With a certain dark beauty

There is no way of telling how many columnists suddenly wake up to the fact that they have a column to do and that the eleventh hour has been and gone.

This time was one of a few that it has happened to me and I had to sit down and, postponing my plans for sleep, write furiously. Luckily, I had marked down a couple of bits and pieces I had found on the web and so I had something to talk about.

The first item indulges my tastes for photography and the web and was found when I was idly trolling the web looking for references to Canopus. It’s the name of my computer and one of the Imperial Airways/BOAC flying boats which called in Durban in the 1930s and 1940s.

I was keen to find out where the name came from and one of the first entries I came across in Google was a link to a picture of a hydrogen bomb exploding; a nuclear test which had apparently been codenamed Canopus by the French army.

It’s a picture of a mushroom cloud, with a stunning dark beauty about it, and one of the most frightening pictures I’ve ever seen. You can view it at tinyurl.com/5395td and I don’t think anyone could see it and not think, ‘this could be us’.

Just to show that you can’t automatically take everything you see on the web at face value, however, I found more pictures of the same explosion and a write-up explaining that the explosion was actually the Licorne nuclear test.

So much for Canopus, but the pictures, at tinyurl.com/2ouule, are also well worth viewing. In case of printers’ gremlins, the full links to the pictures are included with the online version of this article at allan-fishnet.blogspot.com.

You may have noticed that the two picture links I quoted both start with tinyurl.com, even though they are at completely different locations. The TinyUrl site is the second thing I was going to bring to your notice.

It’s a simple but very clever service which lets you type in a web address and, no matter how long it is, it produces a short one, which you can give out to people instead of the original address. Making web addresses shorter makes it less likely that people will make mistakes when typing them in.

When someone creates a TinyUrl address, the site remembers where the original site was and the directs the user’s browser to it. Very nifty, and free too.

A very interesting and addictive site is thisdayinmusic.com, which is packed with fascinating music trivia. Once when I visited the site, for example, it was revealed that it’s illegal in Switzerland to mow the front lawn, while dressed as Elvis.

The Birthday Number One feature will tell you what the Number One songs were on the UK, US and Australian charts on any particular day. The day I was born, for example, the top songs were Dream Lover by Bobby Darin, Lonely Boy by Paul Anka and Bye Bye Baby by Col Joye and the Joy Boys.

Other features include On this day, Born on this day, Quotation of the day and Things you didn’t know. One of things I definitely didn’t know was the fact that Yoko Ono sat knitting blindfold on the floor during John Lennon’s appearance on a TV show in 1970.

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