Category: Stuff

Aston Origin microphone & Halo vocal booth

For any actors out there considering getting into voice- over work from home, the technological hurdles can seem daunting. A major part of this is simply choosing the right tools for the job – especially if you’re on a budget.
I have been very fortunate while doing my research, to have come across a new microphone manufacturer from the UK who not only make outstanding high-end products, but don’t charge the earth for the privilege.
I was bowled over when I learned what an economic choice these items represent, especially as they are also manufactured in the UK. Hope this little video helps.

Simon Cox on KALEIDOSCOPE MAN

In 2006, UK filmmaker Simon Cox announced to a group of friends that his new movie, Kaleidoscope Man, would be the biggest British indie sci-fi movie of all time – A sweeping statement? Or was it?

After years of trying to get his second movie funded through traditional film industry routes, it was at this moment that Simon made the decision to stop chasing carrots and do whatever needed to be done to achieve his dream; making an epic sci-fi movie that would move and inspire people in the same way the original Star Wars inspired him. But, he was in his 40’s with a young family, broke, feeling washed up and beginning to realise that perhaps Hollywood wasn’t about to come knocking.
Now in 2016, Simon has nearly finished the hugely ambitious Kaleidoscope Man. And its good. In fact, it’s very good. But the road to getting it made has certainly been rocky and full of challenges and the finance to do it has not fallen into his lap. Yet, his determination and passion has lamented the support from thousands across the world – And at this moment, the eyes of the UK film industry are upon him.

Come to our fascinating one day seminar and discover from Simon himself just how he and a team of friends have managed to pull off this incredible feat.
How they convinced 700+ people to run from attacking alien ships in Central Birmingham.
Built the international space station in a warehouse in Nuneaton (with materials from Wikes DIY store).
How they convinced 80’s pop icon Toyah Willcox to star in the movie.
Sent fleets of attacking alien ships flying over Central London.
Turned Birmingham into a deserted battlefield.
Got primetime TV coverage on BBC London Tonight.
Discovered a young illustrator who went from creating images for Kaleidoscope Man to
Godzilla, Star Wars the Force Awakes and now Star Wars Rouge One.
Pulled together over 500+ people to help get the movie made.

You’ll hear amusing anecdotes, see fascinating behind the scenes videos and some exclusive clips from the movie – before anyone else sees them.
Catch Simon now before the movie hits the big screen and discover for yourself how with a little passion and determination YOU can achieve your dreams too.
BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW

Hugh Laurie on being ready

I post this as much to remind myself as anything! Thank you Hugh!
“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee jumping or something – I’m not. I’m not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”

Eliza Bott

Ahem. PROUD FATHER. My daughter is a graphics and web designer, you know …

New insights on Poverty

A TED Talk by Hans Rosling
There’s a lot of gloom & doom spouted on this wonderful thing called the internet. Many naysayers out there. Well, did you know that the World is actually getting better? That it’s a FACT that the world is getting better – not just a matter of opinion? Don’t believe me? Watch this.

Happy New Year

A very Happy New Year to you all too! 
For ourselves, Sharon and I have declared that 2014 shall be a year of GRACE … we wish that blessing for all – whatever it may mean for you.

Origins of the Da Vinci Code

Here’s one I made earlier.
Back in 2005 – at the hight of ‘Da Vinci Code’ mania – I was commissioned by a publisher in New York to make a film about the background to Dan Brown’s novel. Why me? Well, I had been working with and was friends with the grandaddy of the whole ‘alternative history’ phenomenon, co-author of “Holy Blood, Holy Grail’, Henry Lincoln. Henry was concerned that there was an awful lot of nonsense being published at the time about him and the whole story behind the Da Vinci Code, so he leapt at the chance to put the record straight – and to add in what he believes is the ‘true’ mystery behind the hype. ‘Origins of the Da Vinci Code’ was born. (Runs 1 hour 20 minutes, by the way).

10 Reasons Why 2013 Will Be The Year You Quit Your Job

This is a great article by James Altucher and can be read in full at TechCrunch.  Mr. Altucher’s thesis is that if you want to keep yourself in the manner to which you’ve become accustomed or indeed to increase your wealth, you need to stop thinking in terms of a job. He says you need to have the ‘creative idea’ to keep a roof over your head.
What he misses however,  is that there is a way of working for yourself – but with someone else’s ‘creative idea”. The fact is, you could start tomorrow, earning money and working for yourself in a way that, over time, creates a solid, reliable income for life. Contact me to find out how.

Editor’s note: James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and several-times entrepreneur. His latest books are I Was Blind But Now I See and 40 Alternatives to College. Please follow him on Twitter @jaltucher.
People read TechCrunch because they want to create something, they don’t want to follow orders all of their lives, and they want financial freedom. I’m being blunt. The above three items feel good. God bless you. Hopefully once you get the three things above, you get to keep them. Most people (i.e. ME) have to ride a roller coaster for awhile because we are stupid. But some people are smart.
Getting the things you want is hard but for reasons I explain below, you now have no other choice. The myth of corporate safety, of rising up through the ranks, of getting the gold watch, of getting applauded by your peers is over. Not because the economy is bad. But because innovation and the global economy are better than ever.
But don’t wait for shortcuts.
You can’t make money without selling something real. You can’t make something real without first imagination manifesting itself in your head. You can’t have imagination without surrendering yourself to an idea that you want to create something of value to other human beings.
And now it’s too late. Now the course of history has finally written its next chapter. There’s no more bullshit. I’m going to tell you why you have to quit your job. Why you need to get the ideas moving. Why you need to build a foundation for your life or soon you will have no roof.
Jabba’s newest employee
1) The middle class is dead. A few weeks ago I visited a friend of mine who manages a trillion dollars. No joke. A trillion. If I told you the name of the family he worked for you would say, “they have a trillion? Really?” But that’s what happens when $10 million compounds at 2 percent over 200 years.
He said, “look out the windows.” We looked out at all the office buildings around us. “What do you see?” he said. “I don’t know.” “They’re empty! All the cubicles are empty. The middle class is being hollowed out.” And I took a closer look. Entire floors were dark. Or there were floors with one or two cubicles but the rest empty. “It’s all outsourced, or technology has taken over for the paper shufflers,” he said.
“Not all the news is bad,” he said. “More people entered the upper class than ever last year.” But, he said, more people are temp staffers than ever.
And that’s the new paradigm. The middle class has died. The American Dream never really existed. It was a marketing scam.
And it was. The biggest provider of mortgages for the past 50 years, Fannie Mae, had as their slogan, “We make the American Dream come true.” It was just a marketing slogan all along. How many times have I cried because of a marketing slogan. And then they ruined it.
2) You’ve been replaced. Technology, outsourcing, a growing temp staffing industry, productivity efficiencies, have all replaced the middle class. The working class. Most jobs that existed 20 years ago aren’t needed now. Maybe they never were needed. The entire first decade of this century was spent with CEOs in their Park Avenue clubs crying through their cigars, “how are we going to fire all this dead weight?” 2008 finally gave them the chance. “It was the economy!” they said. The country has been out of a recession since 2009. Four years now. But the jobs have not come back. I asked many of these CEOs: did you just use that as an excuse to fire people, and they would wink and say, “let’s just leave it at that.”
I’m on the board of directors of a temp staffing company with $600 million in revenues. I can see it happening across every sector of the economy. Everyone is getting fired. Everyone is toilet paper now.
Flush.
Robots are the new middle class
3) Corporations don’t like you. The executive editor of a major news publication took me out to lunch to get advice on how to expand their website traffic. But before I could talk he started complaining to me: “Our top writers keep putting their twitter names in their posts and then when they get more followers they start asking for raises.”
“What’s the problem?” I said. “Don’t you want writers that are popular and well-respected?”
When I say a “major news publication” I am talking MAJOR.
He said, “no, we want to be about the news. We don’t want anyone to be an individual star.”
In other words, his main job was to destroy the career aspirations of his most talented people, the people who swore their loyalty to him, the people who worked 90 hours a week for him. If they only worked 30 hours a week and were slightly more mediocre he would’ve been happy. But he doesn’t like you. He wants you to stay in the hole and he will throw you a meal every once in awhile in exchange for your excrement. If anyone is a reporter out there and wants to message me privately I will tell you who it was. But basically, it’s all of your bosses. Every single one of them.
4) Money is not happiness. A common question during my Twitter Q&A, asked at least once a week, is “should I take the job I like or should I take the job that pays more money.”
Leaving aside the question of “should I take a job at all,” let’s talk about money for a second. First, the science: studies show that an increase in salary only offers marginal to zero increase in “happiness” above a certain level. Why is this? Because of this basic fact: people spend what they make. If your salary increases $5,000 you spend an extra $2000 on features for your car, you have an affair, you buy a new computer, a better couch, a bigger TV, and then you ask, “where did all the money go?” Even though you needed  none of the above now you need one more thing: another increase in your salary, so back to the corporate casino for one more try at the salary roulette wheel. I have never once seen anyone save the increase in their salary.
In other words, don’t stay at the job for safe salary increases over time. That will never get you where you want – freedom from financial worry. Only free time, imagination, creativity, and an ability to disappear will help you deliver value that nobody ever delivered before in the history of mankind.
Another day on the job
5) Count right now how many people can make a major decision that can ruin your life. I don’t like it when one person can make or break me. A boss. A publisher. A TV producer. A buyer of my company. At any one point I’ve had to kiss ass to all of the above. I hate it. I will never do it again.
The way to avoid this is to diversify the things you are working on so no one person or customer or boss or client can make a decision that could make you rich or destroy you or fulfill your life’s dreams or crush them. I understand it can’t happen in a day. Start planning now how to create your own destiny instead of allowing people who don’t like you to control your destiny. When you do this count, make sure the number comes to over 20. Then when you spin the wheel the odds are on your side that a winning number comes up.
… READ THE REMAINING 5 REASONS AT TECHCRUNCH
[You can follow James Altucher on Twitter @jaltucher. Or read his blog.]

The Most Expensive Bass Guitar

I’ve been trawling through the web doing a preliminary recce of what there might be out there to populate a new blog on beautiful and exotic guitars and came across this.It is the ‘Flora Aurum’ by German luthier, Jens Ritter. He is already quite well known for creating high end, boutique instruments for – well, how shall I put it? – stinking rich bass players. His instruments normally sell for between £3,000 and £10,000, but this one completely takes the biscuit having been valued at $250,000!
How come? The face of the bass bears a floral pattern fingerboard developed using 24 carat gold, and every single inlay-leaf comes decked with a black diamond (set in platinum). Its bridge, tuner buttons and the knobs come layered with gold. Two of its knobs positioned at the apex flaunt two flawless brillant-cut diamonds. To top it all, the nut is finished using 10,000 year-old mammoth ivory. (Cunning use of ivory without endangering a species there!)
This is quite old news I have to admit and I’ve only just come across it. The guitar was made in 2007 and there is an interview with its creator to be found at bassplayer.com.
Asked why he wanted to create the instrument, Jens Ritter says:
“I wanted to do something special for my tenth anniversary, and I had a customer who wanted me to build the most expensive bass of all time. It’s not just an instrument; it’s a statement, a symbol of the development of the bass guitar. Twenty years ago bass was always in the background—the second choice to play after guitar. But in an interesting development, more and more people are in front playing bass guitar, and bass players are becoming more self-confident. Similarly, more development is happening in bass design than with guitar.”
It’s interesting that he said that about bass guitars three years ago because recently it seems he has delved into the area of six-string guitar development and has come up with something that, while it may not be to everyone’s taste (not sure it’s to mine, really), is completely, jaw droppingly, beautiful.
Apparently, he was asked what he would do if he was asked to design a jazz guitar and this was the answer.
From the specifications page on Jens Ritter’s ‘Princess Isablella’ site:
The PRINCESS ISABELLA Baritone Guitar Concept was conceived during a conversation with Rudy Pensa (the well known guitar collector from New York). He asked how I might design and create a “jazz guitar” using my established style and techniques of instrument making.
In my mind, the challenge was to create an instrument that would have similar sustain, attack and basic sound characteristics as a traditional “hollowbody” jazz guitar, but with a solid body.
After 4 years of continual design, research and development, the PRINCESS ISABELLA Baritone Guitar Concept is finished.
The special features of the PRINCESS ISABELLA include:

– Body Thickness: The body is unusually thin, measuring approximately one inch in thickness.
– String Attachment: The backside attached string bows function as an “attack delay” mechanism.
– “Semi-Floating” Bridge: Instead of using a traditional “floating” bridge or attaching the bridge with studs into the body, the hand cast bridge foot is “mounted” into a small hollowed area carved into the body that exactly matches the contour of the bridge foot. The bridge foot is held in place by a “friction setting” and only makes contact with a 2mm thin elliptical contour ridge along the hollow area. Thus, most of the surface area on the interior side of the bridge foot and the bridge studs “float” in the hollow area.

And yes, it does play!

If you haven’t had enough, I suggest you go to Jens Ritter’s website immedeately! And just to tempt you – here’s another work of art that caught my eye:
Slightly more affordable at about £10,000 this one! I’ll take two – and I’m not a bass player.

Video: Zebra finches rock the house on Les Paul copies

This is an exhibition  by a French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot who creates works by drawing on the rhythms of daily life to produce sound in unexpected ways.
For his installation in The Barbican Centre, Boursier-Mougenot creates a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other musical instruments.
As the birds go about their routine activities, perching on or feeding from the various pieces of equipment, they create a captivating, live soundscape.
I have to note that the finches seem to prefer the straight-through method of stringing the bridge of a Les Paul rather than the wrap-over method favoured by Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Page, Billy Gibbons etc. Then again, tension and sustain doesn’t seem to be a concern for them.

MICHAEL BOTT

Michael Bott

Actor - represented by Tom Fitz at Simon & How Associates
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