A Blog by Mr P A Rhodes

Location: London, United Kingdom

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Embarrassed Advertisers

Picture the scene. You are the advertising agency looking after Young's, producers of fishy products and (apparently) the inventors of Scampi. Some thrusting Young's executive wants to cash in on the latest Bird Flu scare and get the public eating scampi for Christmas lunch. There's a slogain: "Young's. Make fish the dish of Christmas Day." Do you: (a) suggest that it probably isn't going to be a PR or commercial triumph; or (b) agree - but then print the slogan in the *smallest possible* type in the corner of the poster? Meanwhile, perhaps you're busy working out just why anyone is supposed to care that Beechams All In One has "3 TIMES more active ingredients than Paracetamol" (and just to be clear, it "Contains 3 x the nube of actives"). Or if anyone will notice that the bloke in the photo appears to have dislocated his elbow fairly seriously, if that's really supposed to be his hand. In other news, I understand orange and pineapple squash has *2 times* more flavours than orange squash. Tum te tum.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I haven't really got into the habit of this, have I? We had a baby. That's my excuse.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hello, I'm a potential customer!

Look away now if I've already bored you about this one by email. Actually, that's probably everyone who might ever read this, isn't it? Anyway, I ought to try to train myself to use this thing so here it is again: Apple are, famously, running some ads comparing Macs and PCs. The new UK versions that have just started star comedians Mitchell and Webb. The ads, with their "I'm a Mac and I'm much cooler and funner" theme, are presumably targeting the less technically savvy PC users. So, I hope my experience of actually trying to see the ads isn't typical...
  • There's one of those Mitchell & Webb Mac ads that I keep hearing about. Perhaps I'll follow this "see all the ads" link to see the rest of them...
  • "Quicktime 7 is required". Which version have I got? Let's check... start the player... No, I still don't want to upgrade to QuickTime Player Pro, thank you very much, I just want to see your funny ad.
  • OK, this is Quicktime 6.5.2. It's probably got an Update option...yes! No: "Your QuickTime Software is up to date".
  • Maybe it'll work anyway. Apple stuff "Just Works" - it says so just below the player box. And it is now playing the ad soundtrack... but without any pictures.
  • The "Quicktime" tab at the top of Apple's UK web site gives me a "page not found error". [subsequently they seem to have fixed this]
  • So, login as admin, find and install Quicktime 7 (painless enough), and back to Apple's site to watch the ads. It defaults to the US site so now it's the bloke from The Daily Show. Also, the picture keeps breaking up in bizarre ways that give the characters unpleasant facial deformities.
  • OK, found the English versions. Hmmm...
Assuming the goal of the ads is to convert PC users (not just to make Mac users feel smug), it seems a bit of an own goal. There are other formats that will Just Work on most PCs, so why annoy the customer by using a less-supported format? Although I suppose the real target audience are not just PC owners, but PC-owning iPod owners, who will already have installed iTunes and therefore probably QT too. I still quite fancy getting a Mac, of course

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How not to move a harpsichord - a problem in logic

Danger: Harpsichord at work
Originally uploaded by Paul Rhodes.
Imagine a harpsichord is on one side of the river. You need to get it to the other side of the river. It takes two people to carry the harpsichord, and although you don't have a big enough boat (OK, car) to carry it, you know somebody who does. So far so easy. But the harpsichord is behind a locked door to which you do not have the key. And the car starts off in another town. And there are security guards on the other side of the river... It started off as a Simple Plan. A concert was to be held at the Victoria & Albert Museum. This was to involve a harpsichord, currently sitting in the harpsichordist's flat in South London. The necessary estate car was to be borrowed for the day. As the harpsichordist would be out, the keys to the flat were in the posession of a Man who would turn up at the requisite time with said Keys, unlock the flat and help to load the instrument into the car. The nice people at the V&A were expecting us at midday and would help unload at the other end. What could possibly go wrong? Now read on, dot dot dot Having taken the train up to Luton the night before to collect the car, I arrive at the pickup at 10:30, park up and (as it's a fairly busy road) put the hazard indicators on. No sign of the Man With The Keys, and no reply from his phone, so presumably he's on his way. The sun has come out and it's a lovely day for standing around by the side of the road, watching the world go by. The world is mainly buses, delivery men and burglar alarm installers, but you can't have everything. By 11am, I'm a bit concerned and make a few more calls. Then at half past, the Man With The Keys calls (Hurrah!). He had forgotten the appointment (Boo!) but is now on his way. We agree I'll drive to collect him from the nearest (i.e., not very near) convenient tube station. This plan is good, until it transpires that an hour of hazard lights has run down the car battery. Bearing in mind you can't fit a harpsichord in just any old car, this is not the high point of my day. Long-Suffering Wife agrees to come and assist, which necessitates buying some jump leads on the way. I leave a message on Man With The Keys's voicemail suggesting he get a taxi. By 12:30, the car is jump started and running. As Long-Suffering Wife has to go to work, it will stay running until I'm sure the battery is sufficiently charged that it'll start again. The Man With The Keys, not having found a taxi, is on a bus somewhere on the South Circular. Ten to one, and we are quorate. Now we can begin loading up. The Man With the Keys opens the front door. I hover outside to keep an eye on the still-running car. A friendly housemate hovers inside watching the Man With The Keys' valiant attempts to open the inner door with the Keys at his disposal, then takes a closer look and declares them all to be The Keys for the exterior door. There must be an Other Key somewhere. The Man With Some Of The Keys calls his lodgings and shortly a Woman With The Other Key is on her way from North London. We get in the car to drive to the aforementioned nearest (not very near) convenient tube station where, after a short wait and some anxiety about parking attendants, The Man With Some Of The Keys meets The Woman With The Other Key, reunites the keys over the ticket barrier, and we're back on our way. On the plus side, by this time, the battery must be well and truly recharged. At 2:15pm, we breach the final barrier and lug the harpsichord out and into the car. The little trolley we use for moving it around isn't much use in this confined exit so we put it to one side. Only later will this seem like quite a bad idea. Ten minutes after arriving, we're on our way, and with light traffic and some cunning navigation we arrive at the Victora & Albert Museum at ten past three. The security guards don't seem to be expecting us, but after checking us out they find us passes and tell us where to park, and that someone will be along to help with the moving soon. The Man With The Keys exits, stage left, to return later. Unlike the earlier South London Roadside, the back alleys of the V&A are a bit nippy, particularly if you have to stand around in them for the best part of an hour. There is some very nice experimental plasterwork hidden away back there, but I'm not quite interested enough in plaster for this to keep me entertained in the cold. Come four o'clock, the cheerful porters arrive. They are only slightly disheartened by the news that the harpsichord removal trolley is sitting on a doorstep some miles away, and quickly find a workable substitute. By 4:15, the harpsichord is set up in the music room ready for that evening's concert. All is well, at least until the concert is over and the instrument has to be removed to yet another corner of the city - but that's another story...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Scary Monster

Scary Monster
Originally uploaded by Paul Rhodes.
Partly by way of figuring out how to blog photos from Flickr, but anyway:

What is this thing, anyway? It was in Tokyo, and it must have been about 2 inches long.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's ten years today since my father died. Not something to dwell on particularly, but to mark the anniversary in a small way we visited the Courtauld Gallery. Highlights included Cranach's Desperate Housewives and Raoul Dufy's Blue Peter Design a Mural Competition Winner, 1906. And some nice Cézanne and Kandinsky. National security of course precludes disclosure of the incident involving my father, Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, the spy Anthony Blunt, and some Michelangelo drawings. At least until Dan Brown offers the family a large sum for the book rights.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I have created a blog because it is The Law that anyone on the Internet over a certain age must have one (under a certain age, you must still have one, but it's on myspace and uses colour, sound and imagery to prevent anyone over a certain age from reading it). I don't actually have anything to say, though. Ho hum.