Saturday, January 28, 2006


Lowther Castle
Originally uploaded by tommy martin.
Ooh... blogging from Flickr.. cool.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


About a day and half after Vertebrate.co.uk joined the first UK DSL trial we realised that bookmarks/favorites lists in browsers just weren't going to cut it. So we set about building an alternative. Long story short it grew up into something called Hyperlinkomatic.

Hyperlinkomatic has been running a public beta test for the last few weeks. Today we decided to take the plunge and open it up to a wider audience...

The sufficiently intrigued can find out all about it at hyperlinkomatic.com, and read some of the nice things that have been said about it on the But She's a Girl blog...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A Season of Jackhammers... 

Ah, spring... it's that time of year again. The smell of freshly cut grass, the happy, chirpy territorial disputes of small birds. And the joyful clank of scaffolding and the swearing of builders carried on the gentle breeze.

The last time I ranted about our national obsession with taking over-priced old buildings and hammering them into vastly over-priced old buildings I failed to realise that the whole thing is actually seasonal. Builders, as far as I can tell, are migratory creatures. I'm not entirely sure where they go during the cold winter months, and without capturing some and tagging them I may never know, but I know that they return to their native habitat at just around the time that the local population starts to think it would be nice to have their windows open.

Obviously, they can't nest in the same building every year (even the housing market of South-Eastern England could support that level of re-renovation). Having spent the entirety of last summer nosily gutting every flat immediately adjoining my own they have now moved into (and onto) the house directly behind my block. That quaint little mews house that is less than ten metres away from my bedroom window. Yes, the one that is closed in on all sides by those towering buildings that form an acoustic chamber so perfect I can hear the gastric activity of mice in the courtyard below.

I'm not sure if the same pack of builders always return to the demolish the same nesting territory every season, but they do look pretty familiar, and their habits remain exactly the same; Around an hour before I would naturally wake up they roll out the noisy toys. This season they have elected to entirely remove the roof. A large pneumatic drill is the obvious choice for this kind of work.

The thing I really like about pneumatic drills of this kind is the fact that they're not drills. Drilling implies a kind of clever twisting action for making neat holes in things. The pneumatic drill, on the other hand, is actually just a very, very fast hammer with a pointy bit. The other thing I love about this kind of tool is that while the screamingly loud hammer action does a passable auditory simulation of strip-mining a seam of granite with a mini-gun, it is also backed up the rattle and clatter of a diesel compressor that could simply not have become that badly tuned by accident... Add to this the intermit ant thump of debris falling onto the scaffolding's footboards and intersperse the whole ensemble with the agonisingly arrhythmic pulse of a lumphammer being applied to brick wall and you'll get an idea of the kind of mood I've woken up in for the last few days.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Shakespeare Lives... 

Yeah, fair enough, my last post here was all the way back in the tail-end of last year. Guilty as charged. But I've got a really good excuse. A 300-page, 50,000-word, 450-image website of an excuse.

Vertebrate.co.uk has been working flat out for producers Maya Vision and PBS on a site for their BBC co-production of "In Search of Shakespeare". Turns out that the subject of Shakespeare is pretty deep. Which goes a long way to explaining the epic scale of the website.

Working with the PBS team in America has been a blast. Working on real useful, interesting content has been refreshing change from e-commerce. That 5-hour time difference, combined with American habit of getting into the office at dawn, has fitted in perfectly into my own tendency towards being mostly nocturnal. Man, I like my job...

I think it's safe to say that everyone who worked on this site is, collectively, immensely proud of what we've made. That and deeply relieved that it's now been successfully launched. And exhausted. But mostly proud.

in search of shakespeare

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


A while back I started on a series of images and designs for a robot character called Coda, and then went all conspiratorially silent about why, specifically, I'd made them. Well, now Coda128 has been launched, so I can talk.

I was commissioned by a song-writer-musician to create an alter ego/nom de tune character that she could publicly release some tracks under. Coda128 was the result, and Coda128.co.uk has just gone live with the release of her 1st track 'To Be You'. The track was written in tribute to the inimitable George 'God told me to do it' Bush. Coda sent George a copy during his universally popular state visit to UK, but he hasn't got back to her yet.

Aside from being released under a Creative Commons Licence, and as if being damned good tune wasn't enough, it also features the special added bonus of featuring drums by.. me...

Hopefully more Coda tunes and images will follow soon...

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

contemporary adult leisure drink 

I recently bought a bottle of containing cranberry juice and water. You know, kind of like Coke™, only refreshing, vaguely healthy and minus the massive caffeine surplus that Coke™ tends to create in the dedicated espresso drinker. Examining the label to get some idea of which additives they may have used to conter-balance to effects of all that wholesome fruit, I discovered something interesting; what seemed like a simple bottled fruit juice beverage is actually described, right there on the label, as a "contemporary adult leisure drink".

I really wish I'd been at that meeting.

OK, it's contemporary. Just in case the casual shopper happens be thinking 'hmm.. I like cranberries, I am thisty.. but isn't that like a really old-fashioned drink? Are people going to start assuming that I'm some kind of pre-industrial revolution prole if they see me with a bottle of that?' It's good to know that we're dealing with a beverage from the right time-frame. I'm glad they got one cleared up right off the bat.

And it's adult. You know, good adult, not the sleazy kind of 'as drunk by porn stars' adult. You obviously don't want people to be put off thinking that the whole idea of pressing cranberries is strictly for the pre-teens. People are not going to laugh at you as they would if you'd picked, say, a Teletubbies milkshake with a spill resistant lid. This is a red liquid for the sophisticated and responsible grown-up.

And it's a leisure product. Very important point this one; it's not just the kind of thing you'd take to the office. These particualr cranberries are all about kicking back and chilling out. Buying a bottle of this stuff is synonomous with taking some quality time out to quench that thirst.

And it's a drink. Probably the most salient point on the whole label right there. Yes it's a drink.

Personally I think 'suitable for internal use in most mammals' would have made the point a bit clearer. Which is, obviously, why I don't work in marketing.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

A Certain Chemistry 

Every now and then you read a book so funny that you laugh out loud every dozen or so pages. Not just that kind of internal chuckle that you give in recognition of some clever wordplay, but a real, full-on, giggling fit. The kind of abrupt, random outburst of cackling that makes you so worried about people in your immediate vicinity having you sectioned that you have to convince them that there is a perfectly rational cause for your hysteria by reading them the paragraph that started the whole cackling like a maniac situation. The re-read generally rekindles the dying embers of the chortle, rendering the punchline incomprehensible through all the choking laughter, and we're pretty much where we started in terms of words like 'unbalanced' and 'potentially dangerous' being muttered by onlookers.

Mil Millington, it turns out, writes exactly the kind of book that shouldn't be read while using any form of public transport. He wrote the extraordinarily funny 'Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About' website a while ago, followed it up with a book of the same title but entirely different content and has just published a new novel called 'A Certain Chemistry'.

I'm only a few pages into 'A Certain Chemistry', and my girlfriend is pretty much convinced that I've lost whatever tenuous grasp I'd previously had on the kind of straight-faced, giggle-free state that tends to be associated with sanity. Obviously, having not actually finished reading it, it'd be highly irresponsible of me to recommend it as a Good Book, but I can say with some confidence that it is a very funny book. Well, the first couple of chapters are, so I think we're on fairly safe ground assuming it's going to continue in a similar fashion.

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