Thursday, September 30, 2004

Pictures, Finally

Ashridge Spire
Ashridge Spire,
originally uploaded by MildlyDiverting.
Just got round to uploading pictures of the extraordinary place I stayed on a training course.

The sad thing is that I couldn't get a decent shot of the turf maze, which made me very happy...

AskOxford: What are the plurals of 'octopus', 'hippopotamus', 'syllabus'?

AskOxford: What are the plurals of 'octopus', 'hippopotamus', 'syllabus'?: "Octopus is not a simple Latin word of the second declension, but a Latinized form of the Greek word oktopous, and its 'correct' plural would logically be octopodes. "

This makes me very happy

Ladies Against Women Global Headquarters

Ladies Against Women Global Headquarters

Dear lord, my ma has gone back into politics.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Towards Semipermeable Blogging

An interesting paper on privacy and blogging by the coder fired from Friendster (apparently) for blogging.

Raises some interesting philosophical points about the 'exposed privacy' of blogs (hello, andrew...) and the need for controll through centralised apps...

Monday, September 27, 2004

The sacrifice of war is killing

Via Neil Gaiman, an amazing piece by Stephen Fry about what the sacrifice of war is; not giving your life for your country, but not being the moral choice about whether or not you may kill.

Read it.
And because this story, that Neil G refers to, might dissappear into the depths of the Google Cache, I've taken the priviledge of ripping it off. Because stories like this should never, ever be forgotten.

"He joined up and was sent to France, where he drilled with a spade and in civilian clothes because that was all they had. When the Army discovered that Pilkington spoke passable Norwegian, having learned at night school, he was recruited into military intelligence and sent to what was then the Ringway Airport near Manchester for parachute training. Soon, Pilkington found himself in the Norwegian campaign with the task of testing the extent of enemy infiltration into local Norwegian society.
Killing was not what Pilkington had in mind on a spring morning in 1940 as he and a colleague, Jim Beech, walked along a country lane approaching the small town of Bodo. Both were dressed in what somebody in an office back home had said was correct Norwegian clothing. An elderly, grey-haired lady with a pleasant smile approached them. "Good morning," she said, in English. "I think that you are British, is that so?"
"Yes," Pilkington replied.
"I can always tell the British. If you will come to my house, I will give you breakfast. We are allies in this terrible thing that has happened to my country. Come with me."
The woman led them to her house in which was her son, a teenager. "Ingvald," said the nice lady in Norwegian. "These are British spies. Go out and telephone the SS that we have them here."
Ingvald began to put on his boots.
"Do you have a toilet?" said Beech.
"My boy will show you," said their hostess. Then, to Ingvald, "Show him, then get off quickly."
Beech followed the youth round to the rear of the house. There he drew his knife and, with a swift, professional thrust, stabbed Ingvald through the back and into the heart.
In the kitchen, the lady turned from the stove and Pilkington said in Norwegian: "Madam, you should have found out first whether we spoke your language." Drawing his revolver, he shot her as Beech returned wiping his knife. In later years, whenever he was asked if he had killed anyone in the war, Pilkington would reply: "Yes, I shot a nice old lady who was just going to give me breakfast."

William (Bill) Pilkington, actor and army officer: born Wallasey, Cheshire 9 December 1916; BEM 1989; died Altrincham, Cheshire 24 August 2004.

BBC - Radio 4 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

BBC - Radio 4 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Well, I've finally got round to listening to the new Hitchhikers. It had to be done in a quiet moment in the office, because my home connection is just too poor.

Well, I'm not eleven any more, so the fannish fervour with which it should be greeted is tempered somewhat.

But it was worth it, just for the matresses. I'd completely forgotten about them, which is odd, because they were just my favourite, favourite thing about the books originally. They're that perfectly balanced Adams-ian whimsy mixed with fake science that endears his writing to me.

The sad thing is the tone of the cast. They've grown up, as folk are wont to do, in the intervening 20 years. I had such an enormous crush on Trillian when I heard the originals, and now she sounds like she should be advertising oxo. It's a bit like the 'working out what old ladies looked like when they were 20' game I play on the bus - you can hear the ghosts of the young voice in the vintage, mature tones of the cast. It gives the whole production a kind of aspic-held nostalgia - as though all of us are getting older and holding on to this ephemeral pleasure. Whilst the voices have improved with age... like some kind of expensive cheese, or something, it makes listening to what is basically a twentysomething having a poke at funky Islington disco society sound a bit too po-faced.

I hope we don't end up mummifying HHG, in the way that Dr Who was preserved in stasis for so long, never allowed to become a historical curio.

So, overall, it's rather better than I was expecting. Not enough Terry Riley in the background music*. Slightly laboured thing about the guide going on the fritz, but actually I liked the fact it suddenly spliced back in to the Proper Book Voice we know and love. But, you know...

A good thing.

So, anyway, I've got a funny old relationship with the guide here at the beeb. I'm sure it was fundamental to me ending up working here, as it was the first media phenomenon I got passionate about. It kicked off my fascination with electronic music. One of my first bosses - who got me in to t'internet - was one of the people cutting tape off the spools when it jammed half an hour before broadcast in the early 80s. It gave me my first solo website build. It gave me my second TV credit, as a thanks in the tribute to Douglas made for Omnibus just after he died. It gave me my first experience of professional three-camera OB directing - and first proper bit of producing work - when I had the privilege of running the webcast of Douglas' memorial service.

And, luckily lovely Roger at Radio4 interactive has just confirmed that Yes, it was my idea to get Rod Lord in to do the illustrations for the remaking of the computer game.

Please imagine me elaborately thumbing my nose at all of the cool kids at school who laughed at me for turning up dressed as Ford Prefect on Red Nose Day.

(Wanders off to bask in smug self-satisfaction...)

*Dirk Maggs and Wix Wickens, if you ever read this, get Boards of Canada and Mum in for the next one. And Dirk, get a haircut, you look ridiculous.

My first Internet Posts

Oooh, they're cringingly bad.

please don't. They're for personal use only.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Glitter For Brains

Glitter For Brains: " go to the toilet and employ The Hitler Piss: a manoeuvre where you position yourself at the urinal and extend your left hand in the Nazi salute to the wall in order to steady yourself. "

Lee got howwibwy dwunk. And has come up with the best neologism I've heard in ages.

Now, back to _my_ hangover...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Baked Apples

eBay item 2264682789 (Ends 31-Aug-04 21:16:36 BST) - Unique Apple Macintosh circa 1987 in molten state

It really is. It's an Apple Classic that survived a fire, and STILL BOOTS UP.

It looks like Dali's computer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Burn the presses! Teachers Union in Ireland wants camera phone ban for schools: "The union has said the phones may be used to compromise the personal integrity of students or teachers or for bullying and intimidation and could transmit pornography.'"

Yes. And so can a pen and paper. Or a magazine. Or a human voice.

Why are people so scared? Do we still believe that these cameras steal a tiny portion of our souls?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Koen Hauser

Unit Creative Management Amsterdam / New York

Wow, the guy is... strange.



Just found a fantastic live journal of anatomical pictures.

Should point out, that besides my gentle obsession with household paraphenalia, I'm also quietly obsessed wuth anatomical drawing, and art based thereon.

So this is yummy. You of the nervous dispositions may want to look away.

Lucky Mr Belam`

Well, I really did mean to get to London open house this year. I even got as far as ordering the brochure. But then a girlfriend with a bout of flu put the mockers on it. It's a shame as it was pretty much the last chance to see the old St Pancras buildings, let alone Leighton's House. Or the Kingsway underpass, which was galling.

Martin B, a lovely workmate, made the best of it - he visited excitingly disused but nonetheless fascinationg bits of the tube system. Check out his photos.

It was kind of ameliorated by being allowed to watch two Fred Dibnah programmes in bed on saturday morning, and two 'Seven Wonders of the industrial age'-es on sunday night. Which featured Mr Bazalgettes sewers, and the fantastic pumping station at shellness.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Awful Plastic Surgery

Awful Plastic Surgery

Oh, oh, oh, the Heat reader in me (and, I hasten to add, it's very well hidden) is just loving this site. Marvel at collagen gone wrong. Learn about the hithertoo under-rated problem of capsular contracture. Yum!

Elements of User Experience

A very nice diagram: it lays out all of the aspects of site building and IA in a really beautifully simple way.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

O! M! G!

The Science Museum is opening up it's storeroom for public tours.

To say I am frothing at the mouth about this would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. This, as far as I'm concerned, will be the visual and intellectual version of heaven. I pray they let you take your time and take many photos: I can't begin to imagine the gorgeous sites in there.

One of my favourite features of the science museum is the small display of domestic technology in the basement. I developed an obsession with outmoded household appliances during my degree - it started as an interesting and emblematic way to express feelings about my relationship with my mother, and some kind of burgeoning post-feminist commentary on the lost history of the home... And I just fell in love with Bakelite curves and chrome. Added to that, the sheer substantiating of old appliances is lovely. My mother still uses a 1960s fridge and hairdryer (I have a suspicion they may have been wedding presents...). I'm also stupidly over attached to kitchen equipment I've inherited from her, and my grandmother.

Note to self - I must continue my series of drawings.

Anyhoo... Yes, I'm very excited. And I'm booking my tour immediately, and taking every bloody camera I own.

That's four cameras, in case you were wondering.