My Most Treasured Possession

I attended this year’s Figures of Speech event in London last week which raised money for the Institute of Contemporary Arts.  Speakers included Bob Geldof, Alan Carr and Janet Street-Porter, all talking about their most treasured possessions.  Spinvox‘s James Whatley, who hosted the Bloggers’ table, has asked that each of us do the same, so here’s mine.

 

My Most Treasured Possession

 

If you see me out at night, the chances are I’ll have 2 big blue things in my ears, my beloved protectors of unwelcome noise, my USA-imported saviours, the humble hearos ear-plug. Since my previous life as a 4-times-a week musical performer, I’ve always made sure to wear hearing protection when gigging – a lot of the time, the monitors in front of the stage pointing at the band would be as loud, if not louder, than the speakers pointing at the audience. Whilst it looks a little unconventional, wearing my most treasured possession is worth all the good-natured pointing and laughing I get for the moment I step outside.

I pull out my earplugs and my hearing is crystalline, compared to my companions, who are shouting incoherently at each other over the ringing in their own ears. I generally put my earplugs back in at this point until they have calmed down.

what?

what?

 

The most painful thought for me is that if I lose my ability to hear, I won’t be able to navigate my world anymore. I spent such a long time getting used to the many dissonances of daily life, vexed by the microtones in each new scenario until I was taught how to process those sounds as music. It turns out that if you use the appropriate scale, then your audio landscape can become a wonderful, if chaotic, symphony*.

I would be devastated if I could no longer use this method to interact with the world. I recognise people more easily by the sound of their voices than their physical appearance, which is another source of great amusement to those I see regularly.

If I lost my sense of hearing, I fear I will lose the friends I can’t recognise by sight alone. Even sitting on the tube, as I write this, I can hear someone’s headphones at an ear-splitting volume. I wonder momentarily why we seem so relaxed about protecting something that’s fundamentally irreplaceable, before replacing my earplugs, letting the sounds of the Jubilee line recede to a blissfully tolerable volume.

NB *Within reason, of course – I’m not counting the downstairs flat’s questionable and mystifying 125dB musical interludes at 1am on a Monday morning.

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Covent Garden Wishing Well

This is what I saw when I went to Covent garden to briefly visit a blogger lunch.
What is THAT????
I nearly bumped into a conspicuous gigantic triangular shaped structure that’s there till January.
big silver wishing thing by LJRich.

Spinvox Wishing Well

 
Spinvox, the people behind the structure, have left this silver wishing well in central London, the idea being that you call and leave a message from your phone, and it gets converted to text and displayed on the inside of the installation.
 – Here’s a shot  a bit closer in – you may be able to see me in it – I’m in the X box…
(Visual Pun! How I wish I did that on purpose!)
what is this doing in covent garden? by you.
Needless to say, there were many others there including my fantastic underground blogger mate, and of course whatleydude who kindly invited me along.

This is what it looks like inside – I stood in here for ages, reading what other people were wishing for.

inside there are messages from people calling in with their wishes by phone by LJRich.

inside the structure

I particularly like the fact that if one spoke a swear-word into the message, it would be replaced with &* ?*&!£ symbols, so even though the best words went, the sentiment remained. 

Of course, if you were one of those people who looked up rude words in the dictionary at school and laughed (English and other languages – oh, hang on, I still do that now) then you will appreciate the work that must have gone into creating the database to recognise them all.

I loved reading wishes ranging from “I wish for World Peace” to “I wish I had gigantic nostrils”.

If you’re in London, it’s definitely worth a look –  http://www.spinvoxwishingwell.com/

Alien Abduction? What happened?!

My goodness, how naughty, it’s been ages since I last blogged… I can only apologise wholeheartedly and hope that the pictures below will help somewhat… these are from the long-since attended Spinvox ICA 60th Anniversary party a million years ago, i.e February.

These images are from Peter Serafinowicz’s talk that evening about his most treasured posession, which is a very strange encyclopaedia called the Codex Seraphinianus filled with fictional drawings of pretend things that don’t exist, along with a completely made up language as a commentary.
___
Actually, this was the fateful night I met up with whatleydude, annie mole, thatcanadiangirl and some other amazing Blogging types – it was lovely to meet a bunch of crazy tech-heads who are also passionate about the fabulous world of electronic paraphenalia. We discussed tech with the enthusiasm of the deeply faithful, which led to me wondering if this technophilia is an addiction…
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I read somewhere that people who have a great love of rollercoaster rides (I’m definitely one of these!) could indeed have a kind of chemical imbalance in the brain, which gets “righted” when we are screeching through the air, preferably up-side down, swearing and feeling our vision darkening at the corners… ah, only a few days to go until the great British Theme Parks are open again…
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Gadget-wise, I’ve been playing with the Creative XDock Wireless system which is a very snazzy iPod sender/receiver set which allows you to control your iPod in your bedroom, even though it’s actually in the lounge – that’s play/pause etc, not just listening to your music. The device itself has a sleek finish, and used with the Gigaworks T20 speakers, the sound quality is incredible.
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I’ve also been tinkering with JVC’s DVD network player, the Sophisti DD system – which has virtual back-surround speakers, meaning no need to trail wires around the lounge (unless you really want to). It is quite a feat to set this up – not difficult by a long stretch, but takes a while plugging all the wires in. The thing is, like lychees, the fuss is certainly worth it, as the speakers kick out a nice amount of sound, and happily there is a powered subwoofer in the DD3 system, along with some rather clever dialogue-friendly speaker technology.
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Until then, enjoy what’s left of the crazy bank holiday weather remnants – (for those of you reading this overseas, it was “The first day of Spring” this weekend, and in London we had snow, hail, rain and perhaps some sun – almost biblical) – and I promise to be back soon with some more random ramblings.

Brushes with the Rich and More Famous!

Now here’s something that doesn’t happen every day… it’s a picture of me in OK magazine!! how exciting, apart from the fact that a) this was from 2005, a million years ago, and b) there’s an errant bit of hair in my face…
Ah, that short brush with tabloid fame and such a long time ago…. thank goodness I can redeem myself tonight, and get glammed up to attend the ICA’s 60th Anniversary Gala dinner… I will be leaving shortly after the systems failure in the Wardrobe Registry gets debugged i.e. I decide what to wear.
I’m going to grab my JVC Everio camcorder just in case anything exciting happens, it should fit into my TARDIS-style handbag along with the vast amount of other electronics that generally accompanies me everywhere. Thank goodness I have a powermonkey to plug into, which makes things a little greener.
[…someone performed a Random Act of Kindness on me the other day and touched my heart.]
Tomorrow I’ll be off to Bournemouth to do some filming in my capacity as Tech Girl on the Telly – but rest assured, I’ll report back from this fabulous occasion, probably on the train back home if I finish processing my emails… which reminds me, if you read my “extreme” blog a few weeks ago, I went off to that club Guanabara in the end, and the London School of Samba gave a live performance, which was incredible – I’ll post up some pics of that as well.
…and don’t forget to visit my latest Q&A session on Virgin’s page! love, LJx

Reality TV and Poptarts

“I had an amazingly strange night last night starting at BAFTA where I attended an event called “Truth or Dare: The Reality of Television” which pitted a selection of imaginary reality TV scenarios to the likes of Greg Dyke, Kelvin MacKenzie and a host of other high-up TV producer types. After being exposed to what *really* goes on behind the scenes in a Reality TV show (there will be a follow up blog on this I think), I then went off to actually appear on live TV (QVC UK in this case) at 1:00 in the morning – which was a very surreal thing to be doing, especially after the televisual wool had been firmly pulled from my bleary, overtired eyes.

… so I got back to the house at 3.00 am and woke up at around 1100 – (it’s OK, any self-respecting technology journalist is allowed to wake up whenever they want, after all, “online” is a 24-hour city) … and here is where you join me, speaking this blog whilst trying to work out how to optimally toast a chocolate pop tart that my friend Ivy sent me from me from Seattle, USA. In case you’re interested, my aim is to warm it through, but not burn it, and (geek that I am) I’m trying to calibrate the exact number at which to set the toaster. In case you’re still interested, it appears to be 2.5.

In case you haven’t realised from the (undeniably) creative procrastination above, I’ve got a few days to myself this week and I don’t have to be on TV until Friday night. Today I’ll be talking to a journalist from The Times (UK) about mobile blogging and technology in general (I’ll link to this in my next blog), then after a spot of Facebooking (is that a word?), I’ll probably beach myself in front of some reality TV after all, as there’s no Stargate Atlantis.

Speak to you soon, it was lovely to check in.”
spoken through SpinVox, tweaked by LJ

Back in Blighty – Back to Work

So I’ve finally returned back to the UK, absolutely tired out, and completely and totally culture shocked by the craziness that is Las Vegas and the ridiculousness that was CES.

I found out that there were 2 million square feet of exhibition space of which I probably only managed to get across a fraction- and even then that was with incredibly hard work and very, very, very comfortable shoes.

For now I’m back in the UK – once I’ve finished unpacking and sorting through my email, I’ll be spending time getting ready to talk about JVC’s MG330 HD camcorder on QVC UK . For the purposes of this blog, and for general curiosity, I’ve found out that a) QVC is the biggest electronics retailer in the world, b) Marco Polo House, where the studio is, was named after real broadcasting Satellites in Space and c) the UK arm reaches 21 million households, which explains why people come and chat to me in really odd places like Milton Keynes British Rail Station.

Actually, it’s great fun when people come and say hello most of the time – although I once got recognised at a certain large 24hour supermarket at 3am buying Imodium – that’s the not-so-glamorous side of life in the public eye – “Hi LJ, how are you? Oh, not too well I see” was the gist of that particular conversation.

On the plus side, when I was flown over to QVC in America, where it’s the 5th most watched channel in the States, I went to the mall the day after the show, and someone came up to me and said “Wow, you’re that videogame girl from England!” – that made my week!

So I’ll be broadcasting live for 24 hours on the 27th January and it will feature JVC’s hard drive camcorder that I took around CES with me to Vegas. So that should be quite fun. It’s still quite surreal chatting away to my phone and I really am enjoying this blogging service, it has to be said. SpinVox might even come over and film me doing this which should be even more fun, although I don’t think it will be very telegenic to have SpinVox film me doing what I’m doing right now which, at the moment, is my laundry 🙂

I can’t believe it’s already halfway through January… I’m in the studio with Graham Wood working on some exciting music projects, and this week I’ll pop over after the initial recording session to do what is known in the trade as “Tweakage” – I’ll also be composing a mini ident (that’s about 3 seconds of music) for a digital device, which is always exciting, as I love to take into account the acoustics of the device, and what it looks like before working out what tune it should have!

spoken through SpinVox tweaked by LJ

Speaking Freely

“Hello, this is me actually talking to my blog, yes, Talking! I’m using SpinVox which will convert any ramble into my telephone into hopefully something intelligible that you might want to read about life, the universe, gadgets and everything else. Basically, they give you a phone number and then you can blog away to your heart’s content – Spinvox will then send your blog a text transcript – either to Draft, or Real Live Publishing, depending on your demeanour and/or blog settings. So here goes:*

I’ve just finished answering all the questions for the virgin media xmas forum which was quite exciting, although it took me a lot longer than I thought to complete… it turns out that there are lots and lots of questions that don’t just require desk research, but actually speaking to Real Humans, which I try and avoid as much as I can first thing in the morning.

Other news, on my website http://www.ljrich.com/ you will actually be able to get a £5 voucher from Firebox if you click on the Firebox Voucher link on the menu… just enter your email and then Firebox will kindly send you £5 with no minimum spend which I think is fabulous.

I’m also trying to get everything sorted for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas, where I’ll be filming in January 2008. The more I’m told about this, the more bemused I am.

I’ve been constantly given warnings about how crazy Las Vegas is and how absolutely ram-packed it’s going to be and how it’s just going to blow my mind and that it’s some kind of Gadget Heaven. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll either be swallowed up by some gigantic technological black hole, never to return, or I might just get it over and done with and be assimilated at the show. Let’s hope that Borg OS is compatible with most browser platforms. I bet it’s incredibly efficient…

You know, I’m currently somewhere between really looking forward to this trip and really being quite worried about it. I’ll definitely be updating you on how it all turns out. Thanks very much SpinVox, you rock! speak to you soon. Bye.”

*note, I spoke this to Draft and tweaked it so you could click on nice links before publishing, but really I didn’t need to adjust very much at all- most excellent! www.spinvox.com if you fancy having a look.

spoken through SpinVox tweaked by LJ