Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Quote for the Day

"A visitor from Mars could easily pick out the civilized nations. They have the best implements of war."

- Herbert v Prochnow (1897-1998)
U.S. banking executive, noted toastmaster, and author during the middle 20th Century. As Vice President of the First National Bank of Chicago, Prochnow wrote several popular books on public speaking. He also wrote epigrams and anecdotes that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post and Reader's Digest.

Cerkahegyzo's pencil sculptures

I have previously posted pics of pencil carvings (try saying that quickly ten times).

A Hungarian who goes by the nickname Cerkahegyzo has created amazing pencil sculptures. A toolmaker by trade, he declares that he finds it relaxing. One wonders how many sculptures have had to be scrapped because something went wrong and whether it is still relaxing at that point. 

Here are some of his incredibly small and detailed pencil carvings . . .

Happy New Year 2012

Monday, April 20, 2015

Quote for the Day

"There are no true friends in politics. We are all sharks circling, and waiting, for traces of blood to appear in the water."

 - Alan Clark (1928-1999)

British Conservative Member of Parliament, historian and diarist. He served as a junior minister in Margaret Thatcher's governments at the Departments of Employment, Trade and Defence, and became a privy counsellor in 1991. 

(Btw moment: Clark was cited in a divorce case in South Africa, in which it was revealed he had had affairs with Valerie Harkess, the wife of a South African barrister (and part-time junior judge), and her daughters Josephine and Alison. After sensationalist tabloid headlines, Clark's wife Jane remarked upon what Clark had called "the coven" with the line: "Well, what do you expect when you sleep with below stairs types?", and referred to her husband as an "S, H, one, T".)

Monday Miscellany: Odds, Ends andPpersonals

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Byter Martin S has taken me to task for incorrect information and photographs in that part of yesterday’s post that mentioned the old Bakelite telephones.

Martin emailed me as follows:

I noted with interest your article on phones and may have two interesting points to raise. 
A) The quote from Henry Ford “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black” relating to the T Model Ford, assumes that you could not get a T model in any other colour (let’s forget that black is not a colour anyway) forgets that Henry produced T’s in Green, Blue, Red and Grey (again, not a colour) till 1914 
B) Whilst prior to the early 60’s prior to “All Number Dialling” (AND) most numbers were prefixed by two letters, this was not always the case. City numbers were often prefixed with a single letter, and those 5 digit phone numbers, if I can remember, lasted well into the 70’s 
F) When ask if you remember these handsets, of course not. They are obviously not Australian phones. The first phone, from the US, uses a lettering plan with Z=0, The second phone uses a UK lettering plan. 
J) Australia uses a different lettering layout 
L) Prior to standardisation by the “International Telecommunications Union”, mobile phones from different regions had a different lettering layouts. Which could also differ from the landline pushbutton layout 
M) Good luck if you are one of the last remaining dozen blackberry users. Their handset lettering layout is different gain… 
U) For the purposes of clarification, I have included a picture of an Australian phone

Martin’s pic is unable to be reproduced by me but is similar to this one:

Thanks Martin

(Before people send me emails to tell me, I am aware that Martin's paragraph letters are a bit wonky but I have reproduced his email as I received it).

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Some trivia about telephones. . .

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The automatic switchboard was developed by Almon Strowger, an undertaker in Kansas City, USA. Strowger’s business was losing clients to a rival whose telephone-operator wife redirected his calls to her own husband. He patented an automatic switchboard, having made a model of his invention from a round collar box and some straight pins.

Almon Strowger

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Telephone operators used to be young men. Because they were prone to prank calling and chatting up female callers, girlsreplaced boys in this role.

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"Ahoy" was the original telephone greeting, suggested by Aexander Graham Bell, but this was superseded by Thomas Edison, who suggested 'hello' instead.

Alexander Graham Bell

Thomas Edison

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Mark Twain was one of the first to have a phone in his home

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There was no technology for timing calls in the early days of telephones, so the phone company used to charge a flat monthly rate for service.

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Allocation of telephone numbers to individual phone lines was developed by a doctor in Massachusetts. The doctor was treating numerous persons during a fever epidemic in a small town. He theorised that if the local operators were all off sick there would be no one who would know the subscribers by name. His solution was to have the names replaced by numbers so that calls could be put through without the need to know the correct names.

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The origin of the phrase 'to put someone on hold' was Alexander Graham Bell handing over his telephone instrument to his partner Mr Watson and saying, "Here, hold this.”

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The very first phone call was "Watson come here, I want you!"

It was made on March 10 1876 in Boston, Massachusetts, between Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Thomas A. Watson.

They are the first words spoken by telephone.

Thomas A Watson

Watson in later years, holding Bell’s original telephone

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In 2005 Ashley Gibbins telephoned NTL in England to seek installation of broadband. Kept on hold for over an hour, he hung up. He also stumbled across a way of changing the automated message heard by incoming callers. John Nixon, his solicitor, said later: “He pressed his star key twice and that gave him access to the command centre, so he was able to record a new message. NTL admitted that it was a serious security flaw in their system.” 

Gibbins changed the NTL customer service voicemail message to:

"Hello, you are through to NTL customer services. We don't give a fuck about you, basically, and we are not going to handle any of your complaints. Just fuck off and leave us alone. Get a life." 

Gibbins was charged with an offence under the Communications Act 2003 of making a grossly offensive message. In a masterful defence, Gibbins argued that his message was offensive but not grossly offensive. The magistrate agreed and dismissed the charge.  Perhaps he had also had experience with being kept on hold.

Onya Ashley Gibbins.

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As a tribute to Alexander Graham Bell when he died in 1922, all the telephones stopped ringing for one full minute. The day of Bell's funeral, the USA and Canada paid tribute to him by closing down their telephone systems for a minute's silence, affecting over 14 million telephones.

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The soundproof booth was invented by Alexander Graham Bell's assistant, to stop his landlady from eavesdropping on his conversations.  The first prototype was built in 1877 using bed blankets wrapped around a box. Some members of the public disliked the early models because the doors would get stuck, forcing them to fight their way out.

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The 'Special' Nokia tone for receiving SMS text messages is Morse code for 'SMS' Likewise, the 'Ascending' tone is Morse code for 'Connecting People,' (Nokia's slogan) and 'Standard' is Morse code for 'M' (Message).

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Alexander Graham Bell also invented the metal detector.  The device was quickly cobbled together in an attempt to find the bullet lodged inside U.S. President James Garfield. It worked perfectly in tests but failed to locate the assassin's bullet, either due to interference from metal bedsprings or because it was buried too deep inside his body.

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Evolution of the mobile telephone:

First mobile telephones :-) 

My friend had one of these, it was carried like a shoulder bag with a strap.

Motorola Vice President John F. Mitchell shows off the DynaTAC portable radio telephone to reporters in New York City in 1973. 

The first real cell phone being held by its creator, Martin Cooper.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Quote for the Day

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." 

- Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Do you remember any of these? Part 1

Standing for God Save the Queen before the movie started when going to the cinema.

The above pic is of King’s Cinema, Ashfield, demolished in 1981 to make way for the office building Ashfield Court, corner Liverpool Road and Holden Street. One of the old style cinemas.

Clunky telephones:

Like Henry Ford’s Model T, you could have any colour as long as it was black. They had letters and numbers on the dial and phone numbers consisted of 2 letters and 4 digits.

Speaking of telephones, do you recall the red public telephone boxes?

The one above is in The Rocks and has a working telephone in it. In the UK, since 2009 more than 1,500 red phone boxes have been turned into grocery shops, florists, wildlife information centres and art galleries. One noteworthy use is as free libraries. Some are open 24 hours, others are locked at night.


Fondue dinners:

Everyone dipping, eating, dipping, eating . . .

Does it remind anyone else of the Seinfeld episode where George Costenza is taken to task for double dipping at a wake?

Cabbage Patch Dolls:

My daughter had one.  You didn’t buy a cabbage Patch kid (not doll), you adopted one. They came with papers and you had to send the adoption certificate in for registration. Creepy but nonetheless one of the most popular toy fads of the 1980s and one of the longest-running doll franchises in America.


Tamagotchi’s are digital pets that have to be continually cared for. Originally developed for teenage girls, to let them know what it would be like to take care of children, they start off as babies and have to be fed, changed, put to sleep etc. They age as they are looked after. Fail to look after them when due and they die. Some schools banned them, children were setting alarms to feed them or were needing counselling if they died. Welcome to life lessons. There is now a version to put on your mobile telephone.

Newspaper cartoons:

Back in the 60’s when Sydney had two daily newspapers, the Daily Mirror and The Sun, the former was known inter alia for its page 3 swimsuit girl and for its Rigby cartoon:

Not only was Paul Rigby an insightful and very good cartoonist, he always hid a tiny little boy and a tiny dog somewhere in the cartoon. Every afternoon three quarters of the population of Sydney looked for them in that day’s cartoon.

These were the days of cartoonists such as Benier and Bruce Petty. Do you recall Eric Jolliffe who drew cartoons about the outback – Saltbush Bill, Witchetty’s Tribe, Jolliffe’s Outback and lots of art drawings of nubile indigenous women (google an image search to see). Not at all PC today.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Quote for the Day

“The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.”
-Oscar Wilde (author, playwright, 1854-1900)


“I am not young enough to know everything.” 
Oscar Wilde


Old enough to know better, too young to care
- Whitley Streiber