EDitorial ± 24-Sep-2001

An Apple A Day

In my previous occupation, working for a major UK telecommunications company (bless 'em), I was more than happy to play with computers during office hours only. More and more of my colleagues were buying PCs for home use, talking clock speeds and CD-Roms. I wasn't even tempted.

Then I switched employers and employment status, moving to a work environment with no access to the Internet or external email. Bummer. Solution: nip out one lunchtime a week to the central library and take advantage of a free (!) hour-long web session. They even suggested I get a Hotmail address, which proved a good investment. That was free, too. Fab places, libraries.

Browsing the web midweek, taking furtive mouthfuls of my corn-beef sarnie, I saw mention of a new machine being released by Apple, to be called the iMac. Famous for the original Macintosh, this home computer appeared to be radically different:

  • it sported odd connectors called USB,
  • there was no floppy drive,
  • and, most obvious of all, it was a single, smooth, curvaceous, blue unit!

I had to have one!

Bondi blue iMac, 1998

Actually getting hold of one was trickier than I thought. Such a machine was unlikely to be in the window at Dixon's. As the UK release date approached, I'd decided to take a trip to an Apple retailer somewhere in London on the big day. But then fortune stepped in. Gail returned from the in-laws with a leaflet from a firm called Avocet Consulting, who happened to be based in the same village. Advertised on the flier was "a computer for your future, Apple iMac G3-233, only £849 + VAT". I ordered one that evening, and picked it up from Simon, Mr Avocet, about a week later.

I'm telling you all this now 'cos that was September 1998, exactly three years ago. Everything's still going strong. That funny keyboard with the weird Apple symbols is in front of me, attached through its USB connector to the odd pebble-like mouse with its single button. And the bondi blue casing remains as strokable as ever. Nice.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 17-Sep-2001

A Show About Nothing

Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Which seems as good a reason as any to tell you all about the return of the funniest show on television, IMHO. 'Cos you may easily miss it entirely, given the inexplicably unsociable scheduling on the Beeb. Tonight, and for the next few weeks around midnight on BBC2, it's Seinfeld.

Heard of it but never watched an episode? Do yourself a favour and tape one, I dare you. Like a number of US sitcoms, it pays to have some knowledge of the previous seven series. You might appreciate knowing, for example, that the four leading characters are:

  1. Jerry: a New York stand-up comedian playing himself
  2. George: Jerry's best friend - a short, balding loser
  3. Elaine: one of Jerry's many ex-girlfriends
  4. Kramer: lives across the hall from Jerry
Somehow, in the space of 22 minutes, each member of the quartet follows a separate plotline, although the individual stories inevitably collide. Aside from the dialogue and plentiful references (to Pez, Letterman, frozen yoghurt, you name it), I like the fact that they all meet up in Monk's, the local coffee shop.

George, Kramer, Elaine and Jerry   Tucked away in the schedules

The show's not for everyone, but once you're in, you're in. When the final episode was screened in the States a couple of years back, one of the other channels simply put up a test card, aware that it was pointless to try to compete. If it was on Channel 4 on a Friday night, it'd be huge. As it is, I don't think there are too many fans over here due to the bizarre time it goes out.

Tricky to say why I find it so funny. Give it a go, though. Go find that VideoPlus code now!

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 12-Sep-2001

Start Spreading The News

Many moons ago, over a leisurely curry at the Taj, we rashly decided that our next holiday should be in the good ol' US of A (goes without saying that this was in the days before children). Large landmass, the States: which part did we want to aim for? Then it came to us. It had to be New York.

So in five busy days we did the Big Apple. And, on one long hot day, having already admired the views from the Empire State Building in the morning, we wound our way due south, walking block after block to the financial heart of the city. And, being the tallest structure in the city, we had very little trouble finding the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

Uptown Manhattan from the World Trade Centre, 1994

From what I remember, a turbo-lift took us up over 100 floors at considerable speed. We were then free to wander around the viewing area. Inside, the major NY landmarks had been picked out on the glass, in case you didn't know which was the Chrysler building, for example. Luckily, since the weather was so good, there were fantastic panoramas of the city from the large outer platform. There was the Brooklyn Bridge; there was Central Park; and down in the water beyond Battery Park was the Statue of Liberty, looking tiny in the distance.

Unimaginable, then, the terrible events of Tuesday this week.


EDitorial ± 7-Sep-2001

You Know What I Did Last Summer

Already it seems like an absolute age ago, perhaps due to the rain & rapidly fading light, but it's only been a couple of weeks since we got back from our summer hols. Did we tango in Thailand? Cavort in Cuba? Nope, we had a cottage in Kent.

Competition was tight in the garden of England, but the results of this summer's super-prestigious TPTGISEK (top places to go in South East Kent) awards are as follows. Each photo leads to a bigger picture, by the way.

Displacement 2475 tons, length 92m, width 7.5m, draft 4.5m   Most Bizarre Tourist Attraction
Has to be the Russian nuclear submarine moored at Folkestone harbour. That's right, this is U475, a Foxtrot class sub that the public can tour (for a price). Some entrepreneur obviously made the USSR owners an offer they couldn't refuse, resulting in the vessel being towed over here several years back. And although some of the internal fixtures have been stripped to allow better access, it's very much the real deal. Long, metallic and cramped.
Boysy on the loose   Most Relaxing Picnic Spot
With a trio of little people to look after and keep entertained, it's a bonus to find a quiet place to chill out. Such a location is Walmer Castle, a small distance up the coast from Dover. The audio tour is good value - this was home to the Duke of Wellington, don't you know - but the oval garden out back is fab. Plenty of space to lay down a rug, the kiddies can run around, and, to top it all, they provide chairs!
Beachcombers   Most Sandy Shore
You got young children, you need a beach. As picked out by The Rough Guide to England, a handy companion, we headed for St Mary's Bay repeatedly. Slightly past Dymchurch, the beach goes on and on and on. There's pebbles, there are pools to paddle in, there's mud to wade through, and there's sand galore. And they serve a mean cuppa from the huts on the prom. For that much-needed seaside tackiness, stroll along to Dymchurch itself for MW's amusements, chips, and ointment for skin rubbed off by the helter-skelter.

Also highly recommended:

  • Dungeness - fascinatingly bleak and windswept
  • Deal - if it's open, check out the Time Ball Tower
  • Dover castle - descend into the secret wartime tunnels

Be seeing you!