I made my annual pilgrimage to MacExpo on Thursday. Now that I'm living further away, getting to London is more of an undertaking, though curiously it takes exactly the same amount of time to get there on the train from Birmingham as it used to on the coach from Oxford. As a consequence of the scandalous fares Virgin Trains charge you to travel before 9am, I arrived at lunchtime. However, I don't think I would have needed the whole day. The Expo seems to shrink a little every year, and there were noticeably fewer exhibitors — particularly small companies — this year. Still, I had fun, and bought a Griffin radioShark and a tiny Firewire hard drive to relieve our poor overloaded and elderly iMac. The RadioShark is fantastic, and very simple to use. We used to use AudioHijack to record the RealOne feeds provided by the BBC, but lately we've been getting appalling quality on those feeds. Either they don't work at all, or you get a bit rate of about 15kbs, even on our broadband line, and everyone sounds like they're underwater. You can choose the encoding rate and format (AIFF or AAC) with the radioShark, and the quality is excellent. It's also fun time-shifting radio if someone comes to the door or the phone rings. No more missing the middle of a play. And it has cool blue lights on the side which turn red when it's recording — you can't dislike a product with blue lights.
As a side-note, wandering around Islington was a bit of a culture shock after being in the Midlands for a few months. Brummies have a very non-pretentious attitude to life, even though they like to flash their money around as much as the next person. Islington is a place where there is a higher density of black polo-neck/turtle-neck jumpers per m2 than anywhere else in Britain — this density nearly doubles during the MacExpo. It's also the spiritual home of the leather seating cube, and you can't walk into any bar, coffee shop or restaurant without barking your shins on a herd of them.