Thursday, March 31, 2005
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
One of the benefits of being self employed is that you have almost complete control over when and if you do things. This came home to me today when I was forced to venture forth to stand in a queue at my bank. I found myself becoming twitchy at being made to wait around while the single counter clerk was occupied counting out six hundred 5p pieces for the mentalist she was serving. Meanwhile four other clerks were busying themselves doing paperwork, rearranging their in-trays, blethering mindlessly on the phone and pretending to use the computer whilst skilfully ignoring the massive queue of customers building up. I could feel my managerial skills rising to the surface as I was preparing my speech. "Excuse me, I wonder if it would be possible for one of you to serve us whilst your colleague is dealing with her [krazy] client?" It was almost ready to issue forth from my impatient lips. I realised that I was resenting the fact that they were wasting my time when they didn't need to - at least that's how I was perceiving it. Now that I am used to determining how every minute is spent I've become selfish and less patient with time wasters. Time is, in my new world, money. Why is it, then, that I am so good at wasting it myself? I've a list of jobs I need to get through and I've known about most of them for several days - OK more than two weeks. Somehow, I'm finding numerous other tasks that prevent me from making a start on the list. There's nobody to prod me, nobody to send me a snotty email, nobody to make a speech at me. I'm solely in control and yet I persist with the delusion that I am getting away with something in not getting on with it. I am absolutely loving the freedom I have now but it frightens me a bit. I've got the controls to the train set and I could make it crash - if I want to. So, on reflection, I don't begrudge that bunch of bankers their small avoidance space. It's probably the only control they have over their working lives. Me? I'm giddy with it. What have I done to deserve this?For they are famous - no 1
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 10:11 PM
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Currently exposing her thighs to a grateful nation on a nightly basis is Her Royal Highness, Princess Tamara von Custardcream [twice removed].New life
Her Royalness was born at an early age and henceforth all nations will call her blessed. For she alone is a model and TV presenter, skilled horsewoman, snowboarder, kickboxer and childrens charidee ambassador [ sponsored by Ferrero Rocher ]. Her Royal Biscuitness is truly a renaissance woman. And damned fine attractive too. Almost a footballers wife, her long liaison being with 'International Footballer Dani'. She is undoubtedly a woman of taste and substance. Her fame, richly deserved, has nothing whatsover to do with being the step-neice-granddaughter [thrice removed] of the King of Spain. Her circles are all correct you see. She has merit and has achieved thigh power alone and unaided. You can hire her for about 7 grand. [All major cards accepted - Nectar points available]
Do not, therefore, ask who she is - for now you know.
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 9:15 PM
Sunday, March 27, 2005
There's an end of era feel developing at the moment I think. Or maybe I should say that there's a start of era feel - my glasseth ith half fulleth etceteraeth. This is highly appropriate for Eastertide. Lambikins are frollicking in the fields. Birdies are atwittering and ashagging. The local wildebeeste have returned from their winter migration to East Sussex. Three of my link buddies have quit their blogs. Several more appear to be teetering. One of my link buddies has become an international superstar but not quite a housewife thankfully. My first ever middle east link was from Ashley who is soon to be a Daddy. I hope he returns to blogging when junior gives him a spare minute. My first call centre link was from Wrapstar who has decided not to go Wigan, to escape from Brenda's tuna breath and get the hell out of the call centre. His posts were hugely enjoyable and always confidential. He's promised to regenerate - I hope it's soon. James Calaghan has died. Despite his many achievements he, sadly, became an icon for 'The Winter of Discontent' when Old Labour's industrial relations policy finally imploded. The Labour Party began 18 years of unelectable exile and the Unmentionable One sucked us all into the vortex of despair that was her handbag, 'Where there is despair, let us bring hope' - yeah right. It could be said that if we hadn't had James Callaghan we wouldn't have had Tony Blair. That's very interesting no matter how you look at it. This Friday may see the announcement of a General Election when the nation once more will be gripped with searing political debate, animated social concern and endless whingeing about the NHS, transport and house prices. Pensioner Power Rangers will be stalking the airwaves in search of grey gratuities and thinly disguised racism will be let rip through the open sewer that is over there on the right wing of this high flying country of ours. I'm undecided whether to get all political dans le blog. Bearing in mind the maxim to avoid sex, religion and politics for fear of alienating my reader I hesitate to launch forth with my hithertoo carefully hidden political leanings. Dear reader, tell me your views - should I keep my soapbox under the stairs?What have we learnt this week?
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 9:54 PM
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Having a gap in your front teeth is considered a sign of attractiveness in Africa.
Gordon Brown likes a bit of modest fiscal tightening in the afternoon.
A skunkworks is a group of people who, in order to achieve unusual results, work on a project in a way that is outside the usual rules.
The borders, buttons and stuff at the top of your web browser window is known as 'browser chrome'.
There is a difference between a tracheotomy (the procedure) and a tracheostomy (the incision created by the procedure).
The two terms are often used interchangeably. This must cease forthwith.
In the current Australian episodes of Neighbours romance is blossoming between Toadie and Eva Destruction.
My capacity for prolonged excitement is far more extensive than I can ever remember.
There is a huge underground chamber beneath the London Eye that used to contain a molten plastic creature.
In case you forgot: It's newWho tonight on BBC 1 at 7pm
For posterity - from Radio Times:
"It's here at long, long last. And it's great - lively, funny and immensely good-hearted. Christopher Eccleston, who has a slightly otherworldly quality about him anyway, is a fine, likeable Doctor, who jitters with energy and good humour. And Billie Piper, as his sidekick Rose, delivers on all the acting promise she showed in Canterbury Tales. Russell T Davies's script is scattered with slyly knowing Doctor Who references, though not to the degree where they become tiresome to those who exist outside the Doctor's esoteric fan base. This opening story gets things going nicely, when the Doctor returns to Earth to stop a potential takeover by living plastic. Shop-window mannequins and, in one funny sequence, even wheelie bins come alive with destructive minds of their own as they set about the screaming populace. This is a Doctor Who with humanity, which should be welcomed to a new TV world dominated by witless, soulless, serial-killer dramas."
Doctor Who - Christopher Eccleston
Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
Jackie Tyler - Camille Coduri
Mickey Smith - Noel Clarke
Clive - Mark Benton
Caroline - Elli Garnett
Clive’s son - Adam McCoy
Auton - Alan Ruscoe
Auton - Paul Kasey
Auton - David Sant
Auton - Elizabeth Fost
Auton - Helen Otway
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 12:01 AM
Friday, March 25, 2005
Gay necrophiliac ducks
[That should keep the googleperves busy for a bit].
No, it's not the name of a wannabe teen punk combo.
Those ducks are mean little b*****s.
Mounting mallards - you couldn't make it up.
I'm still excited you know.
Does anyone else think keep thinking it's Saturday?
All we need now is for British Summer Time to start and my disorientation will be complete.
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 3:55 PM
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
And the answer is: One's an ugly, scum-sucking bottom feeder and the other is a fish.Who -5
That's my favourite lawyer joke.
Recently I've had cause to use the services of the legal profession - not something I've previously had much need of and the experience, sadly, confirmed my prejudices.
I decided when starting out that I would, instead of going on personal recommendations, treat the exercise like any other consumer purchase. I decided to shop around. It's quite difficult to do this with solicitors. They seem to operate on the basis that they are the only legal firm in existence and that the notion of you needing a price quotation in order to make a choice is at best, 'not the usual way we do things' [ looking down their nose at you over their half moons ]. At worst it's an appallingly vulgar faux pas committed by an unworthy oik who dares to look them in the eye and question their god given right to control your life and overcharge you for the privilege.
I was staggered by the arrogance shown by one 'practitioner' who assumed from the outset that the job was his, snatched the documents I had brought him from my hands and then told me what he would do. This was a hastily rehashed verbal recount of what I had asked him to do and would involve him digging out some old wordprocessor files, copying and pasting my details into them and then charging me a small fortune for printing them out on posh paper. He had the cheek to tell me that I would have to accept his sms style emails as communication because he didn't have time to type in full. His quote was the highest of all I received. Another solicitor decided to have a breakdown in the middle of our dealings so that I had to phone around the town trying to track her down because she had moved to another practice without telling her old one where she was going. I dealt with a trainee at another firm who kept leaving the room to go and consult with 'my colleague', [ who I later learned was her uncle ] - and then coming back to tell me the next bit of the story. Organ grinders and monkeys came to mind. I also tried the electronic option and made contact with a web based service with an impressive website that turned out to be a badly run email relay agency. All they did was to send my emailed info to one of their 'partner firms'. This lot then put together an outlandish quote that, as well as the work I had actually requested, was embellished with all sorts of expensive add-ons thus inflating the bill very nicely thanks guvnor. In the end the best quote came from a local firm who operate out of humble offices. They have terrible chipboard furniture, vile nylon carpets and the walls are woodchipped to hell and back. The guy I dealt with looks like Des Lynam after he ate all the pies and he didn't say a lot. What he did say, though, was music to my ears. He could do my job quickly and he would charge a fee which was 30% of that quoted by Mr Control-Vee - the wordprocessor merchant.
For this, I was prepared to forgive his crimes against design and award him the right to handle my brief.
My tips if you need to get legal work done:
1. Find out exactly what it is you need - go to see a couple of firms to discuss what is involved. See them on the basis that you are just wanting to find out what is involved. Be clear up front that this is an exploratory chat and that you do not wish to incur fees at this stage. [ Two firms I contacted were not prepared to do this, wanting to charge me for their time - I binned them. ] From these chats make sure you note all the jargon words they use and make sure you ask them to explain exactly what they mean.
2. Armed with your newly acquired legal vocabulary, compose a requirements spec for the work and then contact several firms and ask them to give you a firm price quotation for your spec and no more. Listen and laugh inwardly at the reactions.
3. If you have a favoured firm go back to them with your lowest quote and see if they will price match, or at least meet you some of the way. [ As in all things cheapest may not be best - judgement required ].
4. When all the work is complete take yourself off for a treat and spend some of the cash that would, by now, be lining the pockets of a bottom feeder had you not been savvy enough to keep him at arms length.
Hospital consultants need this treatment too I think. There are far too many arrogant, insensitive ones around with all the people skills of a Microsoft Access help file. I think they are a more intractable target for consumer power though. I still feel uneasy about upsetting someone that might end up sticking sharp instruments into me further down the line.
What does a lawyer use for birth control?
What's the difference between a lawyer and a vulture?
The lawyer gets airmiles.
What's the last difference between a lawyer and a vulture?
Vultures wait until you're dead to rip your heart out.
What do lawyers and sperm have in common?
Both have a 1 in 3,000,000 chance of becoming a human being.
What do you get when you cross the Godfather with a lawyer?
An offer you can't understand.
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 9:06 PM
Monday, March 21, 2005
Have I told you how excited I am about the return of Dr Who?
Well, I know loads of people are excited and I'm not alone in my excitement but honestly I'm really excited. I haven't been this excited about a TV programme since Dorothy Vernon inspired me to be a barrister in Crown Court. [ It was the whole wig and processional thing that did it for me ]. Anyway, I'm longing to see Dr Who. Longing. I've been spending unhealthy amounts of time today reading obscure fan sites, searching out esoteric photos of the production and remembering the half forgotten electricity that used to tingle up my spine when the cliffhanger at the end of an episode exploded into that energy charged music and the amazing titles with the dissolving face of the Doctor. Patrick Troughton had just the right face for the dissolving effect - all the wrinkles aligned perfectly. I've been staggered today by the fastidious obsession of fans and the incredible levels of detail available online for every conceivable question you might have about any aspect of Dr Who. Many of the sites have just slotted in the new series as though they're taking it in their stride - a new navigation button here, a few new records in the database there. Hastily edited photos of Christopher Eccleston sit [ jarringly for now ] alongside the Bakers, Davison, Pertwee, Troughton, Hartnell and the real Dr McCoy. This site in particular is astonishingly professional and accomplished - their countdown clock is better than the official BBC one. As it's apparently a way of life for some, I've decided I'm not going to attempt to write anything much about Dr Who. If you're in the UK you may be glad of the relief. I think it's building to fever pitch as we get nearer to Saturday. That's good though isn't it? There's an enormous reservoir of affection for the show - it means a lot to so many and I think because it's British it means all the more - it speaks to us in ways that US shows can't. But, I'm going on a bit now.
All this week I'll be posting some images and sounds up there on the right. My own humble effort in celebrating what I think is one of the great television events of the twenty first century. I've got it bad, I know. Others have got it badder. But I'm excited - did I mention that?
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 10:21 PM
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 1:58 AM
Friday, March 18, 2005
Neighbours-everybody needs good neighbours. Just a friendly wave each morning helps to make a better day. Neighbours need to get to know each other. Next door is only a footstep away. Neighbours--everybody needs good neighbours. With a little understanding, you can find a perfect blend. Neighbours should be there for one another. That's when good neighbours become good friends.
Who are they and where are they now?
This is what I've been able to determine thus far:
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 4:18 PM
Thursday, March 17, 2005
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 12:01 AM
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Type Quiz - no 2Mobility
Thanks for trying folks but nobody guessed that it was Frutiger.
Designed orignally by Adrian Frutiger as the Roissy typeface for signage at Charles-de-Gaulle-Airport [ one of my earliest architectural fixations ], Paris in the 1970s - the typeface has found widespread favour. It is well suited for the quick readability required in information graphics and signage and, in my opinion, is superior to the Transport face used on most British roadsigns [more on that story later]. It was adopted by BBC graphic designers for the national weather graphics and has been used continuously since 1985. Now, summat slightly easier: What's this one called?
News reaches me via the man Dave that Stevie Wonder is due to release a new album and single v.soon. This makes me very happy. There is a tantalising 'tour' button on his site that currently leads to a blank page. The minute you get wind of him coming anywhere near the UK you have my permission to buy me a ticket in the front row [ or at very least send me an email ].
In all the dr's excited anticipation of the return of the Dr - [ check that website - it's new! ] - I forgot to comment on the appearance of the all new Captain Scarlet on CITV on Saturday mornings. I caught one of the early episodes and was impressed at the sheer quality the mature genius Gerry Anderson has brought to this. It's dark, considered and the subtlety afforded by Hypermarionation [ CGI + motion capture ] is used very well to convey atmosphere, mood and body language. It's a lot lot better than any animation I've seen on kids TV in a long time and I'm not just saying that because I'm a fan. Watch it yourself and see. I still love to recall Anderson describing how he sometimes used to put the original supermarionation puppets away in a dark cupboard at the end of a tortuous day of shooting and say something like, 'right, stay there you b****d' - such was his frustration at trying to control them on camera.
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 7:31 PM
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Picture the scene: Saturday morning at Bignjuicy Central Station. Flocks of chavesses pollarding their stuff in the ticket hall. Chavlads in attendance, spaced appropriately to avoid style crushing collisions with the peaks.
A fug of B&H smoke chokes the air. My train pulls out in 5, the ticket queue is 30 strong, only one ticket window is open and Vicky no 23 is at the front arguing about her awayday to Walsall and the failure of Ticket Tommy to "gimmme-my-proper-discount-I'm-a-young-person-I'm-entitled-yeah-but."
Realising there's no hope of reaching the front of the queue in time - [ unless I kill them all - tempted? yes] - I immediately switch to plan B, reach for the plastic and head over to Automated Ticket Machine [ 1 of 3 ]. This is the most under-utitlised facility at Bignjuicy Central. Nobody seems to understand that you can tap the screen a few times, put your card in and get your ticket. It's programmed to deal with all travel scenarios - I believe there is even an emergency contraception option. Nobody uses it - they like to Q here in BnJville. Endlessly. Qnsmoke. nTtalk to their m8s. nDrive me bloody mad waiting behind em. So, what do I find? The bleedin ticket machine is out of order too - not just 1 of 3 but 2 and 3 of 3 2. No option - I storm the barrier, lob a stun grenade at Gary the Guard and vault my way onto the platform, making it onto the train just as the doors are closing. Vicki no 23 is now talking into her mobile whilst Tommy fingers his ear nonchalantly. The rearguard chavage is not amused - I can see them mouthing obscenities at V23 as I sail contentedly away from this hellhole, Southwards to my private rendezvous.
Now, this is a brilliant idea. You can pay for your journey with your mobile.
The days of the chavline may be numbered.
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 6:06 PM
Monday, March 14, 2005
Fish fartsSunday stuff
The farting herrings research previously discussed at no great length has won an Ig Nobel award for improbable biology. "We heard these rasping noises, which sound like high pitched raspberries, only ever at night, whenever we saw tiny gas bubbles coming from the herring's bottoms," What a way to earn a living - watching fish fart. There's hope for me yet. The bloated bloaters were mistaken for Russian submarines by suspicious Swedes.
Apparently anchovies and sprats are also prone to fishyflatulence.
What about a website where you could watch live footage of EU personages going about their heavily subsidised business: Conducting strange legislative procedures, talking a lot about tedious quotas, looking bored in headphones, grey people walking along corridors and shaking hands with other grey people. If all of your Dulux has dessicated - this is the site for you. [ Now available on satellite too! Kill me now.]
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 8:44 PM
Sunday, March 13, 2005
File me babyTypography
I've often wondered, if I had been born not as a man but an astract data construct what would I have been? Mental relief comes in the form of this fab quiz: Which file extension are you? I so wanted to be a .pdf but find instead I am the less glamorous .inf - at least I'll be missed.
Not content with knowing my alter file type I felt an urge to imagine an alternative career as a Nigerian gentleman who solicits the assistance of
Meet me now as I might one day be.
I've got the shades and the hairstyle. Better get along to tanUrAss tomorrow for a Ronseal special.
Type quiz - no 2
Congrats to Douglas for discovering that no 1 was Galliard - designed by Matthew Carter in 1978. More great Carter stuff here.
Now this one is a classic - beloved of BBC Weather graphics in the 80's. Michael Fish lives...[ in a 30's semi in Romford ].
Do you know it?
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 8:05 PM
Thursday, March 10, 2005
I went to another Design Museum event last week.
Matthew Carter may be an unfamiliar name but I'll bet you know his work very well. In fact you may spend large portions of your day working with it or looking at it. For this is the man that designed
Verdana's heritage incorporates Edward Johnston´s London Underground typeface of 1918.
The sans serif aesthetic is tuned with great skill in Verdana to maximise beauty and legibility with the display characterisics of the pixel. Meticulous care in the design of each letter ensures that even letters such as 'i' 'j' and 'l'. which are often confused, remain distinct.
There is, though, much more to Matthew Carter than Verdana.
There's also Bell Centennial for example.
Carter mentioned how Saul Bass had used Helvetica for AT&T's corporate identity. Helvetica though is horribly illegible at small sizes. [NB: Helvetica is not Arial] Carter helped design this face in 1978 for AT&T. [ The 'centennial refers to the 100th anniversary of the company ]. The unique demands of, then, new printing technology when applied to phone books meant that the original 1937 Bell typeface had to be abandoned. Carter designed Centennial to be highly legible at small sizes whilst achieving great economy of space - vital when millions of pages (and dollars) might be saved by reducing the print to paper ratio. Close examination of the face reveals how Carter 'nibbled' away at the margins of letters to increase legibility and enable clear display on electronic devices. This was one of the first faces of the digital era and it was interesting to hear Carter talk about how he had to push the limits of the tools which were then available to him, every pixel having to be hand drawn. The job took two years.
Matthew Carter is the son of Harry Carter, himself an accomplished typographer. Carter spoke about his early days learning the traditional art of the letter punch cutter - a skill which was obsolete as soon as he'd finished training. He later admitted that his grounding in traditional skills deeply informed his later digital work. Fascinating to hear him cite the invention of the laser printer as the single most important typographical advance; reconnecting - as it did - the designer directly with the product and completing the removal of hot metal and wax which had been the development medium for 500+ years. Digital technology he much prefers - there being no 'Undo' with metal. Metal wears out too whereas digital lasts. Interesting that last point, since tangibility is often the refuge of the anti-digitals.
He visited New York in the early sixties for about a month and was inspired by the dynamism and adoption of new technology. Exposure to luminaries such as Milton Glaser and techniques such as photocomposition engendered a catharsis. "I realised I had to start over". On returning to London he soon became involved with the design of signage for a new terminal at Heathrow Airport and, inspired by his American exposure, developed a sans serif face. Helvetica had been designed in 1957, yet it was several years before awareness of it had reached Carter - such was the state of international communications at that time. He conceded that the airport work would have been equally served had they been aware of the new Swiss kid on the block. However this was the job, he claimed, that "changed me into a type designer".
Bitstream was co-founded by Carter in 1981 and he worked on the first computer digital fonts. The Fontogapher software was to finally provide the mass market tools which, he believes, have empowered a whole generation of really good young designers - of which internationally, there is still a relatively small band.
International titles such as Time, Newsweek and Wallpaper feature his typography. He's truly out there and is a world leader in his field. A highly articulate and modest man. It was a genuine pleasure to hear a master talk so eloquently about his work. I particularly enjoyed it when he spoke about the 'Hello' moment - the stage where a design 'works' for the first time. It's the 1% inspiration point - produced during the 99% Right Guard phase.
Most surprising fact: Carter admitted, "I don't actually draw very well."
Interesting quotes: "If a typeface is going to have any quality - it's going to acquire it in the proofing stage - this is a long process".
"A type designer's product is word shapes"
"You learn more about a typface when you see it misused".
Microsoft's channel Verdana.
Radio 4 item about fonts
Interview with Matthew Carter.
Type quiz - no 1
Do you recognize this one? It's a Matthew Carter design.
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 10:36 PM
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Suffer little childrenEuropap
They are going to carry a top to bottom review of the national curriculum within a month of 'taking office'.
[ Yeah right ] The review will be carried out by Chris Woodhead, Former chief inspector of schools.
Some questions that occurred to me:
Could this idea be the same party that invented the national
Would this be the party leader whose own experience of education was at a 1950's grammar school?
Would that be the same Chris Woodhead whose own experience of education was at a 1950's grammar school?
Would that be the same Chris Woodhead that was universally despised by teachers and left office shortly after Labour took power?
Would that be the same Chris Woodhead that is now Chairman of the largest chain of private schools in the UK?
Would that be the same Chris Woodhead who is the Stanley Kalms Professor of Education at Britain's only private university.
Would that be the same Stanley Kalms who founded electronics retailer Dixons and is a former Con Party treasurer?
Would you trust these two with your children's education?
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 1:43 PM
Saturday, March 05, 2005
"Do you really wanna feel my flow oh oh oh
You know its the only way to go so get with the show
Are you the kinda guy whos got that flare yeah"
"I'm Not Just Anybody
Cos Anybody Couldn't Love You Like This
I Know That Everybody That Feels It Like Me
Would Love you like this
I'm Not Just Anybody
But I Feel Like I'm Ready to Love"
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 11:30 PM
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
There's a little known BBC secret. Whilst the Eastenders struggle to keep it real and keep us interested, way over west at the end of the West Central Line, just south of the West Grove Flyover it's all going down at the Westway Health Centre. The World Service soap has got me hooked. Never mind it's broadcast in the middle of the night. There's something reassuring about it. From the twangy guitar theme music to the middle class aktors 'doing common' with a script only just this side of credible. Westway has something of the 1970's schools drama broadcast about it.
Like many of the best BBC programmes of the era, it draws heavily on it's West London location. [Funny that, the BBC being in west London n all]. Will Dr Margaret end up in jail for negligence? - [she's got one of those throaty Womans Hour voices]. Will Dr David throb his way to the coronary unit? Will Father Gillespie be called to Rome? Will Kwame and his estranged Dad finally see eye to eye? It's all too much.
You can listen to it on the World Service site via realaudio - no need to stay up until the small hours - unless you want to of course..
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 9:30 AM
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
freshly squeezed for you by drD at 11:30 AM