Monday 30 January 2017

History of the World in Apple Objects (3) : A2M4090 Monitor IIc

The Apple IIc was Apple's first attempt at a portable computer, though was not a laptop as we might imagine today. Merely it was a smaller version of the 8-bit Apple II that was easy to carry around. However the computer needed an external power supply and monitor... the Monitor IIc.

If ever a monitor can be described as cute then the Monitor IIc is. It was small, just a 9" display and green on black. The Apple IIc was the first computer to use Apple's then new "Snow White" design language. Uniquely the IIc family are in a special off-white colour known to Apple as "fog". No other computers were released by Apple in this colour.

Sunday 29 January 2017


Stourbridge isn't far away but isn't somewhere i go to very often. Yesterday i visited however to check out two very different forms of transport: one fairly cutting edge and the other dating back hundreds of years.

The Class 139 trains that operate the Stourbridge Junction-Town branch line are very interesting. Curious little things, unique on the system in that they are diesel and flywheel powered. I liked being on one but it was quite unlike any train i had been on before. Except maybe at a funfair! You can see my railway photos here.

I also wanted to visit the Stourbridge Canal, which has an arm which goes into the town. I didn't take many photos there this time but will have to return when its a bit sunnier! My canal photos are here.

Thursday 26 January 2017

ATW at Derby

Arriva Trains Wales is not a Train Operating Company that serves Derby so the sight of one of their trains there last Saturday was unexpected. Actually it was en route back to the ATW depot at Crewe after maintenance. Here it heads through Derby.

Monday 23 January 2017

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away...

Last night i finally got around to watching Rogue One and thus continuing my tradition of seeing every Star Wars film on original release. Yes thats back to the late 70s and the original film. It had a profound effect on me (aged about 6), my interest in technology and space was sparked and maybe thats resulted in me being where i am now.

Anyway Rogue One is a good film, it took awhile to get started but finished so well. Thats quite unique with films these days which seem to peak in the middle and by the time you get to the third act you are desperate for it to end. To be honest i was ready to watch the original Star Wars film (which runs directly after Rogue One continuity wise) right after. And ready to take the whole Empire on by myself.

While i liked The Force Awakens i think Rogue One properly reboots the Star Wars franchise and takes it to somewhere new. Onwards to the new film at the end of the year, which i will see of course...

History of the World in Apple Objects (2) : M0110 Apple Macintosh Keyboard

A Macintosh is nothing without a mouse but also is a bit pointless without a keyboard too. M0110 was the original Macintosh keyboard from 1984. It was connected to the Mac via a telephone style connector. It isn't a bad keyboard to be honest with a reasonable feel and has a nice chunky solid feel about it.

Apple wanted people to only use the mouse to select items so the keyboard has no arrow keys. It also didn't have a numeric keypad. This came with the M0110A keyboard in 1986 for the Macintosh Plus. Both keyboards are displayed below, the M0110A is a fair bit bigger and also has arrow keys though has a similar feel.

Saturday 21 January 2017

First trip to Derby in 2017

I made my first trip to Derby station this year (though only just over a month since the last visit to be honest). Despite the penetrating cold and murk i took some decent photographs. There were a couple of BR era locomotives in the sidings, an Arriva Trains Wales DMU rather out of its usual territory (been for overhaul i think) and an appearance by the "flying banana" New Measurement Train.

I was able to get a photo of this flanked by the 2 BR diesels (see below). A definite "money shot" photograph, i posted it on twitter and had more likes for it than i usually get for everything i post in a month! You can see all of my photographs here.

Thursday 19 January 2017

Warwick Avenue

A Bakerloo Line train arrives at Warwick Avenue bound for central London.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Curdworth Tunnel

Curdworth, a small village in North Warwickshire, has the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal run though it. Part of the canal (52m of it) runs underground through the Curdworth Tunnel. The tunnel is about 120m north east of the centre of the village and was built along with the rest of the canal in the late 18th century, being a fairly early canal tunnel.

The tunnel has a towpath running alongside the canal as well as brick ridges which originally would have been to help prevent horses slipping while pulling the canal barges. Curdworth itself dates from the 6th century and was originally settled by Anglians. Despite being only 8 miles from Birmingham and lying near to the motorway (and one day HS2) the village retains its rural charm.

Monday 16 January 2017

Railways 1970

British Rail in 1970, from Pathe's library. Classic scenes from the early post-steam age. To be honest everything looks a bit grimy!

Sunday 15 January 2017

History of the World in Apple Objects (1) : M0100 Macintosh Mouse

This new series is inspired by the "History of the world in 100 objects" and similar. Though will not actually explore the history of the world, instead it will look at some of the Apple items in my collection. Not just actual Macs but peripherals too. I'll be sticking to the classic era (when everything was beige or grey) before MacOSX and everything went transparent and then shiny.

Starting with the icon (ahem) that is the Apple Mouse. M0100 was the first Macintosh Mouse which shipped with the original Macintosh back in 1984. The Macintosh Mouse was actually just a modified version of the Lisa Mouse and they are interchangeable.
My M0100

The mouse is a pleasing block shape. I'm not sure how good this would be to use all day but it seems to be nice to hold. The single (of course) mouse button has a nice click to it even after all these years.

The Macintosh Mouse (like the Lisa one) uses a DE-9 connector. Then quite a standard connector for peripherals.
How do i connect this to my Macbook Pro?

Well the Apple Macintosh changed the world, or at least showed a different way in computing though it was a number of years before people were clicking icons instead of typing in commands on their personal computers. Without the Mac it may well have happened anyway but it is likely that Apple's stimulus bought about the mouse driven computer world just that little bit sooner.

Thursday 12 January 2017

Here comes the 700

One of the videos i recorded at Bedford on Saturday, one of the new Class 700s.

Monday 9 January 2017

Walking the waterways (7) : Hertford Union Canal

The Hertford Union Canal is a short canal (about 1.5 km long) that stretches through Tower Hamlets in East London. It connects the Lee Navigation to the Regent's Canal (and then onto the Thames). The canal was built in 1830 but was not a commercial success and ended up being bought by the Regents Canal Company.

The Hertford Union Canal is a short straight canal with 3 locks. At it's Eastern end the junction with the Lee Navigation is now overlooked by the Olympic stadium.

The other end of the canal connects to the Regent's Canal by Old Fort Lock.

Although not a long canal the Hertford Union Canal is an interesting walk though a much changing part of London.

Saturday 7 January 2017


Well lets make a start to the rail adventures of 2017 then, and i thought it would be nice to start at a new place i haven't been to before. Bedford is on the Midland Main Line and also the terminus of Thameslink services and the terminus of the Marston Vale line from Bletchley (which is the way i came) so there is plenty of interest there. Including lots of the new Class 700 EMUs. You can see my photos here.

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Monday 2 January 2017


A few sparks as this Bakerloo Line train comes out of the depot at Queens Park.

Sunday 1 January 2017

Walking the waterways (6) : Coventry Canal

The Coventry Canal is a 38 mile canal that stretches from Fradley Junction near Lichfield where it is connected to the Trent & Mersey Canal. The canal company was formed in 1768 [1] with the canal opening the following year though delays in raising sufficient finance (financially the company was quite weak compared to most contemporary projects) meant it was not completed until 1789.
Fradley Junction

As you might imagine the other end of the canal is in Coventry, and indeed the canal terminates here at Coventry Basin. Though before that there are connections to the Lichfield (originally the Wyrley & Essington), Ashby, Birmingham & Fazeley and Oxford canals. The Coventry Canal performed a useful role in connecting the various canals to the East and North of the Birmingham complex.

One complication with plotting the Coventry Canal is that while in reality it is a continuous stretch of waterway some maps treat it as two separate sections connected by part of the Birmingham & Fazeley. This confusion dates from the days of private ownership of the canals which often could be quite Byzantine, but now the canals are all owned by British Waterways the canal should really be treated as it physically is.
Approaching Coventry Basin

Narrowboat near the Ricoh Arena on the outskirts of Coventry
Coventry Basin

[1] J.R. Ward, The Finance of Canal Building in Eighteenth Century England (Oxford University Press, 1974) p. 31