Impressions of the Apple Watch

I bought an Apple Watch around half way through 2020, over a year ago now. It was a device that I had always been tempted by, but never got around to buying. Initially I didn’t like the Apple Watch because it was actually thicker than the Pebble Time smartwatch I had for a long time, but with the more recent series Apple seem to have made them slimmer, and to me, more acceptable as a watch.

There are lots of reasons why I got it. One major one was around data. Data about me, and being able to use that data to create music. But enough of that for now. It is a subject for another day at some point in the future.

When I bought an Apple Watch it was before OS 14, so some of the functionality that I now enjoy wasn’t there, but it was a series 5 watch so hopefully it will last a few years at least. I don’t expect it to have the same replacement cycle as an iPhone. Sadly, for me, they brought out the series 6 watch just under two months after I got mine, which was annoying, but never mind, these things happen. At least I will be able to time my next purchase a bit better.

The device itself is a nice piece of technology, and the connection between it and the iPhone is very solid. The health data is interesting and useful, and as a device for receiving, and in some cases acting on notifications it is actually extremely useful. Certainly more useful than my old Pebble devices.

However, what I really want, is for it to useful as a device in its own right and not just as an adjunct to other devices. That has been my aim with most of the wearables I’ve had over the years, and my expectation was that the Apple Watch should be the device that meets those expectations.

So far there are only a few things it does completely on its own. For the most part it is a companion to my phone, and, whilst that’s ok, it isn’t quite what I want.

The apps I am finding useful at the moment are:

  • Just Record – A very simple audio recorder, but a very useful app to have on your watch
  • Shazam – Finding tracks using my watch is very handy (yes, pun intended)
  • Wotja – Generative music controlled from my watch
  • Holonist – Music data created from my own motion and bio data

There are a few others too, but the above are things are use regularly.

I was skeptical about having an Apple Watch. It was an experiment, and, thankfully, one that paid off. Since buying it have used it every day and now I’m not sure that I would be very comfortable without it.

I expect I will write again about how I’m getting on with it. Probably in a few months. Well, maybe.

More Space 1999 is coming

Which is great news indeed. I had been wondering if Big Finish were going to produce any more in this series, and they are. It comes out in February next year.

The previous episodes in the Big Finish remake have been good. Not astonishing, but good. Which is enough for me. Especially as the graphic novels appear to have vanished for now.

Blancmange, Commercial Break

I am always up for a new Blancmange album, and I have waited a while for this one. It is an album made with Benge and yet it still has a Blancmange feel. According to the Blancmange site:

“Commercial Break reflects on how the current situation has impacted and re-shaped our perception and experience of everyday life, hinting at new possibilities ahead.

Random field recordings collected for the album triggered many of the songs. Arthur lists them as follows . . .”

Blancmange
  • Two electric saws
  • Waves breaking on beach
  • People talking/moving (indistinct words)
  • A dishwasher
  • Ambient mic recording to pick up background noise
  • Close mic recording to collect the body noise of guitar
  • Bird song (-2 octaves)
  • Metal gate closing and metal gate locking
  • Beach with people and waves breaking
  • Old water pump

I have only listened to this album a couple of times so far, but there are some really interesting sounds being used here. Not just in terms of the field recordings, which are good, but also the overall sound of each of the songs was really interesting and quite unique at times.

As I’ve been a fan of Blancmange for most of my life now there is always the sense that the next album will still be good and that I really should like it. However, for the most part I do. Some albums more than others of course. But this one feels like a progression. A step forward.

After hearing this I decided to go back to a few Blancmange albums of recent years including the instrumental albums ‘Nil by Mouth’. These are all good, solid works. Thoughtful and not always entirely easy to listen to, a quality I applaud.

Blancmange, albeit only half of the original eighties duo, have grown up gracefully. The music has matured from the interesting pop of the first few albums into something that still retains some of the uniqueness that made them popular (at least popular with me), whilst having a more philosophical leaning to it.

I look forward to more of this journey in the future.

Survivors is coming back

Big Finished announced this today. There are more Survivors stories coming!

After the ninth season of Survivors Big Finish said that there would be no more of the current iteration of Survivors but mentioned that there might be a spin off. Now it is real. Two new box sets coming in November this year and February next year. With Abby and Lucy. This is excellent news. At least it is for me anyway.

The Galaxy and the Ground Within

I recently finished reading this, the fourth book in the ‘Wayfarers’ collection of stories by Becky Chambers. I think that it is probably the one that I have enjoyed the most, and, in case you are actually reading this, I am not going to spoil anything for you should you choose to read it for yourself, at least, that is my intention.

The first in the series was bought for me as a gift. It was a very good gift. I can safely say that I have enjoyed all of these books in different ways. However, I think I have enjoyed this last book in the series the most of all.

I will avoid telling you about anything that actually happens in the story. If you’re interested, you should read it. I can thoroughly recommend it. What I will tell you about this book is that I found it thoroughly moving, touching and wonderful. It is full of hope and tenderness and kindness. It made me smile, it brought me to tears and after reading it I now want to read the three previous books again.

The sound of Winchelsea beach

As well as posting some pictures I thought I would also post the sound from the beach.

The sound at Winchelsea beach

Here’s a little map of where this was recorded

Download

You can download this file if you’d like to, but I’d be very interested in what you’re going to do with it.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

PalmSounds would have been 15 today

It seems odd to me that my original blog would have turned 15 years old today. Odd and slightly sad that it is no longer an ongoing thing. Like all good things, it naturally came to an end. If that were not the case, it would have been a cause for celebration. But perhaps it still should be. There were a lot of high points from my long journey with PalmSounds. I made a lot of friends. I saw a lot of people get a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction from using mobile devices to make music, and I saw some truly amazing technology during those years.

To mark the occasion I thought I would remember some of those high points, and share a few of them with you. Like talking at Roli’s ‘modern music industry‘ event.

And meeting Roger Linn at another event at their offices. Which was an unexpected treat.

PalmSounds brought me to Heart n Soul too. Which was an amazing experience for me with many highlights. Again, I won’t list all of them, there are simply too many, but the events we did were truly incredible experiences.

And those were just some of the high points. There were so many more.

Blancmange: Nil By Mouth II

I actually like this series of albums by Blancmange. Although that is no surprise really as I enjoy almost everything that they do these days. Nil by mouth is an interesting idea though. Probably one that most old 1980’s bands wouldn’t necessarily toy with. But Blancmange are a bit more experimental than most, and seem very comfortable with putting out not one, but three albums of what is, in their own words, soundtrack music for unmade films.

I like the idea. I like the music. I have all three. I hope that they do more.

Winchelsea Beach

I don’t think I have been to Winchelsea beach before. But the day I went it was beautiful. Very peaceful and calm.

The calm was literally before the storm. So my time there was a little limited. As you can see from the sky it was a dramatic scene, but strangely peaceful and still.

Why is it that waves are so calming? Why is it that the sound of the sea is so peaceful. I seriously think that I could have stayed all day in that moment. Longer probably.

But the tide was coming in, and the rain was about to fall in a rather dramatic way. But the moment was still perfect.

I hope to go back again.

Knoops, hot chocolate

I have been to knoops before, back in 2018. The hot chocolate was amazing. Both excellent and very different. As I was back in Rye just last weekend I thought I would pop in and try it again. I looked up the knoops website and was interested to find out that there are now four stores. The one in Rye is still there, but there are a couple in London and another opening soon. When I had visited a few years ago I had no idea it would franchise out into a chain. Somehow that just didn’t seem very likely.

But I was wrong. Now knoops is a chain and the Rye shop is just one of the outlets. But, most importantly, was the hot chocolate any good? The short answer, yes, it was. It was very good, but there was one thing missing. Something not as it was back in 2018. When I had originally visited the Rye shop was run by the owner and he was brilliant at explaining everything about the different percentages of cocoa and what that meant.

This time round it was just like going to any other chain. Perhaps a bit nicer, but it didn’t have that local feel, that independent feel. I guess that is the price you pay for things expanding. The loss of the personal touch. The loss of that feel of something truly unique.

Knoops is still good though. The hot chocolate is still good, and I would still recommend it to anyone who likes hot chocolate.