Avatar The dancing monkey

There are many complex and bewildering technologies to master in my new job, but probably none more complex or bewildering than the robotic dancing alarm monkey.

Alarms go off quite regularly, you see. We look after technical things, lots of them, and the technical things are all wired up to an alarm system, so when something goes wrong it comes up on a screen and an alarm goes off. Then we press a button to make the noise stop and see if anything needs to be done.

The alarm could just come out of a speaker. That would certainly make sense. Instead, though, it’s been wired up to an animatronic monkey with inbuilt speakers. He makes the alarm sound, and he dances from side to side while he makes it. By such means the announcement of a potentially catastrophic system failure is made delightfully charming. This is, with no danger of overstatement whatsoever, one of the best things about my job.

If you have a need to make noises in your job, I would recommend getting yourself a dancing monkey. You won’t regret it.

Avatar Book news

Are you ready?

OK then, here it is.

The Book is finished.

I have finally, FINALLY, written the final page of the Book and the story is complete. I’m going to scan it in so you can read it to your children and share it with your friends, and you’ll have to wait until then to get hold of the thrilling finale. What will happen to Eric Bins? Will Dr. Rombobulous Combobulation succeed? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I’ve typed it up so that we don’t have to read handwriting in the online version, and I can present you with some statistics.

The finished book is 34 pages long, which means we all did eleven pages and I did one extra at the end.

  • Ian wrote 2,563 words
  • Kev write 2,505 words
  • I wrote 3,220 words and am therefore the winner

The first page of the book was written on 10 January 2009, and I finished writing the last one on Thursday, so it has taken us 3,226 days to write it, or exactly eight years and ten months. We have averaged one page every 94 days – less than four a year – or, if you prefer, two and a half words a day. I think we can all be proud of that.

Avatar Things On My Desk: 2016 edition

Over the years, the Beans Massive have been careful and diligent in keeping each other informed about items on their respective desks. In 2008, Kev produced an inventory of items on his desk, which was turned into an informative pie chart, and then in 2011 I itemised the objects on my work surface.

More than five years have elapsed since the last update, so it is high time we found out what is now on my desk.

As of 13:57 BST today, the following list is accurate:

  • Two phones and two mobile telephones
  • A massive old fashioned sellotape dispenser that weighs a ton
  • A desk tidy, containing seven biros, three orphaned biro lids, four pairs of scissors and a hoop of white rubber foam with no known purpose
  • A cafetière, with damp coffee grounds at the bottom
  • A dispensing tub of antibacterial Azowipes
  • A remote control with a bit of paper sellotaped to it that reads “RR”
  • A blue folder containing lots of disorganised bits of paper, open at a page with today’s date on and a note that says “TOMORROW aft ed no” and another one that says “Matt regions”.
  • A dirty sheet of paper with lots of small writing, titled “Thirteen years and not so unlucky”
  • A red whiteboard marker
  • A manual for a laminating machine
  • A roll of sticky paper tape
  • My sleeves

Avatar It’s Time: Four Word Reviews

Shoddy CDs seem to keep landing on my doormat, so it falls to me to write some more four word reviews. This time, it’s the album “It’s Time…” by Clock, widely regarded as an album nobody remembers from 1995.

If you read the sleeve notes you’ll see that Clock are “ODC MC” and “Tinka”. It was the nineties, you see, so every house band needed a rapper and a sexy dancing woman who did a bit of singing now and then. Clock were actually some blokes from Manchester who churned out house music, and drafted in the two people on the CD to sing the lyrics and be in the promotional material. That’s understandable. If I’d made this album I wouldn’t want my name associated with it either.

It's Time by Clock

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Avatar Mosaic: Four Word Reviews

Kev and Sarah’s considered and insightful reviews of the Papples’ latest album has inspired me to do something similar with one of the presents Ian gave me for Christmas – that being the 1986 album “Mosaic” by Wang Chung.

I was particularly excited when I opened the cellophane to discover that this seems to be an original pressing which has been waiting patiently in its box since 1986, and the booklet inside is starting to show its 30 years a bit. The music inside is as fresh as ever, though. The title comes, of course, from the lyrics of the final track, in which Wang Chung tell us that the world is a mosaic upon a golden floor.

Wang Chung Mosaic

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Avatar Progress report

Mr. Chang, the shady Chinese businessman financing Pouring Beans Productions’ new documentary film, has now seen a rough edit of “Railways with Smidge Manly” and discussed with me some changes that are still necessary.

Clearly the public are clamouring for the release of this important film, and any delay is going to be met with considerable impatience, so to help tide us over until it’s ready to go, here is a look inside the editing process. This is, in its entirety, the list of changes that I made, explaining Mr Chang’s instructions in full.

  • Wobbly –> red train pat etc. Vertically. + coming out of station at CP
  • –> –> –>
  • Platform-train tighter or clip inb. ? straight to speech on 2nd shot
  • Barry rustling – filter out?
  • Timetables – wind noise – change for station
  • Voiceover still not good (headphones)
  • Longer gap or music between good email and people we met.

I hope this sheds some light on the philosophical and ethical issues with which we are wrestling in trying to perfect our artistic vision.

Avatar Crab in control

We all knew that design genius Kevindo Menendez was destined for great things long before his stylish designs graced the catwalks of Micklefield Fashion Week.

But surely it’s a true sign that his thrusting work has achieved worldwide penetration that one of his classics, the “Crab” mug, has been spotted in the Master Control Room of a major broadcaster.

Crab in Control Room

It’s one thing to have your “Penguin” t-shirt worn by Naomi Campbell but it’s days like this that must matter the most to a leading designer like him.

Avatar Wiping away history

Today I did a kind of cleaning I’ve never done before: I cleaned the keys of my computer keyboard. Not where crumbs have landed in between them – the keys themselves. Some of them were dirty, you see, with a sort of browny-grey film on them. The keys I use all the time were white, the ones I use occasionally had a white middle and dirty edges, and the ones I never use were just dirty all over.

It’s annoyed me for a while but today I hit on the solution. I took a rubber to the keyboard and rubbed out all the dirt. Now it’s sparkling clean and all the keys are white. But while I was erasing the filth, it occurred to me that in its dirty state I effectively had a keyboard-sized infographic showing which keys I use and which I don’t. For some reason, the square brackets were completely filthy, even though I’m sure I use them sometimes, while the weird § key had a clean spot, even though I can’t remember ever having used it before typing this sentence. Comma was dirtier than full stop. Q was cleaner than Z.

Even weirder, the numbers got gradually dirtier from left to right, so 1 was clean while 9 was pretty mucky.

It’s nice to have a clean keyboard again but I feel like I’ve lost a historical record of the letters I type and the keys I don’t need. A little bit of history wiped away.