Friday, December 31, 2004

People who use nothing but Google

"The problem with the overwhelming focus on Google is that we end up putting too much faith in one proprietary service without knowing where the profit-seeking goals of the company may lead its quality down the road. We should tread with caution when thinking of it as the be all and end all of access to information online. "
- Dr Eszter Hargittai, Northwestern University

The Surgeon General has determined that Google's ranking practices are dangerous to the development of creative and critical thinking.

No fault of Google really, but simply the ignorance of people who have come to use nothing but it, journalists who subconsciously mention the brand in place of where they may have used the term 'search engine'.

A European slant on news

Have a change from Sky, BBC and (heaven forbid) FOX news by watching EuroNews.

It's a very different slant on the news stories of the day - many showing more images other feel are too edgy, and makes you feel very European in a positive way.

Outlawing Roman Candle Air Bombs

I thought they'd banned them in the UK - but on Nov 5th and New Year's night it's like a warzone. Display fireworks should be banned from sale to the general public altogether.

You have to laugh. "Pure Vegetable Oil" whose only ingredients are vegetable oil and E900 antifoam agent. Mmmm, tasty!


Isn't it funny how Americans say 'Boston'

They go, "Baawston" don't they?


Tee hee.

Whatever happenend to New Year's Eve review shows?

You remember, a programme of an hour or more, looking back over the events of the past year presented by Clive James or Angus Deayton sitting behind a desk. Then over to Big Ben for the bongs and an appropriate closing statement.

There are no comparable review shows on any channels bar the news channels, but of course without any humour, and often stretched over several days.

Britain lacks any satire on television these days. Those in power are getting away with murder.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Thought for the day

The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

All types of outdoor speakers are available via Pea Soup Ltd. Here's an omnispeaker in a theme park environment. These are the original speakers (before Bose made a similar unit) and have excellent sound quality with 360 degree dispersal.


Bose Panaray 502s with front grilles removed. You can see the way the driver units are pointing in different directions to give a greater stereo field. That research pays off!


Bose Panaray 502s front view. You can see the black full-range Bose drivers through the white mesh. They are used with a 502B bass unit.


Bose 101 speakers are excellent monitors and although touted as being outdoor suitable, Bose have always denied this is the case whenever I've called them. They're so good, I bought 6!


Aerial view of Alton Towers, Staffordshire.


Rick Dees in his studio at KIIS FM Los Angeles. A rare photo - normally the webcam would be pointing to the right on his guest(s), and not on the master at work behind his stacks of carts (yes, this was taken on 27th Jan 2003 - who needs digital audio?!).


Monday, December 27, 2004

Rick Dees Top 40

The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 Countdown is a syndicated radio show broadcast in hundreds of countries all over the world.
I was listening online in 1998/9 and heard a girl call in to talk to Rick. His 1st question was "Where are you calling from?". She answered "In my room". Duhhh....

The Gong Show

Whatever happened to The Gong Show?

It used to be on British TV in the mid 1980s around lunchtime on Channel 4.

Would it create a sufficient cult following to be repeated?

Clive James

Clive James - not only were his "Postcard from ..." films very well made (now occasionally repeated on Sky Travel), but so were his Clive James Shows (Sunday Night Clive, Monday Night Clive, Saturday Night Clive, The Late Clive James).

Sunday Night Clive (which introduced the world to Margarita Pracatan) always reminds me of that Sunday night - work tomorrow feeling.

Where is he now? Bring him back to TV!
(Unless he's having a rest)

Poor Old Wes Butters

In his short career so far, aged just 25, he's been snapped up by BBC Radio 1 from Galaxy in the north east, only to be dumped from the flagship Top 40 chart show just two years on.
What went wrong?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

View from Warwick Castle's Guy's Tower over Warwick to Whitnash and Royal Leamington Spa.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The dining room was all set for our luncheon of cucumber sandwiches.


Her dwellings are nobly proportioned. I extolled the virtues of 'flat packs' from Ikea, but Her Ladyship didn't seem impressed.


Sylvia Houghton-Bewitt reclines after several cognacs.


Last weekend at Warwick, and what a pleasant voice Lady Brottleby has!


Amazing chickens!


A magnificent cock.


Baa baa black sheep, wot u lookin' at?


A sheep in the grounds of Woodchester Mansion


Sunday, December 12, 2004

A theory for world peace and the progression of humanity

Let's get controversial.

If everyone who who practiced religion did something constructive for the greater good, and if everyone who is waring did something constructive for the greater good, and if everyone who went to the gym used that effort to do something more constructive for the greater good:

We'd have a lot fewer reasons for wars, no wars and no testosterone pumped account executives speeding out of David Lloyd's in their Range Rovers at 60 mph on their mobile phones.

Let's try it!

My birthday is shared with:

Vic Reeves (surreal comedian, I used to go to craft fairs with his mum & dad in the 80s)
Adrian Edmonson (Dangerous Brother, Young One)
Bamber Gascgoine (University Challenge host, founder of
Calvin Goldspink (ex-S Club 8 member with a snazzy name)
Neil Diamond (singer/songwriter)
Billy Butler (famous for Chucklevision and "Hold your plums". No, I haven't heard of him either)
Brandon Henschel ("uniquely accomplishing God's will through entertainment". He's a dancer for Britney Spears. Why people have to justify their occupation in some ludicrously tenuous link with religion baffles me.)

So there you go!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

King Arthur is ready for battle!


Madame Tussauds waxworks at Warwick Castle's Kingmaker walk-thru. I really don't think you can beat London's Madame Tussauds sculptors for incredible realism in so many of the figures they create. And in this particular attraction, there was no glass or velvet ropes - you can happily go right up to them and touch them or look into their (glass) eyes. Unless it's actually a real person, in which case you cack yourself.


Shakespeare's house in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wasn't in when we visited, which I thought was rather rude. He could have at least texted me.


The Dracula Experience, Whitby

When I worked there casually in the early 1990s, it was a pretty exciting place to be. Still in its original presentation, after opening in 1987, it was tardis-like in its internal proportions compared to the exterior. At the time it was still owned by the group who also owned Friargate Wax Museum in York - a little gem, now sadly closed.

It seems odd now, but all the audio (music and SFX) were played from cassette tapes in double cassette decks in the control room where the air compressor was. Because you couldn't really appreciate a stereo field, each tape was actually two totally separate tracks on the left and right channel, effectively halving the number of tape decks required. I think there were about 8 audio tracks in total - some were shared in more than once scene. They all played continuously. The tolling church bell in the graveyard scene was always playing, and could be heard in the shop/admissions till at the entrance. Every 60 minutes the bell and eerie wind would stop while the tape switched sides, and we all used to stop momentarily because something was different in what we were hearing.

A lot of work went into the presentation and theming of the attraction, although I'm not sure who did it (I don't think it was an in-house job). There were, in total, around 23 wax works which were all of an impeccable standard (and very, very expensive). Some were animated. I think it cost £1.75 to get in back then. The smoke machines were from Martin (a Junior 700, Magnum 1600 and another that was stolen before I was there. The 1600 was stolen in the mid-90s). Triggers were via single infra red beams at about waist or knee height with relays.

I went through a good few years ago and felt sad at how it now uses basic physical techniques to scare visitors (hanging cloth, squishy floors, total darkness, loud screams). In my era it was very much the 'experience' - the odd fright mainly from a dark scene coming into action with lights, movement and sound breaking the quiet and surprising the guests, but it was something people of all ages enjoyed. Now I only think it's suitable for children and younger adults - certainly not older people.

If anyone else has any memories of the Dracula Experience, feel free to post a comment (you can do it anonymously).

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The way people say "News"

Isn't it funny how some people say "noos" instead of "news"?

Culprits include Des O'Connor, Cilla Black, Frank Skinner, Paul Merton and Americans.

Des is also a bit of a one for "stoodio" (instead of "studio").

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Report: People who sleep less eat more

Of course!

If I wake up at 2pm I have successfully slept through breakfast and lunch, and can last until dinner before eating. I did it as a student and it saved a lot of dosh. Sleeping costs nothing.

Must have been a slow day in the scientific discoveries departments.

Why David Letterman wears white socks

Who knows? It's an odd thing to wear with dark suits and those slip-on loafers with tassles.

Stephanie Birkett, Dave's PA, didn't answer the question when asked:

Why does Dave wear white socks with his dark suits?
They're actually gray. One day we had some bright pink socks in the office, and there was a cake in the office, and Dave asked if he could push my face in the cake. I said, 'All right, but you have to wear these fluorescent pink socks on TV.' Dave said, 'I have no problem with that.' So he wore bright pink socks on the air--and I didn't even get my face pushed in the cake.

Another answer, not from someone in the know, but Whitney Matheson from responded thusly:

Rexburg, ID: I thought that you are supposed to wear dark socks with a dark suit and dark shoes. I've noticed that David Letterman wears light colored socks. What gives?

Whitney Matheson: I think they're magic socks. When he touches his ankle three times, he can disappear. (Twice and he can instantly understand Portugese.)

Does anyone else have any ideas?

Friday, December 03, 2004

Quote of the Day

Peter Simon on Bid-up TV about a Lord of the Rings framed film cell:
"This item is unique. There are only 246 left."

North Yorkshire Moors - 24th Nov, 15.37.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Roman Road Post Office

Without doubt, the most unhelpful people I've ever had to deal with. All I required was someone to sign a certification of authentication so that I would be able to move my business bank account, so that I would do my banking at their Post Office. But neither of the two staff - Sheila or Stuart Hobson, would help. "I haven't got time" and "No, I can't do it". I was the only person in the post office at the time. I will never return, not even to piss on it if the place is on fire.