28th May 2014


It seems that just now the web based computer world is beset by an unending stream of hack attacks or reported system vulnerabilities affecting companies like ebay, Apple iPhone and Safari, Spotify, Avast and evidently virtually all routers that we use. Then we learn that a study from China is advising all its banks to switch from IBM and Cisco servers to other makes because these machines "almost certainly have back door access" used by the USA`s NSA.

click here

So it`s not only those naughty rebel or criminal hackers you need to worry about. Governments are at it as well. If you think about about it for a few seconds, its not in the interests of companies or governments that all hardware or software vulnerabilities should be fixed. They want them as much as anyone. Is it really beyond the IT world`s abilities to create secure online services? To make it impossible for hackers to access confidential information on servers? The answer seems to be "yes".

If ebay is connected to Paypal, Paypal is connected to your bank or credit card account, your bank or credit card account is interconnected with numerous other international companies and organisations...just how safe is your money? And who pays if the whole cyber mess goes belly-up? Well, you, the tax payer will, of course, ultimately. Just like you had to bail out all the banks and financial institutions that landed us in the economic guano back in 2008.

The fattest of the fat cats who caused all that made a fortune out of our mass gullibility and made a further financial killing during what has followed. They`ll be back to do the very much the same when the economies get back on their feet. The rich will get richer and the gap between rich and poor will grow even bigger. The masses could, of course, refuse to vote for politicians who protect the vested interests of the financial elites, but, brainwashed by years of mis-information, they will probably put the same bunch of super-rich power-hungry posh boys back into power. (What was it? 22 millionaires in the UK government at the last count?)

If you think the world`s oppressed will rise up to change things, well, in the USA they`re getting prepared..CLICK HERE

Rant.Rant.Rant. Time for a nice cup of tea. Well known cure-all.


18th December 2013


Sad to report another of the old guard of British animators has passed away. Richard Taylor, a London based animator and friend of the late Bob Godfrey, who died earlier this year, was also at one time a Professor of Animation at the Royal College of Art and wrote a book , the Encyclopedia of Animation Techniques published in 1994.

There`s an orbituary written by his daughter Kitty Taylor on the Guardian website CLICK HERE




 29th August 2013




As reported in The Times recently the introduction of tax incentives for the film and tv industry in the UK has made it possible for companies to actually produce animated programmes here in Britain. Manchester`s very own animated tv producers Cosgrove Hall Films ceased to exist in 2009, soon after being absorbed into ITV and having left their Chorlton-cum-Hardy studio which was demolished and replaced with a block of expensive retirement flats named after the famous studio. Sadly, Mark Hall died in 2011 but his son Simon along with Francis Fitzpatrick and Brian Cosgrove have set up a new studio in Didsbury to begin producing two new animated series called "Pip" and "Herogliffix". Recruitment has started, so, if you`re into Flash animation production, now`s yer chance.


Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick Entertainment, Towers Business Park, Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2YY


More Cosgrove Hall info HERE




 13th January 2013


UHDTV - the Next Generation of Telly


******UPDATE 10th October 2013*** Since I posted this item back in January the BBC have announced that they will be transmitting BBC4, BBC3, BBC News 24, CBBC and CBeebies in HD on Freeview from early 2014. This is very good news for HD starved Freeviewers. The rest of the original article is still relevant, I think:


It seems like no time at all since the introduction of High Definition tv in the UK. Now all the techie world is buzzing about the introduction of UHDTV, 4K or 8K. The top resolution being 16 times the pixel count of the current 1080 line HDTV. So how will the new services be transmitted to the eager, waiting public? Certainly not on Freeview. There won`t be enough space in the spectrum for UHDTV. Improved compression codecs can`t squeeze the proposed broadcasts into what`s left after the UK government sold off a chunk of the frequencies for mobile use (3G, 4G whatever). A typical lack of foresight and perhaps the result of leaving such decisions to politicians whose advisors tell them what they wish to hear. ("You can get lots of revenue by selling off these unused tv frequencies, minister") So you may be stuck with Virgin cable or Satellite as your options. I can`t see broadband telephone line based delivery systems being able to squeeze UHDTV down copper wires to your house and direct to home optical fibre is a long way off for most of us. Japan and China are expected to roll out services in 2013. I wonder if anybody is making programmes yet in UHDTV? No doubt the manufacturers will try to kid us that "upscaling" for lower definition formats will improve our viewing pleasure. Will people really fall for that one again? If the detail isn`t there to begin with, you can`t re-instate it. More info HERE




 12th September 2012




One of the best and, certainly, the funniest animated series to emerge from American TV is Warners` Pinky and the Brain. Originally an occasional segment of the Animaniacs series, they got their own series which ran for 4 tv seasons in the USA. You can get the series on DVD from the USA via Amazon but only as Region 1 discs and somewhat expensive. Alternatively, watch for next to nothing on satellite tv in Europe, on the Kix! channel. Not being shown at present (12th september) but will return, I hope, in the near future. Freesat and Sky (Sky Guide 627 and Freesat 606) listed under Childrens` tv. Plenty of humour in there for adults which is no doubt why it has been transmitted at 10.30pm. So far they haven`t shown episode 51 "Inherit the Wheeze" which won a PRISM award for its anti-smoking message. I don`t think they`ve shown episode 39 "Pinky Suavo" and "T.H.E.Y" so far, either. Don`t know why..More info HERE Series episode list HEREand Kix tv webpage HERE




 25th March 2012




It may be somewhat late in coming but the proposed tax breaks or subsidies for the animation industry in the UK must be good news. I don`t know what the details are yet but it may help bring back some animation work to Britain after years of decline. I must admit to feeling astonished that it may happen at all under a predominantly Conservative regime. We`ve had to watch our own industry decline whilst some other European countries, notably France, carried on supporting their studios and as a result still have a vibrant, prosperous animation scene. As for the rest of the 2012 budget, well, a lot of pensioners will lose out regarding tax allowances. Smokers pay more, as usual, and a boost for tobacco smugglers. Vehicle Excise Duty up again, in the war against motorists. No increase in fuel duty but the fuel price went up this week anyway. (Perhaps the fuel companies think we`ll just automatically blame the budget? Sneaky.) In a seperate but related area, there are plans to impose a minimum price per unit for alcohol bought in off licences and supermarkets. Another measure that only hits the poorer section of society and not the rich. They also get a reduction in income tax in the 2012 budget. Many don`t pay anywhere near as much tax as they should anyway due to exploiting "loopholes" which are probably not there by accident. A baby born in 2012 can look forward to retiring at age 80 according to the latest projections by HM Government. I wonder what working tasks they`ll still be expected to perform at an age when many need help to wash or just to eat something? Of course, the wealthy won`t be in that position themselves. How many millionaires in the cabinet of the current government? Was it 20? 22?




 10th October 2009




Last June Lord Carter of Barnes, the UK communications Minister (and no doubt yet another wealthy individual who won`t bat an eyelid at extra costs for his telephone service) proposed a new £6 a year tax on users of fixed telephone lines in order to pay for the provision of fast broadband internet access to those parts of the country who don`t yet have it, particularly rural areas.


The main purpose of this expansion seems to be to enable people to watch high definition tv, download movies and play videogames with someone else half way round the world all via the internet. So you and I are going to fork out extra money so some spotty youth in the countryside can indulge his or her no doubt violent fantasies with online gaming whilst others can clog up the internet with enormous hi-def tv data files, watching something they could no doubt view on satellite or terrestrial digital tv instead. It`s bad enough with all the spam emails clogging up the net.


Let`s not forget also that satellites can deliver internet access as well (albeit at a premium, but then, if you will live in remote areas.....)


Admittedly, 50p a month is not a huge amount of money, but you need to look at it in context. The UK government has already gotten rid of the 10p lower tax band. Fuel and beer taxes continually go up. The public house trade has been virtually ruined by government taxes and the smoking ban.


Some local councils are considering a Workplace Parking Levy (a tax by any other name) where employees in companies with more than ten parking spaces will have to pay to park. All imposed by yet more wealthy local politicians who can easily pay more charges (but probably won`t need to). This is to deter "unnecessary" car journeys. Is going to work an "unnecessary" use of a car? The money collected would go towards better public transport.


No doubt using flying pigs.


Another proposal is to tax car parking at supermarkets and other retail outlets. Totally unavoidable charges for businesses if it`s an out-of-town location. Those costs will end up on our shopping bills.


It makes you wonder how much more of this crap the British public are going to put up with.








A recent edition of the Gadget Show on the Five tv channel here in the UK featured a review of inexpensive High Definition video camcorders. The three little devices were put through there paces in the usual irritatingly flashy presentation style by one of the presenters creating a set of clips of the type that get onto those tedious home video clip shows.


The Sanyo Xacti model was eventually deemed the best buy for its picture quality and ease of use. Mention was made at some point about the ability of the cameras to shoot at 60 frames per second. Very impressive, you might think, but if you go to the manufacturers` websites and look into the specifications of these gadgets what you find is that a lot of them will only work at 30 or 60 frames per second. Fine for the USA or Japan (where a lot of these designs come from) but useless for Europe and many other parts of the world where 25 or 50 frames per second is the tv standard. Even more puzzling is that they do offer a PAL tv output to your tv set, presumably converting the tv signal to PAL from its NTSC origins within the camcorder.


These camcorders may be okay for uploading your efforts onto YouTube but if you wanted to edit your video for use on a PAL standard DVD you`ll be looking at an unsatisfactory conversion job in the editing process.


This type of technical ignorance, or indifference, on the part of tv shows and computer magazines in the UK is unfortunately par for the course.


Best Buy? Of an ill-informed choice.








The second and third volumes of digitally restored Fleischer Popeye films from the 1930s and 1940s has now been released for Region 1 DVD collectors. This second volume includes the classic short GOONLAND and some interesting documentaries. The old cartoons look superb in their restored form if all you`ve ever seen were battered old prints from the AAP distributors and public domain copies. So far only available for Region 1 NTSC viewers but you can buy it from Caiman of the USA through Amazon (uk site) for about £15 and it will only take a week or so to arrive. Why bother with the old public domain copies when you can see these beautifully restored versions?


To read an article about volume one of the Popeye collection from the DVD Times website CLICK HERE


Here`s a handy page for hacks to convert DVD players/recorders to multi-region CLICK HERE






8th January 2008




Quite some time ago, in fact August 2000, I bought a Mustek A3 parallel port flatbed scanner the A3 EP model, thinking I would need to able to scan A3 size drawings for the animation work I was hoping to get. In the event the big scanner has seen very little use and when I upgraded from Windows ME to Windows XP I found, of course, that there were no XP drivers for parallel port scanners. My old Epson A4 scanner was redundant as well (although it must be said that it was making squeaking noises and the lid hinges had fractured, so it wasn`t going to last anyway)


So, for a long time, the Mustek has been languishing unused in a cupboard. However! I recently found that Mustek have posted on their downloads section a "fix" that enables you to install Windows 2000 drivers for the A3 EP on an XP system. They even have a registry workround if you have any difficulties with the installation.


So now I can use my old A3 scanner again.


To go to the Mustek download page CLICK HERE