Novation MoroderNova – A Moustache Too Far?

Movember. Hipster beards. That game where you put a moustache on the TV and drink when it lines up with a character. Moustaches on everything.


With roots going back to the EDP Wasp and Oxford Synthesizer Company OSCar, Novation have consistently produced affordable, punchy instruments with a unique character. Their flagship SuperNova was one of the most ambitious virtual analogue synthesizers, and soon defined the evolution of mainstream techno, dance and trance thanks to a greater depth of control and expression than many contemporaries. Unlike some manufacturers, Novation has allowed new technology to make their Nova architecture increasingly affordable. Two extremely popular and affordable compact synths, UltraNova and MiniNova, have brought the SuperNova feel to a new generation since 2010 and 2012 respectively.

Nevertheless, with recent releases focusing more on control of software than synthesis, the UltraNova and MiniNova’s improvements over the original “Nova” architecture have reached most of the musicians they’re going to get to. The UltraNova is just under £400, the MiniNova under £300, and used values remain strong; keeping the system fresh and marketable needs something to stand out.
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Posted on Monday, August 10th, 2015
Under: Music Production | Comments Off on Novation MoroderNova – A Moustache Too Far?

Avantime Tips: Rev Counter Bulbs!

One of the Taylor Made Computers Avantimes.

One of the Taylor Made Computers Avantimes.

A quick update, just to put this out on the internet! A lot of UK Avantime owners have asked in various forums and mailing lists how to replace the bulbs on the small rev counter display just above the steering wheel. Yes, if you’ve got an old Avantime, that thing that looks like a small oddment tray (as it is on the passenger side) is another backlit orange LCD panel. If the light catches it at the right angle you’ll be able to see the display.

The official guide essentially talks through stripping down the entire dash, and these are 13+ year old Renault/Matra plastics, so such a process is intimidating. Chances of a 100% perfect repair, with no broken clips or screw guides, are slim. Fortunately that guide is really talking about replacing the entire panel.

It is possible, if you have sufficiently long forearms and skinny-to-average wrists and hands, to reach up from the footwell roughly aligned with the space between throttle and brake pedal. You need to lie on your back in the footwell to get your shoulder directly under the steering column to have enough reach, and be aware of the modules and wiring in the space, don’t push or lean on bits, just find the natural path straight up to the back of the display. You’ll feel a rectangular shape with three circular holes and in the holes, the bases of the wedge-style bulbs. These are Osram 38754/2351MFX6, 12V 1.2W with a socket on the base and black holder; Ring R509TMBK looks to be the right replacement and easily found in the UK for around 89p each.

To remove the bulbs, clearance is tight – I wrapped a 6mm socket in bluetack to provide enough grip. They only need a little counter-clockwise turn to release. Refitting is the reverse; I put a very small bit of bluetack in the socket to hold the bulb in place whilst feeding it up to the display.


Once you have the knack it takes just a few minutes to restore brightness. Regrettably the centre LCD of the main display does need all the dismantling of the top panel, but at least it is just the top.

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Posted on Monday, March 30th, 2015
Under: car technology | Comments Off on Avantime Tips: Rev Counter Bulbs!

A leg to stand on…

This website became very quiet a few years ago, something I can only attribute to an accident sustained whilst forgetting how stairs work. However, being a geek/tech website, I have to give belated credit to the device that kept me mobile and able to work during a 9 month initial recovery.

The support, referred to by the inventors as a “hands-free crutch” and not offered (or widely known about) by the UK’s excellent NHS, is ideal for lower leg injuries. Their website is at – I had the original version, which was rather cruder than the current model but still very effective, and I sourced it from a UK reseller at the aptly titled

My injury was a complex fracture (shattering, in fact) of the lower part of the tibia and fibula, which had been reset in Tunisia with plate, wires and screws. From February 2012 to November 2012, weight bearing was a bad idea, and for the first six months, impossible – even by November, the tibia had a substantial gap without bone! However, as the upper part – the shin below the knee – was fine I could use the iWalk to keep belting about. This also helped keep strength up, as otherwise recovering muscle in my legs would have taken much longer. From the end of February to July, and sporadically after that depending on pain and strength levels, the iWalk WAS my leg, and the moment I was able to get off the sofa, make a cup of tea, and bring it back to my laptop without help was amazing.

Your mileage may vary and your injuries may be different, of course, but this is a fantastic invention for solving the problem. The new model, well, I wish I’d broken my leg a year later! In case of future operations to reset the mess, I’ve retained mine, but the UK importer does rent them out for short-term injuries like ankle sprains.

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Posted on Monday, March 10th, 2014
Under: commentary | No Comments »

Recesky or Gakkenflex – the £10 TLR camera kit.

Recesky TLRLomography is built, in part, upon the foundations of low-cost cameras made, for the most part, in Hong Kong and China. The trusty Diana and Holga have proven popular for decades, and an ever-expanding pool of designs has ensured that Lomography’s product range is rarely stale.

Outside of Lomography, however, a little funky twin-lens reflex camera has been doing the rounds for a few years. Originally appearing as part of a magazine – Otona no Kagaku or “Science Of Adult”, the Gakkenflex cost around $40 when the nearest comparable TLRs were almost 3x the price. Now eBay has become home to the “Recesky” camera kit – and whaddya know, this little beauty looks surprisingly similar to that Gakkenflex. The sample I have here I bought for under £8 including shipping from China… and here’s how to put it together.
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Posted on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Under: analogue, photography, shanzai, toys | No Comments »

Is Apple about to do it again?

1993: Apple Newton. Newton fails.
2007 – iPhone released. Dominates smartphone market.

1995-1997 – Apple Pippin. Pippin Fails.

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Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2013
Under: audio visual, commentary | No Comments »

Matias Tactile Pro 3 for Macintosh – UK

Apple’s steady erosion of the simple ergonomic qualities of their keyboards in favour of style has reached tipping point for many – including myself. I grew up battering an Apple //e’s solid mechanical switches, and in the ’90s my Apple Extended Keyboard (originally from a Mac IIx) was fiercely guarded. Even so, when ADB was finally removed in favour of USB, Apple’s keyboards were primarily simply “cheap”, rather than “downright uncomfortable” for a typist used to exerting a bit of force. PC-targeted replacement keyboards only go so far; and as Apple introduced media and hardware controls to their keyboards, missing those symbols became more than just irritating. Matias have been producing an alternative for some years now – and as it’s been revised again and made available with international layouts, it seemed the opportune moment to take it for a spin.
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Posted on Monday, August 20th, 2012
Under: Desktop computing, retro computing | No Comments »

JooJoo’s Big Update

The JooJoo is long gone, but along with the delayed review, the final update was featured; Fusion Garage also announced new tablets, though to date no more has been heard from the Singapore based firm.
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Posted on Friday, July 15th, 2011
Under: mobile computing, retro computing, umpc | No Comments »

Crunchtime for JooJoo – the £319 12″ MID

It’s funny how one product can change everyone’s perceptions of what’s feasible on the marketplace. Nearly two years in gestation, the JooJoo’s origins are a hybrid of UMPC/MID and netbook thinking – netbook class hardware in a UMPC shell, but with the MID’s cut-down OS theory. With a stripped-bare UI, large, colourful multitouch screen and accessible x86 hardware, what started out as a gadget-geek’s fantasyevolved into a little bit of a commercial nightmare for the manufacturers and developers at Fusion Garage. None of which has any bearing, ultimately, on what you get for your cash when you find a JooJoo.

Wild JooJoos are pretty hard to find, few made it into the hands of journalists or end users but if you want your own you may track them down on eBay and the like.

(This was originally written in June/July 2010)
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Posted on Friday, July 15th, 2011
Under: mobile communications, mobile computing, umpc | No Comments »

Box Only iPhone 4 unlocking success! (Vodafone)

Following my comments on the iPhone 4 it turns out that if you are determined enough to deal with Vodafone’s unlocking team, you will get success with a Box-Only iPhone 4 purchased from Vodafone Retail. Or at least, should – your mileage may vary. Read more for the results…
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Posted on Monday, October 4th, 2010
Under: commentary, mobile communications | No Comments »

iPad – the reporter’s friend

Everyone and their dog is a reporter these days. The wonderful world of the “blog” seems to have empowered everyone with an opinion, and whoever has the best net connection, the fastest fingers and ultimately the best tech wins. Kinda. At least until you realise that you don’t make any money out of it. Regardless, with print media in my invoice book, I still want the most efficient tools. Apple’s iPad definitely makes a difference to how I can work, and here’s how it can genuinely be the ideal companion for any reporter.
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Posted on Friday, September 24th, 2010
Under: commentary, mobile computing | No Comments »