Archive for July, 2004

UK Military Bans iPods – Then covers it up!

UK military denies ban on iPods

Apple must love publicity like this… If you read the article what they’ve actually looked at banning are all forms of removable storage, but the headline ‘MOD bans USB Flash fobs’ would just be too werid. ‘sides, ‘iPods = future tech’ in the popular press right now right?

But what about this: “With USB devices, if you plug it straight into the computer you can bypass passwords and get right on the system,” RAF Wing Commander Peter D’Ardenne told Reuters. “That’s why we had to plug that gap.”

How unsecure is that!!! Tsk, I remember when hacking into Govenment systems required playing Noughts and Crosses with a mainframe!

And for the true geek, here’s a in depth look at the actual computer Broderick used IMSAI home. Changing your grades by computer was the future! As was making long distance phonecalls using only a can ring pull…

Fifty Years of BBC News

Only just got round to sorting out the images and putting finger to um, key, but last Tuesday spent a wonderful morning over at TVC attending a talk chaired by George Alagiah on photography and filming ‘The News’. The panel comprised three BBC camera persons from throughout the ages. Including Eric Thirer, a BBC cameraman who worked in the far east in the 60s and 70s. Amongst other things he shot the ‘fall of Saigon with Brian Barron. Here’s Barron’s memories of it: The Fall of Saigon

To accompany the series of events there was a small temporary exhibition. Full Gallery here This included Eric Thirer’s actual camera that he bought in California in 1972 and used to record that iconic image of the last US chopper leaving Saigon. I asked him if he’d changed it throughout the years, but he insisted that it was the original body, magazine and lens. . amazing. If you watched BBC news in the 70s, you probably saw footage shot with this very camera. Strung underneath was the ‘onion sack’. A hesian sack in which the news reels where put to be flown back to London. Eric talked about how in those days you never really knew what you got in the can, and certainly never saw it broadcast. Also he’d often receive work via telegram, a Vietnamese boy would arrive on a bicycle and deliver his instructions, often in the form of one sentence, “go here and meet so and so”, and from there he’d just have to wing it until he got what he thought was the story.

Another interesting item on show was Vaughan Smith’s mobile phone. Smith, a freelance from London’s Frontline News Agency was working with a BBCer in Kosovo. Smith was shot at as he was crawling through a Serbian militia cordon to film the destruction of village of Prekaz. One of the bullets hit him in a pouch that carried around his waist. It went through his pack of Marlboro, through a tightly wrapped wad of 6000 Dutchmarks and lodged in his mobile phone [PIC]…. He escaped with a large bruise. Full story here.

Also there was the Hajib (a dress worn by women) that John Simpson wore when he was smuggled into Afghanistan. The event was much parodied in the press, as in this cartoon from the Guardian The accompanying text talked of whether a fatwa should be declared against SImpson for impersonating a woman, in the end the Tribal Council ruled he was ‘doing his job’. Wonder what their stance is on Danny la Rue?

There was also George Alagiah’s ‘lucky bag’ which he took everywhere while a roving reporter, it saved his life once when he went back to fetch it and a mortar landed where he’d just been stood. Full story here.

A lot of these items were lent by the reporters themselves, and as the event was in TVC, there was no public access. Chatting to George afterward we agreed that this sort of stuff should perhaps be put on show somewhere. Maybe when the new frontage of Broadcasting House opens they’ll be a public exhibition space? As far as I know the BBC has a ‘content archive’ but no real ‘object archive’. . Perhaps we need a curator for BBC assets?

Anyway, there’s still plenty of other stuff to see news wise on the BBC News Tour thingy..

The contents of my Bag shocker

Lost my wallet this moring, eventually found it at the bottom of my bag, which also contained the following:

5 rolls of exposed film
Spare set of house keys
Receipt for pair of Merrill trainers
Nationwide ISA Deposit Receipt
Ray Bradbury – The Martian Cronicles
Bill Bailey – Part Troll ticket-stub
Letter from Orange outlining ‘texting from abroad’ changes
Vivienne Westwood exhibition at the V&A Ticket-stub
Nationwide ISA Balance Summary
Euro 2004 Portugal for Playstation 2
‘Huntsman’ Swiss Army Knife
Pair of sunglasses
64 meg USB Flash Drive and extender cable
Paper Clip
Badge with ‘Core Play’ written on it
Green Baseball Cap
BBC Pay Slip
Wanadoo Broadband Offer flyer
Sure Cotton Fresh Deodorant
Sony Cybershot U20 camera
Sony headphone case (empty)
‘Source’ Photography Magazine Summer 2004


Pictures the Real World and what people see

So I’ve been thinking a bit about semiotics and symbolism recently, which has made my head hurt a bit. At school I always ended up getting semiotics mixed up with trigonometry, signs, co-signs, signifiers, tangents..etc. It was all Greek to me. No, the reason for thinking about this is the photography project I’m currently working on, and how things don’t actually live up to their perceived image. This presents a bit of a problem when you’re trying to photography the signifier.

So an example of this is say, a picnic. There’s this and then there’s something like this, or even this this.

Now when is eating outside in a public space a ‘picnic’ and not just people sat around eating a bag of crisps on the grass? Because if I’m after an image that says ‘picnic’ then does it have to be hampers and tartan rugs and Champagne? Or can it be carry bags, scotch eggs and Stella?

This is the issue I found myself up against in the butchers the other weekend… Is it butchery enough? Sure there’s meat hanging around and knives going, and the odd moment with a hacksaw; and for me being there there’s the smell and sounds, but is this what a butchers is? Is this the average butchers? The best butchers? A typical butchers? I guess I’ll find out when the film comes back..

I run up this issue in the day job too, here’s what one of my News colleagues has done. IMAGE to illustrate what? That’s right. . . a story about search engines. Here’s another example of one image, many uses Google Image Search results. (Some one in Yorkshire found the filters in Photoshop judging by this.) So does this mean that the BBC has got no decent ballot box pictures? Or that people expect a a ballot box to look a certain way?

Even worse is what we at work refer to as ‘catchphrase’ pictures (as in the Roy Walker hosted show). Look at this example from CNN. That’s right folks, just say what you see… um, a computer, a pixelated woman in her duds, a NO symbol, and the Supreme Court! To paraphrase Roy Walker*, ‘it’s close, but is it right?’

More on this later…

* Factoid Alert: Roy Walker was a champion hammer thrower for Northern Ireland.

PS. Google Image ‘picnic’ and this is the first result, now that’s what I call a spit roast!

This blog is no longer being updated

I've left it here for historical purposes. Please visit my new blog at


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