The Null Device


Sony's R&D department has developed a lifeblogging device for cats. Well, not so much for the benefit of the cats, who remain blissfully oblivious of the online world, their social instincts not extending far beyond their sense of smell, but for their owners; think of it as narcissism crossed with Munchausen's by proxy. Anyway, the device is mounted on the cat's collar and contains a camera, an accelerometer and a GPS receiver, and can record your cat's whereabouts and activities and post fixed phrases to Twitter (via a home PC) when specific events happen, infringing on your cat's dignity and civil rights in a formulaically cutesy way:

For example, it is possible to automatically post a comment like "This tastes good" when a cat is eating something.
Interesting idea, but I believe this chap was first.

(via Boing Boing) cats chindogu tech twitter 0

The Null Device's somewhat cursory impressions of Eurovision 2010 (two days late, due to your humble correspondent's hectic schedule; BBC iPlayer, it must be said, is very useful*):

Some of the strongest songs this year seemed to be coming from the Balkans, with Serbia, Greece and Turkey putting on strong performances and Romania having solid songwriting. (Serbia's use of Balkan brass got them points in my opinion; it's always good when a country's entry references its local musical traditions rather than merely sinking into the mire of generic power-balladry or Eurodance.) Germany's winning entry was OK, though not spectacular; there was an element of cabaret there, which most of the commentators seem to have missed, focussing on the singer's (not entirely convincing, IMHO) attempts at a Lily Allen-esque mockney accent. Norway, Belgium, Ireland and Belarus fulfilled the quota of syrupy kitsch, and Russia's somewhat ungainly performance scored somewhat of an own goal.

Britain, meanwhile, richly deserved its last place; while Britain is the world's second-biggest exporter of recorded music, its Eurovision entries are invariably lowest-common-denominator dross; even if they recruit commercially proven middlebrow hitmakers like Lord Lloyd-Webber and Sir Pete Waterman, the inherent British disdain for Eurovision as an institution seems to shine through. This year, they seem to have dusted off and reheated one of PWL's offcuts from the 1990s and gotten a plastic-faced 19-year-old to front it.

One thing I have noticed was that few songs' writers' names seem to be typical of the song's country; there seem to be a lot of Scandinavian names popping up, and the odd Anglo-Saxon one (though some of those could be pseudonyms chosen for commercial reasons). Cyprus did one better, by hiring an actual Welshman to front their entry.

More detailed commentary on Eurovision can be found elsewhere on the web, in various liveblogs; No Rock and Roll Fun had one, as did a bunch of guys in Reykjavík.

* notwithstanding the inexplicable lack of an iPhone-formatted MPEG4 of the Eurovision final. In case you were wondering, Flash video playback on the Mac still sucks.

culture eurovision music 0