Enter the maze

A fishy format that formally fixes folk to focus

Choppy blue-grey water

The setup for the transfer of data is called handshaking. On the Internet, for example, there are well defined rules about how computers know to get ready to receive data. This is called IP, for Internet Protocol. There are, however, other important occasions when we need to ensure that recipients are ready to receive the information we are sending. The BBC Radio 4 shipping forecast is an interesting example. The shipping forecast is a special weather bulletin transmitted at 12.48am precisely that gives detailed information about the current weather conditions around the British Isles, vital for fishing boats and other seafarers. To ensure that boats at sea are able to get ready to hear this important information, the BBC introduced a piece of music to precede the broadcast. Sailing By is a slow waltz composed in 1963 by Ronald Binge. The music uses a repetitive ABABC structure with distinctive rising and falling woodwind sounds. This set of repeating patterns helps sailors tuning in, often with bad reception, to be able to recognise the music and know that the forecast is on its way. In the early days it also helped act as a buffer in case the earlier news broadcast ran shorter or longer than usual.