IBM hosted a global ThinkTank in Second Life today, including a wide cast of characters from around the virtual world. The discussion was about more than just SL of course, and covered the virtual universe, what IBM has started calling the 3D Internet. I was personally very excited to be part of this discussion.

It was run as part of a press event physically happening in London, and despite some issues with SL today, the virtual part was a lot easier to run than flying a dozen journalists from Europe into one place. By the time we left, many of us agreed that we’d like to run this sort of meeting again.

The transcripts:

Thanks to everyone who made it! More detail on Eightbar and Andy took some lovely screenshots.

IBM 1401, A User’s Manual

From the ridiculous to the sublime…

My brother recently got back from the Iceland Airwaves music festival. I’m a big fan of the Reykjavik scene (and really like Sigur Rós, Amiina, múm, …) so it was great to be introduced to yet another great Icelandic artist. Jóhann Jóhannsson is an Icelandic composer and founder of the Kitchen Motors record label. Jóhannsson’s 2006 album ‘IBM 1401, A User’s Manual’ appeals to me on so many levels, not least because it includes samples from an IBM 1401 Data Processing System. From the album’s website,, we learn more about the history of the album:

“Inspired by a recording of an IBM mainframe computer which Jóhann’s father, Jóhann Gunnarsson, made on a reel-to-reel tape machine more than 30 years ago, the piece was originally written to be performed by a string quartet as the accompaniment to a dance piece by the choreographer Erna Ómarsdóttir. For the album version, Jóhann rewrote the entire score, and it was recorded by a sixty-piece string orchestra. He also added a new final section and incorporated electronics alongside those original tape recordings of the singing computer.”

It is seriously haunting and gorgeous, and I could listen to it every day. You can see some footage (and an interview) of Jóhann Jóhannsson on YouTube with a little more detail of the role of the 1401 in the piece:

“My father … learned of a way of making music on this computer. By placing a radio next to it the radio could pick up these electromagnetic waves. They discovered a way of programming the memory so that these waves could be modulated and they could produce melodies. So this is what they did, these engineers at IBM after work they made this music – these melodies – on this computer.”

Incidently, the day after the festival officially finished this year, Erland Øye (Kings of Convenience, The Whitest Boy Alive) performed three songs in a tiny church. Stunning. The more I see, and the more Sam talks about Iceland Airwaves, the more certain I am that I have to be there next year.

White and nerdy

I’ve been a fan of Weird Al Yankovic, on and off, for quite a while. Maybe it’s because I’m a geek, but for me ‘Running with Scissors’ was mostly notable for ‘The Saga Begins’ and ‘It’s All About the Pentiums’. His latest album, ‘Straight Outta Lynwood’ feautures a wonderful parody of Chamillionaire’s Ridin’, in which Weird Al ‘White and Nerdy’.

If the MySpace link or the YouTube link don’t work, try Google video quickly, before it gets taken away. There’s a lot of content there, so the lyrics might be helpful too. Choice quotes:

  • MC Escher – that’s my favorite MC
  • My MySpace page is all totally pimped out / Got people beggin’ for my top eight spaces
  • I’ll ace any trivia quiz you bring on / I’m fluent in JavaScript as well as Klingon
Weird Al White and Nerdy vid

Coincidently, Ian has been trying to get me into Nerdcore recently. (Nice Wired piece with some background to Nerdcore.) MC Frontalont, self-proclaimed “world’s 579th greatest rapper”, has plenty of excellent material online to get in to before you buy his CD. (By the way, bands of the world take note. Putting a couple of tracks up on MySpace may work for you, but giving away all your tracks as decent quality MP3s for free legal download and offering the CD for sale is the way to go if you want a loyal fanbase.)

So, Weird Al does it yet again, and gets on the Nerdcore tip in the process. Word. The best bit? The compulsive, and practically self-referential Wikipedia article which revels in correcting mistakes and detailing way more information than anyone would ever need about the song.

Real, or rendering?

My brother, Sam Reynolds, is a stunningly good graphic artist who specialises in 3D, though he’s also annoying good with Photoshop and v-jaying with vvvv. His job has even involved designing skate parks in 3D Studio Max.

He recently emailed me some renders he’s been working on. Would you believe that this is not a photo?

Sam ink bottle render

My own experiments with photo-realistic rendering are a joke compared to what Sam gets up to. My jaw dropped when I saw this. Click it for a bigger version, in which some of the details in the lid show up even better.

eHampshire 2006

I was keynote speaker for the eHampshire 2006 conference at the Guildhall in Winchester today. I’ve written up the experience at eightbar, so I won’t bother repeating it here.

Good day though. I’m keeping my eye on Peter Thomson’s blog in case he writes about his day too.

In other news, my ADSL connection should be back on the 13th of November. One of my new neighbours has generously left their access point open, but my signal strength is so low that it’s painfully flaky. For now I’m getting my internet connectivity at work at at friends’ houses. One week to go until normality is restored.

Moving house

Today is my last day on the internet until Friday. This is unusual for me these days (even short holidays are liable to lead to symptoms of withdrawal) but the reason is a good one; my wife and I are moving house.

We have mooved

I mentioned back at the end of August that we’d put our flat up for sale. It was snapped up very quickly, and we found the perfect (detached, three bedroom) house in exactly the right location for us nearly as quickly. While I’ve been busy busy at work recently, Rachel has been packing everything we own into boxes. This weekend I spent a while un-cabling the house, including removing the extra wires I’d connected to the flat’s entryphone. I guessed the new owner wouldn’t want their doorbell to be on the internet.

Moving House - living room The loft Entry phone

Speaking of the internet, my ADSL provider claims that “the moving process will take between 14 days and up to 3 weeks to complete”. This is, frankly, rubbish, and totally incompatible with my always-connected lifestyle. I can only hope they are setting my expectations artificially low so that I’ll be pleased when I’m back up and running again in a few days time. Perhaps this is overly optimistic though.

So.. bear with me as I’m off the net for a few days. This will hurt me more than it will hurt you, I can assure you.

NMK conference: “My so-called 2nd life”

So speaking at the NMK event was fun. I’ve done a longish writeup about it on Eightbar already, which I won’t repeat here.

NMK Michael NMK Justin NMK Esther

Who was blogging about it? Well,

For some reason, this particular post attracts a lot of spam. For my own sanity, I’m turning off comments on this one. Email me (contact details in the sidebar) if you have anything to add. Thanks