My largest poster yet

Stoneleigh Fun Day banner

I have always enjoyed creating posters for events and elections. Last week I was lucky enough to create my largest poster yet – a whopping 4 metre long by 1 meter high banner advertising the forthcoming Fun Day in Stoneleigh. We printed three to display in various locations around Stoneleigh.

The banners were very high quality PVC with decent metal rings built in to ensure secure attachment. I simply supplied a little PDF file and they blew it up beautifully with great vibrant colours.

Reveware flexible bluetooth keyboard works with Nokia N8

I have just purchased a Reveware flexible Bluetooth keyboard for use with my Nokia N8 and forthcoming iPad2. I had real trouble locating a driver to make it work with my Nokia N8 and then discovered that I don’t actually need one. I simply paired it through the Bluetooth menu on my Nokia N8, set a four digit key, which I then typed on the keyboard, and it worked perfectly.

The keyboard is great for touch typing (I have been known to reach 90 words per minute), but there are three niggles:

  1. It is very fiddly to turn the thing on and off.
  2. It is not entirely obvious whether the thing is on or off: when turning the keyboard on, the red ‘low battery’ light momentarily illumninates, but there is no feedback when turning it off. The battery is supposed to last a week before needing to be recharged, so perhaps this isn’t a big problem. It certainly hasn’t make me regret my purchase.
  3. It is not a proper UK keyboard, although it does have a pound (£) sign over the number 4 instead of the number 3. Unfortunately the only way to get the pound sign to work is to set the keyboard to UK in the Nokia N8, but this means that some of the keys don’t map correctly (e.g. you have to press shift-3 to get ‘£’ instead of shift-4 which is what the keyboard shows, and there is no way that I have discovered to enter hash ‘#’).

However, the keyboard is very light, waterproof and can be rolled up, making it highly portable. In my opinion, these factors outweigh the niggles.

Health, Safety and Dressing Gowns

521304_32802075smallMy wife Natalie returned from a shopping trip to Kingston today and reported that Marks & Spencer no longer sell full length dressing gowns.

This is for health and safety reasons following complaints from customers who have tripped on the ends of their dressing gowns and hurt themselves.

From the heart of the machine

Waiting on the tracks for a train

I travel by train to work and am daily regaled with automated announcements while waiting at the platform, particularly at Clapham Junction. These announcements are rather good, and cleverly seem to be on a separate system to the display boards, so that if one fails, the other will continue to function. Normally the announcements consist of something like

The train on Platform 13 is the Brighton service, calling at East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, some other place or other and Brighton.

in an extremely realistic voice, presumably by an actor who must have spent several weeks reading out the names of stations and numbers and pieces of sentences to be joined together later by computer prior to announcement.

What tickles me is when there is a delay and the voice says something like

The train on platform 13 is the delayed 7:23 service to Brighton. I apologise for the late running of this service.

How can a machine apologise? It feels no remorse at all that my journey has been delayed and so the apology is meaningless. Now, if the announcement passed on the apology from the train company, or the driver or something, that would be different.

So today I was doubly puzzled while waiting at Epsom station for a train to Ashtead and I heard the announcement say

I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Note, it didn’t say “The staff and management of South West Trains wish you a Merry Christmas”, or simply “We wish you a Merry Christmas”, but “I wish you a Merry Christmas”.

To me, this is just as meaningless as an apology for a late-running train. The machine isn’t passing on the expression of a human feeling (“sorry” or “Merry Christmas”), but is attempting to express it directly itself. Surely that just doesn’t make sense.

So, in the spirit of automated announcements, this blog wishes you a Merry Christmas and apologises for being the cause of any delay while you read this drivel instead of getting on with something interesting and fun.

Carlsberg…probably the oddest direct marketing in the world

In my capacity as Treasurer of my rugby club I have just received a letter from Jeremy Best of Carlsberg UK, who writes

We are passionate about the game; in fact I play it and would like nothing less than to help grow your business for the future.

He would like “nothing less”? That suggests there is a vast swathe of things he’d rather do more.

William H. Rogers 18 Feburary 1914 – 26 July 2008

My grandfather passed away this morning, aged 94. One of his proudest achievements was the construction of 20 Fenchurch Street in the City of London, of which he was the architect. The building was occupied by Kleinwort Benson from 1968 to 2006. It is somehow poignant that his life has come to an end at the same time as his building is in the final stages of being demolished.

I walked past the spot last week and stopped to gaze at the progress of demolition.  Because of the nature of its construction, they are having to dismantle the building floor by floor from the bottom up, with a gigantic steel structure in place to keep the whole thing supported.

20 Fenchurch Street is destined to become the site of the new landmark skyscraper known as the Walkie Talkie.