If, like me, you’re a fan of the London Underground, then there’s a good chance that you’re aware of Geoff Marshall. He creates videos on Youtube, for both his own channel, and also the Londonist channel, mainly about the London Underground and other London railway stuff, but also on other subjects. You should probably check them out.
A few of my previous blog posts have been about quirks in the UK postal address system. As a result of these posts being moderately popular, people have contacted me to tell me about other such quirks. This pleases me greatly – I like quirks.
Also, since finding the HM Land Registry property sales data, I’ve discovered some other vaguely interesting stuff, so I thought that I’d collate all this information into one big blog post of address-based quirky goodness.
So my previous blog post ended up being quite popular on Twitter. I mean, not Justin Bieber levels of popular, but for the sake of context, when I tweeted about my Isle Of Wight Map Names blog post, it got precisely one ‘like’ and one retweet.
So, when I got up to 40 ‘likes’ I thought “Yes! Fame at last!” But then the ‘likes’ and retweets kept coming, until they gradually started to tail off.
And then data-god Ben Goldacre tweeted about it (and spoilered the big reveal! Seriously, if you’re not up to date with Game Of Thrones, don’t talk to Ben!). At that point it went a bit silly, and now my website’s Google Analytics look like this…
In a previous post, I did a bit of analysis of the names of towns and streets. However, that clearly wasn’t enough to sate my bizarre interest in all things address-based, so here I am again with more street-name-based nerdery.
I spent far too much effort here, trying to answer a pretty inconsequential question, but I did end up discovering something quite remarkable.
I recently read the book Map Addict by Mike Parker.
One of the things he mentions in the book is that on the Ordnance Survey Landranger map of The Solent & Isle of Wight (number 196), somebody has hidden a number of people’s names in amongst the random craggy lines which make up the cliffs along the southern coast of the Isle of Wight.
Being the kind of person who likes this sort of nonsense, I decided to check it out.
I wondered if there was an easy way of doing an online search for town and street names, so I could find funny ones. The popular mapping sites are great if you want to search for a specific name, but I was looking for somewhere you could do more general substring searches, or ideally regex searches.
I didn’t really find what I was looking for, so I decided to make my own instead.
So I got hold of street and place name data from the Ordnance Survey, but first I thought I’d do a bit of titting about with it to see what interesting things fell out.
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As a movie fan/data nerd, I visit the website Rotten Tomatoes a lot. It’s a movie review aggregator site, which tells you what percentage of reviewers consider a movie a hit or a miss. Movies where more than 60% of reviewers consider it worth watching are classed as “Fresh”, while any movie with less than 60% good reviews is considered “Rotten”.
It’s not the most nuanced of review sites, but it gives you a good overview of critical opinion.
One of the games I own is called Kikstart 2. It’s a motorcycle trials riding game, almost certainly inspired by the BBC TV show Kick Start, albeit with a spelling change to avoid having to pay licencing fees. I particularly liked this game as a child, possibly because it included a course designer which allowed you to make your own courses, which I enjoyed doing.
When I was younger, so much younger than today, I went through a phase of memorising nerdy stuff. I don’t recall why. It was probably something to do with hormones. Anyway, I learned the colours of the rainbow, the order of the planets, the Greek alphabet, etc.
So it was almost inevitable that at some point I decided to embark on the holy grail of mnemonic nerdery – remembering Pi. ALL OF IT!!!
I quite often have to add new films into the database of my website british-film-locations.com. As well as adding the film I have to add data about the director and actors in the film as well. This is quite time consuming, so I created a system to simplify the task.
If pushed, I’d admit that I have a certain amount of respect for someone who can create such a lucrative career for themselves despite an obvious absence of talent, but as far as I’m concerned, the sooner people stop talking about her the better.
Except for me, of course.
I’m a big fan of people who are really skilled at something – especially if that skill has no real-world applications. Cup stacking, flatland BMX, remembering digits of Pi, etc. It takes a certain kind of person to dedicate so much time to mastering something which serves no real purpose. Recently, I’ve seen numerous videos on Youtube of people solving Rubik’s Cubes in really quite spectacularly short lengths of time, sometimes even blindfolded!
Like a modern-day Buster Keaton, the actor Jackie Chan is celebrated around the world for his physical comedy skills. His strength, acrobatic martial-arts expertise, and reckless willingness to risk injury have made him the world’s biggest action movie star.
I’ve discovered, however, that he also has an amazing, hitherto uncelebrated, control over his face. Allow me to demonstrate…
Recently, I’ve been sorting my retro-gaming collection a bit. Specifically, I’ve gone through all my ZX Spectrum games, seeing if all the tapes/inlays/boxes/etc. match up. Also, I’ve been checking the games against the comprehensive World Of Spectrum online database, just to see if I have anything interesting or as-yet undocumented.
As it turns out, I do have something of interest: I happen to own a copy of the lowest-rated game in the entire database. You might think that in order for a game to be the lowest-rated – especially from an era when there were some really terrifyingly crap games released – it would have to be something a bit special.
And you’d be right.
It’s funny what interests people on the internet. One of the most popular things on my website is my program for extracting JPG files from MPO files. I originally wrote it when I heard about the release of Fuji’s first 3D digital camera – more as a programming exercise than anything else. I just bashed it out without too much thought, and no optimisation, assuming that there were probably other, better, programs out there.
Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been interested in book-safes – those hollowed out books you see in films and on telly, where spies hide secret things like government intelligence, or sweeties. I’ve made a couple in the past which were a bit of a bodge job; they worked fine, but they just looked a bit scrappy.
On the western corner of the junction between School Lane and Parrs Wood Road in Didsbury, there is a block of flats called Capitol Court. Before these were built in 1999, there stood a building which started life in 1931 as the Capitol Cinema. Within a year the building was completely gutted in a fire, but after extensive rebuilding work it opened again in 1933.
Tomorrow we get to vote on whether to reform the voting system. Obviously this is a contentious issue, and the arguing has been heated, but a lot of the arguments seem to be completely missing the point, which is – Why do we vote?
I don’t know who Adam Croot is. I’ve never met him, spoken to him, or – as far as I’m aware – set eyes on him. He’s probably a decent fellow – kind to his mother, careful with litter, etc. – but he’s really starting to get on my wick.
I’ve decided that it’s time I waded into the argument about 3D cinema with some of my thoughts. Firstly, I should tell you that I love the stereovisual effect – being able to trick your brain into giving the illusion of depth in an image where none exists. It has fascinated me ever since I was a child. At one point I had a large collection of holograms, and even now I own three 3D cameras – two of them use film, and one I hacked together myself to take digital 3D pictures. In the last year I’ve taken more 3D photos than 2D ones. Based on this I consider myself to be far more knowledgeable about the practicalities of 3D than almost anyone else you might have heard talking about it, outside the industry.
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One of the consequences of having a job is that I frequently have to cross the Pennines on that wonder of modern congestion, the M62. If I’m honest, then I suppose it’s not such a bad drive – unless you have to go between junctions 24 and 27 during rush hour, or it’s raining, or both, in which case it’s really quite indescribably grim.
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It’s entirely possible, I suppose, that you’ve awoken this very hour from a long and deep coma; or you’ve just emerged after having been trapped by your father in an Austrian basement for 24 years; or you’ve only recently returned from a long stay on the far side of the Moon. Had any of these scenarios actually occurred, I’m fairly sure that you’d have better things to be doing than reading this ‘blog’, so I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re aware that there’s currently a new Indiana Jones movie in the cinemas.
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That great pillar of British broadcasting, Terry Wogan, used to have a running joke on his radio show in which his producer, the late Paul Walters, claimed to have eaten all manner of exotic animals, and that they all “tasted like chicken”.
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I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Turing test. Alan Turing was an English mathematician, cryptanalyst, and all-round geek. He was one of the pioneers of early computing, and is often regarded as the father of modern computer science. He was such a geek, in fact, that he once wrote a computer chess game, and then, because no computer existed at the time which was powerful enough to run it, he had to simulate a computer to run the game – doing all the calculations himself!
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‘Blog’. Ugh! What an ugly word, created by the unholy conjoining of the word Log to the orphaned B from the word Web, thus ‘Web-Log’ becomes ‘Blog’. In today’s high-tech high-speed world, two syllables is just one syllable too many.
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