaner, quieter, greener transportation system. Solar-power may not be the best option for the UK (Having just had our wettest June ever recorded) but grid electricity... hook it up to wind power or tidal... is the easily the best, or possibly the least-worst, fuel option.

Good luck, Team Solartaxi!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Festival of Words

Carring on the cartoon theme of previous posts, here are cartoons of Simon and Alex done by "Kevin F" - Kevin F Sutherland - from the Farnham Malting's Festival of Words.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Revealed for the first time outside of Sauria, the heptawing, flying reptile. Name provide by Louise Thorne, original art work (c) Andy Pritchard, dates from 1978 - scanned and coloured (by Compositor) in 2006!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Smart Roadster Love

While I wait for my EV1 (maybe a long wait) I still have to get around. My brief foray into dual fuel petrol/LPG was not successful for me; I do too many short journeys and the car took too long to click over onto LPG; I need a car that can go at motorway speeds (that rules out the GeeWhiz)... So I came up with PLAN B. We already have a small Vauxhall Astra... so what should we have for a second car that I can use for my short trips and commuting? I've always wanted one. And now I have one! A Smart Roadster! Fun, economical and fun (did I mention "fun"?) 700cc engine built by Mercedes; 55mpg: its almost a pleasure filling up! And while the car is no longer being made, I guess it wasn't economic for Smart, I highly recommend.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

EV1: Old Age and Treachery

Just in case somebody has not seen or heard about Who Killed the Electric Car? then click the link and read on. It is not just a sorry tale of a motor car or "shucks, I sure hate to pay high prices at the petrol pumps", it is a tale of physcopath corporations with planetary impact way beyond the story of a single car model.

Let's re-cap: 1980s California had a real air polluction problem. Spurred on by the likes of General Motors who had developed electric vehicles like the Solarracer, the state government introduced the mandate for Zero Emission Vehicles.

GM as with any large scale organisation responded in two ways: positively, they commissioned the EV1 using the same young, enthusiatic team that built the Solarracer and negatively, trying it dammest to halt the ZEV legislation.

I don't think GM expected the EV1 to be anything except a huge flop. They certainly tried their hardest to stop its own product succeeding. The management team expected the young team to produce a lemon of a car (they didn't, they in fact produced probably the finest Electric Vehicle available in the world at the time!), they put a young inexperienced team in charge of selling the car (who against expectations, went out selling with missionary zeal!). But thereafter the will of the company succeeds: the manufacturing lines are starved of resources, the design team is not immediately informed of new battery technology, the advertising was, frankly, perverse and finally there were "surveys" conducted to new owners to warn them away from the car!!!

As the EV1 owners club (now a largely quiet bunch) chronicles in its archives up to 2000, it was really hard for anyone to get hold of one of the cars!. The site is now dedicated to the "Who Killed the Electric Car" documentary.

But the ultimate method of killing the car was the most effective: GM didn't sell the car, the car was leased! That way as soon as the ZEV legislation was removed (as soon as Bush got into office) then, the car was towed away and CRUSHED! In the documentary, you may find this hard to believe, but your heart really goes out to the owners that had clubbed together to stand guard over the last 70 EV1s in a GM compound, waving a giant cheque for $1.9million, protesting "We want our EV1s!". The police move in. There are arrests. The cars are loaded up, carried away and then smashed to pieces.

Check out YouTube for the EV1 "last ride". March 2000. No commentary, just the quiet, quiet drive of the EV1 zipping around californian streets before it was reclaimed by GM for crushing. The EV1 looks and sounds just like the 1950s vision of the Future Car. It brings a tear to my eye that I won't have that experience. Look at the photo... a line of EV1s: that's how it should have been.

It's the same old story of old age and treachery beating youth and enthusiasm. Don't assume there are hydrogen cars coming along anytime soon. Hybrids too could be just bait and switch! Meanwhile we go to war over Oil, and California still has an air pollution problem. There is more to this story but I've written enough. Check out the links.

Go buy or rent the DVD. It has 5 star rating. It's not just me that feels this.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Marie Antoinette World

I was watching the film Marie Antoinette on TV. Hmmm rather suspect movie. Nice visuals though. Marie danced and played and lived in a world of her own while the nation disolved into anarchy and met an untimely end. Then I watched David Attenborough's State of the Planet. Earth can hardly sustain 6 billion people. It will 11 billion in 5 years. The connection is rather simple. We are all living, at least in the west, in Marie Atoinette World. I hope, when it comes, the revolution will be gentle.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Little Robot

Cartoon of "The Little Robot" circa 1996. Designed for ease of animation. Way before I considered that the Segway would and could make it reality.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Segway in Palma

My friends Paul and Tess have just been on Holiday in Palma and took a Segway tour. They came across the tour centre by accident - it was down a side street and seemingly not doing great business. The tour operators did seem pleased to see them. So Paul and Tess - their first time on a Segway - did an hour's tour and found it very tiring towards the end. This included familarising themselves with the balancing and the controls. Pretty good going, I think! They also had one of the Mark 1 Segways with the twist grip to turn rather than the Segway i2 where you lean to turn. I do heartily recommend the i2s rather than the Mark 1s - more fun, less chance of crashing into people and cars (which is very much less fun!)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Segway Offroad Outing

So, Segway Tours UK, run by the charming Mike Reeves, gave me a 1-2-1 lesson on offroad Segwaying. I think "Segwaying" will be in 2020s used in the same way that we currently say "skiing" or "scuba-diving". Yes I think it will be a big leisure pursuit. While skiing and scuba-diving is done by relatively fit, able and "young" (Yes, I know not always the case), Segways are for a great form of transport for just about anybody that can stand up!!!

Mike Reeves believes that they will be a school of Segwaying: Bronze, Silver, Gold, whatever, in the same way that there are ski schools. The differnce being that going from Bronze to Gold will be somewhat quicker and achieved with less effort than a ski-school or the scuba-diving PADI open water qualifications.

Bronze: basic skills and tortoise speed settings
Silver: off-road and faster speed settings (Maximum of 12mph)
Gold: Confidence on both off-road, fast speeds, nighttime, golfclub carrying and ability to train others!

You heard it here first!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Space Madness

Space Madness has an entry into wkipedia! I guess I must learn how to update wikipedia! :-)

In the meantime, the madness on planet Earth is centred in our household on the Wii :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

BBC Horizon "My Pet Dinosaur"

BBC2 Horizon programme "My Pet Dinosaur" discusses the evolution of dinosaurs to an intelligent, walk-upright creature just like the creatures within Sauria. My kids once asked me where did the Saurian Reptiles come from? And I have to explain about how it was the humans that travelled to planet Sauria; the reptiles were there, evolved from dinosaurs (just as postulated in the TV programme). Sauria is a bigger planet than Earth and any impact from asteroids in early planetary history did not completely wipe the dinosaurs out as happened on Earth. Assuming otherwise parallel evolutionary development paths, this allowed the intelligent reptiles to eventually dominant the planet. At least, until those pesky humans turned up! Anyway, this was not explained in the book just alluded to, since it was obvious to the (fictional) central character of the book and a first person account! Perhaps I should add that to a revision of the book... Anyway the TV programme has an image of a humanoid-like reptilian not dis-similar to the creatures inhabiting Sauria. Interesting!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Space Madness

As predicted in Sauria: Space Madness! Mind you all sort of strange things are happening at NASA... if some writer wrote sci-fi about that love triangle nobody would ever believe it.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Segway Robot - Just add Robot

In the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction category... Segway have already developed the
"Robot Platform" - click here to see the details!

Now all I need to do is invent an artificial intelligence with a whimsical sense of humourto to produce the remainder of the Little Robot! :-)

Segway Robot

I guess this must happen to everyone: you have a great idea and five years later someone else has the same idea, made it real and making a ton of money out of it. I often wish I could write patents or some such. (Anyway all this is too close to a future project so I won't say anymore except what the title suggests: Segway robots).

Many years ago... 1996, I developed a cartoon character called "The Little Robot" which I wanted to animate. As anyone even doing animation knows animating legs and humans are tricky. Hey, much easier to create a robot than ran on wheels. If the Robot was a cylinder then, in order to show it turning, it was a just matter of moving the eyes, arms and wheels! Needless to say the character appeared in a couple of demonstration programs and then sunk into obscurity.

I never really considered how the robot was suppose to balance upright on just two wheels. That would just be silly! Even though the Little Robot had artificial intelligence and a sense of humour, the wheel balancing act was the ridiculous thing!

Then "Ginger" turned up: The Segway Human Transporter(HT). Spookily similar proportions to the Little Robots wheel system and I thought... that Segway would be excellent as a robot platform just like my 1996 creation! But to make anything other than have the idea would mean time, money, skill, energy etc. No, all I have are a few synaptic reflexes... Some months ago, I was watching the BBC doing a review of the technology in Korea. Lots of robots! Lots of technology! It must be every geeks dream to live out there. And then on the TV show, out in the background was a robot on two wheels, cylindrical body, domed head, big friendly eyes: the splitting image of my own Little Robot cartoon character! I feel like calling out lamely "Hey that's MY idea. It's copyright. Or something!"

Moral of the story: I need to think up something a little more futuristic next time! It's no good working on ideas that other people are going to have.

The only reason I mention all this stuff now, is that when I visited Florida recently, I went on a Segway HT. The second generation "i2" model; you lean to one side to make it turn. Wow! What fun! I couldn't remove the smile from my face for the rest of the day. I definitely recommend. I've booked a tour for later in March. I can't wait. They may be too expensive to buy and not practical for everyday life. But make sure you have a go on one. They are a hoot! Imagine skiing without the snow, the cold, the face cream and expensive jet flights to the Alps (or wherever), and you start to get the picture. Environmentally friendly transport? Maybe not. Environment friendly entertainment? You bet!