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Sylvain L. (Paris)

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Grafica Della Strada: The Signs of Italy
Grafica Della Strada: The Signs of Italy
by Louise Fili
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Che peccato!* - a book for typography professionals, not Italian street signs lovers., 4 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For sure a typographer's wet dream, this book is born out of the great idea to document the incredibly rich visual language of traditional Italian store signs. However, probably because of a need to fit as many pictures as possible in a limited amount of pages, many sections of the books end up being page after page of signs stacked together in a minimum amount of space.
This prevents any of them to be properly enjoyed as there's no breathing space (what makes them so beautiful when you see them in the streets of Italian cities is that they pop out of the pastel colored walls they're mounted on).

In short: great if you are only interested in the typographic details, disappointing if you want to enjoy these signs as you may have loved them in real life.

(*) "What a disappointment!"


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars VW RNS 510 vs Alpine W920R (on a Touran), 4 April 2013
This review is from: ALPINE INE W920R (Electronics)
For two years, I enjoyed the RNS 510 navigation & sound system of my VW, until that night where my car was broken in and the whole unit was stolen.
As one can easily figure out when looking up forums, the RNS 510 seems to be very popular with thieves, since it can be ripped off your car in less than a minute and easily be re-installed on VW/Audi/Skoda/Seat...
Which means that once your car is identified as potentially equipped with this system, burglars will come back for more if you replace it.

So I opted for the Alpine W920R.
Now that I've lived with the latter for a while, I thought I'd share my experience with the 2 systems.

We are now all used to the great UI of smartphones and tablets, and it's clear that most car navigation and radio systems are behind on this topic.

The VW RNS 510 was a notable exception: simple, clear, uncluttered, well thought through, visually sobre. Everything you need is quickly and intuitively accessible. And since it's a VW system, of course it's perfectly integrated to everything else (for example, navigation directions are also visible on the dashboard).

Unfortunately, Alpine is still stuck in the tacky world of car hi-fi UI: it's all about the multiple features, the flashy colors and the over-designed icons. Sure, it's highly customizable, but it's overloaded with unnecessary items (who needs 5 levels of volume for sound feedback when you press keys?).
It is clearly the #1 weakness of this system.
And integration to VW's overall information system needs a bit of work (for example: it doesn't seem to be fully compatible with my VW rearview camera)..

RNS 510: 4/5
W920R: 2/5

The VW RNS 510 comes with pretty good speakers, but Alpine really makes the most out of their potential.
That's Alpine's historical strength: they know sound and it really makes a difference.
The sound is clear, the bass are ample, the medium are not lost and the treble doesn't need to be adjusted to be perceptible. Overall it gives justice to music.

RNS 510: 3/5
W920R: 5/5

Double antenna for the RNS 510, single antenna for W920R, and it shows: if reception is not really a problem for FM, in case you wanted to listen to LW forget about it with the Alpine.

RNS 510: 5/5
W920R: 3/5

On this, both systems are achieving a good enough standard, though not outstanding (if you think of google maps as the new benchmark).
The touchscreen of the Alpine is slightly more responsive than the RNS 510, and the search for addresses tends to be faster as well.

Once in navigation mode, RNS 510 keeps it visually simple, while the Alpine seems to be aiming at delivering the maximum of info and offering plenty of visual options, which tend to be distracting more than useful.

RNS 510: 4/5
W920R: 4/5

Both systems have Bluetooth which ensures that you can pair your smartphone.
While it can be sometimes tricky to get the connection with the RNS 510 (I remember a few times where it just wouldn't happen), the Alpine is automatically connecting and does it very fast.

RNS 510: 3/5
W920R: 5/5

Sound quality of both systems while on the phone is pretty much equivalent, with a slight advantage to the RNS 510.
Also, on the latter, if you're listening to music and get an incoming call, the music volume will nicely fade out.
The Alpine simply shuts down the music, which is not that pleasant.
And while the RNS 510 has an integrated microphone, the Alpine requires the installation of an extra mic above the windscreen frame (included in the pack I think). Not as sleek.

RNS 510: 4/5
W920R: 3/5

Here, the RNS 510 has a serious issue: being one of the most popular integrated systems on the market right now, VW should have found a way to better protect it against burglars. Right now the only solution offered is to buy the "Navilock", an ugly, banksafe door-looking piece of metal that you need to mount over the dashboard, and costs a fortune. Not good enough, VW.

Alpine uses a good old system: a removable control bar that fits in a pocket. Not ideal but if it's the price to pay to avoid finding your car window smashed, it's still the best option.

RNS 510: 1/5
W920R: 4/5

Not much to mention here: the "Executive pack" you get from VW, including the RNS 510, is 3 times more expensive than the Alpine, for very similar features.

RNS 510: 1/5
W920R: 5/5


RNS 510
+ UI
+ Integrated functions
- overpriced
- no serious protection against theft

+ Great sound
+ Reasonably priced
+ Simple solution against theft
- UI
- Integration to VW

In The Morning We Meet
In The Morning We Meet
Price: £11.94

5.0 out of 5 stars It's good to be in La La land., 25 Sept. 2011
This review is from: In The Morning We Meet (Audio CD)
Proof that Amazon recommendations actually do work, I received one day in my inbox a suggestion to buy this album since I had bought the latest High Llamas.

Intrigued by this name (Giorgio Tuma, who is this? I thought, and why does this name make me feel like it's someone from Giorgio Moroder's family? which was a completely irrelevant connection by the way), I looked it up on spotify and discovered an incredibly talented young italian composer whose world you're not sure how to describe.

So yes, if you love the High Llamas, chances are you'll like this too, because of the great melodies and the stunning cinematic arrangements. But that would be a little short. There's clearly some influence from Free Design or the Singers Unlimited in there. And a bit of Morricone. And some hints of Prefab Sprout circa Andromeda Heights.
Well, you get the picture, it's beautiful, it's soft, it's sometimes either a bit naive or completely cynical.

And given how screwed the world really is, it's like taking a walk in La La Land.
Which is a compliment.

Santa Cruz Land Shark Complete Skateboard - White/Blue, 8.8 x 27.7 Inch
Santa Cruz Land Shark Complete Skateboard - White/Blue, 8.8 x 27.7 Inch

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shortlongboard, 25 Sept. 2011
The sweet sensations of a long longboard in a short version, that's what you get with the Land Shark. That's the one I pick up for a short ride to the supermarket or to the bookstore. That's also the one I take on a flight when it's too much hassle to carry my sector 9 bamboo pipeline (which is great, but not easy to carry around).
And I like this white top.

Smooth. Good looking. Fast. Nimble. Enuff said.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 13, 2012 7:59 PM BST

Talahomi Way
Talahomi Way
Price: £14.35

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sean O'Hagan is not Brian Wilson, thank you very much., 6 May 2011
This review is from: Talahomi Way (Audio CD)
"Yes Brian Wilson is still alive and his name is Sean O'Hagan" is pretty much the summary of what you'll read here and there about the man behind the High Llamas.
Partly true, but there's a lot more to this great musician.

When it comes to crafting impeccable melodies and arranging them in epic yet tasteful ways, no one beats O'Hagan. It's true the man has definitely cracked what made 'pet sounds' such a brilliant album and given his own interpretation of the formula times and times again since the early nineties, refining it at every iteration, including this one.

However if you're new to the band, Talahomi Way may not be the best introduction. Look into "Hawaii", "Beet, Maize & Corn" or "Can Cladders". These ones are probably best to get what the High Llamas ambition is all about: not being the beach boys of the 21st century, but giving a European point of view about a mythical America of the 60s (just have a look at the titles of the songs, they speak for themselves). It's not about reality, but how you wish reality could be like. Just more elegant, more stylish, more precious, more dream-like. That's the magic of the High Llamas, and they push it to the point that you believe it could be true.

Now, if you're already familiar with the High Llamas, of course with Talahomi Way you'll be in familiar land. But it's clear that Sean O'Hagan's recent collaborations with Tim Gane (from Stereolab) on a few soundtracks have had an influence on the Llamas sound. It's become more cinematic than ever. The earlier albums were a collection of great pop songs, the most recent ones, and especially this one feels more like the soundtrack of an imaginary film, where each song is a story connected to the previous and the next one.
That's what Talahomi Way brings to the discography. It's film music in disguise. And that's why it's so great again.

On a side note, it's well worth checking the very interesting interview that O'Hagan recently gave to Sock Monkey Sound podcast (April 6, 2011).

Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The world doesn't need another Prefab Sprout album, 4 May 2007
This review is from: Steve McQueen (Audio CD)
I have all of Prefab Sprout music. All the albums, all the b-sides, all the rarities. All? Well, not quite. Like you I'm missing these albums that are somewhere in Paddy McAloon's head: "Earth, the story so far", the musical about Zorro, etc. All this stuff that fuels fan forums discussions and which will probably never see the light of the day, because Paddy McAloon could not produce them the way he wanted.

But maybe it's better this way. Just think about it: "Steve McQueen", "From Langley Park to Memphis", "Jordan: the comeback" and the underrated "Andromeda Heights". 4 albums, 4 gems. Isn't this enough? After these, "The Gunman" was not as good and "I trawl the Megahertz" definitely doesn't belong to the Prefab Sprout history.

I have all of Prefab Sprout music yet I bought this new edition of "Steve McQueen". Because it sounds like never before, and because these 8 acoustic tracks are actually far more than an unplugged session.

So the world doesn't need a new Prefab Sprout record. The world just needs to (re) discover the best pop album ever produced: "Steve McQueen", by Prefab Sprout. 1985.

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