Saturday, 31 January 2009

Human Error Strikes Internet Shock!

This morning Bren was using Google to search for an Arts & Music Centre, and called me into the office to tell me that her search results were listed as harmful to her computer, and what was wrong and what was I going to do to put it right. Adopting my 'keep calm and carry on' pose, I took one look at the screen and admitted that I hadn't a clue what was happening, and that anyway it was all the interweb's fault. This afternoon it became apparent what had happened... Google's search service had been hit by technical problems, and all searches resulted in a 'This site may harm your computer' notice.

Google attributed the fault to human error and said most users were affected for about 40 minutes. "What happened? Very simply, human error," wrote Marissa Mayer, vice president, search products and user experience, on the Official Google Blog.

So we couldn't blame this one on the economic downturn, employing foreign workers or even Joe Kinnear. The problem was simply down to human error in the internet factory.

Friday, 30 January 2009

She came, she saw, she conquered us

Our youngest granddaughter, Angel has been staying with us this week. Her mum dropped her off last Thursday and came up yesterday to take her back, (mum stepping off the train and into her sick bed was a slight low point), but apart from that we have had a smashing time with our little house guest. Angel is five going on fifteen, and is usually to be found hanging on the coat tails and every word of her older sisters, but this week she has been free to regale her grandma and grandpa with her vast array of knowledge about all manner of things. One important thing to mention is that she has been a VERY good little girl... going to bed straight away as soon as she was told, being on her best behaviour at meal times and only asking THREE times for one of grandmas' special throat sweets(!) She has also had lots of fun with Gracie, despite the fact that she is just a little bit nervous of her. She doesn't quite understand that Gracie only wants to play when she jumps up and tries to lick her! By the end of the week however she had pretty much got the hang of forcefully commanding..." Gracie, NO!" at two minute intervals as a way of keeping control. Thanks for visiting us Angel. Come back again soon.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Through the mist

You know how it is.... you struggle to see through the mists of life to try and understand what is happening to you, to try and make some sense of it all, to wrestle with the confusion and constant questioning of why this is happening to you. Then suddenly, almost in an instant it seems, things become a little clearer. So here we are approaching the end of January and all I can say is that I FEEL that the mists are beginning to clear and that things are looking a little more sane than they have done for quite some time.

Unfortunately none of the above can currently be applied to Joe Kinnear and his colleagues at St James' Park. Things seem to be going from bad to worse... bottom half of the table, more injuries, no signings of note in the transfer window, good players leaving and an impending derby game this Sunday which is a MUST WIN. All we can hope is that Joe's particular mists clear at the end of February.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

I know your type #3 Gill Sans

Eric Gill studied under the renowned calligrapher, Edward Johnson, the designer of the London Underground sans serif typeface. This influenced Gill who later experimented with sans serif designs, and in due course produced a set of capital letters. These became Monotype series 231, produced in 1928, and the forerunner of the extensive Gill Sans font family now available.

Gill Sans is a twentieth century sans serif that has a simplicity of form which does not reject traditional forms and proportions, and gives the face a humanist feel. The lighter Gill Sans fonts remain highly readable in text and suitable for magazine and book work, whereas the heavier weights are best used for display in advertising, packaging and labels. The light and medium Gill Sans fonts are good for text and all weights look good in display work. [Hat Tip -]

Monday, 26 January 2009

The dissenting voice

Backyard Missionary submits a strong, yet interesting piece about 'revival' in his Australia Day post. Here's a taster...

"I am tired of this revival talk and these false prophets, because in the 30 years I have been old enough to understand the concept I have actually observed the church (overall) in decline. And I haven’t seen any of the revivals that have been predicted ever actually happen. (I do know there have been movements of this ilk among aboriginal people - but these weren’t ‘prophesied’ - and of course because they are not white we don’t count them…)

Do I sound a tad cynical?…

The next time someone prophesies massive revival in your church tell them they are full of crap. Ok… maybe that’s a bit strong… Maybe just politely inquire when the revival will be, what will happen, how you will know it has happened and then bet them a carton of crownies it won’t happen. (Easy way to get free beer…)

No… on second thoughts I was right the first time."

God bless the dissenting voice I say! Go here for the full article.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

House Guests

Emma came up Thursday and caught the train back to Romford on Saturday, leaving her youngest daughter, Angel behind at the mercy of her Grandma and Grandpa. Leon came over for the weekend, so at least she had some sensible company, and lots of fun was had, with Gracie being the main object of their fun and hi-jinks.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Somewhere in Northumberland again...

Today me and Jason were going to a meeting together in Wooler. He kindly drove us and we headed off through the lovely scenery and rolling hills.

This is a wonderful journey at the any time of the year, but made even more enjoyable today by the beautiful blue sky and crisp January air. Overnight snowfall was in evidence the further north we traveled.Soon the unmistakable hump of The Cheviot hove into view, decked out in wonderful white splendour. We had to stop and take in the view.... and take these pictures. We both agreed... what a wonderful part of the world we are privileged to live in.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Fleet Foxes

This album is hardly off my playlist at the moment. I love the feel of of it.... close harmonies reminiscent of Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, great lyrics and lovely production quality evoking a kind of Phil Spector feel. Go here for a review.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Somewhere in Northumberland..... this morning

Oh alright then... it's Cramlington again! But this is one of the views your friends could be waking up to if they would only buy our house. The tree is right outside and often shares its branches with blue tits, robins, thrushes, blackbirds... even the odd sparrowhawk has been know to alight there. It's a little bit of country on the edge of town I'm telling you!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Pssssst.... wanna buy a house?

Our house here in Cramlington has been on the market since the beginning of November. January isn't a good time to sell a property, and the current financial situation being what it is, it appears to be even more difficult THIS particular year. We have an estate agent on the case... and we have an advertisement on the interweb, but is there more we could be doing? Bren is all in favour of getting another agent involved, but my view is that this would be like admitting desperation, when you have sale boards for two agents in your garden. However, I'm going to give it a shot, because, whilst we're not actually desperate, we are very keen to get things moving as quickly as possible, and therefore want to do everything possible to make it happen. That gets me thinking.... maybe you've got some original (or even tried and tested) ideas to kick start our house sale. All contributions considered, so please leave a comment here or get in touch by other means. Please note Jason.... all comments will be moderated!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Job on the Tyne is all mine...

Today I had an interview at the Tyne Metropolitan College with a view to teaching in their Art & Design department. I'll be filling some part time slots on the graphics courses initially, with hopefully an increase in hours to follow.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

I know your Type #2 Bembo

The history of Bembo originates in Venice, an important typographic center in 15th and 16th century Europe. Many printers established businesses in Venice at this time, but none so significant as Aldus Manutius. Next to Gutenberg, Aldus was perhaps the most influential printer of the Renaissance and the first of many great scholar-printers. Late in the 15th century, Aldus published a relatively insignificant essay by the Italian scholar Pietro Bembo. The type used for the text was a new design commissioned by Aldus and cut by Francesco Griffo, a goldsmith-turned-punchcutter.

Griffo’s design was lighter and more harmonious in weight than earlier romans. Text set in the face was also more inviting and easier to read than previous designs. Three years later, the basic font was enhanced by the introduction of a suite of corresponding capital letters. (Hat Tip:

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Do not arrest this man!

Every so often I have the pleasure... and it IS a pleasure... of working with this man. Jason Thompson is his name and being creative is his game. Jason has mentored me for about eight years in the area of web design, something I knew absolutely nothing about beforehand. Indeed, it might be said that my knowledge at this moment in time is little more than that of a very small lamb, and yet JT is always ready to help and offer his expertise on even trivial matters that baffle those with miniscule capacity to retain technical, or in fact, any other knowledge. Here he is sipping a nice cup of coffee (he will only ever drink the top one third of the cup for some reason) and munching on a delicious Bakewell tart. He knows how to enjoy himself that man!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Having ones' cake and eating it

We've just returned from that London, where we were celebrating Nicola's 40th birthday and Megan's 12th. Emma prepared an amazing meal and it was great to all be together (doesn't happen too often these days) for this special occasion .

The pièce de résistance was Emma's 'Kransekake', a fantastic Norwegian 'ring cake', a true culinary masterpiece, constructed without the use of scaffolding or any other mechanical devices!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Non PC?

Really funny post on Dave Walker's blog. Mystery Worshipper visits the Apple store on Regent's Street in that London. Based on a theme from the 'Ship of Fools' web site. Hat Tip... Toggie Tales.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

I now have a forty year old daughter!

Today my eldest daughter, Nicola, celebrates her fortieth birthday. She has already had one party in Berlin, where she lives, and is coming home to celebrate again with her family. We'll be travelling down to Romford this week, to my other daughter's house, where no doubt a double celebration will be in order, as our granddaughter also has a birthday today!

Its a little strange to realise that you have a child who is forty. Sometimes I feel little more than that age myself, and at other times, as with this realisation today, I feel decidedly ancient. Whenever I get into that frame of mind I am quickly deflected from those thoughts by Bren, who resists any sense of ageing, and berates me for even hinting at feeling my age.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

A wake up call?!!!

Since around 1am our house alarm has decided to go off at almost regular hourly intervals. VERY annoying... and as I am a complete klutz with anything electrical/mechanical there is no solution but to keep entering the key code. Its 7.20am now, and it hasn't gone off for about 35 minutes, but you know what its like.... I'm almost WAITING for the next time, with my nerves on edge and curses on my tongue. Roll on 9am when I can call the alarm company for them to come and sort us out. Slightly worrying that none of our neighbours came knocking to see if we were OK or that we had not in fact been burgled?!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Dancing for Charity

Last night me and The Lady Brenda went dancing to our Friday night class with 'Dancing for Charity'. DFC make a modest cover charge and give all the money they raise to charity. They are brilliant people, and it is always a smashing evening, with a beginners class to start with, and freestyle dancing until 11pm. Charities they have supported so far are British Heart Foundation, Marie Curie Cancer Care and Rake Lane Hospital Oncology Department.
Check their web site for upcoming events

Friday, 2 January 2009

I know your type #01 Helvetica

Helvetica is one of the most popular typefaces of all time. It was designed by Max Miedinger in 1957 for the Haas foundry of Switzerland (the name is derived from Helvetia, the Latin name for Switzerland).

The design is based on the grotesques of the late nineteenth century, but new refinements put it in the sans serif sub-category of neo-grotesque. Shortly after its introduction, the Stempel foundry purchased the original Helvetica typeface and developed a full series of weights. In the 1960s Helvetica came to the United States, where alignment standards differed; Mergenthaler Linotype copied the Stempel series and then added several new versions of the design. I visited the Stempel type foundry in June 1966 as part of a RSA travelling bursary award.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Whitleybunions #01 New Years Day 2009

As a mark of our intent to move to Whitley Bay during this year, we spent New Year morning on the beach with Leon and Gracie. A beautifully sunny morning with lots of people around enjoying the first day of the new year. Lots of friendly dogs for Gracie to play with, but we didn't get to see the Panama swimmers as we'd expected. Perhaps they go in on Boxing Day now?