The thoughts of Rockinroy
GIG REVIEW: Virgil & Joanne Rock MK

We thoroughly enjoyed the gig at The Stables Milton Keynes last night which featured Virgil & The Accelerators supporting Joanne Shaw Taylor’s band. A blues-rock evening par excellence in almost all respects. In this review I will give my impressions of the gig, the venue and perfromance. I do indulge in ratings or other rankings but this has to be for me one of the best gigs of the year.

Virgil are a young power trio as it might once have been called but with a bluesier edge. Their roots are clear with renditions of Hendrix and SRV material and extended workouts within their own son

gs. How that guy’s right hand could strum like that for song after song amazed me - if you know how SRV used to play you will appreciate the technique required. And of course, such playing demands an excellent rhythm section and in this case both were up to it, especially his younger brother on drums.

They played for at least half an hour but like all good times it seemed shorter. The packed audience responded well and no doubt the boys’ post-gig merch sales reflected this. That is one of the good things about The Stables, the audience are true fans of live music (yes folks there are a lot of those around MK despite rumours to the contrary) and will pay attention to the support (usually one) as much as the headliners.

After another pint of Murphys (not the cheapest in town and the bar was busy but the beer was smooth and tasty plus you are allowed to take your glass into the theatre, a civilised bunch at the Stables). We all ambled our way back in to resume our seats stage left. 

The anticipation was as they say palpable and soon enough it was time for the clocks to speed up when the lady herself took the stage. Well, it is not really a stage as it is only a foot off the floor but the amphitheatre of the venue gives nearly everyone a good view.

I think they must have been having some technical “issues” because the first few numbers we could hardly hear her guitar. The mix was fine for fans of electric organ but we had come to hear JST sing her powerful songs and most of all twang the hell out of her various guitars. But by song three her distinctive soul-blues notes were coming through better and we could relax and enjoy nearly 90 minutes of electric blues courtesy of her five piece. 

There are very few rock histrionics to report other than passionate, sincere and intense delivery of her own songs and one or two covers - their rendition of Manic Depression was a highlight of course. As with Virgil and his boys, the song was taken to new places and given thorough wringing out before returning to the song’s moody basics. Twinges of sadness there too because the last time we had heard that tune on a stage in MK it was the Hamsters’ farewell gig.

She had a few problems with tuning in the middle of the set but those did not stop her providing very fine renditions of what are becoming her own standards blending well with her new material - the new album (Almost Always Never) getting a few plugs. As with most of these young Brit blues practitioners, one wonders what life has taught them to be able to write songs with such angst and passion as platforms for their guitar virtuosity. Mistake you not, this gal really has the chops, in fact it makes you wonder how one person can pack in so much talent and come across as vulnerable and yet at other times so confident and joyous in her work. Her short history has taken her world over and brought support-slots-to-die-for such as with Joe Bonamassa so she certainly has paid her dues. We first set eyes on her on that stage a few years ago as part of the Blues Caravan tour. This precious wallflower only got one number of her own but that was a stand out of the gig. We said then we wanted to see her again with her own band so last night was a wish come true.

As we came to the end we were sent to bed with a rendition of one of my fave electric blues numbers, Freddie King’s Goin’ Down. For this she invited Virgil to return and what followed was a pyrotechnic and intense duel almost. Their smiles revealed just how much fun they were having as they traded licks.

The audience were very keen for more and the encore featured two of her own numbers in a perfect end to the show. Personally, while I like her impassioned workouts she is blessed with a voice that carries much power in some of the quieter moments. 

I think on reflection new songs such as Jealousy were my highlights of the evening. Maybe if could have had a wish then a short acoustic interlude as per Aynsley Lister would come mid-set. Sometimes less is more and I think nearly all her album stuff is electric so her playing acoustic and her incredible voice filling the theatre would have been icing on the delicious cake.

Before I conclude this lengthy diatribe let’s have a little mild criticism. Thank you for reading down this far and I promise to be gentle. The bands were almost without fault and we enjoyed them immensely but it is the setting I have less enthusiasm for. It was maybe a tad too loud at times but we are talking of live rock here and I have heard louder elsewhere. 

But my main criticism concerns the visuals; as with several other rock gigs I have been to at the Stables, the lighting is insufficiently used. The rig is comprehensive but under-played with the performers bathed in only white light most of the time. Having enjoyed the spectacular true rock lighting at the Pitz so many times these bands deserve better. My preference would always be for standing too, Comfy seats are OK for comedy and “serious” music but not for rock IMHO. 

Performers there have told me that despite the apparent intimacy (the front row is only a metre from the stage and there are no barriers) they cannot see much of the audience so feedback is largely by applause etc only. 

Live rock is a special experience, it is my opinion that to be at its best the band and audience must fully interact. This creates a surge of collective emotion never to be found in any other context. The people turn up and the band take them on an emotional journey which can be intense and in some cases frightening. This is the real reason to attend gigs, to plug into that collective energy. The very best gigs are such as these and not just an “I play, you watch” experience.

Overall, this was a memorable gig and amongst the best of the year for me. One of the others has to be Oli Brown at the same venue. It has not been a great year for gigs in the wasteland for nocturnal live rock that MK stands in peril of becoming but there are gems if you look hard enough.                                          Roy Szweda October 2012
In-flight refuelling - the future looks bright!

The month has already heavily featured milestones in the ongoing development of major systems and in particular with their in-flight refueling capabilities. The JSF took on actual fuel while the Grizzly, the A400M, had to make do with pretend but it was nonetheless as close as you can get to a real-life operation.

As a portent of what is to come, Boeing’s long-awaited “supertanker” the KC46 took a big step when the company opened its new factory to manufacture the plane’s refuelling boom.

The US Marine Corps claimed credit for the first F-35 in-flight refueling by an “operational aircraft” when four F-35Bs from Eglin AFB refueled from a KC-130J tanker. Previous aerial refueling operations with the F-35 had been conducted with test aircraft. The Joint Strike Fighters, two at a time, on two separate sorties, took fuel midair from a KC-130J Hercules from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 based at Cherry Point.

Also in the US, Boeing said it had begun assembling the first refueling boom for the US Air Force’s all important next-generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft at its new KC-46 Boom Assembly Center that opened ahead of schedule at Boeing Field in Seattle.

The KC-46A will feature a modernized fly-by-wire boom based on the proven system on the Air Force’s KC-10, which will give it advanced refueling capabilities, allowing it to refuel any fixed-wing receiver aircraft anytime and on any mission.

The first boom will enter testing during the third quarter of 2013 at a System Integration Lab (SIL), known as SIL 0. It is one of five labs designed to reduce risk for avionics and aerial refueling integration.

Boeing invented the air refueling boom and has been building, upgrading and modifying them for more than 60 years.

Meanwhile, in one of Europe’s most important aerospace programs, Airbus Military reported a simulated air-to-air refueling (AAR) of the A400M airlifter from a C-160 Transall tanker of the French Air Force. The twenty “dry” contacts where no fuel was passed were said to be representative of a normal refueling operation. Wet contacts will take place in the first quarter of next year.

The A400M has now successfully performed refueling contacts with a VC10 of the Royal Air Force, the C-160, and an Airbus Military A330 MRTT new generation tanker/transport.

But the demo with the most import for the future had to be the world’s first air to air refuelling simulation by two remotely piloted aircraft. In this story autonomous refueling trials with two Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawks demonstrated that unmanned air vehicles (UAV) could actually refuel mid-air.

These two large and very very expensive “drone” aircraft flew in close proximity during nine high-altitude test flights. While this is a major achievement they were never physically linked and so no fuel was passed; it wasn’t even a “dry” contact as per the Grizzly.

Nevertheless, analysis reputedly showed that the aircraft were in the right configuration to have done so on up to three-fifths of the attempts. There was no statement as to actually when this might take place but the participants were likely confident that now that is considerably closer.

Of course there has been speculation as to the nature of such operations and whether there might soon be contracts for dedicated tanker drones loitering in the skies much like the KC46 will be doing in a few years time. Or would this simply be between that kind of manned tanker and a drone, the jury is out.

All in all very impressive given the difficulty of precision flight at 44,000ft where the tests took place and the fact that the “pilots” were located many miles away linked to the aircraft via satellite. No doubt both teams were very mindful of the significance of this test and the responsibility of avoiding a mid-air collision.

News Review for September

The month of September will be remembered not only for the launch of the new generation iPhone but also for the profusion of datacom products on the occasion of the ECOC show.

There was no shortage of formal announcements for the latter but no company that scored sockets in the new iPhone 5* was able to issue press statements as to the street cred of their products through this very high profile consumer device.

Tear-down analyses revealed the goodies and who supplied them with mainly US companies taking the lionshare of RF wins. Skyworks provides two baseband PA modules (SWUA 147 228 RF antenna switch module and the 77491-158 CDMA PA module), TriQuint also provides PA modules but once again Avago did well with two slots: the AFEM-7813 dual band LTE duplexer module and A5613 ACPM-5613 LTE PA. And according to Chipworks there is an additional RF chip, which could be from RFMD.

Picking from the news stories is seldom easy but I was taken with the item from Silicon Labs which if it holds up (and we all know the hyperbole to found in PRs (I should as sometimes write them!)) could mean a boon to designers but worries for optocoupler suppliers. It has launched the first drop-in replacement for optocouplers based on CMOS with what it calls a “LED emulator input” that adds up to complete immunity to the output variations that plague LED-based optocouplers and its CMOS-based capacitive isolation technology provides more than ten times the MTTF rate of optocouplers. Also in opto who would have thought that butterflies would hold such promise. Oclaro and partners have a new MSA setting a new standard SFF pump laser package - now everyone can  design their amplifiers in a butterfly package about a third the size of the legacy 14-pin format package.

To end for now, there was good news in the solar sector not the least congrats to Tokai University’s Solar Car Team, sponsored by Panasonic, who won the Sasol Solar Challenge South Africa 2012. Equipped with Panasonic’s top level HIT solar cell as well as high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, Tokai University’s solar car successfully completed the longest distance solar car race in the world**.

Roy Szweda

*Teardown here:



"Never mind Mars Curiosity where’s a better meter?"

About time something got put in this inviting empty box - here is something I penned for the Diabetics Forum and it just kept on coming until it turned into something half-worthwhile, cogent even. Sometimes it just falls like that so I thought hey, this will do for Tumblr and my other blog… so much on the web to distract us from ever getting any work done and now here is something you might read to steal another few minutes.

"Never mind Mars Curiosity where’s a better meter?"

It is the end of the week and time for a rant thinly disguised as a plea….

Some of you may know I used to edit a journal on biosensors and we had lots of papers on how various clever people round the world were perfecting a portable BG meter. This was in the early 1990s and thanks to all that work we can buy a gadget cheaply that was unheard of just a few decades ago. Each one in the right hands is a boon to DM sufferers… but isn’t it time for the next step?

This testing biz has been getting me down. After a period of not doing it I have been doing a scatter graph experiment all week to see the highs and lows. So far I have over a dozen points… one pin prick for each one… data literally born in blood and pain. This truly is not a lot of fun. I commiz myself that so far no results have been in double figures nor under four.

That said it occurs to me that we are way overdue for something simpler than this method of testing.

Like mentioned elsewhere on this forum each test is not necessarily accurate nor even correct. And sometimes I get it slightly wrong and the meter rejects the sample so I have to start again wasting a strip and usually suffering another pin prick let alone the faff etc it builds up to become a mighty inconvenience.

OK, I know that in time I shall gain insight into what food suits and what doesn’t and I can test less. But I want to keep an eye on my bloods several times a week for “peace of mind.

It is really is overdue for something simpler and easier than this meter system.

So forgive me when I am unimpressed with the Mars rover success. Never mind that engineering excellence let us get back down to Earth and make the lives of so many DM sufferers just a little easier to cope with.

But of course this is just the tip of an iceberg, maybe industry is not interested. After all every strip pack they sell is money in the bank, a “non-invasive” system using say a LED would have no disposables and their cash cow bonanza would be over.

I foresee an ear-ring gadget like a Bluetooth phone thing that fires a beam of light through the blood vessels in an earlobe and a number pops on our phone display…. come on industry it can’t be that hard can it? After all, a simpler non-painful method might make all the difference to the survival of all of us now and to come.

Last Days of April and time for some wafflings….

It’s Monday again and time for some exposition from the fields of defence. Remiss of me to not keep up with entries here but never mind, this is from some work I have been doing lately and I may well pop it over onto Google+ too this week avec some more wafflings and edits. Thing is I doubt I would put it up on Facebook - I wonder what that says about that SN or the people on there I interact with?

Before we embark on that, however, the good news amid the gloom has been the debut of our new website for our modest company. So why not dissipate a few moments of your life and visit, it will only take a few minutes and immediately solve any doubts that I had a proper job. Well, it isn’t the full score, I do much more than this every month, no wonder I am so tired and irritable all the time. Anyway, time to quit waffling and get to the serious stuff…

Defence companies are continually merging and acquiring each other and in the past month the majors were no less busy with the likes of Indra Sistemas S.A. nabbing 100% of the shares of Park Air Systems Norway from Northrop Grumman Denmark, a “leader in the landing systems market with its NORMARC brand and is well positioned in voice communication control systems and in systems for the surveillance and guidance of aircraft”.

L-3 Communications grabbed the assets of Thales’s Training & Simulation Ltd’s fixed-wing civil aircraft simulation and training business while big boy Boeing now owns privately held Inmedius, Inc, a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based provider of software applications and services for managing and sharing information and learning content.

British companies are always fair game in M&A but then we grab lots of theirs. In April, ITT Exelis completed its acquisition of privately held Applied Kilovolts Group Holdings, Ltd, theSussex, UK-based provider of precision high voltage power supplies

Meanwhile, Sikorsky Aircraft added privately held Impact Technologies, LLC, the Rochester, N.Y.-based provider of Condition Based Maintenance and Prognostic Health Management systems.

In the sexy end of aviation (whaaat?)  that of unmanned aircraft systems, (UAS or drones to the common herd), privately held ReconRobotics, Inc  acquired privately held Xollai, LLC, the St. Paul, Minn.-based developer of advanced automated guidance technology for UAS and other intelligent vision and sensory systems.

In manufacturing, Flextronics International Ltd completed its acquisition of Stellar Microelectronics, Inc, the Valencia, Calif.-based full service Electronics Manufacturing Services. Siemens AG acquired all of the outstanding common shares of RuggedCom Inc, the Concord, Ontario-based provider of rugged communications networking solutions designed for mission- critical applications in harsh environments.

Cobham was arranging to part with its beacon business at ACR Electronics Inc while acquiring more shares of Thrane & Thrane A/S, a Danish comms company. Cobham took another 22.74% share from Jupiter Asset Management Ltd. 

Around the same time, J.F. Lehman Equity Investors III, L.P. of J.F. Lehman & Company announced the agreement to acquireFort Lauderdale,Floridabased ACR Electronics, Inc. from Cobham; as of April 18, 2012, the transaction was approved by Federal Trade Commission and the antitrust division of the Department of Justice even though it was all very low key.

You may not have heard of them but ACR Electronics, Inc., doing business as Cobham Beacon Solutions, has helped save countless lives - it designs and manufactures safety and survival products to aviation, marine, outdoor, and military markets worldwide. The company sells a popular range of personal locator beacons, EPIRBs and accessories, automatic identification systems (AIS), searchlights, emergency locator transmitters (ELTs), ELT antennas, ELT remote switches and accessories, flight tracking products, rescue lights, survival products and GMDSS, and direction finders.

Wow if you read that you deserve a reward… pop along to YT and have a listen to a band I stumbled on this morning called Airbag, I like Porcupine Tree and their ilk so I loved this…. misery and yet uplifting at the same time, how can this be?

Thanks for reading… over and out!

Warmer days ahead…? Reflections on Thermal Management

Easter is upon us and with it comes the better weather; at least in this hemisphere. Not to say that we have not had the odd brighter day of late. The industry has been having more ‘brighter days’ too.

Encouraging signs that the semiconductor winter is over are becoming more frequent. Beneath the hype there is cause for hope that telecoms and fibre optics in particular, are staging a recovery. As evinced by recent contracts or it simply could be that they were saving up these and technical/product first for the 2012 OFC/NFOEC show brought some interesting new items to light.

The many thousands of visitors – all with substantial travel budgets and time away from their factories and offices – heard about the hot technical matters that are enabling technologies for fiber capacities beyond 100 Terabit/s and space division multiplexing. 100-Gbps modules look actually to be ready for sampling shortly with companies including Opnext likely ahead of the pack and others like Oclaro, Fujitsu Optical Components and JDSU while Finisar showcased its prototype 100G coherent module.

But that is now, I wrote the bones of this epistale as an editorial for my magazine III-Vs Review quite a few summers ago – back then I was in an optimistic mood saying that there were reports of more substantial contracts such as in what was the long-awaited fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) business which has now, of course, spread globally.

Hopefully, this will all before too long be a major contributor to the welfare of the laser and detector sectors and the market forecasters’ dreams will come true. Nevertheless, some will find reasons for concern.

Relevancy is a personal thing but the responsibility of magazines like III-Vs Review once was, is to draw attention to topics which complement and challenge the existing order now and tomorrow.

No one should be complacent of course. Back then I had spoken to SiGe Semiconductor’s Stuart Strickland for a feature and he had freely remarked that despite the company name, they didn’t see it as a straightjacket.

Their SiGe IP was going to be strong for years to come but they are sensibly keeping an eye on CMOS and even III-Vs. Well, that came true in a way somewhat different from how we had thought it might. Why become like all the other companies with offerings spread too thing. It was their specialisation that made them stand out. Maybe it was a little too attractive because within the past year they have become a division of a US company that is a leader in GaAs-based RF circuits, Skyworks Solutions.

Another challenger, I said, came in the form of the ‘silicon-like’ semiconductor diamond (crystalline carbon) which is just above silicon in the Periodic Table. Naturally it has a set of properties attractive to the electronics industry. It was appropriate therefore to look over some developments in that family which has been termed ‘diamond-like carbon’ (DLC) thin films.

There continues to be a sizeable interest in DLC materials not only for R&D (i.e. publishing papers) but also for source materials, process tools and characterisation. Relatively speaking it is still fairly small compared to III-nitrides and SiC but interesting nonetheless for the overlap with the usual content of that magazine.

DLC continues to have potential for commercially useful opto- as well as micro-electronic devices. Thus many labs are producing workable prototype detectors and emitters over a range of wavelengths.

As I said, it would be some time before we could report on commercial devices but various commercial diamond products are around. And then there is the hybrid approach with GaN-on diamond. High power lasers might benefit from thermal management (TM) based on DLC. A crucial factor would be cost. New developments in CVD are worth keeping an eye on in this respect.

I really stuck my neck out back then “Who knows, in ten years time you might be able to buy a notebook PC with diamonds inside”. They would be part of the much needed TM system controlling the temperature of the processor etc. “This would be a great benefit to those of use who cook their laps while typing up magazine editorials,” I lamented.

OK this has yet to come about but there have been some other interesting developments to the continuing problem of laptop cooling. This past week there was a lot of interest in liquid cooling.

Asetek released a video that shows off a liquid cooling system that can not only work in laptops but also in all-in-one desktops. It reckons its patented solution overcomes previous attempts at liquid cooling portables, which offered little advantage over traditional heat sinks. Great for laptops and maybe even for the next iPad to come along – that too seems in its latest iteration to be causing a stir because in certain quarters they claim it is getting a little hotter than its predecessors.

Roy Szweda

Revisting Past Glories: Market Reports Part One, Lasers…

Almost a decade ago I found myself in a dilemma - I had to write two market reports in one year. This did not happen often enough in a way but they are a monstrous job to undertake especially if you are earning a crust through other means. Nevertheless, we gave it a go and to my astonishment it not only was delivered on time to spec but also sold quite a few copies.

Sadly, however, it did not get to its second edition et seq. This is the bane of writing market reports. Only for a few of the half dozen or more I originated some time back ever got further than a single edition. Before you look at me and wonder was I deficient in some way then I offer in my defence the notion that it also takes for the publisher to be on your side too. They had other fish to fry at the time and people move on… without your internal champion your efforts can often come to nought.

I always thought of this report as part of the ongoing series. We had done one on gallium arsenide to start and that ran for about three editions. Then we did one on gallium nitride and that did at least two. A companion report was other compounds I thought, maybe indium phosphide and its alloys but instead we produced one on devices. Well, nominally on devices because it had wafer markets in there as well. The fourth and last one I did for Elsevier was Silicon Germanium. Sadly that never made it past the first edition either. Circumstances and industries change so maybe it was for the best.

Anyway back to lasers, this report examines the development of the diode laser industry over a six-year period, 2000 to 2005, incorporating analysis of trends in markets, technologies and industry structure. It is designed to provide key information to users and manufacturers of substrates, epitaxial wafers (epiwafers) and devices.
The coverage includes components, laser diodes, and the semiconducting (SC) wafers and epiwafers on which most of these devices are made.

The geographical coverage of the report includes North America, Japan and Europe, which together will account for over 90% of the production and consumption of diode laser materials and devices over the next five years.

However, many other countries have activities in this field including South-East Asia (Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia etc), China, India, Australia and Eastern Europe (Russia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic) amongst others. Activities in these countries are commented on in the text where relevant, but are not quantified in the market data.

Chapter 1 is an introduction to the market study and Chapter 2 contains an executive summary.

Chapter 3 overviews materials markets. The size, quality, and particularly the price, of substrates and wafers are key factors in determining the ability of companies to produce competitive laser products. Chapter 3 also examines trends in materials technologies for laser diodes, the impact of the device markets on wafer demand, and the main suppliers. This chapter introduces the semiconductor materials that are presently or will likely become important to the fabrication of diode laser devices. The principal distinguishing properties of these materials are explained with reference to their application.

Chapter 4 chapter examines the basic application sectors for laser diode devices as well as the basic commercial opportunities, changes and forces acting within each sector. The chapter also examines the market for the basic types of device as well as the promising newer types. For each type of device, market data and forecasts are provided and future prospects described.

The application data are presented for the usual industrial groups.
Check out my modest masterpiece at Amazon in the US or UK, if not then pop along to Elsevier’s Science Direct.

Counterfeit Parts—The Growing Menace

Time for an missive since it has been quite a while since the last one. Mostly this is due to the avalanche of news to process and simply getting it into each issue of my regular e-newsletters every month—alongside our venerable print bimonthly newsletter on electronics packaging - we are convinced some people out there still prefer to handle a newsletter rather than read it on their screens, tho I am thinking of doing a Kindle edition!.

The companion newsletters are on silicon germanium and nitrides - LEDs and transistors plus enything else that we find interesting from the month. As I like to say to anyone within earshot, it is quite a workload for anyone every month, and there’s just the pair of us.

Some things stand out from time to time - and this time it is the plague that is counterfeit components. SAE International issued a new technical standard to combat the increasing volume of fraudulent and counterfeit electronic parts entering the aerospace supply chain.

The stats are indeed worrying—reports of counterfeit parts have quadrupled since 2009 according to IHS iSuppli. Some 1,363 separate counterfeit-part incidents worldwide, up from 324 in 2009. 2011 was the first single year that saw the total number of reported counterfeit incidents exceed a thousand. Moreover, these reports have risen by almost a factor of 700 over the last decade. That this should arise is no mystery; there are several ways counterfeiters can insert parts into the supply chain. In fact were the suppliers and users to destroy old parts perhaps recycling them then there would be able to cut off one source. Scrap materials are sorted, boards depopulated and parts refinished. A more insidious approach is to use smaller components and package them in different package formats.

One of the underlying reasons why the counterfeit plague has not abated is the reluctance of companies to track the history of every part on every board in every product. It has not helped that technology is making it easier to create cheaper and more convincing fakes. Plus parts can be sourced globally via the Internet with no meetings face to face. Even though this situation is affecting nearly all segments of the electronics industry perhaps it is most problematic in the defense industry. It looks likely that in order to achieve compliance with new NDAA requirements and avoid significant costs they may now incur for counterfeit-related incidents, companies within the mil/aero electronics business must now procure systems and data to analyze, assess, and act on counterfeit and suspect counterfeits.

Plus they must use trusted suppliers but this is going to cause major problems because there are thousands of parts and suppliers across many programs and throughout the supply chain. Agencies are looking to implement new tools and ongoing reports to detect, monitor and report for counterfeit, substandard and high-risk parts and thereby achieve NDAA compliance.

In the US steps are being taken and on the last day of 2011, the US President signed the fiscal year 2012 US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This wide ranging edict includes regulations for counterfeit part detection and avoidance. From now on members at all tiers of the defense supply chain must put counterfeit risk mitigation procedures in place and certain steps must be completed within 270 days. It will remain to be seen when or even if this has effectiveness and, of course, it only affects the US and the industry awaits news of measures forthcoming from Europe, for example.  The clock is ticking; no disaster has yet been attributed to this subtle form of warfare but it can only be a matter of time and the industry must bear the cost.

So there we are, all done—if you want to read more about this report then you can visit the following link… some may prefer to know less about this given the potential for disaster that it implies all in the name of quick profits and to the shame of the industry.

Strickly on Ice Meets El Camino… yes really!

More TV fun at the weekend aside from the movie moment and playing El Camno over and over again. It is only half an hour but that is 29 minutes more fun than most recent efforts by better known artists of longer standing.

The Akron duo are no newcomers of course with half a dozen albums in the pantry for our delectation and tantalisation of the musical taste buds. But I am hardly unbiased; they could do the phone book and I would like it.

Maybe it is brave of them to confine the track count to around ten. That way we get what they think is the essence of their progress. Moreover, we get the album before xmas… so it could miss the ridiculous critic faves in the mags but fill our stockings then we might get another helping in the new year.

These guys are probably efficient workers because only two to fall out over what goes on which album etc. Catch them on tour fans old and new in the UK tho why they come over here when they are so well thought of in North America but good for them.

We have also been ploughing through the latest ITV morass pf a skating contest for middle range celebs looking to score panto jobs for 2012. I will not proffer spoilers but may the notional “best man win” fell at the first hurdle…

And then there was Treasure Island… oh dear, oh dear - is there peyote in the water supply some days or was it really a casting person’s idea of a joke?

And did it work? Find out in tomorrow’s amazingly tense and puerile episode of Roy’s wafflings on the moaning of life… plus what we thought of Ironing Lady. Hurrah!

Black Keys - El Camino, a stab at reviewing a mini-masterpiece

I began typing about just one track on the new Black Keys album and without any real effort it turned into something akin to a mini-review. Far from wishing to sell their unique brand of meaningful music to anyone, if you have not enjoyed the Akron combo then yours is a huge box of delicious choccies waiting to tickle your taste buds.
That is indeed an odd literary statement given that the Black Keys will tickle your earholes and thence your cranial pleasure centres rather than via your mouth but there you go. I don’t actually write this because it is I am sure some kind of spirit using my fingers. Enough, on to the the meat of the matter.
Have been enjoying the new album from the Black Keys for the past week. Spoilsorts have joined the gang that choose not to stream their wares via Spotify which is a shame but it’s their decision which we have to respect. You can listen to most tracks on YT anyway and this is possibly my fave track not that there is a duff track anywhere on El Camino.
Like too many of late, they have not fully exploited the capacity of a CD and the album is only a tad longer than half an hour. But then why dilute it with stuff you feel is not up to the standard of the others? IMHO maybe a set of acoustic renditions would be good.
Even tho The BK’s are more or less a duo they fill your room with their warming rock sounds. In this case the album is nearer to pop than the raw bluesier stuff they started out with. I have no complaints because this album just about beats everything else I can recall from 2011. In fact I would go so far as to say there is not a single track in their entire output I dislike. El Camino is a very fine adjunct to the back catalog without pushing too far it should encourage new fans to explore their earlier music.
Enjoy this track “Sister” and maybe you can figure out what the hell they are on about. I presume he does not really mean his sister. Some kind of metaphor. At times it sounds like the Isley Brothers… a Summer Breeze guitar homage maybe?
Whatever the case, it has an impressive groove going. Like much near-perfect pop it appeals to the mind, the heart and the feet.