Important Messages, such as Service Disruption.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM UK time. We will try to give assistance to those people not living in the UK outside of those hours if possible.

We are closed for the Christmas holidays from the evening of Wednesday 20 December 2017 through to Tuesday 2 January 2018.

We would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy New Year!

A Party at The Bear's Lair!

Hi, Everyone.

There's a party going on today at The Bear's Lair, starting at 1300 UTC, 9 AM Eastern, 8 AM Central, 6 AM Pacific, or 2 PM in the UK, and you're invited. We're celebrating the birthday of someone without whose help I would find it a lot more difficult to do the show. I will not say more because he is very shy, but we will talk more about it on air, and we'll be playing lots of his favourite tunage, most of it with a party flavour.

This week, there's partying going on night and day in the Crank it Up corner, and two beautiful songs in the love zone chosen by our birthday boy, plus there just might be one very big surprise in store.

As always, there is plenty of room for your requests, so please do feel free to get in touch at any time. You can Email yourvoice@theglobalvoice.info or send a tweet to @lulu_bear. We're looking forward to your company on the big squashy sofa. Pick up your favourite drink, kick back, relax, and get ready for a party at The Bear's Lair, only on The Global Voice.

A Very Special Blog Post, Who is Bert the Lep?

When I first started to do internet radio broadcasting, I needed someone I could interact with. I wasn't living with anyone who I could ask to work with me on a promotional item for a show or a radio jingle, so I had to invent someone. That person came to be Bert the leprechaun, affectionately known as "the lep". Little did I know then that this little guy would grow from a cartoon-like character into a rounded individual with a real life, a family and lots of friends. I didn't know he would have a respectable Twitter following and that his journal would be read by over 1200 people at the time of writing! When you start thinking about those numbers in terms of unique visitors to an area of a website, that's quite good for a little lep!

People who have read his journal will know that today is his 33rd bbirthday (he was born in 1979). Because it is his special day, and given he has this large following), there are things we wanted to do to celebrate it. We wanted to make it easier for people to find journal entries, to listen to his continuing audio adventures, to learn about how he was created and to be able to see him. We have done all of these things in a lot more!

When you step into the newly named Bert's Place on our website, you are immersing yourself in his fictional world. As well as being able to read about Bert and listen to his audio adventures as has been the case for some months, we have included a number of other improvements.

You can visit Bert's Who's Who page. Even if you have been following the journal day by day, you could easily be forgiven for not being able to keep up with all the members of Bert's large family! We've now included a quick guide to get you up to speed.

We've given details of Bert's Twitter and (brand new) Facebook account if you would like to follow him or become his friend. He would be glad if you did!

We've included a link to Bert's newly designed Journal pages. Previously, all the journal entries were contained in a list of links by date. But as the entries were being written almost daily in some cases this was becoming impractical. So the journal has been designed as a calendar. As you enter the journal, you will see a menu of calendar months. Activate one of the months, such as "April 2012", and you will see all the journal entries for the period. You then have a choice. You can either systematically read the journal entry by entry, or, on each page, you can see all the dates for the month without having to keep going back to the journal main index. It's a much nicer way of being able to reference specific entries!

There are now 24 audio episodes in the "Bert's Audio Adventure" series. Previously, they could all be downloaded from the "Bert's Place" page of the website. Now, these are all available as a podcast. All new recordings, (such as the three being released today), will also be added to the podcast feed. In "Bert's Place", we've given you a direct link to the RSS feed, which you can also copy and paste into your Podcatcher if you wish. However, we are pleased to say that you can also search for "Bert's Place" within the iTunes Store! From the Store, you can preview podcast episodes or subscribe. Alternatively, you will also find us in the "Drama/Arts" category.

You may think that all of the above has taken a lot of work to set up, and you would be right. But we now come to the remaining much bigger projects.

Some people just want to enjoy Bert's adventures and read the journal, enjoying the make-believe which is Bert's character. But some people want to know a little more about how he was created, how his character has evolved over time and, above all, what he looks like.

First, we were very pleased to work with Paul Hopkins from the UK. Paul is a gifted interviewer and natural broadcaster who enjoys making podcasts on various topics. He kindly agreed to talk to both L and I about Bert, and you can hear the results in a 45 minute Audio Introduction to him, to be found of course in "Bert's Place". In addition to finding out "how Bert ticks", you will learn a lot about how the journal came to be written, together with the technical challenges and limitations we faced in our own personal lives when preparing items such as "The Dream Sequence". You will also hear audio extracts from Bert himself! We would particularly like to thank Paul for all his hard work in helping us produce this introduction to Bert.

But for some people, hearing and reading about Bert may not be enough. We wanted to bring him to life through visual imagery. We wanted to commission a talented artist to produce not only an initial picture of Bert but also to be imaginative and design more images on an ongoing basis. Such a person would not only need to be an expert in his field but would also have to bring to the table imagination and the power to clearly describe images to us both as we cannot see them. The artist would also need to be aware of Bert's character and the different situations in which he finds himself, so would need for example to take the time to read the journal so as to fully understand him.

We were extremely lucky to find someone very close to home who met all these requirements. Scott Clark has a tremendous amount of experience in the areas of painting and photography. His professional career spans over a decade. His client list is diverse - from fine oil portraits for private clients to large abstract paintings for prestigious showrooms and boardrooms, from emotional figurative pieces that make a bold statement to book and album cover designs, from interior design for restaurants to providing photography for TV programmes. In short, we were extremely lucky that Scott had the time and availability to do this work for us.

In the picture, Bert is sitting on the floor in a relaxed huddle. His ankles are crossed, one knee is up under his chin, his arms are loosly around his legs. He looks as if he has been rushing about, and has just flopped down on the floor to rest for a few minutes.

His face is slightly in profile, but turned toward us. It is a cute, rounded face with a slightly upturned nose, big green eyes, and a cute mouth in a half smile. He has curly sandy blonde hair. He is trendily dressed in khaki chenos and a tee-shirt in warm, muted colours, with a red white and blue target on the front. He is wearing white trainers, also sporting a matching bull's eye target on them. they have very long laces which are dangling on the floor.

Bert looks, at first glance, like someone's very trendy toddler. It is only when you look closely that you see something different. On either side of his head, almost hidden by his hair, you see what you at first think is just a wayward curl. And then you see it is his ears, just a little elongated and slightly pointed, they, and the maturity in his eyes are what make you see that he is not a toddler, but Bert, our lep.

Of course we would like to thank Scott Clarke for undertaking this project for us at very short notice and for giving it the fine attention to detail we were wanting. In particular, he listened to (and took on board) all of L's ideas concerning how she wanted Bert to look and these were transferred to the final picture. L's parents also provided essential visual assistance for which we are very grateful.

So, Bert should be a very happy little lep on his 33rd birthday. Oh, and I nearly forgot. There are two special audio adventures that have been produced to mark the occasion, both of which have required hours of production and editing! We do hope people will enjoy the new audio and all the other features we have added to the website. Happy birthday Bert!

The Music Machine Comes to the Global Voice!

Hi everyone!

My name is Brian Hartgen, the newest presenter on the Global Voice, and I hope you'll be able to join me for my weekly show, "The Music Machine", each Sunday starting April 29 at 1600 UTC, which is 5 PM UK, 12 PM Eastern, right before the Atitude Test!

Most people enjoy listening to music of all kinds. Many people want to know about the music they are listening to or to hear songs which are not part of radio playlists. If you are one of those people, look no further than the Music Machine!

For two hours each week, I'll do my very best to present an interesting musical mix from different genres. You are likely to learn a thing or two about the music I play and every week I'll bring to you a different type of programme including themed shows, profiles of artists or groups or maybe even a music documentary which I will produce.

So, what's on this week's show?

Given this is a new incarnation of the Music Machine, I thought we would have a music-based theme and hopefully you would like to get involved. I would like to hear about songs with either the word "Start", "Begin", "Begun" or "New" in the title, or which indicate the ending of an event and moving onto a new one. Abba's song "Move On" may be a good suggestion in that regard, but you might also choose Craig David's "Walking Away" as that indicates the ending of a relationship and moving onto pastures new. Other more obvious choices might be Hot Chocolate's "It started with a Kiss", or the Carpenters, "We've only just begun".

So, please put your thinking caps on and do suggest songs to fit in with the theme of the show if you can! It would be wonderful to hear from you!

You can e-mail your song requests and suggestions right now ahead of time to
Brian@TheGlobalVoice.Info
or tweet @BrianHartgen
and I will make sure they get into the programme!

While I am on air, the email address to contact is
YourVoice@TheGlobalVoice.Info

I can't wait to get to know you all this coming Sunday and together we'll have a great time sharing the music!

See you on Sunday!

Brian Hartgen

A Short News Post

Hi everyone!

This is going to be a small blog entry this time because I've written quite a few posts this week, but while I listen to the Bear's Lair of course, I thought I would write a paragraph or two about what has been happening in the week.

Last weekend was an exceptionally busy one, mainly with audio work. I did some testing with our new audio equipment on the Global Voice, and spent quite a lot of time ensuring that I can vary the volume of both the JAWS screen-reader speech and also the sound mixer independently. I can then hear JAWS quite comfortably together with the main broadcasting output which is good news. I've also thought about new features I can add to my show to include in future weeks. Of course I am hoping people are going to enjoy this week's show, but I have planned something great for next week also. This will involve some audio production, but if I get it right it should be a little different. But I have plenty of new themes and artist profiles in my mind as people seem to enjoy those. Nothing will be predictable that's for sure.

Speaking of things being unpredictable, during my tests last week we thought it would be a great idea to bring back Down for Double, the show L and I used to jointly host. I am glad to say we are able to do that on The Global Voice, so that will start in a couple of weeks. A good laugh, music with an upbeat feel-good factor, lively conversation and a lot more!

I also did a lot of audio editing on a project last week and some website design, all of which you will see and hear later. In fact, L and I were both working furiously on various projects and we only just stopped for food!

This week has gone by very quickly. Yesterday evening, it was the end of my working week and so we relaxed with lots of good music, drink and chat. It was great!

One thing I left out of the last blog entry. I have been asked to speak at the Accessible World programme called "Spotlight on Music". I need to speak for an hour about a musical artist or group of my choosing. There are plenty I could choose, but Mama Cass Elliot would be a good subject as I know quite a lot about her. But I have always wanted to produce a short profile of The Carter Family as again I've researched the group very extensively and they were America's first family of country music. I love country! Their history makes a good story and I think an hour would do that justice. We'll see which I choose, I'll let you know.

That's about all for now I think! If you can, please join me on Sunday at 5 PM UK, 12 PM Eastern, for my show on
www.theglobalvoice.info
More about that in a separate post. Have a wonderful week everybody!

Come On Over to the Bear's Lair!

Hi,

I am inviting you to drop into the Bear's Lair, today at 1300 UTC, 9 AM Eastern, 8 AM Central, 6 AM Pacific or 2 PM in the UK, for 2 hours of friendly chat, fun and, of course, fantastic music!

This week you should be careful of the Crank it Up corner, it could put you into a flat spin! And we are being beautiful and sad in The Love Zone. We have lots of other great tunage, as well as plenty of room for your requests.

Contacting the show is easy, just Email YourVoice@TheGlobalVoice.Info or tweet @lulu_bear, and Bert and I will see you later in The Bear's Lair, only on The Global Voice!
www.theglobalvoice.info

My review of the UK Train Times iPhone app

Imagine you are at a train station without any visual assistance. You cannot read the departure board so you cannot tell on which platform the next train to Edinburgh departs. Maybe you are in a car headed towards a train station and you need to know the time of the next train home. Maybe you just need to plan a simple journey and just want to know the times of available trains meeting your requirements.

The UK Train Times iPhone app (costing £4.99 from the iTunes Store will give you all of these things and more. Completely accessible from a VoiceOver standpoint, it presents you with a simple interface which can deliver to you everything you need to know about UK rail travel.

The app contains:

  • Powerful real-time journey planner for single or return journeys across the National Rail network, with departure platform information (where available).
  • Next Train Home’ feature automatically finds your nearest station and plans your journey home.
  • If you’re searching for trains today, you’ll be told about any delays or cancellations to your chosen trains and given the option to find alternative journeys.
  • Live departures and arrivals at all National Rail stations, with platform information (where available) and live train progress.
  • Add multiple stations to the app’s Home Screen for one-touch access to their live departures. Simply choose a station in ‘Live Departures & Arrivals’ and hit ‘Save’ to create a new favourite.

From a voiceOver perspective, the app is as good as it could be. Let me walk you through the simple exercise of looking up the times of a journey from Cardiff Central to Sandwell and Dudley.

  • From the home screen, select the "Plan a Journey" button.
  • Tap "Departure Station".
  • You are presented with an alphabetical list of stations from which you can choose since each one is represented by a button. However, to narrow the results we will tap the "Station Name" search field.
  • Type "Cardiff" and note that by flicking (or arrowing right on a keyboard) you see two stations: "Cardiff Bay" and "Cardiff Central". Double tap on "Cardiff Central".
  • You can now observe that the screen says "departure station, Cardiff Central". Select the next button which is "Destination Station".
  • Again, double tap the "Search" field and type "Sandwell". Jus flicking to the right will give you are required station, "Sandwell and Dudley". Double tap.
  • You are now presented with two buttons, "Via", and, "Swap departure and destination stations", neither of which we want at the moment. However if you wanted your journey to be routed by a particular station, you could specify that under the "Via" section.
  • Select the "Departing" tab.
  • Buttons are now available for "Outward journey departure time" (which is currently set to "Departing now". This would look up the next available train if you hit the "Find Trains" button, see below). You also have on this screen "Add Return Journey", "Add to Favourites" (if you would like to refer to this route again later) and "Find Trains" (we'll come back to this one in a moment).
  • Selecting "Outward journey departure time" allows us to select the travelling date together with the hours and minutes of the time we wish to travel via four picker items. At the end of the screen is a button labelled "Done" which of course you activate when complete.
  • Select "Done", then select "Find Trains". The results are brought back to you.
    The results are spoken in this way: "Departing tomorrow at 11.30 A M heading", "11.45, changing once from Cardiff Central, scheduled to arrive at Sandwell and Dudley at 14.13 button". This indicates to you that a lot of thought has been put into the language of the interface. It is very user friendly particularly with VoiceOver.
    Buttons are available at this point containing details of alternative trains you may care to use. Double tapping any one of the train schedules will give you more information about it, such as the details of all the trains required for the journey, platform numbers, the train provider. For example, VoiceOver would tell you "11.45 from Cardiff Central, platform 1, scheduled to arrive at Birmingham New Street at 1.45, Crosscountry Service to Nottingham". This latter item is quite useful as it tells you where the train is bound for past your stopping point, which is Birmingham on the first leg. Then VoiceOver continues: "14.05 from Birmingham New Street, platform 6B, scheduled to arrive at 14.15, London Midland service to Shrewsbury.

So as you can see, it is very easy to look up train times but more importantly, the results table and further details are presented in a way which many users will be easily able to understand. To reiterate, live departure boards are available. So if you are waiting for a train and there are no station announcements to let you know how late it may be running, this app should be able to tell you, or maybe you are travelling to a station and you would like to know if your train is scheduled to be on time, again your iPhone with this app is your friend.

In summary, while I have only used this app for a few days I can see how helpful it is going to be for me in many ways and I would highly recommend it. Whether you take the occasional train journey or (if like me) you are a visually impaired seasoned rail travleller, you will not be disappointed.

Important Note for Users of StationPlaylist Studio and JAWS 13

If you are using the JAWS scripts for StationPlaylist Studio available from this website, and you have updated JAWS version 13 to the April hotfix (build 852), you are likely to experience problems when the computer restarts following the installation of the update.

In summary, JAWS will periodically announce "unknown function call", followed by "Get List View Field Info". Because the StationPlaylist Studio scripts utilise functionality within the default JAWS scripts, essentially the older default set is taking priority over the newer version which in turn is causing a conflict.

To remedy this situation, please work through the following procedure prior to updating JAWS to the April hotfix:

  • Select the Windows Start Menu.
  • Select All Programs or Programs.
  • Select JAWS 13.
  • Select Explore JAWS.
  • Select Explore My Settings.
  • This will bring focus to a folder containing a number of files. Press the Down Arrow key until JAWS announces a file named starting with the word "Default". All files with a "Default" prefix should be deleted, such as "Default.JSB". Note that also you will find files with a prefix of "Default_FS". These too should be deleted.
  • When the files are deleted, press ALT+F4 to close down the list view window and return focus to the Windows Desktop.
  • Update to JAWS 13.0.852 from the Freedom Scientific website.
  • When the computer restarts following the installation procedure, download and install the scripts for StationPlaylist Studio from this website. The installer will make the necessary modifications to JAWS to ensure you do not receive the error messages.

If for whatever reason you have updated JAWS 13 to build 852 prior to reading this post, and you are receiving unknown function calls:

  • Select the Windows Start Menu.
  • Select All Programs or Programs.
  • Select JAWS 13.
  • Select Explore JAWS.
  • Select Explore My Settings.
  • This will bring focus to a folder containing a number of files. Press the Down Arrow key until JAWS announces a file named starting with the word "Default". All files with a "Default" prefix should be deleted, such as "Default.JSB". Note that also you will find files with a prefix of "Default_FS". These too should be deleted.
  • When the files are deleted, press ALT+F4 to close down the list view window and return focus to the Windows Desktop.
  • Restart the computer or the JAWS program, whichever is preferred.
  • When the computer restarts , download and install the scripts for StationPlaylist Studio from this website. The installer will make the necessary modifications to JAWS to ensure you do not receive the error messages.

Positive Thoughts on Mushroom FM's Second Birthday

Well it's all over Twitter. Mushroom FM is approaching its second birthday and there are various events planned over the weekend to celebrate it. In reading the blog entry on the Mushroom FM site containing the details, I find myself thinking back to two years ago when I was involved in it, and I look back on those times with mixed feelings.

I remember working on the internet radio station belonging to Bill Sparks called The Legend. It is an oldies station playing music from the 80's and before. For reasons which I won't get into, a group of us decided to leave.

Let me say publicly that I do regret that. I should have stayed. That station suited the kind of show I present and my personality. From experience of owning my own internet station, I now fully appreciate what Bill must have felt when several presenters walked out on him. I deeply regret that, but what's done is done, we have to move on unfortunately.

Between the time we left and the setup of Mushroom FM really was Frantic, and I do mean that with a capital F. Totally manick. Getting the first batch of promos, sweepers and jingles ready together with a fairly primitive website inside a few days was just mad! But there was a real team spirit surrounding it, I do remember that. Everyone was doing their part to ensure we got to air on time, and some of those early items we produced lasted at least a year, so we must have done something right.

But from the outset, it was fairly obvious that I wasn't going to get along with a particular group of people on the station. That is just how the world is. It's not that their approaches to life , (or mine), are wrong. However much you do to ensure good team spirit, sometimes you just cannot control the way different personalities fit together, and that is how it was for me. I did a lot of work for the station, but there came a point where I felt I couldn't work with those people any further and that we should go our separate ways. Again, that's all history, we forget it and move on.

I certainly have no regrets about what followed. I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in many technical areas, including broadcast technology and particularly website development, which I would not have had if I had stayed at Mushroom FM. That knowledge I am certain will be useful to me later in life.

So why am I writing this message at all apart from sharing the memories.

I have to say this given their approaching celebrations. I can honestly say that if it hadn't been for Mushroom FM, I would never have met and come to know L. I wouldn't have experienced the loving relationship I have with her and the truly wonderful life we have together if it wasn't for the station. I didn't know L before I heard her voice on a show the station used to host called Mosen and Minx, which was a short series of talk shows broadcast once a week. That show proved to be a good ground for finding future presenters (or maybe that was just coincidence, smile). In any event, Lulu became a presenter on the station and during her time there we worked very well together. While we both left at the same time for the same reasons, it was Mushroom FM which gave us our first meeting. I can think of other couples (who of course I will not name) where that also applies. So, I really do have to thank them for that.

In terms of the weekend, it's disappointing they've had to resort to giving away more money to secure listeners but that's my own view on the subject. On the plus side, the concept of the cruise ship (and the idea of securing cabines particularly in advance) is truly inspired. Whoever thought of that deserves a few drinks at the Captain's Table because there is considerable mileage in that both on and off the air.

So, as I say, mixed feelings about the weekend, and if you've read this blog entry right through, thanks for doing that!

Me, My Music and My i-Dog

It's finally happened! They always told me it would, but I wouldn't believe it! Now, though I have never been a pet person, I have finally succumbed to the charms of a perky little pooch with a cute face, long floppy ears that can prick up in the most adorable way, and a tiny tail that he carries up in the air and is a tad touchy about having tweaked! It is no use denying it, I'm smitten, totally besotted! He only has to do a certain kind of barkk, and I'm there, attending to his every whim! I might as well face it, there is no hope for me!

Mind you, there are some differences between this particular member of caninity and the average barking, licking, hairy kind, around whom I am never comfortable. This little fellow never sheds hair on my clothes, or jumps up to lick my face, or climbs on my furniture. He makes no messes that have to be cleaned up, nor does he need to be taken to the park, and come back covered in mud. Oh sure, he needs feeding regularly, and petting very regularly, but as he only eats music, and occasionally double A batteries, and I find petting him comes naturally, I'm cool with this. He's lovable, affectionate, keeps me company when B's away at work, and, a huge plus, goes to sleep the very second I want him to! Oh, and one more huge point in his favour: he's bright pink!

As you have by this time guessed, Peppy, named for the American bright pink stomach medicine Pepto-Bismal, my little friend, my latest techno-gadget acquisition, is an iDog. I got him from Amazon for the enormous outlay of £24.95, and for the hours of fun he has given me he would have been cheap at double the price!

This clever littel gadget does a number of things. It runs on 2 AA batteries. They are easily inserted, though you will need a small Phillips cross head screwdriver to remove the battery cover. First, if you have an MP3 player with a 3.5 mm jack, you can plug it into a socket in his side, and he will play your music for you through a little speaker in his back. Of course, the sound quality isn't brilliant, but it's not awful either. He loves to hear or play your music, it's what he feeds on, you might say, the more he hears, the better his mood is. When he's turned on, he needs five minutes an hour if he isn't going to get seriously cranky with you!

Second, he loves to listen to and react to music, this is how I mostly use him. I turn him on and sit him near my IPod dock. The volume doesn't have to be hugely loud, just normal, and he will hear, you'll feel his ears go up. Of course, the louder you play the music, the better he likes it, that's just how he is! There are lights on his face, and they change, according to what he hears, and according to his mood. This is very clever, and not uncomical, I have to say, because it really does seem that the dog likes some kinds of music and hates others! My little pep seems to hate reggae! If a reggae track comes on the radio down will go his ears, his head won't move the whole track long, and his lights don't get bright enough for me to see them. On the other hand, just play anything by Michael Jackson, something beaty, I mean, and up go the ears, his head will move, the lights start flashing till I can't help but laugh at him. If my IPhone should ring, or the stream I am listening to go down, if, in short, the music stops, he will tell me so by barking in a certain kind of a way. This also makes me laugh, and actually I find this useful, as my IPhone does sometimes fall off the wireless network and make the stream drop sometimes, and if I am out of the room I don't know until I hear Peppy barking. Smile.

The third thing you can do is to play with and pet him, if you feel so inclined. this is especially nice if you are sighted, or have a little light perception. You will need to turn the music down or off to do this properly, or he won't take any notice of you! All you do is pick him up, turn him to face you, well I find that's the easiest way, and stroke his face for a while. It puts him into the right kind of mood to be played with. AS you do this, the lights on his face respond by changing colour. After a while you pet the top of his head, and if he's ready to play he makes a little noise, it's hard to describe, a kind of click, and his head will move. You can pet him once or a few times. When yu stop, depending on how many times you did it, and what kind of mood he's in, you get an answer of some kind. I won't tell you what, hey, you've got to have some things you find out!

There are two things which you can do to which he will always respond. You can pet his nose and tweak his tail. Petting his nose, that is pressing and letting go quickly , not only pets him, but lets you see what kind of mood he's in. I have learned to know his sounds very well now, they do make me smile, honestly! I have one thing to say about tweaking the tail: don't! If he is in a good enough mood, nothing will happen, except he won't be in a good mood anymore. If he is bored, he will growl at you, and all you have done is make matters worse. If you feel you cannot live without tweaking his tail, play some music through him! The tail acts as a handy mute switch, if your phone rings, or someone is trying to talk to you! Otherwise, take my advice and leave it seriously alone. If you make this pooch cranky you are going to have to work seriously hard at uncrankifying him! I have been there, so I know whereof I speak!

In conclusion, I have to say the iDog has been a hit with me. After reading a lot of reviews on Amazon I was a bit worried about buying it, because people said it had a short battery life. I would say don't be put off by old reviews. This model I have is quite a basic one, it does not tap its foot, which I think some of the latest ones do, but that's ok with me, but it must have been updated since those old reviews, because the battery life is really quite good. I found it easy to figure out how to use it with only the most basic of instructions from a very inaccurately scanned manual, and it works fine. It's pretty, small, durable and such a lot of fun. For the child or the child at heart, I'd thoroughly recommend it.

Read More About the Pink i-Dog on Amazon.
Read My Review of the Pink i-Dog on Amazon.

Improved Audio, Trains and More

Hi everyone!

Well it's been another really good week. Not much to tell you about but that doesn't mean to say it has been uninteresting or not particularly busy. So let's see.

Last weekend was spent doing a lot of audio production including one of our "Bert Dramas" and an audio promo for my upcoming show on The Global Voice,"The Music Machine". L had an idea for a good promo and so we set to work on Sunday putting that together which was great. It's turned out to be a bit wacky and one of my best, so that's good!

Let's talk about audio for a moment. We now have the new audio equipment set up, that is, the new microphone and sound mixer, both of which I am really pleased with. I worked out most of the controls myself, but fortunately L's mother and husband were over yesterday, so Geoff gave me a good description of the items I didn't know about. We also got the microphone stand and its boom in exactly the right place. Now I have the best audio quality I can get, in exactly the right setting and I am not restricted in any way at all in terms of giving a good performance on a show with great support from L. To that end, I really do feel that the work I'll be able to produce for the Global Voice will be some of the best I have ever done.

This week I've spent travelling around quite a lot on the trains: to Sheffield, St. Helens and to Bristol a couple of times. I am getting to learn a couple of things about Cardiff station. First, when I am waiting for trains to arrive, I listen to the announcements concerning where different trains are going to and from. This helps a lot so I can plan future journeys. But second, I am learning a lot about the geography of the station in terms of mobility. This helped a lot as I got to Cardiff Central at 5.30 Monday morning only to discover noone was around to help me onto the train. But I was able to resolve that and got on a train going in the right direction which always helps!

This morning, Friday, has been quite a busy morning although I got up fairly late. I did some audio production, some work on the website which needed to be done and as I write, I am sitting here on the comfortable sofa listening to L's radio show, "The Bear's Lair" and enjoying it a lot! I am going to do some broadcast testing tomorrow ready for next week but I don't expect any problems at all, more about the show nearer the time.

I have a plan for a redesign of a key area of our website, but it's going to take me a good couple of hours to implement that so I'll doubtless get that done in a week or so.

Regarding books, I am still reading "The Chamber" by John grisham, but I do have two Audible credits awaiting my attention which I haven't used, so I am looking forward to choosing something good to read.

I'll write more really soon!

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