Tag Archives: fun stuff

Keep calm and carillon

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I’m so sick of seeing ‘Keep calm and carry on’ stuff, and all the unfunny variants of it (like ‘Keep Calm and Carry’ on an M & S bag, the latest atrocity), that I thought I’d add my own version, before the overworked marketing idea finally curls up and dies.  I love carillons, and one of my favourite pieces of music is the Carillon from Bizet’s l’Arlèsienne. So keep calm and carillon. There are plenty of carillon clips on youtube, including music of Lady Gaga and the Super Mario Bros theme, but here’s a sonatina by Flor Peeters played on the carillon at Iowa State University.

Stermann & Griessman tanzen fürs Vaterland sketch

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I think there’s a kind of international exchange going on. I find more and more English people fulfilling the stereotype of the humourless German bureaucrat, whereas German humour just seems to get funnier and funnier.  Sadly, the funniest parts of this sketch are untranslatable, so go and learn German.

The Urwärme of Ohrwürme

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Via Metafilter, the top 25 ‘earworms’ in France, with audio examples.   ‘Earworm’ is a direct translation of the German word Ohrwurm, meaning a tune that you can’t get out of your head. The more euphonic French term musique obsédante is perhaps the reason why Paris is better known as the city of romance than Berlin or Gelsenkirchen.

Jonathan’s musical trivia quiz: Name that tune in 1

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At a recent recording, while we were waiting for the kettle to boil or a hard drive to back up, we got a bit silly and starting playing ‘name that tune in one’ – i.e. you only get the first note or chord of the piece. Fancy playing?

Number one in the quiz, which I’ll try and do for a week… is a famous ballet by at least two people, as well as a piece of music in its own right. Click below to hear.

Name that tune in 1, #1

Happiness is a USB foot control

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The Infinity USB Foot Control

I don’t think I have loved a piece of technology more than I currently love my new Infinity USB foot control.  I’m  transcribing hours of interviews for my dissertation, and although I type fast, it’s been a very slow process, because the transport controls on iTunes have little finesse, and you need to keep switching focus on the screen, move your hands to stop and start and so on.  Oh for the days of transcription machines which had foot pedals (I used to temp as an audio typist between music jobs, and I loved them).

Searching around the net on Saturday, I read an article about a poor bloke who had spent 40 hours transcribing one hour of audio because he didn’t know about digital transcribing machines (i.e., these days, foot pedal + software).  That’s me I thought, and read on.

Within minutes, I’d ordered an Infinity USB foot control (£47) from Amazon, and downloaded the free transcription software Express Scribe. The pedal arrived yesterday, and the results are amazing. If you’ve ever had to do it, you’ll share my enthusiasm: I transcribed about 15 minutes of audio/3,000 words in well under an hour and a half, and I was getting faster all the time. I’ve also now downloaded the open source QDA software TAMS analyser , which is one of the few programs of its type to work with Mac, and it’s free. (Mentioning no names, but how can you charge $800 dollars for a Windows only program these days? Bloody hell.)

For me, interfaces are much more interesting than the technology behind them. We’re already at a stage where computers can do stuff quickly, and have been for a long time. The challenge now is to find the interfaces which enable us to interact with the technology efficiently and in meaningful human ways.  Frankly, whoever conceived a computer without a foot-control was an idiot: what missed opportunities. Laugh if you like, but I’m saving myself hours and hours that I shall spend doing something more interesting than pointing and clicking at a screen.

For the record, my transcription toolkit, which works brilliantly

  • Apple iPhone voice memo recorder for interviews (+ iTunes to import audio)
  • Macbook
  • Logic Studio (to enhance audio, though there are easier options)
  • Express Scribe transcription Software
  • Microsoft word
  • Infinity USB foot control

Take the Slovenia / Slovakia quiz

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http://www.slovenia.info/jar/

I thought I was maybe being a bit rude about people who don’t know where Slovenia is in my recent Slovenia post (A Geography Lesson for Mail-Readers), but I feel happier now that I know that even the Slovene tourist board are offering a free trip to the World Cup if you can answer a few basic questions about the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia in their fun-to-do online quiz.