Author Topic: items of yore  (Read 24504 times)

Re: items of yore
« Reply #25 on: 05 August, 2021, 11:04:25 pm »
When I was a student at Leeds, the claim was that the entire new (concrete) campus extension was sliding downhill towards the city centre at a rate of a quarter of an inch a year or something.

Those buildings also have the Red Route, a long corridor (apparently the longest in Europe when it was built), on a level several stories up, interconnecting a wide range of departments. It has a sideways step in the middle. The claim about that was that, even though the Victorian railway engineers could dig tunnels from both ends through hillsides, and be out of line by tiny amounts, the companies building the "new" campus extension had put their buildings up in the open air, with lasers for alignment, and missed by three feet.

I don't remember the Edward Boyle library sinking, but it probably was. I was a physics student, so I didn't go there often.

Mr Larrington

  • A bit ov a lyv wyr by slof standirds
  • Custard Wallah
    • Mr Larrington's Automatic Diary
Re: items of yore
« Reply #26 on: 06 August, 2021, 12:12:49 am »
The irony was that this came about through a slide I did of a product's evolution from its early days of hyperdense text on paper (you had to read it with a magnifying glass and ruler) to, splendour of splendours, it moved to microfiche in 1990 and – drum roll – CD-ROM in 1995 and finally had a crappy internet portal in 1997.

Because a digitization project never really started, if you want any of the data included in this product before 1997, you literally have to go back to paper or microfiche.

My employer at the start of the 1990s actually did get this under way, transferring the fiche Stuffs onto optical disk.  They might even have finished by now.

The library at the university I worked at had an issue – the architects not accounted for the weight of the books when they designed it (or for that matter, the weight of the building itself).

On of Professor Larrington's cow-orkers retired a couple of years ago and was faced with the vexéd question of where to put all the books that lived in his soon-to-be vacated college rooms.  “Aha!” he thought, “I shall put them in this large vacant room I have set aside for this very purpose, located above my garage!”  Fortunately someone pointed out before he started moving them that if he did so without replacing the floor joists with girrrderrs he would be faced with much trouble, expense and a squashed motor-car…
External Transparent Wall Inspection Operative & Mayor of Mortagne-au-Perche
Satisfying the Bloodlust of the Masses in Peacetime

andytheflyer

  • Andytheex-flyer.....
Re: items of yore
« Reply #27 on: 06 August, 2021, 08:41:38 am »
When I was a student at Leeds, the claim was that the entire new (concrete) campus extension was sliding downhill towards the city centre at a rate of a quarter of an inch a year or something.

Those buildings also have the Red Route, a long corridor (apparently the longest in Europe when it was built), on a level several stories up, interconnecting a wide range of departments. It has a sideways step in the middle. The claim about that was that, even though the Victorian railway engineers could dig tunnels from both ends through hillsides, and be out of line by tiny amounts, the companies building the "new" campus extension had put their buildings up in the open air, with lasers for alignment, and missed by three feet.

I don't remember the Edward Boyle library sinking, but it probably was. I was a physics student, so I didn't go there often.
I'll corroborate the Leeds Red Route story, not sure about the sliding buildings though - new one on me.
I was at one end of RedRoute (72-75) in Earth Sciences, Physics and Admin were also on Red Route, but the other side of the dog-leg I think.

And we had the Paternoster lift in the Charles Morris (Charlie-Mo) building next door.  And the sharks in the A/C cooling water pond next door to the lecture theatre block.  I could go on.....

Re: items of yore
« Reply #28 on: 06 August, 2021, 08:59:09 am »
There have been multiple instances of swimming pools being built - and not taking the tile thickness into account (so the pools couldn't be used for official timings).

York uni main hall can't be used for big concerts where people might jump around - the foundations won't take the vibration.

<i>Marmite slave</i>

T42

  • Patron saint of the dry joint
Re: items of yore
« Reply #29 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:04:28 am »
Back in the 80s some of my colleagues worked on a system involving a microfiche "tank" and a computerized retrieval system using keywords. I never saw it working - or heard it, thank God - but the pharmacy in the next village has a retrieval system for medicines that works in similar fashion. Every time they type in a prescription item there's a series of clunks and whooshes like the last gasps of an iron lung, then your meds pop out into a handy tray. Every so often it jams, and the pharmacist has to squeeze in the front (it's all visible, behind glass) and get the stuff out himself.

My first brush with computers involved punched tape and Teletype machines.  And I still have an 80-column punched card serving as a bookmark somewhere.  There used to be a way you could cut and fold these to make a little doggie. When you pulled its tail it did something rude.

Back in the 70s the police in France used to issue punched-card parking tickets.  We used to punch out cards bearing divers insults and put them under windscreen-wipers just for fun.
I've dusted off all those old bottles and set them up straight

Mr Larrington

  • A bit ov a lyv wyr by slof standirds
  • Custard Wallah
    • Mr Larrington's Automatic Diary
Re: items of yore
« Reply #30 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:08:46 am »
Ah, bright college days!  Long before my time as a Penniless Student Oaf Imperial College decided to demolish their Victorian-era building and replace it with the concrete monstrosity we came to know and be ambivalent about.  “Noooooooo!” cried the likes of John Betjeman.  “At least keep the tower!”  Turning a tower that was an integral part of a building into a free-standing campanile was no easy task, but…. “Leave it to us” cried the Civ. Eng. department, who duly designed new foundations to be bunged under the tower.  But legend has it that they got their sums wrong, and the Queen's Tower slowly but surely began to develop a list.  Towards the new! IMPROVED!!1! Civil Engineering building.

There was also the Electrical Engineering building, which shed the tiles with which it was clad and resulting in it being hidden behind scaffolding for at least fifteen years.  And Garden Hall, whose stairs were said to be molished from concrete that dissolved if a bath overflowed.  But at least it got built.  There was supposed to be a matching hall of residence at the other end of the block too, above the sports centre, but that never got built because the foundations weren’t adequate and would have collapsed like a soufflé removed from the oven too soon.

But the chemists did get a paternoster lift.  The bastards.
External Transparent Wall Inspection Operative & Mayor of Mortagne-au-Perche
Satisfying the Bloodlust of the Masses in Peacetime

Re: items of yore
« Reply #31 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:11:58 am »
I'll corroborate the Leeds Red Route story, not sure about the sliding buildings though - new one on me.
I was at one end of RedRoute (72-75) in Earth Sciences, Physics and Admin were also on Red Route, but the other side of the dog-leg I think.

And we had the Paternoster lift in the Charles Morris (Charlie-Mo) building next door.  And the sharks in the A/C cooling water pond next door to the lecture theatre block.  I could go on.....
Yes, I was in Physics at the other end, 78-81. The Paternoster lifts were in the lecture theatre; I went back recently when work took me to Leeds, and chatted to someone on campus who confirmed that they are now long gone. I lived in Charley Mo for two years, but that too has changed considerably. I don't remember Paternoster lifts there - I had to use them to get my road bike up into my room.

archy

  • once asterix
Re: items of yore
« Reply #32 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:19:20 am »
The first computer I met was called SUSAN which could do advanced arithmetic.  It was built by a teacher called Professor Peacock ISTR, which may have been his real name.  About the size of a fridge-freezer with real lights that flashed (the computer not the professor).  TBH it was very disappointing after watching the Billion Dollar Brain. 
what man calls civilization
always results in deserts

nicknack

  • Hornblower
Re: items of yore
« Reply #33 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:21:00 am »
There was also the Electrical Engineering building, which shed the tiles with which it was clad and resulting in it being hidden behind scaffolding for at least fifteen years.  And Garden Hall, whose stairs were said to be molished from concrete that dissolved if a bath overflowed.  But at least it got built.  There was supposed to be a matching hall of residence at the other end of the block too, above the sports centre, but that never got built because the foundations weren’t adequate and would have collapsed like a soufflé removed from the oven too soon.

But the chemists did get a paternoster lift.  The bastards.
Not Garden. Garden was the converted Georgian terrace next to the sports centre. My first year at IC was spent there. Eventually I might remember the name of the one you're talking about (presumably not Southside but the one at right angles to it).

Talking of IC - I wonder who thought it was a good idea to teach geology students the basics of Fortran. We had to suffer the boredom of "Instant Turnaround" which was anything but.
There's no vibrations, but wait.

archy

  • once asterix
Re: items of yore
« Reply #34 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:27:21 am »
My Grandad was an emeritus professor at IC.  In recognition of his contribution to science they named some part after him in perpetuity or until someone rich enough gives them enough money to rename it (is what it actually says).  It may have happened; its years since I last looked.
what man calls civilization
always results in deserts

Mr Larrington

  • A bit ov a lyv wyr by slof standirds
  • Custard Wallah
    • Mr Larrington's Automatic Diary
Re: items of yore
« Reply #35 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:34:50 am »
There was also the Electrical Engineering building, which shed the tiles with which it was clad and resulting in it being hidden behind scaffolding for at least fifteen years.  And Garden Hall, whose stairs were said to be molished from concrete that dissolved if a bath overflowed.  But at least it got built.  There was supposed to be a matching hall of residence at the other end of the block too, above the sports centre, but that never got built because the foundations weren’t adequate and would have collapsed like a soufflé removed from the oven too soon.

But the chemists did get a paternoster lift.  The bastards.
Not Garden. Garden was the converted Georgian terrace next to the sports centre. My first year at IC was spent there. Eventually I might remember the name of the one you're talking about (presumably not Southside but the one at right angles to it).

You are right.  I mean the one next door to Garden, opposite Southside, and I can't remember the name either.  And nor can Google Maps.  The one at right angles to Southside was, and remains, Linstead and as far as I know is not prone to dissolution or self-demolishment.

ETA: zooming in a bit closer I discover that the incredible self-recycling hall of residence is Weeks Hall, so it hasn’t washed itself away yet.
External Transparent Wall Inspection Operative & Mayor of Mortagne-au-Perche
Satisfying the Bloodlust of the Masses in Peacetime

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: items of yore
« Reply #36 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:36:11 am »
Twin tub washing machines. Described as "more work than washing by hand". I vaguely remember someone coming round to buy ours when we'd finally got a proper machine, and I recall that we sold it for £25 – but that seems an outrageously high price for a well-used twin-tub washing machine, especially considering it must have been around 1975, so probably it was not £25.
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

JennyB

  • Old enough to know better
Re: items of yore
« Reply #37 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:47:12 am »
Endless.  Paper.  Journals.

By way of comparison, I'm imagining the world before photocopiers...


I (vaguely) remember duplicators. I remember when a blueprint was a blue print, developed with ammonia.
Jennifer - Walker of hills

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: items of yore
« Reply #38 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:49:16 am »
My first job as as an electronic maintenance engineer for a Houston-based oil and gas related company.

Only the 'current' series of equipment was documented on paper; the earlier generations were all on fiche.
There was a set of large plastic folders, each holding dozens of sheets of fiche, each the size of a post-card.

As has been described, the reader was a back-lit magnifying projector thing the size of a large CRT monitor.
Knobs allowed you to twiddle it up and down, and back and forth as required.
It could produce some kind of fuzzy hard-copy at need.

The problem with this was clumsy engineers scratching the fiche, so the critical part-number or whatever was forever obliterated.

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: items of yore
« Reply #39 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:55:19 am »
Endless.  Paper.  Journals.

By way of comparison, I'm imagining the world before photocopiers...


I (vaguely) remember duplicators. I remember when a blueprint was a blue print, developed with ammonia.

In my industry, diazo copying was still in use when I was working in the field up to about 20 years ago.

Originals were created on photographic film, and then paper copies made by contact-printing onto diazo paper using a blue-ray machine and much ammonia!

If the blu-ray machine developed a leak, you couldn't enter the workshop for hours!


Re: items of yore
« Reply #40 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:56:08 am »
Twin tub washing machines. Described as "more work than washing by hand". I vaguely remember someone coming round to buy ours when we'd finally got a proper machine, and I recall that we sold it for £25 – but that seems an outrageously high price for a well-used twin-tub washing machine, especially considering it must have been around 1975, so probably it was not £25.

They are really useful if you are dying cloth.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: items of yore
« Reply #41 on: 06 August, 2021, 09:57:02 am »
gestetner machines  (that's what we called them, but I've since found out that they were actually 'spirit duplicators')

Every small club used them to produce 'club newsletters'. Stank of the ink, which came off on your hands.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Tim Hall

  • Victoria is my queen
Re: items of yore
« Reply #42 on: 06 August, 2021, 10:00:13 am »
Endless.  Paper.  Journals.

By way of comparison, I'm imagining the world before photocopiers...


I (vaguely) remember duplicators. I remember when a blueprint was a blue print, developed with ammonia.
a
Documentation submittals for the kit I was involved in selling to the offshore oil and gas back in the 80s and 90s would be n prints and y transparencies, all produced with UV light and ammonia. See me fold an A2 print so it fitted into an A4 binder, with hole punch holes down one side and retain the ability to be unfolded while still in the binder.
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ian

  • why would any decent person have such thoughts?
Re: items of yore
« Reply #43 on: 06 August, 2021, 10:01:50 am »
I think I remember twin tubs. Americans still have them, but they don't trust front loaders (honestly, for all their gun-toting, constitutionalizing, bad-assery they run off if you show them a front-loader).

Most Americans will recognize microfiche machines though, they're still a staple of movies, where they go to the local newspaper and scroll through historical copies to find out that, yes, the murders happened every 30 years. We don't do that in the UK, because our local newspapers are crap and don't really have the traditional status of US ones (before the internet, even the smallest burg would have had its own local newspaper), and rather than murders or spooky events, it'd be random outbreaks of sheep buggery and someone pissing in the Coop.

In other matters, in the early 2000s, I remember buying a massive industrial fax machine at the behest of my employers, because we had to send marked-up copies of proofs to our super-new offshore operations (everyone in the UK, you're fired! prophetic considering they made me redundant a few years later) – the internet was nowhere good enough to scan and send even low-res copies*. Then I had to go to Chennai to babysit the receiving machine (it seems we didn't trust them). Worked pretty well, that was my first proper 'publishing technology' project. From little acorns come big squirrels.

*was chatting to someone the other day, they have a fancy new high-resolution light-sheet fluorescence microscope, each image slice it takes is ~6 terabytes, and it does thousands. I hate to think how much data something like CERN kicks out – the internet says 90 petabytes per year).
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets, the Putin of pandas

Re: items of yore
« Reply #44 on: 06 August, 2021, 10:26:01 am »
Years ago I worked for a train timetable software company that managed to sell the software to Romania.

It was crucial to ensure that the timetable databases were synced across the country; otherwise bad things like train crashes could happen.

A short study of their telecoms led to the conclusion that syncs were best achieved by motorcycle couriers zipping around the country with tapes.


Oh, and Australia doesn't believe in front-loaders either. Odd for a country that is short of water.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: items of yore
« Reply #45 on: 06 August, 2021, 10:37:50 am »
NZ too. But those are top-loading automatics not twin tubs.
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: items of yore
« Reply #46 on: 06 August, 2021, 10:45:09 am »
Maps. Have we had them?
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

ian

  • why would any decent person have such thoughts?
Re: items of yore
« Reply #47 on: 06 August, 2021, 10:52:57 am »
Maps. Have we had them?

Those city A-to-Z books map books, absolutely vital in their time. My London one, which is somewhere, was well-thumbed from all those adventures in flat and house hunting.
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets, the Putin of pandas

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: items of yore
« Reply #48 on: 06 August, 2021, 10:54:26 am »
Still have them. On paper and electronic. I'm sure someone's got some on microfiche too...
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Re: items of yore
« Reply #49 on: 06 August, 2021, 11:00:44 am »
Last week my daughter came back from a 4th birthday party with a Pop-a-point pencil. I don't think I've seen one since the 1980s.

Essentially someone in the '70s decided that the biggest problem with pencils, was the wood and the sharpening, so they decided it could all be fixed with more single use plastic, and little sharp stabby bits of lead (if you lost a piece of the plastic eg you dropped it changing the lead and it rolled away and fell down a hole etc, they then became useless). I was actually shocked that they are still available, and that a parent would put one in a party gift bag.

I use pencils of this nature daily.  The one in my hand is several decades old, and as single use plastic is still in single use.  I hate trying to keep the "to do list" up to date on a computer.


Before computers came along to simplify everything, I spent far less time on admin...
Before computers came along to simplify everything I spent most of my life in the garden/in the woods next door/cycling/having fun.  I now work in IT  :facepalm: