Thursday 28 July 2016

Getting the image right

As well as the original manual for the Macintosh which we had a look at earlier in the month there are some other Apple documents in my possession... early 1980s Graphic and Trademark Guidelines!

I got ahold of these after helping someone clear out their computer "junk" a few years ago, thats when i got my original Mac and other assorted Apple toys. To most (normal) people these documents, which describe how Apple's logo, corporate image and trademarks should be properly portrayed are of little interest. However not only am i a Mac fan but i have also spent most of my 20+ year career working in advertising and marketing so i am very familiar with corporate image guidelines and indeed have worked with people who write them. So it was interesting to see Apple's take on it in the early 1980s.

A good proportion the guidelines cover how the logo (the proper 6 colour Apple logo of course) should be used and reproduced. The exact colours to use and the kind of backgrounds to use it on.

Apple made a big deal of the rainbow in the 1980s which was interesting. Although the Apple logo is still the same shape nowadays i do prefer the days of colour...

Wednesday 27 July 2016

WW arrival

A video i shot while at Wootton Wawen station waiting for my train back to Birmingham last Saturday, this was the train in the other direction.

Monday 25 July 2016

Wootton Wawen

I love the interestingly named Warwickshire village of Wootton Wawen though for some reason i only ever manage to get there once a year and usually when its scorching hot, as last Saturday! I had a walk along the canal and also visited the farm shop and you can see my photos here.

Another interesting aspect of going to Wootton Wawen is that the railway station is a request stop so you have to tell the guard that you want to get off there and when returning wave as the train approaches to alert the driver. All great fun to be honest.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Examining the deeds

Last week while my Mum was having some work done on her house (new guttering in case you were wondering) an elderly couple were seen by the workmen taking photos of the house. They came and spoke to the workmen, apparently they were from New Zealand and their father had lived in the house just before the war. For some reason they just went off then and didn't stop to speak to my Mum who was in the house, hopefully they didn't come all that way just to see that house!

This got me interested anyway to try and find out who the father of the people from New Zealand may have been. I had a look in the house deeds, which is a thick folder of old documents. A Mr & Mrs Pugh bought the house from new in 1929 for £440 and they sold it to a Mr Charles Henry Alexander in 1939 for £450 (house prices obviously did not rise much in the 1930s). The Pughs went to live in Marston Green so we can assume that it was their son who went to New Zealand. For completion Alexander sold the house in 1949, and it was sold again in 1956 before my parents bought it in 1975.

The old documents are fascinating (i of course have quite a lot of experience in handling old documents from when i did my History Masters). The spelling in some of the oldest from the 1920s and 1930s is atrocious! Obviously people did not have auto-correct and spell checkers back then...

Also of interest is a court summons from the 1910s. I'm not sure why that is in there unless it relates to the land the house is built on (i'll have a closer look another time). I found while doing my Masters that odd documents often appear where they shouldn't be so maybe a filing clerk at a solicitors got a bit careless once long ago.

Leaving Acton Town

Here is a short video of a 73TS Piccadilly Line train leaving Acton Town i recorded last Saturday.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

MV : "Where do the children play" by Cat Stevens

Well there are a few parks nearby though often are empty, kids are too busy playing space invaders these days.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Cab It!

Yesterday i attended the Cab It! event at the London Transport Museum's Acton Depot. What is this? Well a chance to get into the cabs of the various historic tube trains (or to be more precise tube trains and sub-service stock) and find out how to drive them, what the various controls do and what not. All in all i was able to access 9 different types of train and had a great day.

I don't think i'm ready to drive one yet but at least i have some basic idea which knob and lever does what! It was a really great event at the museum and if it is held again i can't recommend it enough. You can see my photos here.

Thursday 14 July 2016

Trainspotting Live!

Now we have had no shortage of good programmes about the railways on TV such as Michael Portillo's and Paul Merton's programmes about travelling around the country but few on the actual trains themselves and the enthusiasts or "train spotters" (that much maligned and derided group) who love them. Trainspotting Live! was a series of BBC live shows trying to cover the phenomenon of rail enthusiasm but did it work?

The shows were rather chaotic but had a good mix of live features and pre-recorded features covering areas like signalling and the preservation movement. The live features often went a bit wrong and probably did little to dispel many people's opinion of "trainspotters" as a bit odd as it all frequently went a little too frenetic. But it did portray the excitement and enthusiasm that they (we i should say) have for trains quite well. The world of railways and rail enthusiasm is a mad world after all!

However the programmes were full of errors and incorrect information though a lot of this could be just down to the pressures of live TV (but then again quite a lot of specialist publications are the same). Some of the main presenters like Peter Snow did struggle a bit with the live nature of the show and were much better on the pre-recorded items (however i did get my name read out live on the BBC by Peter Snow as he read one of my tweets so that was naturally totally awesome!) Maybe my main problem with the show was the name. Not all rail enthusiasts are spotters and write down the numbers, i stopped doing that in about 1989... maybe i am being a bit too sniffy?

But despite these problems (and a few moments which made me cringe) the programmes were very enjoyable, especially watched alongside the twitter hashtag of course (including posting the pics below - among many). I hope it returns in future.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

MV : "Reality in motion" by Tame Impala

I really dig how the end of this song sounds like a stuck record. Though unhelpfully this video edit doesn't really include that bit, you'll just have to use your imagination.

Monday 11 July 2016

Whats in the Mac box Part 2

We opened the Apple Macintosh box in Part 1 and found the manual for the original Mac and how to use this new fangled mouse thing. Once you had mastered double clicking and dragging what actually could you use this massively expensive cream box for?
Well the Mac had a graphical user interface so you could do some graphical things with it, like produce pie charts using Microsoft Chart (sold separately).
Spreadsheets perhaps, Visicalc helped turn the Apple II into a monster hit after all. Microsoft Excel (sold separately) was written for the Mac first then the PC. Of course for some heavy duty number crunching you might need to buy a special numeric keypad add-on (sold separately).
Going on-line was becoming popular in the mid-80s with the advent of BBSes and services like Compuserve. Your Mac could have an Apple Modem (sold separately) to get online at 300 baud or an eye-wateringly fast 1200 baud!
With these (not inexpensive add-ons) you would be flying with your new Macintosh. You would soon get "that look" like this chap. That look which says "I am in control of my Macintosh".
Delving deeper into the Mac box we find a second manual for MacPaint, now you can let your Mac strut its stuff and you can draw a geisha. Try doing that on a Trash 80!
Lifting the MacPaint manual we have reached the bottom of the box... but wait there is something else here. A Macintosh cassette? What is this?
Unfortunately the tape doesn't contain early 80s Apple games or even long lost Grateful Dead songs but instead contains an audio tour of how to use your Macintosh. Alas i no longer have a working tape player so i can't tell you what this actually sounds like...

Sunday 10 July 2016

Anyone for tennis

Well Wimbledon ended today for another year and well done to Andy Murray and Heather Watson of course, but that reminds me about the most popular photo on my Flickr account. Now i have over 28,000 photos on Flickr, mostly of canals and trains, but the most popular photos in terms of views are of neither. They are my photos from when i attended the Aegon Classic WTA Tennis event in Edgbaston back in 2013.

My photos usually get a few score of views, quite a few getting over a hundred, but the photos from the tennis event got over a 1000! My most popular photo in terms of views is this one of Bojana Jovanovski vs Eugenie Bouchard (who was just about to make a break into the big time). Currently on 1,623 views it is easily the most popular photo on my photostream and you have to go down to 22 in my stats to get something not tennis related. Well i'm not one to chase success so i will stick to photographing canal boats and diesel locomotives not sports stars.

Thursday 7 July 2016


I've always loved espionage spy thrillers on TV and in the movies (Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy is both one of my favourite TV programmes and movies) and the real-life world of espionage in non-fiction but oddly it took me a long time to get around to reading any of the classics of spying and Cold War espionage. I finally got around to reading John Le Carre's George Smiley novels a couple of years ago and late last year read my first James Bond novel (Casino Royale natch) but then it was time to embark on Len Deighton's epic Bernard Samson series...

Epic because it encompasses 3 separate trilogies (plus a tenth book which acts as a kind-of-prequel). Now i was vaguely familiar with the story in the first trilogy from the ITV dramatisation of it some years ago but mostly i went into the world of these stories cold, and what a (Cold) world it was. I am not usually a fan of first person perspective in novels (8 of the books are written this way from Samson's point of view) but the sardonic sarcastic and witty way it was written and Samson describes events won me over.

Despite months of reading over 9 books i was still sad the stories didn't go on. There was apparently a vague notion of a final trilogy to take the story to the end of the Cold War but maybe its best the stories ended as they did in the chaotic final days of the Iron Curtain. What happened next to Samson and the other characters, well we just have to use our imagination...

Monday 4 July 2016

Whats in the Mac box? Part 1

When i first moved into my house (some 15 years ago now) i had the urge to fill it with computer junk. I managed to get 2 house clearances worth of old computers including a lot of old Macs and other Apple stuff including a lovely IIc. Now quite a bit of this junk has been thrown out since though most of the Macs are still extant including a Mac 512K (the second ever model) which i have next to me on my desk as i type this now as a kind of glorified clock stand. Most of the Macs though, which include lovelies like a Workgroup Server 60 and a IIci, are in the loft and i was up there the other day when i found this box...
It doesn't look much, just a plastic box with Macintosh written on it and a hand drawn apple. So what was inside?
Why its the original Mac manual and the box for the power lead! "You're about to learn a new way to use a computer" the manual claims and indeed it was true as this computer had a graphical user interface and a mouse. Now these were not unique even in 1984, indeed there was the Apple Lisa already, but the Mac was the first "affordable" (it was still very expensive though) computer with these features we now consider commonplace or even a bit dated in the age of the touch screen.
Few people knew how to use a mouse and a WiMP interface (Windows Mouse Pointer) back in the early 1980s. People were used to typing stuff into the likes of CP/M to use their computers. Now they could just wave a mouse around and click on something instead...
Over 30 years on the basics are still largely the same. Everything is more advanced and faster of course but the fundamentals have not changed that much from the first Mac to the Macbook i use now which has the latest version of MacOS on it. Of course nowadays 180K would not be a lot of space to play with...
Next time: What can you do with this thing?

MV : "Livin' in a studio" by Freeweights

Been listening to a lot of neo-synth pop these days, the 80s never ended yeah?

Sunday 3 July 2016

Royal cypher

A Royal cypher is a "monogram-like device of a country's reigning sovereign" (Wikipedia) which in the UK is most commonly seen on postboxes which usually bear EIIR standing for Elizabeth II of course. However there are still many postboxes which still bear the names of earlier monarchs. Most of these are for George VI and George V but even some for Edward VIII during his short reign and earlier monarchs.

In Four Oaks is a postbox which bears the cypher GR which dates it from the reign of George V which means it was probably installed between 1910 and 1936.

Saturday 2 July 2016

Stratford River Festival

I like boats and i like Stratford-upon-Avon, put the two together and its a sure win. Thats what they have done with the Stratford River Festival which i went to today. The festival is held every year and as with the two previous occasions i have been dozens of narrowboats and other river craft converge on the old town. I'm there clicking away with my camera like crazy of course.

Its also a good excuse to get down to Stratford, i don't go there as much as i used to. When i was doing my dissertation (which was on the economic effects of a horse drawn tramway on Stratford's economy in the early 19th century - in case you ask) i was going down nearly every week to access the archives. Well this is my second trip of the year so lets see if we can make it a hat trick before the end of December.

You can see the photos i took today here.

Midlands Metro duo

Filmed earlier today in the city centre, 2 Midlands Metro trams cross at the end of Bull Street. I still haven't been on one of these yet, its about time.