Yes, it really did look like that

December 9th, 2014

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Grantchester Meadows this morning.

One of the (many) things I love about my Fuji X-Pro 1 is that most of the key controls are good old buttons and dials, not touchscreens and menus. This is particularly handy when you’re wearing gloves…

True colours

December 5th, 2014

It’s been a pretty grim month here, from a weather point of view, but there are still some nice colours around. This is just outside my study door.

My sun shall rise in the east…

November 15th, 2014

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Dawn breaking beyond the River Cam, taken from Grantchester Meadows last week.

The title of this post, of course, is a line from the excellent track ‘I’ll Find My Way Home’, by Jon & Vangelis, which is playing as I write this.

And here’s another bit of trivia for you: in the first episode of the ITV TV series Grantchester, we see Sidney and Amanda enjoying themselves by swinging out over the river on a rope attached to a tree branch. I recognised the tree immediately, but the usual rope (which you can see by clicking on the image to get a larger version) had been replaced with a frayed one for the purposes of the filming. The rope, of course, gives way when Amanda (Morven Christie) is way out over the river. I have come perilously close to the same thing in the past…

Out of Reach

November 14th, 2014

The pretty little village of Reach, just north-west of Cambridge, is in the middle of fen land, but was considered a port from Roman to medieval times because of the shipping that arrived there through the marshes. It’s where the northern tip of the Devil’s Dyke, affording transport by land, meets the southern end of Reach Lode, which provided transport by water, and it used to be the site of a great fair.

Nowadays, the pleasingly-named pub, The Dyke’s End, is one of my favourite spots for lunch, and, having taken Tilly for a post-prandial walk along the dyke last time I was there, I opted for the lode this time. And very fine it was too. The rainy morning turned into a lovely afternoon, and, though I didn’t have a proper camera with me, the iPhone did a pretty good job.

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Click for a larger version.

The Great Beyond

October 9th, 2014

The Great Beyond

Tilly, captured on her afternoon walk by my iPhone 6. It’s a pretty good camera in the right conditions, given the size of the lens. Click to see more detail.

If this shot looks vaguely familiar, you might have seen this one a couple of years ago.

Mysterious Trees I

September 27th, 2014

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On my last day in California, the fog rolled in, as it tends to around San Francisco. I was up in the Mt Tamalpais area fairly early in the morning, and got a few interesting photos. Here’s the first.

Doing the TWiT

September 21st, 2014

Almost exactly 15 years ago, a Californian TV channel sent me a webcam. To be precise, they sent me a 3COM camera which came with a PCI frame-capture card. Connecting this up was a bit of a palaver, because I ran Linux on my home machine at the time, and I had to create a new partition and install Windows 95 so that I could run the supplied software. But it was worth it, because this was ZDTV, who were doing an interesting experiment on their Call for Help programme: interviewing people in remote locations using these new-fangled webcams alongside a traditional telephone call.

By the time my segment came, it was well past midnight, and I got a laugh by holding up a clock to prove that I was somewhere in a very different timezone, and by saying that, though they thought they were very advanced in California, they were still in Tuesday, while some of us had already moved on to Wednesday some time ago.

There were other guests on the show, and we made minor history by being the first time ZDTV (and perhaps anyone) had done a three-way call using webcams as part of a live broadcast. The presenter was a very nice chap named Leo Laporte.

Since I seldom saw any American TV, I wasn’t aware at the time of Laporte’s gradually increasing prominence as the host of shows such as The Screen Savers on the same channel (which had by then changed its name to TechTV). But he soon gained more international exposure with the launch in 2005 of the This Week In Tech podcast — affectionately known as TWiT — which grew into the TWiT.tv network, consisting of around 30 different shows. I have been listening to several of them almost since day one.

As the network grew, they built their own studio in Petaluma, California. And it just so happened that I was driving through there on Friday, so I stopped off to have a look.

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I stuck my head inside the door and said hello, and the wonderful Debi Delchini immediately welcomed this stranger from across the seas and gave me a guided tour, despite the fact that I had arrived right at the end of her Friday afternoon.

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The TWiT studio, though not large, is cunningly divided into half a dozen different sets, to allow different moods for different shows.

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The mixing desk in the middle can rotate to face whichever one is in use.

There are cameras everywhere. Unlike traditional studios where large cameras roll about on substantial bases, we are now in a world were adding extra small broadcast-quality cameras is cheap compared to arranging the building around a few bigger ones.

Leo wasn’t there, sadly, but I did get to sit in his chair!

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There was, however, a show being recorded: Fr Robert Ballecer’s This Week in Enterprise Tech.

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I noticed that he was interviewing two people over Skype.

That’s good, I thought: it looks as if the format has caught on after all.