Saturday, 12 April 2014

Not just a pretty face


After a almost a year of trading, I have finally got around to attaching an avatar image to my contributions to an online forum which discusses the day-to-day issues concerning the running of our local pub which - as you may know - is currently owned by 536 people, the most famous of whom is Robert Plant.

Someone whinged that he didn't know what any of the Board members looked like, and a couple of them obligingly put up a photo of themselves, so he knew who he was slagging off or praising in equal measure.

After about eight months, I have come to the conclusion that nobody hardly ever looks at it anyway (is that a double negative?) and became bored with the whole thing. It seems that it's just me and about five of the Board (I think there are twelve in total), plus one 'interesting' looking bloke with a flower-pot on his head, drinking a mug of tea. I have already fulfilled my duties as the Linda Snell of Walcot Street, and now I can relax and try to enjoy myself. It's not as if I have any ambition to stand for the Board at the first AGM, so I have nothing to lose.

So, first things first - choose an avatar image. I rather liked the one above, as it reflects the single-minded dedication and particular (or peculiar) intelligence that all of us blog and forum dwellers possess in abundance.

As soon as I had successfully attached it to every post I had ever put up, I began to think it was a bit too American (note T-shirt beneath shirt) and anyone who didn't already know me might have a bit of difficulty associating my rants with the subject, so I tried to replace it with this one:


Now come on, admit it. Father Jack suits me so much better than the geek above, and even if you have never met me or seen my photo, I would be instantly recognisable just through the content of my late-night contributions.

Try as I might (and did) to completely replace the avatar, you now have two images to choose from, depending on how and where you first enter into the site. This will probably completely defeat the purpose of having any image at all, and it would probably have been less confusing if I had stuck to the grey, Disney silhouette like everyone else.


I have often thought of using this as an avatar photo, but decided it might be too much for any children who accidentally stumbled on the site.

It is a dummy or mannequin that has been standing outside a sea-themed bar in Bremerhaven for years and in all weathers, to attract customers. I was sad to see that the owners had given it a make-over when I last visited, maybe because they finally realised that it was attracting the wrong sort of customers.

Now - completely off-topic, if that is possible - I have just stumbled upon the book-cover I designed for my children's ghost story, 'The Haunted Toilet'', and I thought I would show you:


The image was created using an amalgam of a wooden toilet seat on sale in a reclamation yard, and the illustration from a Japanese horror story.

I quite like it, but it would probably contravene a load of copyright laws, so when the time comes I will just have to find my own young girl to photograph in a nightdress through a toilet seat, looking scary.

It might take some explaining to the parents, mind you.

40 comments:

  1. Why not use the barmy Italian woman's artistic 'improvement'? At least it would make them smile before ranting.

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  2. The following question will immediately give away my age, my idiocy, my complete and utter habit of living with my head under a pillow (or even, dare I suggest, down a lavatory seat,What exactly is an avatar please? (In words of not more than one syllable.)

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    1. Wikipedia (since you're too lazy to look it up for yourself):

      Despite the widespread use of avatars, it is unknown which Internet forums were the first to use them; the earliest forums did not include avatars as a default feature, and they were included in unofficial "hacks" before eventually being made standard. Avatars on Internet forums serve the purpose of representing users and their actions, personalizing their contributions to the forum, and may represent different parts of their persona, beliefs, interests or social status in the forum.

      The traditional avatar system used on most Internet forums is a small (80x80 to 100x100 pixels, for example) square-shaped area close to the user's forum post, where the avatar is placed in order for other users to easily identify who has written the post without having to read their username. Some forums allow the user to upload an avatar image that may have been designed by the user or acquired from elsewhere. Other forums allow the user to select an avatar from a preset list or use an auto-discovery algorithm to extract one from the user's homepage.

      Some avatars are animated, consisting of a sequence of multiple images played repeatedly. In such animated avatars, the number of images as well as the time in which they are replayed vary considerably.[10]

      Other avatar systems exist, such as on Gaia Online, WeeWorld, Frenzoo or Meez, where a pixelized representation of a person or creature is used, which can then be customized to the user's wishes. There are also avatar systems (e.g. Trutoon) where a representation is created using a person's face with customized characters and backgrounds.

      Another avatar-based system is one wherein an image is automatically generated based on the identity of the poster. Identicons are formed as visually distinct geometric images derived from a digest hash of the poster's IP address. In this way, a particular anonymous user can be uniquely identified from session to session without the need for registration or authentication. In the cases where registration has occurred, the identicon serves as a means to associate a particular user with a particular geometric representation. If an account is compromised, a dissimilar identicon will be formed as the attacker is posting from an unfamiliar IP address.

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  3. You should send out a casting call for the girl! Some interesting ones might show up.

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    1. And something nasty would happen to me.

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    2. Here is a quote that I heard on TV the other day: "You can shower that off."

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  4. I wonder if you will ever explain your aversion to publishing a photo. We gather you are a distinguished looking fellow, tall, possibly a slight, though dignified paunch.
    That is not about expecting a picture any time soon, only about why you cannot do it. Tom in the hole is just fine.

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    1. I wonder if you will ever explain your compunction to put up a picture of not only yourself, but your children and grandchildren too. This is more of a mystery to me.

      Why would you want to expose your nearest and dearest to the scrutiny of millions of strangers?

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    2. Ummm...wedding video for the world to see?

      Put up your tweedy hungover self. Like my profile picture, no one will be able to see you very well. I hadn't showered that day.

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    3. Listen you - I do not post up personal full-faced pictures or videos of my friends and family who have not already shown their eagerness for the world to see them - like on You Tube, Facebook or wherever - because I think it is plain rude to do so.

      If they want to expose themselves for some unfathomable reason (like trying to get a TV series centred around a small village in Wales, for instance) then I really don't think I can do anymore harm than they have already done to themselves.

      Don't start attacking me for your own vanity.

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    4. Too many pills taken in the past.

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  5. It does make you wonder when someone won't use their own photograph or use their own name { although, you do show photos of yourself sometimes on here don't you ? }
    ………. are you on the run ? XXXX

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    1. Wasn't there a wedding video of you and your family on YouTube ?

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    2. Yes there fucking was, Jack@, and I pulled it off fucking You Tube. Now fuck off.

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    3. Just saying ………. don't get your knickers in a twist.

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    4. I love you ….. you old git !!!!

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    5. See? I told you I resembled Father Jack more than anyone else I can think of! X

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  6. How about a pair of eyes and a mouth on the haunted toilet seat - would that suit the board members?

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    1. A smiley face? A smiley face with a wide-open mouth? I think they might take that the wrong way, Cher.

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  7. Dear Tom,
    I like it as it is.
    The innocent look from the child's face suits you. Keep it (please). I couldn't write to somebody as ugly as that Bremerhavener Sailor (really - it might be superficial, but I am very susceptible to sights, and, being partly eidetic, keep away from nasty pictures as much as I can - in the woodshed or whereever, (hope you know Cold Comfort Farm, otherwise you might think I'm barmy).

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    1. PS: Though I post pictures of myself, (to reassure me that I'm still alive, whatever my passport might say) I never post pictures of my family (especially not of son&daughter-in-love - strictly forbidden, and of Hans only when he agreed. And I never post pictures of friends or acquaintances.

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    2. When I look at your picture on the phone, it takes up a whole page. I already know what you look like anyway.

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  8. Ok, so I've over-reacted tonight, but I'm sure you're thick skinned enough to forgive me.

    I had a near fist-fight with a drunken bore who would not take shut-up for an answer. That's when I lost my sense of humour, and it overlapped to here.

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    1. The other thing is that I don't even like looking at myself in the mirror, but that won't surprise you!

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    2. First: forgiven, whatever was the insult.
      Second: Hit that drunken bore back - better than us :-)
      Third: I know what I see - and you know that I like it. In another life I would have - but hey: I'm living now. And love that (most of the time). Throw out that mirror, look into our eyes instead. Or look into the mirror and like what you see, cause you are looking very good. You remind me (and I need that) that we bring to ourselves the feelings that we construct in our head, not what others see (if they see at all - mostly everybody is wrapped-up in oneself). I think that when we get older we lose sometimes our compass - having been dead certain before.. (Feel like I am writing for 'Men's Health' again, though they always want household hints from me. See: same pattern: I brag about Men's Health, but not about the Berlin Gazette, M.H is much more sexy... I'm wating for the day when I am really thus old to start using my brain and soul to get wise - though I hope it will still take some time till I want to look into the 'Empty Mirror'. I prefer to look at all the marvellous attractive people on God's fairy ground. Think I'll drink to that (oh no: it's Lent!) - Cheers then on Easter - but only if you chase that drunken bore out of the Bell before. (See: I was sober when I wrote about the mirror)

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    3. It wasn't you I insulted, Britta. Your turn will come later, I expect.

      'Men's Health'? With every cover featuring a bloke with a six-pack who spends every waking hour in the gym? That's me.

      Re the drunk in the pub, it would have been self-defence. I don't just attack people, and I never did.

      I didn't even like looking in the mirror when I was 21 - especially when I was 21. I spent a whole year never seeing my reflection once. Interesting experiment.

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    4. I always hate it when you apologise after you have said something fucking rude.

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    5. So do I. It's a fucking cowardly thing to do - just because I want everyone except Starting down there to like me.

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  9. I check your blog every now and then to see how nasty and rude you are that day. I am never disappointed.

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    1. You must always catch me on the right day. Sometimes I am horribly kind and polite - ask Rachel. Anyway, I thought you had become so fucked-off with my rudeness that you had fucked-off for good? I'm not saying I ever wanted you to, but I thought you had, that's all.

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    2. I read you often, Tom, because you are a very good writer. I feel for you when you show your vulnerability. However, when you are unkind to people who take the time to comment, I am sad for them and you that you have a need to go down that road. You are a talented man, why go there.

      I know I am very sensitive, but I know others are also, including you.

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    3. Kinell indeed.

      Why can't you feel for me when I show my other side as well, Starting? Who the hell do you think you are, to assign some sort of positive and negative values to what I write?

      In fact, who the hell are you anyway?

      Do you really think that all you have to do in order to be meaningful to others is to write either nice things about yourself and your nearest and dearest, or nice things about people who can 'be bothered' to comment on your own blog?

      If so, you are not as sensitive as you seem to suggest - I expect a great deal more real sensitivity from anyone who can 'be bothered' to comment here.

      Kinell, how bloody arrogant can you possibly get? As arrogant as you?

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  10. Nothing to do with me but you got it right Stephenson esp Para starting "do you really think.."

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