Newsletter 156 – December 2009
——– MANTEX NEWSLETTER ——–
Number 156 – December 2009 – ISSN 1470-1863
Music, Arts, Culture, and Technology
as seen from digital hub Manchester UK
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— The Best of 2009 + Xmas Goodies! —
It’s not too late to do a little last-minute
Xmas shopping – and Amazon got my latest purchase
to me in 48 hours – f.r.e.e of charge!
This issue we feature some guaranteed top-class
stocking fillers – as well as the latest round-up
of digital news.
0— ‘Content: Copyright & DRM’ – new book
This was my favourite read of the last month.
It’s for anyone interested in writing, copyright,
downloading music, freedom of information, and
the state of digital media today.
Cory Doctorow is a journalist, a novelist, and
an evangelist on the rights of digital consumers –
and that’s you and me.
He argues passionately and in a very witty manner
in favour of allowing free downloads of just
about everything – including his own books.
There’s even a carefully argued piece on how to
make money by giving things away – and it’s not
nearly as daft as that might sound.
0— Pub Quiz Question #1
What is a Blenheim orange?
0— F.r.e.e laptops – latest deals
Yes – some dealers will give you a buck-shee laptop
if you take out a mobile broadband contract.
This gives you internet access wherever you go –
via a dongle – and you get the very latest model.
There are all sorts of complex options which boil
down to deciding how much downloading you want to
do per month.
If all you need is email, Internet access, and the
ability to swap documents with folk back at the office,
these might be a good deal.
You keep the laptop at the end of the contract,
and you can switch provider if you wish.
Compare free laptop with broadband deals.
0— Pub quiz – Question #2
What is a young stallion called?
0— ‘The Tradition of Constructivism’
This is one for specialists in modernist art
and design. It’s a collection of documents,
manifestos, and policy statements giving the
theoretical origins of constructivism.
That was a movement born in 1920 in the young
Soviet Union, fuelled by enthusiasm for a
revolution which was going to put working
people in charge of society.
OK – it didn’t work long term, but the movement
threw up some wonderful artists whose work still
has an influence today.
Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzsky, Naum Gabo,
and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy were some of its brightest
stars – all featured here.
0— Pub quiz – Question #3
Zn is the symbol of which chemical element?
0— Dingle, Dangle, Dongle! Mobile Broadband
If you need to keep an Internet connection whilst on
the move, why not try one of the new 3G dongles. They
simply plug into a USB port on your laptop, make a
connection to the nearest WiFi, and away you go!
The good news is that they’re now available on
Pay-As-You-Go contracts. which enables you to
keep a tight grip on your finances.
Prices start around UKP 10 a month – so that’s like
having Internet access for 30 pence a day.
0— Pub quiz – Question #4
What name is given to a female donkey?
0— Oxford Dictionary for Scientific Writers and Editors
This is a stocking-filler for your brainbox
niece or nephew – a specialist dictionary.
OUP do a series of their great reference works
in which big books are produced in a small,
This latest is a dictionary of scientific terms.
It covers biology, physics, chemistry, and new
disciplines such as micro-biology and computer
It not only shows you how to spell words such as
‘leucocyte’ but it explains important scientific
concepts and has details of famous scientists.
0— Pub quiz – Question #5
Which fictional pirate had a bosun named Smee?
0— Xmas present – elegant notebooks
This is a bargain option for a present
to please anybody who likes luxurious
and elegant stationery.
The Moleskine series of notebooks are famous
for their soft leather-type covers, high
quality cream paper, and compact design.
They’re created for writing on the move,
and each one comes with a kangaroo-type
pouch in the back cover, plus and elasticated
fastener to keep everything in place.
‘As used by Van Gogh, Hemingway, and
Picasso’ might be marketing hype – but
they are a design classic at affordable prices.
0— Pub quiz – Question #6
What is the currency in Vietnam?
0— Xmas present – “Schott’s Almanac” – new edition
This book became a cult gift amongst my friends
over a recent Xmas – and it’s now on offer at
less than half price at Amazon.
It’s printed to look like an old encyclopedia,
but in fact it’s a brand-new collection of the
most amazing – and amusing – trivia.
It starts with the length of shoelaces you need
according to the number of holes in your shoes,
goes through who’s eligible and ineligible for
jury service, how to tie a bow tie, to who won
post war British elections.
My favourite for the dinner table quiz was how
to pronounce British toff surnames such as
Featherstonehaugh, Cholmondley, and Fiennes.
There’s serious stuff too – such as typographic
terms explained, Greek deities, and commonplace
terms in Latin and German – but it’s the fun
items which give the book its zest – such as
Cockney rhyming slang terms, untimely celebrity
deaths, and a schematic diagram of Dante’s Inferno.
I guarantee it will make you laugh.
0— Pub Quiz – Question #7
In the comic strip, who was Blondie’s husband?
0— iPhone UK – The Missing Manual
An iPhone is the ‘must-have’ device for 2009-2010.
If you love someone and make this their Xmas present,
I guarantee this will ensure you lasting happiness –
for at least 12 months.
These miracles of modern design and technology
are now virtually a handheld communications
centre. They combine Internet connections,
web browsing, music centre – and of course
are also a mobile phone.
To get your head round so many devices – and
so many deeply nested menus – you will need
a guidance manual. Because you won’t get one
when you buy the phone itself.
This book is the answer. David Pogue is the
master when it comes to these ‘missing manuals’.
They combine clarity of information, user
friendliness, and great design. Every page
has a screenshot – so you know exactly what
each feature should look like.
0— Pub Quiz – Question #8
From which plant is linen obtained?
0— Xmas gift – ‘Roger’s Profanisaurus’
This is already selling like the proverbial hot
cakes for Xmas presents. But be warned – it’s
not one for an elderly aunt or your mother-in-law.
Do you know what a ‘carpet muncher’ and ‘a lady
in comfortable shoes’ have in common? Or would
you know how to ‘paint the baby’s bedroom’?
If you need an explanation of ‘the vinegar strokes’
or ‘spanking the monkey’ – then look no further.
This book is a compendium of all the slang words
you will ever need – plus a lot more you might not
*want* to know. And it’s hysterically funny.
It’s compiled from the pages of VIZ – the very
politically IN-correct comic monthly. Somebody
gave me a copy as a present, and I haven’t stopped
laughing since. DEFINITELY not for the faint-hearted.
There’s a new and hugely enlarged [sic] edition
which the publisher describes as “an exhaustive
lexicon of four letter filth which contains over
10,000 useful words and phrases to turn the air
bluer than a baboon’s a.r.s.e.”
0— Pub Quiz – Question 9#
What is another name for the Wildebeeste?
0— Smashing Magazine publishes in book form!
Smashing Magazine is a really stylish site
for web designers run by two guys in Germany.
They publish a new article every day giving
advice and tips on layout, typography, colour,
coding, and good practice.
All the articles carry high quality graphics,
and the site has a huge readership.
They’ve come up with the good idea of extracting
the best design principles from their archive
and turning it into a book.
And like the site, their book is very stylish.
See for yourself here:
0— Pub Quiz – Question #10
Who was Laika?
0— Pub quiz – ANSWERS
#1 What is a Blenheim orange?
ANSWER: An apple
#2 What is a young stallion called?
ANSWER: A colt
#3 Zn is the symbol of which chemical element?
#4 What name is given to a female donkey?
#5 Which fictional pirate had a bosun named Smee?
ANSWER: Captain Hook
#6 What is the currency in Vietnam?
ANSWER: The Dong
#7 In the comic strip, who was Blondie’s husband?
#8 From which plant is linen obtained?
#9 What is another name for the Wildebeeste?
ANSWER: The gnu
#10 Who was Laika?
ANSWER: The first dog in space
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