Category Archives: Technology


Many thanks to Cookie for inspiration for this one… When Facebook’s much vaunted stock market debut finally arrived on the 18th of May this year, it was marred by technical glitches at its home exchange in the US, the Nasdaq. After a great deal of anticipation, rock and roll celebrate endorsements and razzmatazz , repeated SEC filings and re-filings, shares were finally priced at $38 each..

Initially at least, trading was fast and intense, with 80 million shares changing hands in the first 30 seconds alone. But soon, some traders began complaining that it didn’t seem like their orders were being completed. Others found that they were getting shares at a higher price than they expected. Now, following  months of legal wrangling, and claims against JP Morgan relating to the IPO, there have been claims alleging that important information about Facebook’s financial outlook was “selectively disclosed” to big banks ahead of the IPO.

So, from a non technical perspective, it was a total balls up, people were possibly cheated, and those who did cheat, didn’t even have the good grace to do it well.


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Lawrence of Arabia and the Brough Superior

I know a few of you are Lawrence of Arabia fans, and I am sure most of you know of my obsession with the man and the legend.

I receive automatic emails from various auction houses whenever any Lawrence related tat comes up for sale (yes, I am that sad) and received the latest one only yesterday. A sale of autographs in Hayes, Middlesex is offering a cheque made out by Lawrence to Martins Bank Limited and made payable to Mr. George Brough for the sum of £11-3-0., and caught my eye.

First, the bad news. It’s valued at between £600 – £800, placing it firmly out of my league, and it is only a piece of paper. You can bid on the auction here.

However, interestingly the cheque is signed ‘ J H Ross.’ Lawrence was a total recluse; he flirted with notoriety and fame, but found it painful and shameful. In order to rid himself from the American journalist Lowell Thomas’s colourful and romantic depictions of ‘Lawrence of Arabia, Lawrence enlisted in the Royal Air Force as an aircraft man in August 1922 under the name John Hume Ross, at RAF Uxbridge. He was soon exposed and, in February 1923, was forced out of the RAF. He changed his name to T. E. Shaw and joined the Royal Tank Corps in 1923. He was unhappy there and repeatedly petitioned to rejoin the RAF, which finally readmitted him in August 1925.

Throughout his life Lawrence was a keen motorcyclist, and, at different times, owned eight Brough Superior motorcycles. These beasts (and look them up… they are beautiful monsters) were either provided to Lawrence by George Brough, or he purchased them at a reduced price in a sort of early celebrity endorsement. (It is possible that the cheque carries a red ink bank cancellation through the signature as it was rejected by Brough.)

The date on the cheque is 11th June 1929, and as any TEL fan will tell you, this was the year that he purchased the bike that he called George VI (UL 656), it was his seventh Brough. A Brough typically cost about £150 new (more than an average sized house in those days) so this was either a part payment, or a token sum for the machine. Inicidentaly, Brough only produced 139 bikes in that year, but was already flirting with the idea of manufacturing cars as well as bikes. This cheque would have been for the SS100 (Super Sports), powered by the twin-cam KTOR JAP V twin (J. A. Prestwich of Tottenham) These were fast bits of kit; in 1927 George Brough achieved a record 130 mph on the SS100 and in 1928 Brough broke his own record with 130.6 mph. In 1932 Ronald Storey achieved 81,08 for the standing half-mile at Brighton, and in 1939 Noel Pope secured an all time Brooklands track record lap time of 124.51 mph on an SS100.

But it was all to end in tragedy. At the age of 46, two months after leaving the Army, Lawrence was fatally injured in an accident on his eight Brough in Dorset, close to his cottage, Clouds Hill, near Wareham. A dip in the road obstructed his view of two boys on their bicycles; he swerved to avoid them, lost control and was thrown over the handlebars. He died six days later on 19 May 1935. His final Brough is still preserved in the Imperial War Museum.


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Is this the way to Amarillo?

Last night on the bus going home I was prating about on Googlemaps… It just about passes the time when you are too tired to sleep, and have forgotten your headphones…

I have made an amazing and important discovery. Tony Chirstie was obviously a total fool… Amarillo is really only just round the corner from Home… in fact there are only two turnings involved… how can he possibly need to keep stopping and asking for directions? I think there is a conspiracy going on there, and I shall investigate further…

For those of you who have no idea what I am going on about follow this link… but beware its horribly catchy… well catchy and horrible.

This one is marginally better if only because it raised millions for charity… somehow… what must the world make of us?… loonies!

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Swords to Ploughshares, and Aircraft Carriers to Ear Trumpets

I sometimes check the local auctions… just to see if Tibet or Younghusband Mission related items come up on the market. There have been a few over the years, but have all sadly been beyond my meagre pocket.

Its always an interesting browse however, as you would be amazed by the tat that some people try to sell, or that auctioneers deme valuable. If you ever wanted to coat your furniture entirely in formica, or collect small china cats, the local auction house is the place to go.

Anyway, this item ticked my fancy… its not especially ascetic, and I am unsure of its practical use, but it’s a must for any collector of tat, clutter, and ornamentalia: A military issue ear trumpet by R.J. Dowling of  London. (With military crows foot stamp, 12.5cm.) Priced at a very optimistic £40-£60 it can be bid for at the Bellman Auction House in Billingshurst.


It does slightly beg the question… what sort of military fighting machine would need a military issue ear trumpet? Have our armed services been cut back to such an extent that we are now sending regiments of octogenarians to the front line… the comedy opportunity and value of this image is priceless… Her Majesty’s Brigade of Armed Mobility Scooters? The Massed Pipes and Slippers of the Welch Fusileers? The Coldshiver Guards? It’s all very well and good beating swords into plough shears, but you will have to make a lot of ear trumpets from an aircraft carrier.

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Eiffel Tower under construction

Salut mes petit pois, this one has been doing the rounds on Twitter and t’internet, but thought it was worth sharing here with you…

A few petit facts interesant pour vous: The pig iron structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes… as the tower was initial supposed to be demolished in 1909, and as a demonstration of the economy of design, if the 7,300 tonnes of the metal structure were melted down it would fill the 125-metre-square base to a depth of only 6 cm. And secondly, depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm because of thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun.

And for all those of you who thought you were going to get a glimpse of the actual construction… Bien, et Mange tout alores!

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Man arrested at Large Hadron Collider claims he’s from the future

A would-be saboteur arrested today at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland made the bizarre claim that he was from the future. Eloi Cole, a strangely dressed young man, said that he had travelled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world! Read the full story here. Now, I must go and bury some more junk in the garden for me to dig up as a child… back in a second. 

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Step Free Tube…

Just seen this, sent by a friend of mine Ringae. It basically shows what the tube map would look like if you could not make it up stairs. Sad really in this day and age.

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