This is York Minster.


Here is a rather nice thing that I have been working on. When you open up the Paint programme that comes with the Accessories bit in the basic PC Windows thing that you get, you get the blank paint screen with all of the tools and so on, and the default colour selection at the bottom. You can get fancy and create more colours, but there is a default set. It occurred to me that unlike most other paint charts (Dulux for example) no one had named these Paint colours. So I have had a shot. It would be quite nice if my names became standardised. Please feel free to use the names that I have given in all future use of the Paint accessory:



Click here to download this file

I would like to tell you a little more about what you are looking at (above). All of the sample colour boxes were individually drawn by using the pixel counter to makes sure that they all measured the exact same dimensions. When it came to filling the colour in, rather than use the block fill method, I used the fat square paint brush. This method was long hand. I could have created identical boxes by copy and paste, and then filled in the squares with one click each, but I enjoy using new technology in a craftsman like way. I use Word and Paint where ever I can, even though there are smarter tools out there. One benefit of working long hand was that I had more time to think about each colour and this helped the synesthetic process. But generally I like to use new technology in a deliberate way, rather than let the technology work me. This method of working ought to have a name. It’s not Luddism, because it accepts and uses the new technology. I don’t know yet; perhaps microcraft, for its obvious brand and techno-linking. The main thing is that there is a deliberate limiting of the extent to which the technology can perform its full range of labour-saving abilities. The reason for this is that if we don’t do this, we turn into astroberks.

There are lots of nice examples of “microcraft” on the Internet. A good one can be found here:

www.asciimation.co.nz/

A lot of artisan skill has clearly gone into that. I love the old Atari games, and stuff like Pong – the tennis game, or Breakout. With these the skill is in paying attention and not becoming complacent or distracted. I also feel like I am playing against the computer’s brain, and not doing battle with a team of animators. You know what’s coming with Pong. You’re not suddenly going to get a muscle-bound gentleman with a ripped vest and a throbbing Uzi popping in from the side of the screen and swivelling round to blow your body apart. Not on Pong you don’t get that. *

My favourite piece of new technology is my Speak and Spell laptop. If you don't remember Speak and Spell from the 1980s then you can see it in action and have a play with it by clicking on the following link: www.speaknspell.co.uk/speaknspell.html

Anyway, I take mine with me everywhere. It’s so portable and durable. This is what limited technology is all about. It can do very little indeed, so the stress related to new technology is low. I have never been hit by a virus, and I don’t need to install new software. It has no Internet access. I have tried to send texts with it, but because it doesn’t have any numbers, or a modem or any telecommunications section, I am unable to. All it has is a spell checker. That’s what it does. It just loves checking your spelling. I turn up at conferences and people ask me if I need a laptop connection, and I say ooh yes please that would be useful. You should see their faces when I get my Speak and Spell out. I plug it in, and check the spelling on the PowerPoint slides as they come up in the conference room (as long as the words aren't more than eight letters long). The keyboard isn’t even qwerty. Nor should it be. Anyone who knows anything knows that the alphabet runs from a to z. What has caused problems is that I can only process one word in single isolation. But otherwise I wouldn’t be without it. No such worries as information overload or email spam for me; I give out my email address as graeme@speakandspell and never hear a thing back.

*When I read back at this I realised that I had written in Scots. In the English language there is this ridiculous rule about double negatives equalling a positive. However, in Scots language negatives are accumulative. The more negatives used, the more negative the statement is. So “Not on Pong you don’t get that” translates in English as “On Pong you will never ever get blown apart by Rambo”. I have been learning the Scots language for 15 years.

Returning to the Speak and Spell thing, when I was searching online for mine, I came across all sorts of stuff about circuit bending, which is something that you can Google for yourself when you have time. In the process I came across a group called the ZX Spectrum Orchestra who have done some excellent microcraft. My favourite piece of theirs is called Dollar Power, and it is a mystery to me why it hasn't been a massive club hit yet. You can hear it by clicking on this link:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=mobOfy1uf2g




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