Archive for April, 2004

Let’s talk about Word –

Let’s talk about Word

Article by Chris Pratley, who’s worked on Word for Microsoft for over nine years. One of my favourite bits…

Details like great design were not critical to most customers, so that didn’t really make it into the products, except where it mattered to the customer.

Great design, as a detail! It’s a novel concept, I’ll give it that…

joint photographic experts group AKA ISO 10918

JPEG patent holder renews royalty offensive – The Register
JPEG Dispute –
31 Lawsuits Filed Over Alleged JPEG Patent –

Seems it’s not about photography anymore, or experts, and certainly not joint. It’s about grabbing money before the patent expires. One of the /. posters talks about the madness of the US Patent office letting people patent mathematical formulas. Which you can sort of understand. Imagine if Einstein had patented E=MC2? Should you be allowed to ‘own’ a piece of maths? Own the right to a thought? In the life cycle of ideas, it seems things start out as investigation, are born into an application and end in litigation.

Bill Brandt, quietly confident.

Went to the V&A today to see the Brandt exhibition, and now I’m stuck for a hyperbole. Most of the prints on show are ‘vintage’, as in they were printed around the same time as the neg. was dev’d. In most cases by Brandt himself, who professed to always do his own printing.

I’ve been into Brandt since my Photography GCSE, And seeing them in ‘the flesh’ was great way to spend an hour. You can scrutinise a photo in a gallery, picking over it and ferreting out all the background detail. It’s not the same on a screen or page.

See I have a bad experience in meeting works of art for the first time. I remember going to MOMA in NYC as a student and seeing a Jasper Johns that’d I’d loved since college, and being really let down by how… messy it was. Same for Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space which I first saw at the Tate, I say saw, I nearly tripped over it. In my copy of Modern Sculpture by Herbie Read it looked like a massive futuristic monument, taller than a man; it real life it’s 4′ if that.

Anyway, Brandt was great. Watching a interview filmed by the BBC in 1983 just months before he died, leafing through 50 year old prints and summing up his life, his time in Jarrow, his portraits of pre-war London life, he seemed such a easy going, quietly happy man.

Here’s some of his most famous pieces:

Girl doing Lambeth Walk typified the cockney sparrah’ sprit. Going home came to represent the depression as felt in the North of Emgland. Francis Bacon. This always reminds me of Narna. Hampstead. No one does nudes well anymore….

But this was my absolute favourite Young Housewife in Bethnal Green, c. 1935. To me It speaks about poverty, and being frightened, yet also hope and love, in the glint of sunlight off her new wedding ring. You can’t really see it in this scan… So I’d advise going the the V&A to see it in the flesh, you won’t be disappointed.

PS. Took this shot in the courtyard. The guy was honestly posing like that for 20mins reading a news paper! I pretended to sunbath lying down, hence to odd viewpoint. Don’t know why the other guy was being photographed.

BBC new media cluster matrix, reloaded.

There’s a mini management shuffle afoot at the New Media Mainframe again… after the goings on of the pass year, people are naturally suspicious.

Sometimes working for the BBC is a bit like being in the Total Perspective Vortex. You’re sort of plugged in, shown a Powerpoint with lots of vertical and horizontal boxes with euphemistic job titles, and all you really want to know is… where am I? And there’s not even a piece of fairy cake.

Still, my favourite BBC New Media Structure Chart was neo-classical in design. Each dept, (tech, design, dev etc.) was represented by a pillar, then a pediment of project managers, and finally management perched, like the Elgin Marbles, in a triangle on top. Ahhh halcyon daze.

See, the BBC has a core set of values (right at the bottom of the page), and on the whole they’re well meaning, if a little generic.

But the problem can be implementing them. To quote, ‘creativity is the lifeblood of our organisation’. Well to that I’d add ‘but bad management and blurred corporate vision is a tourniquet to that lifeblood’.

Or ‘We are one BBC: great things happen when we work together’… Hmmm, case in point: At a recent user testing we showed a non BBC user Virtual Garden. A great little app that lets you and Titchmarsh redesign you own garden in 3D. And the user said “Great, can I do the same for my kitchen?”… silence. Heaven forbid the online Gardening team talk to online Homes team and re-skin it swapping flowers for fridges. Result? We end up with average products and services that don’t serve the user, which goes against another value ‘Audiences are at the heart of the everything we do….’

close the hatchback…slowly.

it’s a small car, or a big parking meter.

Little Car
Ok how many times do you reckon the owner of this car has come back to find four drunk lads have picked it up and moved it to the next bay, meaning he gets a ticket….

Or maybe he has other reasons for chaining it to the post?

Doors, now with instructions!

It’s all so clear to me now.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
April 2004