About five years ago I pitched an idea for a book to a publisher. It was to be a fun lively history of how microcomputing changed the world. I got rejected – they told me there was no way a history book about microcomputers would sell.
At the time I just slunk away, tail between my legs, assuming that they were correct, but since then I’ve published several books without the need for a publisher and I figure that maybe it’s time to explore the idea again. I don’t really think that a boring history full of footnotes and technical details would work – though maybe someone should write that before we all get too old, but I wanted to do something more personality-led – talking to the people who created and used these devices.
Take a look at some of these videos:
Jeff Minter’s Attack of the Mutant Camels on the C64
Manic Miner on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Crazy Kong on the Sinclair ZX81
Cuthbert in the Jungle on the Dragon 32
Elite on the BBC Micro
Rob Hubbard’s music using the C64 SID chip
The kids who played all these games in the early 1980s are all probably about 40 now. They might have learned how to code games and ended up in the IT industry – that’s what happened to me. Or they might just have enjoyed the games.
What’s important about this era is that it’s the first ever generation that would have been using computers at school because the micro made it possible to start bringing computers into school – we were the first to get real lessons in IT.
Now this generation is old enough to be in senior positions, running their own companies, maybe inspired by some of the games they played or the BASIC they learned on their home micro.
I think it would be interesting to talk to the people who created these computers, these games, the music, and to learn some of the stories around how they were launched AND to find some people who were influenced by this era of technology. There must be countless companies or careers that were launched because of these little plastic 8-bit boxes.
So what do you think – something worth pursuing in 2014?
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged BBC, BBC micro, C64, CBM 64, commodore, elite, home computer, jeff minter, llamasoft, micro, microcomputer, sinclair, spectrum, zx81
I was featured in a podcast this week. It’s always nice to be interviewed and featured somewhere, but even nicer when it’s in a podcast that I actually listen to – and I listen to quite a lot of podcasts. This one was the Live in Brazil podcast hosted by Kevin Porter.
In fact, I was thinking about just how many podcasts I do listen to regularly so I thought it might be interesting to list them all. I do clear out my podcast list when shows are no longer updated so this is pretty much a comprehensive list of the ones I regularly listen to – not just everything I found on my iPod.
Most of the content is from the BBC. That’s really because I don’t know of anywhere that does speech and informative radio as well as the BBC. A lot of this content was originally on the radio and then published as a podcast. Personally I tend to only listen to audio as podcasts now, I don’t really listen to any radio in real-time. And music radio – well for that there is Spotify…
When I write all the podcasts as a list it looks fairly long, but I guess there are people who leave the radio on all day and listen to more programmes than I do. I’m quite selective in what I listen to and I do have specific times when I will listen – walking my dog, out running on the street, in the gym, and work that doesn’t need a lot of concentration (checking emails, Facebook etc…) Obviously I can’t write something while also listening to the news on my iPod.
And one other thing, because I listen on the iPod I can play everything at double speed. That doesn’t work well for music, but for speech radio it means you can get an hour of news in 30 minutes. I have done this so often (and been mocked on the BBC Click programme for it) that when I listen to familiar presenters at normal speed they sound strange!
Do you listen to more? Is this a lot of podcasts to regularly be following?
- Best of Today; BBC Radio 4 Today programme
- The Bottom Line; BBC business interviews with Evan Davies
- Broadcasting House; BBC Sunday news magazine
- Business Daily; BBC World daily business news
- Click; BBC technology magazine
- Crossing Continents; BBC travel and society magazine
- Desert Island Discs; BBC classic – what music to take to a desert island
- Discovery; BBC science documentaries
- Documentaries; documentaries from all across the BBC
- Drama of the Week; new BBC feature – a weekly radio drama
- Feedback; forum for radio listener feedback
- Fighting Talk; BBC sports “quiz” and chat
- File on 4; In-depth BBC investigative reporting
- The Film Programme; Weekly film reviews
- Folk with Mark Radcliffe; Weekly folk music show
- Football Weekly; weekly football summary
- Forum – A World of Ideas; Weekly debate about philosophy and ideas
- From our own correspondent; news reports from foreign correspondents all over the world
- Front Row Daily; daily arts show
- Global News; daily summary of global news
- Great Lives; weekly biography of a “great” person
- The Guardian Books Podcast; books review
- The Guardian Film Show; weekly film reviews
- In Our Time; weekly analysis of history and ideas
- Listen To Lucy; Lucy Kellaway’s FT column
- The Live in Brazil Podcast; Live in Brazil with Kevin Porter
- The Long View; Exploring how the past influences the present
- Making History; BBC history magazine
- Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews; The best weekly film review show online anywhere… a must-listen
- Mastertapes; musicians discussing their back catalogue
- Media Show; weekly media review by the BBC
- Media Talk; weekly media review by The Guardian
- Men’s Hour; weekly magazine show
- Money Box; financial issues
- More or Less; maths and statistics
- Music Weekly; Guardian weekly new music review
- Newshour; daily news summary
- On the Money; weekly financial analysis featuring CEOs
- Outlook; real-life stories from the news
- Outriders; Weekly tech news – Internet focused
- The Penguin Podcast; Books from Penguin
- Peter Day’s World of Business; Very good exploration of global business issues
- Pienaar’s Politics; Excellent weekly summary of British politics
- A Point of View; Short bursts of thought and philosophy
- Politics Weekly; Guardian weekly political summary
- Radio 2 Arts Show; a weekly arts summary
- Radio 3 Essay; a short essay on the arts
- The Report; a detailed investigative news report
- Science Weekly; weekly science focus from the Guardian
- Sportsweek; a weekly BBC show summarising sport
- Tech Weekly; Guardian look at tech each week
- Test match Special; cricket – when games are being played
- Thanks for Giving a Damn; Excellent US-based musician interviews
- Thinking Allowed; weekly sociology focus
- Today in Parliament; what happened in the UK parliament
- Wake up to Money; Daily financial news first thing in the morning
- A Week of You and Yours; weekly consumer issues
- Weekly Political Review; BBC weekly politics summary
- The Why Factor; asking tough questions – why this or that?
- Witness; short bursts of interviews with witnesses to great events
- The World at One; news summary at 1300
- The World Tonight; news summary at 2200
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged apple, audio, BBC, click, guardian, ipod, listening, news, penguin, pod, podcast, radio, speech
Only Fools and Horses fans, I need your help!
I’m a member of the Serra Negra English club here in São Paulo, Brazil. It’s a group of people who meet every two weeks to practice their English and all the membership fees for the club go into helping local charities.
In two weeks I am hosting the club at my house. I wanted to try something linked to the use of some more unusual English words, but to make it fun. So I thought I would try a bingo game with Only Fools and Horses. I’d issue some bingo cards featuring Cockney slang words, we all watch an episode of OFAH and people check off the words as they hear them – hopefully with a winner found before the end of the show.
It will be entirely Brazilian people playing this game, trying to improve their English and learning about some of the unusual Cockney slang used by Del Boy and Rodders. Hopefully it works as a fun way to show them that not everyone speaks English like the Prince of Wales…
What I need from you is a pointer to a particular episode that might work for this game. I need the following:
- It must be one of the early half-hour shows so the game is not too long, so I expect it will feature Grandad.
- It must be a fairly simple story setup – I need to brief everyone on what OFAH is all about as they will have never seen the show, so a more complex relationship-based story is probably out (though most of that came later in the show anyway).
- It must feature a lot of slang I can use for the game.
So, OFAH fans, can you help me to set this up and help a whole group of people in Brazil better understand how to speak if they are ever in Peckham? Leave a comment here on the blog or tweet me on @markhillary – thanks!
Photo by David licensed under Creative Commons
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged BBC, bingo, brasil, brazil, cockney, competition, del boy, english, game, grandad, language, london, ofah, only fools and horses, peckham, portuguese, regal, reliant, robin, rodders, rodney, sao paulo, serra negra, slang, supervan, uncle albert, van
I wrote on my Computer Weekly blog here about the handover of the Ealing Tweetup to Hayden and all the other regulars at the event. It’s been a lot of fun putting these events together and seeing how the event has grown over time – it’s a shame to say goodbye, but I’m sure it’s going to continue growing because the event has a great amount of momentum behind it now.
When I could see the event getting bigger I thought about how it could easily be sponsored. Getting some free food and drinks would make it more attractive to the regulars and would help to start bringing in a bigger audience.
Of course, getting corporate sponsorship is a double-edged sword. It’s great to get free drinks, but it can be hard to keep something like a Tweetup as an informal gathering once companies start pumping money into the event. They want to know who is attending, what company attendees are from, what position they hold, and especially whether there are any people from the media in attendance – being close to the BBC and Sky in west London that’s been quite a common occurrence anyway.
But I don’t think we ever let the sponsorship take over the tweetup. People have been directed together, go and have a chat to so-and-so, but there has never been a formal name-list, name badges, list of attendees. It’s never been that kind of event and I hope it stays that way, even if it means buying a pint in future.
I’m really grateful to the companies that have sponsored the Tweetup – namely 1e and Xerox. They have all realised that to go ‘too corporate’ would ruin their involvement in the event and instead of people feeling genuine gratitude at their help in pulling together something interesting, there would have been a negative reaction at any over-controlling nature.
I hope future sponsors of this, and similar events, can also see the value in getting positive mentions online and building relationships with the blogging community. Good luck for the future tweetups in Ealing!
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 1e, band, BBC, bible, biblecode sundays, celtic, code, concert, corporate, ealing, ealingtu, gig, irish, music, sponsor, tweetup, xerox
Mark Kermode is the film reviewer on BBC Radio 5. His show goes out every Friday afternoon on the radio and is also available as a podcast on iTunes – it has become one of the most popular British podcasts on iTunes. Each week, Kermode runs through the new movies of the week and exchanges a considerable amount of banter with co-host Simon Mayo.
Some time back the film ‘Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief’ was released and Kermode criticised it as nothing more than an American Harry Potter – a kind of colour-by-numbers movie about kids at a boarding school where they learn about magic.
His review suggested that any filmmaker could produce a film about kids learning magic and with the support of the Harry Potter fan base, it would almost certainly be a success. He suggested the name ‘Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins’ during the review as a typical name that could be used.
And so an Australian filmmaker went off and made a film using that name. It has just been released and contains a number of jokes referencing the Kermode show. So regular listeners to the show will find references to Jason Isaacs, David Morrissey, Werner Herzog, and all the favourite characters that seem to pop up week after week on the film show.
I’m going to download and watch it soon. Given that the budget was only something like A$5,000, I don’t expect to be dazzled, but to put a full-length feature movie together based only on a BBC film review is an impressive (or mad) achievement so it deserves some support.
And if I have not already said it, “Hello Jason Isaacs.”
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 5, BBC, benjamin sniddlegrass, cauldron, cinema, film, five, harry potter, live, mark kermode, penguins, percy jackson, radio, review, simon mayo
I quite enjoyed the BBC Panorama documentary last night detailing corruption and fraud within football’s international governing body, FIFA. FIFA behaved consistently as if they do not need to respond to any of the fraud allegations, but we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that should have been used for the development of the game, all ending up in the back pocket of FIFA board members. The BBC presented a number of new facts that proved illicit payments to at least three FIFA board members.
However, the argument in the UK media is that the BBC is unpatriotic to expose these people just a few days before the vote for which nation will host the 2018 World Cup. We are relying on these same people to vote for the England bid just as the BBC accuses them of fraud.
But the BBC is not the voice of the State. I would love to see England get the World Cup in 2018, but if the BBC affects the impression of England and a bunch of FIFA crooks don’t vote for our country because they don’t like to see their dirty laundry aired in public then doesn’t it demonstrate some much greater British values, not least about the freedom of the press?
Would anyone really want to see a situation where the BBC had evidence detailing how many bribes these FIFA officials have taken, but they kept quiet to ensure those same people voted for England?
Whether we win or lose this bid to host the 2018 World Cup, it’s time for the English FA to join forces with other national football associations and to demand that FIFA is entirely reformed… it should be an open, transparent, not-for-profit association developing football across the world, not a shady cabal of villains all earning millions by having their votes bought.