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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

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BBC Domesday Project Being Revamped

Posted by Big Boo on May 16th, 2011

BBC Domesday ProjectI received an e-mail from a kind fellow (thanks Darren!) the other day letting me know that the BBC Domesday Project was now available for viewing online, which got me quite excited since I had always wanted to have a play with it, but never had the opportunity.

What am I wittering on about? Well, the BBC Domesday Project was, at the time, a major endeavour by the Beeb to create a historical record of what life was like in the UK in 1986. The idea and name of the project came from the famous Domesday Book which had been compiled under order of William the Conqueror back in 1086 to show which landowners owned what (and therefore how much tax they needed to pay!).

Of course, the first thing I did was head over to Domesday Reloaded and look up my home town, and was surprised to find quite a bit of info on there, including a picture of a road not that far from me, and a piece of credit text saying that two of the primary schools that are within walking distance of my house contributed to the project. I wish my school had taken part…

The Domesday Project hardware was quite an advanced bit of technology for the time. The pictures and words detailing most of the towns and cities in the UK were stored on a special Laserdisc, which was connected to a BBC Micro and a trackball. The computer and trackball allowed the data to be accessed simply and easily, the idea being that this would be a great resource for schools and libraries. The data itself came from a variety of sources, but much of it was supplied by school children and other volunteers.

Unfortunately the cost of all this was too high for most schools, so ultimately not as many people saw the benefit of it as the creators would have liked. I certainly would have loved to have had a go on it, but sadly I never came across the system anywhere.

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Step Aerobics

Posted by Big Boo on April 6th, 2011

Step AerobicsWhether you are a fitness fanatic or a couch potato, I’m sure you will have heard of Step Aerobics at some point, and maybe have even given it a try? Nowadays there are many different types of Aerobics classes which pull in ideas from areas such as dance or weightlifting, but Step Aerobics, which hit the keep fit scene in 1989, was one of the first exercises to add a different slant to the bog standard aerobics class.

Basically the idea behind Step Aerobics is that you have a sturdy plastic box, called a Step, which you repeatedly step on and off whilst doing different types of moves. You typically start a routine stood behind the Step, but during the session the instructor may tell you to move sideways, backwards and forwards, turn whilst stepping and much more.

Step Aerobics has developed its own lingo, just like many other forms of exercise do, so if you’re new to the idea then when the instructor calls out to perform an L-Step, a Hop Turn or Straddle Ups you might be a little confused, but generally the moves are repeated several times so you just have to keep an eye on the instructor and your fellow steppers to get back in sync with the rest of the class. All of sudden it becomes apparent why aerobics studios tend to have lots of mirrors in them!

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Strange Eighties Video Game Stuff

Posted by Big Boo on March 23rd, 2011

Space Invader Cake TinA friend of mine runs a very successful Gadget website called CoolestGadgets and one of his more recent postings immediately caught my eye as it was such a simple yet cool idea, if you’re into baking cakes that is. It’s a Space Invaders cake mould which turns out some great squat little alien invaders ready for you to fill with a tasty cream filling or cover in icing. Yum!

Now, technically it isn’t a real Space Invader, as the shape isn’t quite right, but it’s close enough that you get the idea. A shame they didn’t make a whole range of moulds including the bases and player ship so you could make your own edible version of the classic arcade game. You could use Cadbury Mini Rolls for the bullets!

Space Invaders MugI did a little poking around for other such gems and came across the Heat Changing Space Invader Mug as well, which is one of those mugs which has the heat sensitive printing on the side that magically appears or disappears when a hot drink is poured into the mug. In this case the mug shows an image of a bunch of invaders when you add your favourite hot beverage.

Also available is a Pacman version, which as you might expect has a permanently visible maze layout and power pills which appear and disappear.

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The Chernobyl Disaster

Posted by Big Boo on March 2nd, 2011

Chernobyl DisasterMaybe it was just because we lived near an airbase that housed nuclear missiles when I was growing up, but as a child it seemed to me that the biggest threats to the world were anything that had the word Nuclear in their title. When I first heard about the idea of a nuclear power plant, the idea just sounded plain wrong to me.

On 26th April 1986 it seemed all the scary stories about nuclear this and that had come true, when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), exploded.

The Chernobyl power plant consisted of four nuclear reactors, and it was reactor number 4 that failed on that fateful day, but not through normal use. Engineers were actually performing a test on the reactor to do with its cooling system. In the case of an emergency shutdown the reactor still needs to be cooled, and the test was intended to see if enough power could be generated to drive the water pumps from the residual energy in the steam turbine.

The test failed, and led to the reactor going into a positive feedback loop, where the cooling of the system wasn’t sufficient and so more and more power was generated. The core got hotter and hotter until eventually it exploded.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Love Is…

Posted by Big Boo on February 14th, 2011

Love is...With today being Valentine’s Day I thought a little look at the Love Is… cartoon strip might be quite apt.

Created by Kim Casali in the late Sixties, Love Is… was a cartoon strip that appeared in daily newspapers around the world. Strip is both the right and wrong word to use though. Wrong in that strip tends to suggest a cartoon with a sequence of images, whereas the Love Is… cartoons were normally just a single image with a single sentence starting with the words Love Is. However, strip could be the right word given that the characters are normally depicted in the nude!

The two main characters are a male and a female who are quite child like in appearance, yet are in fact adults given that they have children of their own. They are drawn in black and white, since this was obviously most useful for printing in newspapers at the time they were created.

As mentioned above they are normally not wearing any clothes, which is why they are drawn in a child like manner, so as to avoid the artist having to draw any male or female wobbly bits… 😉

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Mute – Lost in the 80s

Posted by Big Boo on February 9th, 2011

Ghostbusters by MuteI was contacted the other day by an artist going under the name of Mute, who wanted to let me know about their recent first solo exhibition which was entitled “Lost in the 80s”. Sounds interesting, thought I, so I hopped on over to Mute’s website to take a peek.

I have to say I was very excited about what I saw, especially when I scrolled right to the bottom of the gallery page and found the image that is adorning this very post. I know I keep droning on about how much I love Ghostbusters (indeed I’m wearing the T-shirt as I write this) so this image was perfect for me, and I hope Mute doesn’t mind me pinching it to use as an example, especially since it wasn’t actually part of the Lost in the 80s exhibition.

I urge you to head over to Mute’s Gallery to take a look at the great pieces of artwork that made up the Lost in the 80s exhibition. They are all styled in a similar manner, with a very accurate portrait of an Eighties movie star, overlaid with another related image drawn as a piece of glowing line art and some other relevant imagery.

I think my favourite images are the ones of Chunk and Sloth from The Goonies and the Flash Gordon one. Oh, and the one of Vigo the Carpathian of course…

It’s also nice that, for the most part, Mute has gone with well known films but perhaps chosen the less obvious route for the subject matter. For example, it would have been easy to go with Marty McFly and Doc Brown for the Back to the Future 2 piece, but instead we’re given the old and young Biff Tannen, which I think makes the piece even more appealing to a fan of that particular movie, since arguably it is Biff’s actions that make up most of the story of that film.

The original images were all 30″ x 40″ acrylic paintings on canvas, but there are also a limited number of signed prints available, which you can purchase from Mute’s online shop. Keep up the good work Mute, I look forward to seeing some more Eighties inspired work in the near future…

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Merry Christmas 2010

Posted by Big Boo on December 24th, 2010

With Christmas Day mere hours away, I wanted to take the time to wish all of you a very merry Christmas.

Things have been a little slow around this site for the past month or so, but I’m intending to get back into the swing of things in the new year and return to a more regular posting schedule.

I have some ideas I want to explore for the site, but if there’s anything you would like to suggest that you feel would improve the site then please let me know by posting a comment below. I’m all ears!

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Yummy Christmas Gifts For An Eighties Fan

Posted by Big Boo on November 26th, 2010

Stuck for a gift for a sweet toothed Eighties fan? Here are a selection of items I’ve come across which might solve a Christmas present for you!

Stay Puft MarshmallowsFirstly, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of Ghostbusters, so you can imagine the massive grin that appeared on my face when I saw that Firebox are offering you the chance to buy your very own box of Stay Puft Marshmallows.

They come in packs of 24 marshmallows, which are a decent size and certainly look delicious – all fluffy and cube like. For some bizarre reason they have also been caffeinated, so they should give you both a sugar rush and a caffeine wake up call! At a penny under 25 quid they aren’t cheap admittedly, but they do come in a nice presentation box featuring a picture of who else but Mr. Stay Puft the Marshmallow Man.

Giant Gummi BearIf Marshmallows aren’t really your thing, perhaps jelly sweets are instead? Firebox have something for you too in the form of a Giant Gummi Bear!

These really do have to be seen to be believed. These big boys are equivalent to around 1400 regular sized Gummi Bears, and are no less than 24cm tall. They are available in cherry, blue raspberry, cola and orange flavours. Remember when your Mum used to tell you “don’t eat it all at once“? I think in this case that is probably sound advice.

And if that is just too ridiculously big for you, then there’s a slightly more sane (only slightly) version coming in at 11cm tall which is also mounted on a stick, making it possibly a little easier to eat to boot.