Archive | October 2012

Goodbye Ceefax & Teletext. You were never perfect but I loved you.

Today is the first day since 23rd September 1974 that Ceefax has not been around. It’s a sad day for me, despite the fact that it’s not been available where I live for some time, as I always wanted to work for them or Teletext. Designing and writing have always been important to me and both Ceefax and Teletext seemed to do a lot with very little.

It may not have been the quickest system in the world and a way of going through sub-pages would have been very welcome but for years I read the news, found out the football scores, checked the weather and played games. The now/next system on P606 was great as well but the single most important system to come out of it was subtitling, opening up television to many people for whom it was a waste of time, previously.

However, despite all these happy memories, my favourite Ceefax/Teletext story is a great example of it’s drawbacks. I remember reading an article in around 2000 about the best way to follow a football match if you can’t get to the game in FourFourTwo magazine. After discussing watching the game on TV, listening on the radio etc…

Teletext

It’s the 24th minute of Manchester United v Leicester City. Ryan Giggs collects the ball on the edge of his own penalty area and sets off on a mazy dribble. He goes past one, then another, skips over a lunging Robbie Savage tackle and carries on, jinking his way through crowds of defenders. He’s gone past 7 of the team on his own when he rounds the goalkeeper, winks at Robbie Savage then gets down on his hands and knees to head the ball over the line. It has to be the goal of the season, if not all time. Savage, in a fit of rage runs over to the wildly celebrating United players and kung-fu kicks Giggs in the side of the head, leaving him out cold. A 21-man brawl ensues. Shirts are ripped, the crowd are baying for blood. The referee eventually gets control of the situation, 5 minutes later, separates the fighting players and immediately sends Savage off. He tears off his shirt in frustration, gesticulates to the crowd and kicks a crate of Lucozade bottles into the United dugout, catching Ferguson smack in the face who has to go to hospital for treatment.

What does Teletext say?

Manchester United 1 - 0 Leicester City
Giggs 24                Savage s/o 29
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Paul Gambaccini, Jimmy Savile and BBC Radio 5 Live

Paul Gambaccini

This morning Paul Gambaccini, a man who has been employed by the BBC since 1973 (on and off) made a pair of severe accusations regarding Jimmy Savile. I’m not sure what the laws on libel are or of pushing on false information so I won’t repeat the allegations here, but it was truly shocking and a quick search on popular social networks will tell you what they are, I’m sure.

To give a quick outline without getting myself into trouble, the allegations surrounded illegal sexual practices attributed to Savile beyond anything he’d been publicly accused of thus far and police corruption. 5 Live Breakfast, the show in question, is available here and the interview took place in the last half an hour, though I’m not sure if it’s included in the stream.

I think it’s understandable for a lone blogger to be a little unsure when it comes to publishing information like this but for The Guardian, a renowned purveyor of media news, not to report on it at all, I find a little strange.

Ok, it’s a busy day for news what with George Entwistle attending his hearing today but I don’t think I’ve ever heard such absolute and shocking accusations on the radio before (or in any other media, come to think of it). Nicky Campbell was clearly taken aback by what he’d heard, which is unusual for him.

There will be more to come from this, I can guarantee it. Although there was a bit of chat on Twitter, there wasn’t a lot which surprised me. I was half expecting to read comment and reaction almost immediately but… nothing.

I’m wondering it’s a legal thing or if it’s another example of the media lying on a story (another thing Gambaccini said was happening), despite the fact that it has already been broadcast, live, on a show that, in the last quarter of 2011, had listening figures of 2,512,000.

Will the BBC tear itself apart?

Paul Gambaccini has been very vocal since the story broke and was the first person I heard in any media to say that he knew about Savile’s antics, for what of a better word. He seems, to me at least, to feel incredibly guilty about the whole thing and wants to make a point of exposing anything he may know that hasn’t already emerged.

My biggest fear is that the BBC may tear itself to pieces over all this. Ok, if bosses at the BBC knew what Savile was up to at that time, they should be called to account. It seems at first glance to be all old news but, in light of the pulled Newsnight exposé, these things run to the present day. If the knowledge was as widespread as Gambaccini says it is, heads will roll. If it turns out that what Savile did was not isolated and was, in fact, commonplace in the culture of the BBC, I predict it will not survive in its current guise.

The BBC is an incredibly important thing to me, personally. I use their services each and every day without fail. I cannot think of another company (except Google/Android for my phone), corporation or media outlet I use with such regularity. I listen to their radio stations, I watch their television output, I read their website.

It’s good that the BBC themselves are, slowly, taking control of the situation with the Pollard Inquiry and that they’ve appointed an external chairperson is to their credit. They’ve had one hard-hitting current affairs show investigating another on the same channel – this is unique worldwide, surely?

Let’s just hope that the worst case scenario is not the reality. For everyone’s sake.

Victorian architecture is the perfect segue to racism, apparently

Butterley Splillway

Butterley Splillway

PRE-NOTE: I see a couple of people have arrived on this page looking for walks to Butterley Spillway. Well, it just so happens that I keep blog full of free walking routes and maps and  as well! Two walks that pass Butterley Spillway are March Hill from Marsden and Five Reservoir Stride: Slaithwaite to Marsden. Have fun!

I have just read a story on the Huddersfield Examiner website about a Victorian spillway from a reservoir in Marsden. I’ve walked past it on a couple of occasions and it’s a lovely piece of engineering. However, it doesn’t comply with modern safety regulations so it’s been marked for replacement using concrete rather than the current stone.

I see that there’s a campaign to stop this happening so I find their Twitter page and take a look at some of the news stories they’ve linked to. One of them is from the Daily Mail. Yes, them again. The World’s most popular news website.

You’d have thought that it would be quite difficult to move seamlessly from the restoration of Victorian Architecture to racism and xenophobia but it comes very naturally to many of those who comment on the Mail’s website. Take a look at this:

What a lovely, welcoming country we live in. I’m not sure if the budgets set for such things are as transferable as that.

You may notice that one commentator says how it’s a good thing that unused churches are converted for other forms of worship. Either a brave man or a troll.

It brings to mind an old blog post I wrote years ago. Check it out if you like (note: 5 years on, I could never say I believe in God!).

Time, and how to convert it (for idiots)

Have you ever read an article on the internet, in print or wherever and thought, “do they really need to tell people this?”. I just have.

The usually excellent Lifehacker.com has published an article on how to convert 12-hour time into 24. Honestly. You know, 9pm is 21:00, 1pm is 13:00, that kind of thing. You know, the kind of thing we all know without thinking.

If I needed to explain it to anyone, perhaps a small child, I’d just say “add 12 hours if it’s the afternoon” and leave it at that. Their solution is the same but written in a needlessly confusing way:

For a military time that’s 1300 or larger, simply subtract 1200 to get the standard time. So for example if someone says “Meet me in room 202 at 1545,” you’d just subtract 1200 from 1545 to get 3:45pm. Simple right?

If you want to convert standard time to military time, add 1200 to any time from 1:00pm to 11:00pm. So if you want to say 6:30pm in military lingo, add 1200 to 6:30 to get 1830.

It’s clearly understandable, yes, but not as succinct as my explanation I reckon. Then again, I’m not sure my explanation would’ve been published on a popular website or get 40+ comments, either.

They’ve wasted time in writing the article and now I’ve wasted time writing about it!