Saturday, 18 November 2017

Wood End

Today i headed up to Wood End in Warwickshire, first of all i need to narrow it down as there are no shortage of "Wood End"s in the country, there are 4 in Warwickshire alone! The one i went to is near Stratford-upon-Avon and is the one with a railway station, also called Wood End! The station is a request stop and is the fourth and final request stop on the Shakspeare Line for me to visit.

There isn't a huge amount around the station, apart from some rather large houses. It obviously is where the money is. Unfortunately it was a rather damp morning but i still got some decent photos. You can see them here.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Sankey Canal in St Helens

The Sankey Canal was opened in the mid-1700s to transport coal from the Lancashire coal mines connecting St Helens to the river Mersey. Like all canals the Sankey went into decline in the 20th century and was abandoned in 1963. Since then there have been efforts to restore it though as yet very little of the canal is navigable. In St Helens the remains of the canal are watered in a number of places though cut off from the rest of the canal. You can see my photos taken along part of the Sankey Canal here (and some in the town itself).

Tektronix 4404 Smalltalk Demo

A fascinating demo of Smalltalk running on the Tektronix 4404. Smalltalk was developed in the early 1970s at Xerox PARC and was hugely influential in the development of graphical user interfaces. There are indeed elements of the interface shown in the video in Mac OSX nowadays (the browser for example). However the freedom and flexibility of the interface seems far beyond what we are allowed to do these days.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

North West Rails

To get to St Helens yesterday meant some interesting rail travel of course. There is no direct service from Birmingham so i had to change trains at Wigan North Western (well no hardship to me of course). Both stations are interesting but St Helens Central in particular has a great station building. I am not usually a fan of modern station buildings but this one is pretty cool.

As i had a spare hour i also headed over to Huyton. All useful for future entries in my Calling At... stations blog of course! You can see my railway photos here.
St Helens Central

Northern at Huyton

Promoting St Helens
Buffer stops at Wigan North Western

Saturday, 11 November 2017

North West Museum of Road Transport

Today i headed up to the North West, to St Helens to be exact, to visit the North West Museum of Road Transport. Now this really is my kind of place, basically a big shed crammed full of old buses, other heritage vehicles and other ephemera. Highly recommended. It reminded me of the Aston Manor museum thats now sadly gone (though relocated to another town, i must visit that one day).

You can see my photos here. A number of buses were Leyland Nationals including those of Chase Buses which i used to see around Birmingham a few years ago.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Walking the waterways (15) : Nottingham Canal

The Nottingham Canal was a 23.7km long canal from Langley Mill in Derbyshire to Nottingham. The canal was constructed between 1792 and 1796 connecting to the river Trent at Nottingham and the Erewash and Cromford Canals at Langley Mill. The canal was a success and even as late as 1916 was carrying over 125,000 tons of cargo - though by then it was mostly short distance traffic in Nottingham between the Trent and the wharves in the city.

The canal fell into decline in the 1920s and 1930s and by WW2 was only navigable from Lenton to Nottingham. Now part of the canal network for leisure traffic this stretch from Lenton to Nottingham remains in use though the rest of the canal up to Langley Mill has become unnavigable, some of the canal remains waters though unusable by boats but some of the canal bed lost to open cast mining. A short stub of the canal still exists at Langley Mill where it is used as a canal basin.
Nottingham Canal in Nottingham

Bridge crossing the canal just outside Nottingham city centre

A Nottingham tram crosses the canal 
The basin at Langley Mill

Monday, 6 November 2017

The Powerpoint story

Presentation software overlord Powerpoint has a bad name in some quarters (not entirely undeserved), luckily i do not have to use it much in my everyday work though i did use it to create a presentation to accompany my nerve wracking micro-teach when i was training to become a teacher a few years ago (luckily skills and qualifications i have not had to make use of since)...

The genesis of Powerpoint is interesting however as this article details. Powerpoint was developed by a company set up by ex-Apple II and III engineers and came about almost by accident. The company, Forethought, had been trying to create an object orientated GUI for IBM PCs but were running out of cash and time and so needed to change their business plan and bring in some revenue. First they published FileMaker (still a popular Mac app) and later wrote Powerpoint, originally for the Mac only.

Powerpoint was an immediate success when it was released in April 1987. So much so that Microsoft bought the company just 3 months later! It took a few years for Powerpoint to see off its rivals in this area like Harvard Graphics but now it is the undisputed king of presentation software with an estimated 95% of the market!

Columbus' PowerPoint Presentation from David C. Brock on Vimeo.

Saturday, 4 November 2017


Danzey is a stop on the North Warwickshire line to Stratford-upon-Avon. It is a station i have travelled through many times but never stopped at, until today anyway. To be honest there isn't a whole lot at Danzey, the nearest village Tanworth-in-Arden is a mile away. All that is around the station are a few houses and farms, dairy farms too from the sound of all the cows!

However thats part of the appeal and i loved Danzey. I enjoyed the apparent remoteness of the spot (in reality not that far from the city) and the rural nature of Danzey. You can see my photos here.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Word processing

This is an interesting article on the history of word processing and some of the problems with the software so many of us use these days. I use Microsoft Word at work and think its a poor program to be honest, randomly changing your formatting between saves is not a good feature!

I've used many word processors over the years dating back to the days of the Amstrad PC (we may have used a word processor on the BBC Micro but i can't remember much about it), i've yet to find a perfect one yet though i did like Word Perfect 5.1 and Protext for DOS.

Of course i couldn't do without them. I wrote my masters dissertation in Apple Pages which is a reasonable piece of software but like all word processors these days (especially Word) there is too much stuff and too many options getting in the way of the actual writing. Maybe we need to return to something simpler like a typewriter such as like my lovely old Brother typewriter. Or maybe not...