Monday, 27 July 2015

RemoteGoat reviews @ukmixtape #edfringe preview @LiveTheatre ★★★★★

Today's post is more like a guest post than one of my own.

I'm borrowing a few lines from RemoteGoat's review of the Mixtape Preview at Live Theatre on Friday evening. The full review by Gary Dugdale is at

As RemoteGoat says:

"As Mixtape shows usually focus on a set genre, tonight’s show was an example of what can be expected at the Edinburgh Fringe Show this year showcasing elements from each of the 25 odd shows they’ll be performing.

Mixing all genres of songs works well and equally, focusing on one set area works too. My preference is the mixing of types of songs as this means a broader scope of knowledge is needed to successfully win the coveted golden mixtape. You folks in Scotland will be lucky if you catch a show while the crew are there.

Another flawless, extremely entertaining show tonight, well done boys and girls."

Oh yes, and Five Stars from RemoteGoat! ★★★★★

Saturday, 25 July 2015

@ukmixtape in the wild at rehearsals @LiveTheatre

Here's a minute of the rehearsals at Live Theatre before Mixtape's Preview on Friday evening, which sold out to a full house.

Lookin' good.

Friday, 24 July 2015

about time I used one of the pods

I thought I'd try the Pods at Heathrow today.

I used to sometimes use the car park where they are sited before they were running regularly, which invariably meant catching a shuttle bus.

Then main T5 car park opened, so I habitually park there for short journeys or pre-book the valet if it is for longer.

However, when I park inside T5 myself, I usually park on the same floor as the Pods anyway, so it's about time to test them.


Thursday, 23 July 2015

yesterday we entered a #totebag overload situation

The tote bag above is really my guilty secret favourite among the bags we're taking to Edinburgh Fringe. It's pretty easy to guess the original song too, vastly easier than any of the actual Mixtape scripts.

And the first few tote bags seemed to spark twittery comments and song suggestions much faster than we could actually produce any bags.
The early totes have been relatively simple, but now I'm starting to detect a creeping elegance.
Well, they will soon be seen on Princes Street and The Royal Mile. Even the ones that have over-adapted song lyrics.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

alternative customer relationship management techniques

Yikes, today I was sent one of those 'we're sending the boys round' emails.

Aside from the problem that I'd already cancelled the contract in question, I felt the tone exceptionally harsh for something which had a theoretical due date of only 2 weeks ago and was for a tiny amount.

"Your account with XXX has an outstanding balance of GBP 17.28. If this balance is not settled by 01 Aug 2015, your account will be placed with a third party collection agency.

Please note that as we are obligated to pursue the entire unpaid contract value and your company will be liable for the entire outstanding balance and for any and all collection costs incurred by XXX including the fee for placing the account."

That's how the email started. It went on to say that it "had no choice but to take these steps". Of course, they could have phoned me to find out what was happening, but I suppose that would require a human touch.

Then the email went into the threats, which are interesting if you are thinking of placing data into the Cloud. First a threat to destroy my credit rating (remember I've already cancelled this contract):

"Please be aware that if your account is placed with a third party collection agency, it can dramatically affect your credit rating."

Then a threat to destroy all of my Data:

"In addition, XXX will have no obligation to maintain or provide Your Data after the time specified in your Master Subscription Agreement, and will thereafter delete or destroy all copies of Your Data in Our systems."

So they threaten me and say they'll destroy all my data.

When I called their International Help Desk (which required me to specify the language before I could go any further), they checked their system. Yes, I had cancelled. Their system had sent my message to the wrong place. The billing person agreed that I was right.

I'm still waiting for the apology from my "Customer Representative".

Did I mention the nature of the software in question? ...Customer Relationship Management.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

hip hop through the subway speakers?

A few years ago I was sitting on a New York Subway, when some hackers jacked into the MTA carriages's audio system and started playing hip-hop through the speakers. No-one in the carriage seemed to bat an eyelid, and I wasn't sure if it was commonplace or if New Yorkers were as insulated as Londoners when on public transport.

I wondered at the time just how long it would be before this started happening to other forms of transport.

I now see a couple of hackers have just published some computer code which can be used to intercept automobile firmware and mess around with the systems. They have been doing it in plain view, so that manufacturers get onto the security requirement, but it does raise the kind of issues I was thinking about as I travelled uptown on the 5.

Cars have a sort of Local Area Network whose speed has been progressively increasing for the last few years.

There's a few standards like CAN (Controller Area Network) and LIN (Local Interconnect Network) which have to be more resilient to electromagnetism and EMF noise as well as having workshop-friendly industrial looking connectors.

A typical modern car has 50-100 microprocessor systems, so these modern-day computer linkages are pretty important, and have progressively increased in speed, running at around a Megabit per second in modern cars.

Naturally, car manufacturers are already talking about wifi car diagnostics, and the wifi extension IEEE 802.11p has been around for some years, specifically as a vehicular communication system to support ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems). The idea is that cars can talk to one another as well as to the workshop.

That's where the modern-day equivalent of the subway train hackers come along. If they can bridge the gap from the roadside to the car using wifi, and then hook onto the car's 'LAN', there's a potential way to exploit the car's control system.

The two guys that just tried it with a Chrysler in the USA also illustrate the start of an intriguing era for cars.

They get more computerised, but the uConnect fix for the Chrysler has to be uploaded manually via a USB stick into the vehicle. Its's supposed to be a driver-friendly update, but I do wonder whether its is completely foolproof? We all know the strange things that can happen with, say, a Windows update.

I remember when we needed to update something in the sporty little red car. It ran the special car version of Windows and needed someone with a fairly extensive computer knowledge to get it all working. Or the time my smart windscreen was replaced by a normal windscreen fitter who effectively disabled the whole car for about three weeks until all the right control systems could be reinstalled by the car dealers' people.

So, who will get there first? The car dealers or the hackers? Maybe Suzi Quatro was prescient with 'Can the CAN'?

Monday, 20 July 2015

rare migratory vehicles

Around town with some friends in the evening, we briefly commented on the interesting cars in the residents' car park. We are now at that time of year when cars get shipped over to London from places where it is inconveniently hot.

I noticed the blue Aventador first. It allegedly glows in the dark like something out of Tron, and nearby the accomplice red Lamborghini just looks pretty.
There's a couple of Aston Martins, but no-one seems to notice them as the air-freighted cars start to appear. The Roller next to the Lambo flew first class and next to that there's a middle eastern plated G Class Mercedes, admittedly with the AMG spec to keep the price north of £100k. The Merc and the Lambo still have sand on them and the Lambo has those Italian-flag coloured disk brakes.

I don't think I'll be keeping up with the neighbours.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

As if the #cupcake wasn't enough, now we're onto the #edfringe @ukmixtape carrier bags

Decisions, decisions...

These desirable bags are for leafleting in Edinburgh, and we decided they might as well be branded.

Instead of getting them made by a fancy printer, we've decided that these are relatively straightforward to produce ourselves.
The difference is, when you send them away there is One Design. End of story.

By feeding them through the home printer, there's the opportunity to try different designs.
And don't get me started on the tee-shirts.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

#cupcake plans for @ukmixtape promo

Another item in the Mixtape armoury is the #cupcake plans which have already created a few boom-box as well as cassette and CD cakes as part of the fund-raising.

A couple of attempts are illustrated here.
I'm thinking that a Kit-Kat bar (maybe only 3 instead of 4 sticks?) would make a good base for a facsimile robust but edible cassette? Anyone know of any recipes?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Everyman steps beyond

We finally got to see the NT production of Everyman on the South Bank this week. Tickets have been scarce and I had to book about three months ahead. Ironically, there was huge array of HD production vehicles and a large satellite dish parked alongside the theatre because there's to be a live broadcast version to cinemas around now.

The story is quite well-known; a 500-year old morality play about how Everyman (everyone) is called to their God by the agent of Death and judged by their good deeds. The Everyman in the play wants other allegorical supporters to speak in his favour, but Fellowship, Family, Material Goods and Knowledge won't play along. It goes a bit guilt-trippy Catholic after that, with Penance and Confession making appearances.

At least, it does in the original version.

This is a bangin' overhaul set in a clubby metropolis, where Everyman is having a big party for his 40th birthday accompanied by the longest line of cocaine it is possible to imagine.

Naturally - and no spoiler because it's the premise of the piece - there are consequences and a dry-witted Death appears complete with a police forensic outfit.

The modernised script has been written by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Chiwetel Ejiofor impressively plays Everyman.

There's some stabbingly good lines in this version, which has removed much of the religion and secularised many of the discussions, whilst keeping a clean version of a God in the mix.

We get more about how Everyman is spending the earth and the pervasiveness of materialism. The Judgement by Another has been largely removed although Death as an Agent inevitably persists.

It isn't supposed to be a realistic story, although I found the energetic Ejiofor character difficult to pinpoint. He's supposed to be hyper-rich in this modern take, starting out in a smooth-looking suit. His friends for his birthday bash don't quite carry the same haute couture and it's difficult to tell the doorman from the divine. But then, I suppose Everyman is also supposed to get stripped back to his essence?

Because it starts with Ejiofor living it really large, there's something of a challenge to balance a tone which already begins at a maximum volume.

And there's almost a life lesson, in that the original play would get the audience to think about their own condition and path through the world. This version emphasised the consumerism and perhaps became altogether more flighty as a consequence.

I'll put this into the 'Glad I've seen it' category.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

#yarnbomb exploits of @ukmixtape for #edfringe

We were #yarnbombed by the Button Theatre on twitter a couple of days ago and decided it was only right to respond.

A certain person will recognise these crazy characters standing in for the Mixtapers. It's best to look at the real poster as well to get the best impression.

I can hardly tell the difference.

Get tickets to see your new Mixtape friends:
Underbelly Booking Office
Edinburgh Fringe Booking Office
Live Theatre Preview

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

a short video explaining @ukmixtape ahead of #edfringe

I suppose I should mention the posters and flyer somewhere too.

Meantime, get tickets to see your new Mixtape friends:
Underbelly Booking Office
Edinburgh Fringe Booking Office
Live Theatre Preview