Wolf Hall

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell. A study in reserved acting. If this man isn’t showered in awards in the next few months, there’ll be more heads rolling.

I’d like to write a review of the BBC’s adaptation of Wolf Hall that is as masterly as the series itself, but I don’t think it’s possible. So I’ll just say this: if you haven’t seen it, order the DVD now.

It is one of the best things I’ve ever seen on TV. There was some criticism from viewers that “nothing happened”. But it did. Over six episodes some of the most important moments in British history happened. But so sparingly, it made you realise that events don’t always happen accompanied by musical stings and contrived cliffhangers. One minute you’re crowning a new queen, and before you know it…

That’s how history happens.

Now my Wednesdays are empty. I’d pay my license fee twice over for more. In fact, when MPs next debate whether to scrap the license fee they should just send Mark Rylance round to sit silently in the committee to remind them what it makes possible.

A quick note to the BBC: more of this please, but you have to stop your continuity announcers talking over the end titles. It ruined the atmosphere every damned week. To the Tower…

A brief history of user experience design

Image from Henry Dreyfuss's classic text
Henry Dreyfuss’s classic text “Designing for People.”

A good primer on user experience design here by Ali Rushdan Tariq:

Think about the last time you ate at a restaurant. What cuisine did it serve?

What made you to choose that particular restaurant? What was your first impression as you walked in? Were you asked to wait till you were ushered to an available seat? How was the menu arranged? Did food come quickly enough? How did it taste? How was the customer service? Did your squaring up go smoothly? Would you go back again?

Your answers to these questions, including all the emotional highs and lows, encompass the restaurant’s user experience (UX).


Today, UX has grown into an important design discipline that continues to grow and evolve. And while it’s fairly new, its multidisciplinary history can be traced all the way back to the Renaissance—if not earlier.

Read the full article here

3D-printed cities: is this the future?

WinSun’s 3D-printed building in Suzhou industrial park. Photograph: Imaginechina/Corbis

The words “we print architecture’s future” adorn the wall of a showroom on the outskirts of Suzhou, a rapidly urbanising city in eastern China. Arranged around the room are samples of odd-looking concrete wall of varying thickness. Outside, across the car park of this otherwise unremarkable industrial estate, is a grand, neoclassical mansion that recently became a global internet sensation . It is the world’s first 3D-printed villa.

Read the full story here

First full body transplant is two years away, surgeon claims

I think I’d want to approve the body first. The one I’ve got was no prize draw.

A surgeon says full-body transplants could become a reality in just two years. Sergio Canavero, a doctor in Turin, Italy, has drawn up plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body and claims the procedures needed to carry out the operation are not far off.

Read the full story here

Apple adds racially diverse emoji, and they come in five skin shades

Complaints about the lack of racial diversity in the emoji characters impelled the Unicode Consortium, an industry body devoted to developing software standards, to add skin tone options. The tones are modelled on the Fitzpatrick scale, a recognised standard used by dermatologists.

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Inside the food industry: the surprising truth about what you eat

Anything that comes in a box, tin, bag, carton or bottle has to bear a label listing its contents, and many of us have become experts at reading these labels. But many of the additives and ingredients that once jumped out as fake and unfathomable have quietly disappeared. Does this mean that their contents have improved?

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In the line of duty: how the British followed fashion during the second world war

Back of a printed rayon dress from Fashion on the Ration, an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.

I’ve often wondered what “normal” life was like during the war. There was still crime, people still went to work, fell in love, died of natural causes, and worried about fashion.

The women’s auxiliary services were shameless in using clothes to catch recruits. Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) officers were generally reckoned to have the nicest uniform: a stylish navy suit with a generously box-pleated skirt (no skimping on the fabric here), brass buttons and – a huge source of envy – coupons for good-quality black stockings.

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The future of design: texting cows and life-saving toilets

This cow could be texting you soon. Using emooticons, no doubt…

Immense pleasure might be derived from Moocall, a device that allows cows to send text messages to farmers. Not of the “Set me free” or “Stop squeezing so hard” kind, but an auto-alert along the lines of “COME QUICK, I’M HAVING BABIES!” Moocall simply slips on to a cow’s tail and, using gesture- recognition technology, summons the farmer when calving is imminent, saving valuable hours of hanging around waiting for the drama to start.

Read the full story here