Tag Archives: Harrow

Dead Kodak digicams get grand post mortem

Apple Quicktake 100I spent 20 minutes taking a digital camera to pieces last night. It played havoc with my fingernails, but they grow fast and they needed cutting anyway.

I was at Susan Hutchinson’s excellent West Oxford Academy, held at WOCA, and Iain Tullis gave a most interesting talk on the technology of digicams. He bought 16 broken Kodak cameras at a quid a pop and provided screwdrivers and tools to help us all pull the stuff apart.

Kodak, of course, lost the plot on digital cameras and is now selling off its patents as it is in Chapter 11 – not that that helps much the folk in Harrow and in Rochester NY who have lost their jobs.

Techies will know that the choice for manufacturers is between CCDs (charge coupled devices) and CMOS – silicon tech. Iain said that the choice these days is down to fashion and of course to pricing.

After I’d broken my thumb nail, I got down to the circuit board of the Kodak cam I was breaking up. A Zoran chip and Hynix stuff and apparently it’s the Zoran chip that held all the software algorithms and that. All that Zoran stuff is no more, of course, the IP is all over the place.

Iain showed some fab pictures of the first Kodak digicams – in 1986 we had the Steven Sasson 1.4 megapix baby, storing its stuff on an audio cassette. Then he showed the model Kodak tried to sell first – the Dycam model one at a cool $1,800.  Kodak, of course, cobbled together the Apple QuickTake 100 – a 640 by 180 display and that.

So what went wrong with Kodak? Iain Tullis said: “This is MBA fodder.”  We knew it had a problem in the tech industry and the infamous recall didn’t help its credibility in the 1990s.  However, Iain Tullis said that Nikon, Canon and others managed to change.

So which digital camera is the best to buy, one of the audience asked.  The more you spend, apparently, the better the camera, it seems. The 16 corpsed Kodak digicams were collected at the end, for their uncertain fate on a container ship to China.  ♦

In the graveyard, I met a Hussar

IT’S THE DAY BEFORE Armistice Day and I had to go see my  accountant in Harrow and take a short cut, through the park and via a cemetery. It’s a short cut, normally.

An extraordinary thing happened. As I was  being soaked by cold cold rain, I saw a four by four  – no not a tank, you fool – slowly drive down the cemetery main road, and a chap wound down the window and said to me: “Could you spare me 10 minutes, I am looking for a grave?”

The man had a map of the local Harrow graveyard and he was on a mission to honour a certain World War One chap called Finch, who fought for the 4th Hussars and who was highly decorated. I hadn’t realised that detailed maps of graveyards existed with names and that. So I helped the man, who had served 28 years of distinguished service in the Hussars, on his quest to put a wreath on the ex-soldier’s  grave.

Alas, there was no headstone but we located where Finch had been laid down. My job was to take a photograph of the decorated alive soldier honouring former members of the regiment, standing where the gravestone should have been and putting a wreath next to Finch’s grave. The cemetery has been  vandalised with everything higgledy-piggledy and topsy turvey as well tuti-puti.

Job done, we fell to chatting about my job in Bangalore. Transpired the soldier was on a mission to go to India and to Egypt, where the Hussars had fought. In the first case, the Hussars apparently helped to suppress the “Indian Mutiny” which I was at pains to point out is now called the First War of Indian Independence. The soldier had just come back from Russia, where apparently the Fourth Hussars fought too – perhaps at Sebastopol, in the Crimea? The second world war in Russia is now called, of course, the Great Patriotic War.

This was all rather strangely moving. The man was clearly on what he considered to be a sacred mission to track down former heroes in the Hussars, and register their presence. As I said to him, I was born in 1949, and so had been the luckiest soul to escape major wars, unlike my parents and their parents before me.  I have never been pitched into battle, except in the famous “laundry wars” of Ole Bengaluru. I can hardly conceive what war is like, although my Uncle Joe not only had to swim back to a barque from Dunkirk, and then had to fight Rommel’s troops in the Second World War as a member of the “Desert Rats”.

Dear Uncle Joe could hardly be persuaded to talk by me, when I was a five or six year old of the horrors in the desert but when he did, he told me of his best mate destroyed by a Stuka bomb right next to him, and how they were given unlimited amounts of alcohol and amphetamines to keep them going. The “laundry wars” hardly equate, do they? ♥

Twilight of the airlines shows in Old Harrow

IT’S BEEN A VERY fine day today here in Harrow, Middlesex, Londonland. Sort of like an Indian Summer, with clear blue skies and the sun is warm too, when it reaches your skin. Go out of the sun for a second, and you feel the cold that’s a coming.

At twilight, we saw a fantastic pink scene unfold before our eyes – it’s like a criss-criss quiz. We managed to capture the new clouds in the sky before they totally disappeared, as the sun set.

Yes – this is the shape of things to come. A perfectly blue sky with criss cross things going in all sorts of directions. We guess they must be jet clouds. The telegraph pole in the foreground delivers – courtesy of British Telecom –  DSL to our little wedge of Harrow.

Where are all these planes going? And why does DSL “enhancement”  happen when it rains? And if sparrows perch on the line, why the degradation? We’ve asked British Telecom all these questions, but answer we’ve had none, to any of them.   

Unison calls to say vote for Red Ken

THE JELLYBONE rings. It is automated phone spam from a trade union called Unison, which tells me that as the  union general secretary she is calling to say that I should vote for Ken Livingstone as mayor on the 1st of May.

Shome mishtake. I am not a member of Unison. I am a member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which advised me to settle with Sun Microsystems when, at the INQ, I was locked in threatened legal action by legal suits. It was actually mates at the Sun that delivered the advice I needed, certainly not the  bleeding NUJ.

In fact, I am effectively disenfranchised, because I have until tomorrow to register for a proxy vote which means legging it down to the local town hall in ‘Arrow. Apparently you can’t register for a poxy vote online.  

I can’t vote on the 1st of May because I am frying out to Bengaluru, in India. ♣

Fox news: cheeky dogs they are

THE LITTLE Reynard pictured above right in the header pic didn’t blanch when I took a shot of it early this morning.

It must want to be a celebrity fox, like Basil Brush. Boom, boom!

Indeed, the foxes round our yard here are as bold as brass, but timid inasmuch as if a cat shows up, they’ll do a runner.  They are not frightened of humans, even if we wear red coats, have dogs, ride roughshod over garden fences and blow a horn – Tally Ho!

Some of the local residents in this Parish of Harrow  (cough) seem to believe that it is other people’s dogs that are defecating in their yards. Not so. The urban fox has turned into the equivalent of the Border Collie in North West London – they are intelligent enough not to be taken out for runs around the park, although they have played havoc in many back gardens by digging up crocii, brocolli, rocket and the like in their relentless search for, er, worms.

They don’t defecate in back gardens any more, because the moggies see them off – they defecate on the pavements instead. But they spend many happy hours digging up worms out of gardens which doesn’t half irritate those people who grow “rocket” salad in their back gardens, rather than just going down to the local Tesco and saving themselves money and time.

BOGGARD If you’re wondering about the grey strip below the fox brush, this is not a photographic glitch, but represent “storage sheds” built by our three next door neighbours on our left. Harrow Council permits such “storage sheds” to be built three metres high without planning permission. So Monsieur Reynard is sunning himself on one of these concrete edifices, which are just as grey and characterless as New Shanghai.