Author archive Phil Balchin

Phil Balchin

The Movember Brothers of Team Kyan

The last week and half have been, well … itchy. We here at castle Kyan love a good cause, and this years Movember presented us with the perfect opportunity to get everyone involved by grooming their moustaches. Well, almost everyone. For some of us, it means shaving for the first time in a few years. For others it means not shaving for the first time a few years. For everyone, it means becoming a little bit more of a gentlement.

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Tags: team, brothers, moustache, movember

Phil Balchin

GPS coordinates where I was not this afternoon

With our new fanlged iPhones, today i did a little experiment. Using the free InstaMapper iPhone app, I recorded, every 2 minutes my GPS position. My iPhone didn’t move all afternoon … interesting … i’m putting this down to a Government conspiracy, that or my iPhone is lying to me. not sure which one yet.

Just for reference, i was sitting right under the green diamond

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Tags: website

Phil Balchin

I love my Canon 350D but ...

… I just really wish it displayed the ISO on the settings display!

It’s the worst feeling in the world when you discovered you’ve just taken 10 landscape shots, at the top of the highest point in South England on a brilliantly bright and sunny day, with a low midwinter sun, a deep blue sky and just enough cloud on the horizon to balance the composition … ONLY TO DISCOVER THE BLOODY CAMERA IS SET TO ISO1600!!

rant over

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Tags: website

Phil Balchin

Internet TV just got a whole closer

The BBC iPlayer is Aunties online TV service. I’m sure you all heard about the strong criticisms when the iPlayer was launched. Put simply, it only worked on WindowsXP and Vista, which upset a few people. As far as I know, at the time, it was impossible to use the service on Mac, and any Linux distribution. So I pretty much ignored it.

The Beeb have promised that they’ll make the service available “cross-platform”, in fact, both the BBC Trust, and the government have said they have to.

Yesterday was quite day, so I thought i would go and check out the iPlayer home page, expecting to still see a “Windows only download link” and then some really limited slow online content. Instead what I found was a surprisingly well stocked catalogue of previous TV programs all ready for watching on the webpage, ranging from News to Comedy to Drama to Music. But the best was yet to come. Even on my really-slow-countryside-BT-please-make-my-internet-faster connection at home, the video playback was almost instant. Even skipping to the middle of a video, the pause is only about 2 seconds, before the video starts to play again! No longer do you have to wait for the buffer to catch up (i’m looking at you, YouTube and Google). The quality is also pretty impressive. Its not TV resolution yet, but it’s defiantly watchable. My only gripe is, because its running through a flashplayer, embeded in a webpage, I cannot control playback with my apple remote controller, but that’s it. Internet TV just got a whole lot closer.

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Tags: website

Phil Balchin

HTML 5

Interesting insight into the future of web markup. A List Apart have produced a useful preview of the newest version of HTML. The current version of HTML, version 4, has been with us since the mid 90s, and quite honestly its looking really dated. In the mid 90s, flash had only just been launched (and was only capable of really simple animation), embeding sound onto a web page was almost impossible (remember using a dialup modem?) and knowbody had even thought of streaming video? Well, we take all these things for granted now, but i order to get them all to work, we have to hack HTML to do things that it was never designed to do. HTML did get a minor bump with the introduction of XHTML, but that only reinforced what we already knew, it didn’t bring any new features with it.

So why HTML5? well, with this new version, HTML will be the centre of a complete web publishing API, with built-in support for flash, sound, video and next-greneration javascript. The core language of HTML also gets loads of new semantic markup tags, bringing improved support for mobile devices and users with disabilities.

When can we expect this HTML5 thing then? well, its not been approved yet by the W3C, and support in Internet Explorer is almost non-existent, but other browsers like Safari, Firefox and Opera are all slowly adding support. It may not be here now, but it is going to be the future of Internet

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Tags: website, web_application

Phil Balchin

Beat Happening

Genre: American Twee Pop; Label: Krecs

Formed in early 80s, Beat Happening were early leaders in the american new lo-fi musical sound, and have been releasing their ‘twee/indie pop’ . Deliberately using simple and primitive recording techniques, Beat Happening produce a very rough and deep sound, mixed with strong deep american vocals mixed with simple backbeats.

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Tags: website

Phil Balchin

We love music, and we hope you do too

We happy folks here at Kyan really like music. In fact, we like music so much that there were rumors that Bald Steve might get fired for doing a crap job of rewiring the Office speaker system. Wires were checked and swapped. Amps were tested, phono sockets were cleaned and twiddled. Then some bright spark noticed the cable wasn’t plugged into the back of the speaker properly. Crisis averted, listening pleasure restored and a new law passed never allowing Steve to do anything technical related ever again.

In search of new music

Because it would be boring to listen to the same song perpetually looped for 9 hours everyday, some of us take it upon ourselves to bravely wander the interwebs complex network of tubes, pipes and tunnels in search for the greatest and bestest new music. During our short period of musical limbo, I had a chance to check out some bands websites and see I could find anything half decent to listen to. Well it turns out that the interweb has plenty to offer. It really amazes me just what you can find online these days, it really does. Anyhow, it would be a sham if we kept or obscura playlists to just the office, so I proudly present to you the KyanMP3 blog section. [Guy’s we’re going to have to come up with a better name than that]

Bodies of Water

Folky, mixed with modern themes

So, to kick start, we have a quartet from Los Angeles. 2 guys, 2 girls, usually all singing at once while mixing sounds from traditional american folk, punk rock and metaphysically intensive gospel (whatever that is?). Still, it really does sound pretty darn good, sounding slightly vintage, and it kind of reminds me of The Polyphonic Spree mixed with some strong lady vocals.

Go check them out http://www.bodiesofwater.net

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Phil Balchin

Swings and roundabouts. The Big Mystery Kyan day out ...

Thursday started like any other day, except that particular we were told to bring to work some ‘out-door clothing’, which we all thought to meant we were going paint-balling or go-carting, but, we were totally wrong. As we came discover, the big Kyan mystery day out, was a short trip to Frensham woods and the afternoon on the goape high ropes course, which involves a lot of swinging around in trees, negotiating high wire rope obstacles, and ultimately, jumping out of the trees whilst attached to a zip-line.

Thankfully we were warned in advance to bring outdoor clothing, and we all arrived to work in morning wearing our finest baggy jeans and tough boots.

The High Wire Course

Resembling the Ewok village from Starwars, the course is a series of platforms built around the tall thin trees, with rope ladders to ascend. Once your on the course, you have various wire and rope bridges to cross to get to the next tree. At the end of each section of the course, you hook your safety lines to the zip-line and slide gracefully backwards/upsidedown to the forest floor.

All in all, it took about 3 hours to complete the course spread over five sections.

More photos of the Mystery day out do exist on Flickr

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Tags: website, web_application

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