Feeds

back to article Volunteers slam plans to turn Bletchley Park into 'geeky Disneyland'

Bletchley Park is planning to replace its volunteer tour guides with actors in a bid to turn the historical attraction into a "geeky Disneyland", The Register has learned. A number of people contacted The Reg after we wrote about the Bletchley Park Trust's decision to sack a pensioner after he showed visitors around the National …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge
Unhappy

Says it all really

New tours of the facility have now started which take just one hour, rather than 90 minutes, to help pack even more tourists in.

26
0
Silver badge

Re: Says it all really

Yesterday Iain Standen phoned me back after I called to complain about the fracas. He told me that the tours had been standardised and that 90 minutes was too long for visitors.

I said that visitors should be given the choice.

He seemed to know of the discussion on El Reg; I said that he should contact them to give his side of the story.

11
0
Silver badge

Re: Says it all really

One hour rather than 90 minutes?

Then I shall be asking if the entrance fee is being reduced from £15 to £10.

16
0
Silver badge
Trollface

Re: Says it all really

Those who are asking for a reduction are in bed with the Huns!

3
0

Re: Says it all really

He told me that the tours had been standardised and that 90 minutes was too long for visitors.

He really is a complete pillock.

I've done the tour twice and on both occasions it felt about right for length. A lot of the most interesting stuff is the result of having time to talk to the guides and for them to be able to follow up interesting questions with extra details that aren't part of the standard talk.

7
0
Meh

Re: Says it all really

Providing the tour isn't compulsory they can make it as short as they like.

I showed myself round and found a member of staff to ask whenever I wanted to know something. They were all without exception knowledgeable and approachable. I also had a long chat with the owner of the Churchill collection.

Seems a shame that this corporate suit is determined to ruin everything.

2
0
Devil

I look forward to them telling the story of how the Americans cracked the Enigma code.

48
0
Bronze badge

Polish cryptographers!!

The initial work was done by guys from Poland

18
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Polish cryptographers!!

Typical Poles taking the jobs of British cryptographers

39
0
Silver badge

Re: Polish cryptographers!!

I liked the Interactive Display in Futurama's Luna Theme Park, telling the history of Luna exploration:

""[Singing] We're whalers on the Moon, we carry a harpoon. But there ain't no whales so we tell tall tales and sing our whaling tune""

9
0
Anonymous Coward

I look forward to them telling the story of how the Americans cracked the Enigma code.

Could try the approach taken by the Deutches Museum in Munich (well at least was the case ~20 years ago) in their "History of Computing" section where there was a single panel on Alan Turing describing how he'd contributed to the development of computing while working on some unspecified project during the period 1940-45. Then the exhibition returned to the story of the German invention of computing.

9
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Polish cryptographers!!

"The initial work was done by guys from Poland"

And there's a memorial to them at Bletchley.

8
0
Silver badge

Re: Polish cryptographers!!

"And there's a memorial to them at Bletchley."

Now you've gone and done it!

Expect to change that to 'was' in order to keep the 'history' straight.

3
0
Silver badge
Paris Hilton

"I look forward to them telling the story of how the Americans cracked the Enigma code."

Wasn't there a submarine movie about this?

2
0
Silver badge

There was indeed.

At the end of the credits, there was a bit of text correcting all the inaccuracies, such as it wasn't the USA who forced a U boat to the surface, boarded it (even though it was about to sink) and retrieved the wheel settings book from the wireless room, it was the royal navy.

1
0
Silver badge

the story of the German invention of computing.

Which is actually true. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konrad_Zuse

Cracking Enigma was a huge achievement, but the hardware used was not a general-purpose computer. Turing's other contributions of genius were to the mathematics of computing and computability. He wasn't an engineer.

3
0

Re: Polish cryptographers!!

And Marian Rejewski never did get properly honoured for it ... by his own country.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Polish cryptographers!!

To be true, Poland is a country that grows, shrinks, disappears, then reappears, then is forcefully visited by funky Trotsky and his Red Army, then stabilizes, then disappears in a double-sided hostile takeover, then is sold for by FDR to jovial Russians for a presidential election win, then reappears in modified form shifted to the left on the map, then unsovietizes only to be europized later.

It is hard to honour national heroes while doing this kind of electric boogaloo.

3
0

Re: Polish cryptographers!! My father worked on it

My father worked on the Polish coding machine. As a young apprentice draughtsman, he was given the job of preparing engineering drawings based on one of the first machines smuggled out of Poland. The work was done in top secret with an armed guard permanently at the door. He had to hand all materials and documents to the guard when he left the room and he was told he would be put up against a wall and shot if he ever mentioned what he saw in that room. Even in the 1990's he was nervous about telling me about it. He described it as looking like a small typewriter with some numbered wheels on it.

Because of this job, and what he had seen in that room, he was forbidden from doing active service in the forces overseas afterwards, due to the risk of capture (although he did his share of air raid duty in London)

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Polish cryptographers!! My father worked on it

Prussian cryptographers!

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: the story of the German invention of computing.

Turing may not have been an engineer, but Tommy Flowers was.

0
0
Flame

One hour?

Blimey, that's a bit swift. I've been on the Bletchley Park tour a few times and found it perfectly paced at 90 minutes. Mind you, if they're not taking in the Tunny/Colossus exhibit in the National Museum of Computing then that will save some time - pointlessy, stupidly and inadvisedly, but it will save some time.

The decisions being taken by the Bletchley Park Trust seem bent on ripping apart two collections that really do have synergy - the one time that word does have a place in describing in how a place should be run and management are running away from it.

29
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: One hour?

Arguably breaking Tunny with Collossus did as much, maybe more, for the war effort as the breaking of Enigma, so yet I agree, it makes no sense at all to separate the two (also the NMoC is more interesting for us real geeks, and they have real working kit! :)

6
0
Silver badge

I note

that the web site for the computing museum mentions two or three times that it is not necessary to purchase a Bletchley Park ticket to visit the museum...

7
0

Time for The Register to weigh in methinks.

Just to echo an idea in yesterdays comments- The Register needs to start using its readership clout and create a campaign for this.

117
0
Bronze badge

Re: Time for The Register to weigh in methinks.

I'd +10 this if I could.

15
0

Re: Time for The Register to weigh in methinks.

Absolutely

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Time for The Register to weigh in methinks.

A damn good idea. And perhaps a popular public figure with a very large twitter following and an interest in history, gay rights and technology could be recruited to raise awareness of this campaign amongst the general population?

Oh wait, Mr Orlowski has other ideas. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/28/stephen_fry_says_kildall_was_cracked/

6
1
Silver badge
IT Angle

Re: Time for The Register to weigh in methinks.

"Oh wait, Mr Orlowski has other ideas. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01

/28/stephen_fry_says_kildall_was_cracked/"

Anyway -- he wouldn't do it. It's not made by Apple so it must be shit.

4
0

Re: Time for The Register to weigh in methinks.

My Thought:

The Register picks a saturday and published it to it's readership.

The Register designs a NMOC 'flag' for people to print

On said saturday the readership does it's damnest to attend TNMOC, not BPT, with printed flags,

When leaving the TNMOC people leave their flags with a personal note on the back.

There is no profit, aside from a point being made perhaps.

ttfn

5
0
Bronze badge

Re: Time for The Register to weigh in methinks.

Computer people of the world unite!!!

Joking aside, something has to be done. I was that pissed off with what I read yesterday I paid £50 to TNMOC (and Gift Aid of course) to become a member. Bletchley won't get a single penny of my money ever again until they stop what they are doing.

3
0

Re: Time for The Register to weigh in methinks.

Another reason is that he's done an introduction to the 'multimedia visitors guide'.

http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/news/v.rhtm/New_for_Summer_2013_Multimedia_Guide-697252.html

I suspect that the ultimate aim is to dispense with the warm bodies and use gadgets instead.

0
0
Bronze badge

Surely it can be changed ?

As a trust and a registered charity, the power to change this lies with the trustees does it not ?

The list is here:

http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/about/BPTrust.rhtm

It would be interesting to hear what some of them have to say about all this (El Reg....)

The CEO should only be implementing their wishes. So, Standen being an arsehole* aside, what he is doing is surely what the trustees have asked him to do.

stu

*how did he get to CEO ? Even his bio on the site seems to suggest he was in the army, then here - totally unqualified for a role like this.

17
0

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

I agree that he doesn't seem to have a very good idea of how to run Bletchley Park. However, his bio actually says the complete opposite to what you say - he's ex-Signals, working in intelligence and signals, which is a direct descendant of the wartime work of Bletchley Park. He's also, since he left the Army, worked in battlefield history and tours, so he also apparently has an interest in history and communicating it to others.

That does seem at odds with the Disneyfication of Bletchley, but there's no accounting for one person's ideas on how to do something.

2
1

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

I expect the Heritage Lottery Fund will have had a big say in this.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

>I agree that he doesn't seem to have a very good idea of how to run Bletchley Park. However, his bio >actually says the complete opposite to what you say - he's ex-Signals, working in intelligence and >signals, which is a direct descendant of the wartime work of Bletchley Park. He's also, since he left >the Army, worked in battlefield history and tours, so he also apparently has an interest in history and >communicating it to others.

I know what you are saying - but being in the same sector is hardly the most important pre-req for a CEO - it's senior management experience, previous CEO experience, experience on other boards, etc.

His bio says he was an officer in the army, and then a tour guide... not someone I'd have employed to run a company.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

stu 4: I agree. Iain Standen is probably a typical "Rupert", a product of the British Army officer corps where the old school tie are what matters, and the lower ranks are there to be bossed around. As for Signals, they had bugger all to do with wartime Bletchley Park, where much of the key personnel were on secondment from academia and organisations such as the General Post Office.

5
0

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

Disclaimer: I *am* an Army officer (in the Reserves).

The "Ruperts", of which there are many, wouldn't stoop to a dirty technical job like Signals. In WW2 Signals didn't have anything to do with Bletchley, but certainly post-WW2 the Bletchley-style signals intelligence is well within the preserve of the Army, specifically 14 Signals Regiment. I'm not Signals myself, but it was on my shortlist when choosing a Corps, and I visited Blandford (School of Signals) during my officer cadet days. The Corps museum covers all sorts of stuff, including WW2 Enigma stuff.

So in theory Blanden should be a good choice, which makes his actions all the more tragic.

4
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Silver badge

Re: makes his actions all the more tragic.

so a donkey lead by a donkey then

0
0

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

The HLF will have had a say in this as the BP Trust would have had to agree to a selection of targets/ conditions to secure funding. Future funding would be dependent on meeting those conditions too.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

but wasn't the invention of the programmable computer an invention that just maybe has a smidjin more of an impact of the modern world?

Definitely, although it was invented by Konrad Zuse in Germany before the war! Colossus came second, or maybe third if you believe the Yanks. Or even fourth, if you accept Babbage's mechanical engine as the first programmable computer.

Also don't under-estimate the input of genius physicists: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_transistor. If we still had to use thermionic valves there might be less than a thousand computers in the world. If we still had to use bipolar transistors there might be less than a million. Oddly, the FET was discovered first, though CMOS arrived quite late and was the enabling technology for Moore's law.

1
2
Bronze badge

A matter of logistics

I know nothing but...

"his bio says he's ex-Signals, working in intelligence, battlefield history and tours, so he has an interest in bowing the fodder across the lawns as fast as ..."

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@Moultoneer

> The HLF will have had a say in this

Hardware Liberation Front??? now there's a cause worth supporting.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: moore's law

oh dear

you went and fucked it all up there right at the end. Moore's law is demonstrably bollocks and promotes a world view that is.... unhelpful, as acknowledged by the great man himself.

It's not how laws work, and it's not even how the development of IC's works. It was, kinda, for a while.

Though fair play I had never heard of Zuse.

That will teach me for getting all up on my high horse when merkins mention eniac.

(well it won't! but you know what i mean)

and I thought ECL was shoe horned in there in the early days to keep reality on the Moore's curve :-)

0
0

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

Whatever his other faults, Colonel (retired) Standen ran the Royal Signals Depot at Blandford during his career, which is a very large managerial undertaking, with a large civilian staff. His credentials for the post of CEO are perfectly adequate.

2
1

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

"As for Signals, they had bugger all to do with wartime Bletchley Park, where much of the key personnel were on secondment from academia and organisations such as the General Post Office."

Nonsense. The Royal Corps of Signals, as the Army's specialist Signal organisation, was closely involved with Bletchley Park, and especially the intercept stations - the "Y" Service - during WW2.

A quick glance through the published works on the subject would reveal that.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely it can be changed ?

'In WW2 Signals didn't have anything to do with Bletchley,'

Where do you think all the intercepted traffic came from?

2
0
Silver badge

Re: moore's law

you went and fucked it all up there right at the end. Moore's law is demonstrably bollocks and promotes a world view that is.... unhelpful, as acknowledged by the great man himself.

Sorry but you are completely wrong. From a physicist's or engineer's perspective, it's a scaling law, that predicted (back in the 1980s) that there was absolutely nothing fundamental in the way of going from the earliest CMOS computers with a few tens of thousands of transistors running at a few MHz up to today's billion-transistor chips clocked at a few GHz. It also predicted where the law would inevitably fail (ie run out of predictive power). That's where we are today. It's because the transistors have to be made out of discrete atoms and the thickness of a gate is now as thin (as few atoms) as it can be while remaining an insulator.

Back in the days of bipolar transistors, a bit was represented as a flow of current and engineers faced what they called a "smoking hairy golfball" problem. You had to put the components sufficiently far apart so you could keep them cool, which restricted the clock speed because of the speed of light. Shrink it too much and you can't stop it catching fire (aided by the fact that bipolar transistors suffer thermal runaway).

CMOS, on the other hand, scales so that energy is dissipated only when a logic element changes state, and the heat generated per unit area of active electronics is a constant as you shrink the transistors, shrink the operating voltage, and scale up the clock speed, all by the same factor.

Agreed, Moore's law is now historical and no longer predictive. (the entire context of this thread is history!) We've now pretty much reached the physical limits for the smallness of a transistor, and any future improvements in CPU performance will have to come from using the billion or so transistors on a chip more intelligently.

0
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.