Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Woman's Prerogative

So, I was chatting to a friend shortly after the Musgrave event and whinging and bitching about the sorry state of things, and he said that things are the way they are because people have no competition since our (very spekky) group folded a few years ago (shortly after I and the other mover and shaker left, funnily enough)... Now, I have me doots about the veracity of that theory but it was sufficiently flattering and enough of a challenge that I started to wonder - how hard would it be to get back into re-enactment again and give the buggers something to compete against?? Not that I'm a sacrificial lamb type at all (being dragged kicking and screaming into something I don't especially want to do simply to improve the Movement as a whole is SO not me), rather I see getting back into re-enactment as a golden opportunity to show off (yay!!), and a chance to take up a hobby again that interests me and this time do it right - do the parts of re-enactment that I enjoy (researching and making stoof) and stay well away from the parts that I don't (admin and politics). LOL see how long THAT lasts!

So a week or so after the fair, I sat down and did a Feasibility Study (yes, I am a Sad Little Monkey) of getting back into re-enactment, worked out I could do it, do it better than last time, have more fun...

Sooooo.... I'm handsewing another tent (okay pavilion - the bloody thing's 4.8 x 3.2 metres and about 3.4m tall), and getting together all the stuff I'll need to put on a passable display at fairs. I figured that I'd stick with the place and period I was re-enacting before (because it still interests me, not because I've still got the gear for it - I sold pretty much all of it when I gave up re-enactment 5-odd years ago), and I'd do a 'new-and-improved' version of the static display I started playing with in the old group.

I figured on doing it by myself, just me and a tent full of handmade, living history samples of textile production, games, eatin' irons, and assorted bits and pieces about the lifestyle of the period; then my Dad thought it'd fun to come along and preach History to the Heathens; then my children decided they wanted in, too... so I've ended up with a group after all! So much nicer than a solo tour.

Oh, the place and period? Late twelfth to early thirteenth century (i.e. Third Crusade) Cyprus, the Melting Pot of the Mediterranean!

(Pics are of the tent about 2 weeks ago - it's now all painted and hemmed and I'm sewing the roof together)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Musgrave World Medieval Tournament

Back again after a little rest.... (okay, so I haven't posted since last November, so sue me).

Went to the Musgrave World Medieval Tournament today, at Musgrave Park (!), Brisbane; having given up re-enactment in about 2003 I'd never found time or interest in going to any of the events that occur throughout the year (and let's face it, for the first couple of years after giving it up I avoided them like the plague because re-enactment still left a bad taste in my mouth - something to do with a hobby that had gone from being a craft- and research-oriented fun thing to an administrative and political position with its associated miasma of irritation and stress...), so I'd missed out on all the changes and gossip that has occured in the re-enactment realm over the past 5 or so years.

It was kind of fun to attend an event as a tourist, rather than one of the organising committee, and it was great to catch up with people I hadn't seen for years (and we've all become so OLD!!!), but at the end of the day I was left with a little feeling of sadness - it hadn't changed that much! I had expected the gear and the costumes to have improved over the years in acccuracy and construction, as when I left the 'Medieval Movement' five years ago, that's the way it was heading and I'd heard reports from re-enactors that I still keep in contact with that the gear was so much better now, even if people were tending to buy it rather than make it; but I saw little evidence of that today...

The encampments were, understandably, a bit sparse as the Brisbane City Council (who leased the park to the fair organisers) had decreed that no-one was to sleep in the park overnight (the event goes for Saturday AND Sunday) and thus a lot of the groups had decided to pack down and remove their encampments (or a large part of them) for the night and set up again in the morning - VERY inconvenient and not conducive to a good show - because leaving kit laying around in an inner city park with only a few security guards is an open invitation for trouble; so peple had tended not to bring along as much stuff to make the encampments more interesting and engaging as they usually might have. Even so, a lot of the equipment and tentage I saw was heartwarmingly familiar (and fair enough, as the stuff doesn't wear out); but it was the costumes... worn, shabby, very familiar - some of them I can remember as new in the early and mid-1990s.

It used to be a matter of honour, more or less, to have a new gown or surcoat for the year's new re-enactment season (in Brisbane, that's roughly May to September as it's too hot the rest of the year) and the old ones would be relegated to the 'camping costumes' pile or lent to friends or very new members who didn't have their own gear yet. Lots of familiar faces wearing lots of familiar clothes - the faces are a little older and the clothes are considerably shabbier... I wonder if the heart is going out of re-enactment?

That was the last big re-enactment event for this year (the others, Abbey and Fort Lytton, are held in kinder temperatures in the winter months) so I'll have to wait until next year now to see if things really have stagnated that much or whether it was just the event, which was being run for the first time by a new organiser and without much notice, and which had been dragged through the mud by its previous organiser leaving groups unpaid for their performances and the city council very unimpressed by the (mis
)use of the park. With that sort of a bad taste in their mouth connected to the event, I can imagine a lot of re-enactors may not have been putting in 100% effort and interest, in case they were burnt yet again; and I wonder if this extended to their use of second-best costuming and kit? Probably just as well there was not a huge crowd of The Public to see it....

At the end of the day I still had little desire to take up re-enacting again - it all seems like too much trouble now, for too little return in fun.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

GarageBand 4.1

(For those not in the know, GarageBand is Apple's make-your-own music program.)

GarageBand 4.1 is part of the iLife 08 suite (also comprising iPhoto, iMovie, the .Mac Web Gallery, iWeb and iDVD) and is the logical 'next-step-forward' from previous versions.

Although most of the advertising and many of the articles about it dwell (at great length, sometimes) on the new Magic GarageBand, I found that I whizzed through that aspect in about five minutes. Woohoo, you can choose different instruments to play exactly the same piece of muzak.

The real difference lies in its speed: the app is a real hog of processor power and I still find myself quitting out of all unused apps before launching it - a bad habit from G4 days - but unless you're attempting a really ambitious project it's not really necessary anymore. In fact, I've had the warning window that I've exceeded my number of tracks appear before I've had the dreaded "Some parts of this song have not been played..." window (which means it's too big and the computer's not coping and you have to save it as a song in its own right and then start up another one and import the song you just saved as a single track...phew!).

Another plus is the introduction of an Arrangements feature - amazingly handy and time saving, especially if you're using a theme repeatedly in your song, as it allows you to denote parts of it as 'verse' or 'chorus' (or whatever you want to call them), and to copy and paste them and move them around and change their order. Unfortunately, if you decide you want the 'verse' section, say, to be a little longer, you can't just drag the bar to extend that section and push the next section along (if you drag the bar over, all you're doing is extending the 'verse' part to include a few bars in the next section. You need to create a new section and then move it to the end of the one you want to extend; It's a lot less stuffing around than doing it the old way but there's a lot of room for improvement in the Arrangements area.

There are a lot of little tweaks on features that were in the older versions of GarageBand; one of my favourites is a drop-down menu on lops that will display the family of loops - very good when the loop you have is close but not quite right, and you can thus easily chose a better one without having to wade through the loops menu (which has also been expanded - goody! New noises!)

New features also described for the app (which I haven't used yet, but I can see they'd be a good thing) include multi-take recording, support for 24-bit recording and notation, and a greater range of effects you can apply to your tracks and instruments (which I've tinkered with, acknowledged there are more than there used t be, and made a mental promise to investigate further, one of these days, when I have time...)

Overall: it's still intuitively easy to use, and it's still a good app, better than it was, but could do with yet more tweaking in some areas.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What one should wear at a fashionable Japanese dinner...

A straw poll was conducted by the Daily Telegraph this week (with no mention of the total number of respondents!) to ascertain public understanding of the Kyoto Protocol.  Respondents were asked to select a description of Kyoto from a set of multiple options: a) A Korean car, b) The treaty that ended WWII, c) An agreement on carbon emissions and d) A Japanese banquet dish.  

Almost half of the people surveyed answered correctly, identifying Kyoto as an agreement on carbon emissions, but close to half of those who answered correctly admitted guessing the response.  38 percent thought the Kyoto Protocol was the treaty that ended World War 2, and 14 percent thought it was a Japanese banquet dish...

This is very much a current topic, and makes me wonder - is it really our school system that is letting us down, history-wise, or is it simply that the average, man-in-the-street Australian chooses to be massively uninformed?  This is a topic which all Australians should have heard of (it's been very much on the news for at least the past few months) whether it is mentioned in school or not, which would indicate that the craptacular poll results stem less from a namby-pamby syllabus and more from a high percentage of the respondents being apathetic, lazy, disinterested and possibly just plain stupid.

But they'll be allowed to vote at the upcoming election, where they can exercise their opinions as to the shortfalls of the education system and our position on global matters of environment...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

OOOO three posts in one day LOL

Gotta see today's Joy of Tech
You can turn Steve Ballmer into Johnny Depp (sort of...)


And I don't know why the colour and layout are screwy...

... I think I may go back to using Camino...

Second World Country

One thing that I was expecting from Leopard (and I'm not sure why, as the advertising for Leopard doesn't mention it) was a crisper, faster, better iChat.  There really hasn't been much of an improvement in this area, and it's not really Leopard's fault.  Dad and I tried the whole presentation and screen sharing thing last night, and the app quit on us.  Not enough bandwidth.  Ferchrissakes, we're both on broadband!!!  But yes, folks, it's good ol' Telstra-governed, Australian broadband.

Mr Justin Vellejo, of the Daily Telegraph, wrote an article on October 20, 2007, in which he claims broadband in Australia is a "Third World Joke".

AUSTRALIANS are paying nine times more for broadband that trundles along 35 times slower than the world's fastest networks.  A report from the US has revealed Australia has become the Third World of broadband developed nations, ranking 26th out of 30 countries for its transfer speeds.  Sydney households pay an average $2.65 per month for one megabyte of service at a speed of 1.7 megabytes a second, according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation's broadband rankings.  By comparison, users in Japan have the world's fastest broadband and pay a paltry 29c a month for one megabyte at a blistering 61 megabytes a second.  On a scale of speed, Australia is even ranked behind the Slovak Republic, which separated from the former Soviet country Czechoslovakia in 1993.

The problem with Leopard is that it was written in America.  For computers with American-speed broadband. or Japanese-speed broadband.  Or Korean-speed.  You get the idea.  I doubt we in Australia will be able to use some of Leopard's features unless it's at an ungodly hour of the morning when no one else is using broadband.

We're having an election here soon, and I'm gonna vote for whichever party is willing to drag us, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century, broadband-wise.  And at least make us a Second World country.