England | The Daily Dust delivering the best bric a brac, daily news and events with a British flavour

Where are all the characters in Jane Austin’s novels?

Posted by in Around Britain, England, Featured Post | 0 comments

What happens when you take the works of Jane Austin, and start analysing the text for the characters showing up?

That’s what Matthew Hurst has done, taking some of Austin’s greatest novels and analysing where the paragraphs occur with the major characters mentioned. It’s a wonderful way to see the arcs of someone like Wiloughby in Sense and Sensibility.

Now, which books should be attacked next? May we here at T’Dust suggest the Harry Potter series?

More Austin at Data Mining.

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The Bird Box that outwitted the Council and the Speed Cameras

Posted by in England, Featured Post | 0 comments

We missed the delightful story last week of Ian Magee, who built a bird house at the bottom of his garden. A bird house that overlooked a busy road in his home of Williton.

A bird box that looked exactly like a Gatso speed camera.

Typically, the council decided that it broke planning regulations, was cluttering up the area, and were probably quietly annoyed they couldn’t collect any revenue from all the traffic slowing down by the camera. Magee would have to take it down – even though the local constabulary say no laws have been broke,

Not so fast, reports Treehugger. Now nesting in the box are some birds, who just happen to be a protected species. Looks like the avian sqautters can stay, the camera’s not going anywhere in the near future.

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Let’s get Flex-ible with the new organiser from Filofax

Posted by in Around Britain, England, Featured Post | 0 comments

Can Filofax make their new system, Flex, as popular and useful as their long running ring binder organisers? We here at The Dust think they can.

Putting aside different paper sizes or fashionable covers, it’s been a long time since Fliofax has launched a product that’s genuinely new. Well, at the start of summer, Filofax did launch something new – Flex – and we here at The Daily Dust have this new organiser system to review.

The Filofax ring binder, or the classic idea of a Filofax as identified by the yuppies of the eighties, have been making a slow come back over the last five years, with a mix of smart products, advertising and a resurgence in paper planners. That rise of paper planner has also led to a new brand becoming the "must have" accessory, and the one that has been seen as the hipster icon du jour. The rise of Moleskine range of pocket notebooks will not have been missed. But how can the old standard reply to the young pretenders?

Flex is Filofax’s answer to Moleskine.

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The big difference between Flex and the classic folder is there are no rings to hold your paper in. Rather than holding in bundles of loose pages, the Flex binder holds a number of thin notebooks in its covers. With a number of flaps making up the binder, you can slide the covers of the different pads into place. You can have your notebook on either side of the cover, with the spine either in the centre (so it opens like a regular book), or on the outside edge so it opens up but still leaves the opposite side of the binder accessible – which might have another notebook, a scratch pad, diary, or other elements of the Flex system.

You can even move the pen holder around to have it inside or outside. Quirky, versatile, and all very nicely done with some basic engineering and no moving mechanical parts that are easily broken.

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Here’s how Filofax explain the system.

It’s this ability to customise what paper you can use that gives Flex the DNA of Filofax, while at the same time presenting a much less threatening image than that of the ring binder Filofaxes, bulging with pages, tabs, marker, ink, and history. There’s nothing wrong with the ring binder approach (it’s one I heavily favour), but it’s not for everybody.

The other consideration is price. You can’t look at this in a vacuum, The middle size, Slim (reviewed here) is £19, and you can get a basic Filofax Personal for about the same cost. But in context, you’re also picking up a 64 page notebook and jot pad with the binder. The list price for Moleskine notebook of the same size is £10, and the A5 notepad refill for the larger Flex binder, with 256 pages, is £7.50. Yes, there’s a higher install investment, but the ongoing costs are about the same, and there is more organisational ability in Flex.

You can also, whisper it now, slip your Moleskine into the binders, along with other off-the-rack notebooks. While this might seem a bit off-message, this openness, and dare I say hack-ability is actually a strength of the Flex system. The addition of a Field Notes book not only makes the system more personal to me, it actually builds the emotional bond to the Flex binder, which is a good thing for Filofax as a company.

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Let’s be honest, Flex is not targeted at people already comfortable using the Filofax ring binder system, it’s about attracting new customers with something that is not threatening or scary to them – one of the chief worries about starting on the Filofax binder system. They look smart, they work well, and even though you could look elsewhere, there’s recurring revenue for the company in the refills.

I’d recommend you take a look at Flex, and think of it as an extended notebook rather than an organiser. It’s a good product, it’s arguably British, and it’s going to get more useful the more you use it.

Flex is available direct from Filofax.co.uk, as well as a number of High Street Stores… and Amazon.

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How many Tardis’ are there in London?

Posted by in Around Britain, England | 0 comments

Or is it the same Tardis, just travelling through time?

Londonist ask the question that every geek probably already knows the answer to. How many Tardis’ can you find in London?

The iconic time machine was based on the once-familiar police call boxes, from a more innocent time when the words ‘police’ and ‘phone’ weren’t used in the same sentences as ‘News of the World’ and ‘tapping’. For a fictional device, there are quite a few… about town.

More at Londonist.

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Man catches chickens

Posted by in Around Britain, England, Featured Post, Great videos | 0 comments

Never say we don’t bring you the happiest news in the UK. Who needs phone hacking scandal when you have a man with four escaped chickens?

As "Friend of the Dust" Sean Murricane asks on his blog:

Ever watched an out-of-shape Scotsman in his 30s lollop around a garden trying to catch four loose chickens?

Love it – this is what puts a smile on the face of the UK!

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GET10 and help Anthony Nolan

Posted by in Around Britain, England, Life & Style | 0 comments

Charity looking to get 10,000 men on the bone marrow register, can you help?

While men aged 18-30 might be the biggest financial donors to the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust, they’re the lowest represented group in the donor register – and the charity is hoping to change that this summer.

With GET10, they’re aiming to get 10,000 new people onto the register, and all it takes is signing a form and providing a small blood sample. If you’re up for it (and we here at The Daily Dust have been on the register for years) then get ten of your friends to join in and potentially save a life in the future.

Join in at anthonynolan.org/get10.

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