Frets On Fire is a free Windows/Linux/OS X game that is very similar to Guitar Heroes for the Xbox 360. The main difference being is that instead of using a guitar you hold your keyboard like you would hold a guitar.
This makes you look very stupid but is great fun to play. Below is me playing:
I couldn't get the current version to work on OS X Tiger which is why I'm playing on my PC. You can remap the controls so you don't have to hold the keyboard like that but where is the fun of pretending to be a rock star then?
The game has three modes of play, easy (as featured above), medium and Amazing (as featured below). I've yet to master easy though some songs are easier than others.
The game comes with three songs however there are hundreds more available to download online giving you hours of fun. At the end of each game it gives you a rating and tells you how accurate you have been.
Also included is a song editor that lets you edit current songs or import new songs. The requirements are basic with the game only needing 128mb of memory and an Open GL compatible graphics card. Frets on Fire can be downloaded for free off their website.
Here are some of my best HDR photos from my travels. HDR is a technique of taking a photo over multiple exposures (or extracting them from a RAW file) then recombining them in a program such as Photomatix. By doing this you can bring out the detail from the multiple exposures creating a powerful image.
My first is of St Chads Church in Shrewsbury.
I really like how the HDR technique has brough out the detail in the stone work.
This next one was taken in Betws Y Coed last summer.
I like the brightness in the trees in comparison to the building and water in this one.
This one is of the B&B we stayed at in Betws Y Coed.
Again I love how the stone work is really brought out against the trees.
I took this next one in Egypt last summer.
The rich blue in the sea and sky really shines through in this picture.
This one was taken in the Cotswolds on my Birthday last year.
The contrast in the sky especially with the sun setting is very striking in this picture.
This is another of St Chads Church in Shrewsbury.
The way the cloud almost circles around the spire is especially apparent in this picture as it almost implies the power the building or church has over people.
This train track near Betws Y Coed almost has a rain forest feel about it with the luscious green.
This next one again is from Betws Y Coed.
All of my HDR photos can be found on Flickr.
After the publication of my book last week I've had a number of questions about how I went about getting it published. I'm using a print on demand service - therefore the book is only printed when ordered and no stock is held. This is great for smaller projects such as my Travel Photography book however the print cost per copy is higher as you cannot benefit from economies of scale. There are two major players in the print on demand market, Lulu and Blurb.
Lulu offers a number of print on demand products including books, calendars, photo books and cook books. What Lulu provided over Blurb was a free ISBN number meaning that people could buy your book through shops such as Waterstones, WH Smiths and Amazon.
My problems with Lulu started when trying to upload my book. I had designed it using Apple's Pages application however Lulu did not support PDF's created this way (as far as I'm aware Lulu won't accept any PDF's created through Quartz based applications - even if the PDF is created through Adobe's Acrobat distiller, it is something to do with the way fonts are embedded into the PDF). I ended up uploading a 1.8 gig postscript file rather than a 300mb PDF to be able to print through Lulu.
When the proof arrived the print quality was poor, some parts were my fault for not adding images at a high enough resolution however ultimately it looked like it had been printed through an ink jet printer on the draft settings. Lulu do have another service just for photo book printing however this was a lot more expensive.
I was originally recommended Blurb over Lulu because of the print quality issues however the extra options (such as an ISBN number) provided by Lulu were enough to convince me to try them first. Blurb have created their own book creation software called Book Smart however there was no easy way to import between Apple's Pages and Book Smart so I ended up recreating the book using this software. This was good in many ways as it solved many of the resolution/DPI issues I had with Lulu. Book Smart also handles all of the conversion/uploading when it comes to publishing the book.
Blurb like Lulu allows you to set your own price for selling a book however they offer no free ISBN number and no way to sell your book as an eBook. Annoyingly there is no way to print from Book Smart without Blurbs 'this is a proof copy' message all over the PDF. Therefore for the eBook version I sell on ImAFish I've had to go back to my original copy created in Apple's Pages.
Prices between Lulu and Blurb are very similar, my book costs almost the same between Lulu and Blurb (though the Blurb book is a couple of cm smaller). Both allow for sales in UK Pounds, Euros and US Dollars and ship worldwide.
If you are creating a text heavy book such as a novel then Lulu's extra features such as an ISBN number are a clear winner. If you are creating a portfolio or photography book then Blurb's superior print quality is much better however if you are like me stuck in the middle between creating a photo heavy based book targeted at a wide audience then its a simple decision between quality and audience - I chose quality.