Where?

I’m pretty sure that Wally/Waldo, Woof, and Wizard Whitebeard must be out on this mountain somewhere, too.

Composite image showing (1) a woman at an alpine terrace bar wearing a red-and-white striped jumper, and (2) a skiier wearing a yellow-and-black striped snowsuit. They look somewhat like Wilma and Odlaw from the Where's Wally?/Where's Waldo? series of books.

Composite image showing (1) a woman at an alpine terrace bar wearing a red-and-white striped jumper, and (2) a skiier wearing a yellow-and-black striped snowsuit. They look somewhat like Wilma and Odlaw from the Where's Wally?/Where's Waldo? series of books.×

Oldest Digital Photo… of Me

Some younger/hipper friends tell me that there was a thing going around on Instagram this week where people post photos of themselves aged 21.

I might not have any photos of myself aged 21! I certainly can’t find any digital ones…

Dan, aged 22, stands in a cluttered flat with his partner Claire and several members of Dan's family.
The closest I can manage is this photo from 23 April 2003, when I was 22 years old.

It must sound weird to young folks nowadays, but prior to digital photography going mainstream in the 2000s (thanks in big part to the explosion of popularity of mobile phones), taking a photo took effort:

  • Most folks didn’t carry their cameras everywhere with them, ready-to-go, so photography was much more-intentional.
  • The capacity of a film only allowed you to take around 24 photos before you’d need to buy a new one and swap it out (which took much longer than swapping a memory card).
  • You couldn’t even look at the photos you’d taken until they were developed, which you couldn’t do until you finished the roll of film and which took at least hours – more-realistically days – and incurred an additional cost.

I didn’t routinely take digital photos until after Claire and I got together in 2002 (she had a digital camera, with which the photo above was taken). My first cameraphone – I was a relatively early-adopter – was a Nokia 7650, bought late that same year.

It occurs to me that I take more photos in a typical week nowadays, than I took in a typical year circa 2000.

Monochrome photo of a toddler, smiling broadly, pointing at the camera.
The oldest analogue photo of me that I own was taken on 2 October 1982, when I was 22 months old.

This got me thinking: what’s the oldest digital photo that exists, of me. So I went digging.

I might not have owned a digital camera in the 1990s, but my dad’s company owned one with which to collect pictures when working on-site. It was a Sony MVC-FD7, a camera most-famous for its quirky use of 3½” floppy disks as media (this was cheap and effective, but meant the camera was about the size and weight of a brick and took about 10 seconds to write each photo from RAM to the disk, during which it couldn’t do anything else).

In Spring 1998, almost 26 years ago, I borrowed it and took, among others, this photo:

Dan aged 17 - a young white man with platinum blonde shoulder-length hair - stands in front of a pink wall, holding up a large, boxy digital camera.
I’m aged 17 in what’s probably the oldest surviving digital photo of me, looking like a refugee from Legoland in 640×480 glorious pixels.

I’m confident a picture of me was taken by a Connectix QuickCam (an early webcam) in around 1996, but I can’t imagine it still exists.

So unless you’re about to comment to tell me know you differently and have an older picture of me: that snap of me taking my own photo with a bathroom mirror is the oldest digital photo of me that exists.

Dan, aged 22, stands in a cluttered flat with his partner Claire and several members of Dan's family.× Monochrome photo of a toddler, smiling broadly, pointing at the camera.× Dan aged 17 - a young white man with platinum blonde shoulder-length hair - stands in front of a pink wall, holding up a large, boxy digital camera.×

Installation of Windows has Stalled

I was told Windows installation should take less than 20 minutes, but these ones have been sitting outside my house all day while the builders sit on the roof and listen to the radio. Do I need a faster processor? #TechSupport

A pile of window frames, factory-fresh and covered with tape. propped against the side of a white house, on a gravel driveway.

A pile of window frames, factory-fresh and covered with tape. propped against the side of a white house, on a gravel driveway.×

It Is Only Q

The programmers at British Gas are among the many who don’t believe that a surname can be only a single character, and their customer service agents have clearly worked around their validations (or just left a note for themselves in the problematic field!)… leading to hilarious postal mail1:

Letter from British Gas addressed to "Mr Dan Q (it Is Only Q)" and opening with "Hello Mr Q (it Is Only Q)".

Update

This is getting a lot of attention, so I just wanted to add:

Footnotes

1 I’m ignoring for the moment that they’re using the wrong title for me.

Letter from British Gas addressed to "Mr Dan Q (it Is Only Q)" and opening with "Hello Mr Q (it Is Only Q)".×

Mental Elf Day

Christmas Jumper Day at the kids’ school. Because I’m the “embarrassing parent”, I joined in for the school run too.

(Also for my meetings today, obviously.)

Selfie of Dan wearing an "elf costume" Christmas jumper and matching hat with bell.

Selfie of Dan wearing an "elf costume" Christmas jumper and matching hat with bell.×

Freezing Fog

Gorgeous freezing fog over the fields on the school run this morning.

Frosty meadow with frozen fog, with low sunrise barely cutting through, with beginnings of a blue sky barely peeking through.

Frosty meadow with frozen fog, with low sunrise barely cutting through, with beginnings of a blue sky barely peeking through.×

Inclusivity

Motivational poster showing a photograph from a Manchester street. A Pride flag banner is hanging from a post with the words "everybody welcome" at the top. Nearby, attached to the same post, a road sign has the words "except buses". The poster is captioned with the word "inclusivity" (in pride colours), and subcaptioned "the 'B' is not for Buses". The joke is that the 'B' in LGBTQ+ stands for 'bisexual' and not 'buses', although of course the real meaning of that street sign is to ban everybody from driving straight ahead except buses, so the joke isn't perfect.

Max credit to garry (@repeattofade) for the original toot. All I did was adapt it into a motivational poster.

The thing I’m wondering is whether that bus lane is one that a bi-cyclist like me can use? 😂

Motivational poster showing a photograph from a Manchester street. A Pride flag banner is hanging from a post with the words "everybody welcome" at the top. Nearby, attached to the same post, a road sign has the words "except buses". The poster is captioned with the word "inclusivity" (in pride colours), and subcaptioned "the 'B' is not for Buses". The joke is that the 'B' in LGBTQ+ stands for 'bisexual' and not 'buses', although of course the real meaning of that street sign is to ban everybody from driving straight ahead except buses, so the joke isn't perfect.×

Note #20998

A white man wearing simple round spectacles with a silver wire rim, his finger to the corner of his mouth, looks into the camera.

Beginning to prepare/test my costume for an upcoming murder mystery party, I glanced into the mirror and briefly didn’t recognise myself. Glasses can do so much to change your face shape!

Note #20096

Dan with a towel.

Time is an illusion. School drop-off time doubly so. #towelday

Dan with a towel.×

Child Photographers

Taking a photo of our kids isn’t too hard: their fascination with screens means you just have to switch to “selfie mode” and they lock-on to the camera like some kind of narcissist homing pigeon. Failing that, it’s easy enough to distract them with something that gets them to stay still for a few seconds and not just come out as a blur.

Dan with the kids and his bike, on the way to school.
“On the school run” probably isn’t a typical excuse for a selfie, but the light was good.

But compared to the generation that came before us, we have it really easy. When I was younger than our youngest is , I was obsessed with pressing buttons. So pronounced was my fascination that we had countless photos, as a child, of my face pressed so close to the lens that it’s impossible for the camera to focus, because I’d rushed over at the last second to try to be the one to push the shutter release button. I guess I just wanted to “help”?

Monoshcome photo of Dan, circa 1982, poiting towards the camera.
Oh wait… is there something on that camera I can press?

In theory, exploiting this enthusiasm should have worked out well: my parents figured that if they just put me behind the camera, I could be persuaded to take a good picture of others. Unfortunately, I’d already fixated on another aspect of the photography experience: the photographer’s stance.

When people were taking picture of me, I’d clearly noticed that, in order to bring themselves down to my height (which was especially important given that I’d imminently try to be as close to the photographer as possible!) I’d usually see people crouching to take photos. And I must have internalised this, because I started doing it too.

Dan's mum and dad, with the top halves of their heads cut-off by the poor framing of the picture.
Another fantastic photo by young Dan: this one shows around 80% of my mum’s face and around 100% of my dad’s manspreading.

Unfortunately, because I was shorter than most of my subjects, this resulted in some terrible framing, for example slicing off the tops of their heads or worse. And because this was a pre-digital age, there was no way to be sure exactly how badly I’d mucked-up the shot until days or weeks later when the film would be developed.

 

Dan's dad crouches next to a bus in a somewhat lopsided-photo.
I imagine that my dad hoped to see more of whatever bus that is, in this photo, but he’s probably just grateful that I didn’t crop off any parts of his body this time.

In an effort to counteract this framing issue, my dad (who was always keen for his young assistant to snap pictures of him alongside whatever article of public transport history he was most-interested in that day) at some point started crouching himself in photos. Presumably it proved easier to just duck when I did rather than to try to persuade me not to crouch in the first place.

As you look forward in time through these old family photos, though, you can spot the moment at which I learned to use a viewfinder, because people’s heads start to feature close to the middle of pictures.

Dan's dad on a train station.
This is a “transitional period” photo, evidenced by the face that my dad is clearly thinking about whether or not he needs to crouch.

Unfortunately, because I was still shorter than my subjects (especially if I was also crouching!), framing photos such that the subject’s face was in the middle of the frame resulted in a lot of sky in the pictures. Also, as you’ve doubtless seem above, I was completely incapable of levelling the horizon.

Extremely blurred close-up photo of Dan's face.
This is the oldest photo I can find that was independently taken by our youngest child, then aged 3. I’m the subject, and I’m too close to the lens, blurred because I’m in motion, and clearly on my way to try to “help” the photographer. Our ages might as well be reversed.

I’d like to think I’ve gotten better since, but based on the photo above… maybe the problem has been me, all along!

Dan with the kids and his bike, on the way to school.× Dan's mum and dad, with the top halves of their heads cut-off by the poor framing of the picture.× Dan's dad crouches next to a bus in a somewhat lopsided-photo.× Extremely blurred close-up photo of Dan's face.×

Best Before

Thanks, supermarket bagels, for expressing exactly how I was feeing when I reached the kitchen this morning:

Label: Best Before 8 Jan 2021.

Look at Banner, Dan!

First thing I saw when I came downstairs this morning:

Happy Birthday banner with handwritten cardboard "Dan" sign hung underneath.

Totally a banner especially for my birthday, today, and not a repurposed decoration from Annabel’s yesterday.

Context for the oblivious:

Happy Birthday banner with handwritten cardboard "Dan" sign hung underneath.×