Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Today at Old Trafford

A few days after the death of one of the greatest footballers of all time, tributes are continuing to grow outside one of his old clubs, Manchester United

I was outside the ground taking photographs for work. I arrived just after lunch and was amazed to see most of the pavement in front of the ground occupied with all kinds of tributes and messages from members of the public.
George Best certainly lived up to his name, he was a great footballer during his day and he was probably the first 'modern' footballing superstar. His private life may well have been checkered by alcohol abuse, bust ups and court appearances but the UK people watched with sadness as George Best failed to recover from a complicated and protracted illness.

Largely thanks to the media, everyone can identify with death if they have followed the story via the news channels. We have heard all the details and even seen pictures from his bedside so it is no wonder that when the news came on Friday, lots of people were genuinely saddened. I was also saddened by that fact that after his Doctor had given him 24 hours to live, George best would have been able to read his obituary in the paper the next day. I can't help but wonder why the media chose to make as much of this as they did. It has been said that people from the UK now show collective grief on an unhealthy scale at times like this and whether this is true or not. It has probably been largely fueled by the hourly updates on his condition which were broadcast for two or three days solid.

George Best will definitely be remembered for his football, but like some footballers of today he seems to have been the 'flawed genius' He struggled off the pitch in many ways but according to those who met him, he was a gentleman who had time for most people. Over the last few days most people at Old Trafford made time for George Best. They carefully looked over the masses of cards, scarves and shirts which have been place outside the ground.

I felt strangely moved by being there today. Not just by the awareness that someone from the media spotlight, to whom I had become attached has died, but was also moved by watching other people as they came to be a part of what was happening. I spoke with a family from Glasgow who had come to lay flowers and I also spoke with a man from Nigeria who seemed deeply moved by what he was seeing even though he was unaware as to who George Best was.

As I left and as I look back over my photographs, I am challenged in many ways. What makes a hero? Why can so many people seem to be so affected by events such as these and why is our society so defunct when people obviously care so much? Whatever the answers to questions like these are, my thoughts and prayers rest with Georges family.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bush's 'exit strategy' needs a re-think

Its not looking good for President Bush. Not only can he not get out of Iraq, he's now having problems getting out of press conferences too.

A few days ago, Mr Bush tried to make a hasty exit from a press call which was part of his trip to China. He refused to answer a follow up question asked by one of the journo's and tried to make good his escape by exiting stage left pronto.

He was met by a set of imposing double doors, which despite the full weight of the Presidency being brought to bear, refused to move. Much like Chinese policy on Human Rights really. For a split second, it looked like the President's "third way" thinking was being employed to a problem that generally is solved by either a push or a pull. Rather than haranguing the cornered victim, the press pointed out that the President had, in fact entered the room from behind a curtain.

Mr Bush joked "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work" He then made a generally more successful attempt at both leaving the room and ducking the question.

As the Presidents 'general awareness' was maybe, unfairly seized upon by the amused onlookers. I was reminded of some other political 'gaffes' which have taken place. You'll be pleased to hear that I've included pictures where possible.

1992: Dan Quayle and the 'Potato Kid'
Remember this? The Vice President was keen to 'correct' William Figueroa's spelling mistakes in front of the press. However, adding an 'e' onto potato turned out to be 'chips' for the big guy. Quayl(e) was Bush senior's VP at the time although both would be replaced by Clinton and Gore. (he does look a bit like Bill Gates though)

John Prescott "appears to throw a punch"
This is the moment when the Deputy Prime Minister to Tony Blair decided that the best way to deal with hecklers was to hit them. Admittedly the guy who was on the end of this political jab (pundits noticed it was 'to the right' of usual policy) had just thrown an egg at Mr Prescott. His PR people must have worked overtime to try to fix this mess. Remarkably, the public sided with Mr Prescott and his approval rating increased after this incident, mind you, I wouldn't like to tell him otherwise would you? It was also great to see how the news channels reported the incident too... Along with those pictures came the caption "Prescott appears to throw punch". Who says the days of investigative journalism are over?

Even the : can't redeem this one!
Its back to Bush I'm afraid! (and not a Segway in sight!). This one isn't really his fault but even one of the harshest punctuation marks available is unable to save the poor President here. I'm not quite sure who actually writes these things but I'm sure that in retrospect, this may have been phrased differently. When this was originally aired on UK TV, its reported that someone added that "The Hurricanes been pretty bad too"

John Gummer's fast food fiasco
Its 1990 and the UK is gripped by the fear of BSE. Mad Cow disease is crippling sales of beef so the Tory government minister decides that the best way to show people how safe it is to eat meat is to publicly 'force feed' his four year old daughter a nice wholesome burger in front of the press. It's fair to say that the results are mixed. No one was quite sure that the beefburgers in question were actually fit for human consumption aside from BSE and the public seemed 'edgy' over the use of children in politicking. Why didn't he just kiss babies like most of them do?

Its back to 'Bush Bashing' I'm afraid for these last two
President George W. Bush has certainly been dragged over the coals as far as the press go. His image has not been entirely wholesome and once the media have it in for you, its difficult to shake the satirical stereotypes. That said, this President has encountered his fair share of bumps and bruises, cuts and calamities, most of which seem to have been captured by photographers or shown on live TV to a global audience. One which enjoyed plenty of airtime was when the President fell off his Segway scooter. In all fairness, I think most Segway riders have done exactly the same The physics is simple really: stop and you fall off.

Bush's mishaps on two wheels has inspired many cartoons and email attachments like this one.

And finally I must leave you with this. It seems that as long has we have politicians who are human (and make mistakes), we'll also always have 'photoshoppers' and bloggers such as myself to, sometimes unfairly pass comment.

Going down?

I am concerned, I am very concerned. First it was computer code breaking, then it was phone phreaking. Next came spamming and computer 'conning' but now as I trawl through the wonderful www, I have been shocked, no stunned; to find a new type of mechanical exploitation which is gaining popularity. Move over cash machines! Here comes elevator 'hacking'.

Picture this, you are on the top floor of your hotel and its checkout time. You can't really use the stairs with your luggage but you know that the lift will need to stop several times on its journey from the top to the ground floor... What a pity!

Now imagine you are on the 20th floor, Halfway down. You too need to check out and you also have luggage. You notice that the elevator is on the top floor so you press the call button, expecting the elevator to stop and pick you up as part of its journey. The numbers decrease 30, 29,28... You grab your bags 23,22,21. You step forward and wait for the reassuring ping accompanied by door movement but what's this? It just sails past.... Swwiisshhh! 19,18,17......1

The elevator has been 'hijacked' by some unscrupulous 'easy rider' who has 'expressed' his way from the top floor to checkout in time. This vertical 'joy rider' has circumnavigated the circuitry and broken the elevator code of ethics to save his skin while you have to wait 10 mins for the lift to go back up then pick you up on the way down again but how can this be?

It amazing what bloggers write about...

Allow me to quote from an unnamed source. "You can 'hack' the elevator quite easily. This will work on early all the lifts, even those with a key for service mode. The only lifts that this won't work on is the 1992 Otis models along with the Desert Elevators ELD5433 and ELF3655.

Now at this point, I'm not sure what is most disturbing, the fact that there are people who are prepared to actually do this, or that there are people who have taken the time to research lift model numbers and specifications. Frankly I'd rather 'save face' and visit a few more floors on my journey, but hey!

The blogger continues "your 'laughing' if its the Dover (Model Numbers: EL546 And ELOD862), cos I've tested this personally" He finishes with "This is a rather fun hack, so the next time you are on an elevator, give it a try, you have nothing to lose, And this concludes Hacking Elevators 101!"

Beating life's ups and downs?

So what's the secret to squeezing those seconds from your journey time while thoroughly frustrating the other 27 people left standing? We'll I'm not actually going to say. The reason for my post here is to write about what others have written, it isn't to 'spread the good news'

Suffice to say, what next? Will we be overclocking toasters or maybe hacking precise medical instruments to see if theres a hidden 'game' in there somewhere? It seems to me that wherever technology is concerned, there's always someone (usually with a blog too) to exploit and manipulate the rules either for fun or in this case, for that ultimate 'high'.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

42 Years ago today...

November the 22nd 1963 saw the assassination of the 35th President of the United states of America. 42 years later, his death is not only remembered. Its still affecting the country.

Conspiracy theories aside, the death of Kennedy marked a turning point in US history. Much like 911, America changed on 1122 too. The establishment felt vulnerable and over the coming months, the USA would change its foreign policies away from peace to war.

Of course, no-one can really say what would have happened if the bullets had gone a foot to the left but after the Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedys near-miss with nuclear holocaust, it seemed that he was keen to broker peace with communist Russia, and quickly. Kennedy also seemed luke-warm over Vietnam, maybe to the point of withdrawing troops.

If Kennedy had lived and if peace with Russia had come 20 years earlier and if Americas involvement with Vietnam had not been so substantial, maybe we'd live in a very different world. It was Kennedy who vowed to put a man on the Moon and he never saw it. Maybe if he had, then we would not have seen the cold war continue and the USA become what it has. Maybe we wouldn't be looking at the USA as global 'defenders' and maybe we wouldnt be looking at war in Iraq?

I leave you with this, its based on US Congress figures as to the cost of the continued conflict in Iraq to the US taxpayer. Ironically, the first human casualty could have lost his life 42 years ago?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Phones from the future?

you may not give it a second glance but ever since I picked up my new mobile, I couldn't help thinking I'd seen it somewhere before.

But similarities aside, does this phone warp us to new planets never seen before in phoneland or does the Razr look sharp but fail to cut the mustard? No-one can deny that Motorola's new Razr is a slick looking piece of kit. Barely the thickness of your actual telephone bill and certainly slimmer than its manual, the V3 looks good. The aesthetics also carry over to the 'feel' too. The phone is so thin, it has to be made of metal and the device certainly seems sturdy and strong with no 'squeaky battery compartment syndrome' which seems to blight many other handsets once you get to grips with them. Both the screens on the V3 are also great, so could this be the perfect phone? Does it operate as well as it opens?

I had to change my phone, by necessity not choice. Previously I had a Nokia 9500 which may have had all the character (and weight) of a housebrick but delivered well in the usability stakes. It was a sad day when after a freak 'droppage', the phone slowly began to disintegrate, plastic cover first. This was also coupled with a trip to the beach where the tide came in and the speakerphone function went out. I truly was sad to consign my N9500 to the mobile phone 'purgatory' which is my bedside drawer, containing such delights as a Nokia 702 (my first love), a Nokia 1700 (my first hate), a Sony Ericsson p800 (with cracked LCD screen) and a SE k700i (disappointing apart from the radio).

With all this hardware to hand, I think I know what I'm looking for in a mobile. The N9500 came really close to perfection for me with a great keyboard and fab software (albeit sllooww!) The Razr does suffer from bland 'in-screen' presentation but for me, that's just about where the bad features end.

This phone delivers really well, The beautiful chemically etched keypad lights up ethereally and entices you to get pressing its comfortably sized buttons and although the menus seem lengthy, the features are good with a built in VGA camera (buy a proper one if you want a real camera) and usable bluetooth capabilities and connection options.

Not only did I love my N9500 for its keyboard, I liked the calendar too. The V3 has a calendar, and although it isn't as good, its usable thanks to its great keypad. Couple this with full mac & pc compatibility and the PDA functions are adequate for most.

I didn't intend to actually review the handset here however that is how this is going so I'm going to sum up. As a photographer with 2 ipod's and 2 Apple Macs to go with them, the V3 fits in with my prerequisits such as elegant design and usability. Its a great handset which performs very well in most departments, and great looks aside, I don't feel as though this phone will let me down quite as quickly as my old housebrick.

I'd be interested for any extra comments here. Maybe you have a mobile memory of your own or maybe you have a question about the V3, I'd be happy to comment further on this if needed.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lord Lichfield dies

The renowned royal photographer Lord Lichfield has died at the age of 66. Patrick Lichfield who was regarded as one of the UK's top photographers held a fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society amongst other special photographic achievements.

He captured many 'iconic' images during his life and will be remembered by many for the Photographs from the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981. Prince Charles, was in fact his cousin.

Photography draws people together and the work of Lord Lichfield was admired by many but especially understood by photographers. Although his style of photography is as popular as ever, His uniqueness has been lost.

Lord Lichfield fell ill a few days ago whilst staying with friends in Oxford. My sympathies go especially to his family at this time.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Some more 'funnies'

Based largely upon the phenomenal response to my last post and all of your comments that came flooding in (don't let the 'zero' counter fool you). I've decided to upload one or two funny pics. The kind that sometimes do the rounds via email.

Hope you like them....

We start with this picture which shows how pranksters in the workplace aren't always welcome...

Next up, here's a great little bargain. Just one owner and incredibly low mileage...

Moving on to this holiday snap (which is genuine BTW) , it shows why choosing to sunbathe on this beach is just plane crazy...

Still on the aeronautical theme, America's new stealth fighter surprises its strongest critics who say it doesn't work...

And last but by no means least, The RAF reconsiders its 'work experience' policy after a slight mishap which could have ended much worse...

Hope you like them and if you have any good ones that I've missed then, pthurst@yahoo.com

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Men in coats

This is well worth a watch and is very well put together.....

Who says the age of comedy is dead?