Tuesday, 31 August 2010

PCZ RIP: Part One (Scanfest2010: Part 6)

It’s only a few days until the final issue of PC Zone magazine hits the shops. This, it’s fair to say, is a shame. Over the years, PC Zone has included content from lots of brilliant writers – most famously Charlie Brooker, but also legendary videogame journos Duncan McDonald, David McCandless, Paul “Mr Biffo” Rose, Stu Campbell, Jon Blyth, Culky and many more.

Now, admittedly, we stopped caring about PC gaming a long time ago, about the fourth time we found ourselves thinking “bah, this PC is more than a month old, it’s probably far too underpowered to play any current games”. Back in the late 1990s though, when our 233 MHZ Pentium II (32MB RAM! 6.4GB of hard disk space!) could handle almost anything (providing we turned all the graphics settings right down to 320x240), PCZ was an essential read.

Looking back through those issues now, there’s still a lot to enjoy, which is why we’ll be spending the next few updates wallowing in just how great a magazine it was. But, just to be contrary, we’re going to kick off with being needlessly spiteful about one aspect of PC Zone’s golden age. We’re going to attack the very lifeblood of the magazine itself: the adverts. Yes, it’s time for the…



Saturday, 28 August 2010

Futurama Feature: The Face, October 1999 (SCANFEST2010, Pt 5)

Futurama’s back on Comedy Central in the USA, and it’s as good as it ever was. Hurrah!

That means that this collection of scans from October 1999’s issue of The Face is topical, as well as interesting. The article in full, plus other Scans Of Interest from that issue, after the ‘leap’.



Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop Book, 1978 (SCANFEST 2010: Pt 4)

Scanfest 2010 continues with by far the most interesting find from our archive yet. Yes, even more interesting than the FA Cup Final programmes from 1986 and 1989. First published in 1978, and costing a princely sum of £1.25, this was possibly our favourite book when we were five years old. It can only be THE MULTI-COLOURED SWAP SHOP BOOK (by Rosemary Gill and Crispin Evans). As, er, you’ll probably have already ascertained from the title up there.

(*How do we know we were exactly five years old when we were in possession of this? Because we’d written our age in a competition form inside that book. Our handwriting hasn’t improved much since then, to be honest.)

A bumper scansplosion taking in 36 pages from the book is after the “Read Post” link (we’ve skipped only the really boring bits, and the pages where we’d scribbled glasses and moustaches on people). To tease you all, here’s a tiny preview of a very definitely non-boring bit:




Tuesday, 24 August 2010

SCANFEST2010: “French & Saunders used to resort to TV parodies to hide a lack of their own ideas.”

David Baddiel, Vox magazine, June 1997. Around the time the magazine had started to call itself “The NME Monthly”.



SCANFEST2010: “I’ve been missing pot roast.”

Our trip through the mid-90s archives continues, as we blow the cobwebs off this entry, again from Sky Magazine’s November 1995 issue. Tucked away at the back of the magazine, on page 138, and billed below Alicia Silverstone, Lee Sharpe, Lee and Herring on the front cover is this interview with a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Then promoting his appearance in The Basketball Diaries alongside a post-Funky Bunch Mark Wahlberg, this sees a 20-year-old Leo before he became the globally famous name that Titanic made him.

(Yes, it’s a bit of a departure from this blog to run with this, but we found it interesting. And these picture-based updates are a nice way to test the new template is working properly, including the new make-the-main-page-less-of-a-pain “Read full post” buttons.)



SCANFEST2010: “The Year’s Most Revered British Comedy Duo.”

We’ve finally got the scanner on BrokenTV’s trusty all-in-one printer working with Windows 7 (top tip: ignore the supposed Win7 drivers and just install the ones for Vista), an event which happily coincides with us recovering a pile of about 200 magazines from the mid 1990s from our parents’ loft. All this means that we can capture some of these legendarily lost artefacts from the past (“Ha ha! A computer with a 1.8GB hard drive, 16MB RAM and a 16” monitor selling for ‘just’ £1800!”) and put them on the internet before the whole lot end up on eBay, or in a skip.

First up, from Sky Magazine (no, not the free NewsCorp one that everyone throws in the bin) in November 1995, an interview with “A big man called Stuart [sic] with the stupid hair and the indie clobber from 1981” and “his mate Richard, possibly the cheeriest man in the world”, also known as Stewart Lee and Richard Herring.

(Click for bigger.)

L H001


Saturday, 21 August 2010

Top Fifty BBC Freedom of Information Requests For Which Information Was Not Held But Which We Shall Try To Answer On Their Behalf: Part Three

More from the pile of BBC Freedom Of Information cold cases. First up, a few requests that seem more than a little self-centred.


Has been caught on a "speed camera" and wonders if under FOI he can see the film of the alleged crime. (ref RFI2005000230, 02/10/05) 

Admittedly, we’re kicking off this “oddly specific” section with a request that could do with being a lot more specific. Does the individual involved mean his “alleged crime” (i.e. actual crime – if a speed sign says “40”, and you drive through the area that speed sign represents at 50mph, it’s against the law, no matter how much you might mutter about how “they” should be out arresting paedophiles and terrorists instead of pestering ‘innocent’ motorists) took place right outside a BBC building and might therefore be captured on CCTV cameras operated from within the Corporation? Or is he just dim enough to assume the BBC has access to all speed cameras everywhere?

We’ll assume the former, and have therefore commissioned this re-enactment:


Guilty as charged we’re afraid, Mr RFI2005000230.


Thursday, 19 August 2010

Top Fifty BBC Freedom of Information Requests For Which Information Was Not Held But Which We Shall Try To Answer On Their Behalf: Part Two

Previously on BrokenTV: we’ve narrowed down fifty of the questions that the BBC’s Freedom Of Information department were unable to answer, and attempted to answer then. Tuesday’s inaugural bunch of posers included questions posed from people wanting to know the extent to which the BBC in secretly funded by militant left-wing public schoolboy vampires (or whatever it was). Today, we’ll be looking at some people who want impractical reams of information from the Beeb, for whatever reason. All right under a screen capture from Alexei Sayle’s Stuff that might have nothing to do with the article in question but will break up all the text quite nicely and make this blog update a little easier to read.



How much of the BBC output do the Trust members watch? Specify which programmes.  (ref RFI20081442, 12/17/08)

That “The BBC Trust”, eh? That meddling, secretive panel of cloaked figures, a secretive New World Order group who lurk in the shadows, deciding what really happens at the BBC. Well admittedly, they’re actually all identified on the BBC website, but shadowy underworld figures like that always tend to unwittingly leave one tiny clue as to their true identities. They always think they can get away with it, until they accidentally allow their name, photograph and full biography to be left on one of the UK’s most regularly visited websites.

Conspiracy theorists might like to know the BBC website even lists a “declaration of interests” for each member of the trust (“Ooh, Anthony Fry is a member of the Trust For Paintings In Hospitals! Bet he has dozens of nurses sacked every day just to pay for new ones”). In short, it’s a bit like how you can find out who the Pools Panel all are, if you can be bothered to check. All that doesn’t stop another person requesting to know how many members of the panel are Jewish, but that’s for a later update.

You’ve got to love this request though. “Specify which BBC programmes the BBC Trust members watch.” Space is tight here, but using the info we’ve gleaned from the BBC Trust Declaration Of Interests, we’re prepared to make the following educated guesses for the favourite BBC shows of several Trust members.

Sir Michael Lyons (also Governor, Royal Shakespeare Company): Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show.
Richard Ayre (also Chairman, The Dairy Partnership): Young Butcher Of The Year
Diane Coyle (also Advisory Committee Member, Spatial Economics Research Centre at the London School of Economics): Addicted to Boob Jobs
Alison Hastings (also Vice President, British Board of Film Classification): Bryony Makes a Zombie Movie
David Liddiment (also Associate, Old Vic Theatre Company): Help! My Dog's As Fat As Me
Jeremy Peat (also Member, Expert Group on Finance Supporting The Commission on Scottish Devolution): Pissed and Pregnant

Hope all that helps, “ref RFI20081442”!


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Top Fifty BBC Freedom of Information Requests For Which Information Was Not Held But Which We Shall Try To Answer On Their Behalf: Part One

One of the things we love most about the BBC website (even more than the two bits of it that mention us) is the Freedom Of Information section. Now, as a publicly funded organisation, the Beeb are bound by law to at least make a token effort to answer any questions that fall within the remit of the act, but being the commendably useful bunch that they are, they’re willing to put a lot of time and money into providing useful information, providing it’s requested by a member of the public.

We’ve looked at it before, back in 2008, where amongst other things we discovered that there are currently 2,787 broadcast copies of post-2002 programmes missing from the BBC archive (from a total of around 200,000), and while you can’t request any information from the duty logs for BBC programmes, you can obtain a list of complaints made about the BBC canteen.

Much, much scarier than unpleasant trifles or missing editions of Newsround was the full documentation from the 1980s on how the BBC would announce the outbreak of a nuclear war. The link to the documentation we’d found in 2008 no longer works, but here’s a quote from our original blog post:

From 1984, a script of what was to be read out on air in the event of a nuclear war. These Wartime Broadcasting Instruction Announcements began with the words:

"Here is an important announcement about the broadcasts you will be able to hear after [date]. At [date] all normal Radio and Television services of the BBC and IBA will cease. The will be replaced by a new single Radio service known as the Wartime Broadcasting Service."

From 1988, this is changed to an almost chummy

"You may be wondering, as many people are, what will happen if the current crisis develops into conflict and wondering how you will find out what is happening. Well, the BBC will do everything possible to maintain its broadcasts but it will probably mean that we cannot maintain our full normal service."

We'd like to think this would have been delivered to the nation by Chris Serle. Luckily, details of our impending annihilation would also be listed on Ceefax.

Erk. The most recently published FOI replies are similarly interesting, taking in an updated listing of canteen complaints, this time from the BBC Northern Ireland canteen (“there hasn’t been a cooked dessert in months”), rather brilliantly, someone asking about how many people have complained about BBC buildings being haunted, and a mention that three agencies besides Lambie-Nairn submitted proposals for a redesigned BBC logo in 1997, though sadly it’d be up to the other agencies to make those designs available. Hopefully, something like this:



Thursday, 5 August 2010

Scamwatch AU

In news that will probably shock anyone who has ever met us, we’re actually not as stupid as we look. Not that this fact seems to have filtered through to the more inept internet scamsters, going by the increasing amount of emails we’re getting, all coated temptingly in fictional money. Quite often, they’ll be SO inept it’s actually funny, like this email we received earlier today.

spamfail Wow, we didn’t know British Telecom were now being run by rick-willey@sbcglobal.net! That’s a hostile takeover you’d have expected to have made the newspapers. Maybe Rick Willey is the name of the character played in the BT adverts by that bloke from My Family, and to make the corporate behemoth seem more cuddly, all business transactions are to be conducted via that email address. It all makes sense! We’re SO replying to him!

imageBut, things get even wilier. Tonight, we received an email purporting to be from “John Nguen” of “Ralf Financial Services Pty Ltd”. The text of this email is as follows:

image image So, it’s a scam about asking people to transfer money via their bank accounts. Quite why the money would need to sit in someone’s account isn’t really explained (especially with UK bank transfers taking a few days to process so that the banks themselves can play with it on the overnight money markets during that time), but whoever the person behind this scam is, they’ve made more effort than your common or garden internet scam artist. The email was sent from ‘job@ralfrecruiting.org’ – they’ve gone to the trouble of registering a domain name and everything (though the WHOIS record for “ralfrecruiting.org” doesn’t give any address), and trying to visit the website itself only results in a 403 error.



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