The Music Blogs

The Music Blogs: Teatime Show, Folk Show.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Ditch throwaway plastic packaging

I’ve just signed a petition calling on UK supermarkets to go plastic-free, and it would mean a lot to me if you’d add your name too!

From turtles entangled in six pack rings to whales with stomachs full of plastic bags, the effects of plastic pollution can be devastating.

UK supermarket Iceland has just announced its own-brand packaging is going plastic-free.

By ditching plastic packaging, supermarkets have the power to lead the way in dramatically reducing the amount of single-use plastic produced.

Please join me in calling on UK supermarkets to ditch throwaway plastic packaging.

Sign the petition >>

Thank you!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Laptops with matte screens

It seems to be getting harder to find matte screened laptops, but here is a useful page that lists current models:

Windows 10 Explorer settings (note to self, as defaults unfriendly)

Explorer views vary with content type. Modify thus:

A. Add essential columns - e.g. Name, Date modified, Size
Steps: View > Add columns > Choose columns
Optionally change display order by dragging columns

B. Save view for all folders of same type
Steps: View > Options > Change folder and search options > View > Apply to Folders (in resulting popup, choose whether to match folder settings in all folders of same type)

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Argyll FM transmission issue

A part of the main 106.5 transmitter equipment has failed, due to a creature nesting inside the cabinet by the mast and shorting it out. We are awaiting spares. I'm still doing my live shows as usual and putting them on Mixcloud in the meantime.

As 106.5 is the first link in our public transmitter chain, the others are silent too. 
We'll be back!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Plastic choke is no joke - why we need Greenpeace

More needs done to ensure plastic is used and disposed of responsibly. Top marks to Greenpeace for their steadfast highlighting of this potentially mortal problem. This is the latest email from them:

Christmas is a big time of year for Coke – but we want to show the world that their happy holiday image hides a less cheerful reality.

This global drinks giant pumps out an estimated 110 billion plastic bottles a year - that’s over 3,400 bottles a second! Our recycling systems simply cannot keep up with this tide of single-use plastic, and it’s overwhelming our oceans. Research has shown that a shocking 90% of seabirds and 1 in 3 sea turtles have ingested plastic.

As the biggest soft drinks producer in the world, Coca-Cola have the opportunity to take the lead in reducing their plastic footprint and coming up with innovative reusable alternatives.

Please take a minute to share the petition with your friends and tell Coke to take urgent action to stop harming our oceans:

Greenpeace supporters in 14 countries around the world have now joined the campaign – and together we’re showing Coke that there’s nowhere to hide for their plastic polluting ways.

This festive season, join the call for Coca-Cola to make a resolution that will change the face of our oceans for years to come – don’t let Coke choke our oceans!

Friday, 13 October 2017

Oceans cannot stomach more plastic

Hi there,

I've just signed a petition calling on Coca-Cola's global CEO to take action on Coke's plastic footprint and it would mean a lot if you'd add your name too!

Coca-Cola produce over 110 billion single-use plastic bottles a year - and billions of these end up on beaches and in the ocean.

Plastic can be mistaken for food by marine life ranging from giant whales to tiny microplankton. Up to 90 percent of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.

Our oceans can't stomach any more plastic - companies like Coke must take action to reduce the amount of bottles they're creating.

Sign the petition

Thank you! 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Music to the ears, or deafening noise?

A recent question on Digital DJ Tips went thus: "How Many Watts Per Person Do I Need For DJ Speakers?". Well...

Any 'rule of thumb' relating loudspeaker wattage to audience size is either wrong or at best an over-simplification! Wattage alone does not provide quality or loudness. A set of ground rules for loudspeaker power is proposed below, but first some basics.

People absorb sound and generate alternative sound. Hard surfaces reflect sound. Loudspeakers have varying frequency-dependent efficiencies. There is a helpful noise chart at Noise Help. It indicates that human ears can tolerate exposure to 91 decibels for up to 2 hours. This is a reasonable maximum.

Loudspeaker specifications should indicate their sensitivity as sound pressure level (SPL) in decibels (db) measured at 1 metre with 1 watt applied. (The range of my speakers is 88-98db.) Doubling the wattage increases SPL by 3db. Doubling the distance to the listener decreases SPL by 6db. The critical distance is between speaker and furthest listener.


1. Minimize the sound absorption of the crowd by positioning mid- and high-range speakers well above head height and angling them down to point at distant head height. That ensures loudspeaker sound can travel direct to audience ears and not be baffled by bodies.

2. No matter how loud the crowd noise is, the SPL at their ears should not exceed 91db. We can use  Geoff The Grey Geek's calculator to determine RMS speaker power for various distances (see table of results for common distances below).

3. Always check sound levels with a Sound Level Meter.

Alesis Monitor One Mk2 Passive (studio)
1039891 *
1589691 *
20159291 *
* N.B. Maximum power for speaker exceeded massively!

Wharfedale Titan 12 Passive (mobile PA)

Maxima for Titan 12s

Ensure that the maximum power rating of loudspeakers is complied with! If greater distances than these are required, additional loudspeakers would be better than more powerful ones, as the objective is to provide music and not deafen the audience!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Environmental headlines

  • Greenpeace lists 5 things about the 'petrol diesel ban' that it believes the government does not want us to know.
  • Floods kill 1,200 in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, and shut 1.8 million children out of 18,000 schools. Millions have been forced from their homes. 
  • Meanwhile in the USA, the toll of tropical storm Harvey rises to 31 confirmed deaths with 50,000 homes destroyed.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Microbeads banned!

Thanks are due to Greenpeace and everyone who signed up to the campaign, prompting today's email:


This is huge - the UK government has banned ocean-polluting microbeads!

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are found in products ranging from toothpastes to face scrubs. They go down the plughole and end up in our oceans and waterways, where they can be mistaken for food by fish.

When this campaign started back in January 2016, hardly anyone had heard of microbeads (including me!)

But with your help, these tiny plastic polluters became a massive issue. Over 385,000 of you signed Greenpeace UK's biggest petition yet, calling for the UK government to ban microbeads. Thousands of you emailed your MPs, posted on social media and shared your ideas for microbead alternatives.

Microbeads went from being virtually unknown, to being talked about by everyone from government ministers to celebrities - they even made it onto the front pages of national newspapers!

Hundreds of thousands of us came together, alongside organisations like the Marine Conservation Society, Fauna and Flora International and the Environmental Investigations Agency, to make real change happen.

The UK government's ban is the strongest in the world to date. It's not yet perfect, but crucially the government have left the door open to broaden the ban in future - and we'll be keeping a close eye on them to make sure this happens!

There are still many threats facing our oceans - from climate change to overfishing to plastic bottles - but with your help, we'll continue to take action to protect our precious oceans for years to come.

Thanks so much for all you do,

Alice & the Oceans team


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Headphone choice.

Given that turning up audio volume to overcome ambient noise is a sure-fire way of ruining your hearing, is it any wonder that isolation of external sound from desired audio is a key part of headphone design?

Minutes or hours?

If using headphones for a few minutes at a time, overall comfort is probably not an issue. For longer sessions, comfort is paramount. One consideration is potential discomfort caused by the wearing of headphones on or in the ear. Custom fitting may overcome this. Ear-piece shape, padding and texture is a critical attribute of all models.

In, on or over?

It makes sense that over-ear and in-ear designs make isolation, and therefore attenuation of external noise, a simpler matter than on-ear designs. Navertheless, many folk use on-ear models and may even desire some ambient sound ingress.

Open or closed?

Open back models permit headphone audio to permeate to the outside world and vice versa. Whilst open backs may enhance frequency response characteristics, many find the sound leakage annoying. Closed back models tend to keep the inside sound in and the outside sound out.

What's the frequency response?

The frequency range of human hearing is commonly given as 20 to 20,000 Hz (Wikipedia). For a given signal amplitude, headphones should ideally translate all frequencies in that range to sound waves of equal loudness, a 'flat' response curve. Tone equalisation controls exist to compensate where headphones, and listeners' ears, are less than ideal.

And the choice is?

Headphone choice is highly subjective. In my view, over-ear designs are better for comfort and attenuation of external noise. I like my old AKG K55's (light, comfortable, closed-back, high ambient noise attenuation). The 2016 AKG trio of K52, K72 & K92 has the desired qualities and is arguably more stylish.
K52, 18Hz-20kHz frequency range, all-black styling.
K72, 16Hz-20kHz, longer 3-metre cable + screw-on 1/4" adapter, black & silver styling.
K92, 16Hz-22kHz, gold-plated adapter, black & gold styling.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Maker blames users for ransomware attack!

@POTUS, we're living the plot of a novel. ( #WanaCryptor #WannaCry #EternalBlue)

The plot:

For decades, closed-source software with built-in vulnerabilities was released leaving third parties to provide solutions and users blissfully ignorant.

A powerful hacking tool was stolen from a national security agency.

Criminals hatched a ransom scheme targetting users with lethal effect.

Precisely the scenario that proponents of open source sofware, where all users can inspect the code behind software they are considering, have sought for decades to obviate.

The world is watching and waiting to see how the President of the United States will act. He has the power, but what will he do?

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Volunteer Advocate training

Independent advocacy workers support people who use local health & community services to make their own choices and to ensure that their voice is heard. To find out more about applying to become a Trained Volunteer Independent Advocate please contact Lomond & Argyll Advocacy Service on 01586 553428 or 07810 823300, or go to

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Donald Trump deciding whether to pull USA out of Paris climate deal

Right now - it's being reported that President Donald Trump is deciding whether or not to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal [1]. (This message was just received from Aakash and India of Greenpeace UK).

The United States withdrawal from agreement will put back progress on tackling climate change and put vulnerable people and communities, who are already dealing with the effects of climate change, in even more danger [2].

200 countries, through sweat and tears, agreed they’d tackle the biggest challenge of our generation - and now this out of touch billionaire wants to chuck all of that in the bin.

But there’s still time to stop President Trump from doing harm to our planet. Both the Prime Minister and President have talked about their “special relationship” - going as far as holding hands. So if there’s one person President Donald Trump will listen to, it’s our Prime Minister [3].

Sign the petition:

Since the general election has been called, Theresa May keeps talking about her ability to provide strong and stable leadership - it’s now time for her to prove it and lead the way in protecting the Paris climate deal.

Will you ask Theresa May to put her foot down with Donald Trump? If thousands ask the Prime Minister to stand up to President Donald Trump, we can get this campaign in the newspapers and start a national conversation about this issue, so that there’s no way she can avoid it - whether she’s at public press conferences or on the campaign trail.

Sign the petition:

Just days ago, President Trump attacked the Paris climate deal as being bad for US interests and said: “countries like China, Russia and India will contribute nothing”[4].

This couldn’t be further from the truth. China already boasts the world’s biggest installed capacity of wind and solar power [5]. And the climate deal mandates India to make a major shift from fossil fuels to renewables to meet its energy needs [6].

Not only is President Donald Trump wrong about other countries commitments, he could stop more countries from signing the Paris deal altogether. Russia is yet to sign - and the US pulling out could make it acceptable for them to walk away.

That’s why our Prime Minister needs to stop President Trump unravelling this deal before it’s too late.

If we act today, we can make sure we can tell children in the future that we did something, that we stood up for the planet and all of the people and creatures on it.

Sign the petition:

PS: Today Greenpeace has joined a host of organisations including the RSPB, Christian Aid, CAFOD, ActionAid and Oxfam, calling on Prime Minister May to pick up the phone to President Trump and save the Paris climate deal.

[1] White House Leaning Toward Exiting Paris Agreement By Next Week
[2] The Problem With Abandoning the Paris Agreement
[3] Donald Trump hails US-UK 'special relationship' as he welcomes Theresa May to the White House
[4] Trump says Paris climate agreement is 'one-sided' deal
[5] China emerges as global climate leader in wake of Trump's triumph
[6] India ratifies Paris climate treaty