Life Technology Work

Technical terminology

One of the good things about the job I do is you can learn a lot from working on educational projects. I can now probably outclass most medical students on my knowledge of the examination procedure for the cranial nerves and I’m more than aware how to not to do a technical presentation.

Of course, at the start of the project, I’m just about as clueless as anyone about whatever it is I’m working on. Take my current project, for instance. I’m working on a series of short podcasts for dentistry students, which involves a lot of shots of torture devices medical equipment with peculiar names.

This ultimately caused trouble when naming the clips in Final Cut Pro. Not knowing what the hell most of the stuff was, I had to resort to slightly less ‘official’ names:

It got worse when I then started reading the script in order to actually complete the edit, as I found that the script made use of the more traditional names. I had to just hope that the things in the script were the things on the screen. The client viewed the videos this morning without any complaints, however, so I guess I’m in the clear. Which also means that a ‘pokey stick’ is in fact an interdental brush.

I should also mention that working on these podcasts finally taught me the correct method for brushing my teeth. I guess you’re never too late to learn.


Looking forward

I hate looking forward to stuff.

I’m not talking about your standard forward-looking, of course – that’s all fine and good and nothing really to worry about. I was looking forward to the Steve Martin concert I went to a couple of weeks ago and that wasn’t a problem at all.

What is a problem I guess is that I’m 26 and still have that childlike excitement over getting new things. Oh, the new things are a little more grown up (usually), but that excitement that generally only comes with being about 8 (and not, like me, a cynical bastard) is still there.

That childlike excitement I suffer from can, at times, cause me to cease being a fully functional person. A few months ago whilst waiting for the iPad 2 I think for a while I had decided that it was fundamentally important to everything I was trying to accomplish and so couldn’t achieve anything without it.

The other issue is when I’m really looking forward to something I find myself unable to think of anything else. Whilst I was waiting for the iPad 2’s release day (and the extra week after the release date before I managed to get my hands on one) the majority of my conversations with my wife were about what I was going to do when it arrived, how I saw the arrival day going, and also how it was going to enrich our lives. Usually when I do that, my wife doesn’t really care; either because I’m waffling on about something she neither understands or cares about, or – in the case of the iPad 2 at least – she already had an original iPad and so knew how wonderful it was.

The final issue with looking forward to things is wishing away days. At the very beginning of March when the iPad 2 was announced, with a UK release date set for some time near the end of March, I found myself rather wishing that March would get the hell on with things because April was suddenly looking a lot rosier.

It’s not so bad when it’s only a month, but I’m also really rather looking forward to Jurassic Park coming out on Blu-ray in October, which is a little further off. Fortunately for that it’s far off enough that that childlike excitement I keep meaning to look up a synonym for doesn’t quite get hold, and chances are I will have forgotten about the whole thing by the time it arrives on my doorstep.

Still, I’m currently really rather excited about my other new toys, which should hopefully be arriving next week.

Fail Life


My wife and I have a very well established routine when it comes to who makes the coffee in the morning. Holly makes it during the week, as she is the one who is actually physically capable of getting up on the bad side of 6am – no matter how I try I always seem to only be able to crawl out of bed just after six, although that probably has something to do with the fact that before six it is still technically nighttime.

On Saturdays and Sundays I make the coffee, because I’m a soft touch when it comes to the cat demanding breakfast and almost always give in first.

This information is vital in order to understand the following snippet of conversation I just enjoyed with my wife.

I had just gotten up to fix myself a hot drink (chocolate, if you must know, in order to bribe the mild cold-like symptoms I’m currently enduring), and as if often the way in our house if the kettle’s boiling, Holly asked for a coffee.

“You take two sugars, don’t you?” I said, more seeking a confirmation rather than not actually knowing the answer.

“No,” Holly replied, as if I should know that I was wrong.

“Oh,” I paused, having already spooned two sugars into her mug. “Well, you do on weekends.”

Holly didn’t complain. I finished making the coffee. Maybe I’ll get it right next time.

Fail Headlines Life Pedantry

Today's poorly worded subheadline

Sometimes when I read a headline, such as this one, I’ll instantly see what’s wrong with it and chuckle.

Other times, however, I’ll read it and think hang on, something doesn’t seem quite right here, and it’ll take me a second before I latch on to what’s wrong about it.

Take this headline, for instance. Take a closer look at the sub-heading.

Yes, I know I’m being pedantic with this one. But when I looked at this I thought, surely if he was swimming he would’t have drowned, would he? A more correct subheadline would be “Boy drowns while failing to swim in a quarry”.

This is the sort of stuff I think about all the time.

Life Science

Quiet protest

We have what can only really be described as bible boasters coming down my way next week for a week-long conference. A whole week on biblical literature. Sounds about as exciting as watching the X-Factor whilst listening to paint dry. Which, I suppose, is better than watching paint dry whilst listening to the X-Factor.

Still, I have found the perfect lapel pin to wear for the week to let people know how I feel:


Law Life On the Road Politics

Speed camera removal 'significant factor' in road death?

Photo: t0msk (Flickr)

Yes yes, I know this looks like a news post. But it isn’t.

Turns out a coroner has stated that the turning off of a speed camera played a major role in the death of a 19-year-old in Somerset. From the BBC News article:

A Somerset coroner has said the turning off of a speed camera was a significant factor in a fatal car crash.

In a letter to the county council, West Somerset coroner Michael Rose said the death of 19-year-old Billy Davis “in part may have been prevented”.

Mr Davis died on the A370 at East Brent in September 2010 near a camera which had been disabled weeks earlier.

Now, any regulars to this blog will know that I am not all that keen on speed cameras. Maybe some of you are thinking that I may be about to rescind my previous comments and agree that yes, speed cameras can save lives.

But take a look at the paragraph that follows that quote above.

An inquest found Mr Davis had been one-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit when he died and had been driving at speeds between 60mph to 70mph in a 40mph area.

Right. So what we appear to be claiming now is that speed cameras can detect drunk drivers or that an intoxicated driver will be able to slow down and react safely when he unexpectedly comes across a speed camera.

It is far more likely that a speed camera would have expedited the death of the chap in question. A drunk driver slamming on the breaks would lose control and is more likely crash into the camera than be saved by it.

It’s an increasing problem that no-one in this country seems to want to take responsibility for their own actions. It is really rather worrying however when a coroner of all people seems to think that the blame for an accident lies with the as much with the lack of a speed camera as with a drunk driver going at almost twice the speed limit.

Food Life

The Chocolate Wars escalate

We’re now up to quadruple chocolate cookies.


Not just cookies. Super quadruple megaultrachocolate flavoured cookies.

It’s only a matter of time before they have to start branding them as cookie flavoured chocolates, rather than the other way round.


Stop making the BBC save money

The BBC, as a publicly-funded organisation, is often being called upon to save money. Star salaries need to be cut, people say. The corporation needs to be more prudent with its money.

To my recollection, there are two things I can think of that have happened as a direct result of the BBC trying to save money. Depending on who you are and what you like, you may not care about either of them. But I’m sure some will.

Firstly, and most recently, the BBC is selling off its iconic Television Centre. The home of the Blue Peter Garden – where countless childhood companions are no doubt buried, like Petra, Bonnie and the original John Noakes – is being sold off to raise – and save – money for the BBC. The site is to be redeveloped into we don’t know what yet, although due to the fact big bits of the Centre are grade listed, whatever results is going to look a bit bizarre.

It is a great shame. There are few as iconic buildings in the media anywhere, and it is in many ways part of our national heritage. Many of us growing up with Saturday TV will be familiar with TV Centre, from the opening titles of Live and Kicking in the morning or Noel’s House Party in the evening.

The Beeb are moving to far less iconic buildings up in Salford, whilst BBC News is moving over to the almost-as-iconic Broadcasting House (although for some reason, BBC Breakfast – ostensibly a BBC News broadcast – is moving up to Salford too, with a splitting up of the presenting team that help many of us to get to work in the mornings).

I don’t like it, but I guess for a corporation funded by public money, there’s not much that can be done when people start calling for efficiency savings. But I’m glad to say I have been to Television Centre for a handful of TV tapings, and I’ll probably get on one of the official studio tours before they pack it all off to Greater Manchester.

The second problem that has resulted from the Beeb trying to save money is less recent, but is probably far, far worse. As recently as the early nineties the BBC (as well as other broadcasters) would routinely wipe tapes of broadcasts in order to reuse tapes or save space in what were, back then, physical archives.

Stuff lost includes early episodes of Doctor Who, an episode of the Goodies, and the British coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landings.

108 episodes of Doctor Who. Destroyed to save a bit of money. License fee payers and BBC management have done more to the Doctor than the Daleks, Cybermen and Russell T Davies combined.


Not with my license fee

That’s one complaint you always seem to hear on those vox pops on the news when it emerges the BBC has spent x amount of money on something that wasn’t a programme they enjoy, like Jonathan Ross’s £18m salary or the rumoured £147,000 cost of a single episode of Top Gear.

Of course, any sensible person will tell you, the annual license fee costs £145. Which means if you watch even a small part of a single episode of something on the BBC, be it the news, a soap or a documentary, you’ve already technically gotten your license fee’s worth.

The Beeb have been kind enough to break down their expenditures, showing where your month’s worth of license fee goes. Long story short, two thirds of it goes on TV productions (which may or may not include big salaries like the one Jonathan Ross got, I don’t know). That’s £7.85. £7.85 of your license fee in a month goes on TV. That won’t even cover the first tape, let alone any of the cameras, explosions, or special effects you find in many productions.

There’s more to it than that, too. Shows such as Top Gear and Doctor Who are really rather lucrative for the BBC in terms of merchandising, licensing and selling the show overseas. They could, in real terms, even be paying for themselves. So whether you watch these shows or not (although you should, they are the best shows the Beeb has), it doesn’t really matter because they probably don’t cost much to the license fee payer.

I do also hate people who dislike, say, Top Gear because they take offence to its content, and complain about their license fee being spent on it, but then turn around and watch something I truly can’t stand like Songs of Praise without batting an eyelid. That, however, is fodder for a separate rant about how everyone is self-absorbed into their own problems and don’t care about other people. As is the argument that Top Gear is as much a pro-oil pamphlet as Songs of Praise is a pro-religion one.

That way I look at it is this: my £145 a year pays for the TV I like. Yours pays for the TV you like. And the BBC is a national institution that is extremely rare in the world, and we should be fighting to protect it. In fact, on that front I’ll get Mitch Benn to play out this post:


Life Travel

Flash photography

No flash photography.

Only boring, mundane photography allowed.

Life Pedantry Uncategorized

Dear nature: you'll get over it

Barely a month goes by where we don’t see a story in the media about how daffodils are blooming earlier or fruits are ripening sooner because of atypical weather. It happens every year. Sometimes it’s in spring, sometimes it’s in summer, sometimes it’s even in winter, but the gist is the same whenever the story is posted: climate change is confusing mother nature.

Take a story from today’s Metro, for instance:

Dry spring, hot summer, mild winters. We hear it all the time. What people seem to forget is this: it’s still here. The biodiversity of this planet has suffered through much over the last few billion years, but it always struggles on. Sure, there has been a massive turnover of species over the years, but life in general will usually carry on regardless.

I guess I generally don’t worry much when the media churn out the same old scare stories.