Monday, 24 March 2014


The Confessions Of A Society PhotographerThe Confessions Of A Society Photographer by Allan Warren
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An "self portrait" so sketchy that it barely qualifies for the title. Maybe it's better described as a memoir than an autobiography. What we get is interesting but superficial, lacking in detail and background. We hear something of what (and, occasionally, who) Mr Warren did, but he is so reticent that the book comes over as little more than a "tease". It's not so much the lack of "gossip" as the fact that there isn't much in its place.

I first read this on borrowing it from the library in the 1970s, when it was originally published. Re-reading it this year when I got hold of a secondhand copy, my overwhelming impression was lack of substance - particularly after reading some in-depth biographies of more illustrious people in the media. The illustrations are nice, but I wanted more detail and a bit more depth - more of what Allan Warren himself is about.

The LieThe Lie by Helen Dunmore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An intriguing novel with a poetic quality. Its extensive use of flashbacks and sometimes harrowing detail of life in the trenches (and its aftermath) means it's not an easy read, or a particularly pleasant one. However, it is convincing throughout and sometimes genuinely moving. Recommended for readers who like to be challenged and provoked, rather than people looking for a "light read".

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Sunday, 2 February 2014


It's amazing how many producers of these seem to forget the name. As podcasts are (by definition) for mobile devices and therefore meant to be listened to on the move, the likelihood is that there will be background noise from traffic, etc. For safety reasons, the volume shouldn't be turned up so loud that this is drowned out. If the listener is on a bus or train, things are often no quieter.

For these reasons, it's essential that the volume of a podcast should be "normalised" (i.e. the peaks should be at the maximum allowed undistorted level) and its dynamic range should be severely curtailed - that is, there should be very little difference between the quiet and the loud bits.

I probably have hearing that is just below average in efficiency and I've lost count of the number of times the podcast was so quiet that I couldn't hear most of it (even when turned up to full volume on my phone), or had a section with various speakers muttering inaudibly in the background, clearly not using a headset microphone. Even Big Finish, who you'd expect to know better, has been guilty of this. Podcast producers, please remember your audiences: if we can't hear it all, you might as well not bother.

PC's Name

Incidentally, it's CapALdi, as in "Paypal", not "Capauldi" as in "Paul McCartney", as you often hear. In the 70s, Peter got irritated at people mispronouncing it; he's probably used to it by now!