New TGI Friday’s Pays Tribute To Bletchley Park

Bletchley has just become home to a new Odeon multiplex next to MK Stadium. Although the cinema isn’t opening until the end of February, the attached restaurants are already doing a roaring trade, including Milton Keynes’ second TGI Friday’s. Being a lover of all things burger, I was keen to visit.

It took a couple of minutes to sink in, but soon I noticed a few subtle decorations. Most TGIs have a decor that makes them unique and also reflect where they are. This one is no exception. The official ‘logo’ of TGIs Bletchley is an Enigma machine. You can spot them as pins (or ‘flare’) on the server’s shirts and on the till screensavers.

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On the back-left wall is a striking mural obviously inspired by the rotor mechanics on Enigma and the rowing boat hung above the kitchen (a common TGI feature) is named Enigma.

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A quick chat with the manager revealed that his team has been asked to submit ideas for the restaurant decor and Bletchley Park had been the obvious choice. It’s all very subtle but very well done. If only we could get some mention of Colossus in there (sounds like a great cocktail to me).

TGI Friday’s Milton Keynes Stadium

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The Imitation Game: Fact and Fiction

Last weekend saw the release of ‘The Imitation Game’ in which Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley star as Alan Turing and Joan Clarke, codebreakers that helped change the course of the Second World War. Amongst an ensemble cast, the story of Turing is told in three parts; his school days, Bletchley Park and his final, desperate years in Manchester.

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So We Bought a Leaf – Our FAQ on owning an Electric Car in the UK

So, you like the sound of going electric, but how does it all work? When Mrs E and I started considering an ‘EV’ (as the cool kids will insist on calling it) we quickly realised we had no idea how the whole system worked. What’s more, trying to get a full picture of using an EV in our everyday lives required a significant amount of research from various corners of the Internet. What we really needed was a one-pager that summarised how owning an ‘EV’ works in real-life. So, here it is. … 

 

Composite Modding the Atari 2600

Buoyed on by my successful project to add a composite video output to a 1976 Pong game, I decided to move to my next target, the Atari 2600. Now, this little beauty needs no introduction, a classic console if ever there was one. Like many of its time, RF output was your only option and the (very long) cable came pre-connected. … 

 

Breathing New (Composite) Life Into a Binatone Pong Console

Pong! What more could a young child want in 1978? Despite my formative years, I was already hooked on my friend’s magic-filled box of delights he described as a ‘TV Game’ (for ‘console’ was a word of the future). We would Pong, Pong and Pong some more. Then, in a rare moment of wish-fulfilment for a working-class lad from Liverpool, Santa brought me my very own TV Game, a Binatone no less! … 

 

Binatone Pong

 

2014-04-28 12.47.49 2014-04-28 12.48.26The first computer game I ever owned was this Binatone ‘TV Master MK IV’ – a simple unit that could play the standard Pong variants with a pair of analogue paddles. Yes, it may be simple, but I had hours of fun playing it. Sadly this isn’t my original but I did find it for just 99p on eBay. It Turned up filthy and I was pretty convinced it wouldn’t work. I’m very happy to say I was wrong.

 

 

Anyone for Tennis?

 

On to happier things. As I attempt to ‘replace’ all the computers I’ve owned over the years, I’ve now got hold of the very first device I could ever really call a ‘computer’ of any sort; secured for 99p from eBay and currently being cleaned up. But what is it? A sense of well-being and my best wishes to anyone who knows the answer. … 

 

A (Very) Little Bit of TV

Lets face it, today’s tellys are huge. As we all crave simpler times, away from the constant noise of social media and email, why not downsize to something a little more, err, personal?

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This is Sinclair Microvision MTV1B – Clive Sinclair’s second attempt at a portable television. Released in 1978, it was the smallest television in the world. A teeny-tiny 2″ CRT powered by 4 x AA (or a 9V) with contrast ratios that could be measured in single figures.

This one is in lovely condition and fully working. The seller had used it to keep him company on fishing trips right up the analogue switch-off. Although the aerial is now useless, it does have an external hook-up so I could get the Speccy connected. Surprisingly I was able to get though a level or two of Manic Miner quite happily.

 

2001: A Space Odyssey Original Soundtrack

I don’t normally post my vinyl hauls but this one is very special. Just beautiful.

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Sinclair Day at The Centre for Computing History

Not being able to resist a browse of the Sinclair goodness at Cambridge’s own Centre for Computing History, I popped along for their first Sinclair Weekend where all the rare stuff came out to play. Lots to see and do (it’s on tomorrow as well) but it was a treat to bump into these folks: …