Friday, 27 March 2015

Photographs on passports.

Those of you who read my post on 14th February about the British Passport Centenary will know all about the confusion that was caused when photographs were hurriedly introduced to passports – the holders  were given no guidance on how to pose for the photographs.

But they were not the only people lacking guidance in this area. The passports of the day had not been designed to carry a photograph and so the officials issuing the documents had to find a space to accommodate this unplanned extra. In default of guidance, they used their own judgement. 

This latter was not always up to the standard one would desire.

Passport issued in 1925 to a mother and child by .....?
The name of the country has been obscured by the officially attached photographs.
(It is France)

Nikon Coolpix not so cool

Why is it that every new electronic device has to announce its presence with a musical chime? Computers, mobile telephones, microwave ovens – as soon as they are switched on they ululate. The world is plangent with digital tintinnabulation. These devices really are insignificant on the worldly scale yet they burst forth with magniloquent fanfaronade.

I recently purchased a snapshot camera. It is called the Nikon Coolpix. Here we see it in its resting state. When I switch it on, it broadcasts a musical chime. Why? What is the purpose of this melody? Is it to tell me that I have switched it on? 

Here is a picture of the camera now that it is switched on. Can you see the difference? Not only is there a green light flashing on top, but the lens has deployed itself like a telescope. Am I likely to not notice this?

I can understand a light controlled pedestrian crossing having an audible warning so that blind persons can know when it is safe to cross the road but why does my camera have an audible warning? Surely it is not for blind people?They would not be using the camera on account of their deficiency in the one sense that is needed to ensure successful photography.

And then I browsed the instruction booklet. Under the title Troubleshooting, I found the following observations:

It would seem that the Nikon Coolpix is not so cool.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Cow struck by lightning

I am sure you have all wondered what was the correct procedure to be followed when a cow has been struck by lightning. Browsing today through my volume of Horses, Dogs, Birds, Cattle. Accidents and Ailments. First Aid, (published 1899) I came across this paragraph which I share with you for your useful enlightenment.

So now you know.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Berforts for Books

Brand spanking new litho printer at Berforts.
Being in the area of Stevenage I dropped in on Berforts Information Press. This company now prints all of my books published by Queen Anne's Fan. 

Dale, the sales and marketing manager, proudly showed me the new digital litho printer which they are in the process of commissioning. The high working speed is assisted by the ultra violet heaters which dry the ink immediately after printing. Dale says that the print quality is superb. I look forward to seeing the results.
The new binder. It extends as far as the end wall.
Just as exciting is the new binder which will bind 5,000 14-section books per hour. On the style of a production line the machine collates the sections, forms them into a block, sends the block down a line where the back of the block is notched and then runs over heated glue rollers before having the cover drawn on. The book is then automatically routed to a three-edge cutter which trims it to size.

The gluing section of the binder.

On the right is the glueing section of the binder. The block of the book, passes with its spine downwards from left to right on the silver track that you see. Below it is the gold coloured roller which is coated with hot glue. A little further on the cover is drawn onto the glued spine.

All very clever.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Wetherspoons bans humans

I commend Wetherspoons and their business model and visit them when I can but it seems that their establishment in Canterbury has decided to concentrate on a niche market to the exclusion of all others.

I just hope that they have done their market research and confirmed that there are sufficient cask ale drinking guide dogs in Canterbury to guarantee success.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Yehudi Menuhin Hall

I gave a lecture recently at the Yehudi Menuhin School at Stoke d'Abernon in Surrey. The school was opened in 1964 before the M25 was built and the latter now passes close by, providing a twenty four hour sotto voce accompaniment to academic life.

Yehudi Menuhin Hall seen from the car park.
Where is the disabled persons' access?

I was a little perturbed by the location of the parking for disabled visitors. I accept that the spaces reserved are nearest to the access path, but that path reaches the Hall via a double flight of steps. There was no alternative ramp indicated nor could I find one. What are disabled persons supposed to do?

The audience's view of the lecturer.

The venue for my lecture was in the superb Yehudi Menuhin Hall which was opened in 2006. As one would expect, the acoustics were excellent.

The lecturer's view of the audience.

The hall seats 300 on a 360 degree azimuth. Luckily no person chose to sit behind me but I discovered when I started my lecture that the projector was behind the screen. 
The full import of this was revealed when I directed my laser pointer onto the screen and the red dot disappeared, presumably because the screen was not reflective but light-porous.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A poem for Spring

by Martin Lloyd.

Some bulbs grow 'cos they're crocus,
Sometimes snow drops on snowdrops.
Now crocus are low 'cos hyacinths are higher
Since the snow dropped on flowers that flopped.

Salt or Pepper?

Seen at the Canterbury Boot Fair.  

Life can be so cruet.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Wadjda the movie. Go and see it.

Are you fed up of viewing films where the action is set in plastic USA? I saw WADJDA a few days ago. It is the story of a Saudi Arabian girl who sets her mind on buying a bicycle and this in a country where women don't do that sort of thing. 

The film is funny, it is touching, it is tender and, thank goodness, it does not have a Hollywood ending where everything is sown up nicely. The snapshot of Saudi domestic life is fascinating. Is it realistic? I don't know, but the people look real. They are not talking mannequins. 

When I went to see it the screening was preceded by somebody promoting Fifty Years of Feminism but luckily the speaker was an academic and she used lecturespeak – an assembly of obscure but impressively sounding words glued together with 'aaah' and 'errrm' so as to render the meaning unintelligible to the audience but to make her appear learned. Then we watched the film. It is great. Go and see it and make up your own mind.