Saturday, 26 June 2010

Geekbrief is dead... long live GEEKBEAT!

One of the very finest podcasts I have had the pleasure of being a viewer of has come to a sad end. GeekBrief TV, created by Cali Lewis and Neal Campbell, has been a wonderful source of information, entertainment and inspiration these past few years. The first episode went live back in '05, and the final episode has hit today. There have been business and personal issues aplenty for the guys behind the show in recent times, and thus these differences have resulted in the end of the show.

This is a kick in the guts for geeks like me, who had come to love each episode of Geekbrief and have always found a ton to enjoy in each one (including the ever-wonderful out-takes at the end of most episodes). After nigh on 800 episodes of shiny, happy tech news, I must admit to being rather sad to see GeekBrief go. It's been a staple part of my media intake for years now, and Cali Lewis is one of the most pleasant presenters in the business. I can't help but feel for Cali and Neal as their long-running series ends, and can understand Cali's visible distress in this final instalment. We'll miss you GeekBrief.

The final episode of GeekBrief TV:



However, it would seem that Cali's time as a geek show presenter is far from over. As well as her continuing work in the social media industry and its many marvellous outlets, she's coming back on June 28th with a brand new show, GEEKBEAT! This new show is being brought to us from Revision 3 (home of DIGGNATION, THE TOTALLY RAD SHOW, HAK 5 and many more of the finest online shows available). I don't know a great deal about this show yet, but from what I gather, it's set to be much along the same lines as GeekBrief TV was. We shall soon see.

The Geek Beat intro video:



I'm gonna miss GeekBrief in a big way, but as long as Cali Lewis is showing up in my feed, I'll know that I'll never be short of cool stuff to check out on a regular basis.

So thanks for the years of great shows, Cali and Neal. Good luck for the future to both of you!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Dyonisis: Samples from the great new album, 'Intoxicated'

I'm always up for helping to promote good bands. One of the hardest working acts in the north of England's dark alternative scene is Sheffield's own Dyonisis. The band has just released their second full length album, Intoxicated, which you can sample tracks from below! So if you like the female voice, tons of atmosphere and some great songwriting, get clicking.


Resident Evil Afterlife – New Trailer

Yes, I know it looks like tosh, but it also looks like a lot of fun. I have a soft spot for the Resident Evil movies, which is probably down to the fact that I've never played any of the video games that these flicks are loosely based on. This latest film looks like a cross between The matrix, Ultraviolet and Aeon Flux with bits of the earlier Resident Evil movies thrown in too. There are some nice nods to the games for fans too, with some more of the creatures showing up in the movie at last. I dunno why I like these films so much. I know they're not great, but I can't help but be entertained by them. So disengage your brain, sit back and enjoy things going BOOM.


(Incidentally, you can find my thoughts on the first three Resident Evil movies over at Horrornews.net )

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

COMING SOON: PROJECT HAYWIRE


PROJECT HAYWIRE is a brand new science fiction/cyberpunk/superhero/things-going-kaboom novella that is coming soon. The book will feature prose, illustrations and extra interlinking material for a visceral reading experience.

Inspired by comics, anime, cyberpunk novels and a love of superheroes and giant robots, PROJECT HAYWIRE is my loudest and most action-packed story yet.

The future is about to explode.

More news soon!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

ACROSS THE SEAS OF MIND - SPECIAL EDITION AVAILABLE TO ORDER NOW!

The new special edition of my 2008 collection ACROSS THE SEAS OF MIND is now available to order! This new version features fully revised text and eight extra stories! This is the definitive edition of the book, with a larger format (6x9) and also featuring a new intro.

You can now order the new version of the book for £6.99 plus postage.

Order your copy of 'Across The Seas Of Mind: Special Edition' HERE!

Alternatively, signed editions are available to order directly from me, at a cost of £7.99 plus postage of £2.00. For those, click below!

Across The Seas Of Mind- Special Edition (Signed)





Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Album Review: Delain 'April Rain' (2009)

Delain - April Rain (2009)
Genre- Symphonic/Gothic Metal
Roadrunner Records

I've wondered about this album for a while and finally got myself a copy. One of the few female fronted metal acts I'd not checked out yet (I'm a huge fan of the female voice in metal), I'd heard a great many good things about the album. I checked out the lead video on YouTube and it showed promise, and thus it seemed like a pretty safe bet. Boy was it a good purchase. This is one of the best examples of the genre around right now. It has the pop melodies of Lunatica, Within Temptation and After Forever (not really surprising as Within Temptation's former keyboardist was the founding member of Delain), and the uplifting rock elements of current-lineup Nightwish.

The songs are powerful, written with a keen ear for the Big Chorus, and polished to perfection, but not polished so much as to rob the songs of impact. It's epic sounding in many places, and the little flourishes of folk and pop elements really help the songs come to life.

The voice of Charlotte Wessels is wonderful; melodic and powerful without being over the top. Straddling the line somewhere between Annette Olzon and Sharon Den Adel, she has some serious star quality along with a mass of talent in her delivery.

'April Rain' is a brilliant opener, and shows perfectly why Delain have an advantage over bands such as the aforementioned Within Temptation and their ilk, and that advantage is that several of their songs are quite up-tempo and energetic. Some of the songs are approaching anthem status, with a massive chorus on offer at pretty much every turn.

The band prove themselves very able to pull off both the heavy tracks and lighter moments, with tracks like 'Control the Storm' (including the majestic guest vocal from Marco Hietala of Nightwish fame) and closing tune 'Nothing Left' being particularly memorable. As a whole, the album is hugely listenable and very enjoyable.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Why I want an iPad

The Apple iPad is now out in the UK, and I will be getting one as soon as I can. When I mention this to friends and family, I am met with the outbursts that so many other people have been getting. People keep on bringing up the fact that it doesn't allow you to use any Flash content, or the fact that it's just a big iPod Touch, or the argument that I should just get a netbook, or people taking issue with the fact that you're only able to use Apple approved apps, bought through Apple. There are loads of arguments that people will bring up to try and sway me against getting an iPad of my own, but I'm still going to buy one.

Is this because I am a consumerist whore, desperate to be in one every possible new gadget so I can seem like I'm in the know? Nah. Anyone that knows me well knows that I have a crappy old mobile phone (which is so battered that half the numbers are worn off) and a 1st gen iPod Touch. I'm hardly cutting edge when it comes to gadgets. So, how come am I so enamoured of the iPad? First and foremost, I believe it would make my working life a great deal more enjoyable and in some cases a great deal easier. With that said, I'll go through some of the issues that I'm already tired of hearing about.

It's a vanity device with no real use.

True in some cases, I'm sure. However, I intend to use it as both a work tool and an entertainment device. With the apps available, there is a massive amount that I can achieve with it. As I write for a magazine and a bunch of other places, the ability to write an album review as soon as I've listened to the album, whether I'm out, in or nowhere near home is very attractive. Sure, there are apps like the piano one and suchlike, which (while a bit of fun) don;t serve much purpose, which can also make the iPad look like little more than an expensive toy.

Why not just get a netbook?

Because I am very much enamoured of the way Apple set things up. The unit is a delight to use, and runs an OS that offers me speed and enjoyment rather than obstacles. I don't want to have to boot up every time I want to use it, either. That gets old really, really quickly. Netbooks are slow to do just about anything, and if I'm going to spend money, I want to spend it on something that isn't going to irritate me more than help me.

Ah- the cost. How do you justify the huge amount the iPad costs?

I hate to use well worn phrases, but you get what you pay for. As a consumer, I have had nothing but good experiences with Apple products. I came to be a huge fan of the company's gear whilst recording music with my old band, RED20. Using Mac computers was a delight, and I was turned on to the idea of getting in on the act myself. I did, and had nothing but good experiences. I want to know that new tech I buy will be reliable, and while yes, it's expensive, I will pay a little more for the peace of mind that their products have always given me.

But it only runs a smartphone OS – not a proper computer OS.

So? It's not supposed to be a replacement for full computers. Not yet, anyway. I tend not to even turn on my Windows laptop at the moment unless I am going to be writing for lengthy periods. A lot of the time I will surf on my iPod Touch, check and send email, check my social stuff, play games and so on. An iPad will allow me to do all of those things, with the added incentive of a much larger screen, making it easier to read and type. The argument that the iPad is essentially a big iPod Touch just makes me shrug. I mean, great! A big iPod Touch! I don't really need masses of power from it. I just need a device that will allow me to write, listen to music and keep up to date with my ridiculous
media intake easily and enjoyably.

The iBooks store – Will you actually use the iPad as an Ebook reader?

Yes. I'm always carrying books around with me (usually 2 even when I'm only going to work). The iBooks app is easy to navigate and pleasant to read on. Plus, I am very interested in the development of ebooks as apps in a professional capacity. I have a selection of books and short stories on my iPod Touch, which have saved me from boredom on many an occasion. Being able to enjoy them properly on a larger screen is an added bonus.

But you can't modify the iPad or alter it at all...

Why would I want to do that? I'm not one for stripping computers down for fun. I don't care about having the greatest machine in the world. I just want something reliable and fun to use. It's more an issue for tech geeks than regular consumers.

Other stuff: No tabbed browsing in Safari, having to hold it, having to buy accessories, the cost of 3G...

Tabbed browsing? I don't have a problem with separate windows opening in Safari on the iPad. It doesn't get in my way on my iPod Touch, so why should it bother me on the iPad? Anyway, I'd get the Atom browser app, which does offer tabbed browsing. Having to hold it? Not a problem. They feel really nice, aren't very heavy, and are great for leaning against your lap while sat down or held in one hand. Plus, they're easier to move around and show people stuff with than a netbook or laptop. As for having to buy extra accessories such as the case, dock, external keyboard etc, heck, they're optional. Nobody's going to twist my arm to buy those things, and what's the fuss anyway? There are plenty of things people buy for their computers and personal devices. What about the prohibitive costs of the 3G version? Not an issue for me. I will be perfectly happy with the WiFi version, as that's all I really need.

Think of the iPad as digital Marmite. You either think it's a great idea or a bit pointless. I personally love the way it works and am eager to get one for myself as I know I'll get a ton of use out of it both at home and when travelling. I need a device in my life that will allow me to easily write and meet my deadlines even when I'm away from home, with an OS that works like a dream and the capacity for a great deal of entertainment and reading as well as working. If you don't like the idea of the iPad, then don't buy one. Simple as that :) I'll be getting one, as, quite simply and honestly, I believe I will use it enough to more than justify the purchase.

(I'll update this post whenever I get more questions/points raised)

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

New Mortal Kombat Movie 'Trailer' - Real Or Not, It's Pretty Cool

Where the heck did this come from? This almost 8-minute long short appears to be our first look at a new MORTAL KOMBAT movie reboot, starring Michael Jai White and (SPOILER!) Jeri Ryan. Dunno if it's real or if we're about to get an announcement about a new flick, but one thing's for sure- it looks awesome. Tone-wise it looks like SAW, and edits/action wise it brings to mind WATCHMEN. Not sure about the real world versions of the classic fantasy characters from the MK games, but wow, this video is well worth checking out. Be warned though- there's some quite serious gore.



EDIT: Latino Review have posted the lowdown on the Mortal Kombat Reboot Video!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Day Lady GaGa Passed Me By

That sounds like an ironic song title. Really though, a couple of hours before her Nottingham gig last week, Lady GaGa walked past me in the street, and I've been kicking myself for not saying hello ever since. I mean, how often does an icon, a true pop culture phenomenon, walk past you when you walk out of work? Never. I must therefore out myself here online for not realizing straight away what was going on.

My initial reaction when I saw the diminutive lady in the very, very loud outfit walk up to me, make eye contact and than pass me while I stood there looking gormless, was to think 'Christ, that's one hell of an outfit'. The moment she passed with her minder, it sank in that the greatest pop performer of the modern age just looked at me from inches away and I didn't say hello. Arrrrgh!!!

How could I have mistaken her for anyone else? She was wearing an incredible luminous pink jacket, one white legging and one bare leg, stupendous heels and was sporting diagonally spiked hair. In all honesty, she is an extremely radiant person in real life. The photoshopped pictures and CG-polished videos don't do her justice.

So while I'm publicly kicking myself for not saying hi and sheepishly asking for a photo with her, I'd like to do it properly. It would have hopefully gone something like this:

Me: "Wow, hello! Your outfit is amazing!"

*Minder eyes me up and down*

GaGa: "Hi...thank you!"

*Minder calculates the best way to tackle me to the ground*

Me: "May I be cheeky and ask for a picture with you?"

*Minder twitches*

GaGa: "Sure, no problem."

Me (To Minder): "Could you possibly do the honours?" (Hands Minder camera I had with me)

*Minder takes camera and checks it over*

GaGa: "Are you coming to the show tonight?"

Me: "I'm afraid not. I'm saving up for *personal event*. I'm so sorry!"

GaGa: "No problem, little Monster."

*Minder takes photo*

Me: "Thank you very much indeed. (takes camera back) Hope you have a wonderful night!"

GaGa: "I'm sure I will."

Me: And our flat is next to the venue, so if you fancy a cup of tea and a bacon roll in the morning, feel free to knock."

*Minder whisks star away from creepy fan, although the bit about the flat was true*

In a perfect world I'd have suggested some clubs she might like and invited myself and my fiance (also a big fan) along for an evening of dancing and laughs, but I guess that there are a million people who ask her that a week.

Anyway, that would have been nice. As it was I was too dim to realize what was going on, and missed the chance of a lifetime. Ah well, I'll sort that now. Hello Lady GaGa - thanks for brightening my day!

Now, when is she coming back to Nottingham so I can get that photo? ;)