Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2015 scientific society talks in London blog post

Monday, 27 June 2016

On the Isles of Scilly (for one day only) - day trip to Scilly part three

See Part One: Overnight sleeper train from Paddington to Penzance about the first part of this journey. Part Two is Day trip to the Isles of Scilly (well, one of them) on the Scillonian III ferry from Penzance. This post is Part Three.

Isles if Scilly visit 24 June 2016, St Mary's

I arrived on Friday lunchtime in Scilly, thanks to the Scillonian III (see part two linked above) and the overnight sleeper train 'Night Riviera' (see part one linked above) with the intention of taking a small local boat to Tresco to see its lovely Abbey Gardens. Then I saw the arrangement for getting on to the small boat and thought "hell no" as it involved clambering down some steps without a proper handrail. Noooo. I am too scared.

Isles if Scilly visit 24 June 2016, St Mary's
The whole arrangement was a bit too 'leap of faith' for me I'm afraid. Lovely boat anyway.

The internet told me that the birds on the island are really tame and brought some bird seed with me in case they might like to feed from my hand. Nope. They're tame enough not to fly off if you encounter them, and they'll fly quite close to you, but they won't (or didn't in my case) land on me. The birds at Blackheath pond will benefit instead.

My Plan B was to head up to the airport and see some of the little aircraft at close quarters.

Isles if Scilly visit 24 June 2016, St Mary's
Footpath leading up to the airport where small planes take off and land

It's probably only a 40 minute walk from St Mary's harbour but I kept wandering off to photograph things and explore other bits, it was all rather lovely.

Isles if Scilly visit 24 June 2016, St Mary's

I managed to make it to the top of the footpath (above) but for obvious reasons couldn't get any closer to the runway. Had I stayed up there another ten minutes I'd have seen a tiny little plane take off but I might have had to duck.

Isles if Scilly visit 24 June 2016, St Mary's

Should have taken sun tan lotion and sunglasses. It was very hot and exposed and I'm a now a fetching shade of British Tourist Pink. The weather was actually spectacular, and it really hadn't been when I'd arrived in Penzance (drizzle).

If it's worked, the rest of the pictures should be below in a sort of carousel, if not here are the Scilly pics I took.

Isles of Scilly - St Mary's - 24 June 2016




Saturday, 25 June 2016

Day trip to the Isles of Scilly (well, one of them) on the Scillonian III ferry from Penzance

See Part One: Overnight sleeper train from Paddington to Penzance about the first part of this journey. This post is Part Two.

Travelling from Penzance to Isles of Scilly on Scillonian III - 24 June 2016
Oooh Scilly - more pictures from this trip here


Yesterday I arrived rather early in the morning in Penzance having taken the overnight sleeper train from Paddington, which was lovely (see part one of this post series, linked above). Penzance's harbour / pier for the ferry trip to the Isles of Scilly is a ten minute walk from the station and very well sign-posted - I didn't get lost once which is (for me) remarkable.

I'd booked my ferry tickets online and you don't need to print anything out but you do need a photo ID and your surname. You'll also have a 6 letter code but I didn't really need that either. I used my passport on the journey out and tried out the photocard that accompanies my 1-3 zone travelcard railcard on the return journey - both worked fine. No-one checked the weight of my bag which was supposed to be less than 5kg (it probably was).

There are a couple of cafes on the way if you need snacks before boarding and you can see the boat itself pretty early on into the walk (and from outside the station) so it's helpful to know what it looks like.

The large-ish white boat on the left is the Scillonian III. Picture credit: Me!

Travelling from Penzance to Isles of Scilly on Scillonian III - 24 June 2016
What the Scillonian III looks like close-up


Keep walking as far as The Dolphin pub then turn left - basically follow everyone else making this journey. Once you've checked in you're given what looks like a poker chip as your boarding token, which you then hand to the person onshore who waves you onto the boat.

Travelling from Penzance to Isles of Scilly on Scillonian III - 24 June 2016
Boarding chip


Bring something waterproof
It's summer, the weather's nice, you might want to sit outside. But it's also been raining and so the wooden chairs are wet. I had a sort of cagoule thing with me (lightweight) so I sat on that and stayed dry. The sun came out shortly after we set sail and dried things off quite nicely, and then the winds picked up a bit so it was simulatneously baking hot and freezing cold. I regret not bringing sunglasses and the day later I also regret not bringing sun cream (I look like a red panda).


Deck sense
The Scillonian III has four decks where you can sit (the top has outside bits) and a couple of cafes [cash only], loos are in the basement. You board onto one of the middle decks so head to the stairwell and look at the map to find out where you are.

Travelling from Penzance to Isles of Scilly on Scillonian III - 24 June 2016
Deck plan


If you're staying on one of the islands in Scilly you can take one of the coloured baggage tags and plonk your checked baggage into one of the little freight containers which are then winched onto the ship (some neat work with a forklift truck too, which was terrifying to watch so close to the pier). At the other end you can collect your bag yourself or for £1.40 per bag it'll be delivered to your island / hotel.

Buying tickets for trips to other islands
You used to be able to buy tickets for boats to other islands on-board the Scillonian but this is no longer the case and you buy them from the boats themselves - they can do you a deal on return fares and I think, in the case of Tresco (where I planned to go) can give you an all-in-one ticket for the boat journey and entry to the Abbey Gardens botanical garden.

You'll need cash / Cafe
There are no card facilities on-board, I'm not sure if that's because there's no signal when at sea or some other reason, but bring cash. They also have loads of guidebooks and maps if you've not managed to sort that out.


Sea-sickness
On a choppy visit you might feel queasy. Our journey got a bit choppier about halfway through and I did feel a tiny bit queasy but nothing too bad. There are paper sick bags everywhere and the cafe sells barley sugars (any boiled sweet seems to help with sea sickness) as well as tea and sandwiches.

There are also recommendations that sitting in the lower decks can help but I think I'd find the opposite to be honest. I found sitting in the middle of the boat to be the most helpful - presumably it's the pivot point. Looking behind me I could see the horizon leaping in and out of view as the back of the boat pitched up and down, that didn't help much, but looking out to the side it looked a lot calmer - though the boat moves in all sorts of directions not just in the front / back direction. It was a calm crossing (even calmer on the way back) so I was very lucky.


I doubt my regular trips on the Thames Clippers ferries will have prepared me for travelling on the Atlantic Ocean though.

Reclining seats
Some of the seats have a little gear stick on the right hand side which lets you move the backrest back a little bit, I managed to sleep very comfortably on the journey back to Penzance. 

Wifi / 3G
None once you're out at sea, 3G fine while near Penzance. I had no signal at all while in Scilly.  

Disembarking and getting local boats
All very straightforward, there are free loos at St Mary's harbour and within a ten minute walk there's a Co-op and plenty of other shops (incluing outdoor ones and lots of tourist shops).

There are loads of smaller boats ready to take you to other islands and all sorts of other day trip events. I took one look at the pier for the boat to Tresco and thought better of it - it reminded me of trying to get into a small boat in Venice. Never again. I need handrails and tethered walkways.

Fortunately I'd paid attention to the excitements of St Mary's, our arrival island, and new that there was a little airport inland which I'd enjoy visiting. I got over the brief disappointment of missing a chance to see Tresco's beautiful gardens and headed off to explore the airport... 




Overnight sleeper Paddington to Penzance, and back again

Paddington to Penzance on Night Riviera sleeper train - 23 June 2016 Paddington to Penzance on Night Riviera sleeper train - 23 June 2016 Paddington to Penzance on Night Riviera sleeper train - 23 June 2016
From L: train at Paddington, corridor on sleeper car, room with berth on left. More pics.

There are two overnight sleeper trains in the UK (that I know of) and both have London as one of the termini. The Caledonian Sleeper travels from Euston to Scotland and I have enjoyed it many times, and the Night Riviera runs from Paddington to Penzance.

One of the nicest things about travelling on a sleeper train is periodically waking up through the night and remembering "I'm on a sleeper train, woohoo!" so if you're a light sleeper, or likely to be woken by gentle rolls, occasional lurches or rattling over points it might not be for you.

Neither sleeper train has a service on Saturday evening so if you go somewhere on Friday night for the weekend you can come back on Sunday evening and arrive on Monday morning.

I travelled to Penzance on Thursday night and came back on Friday so this was really more of a day trip. Cost was £183 (outward £104, return £79), cheaper versions are available (shared cabin or a mildly-reclining seat in a regular carriage). £184 for travel AND accommodation all in one - two journeys and two nights 'in a hotel' so not bad value I think.

Getting tickets
Make sure you're buying a SLEEPER ticket and not just a SEAT on the train! I bought over the phone and was given an eight digit code with which to collect my tickets from any machine at any station (I collected my tickets from Cannon Street station). Recommend collecting the tickets a day or two in advance as if there's a problem it can be a bit difficult to fix at half past eleven in the evening. 

Outward-bound journey from Paddington to Penzance
The train leaves at 23:45 but you can usually get on board by about half ten and get settled in. Costa was open so I was able to get a snack, but they have a buffet car on the train anyway. One of the train managers will come round and check everyone in, check tickets, answer any questions, explain how it all works and what time you'll arrive - and the time by which you'll be booted off the train. If you find a train manager get yourself checked in as early as possible then you can relax undisturbed for the rest of the journey until breakfast.

There is only standard accommodation on the Night Riviera (it's slightly different on the Caledonian sleeper), but you can pay a supplement to have the cabin to yourself, which is what I did - effectively turning this into a first-class journey (any sleeper berth ticket also entitles you to use of the first class lounge at Paddington).

The train arrives in Penzance at 07:52 and you need to get off promptly. Slightly annoyingly the latest breakfast order to your cabin is 06:40 because the poor train manager needs to collect and wash all the crockery before leaving the train with everyone else. I had my breakfast at 6 and then lazed around for the next couple of hours - breakfast isn't compulsory of course, and you can grab something from the buffet car, and there are cafes open at Penzance.

General information about the cabin / train
Your cabin will be set up with the lights on, the temperature to minimum and the blind down in front of the window. If you want to maximise sleep leave the blind down, if you want to maximise gazing at stars and the general eerie spookiness of the countryside in pitch dark-grey-ness then leave them up. As you'll also be stopping at several stations en route you'll also get blinding lights coming into your cabin - I don't mind this but be aware. To open the blind you need to pull it down and slightly forward to then release it and lift it up. I've not tried having it half down / half up (that would work to cut out much of the station lights which shine downwards), maybe next time.

Paddington to Penzance on Night Riviera sleeper train - 23 June 2016
The view from my cabin window at 1am ;)


A thing I'd have found useful would have been a list of stations and the approximate times of arrival. There appear to be quite a lot of them on this journey, and I think they can include the following, pinched from Wikipedia.

 


Bed position - left or right
Cabins are mirror images of each other with some having the bed on the left as you go in, others having it on the right. If you have a strong sleep direction preference you might want to consider this.

Some have the bed on the right which means when sleeping on your left hand side your back is against the wall (and when turning over less likely to fall out as nearly happened when sleeping on my left on a left bed with my face against the wall). I travelled from Paddington in G 15L (coach G, room 15, lower berth) which had the bed on the left and found I slightly preferred the return journey from Penzance in E 09R (coach E, room 9, lower berth) which had the bed on the right. There doesn't appear to be much information when booking online about the L-R position of the bed, or on the ticket, so maybe ring up and ask (GWR https://www.gwr.com/help-and-support/contact).

Charging phones
Happily you can charge your phone in the Shaver Only socket, though I'm sure you're not supposed to, using the two pin adaptor that we might once have taken to Europe ;) I was unconfident about the arrangement as the socket has three holes and my 2-pin (UK to EU) adaptor has two, but you 'pick a side'. The left and middle holes for 110V and the right and middle for 240V. Timidly I went for 110V and charged slowly, but the 240V would have been fine, from conversations I had on Twitter.

Paddington to Penzance on Night Riviera sleeper train - 23 June 2016
2-pin adaptor goes into either left (110V) OR
right (240V)  depending on voltage desigred


Temperature
You can use the dial to change the temperature but I usually keep it on minimum, though did find the air a bit cold on the way out and made use of a very thin blanket that I'd brought with me around my neck. It was very toastie under the duvet anyway.

Lighting
Each berth (my arrangement used only the lower berth) has its own light switches for the main light and the bed light. There are also light switches on the opposite side, high up, for a bluey teal night light and a low-level white light as well, so you needn't sleep in pitch darkness if you don't like that (I do). You'll always be able to see the phosphorescent emergency sign above the window illustrating the position of the hammer though.

Food and drink
There'll be a small bottle of water in your room, above the window and you get a choice of items for breakfast (cereal, coffee, tea, orange juice, croissant butter jam) brought on a tray. Plus buffet car.

If you're having tea make sure, when your breakfast tray arrives, that the FIRST thing you do is pop the tea bag into the hot water to brew. Don't pour yourself a cup of hot water without realising there's a bag in the cup.

Ablutions
There was a towel and a bar of soap.  

Wifi
Haha. You can apparently connect to the wifi if you're near the buffet car but I didn't see a whiff of wifi on either of my journeys. In fact I had fairly poor signal (E on occasions) in Penzance and nothing but GPRS when on Isles of Scilly. 

Loos
They have two of them at each end of the carriage, doors are quite a bit narrower than usual (if you happen to have your bag on you). You can flush them when the train is at a station as they're 'fully tanked' apparently.

Security
If you're leaving your cabin with valuables in you can flip the lock so that on pulling the door closed your cabin will be locked. Make sure you ask the train manager where they're most likely to be so that they can let you in again. I had only my iPhone, wallet and keys with me of value so kept them on me when I went to the loo and left my cabin unlocked with no problems. If I have a laptop I either bag it and take it with me or lock the door. If you can't find the train manager you can ask the buffet car people to radio them for you.

The journey and the sleeping
You're on a moving bed travelling quite fast for most of the journey with stops at stations, changes of direction, pitching and rolling. Apart from the regular station stops I found I slept more on this journey than on the Caledonian one - that's not necessarily a plus though, as I quite enjoy the waking up and going back to sleep bits ;) There are no stops between Reading and Taunton.

First-class lounge at Paddington
If you've paid to travel in a sleeper cabin (whether by yourself or shared) your ticket will grant you admission to the first-class lounge at Paddingon where you can get food, drink, charge up stuff etc.

Children, dogs, bicycles, couples
There were quite a few small children on the train (they were very quiet), presumably they slept in the upper bunk as I used to when little. According to the excellent Man in Seat Sixty One website smaller babies can be plonked in a bassinette on the floor, there's plenty of room for them. Dogs can go in the guard carriage but I'd want to know how dark and spooky it was going to be - even inside the cabin it's quite noisy and rattley and I can imagine a dog being quite frightened. Bicycles need to be booked in advance but can also be taken. Couples - as far as I can tell the Night Riviera doesn't seem to have the same gendered carriages that they have (or used to have) on the Caledonian Sleeper (where I've always been asked for my gender on booking, that didn't happen here) so presumably people can share a cabin, though good luck sharing one of the tiny beds!

Inward-bound journey from Penzance to Paddington
We were allowed to board at 21:15 for a 21:45 departure so there was a bit of standing around at the station where nothing much was open. I'd had a very nice Indian meal a few minutes walk away to tide me over. Arrival in Paddington is at 5:08 but you get booted out at 7am and the last breakfast is at 6am.

Stations we stopped at on my particular journey were -
  • Penzance
  • St Erth
  • Camborne
  • Redruth
  • Truro
  • St Austell
  • Par
  • Bodmin Parkway
  • Liskeard
  • Plymouth
  • Totnes
  • Newton Abbott
  • Exeter St David's
  • Taunton
  • Reading
  • London Paddington
Further reading
Wikipedia's article on the Night Riviera
Fabulously detailed information from Seat 61
Great Western Railway (GWR's) own page about the service.
Night riders: aboard the Paddington-Penzance sleeper train (The Guardian, 2013)




Thursday, 16 June 2016

Romeoed and Julietted - and Stephen Warbeck's lovely score for Shakespeare in Love

Written on evening of Wed 15 June but published Thur 16 June cos I forgot to press Publish before going to bed ;)

I've unintentionally (didn't make the connection til later) intentionally (obviously I chose to do the activities!) binged on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet today. The wonderful four part 'School Drama' play from BBC Radio 4 / Goldhawk Productions written by Andy Mulligan will soon be fading from iPlayer (catch it while you can) and so I've been enjoying it again before it goes, then this evening I saw a screening of Shakespeare in Love at the Barbican followed by an interview with its composer Stephen Warbeck.

School Drama
School Drama has Tom Hollander in it, who I have been moony-eyed over since discovering his occasional column in The Spectator last month - I'm not alone, everyone thinks he's a brilliant writer and I certainly don't think any text I write will do justice to the play.

Acutely observed, funny and moving it's about a failing school trying to put on a performance of Romeo and Juliet and get their performance entered into a schools competition. The script is peppered with little things familiar to anyone who's worked in an office environment - at one point the kettle disappears (presumably for PAT electrical testing) but fortunately reappears later having passed, someone's miffed about a borrowed mug, the entry and security system keeps people out but also stops them from getting food. Geoff (Tom) is a currently-not-acting actor who agrees to come in and direct the play and throughout he is at the mercy of unfeeling bureaucracy and is hampered by the layers of over-protection put in place between him and the students... but perhaps all is not as it seems.

At one point a musically-inclined student joins the production and writes some cheesy songs and there's a wonderfully awful moment where it looks like a dance routine might be incorporated but fortunately it isn't. You can hear the full horror in the 'Capulets Montagues song' in the Soundcloud below. The music is by Jon Ouin of Stornoway and I love his title music for the play. I was also really struck by how many layers of meaning Tom Hollander can put into simple words / phrases like 'Yes' and 'Thank you' - it's a bit like he's speaking a tonal language, though I'm not sure if that makes sense. As if the words had their own invisible subtitles. Fairly impressive for a solely audio-medium I thought!

It's such a lovely play and I will miss it when it rolls off iPlayer - ep 1 falls off in a day or two, ep 2 a day later and so on. There have been lots of really lovely tweets about it and I hope it wins all sorts of awards (I also hope the BBC leave it on iPlayer as permanently available). The final episode is a performance of Romeo and Juliet by the cast and students of Deer Park Academy (actually students at Portsmouth Grammar).

I'm sure no-one would be surprised that I loved the use of sound design - especially how the sound of the person speaking over the tannoy (announcements to the school, used as an ambient sound) was picked up and used in the final episode, really cleverly done.



Shakespeare in Love
The Barbican is celebrating Oscar-winning scores by having screenings of films and interviews from the people who scored the film. It was only when I'd taken my seat last night in Cinema 3 that I realised that I was back in Romeo and Juliet-land, and also back in the land of a play within a play. Shakespeare in Love also has a clever, funny and heartbreaking script (by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard).

It turned out that quite a few of the film's production crew (including the director) were in attendance so it was a rather nice reunion. The interviewer, Gary Yershon (also a film composer), introduced the film's musical motifs (it was a pleasingly nerdy event) singing a few bits of the melody's themes and pointing out to us how they were used and where they appear in the film. After the film he welcomed Stephen Warbeck to the stage and asked him questions about his method of working and about the film's score in particular.

Composers can be involved in a film from the very start but I think it's more common for them to add music towards the end of the process, once the film's been shot and likely been edited. But because Stephen was writing music that would be performed in the film (for example the dancing sequences) he was involved very early on. He wanted music that referenced the Elizabethan period but also reflected the modern sensibilities of the film.

Apparently there were lots of music students in the audience so Gary asked on their behalf about the use of musical assistants, and how they might get involved. It seems people need quite a lot of technical computing skill as well as their music skills and Stephen mentioned the Tonmeister course as a useful thing. He writes his music often on paper and then it might get tranferred to Sibelius (software) - it used to be developed first on piano but this is becoming less common, something I've heard other screen composers say.

An audience member asked a question about musically literate directors and Stephen again echoed other composers I've heard speak on this topic - that it doesn't particularly help for directors to know lots about music, as what the composer wants to hear from them relates more to the emotion they want conveyed rather than 'a bit faster' or 'more minor here'.

I missed my chance to ask a question in the room but wandered over and caught up with him in the bar afterwards. He'd briefly mentioned performing the pieces live (I attended his concert at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse a couple of years ago, candlelit, lovely) and asked him if he had any plans to screen the film with a live orchestra ('live to projection' aka 'live to picture'). He said it was a nice idea and that he'd certainly consider it at which point I expressed disbelief that it hadn't come up before. I'm sure he was joking but he suggested that I was, so if true I'm very glad I floated it! He'd very much enjoyed a similar treatment of Ratatouille (music by Michael Giacchino) and agreed that Shakespeare in Love might work well in that format (not all films would but SiL definitely would) so I really hope that can happen. Fingers crossed. Meanwhile I'm looing forward to Independence Day Live and Jurassic Park in Concert screened with live orchestra at Royal Albert Hall later this year.

I suppose I really ought to go and see the actual real-life play performed now ;)

Incidentally Tom Stoppard who co-wrote Shakespeare in Love has a new film out in July called Tulip Fever (set about 40 years after SiL I think) Tom Hollander's in it :) And the music's by Danny Elfman!

Further reading / listening
Why Romeo and Juliet is the most "subversive" play ever written - Andy Mulligan (who wrote School Drama)

Shakespeare in Love - soundtrack / OST by Stephen Warbeck [Amazon UK] [iTunes UK]

More about the Oscar-winning scores series at the Barbican
[press release, PDF] [programme and tickets]

Live movie concerts a cash cow* to orchestras - Jon Burlingame (*yippee!!)





Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Twitter's new update - blocked people can still see your tweets, but it is harder

People can always see your public tweets, even if you've blocked them, by just logging out. Other workarounds include using a third party app to view your tweets, or using a secondary account (or even searching on Google). Twitter's released a new update in the last few days (people can now retweet themselves, which might prove interesting) and they've really tightened up the block function - but claims that 'blocked people can't see your tweets' are, and always will be, incorrect. The only way to stop someone (even one person) from seeing your tweets is to make your account private.

The conflict between people's own experiences of using Twitter, the information Twitter gives about the block (and other news reports) and what is actually possible when using the service is the reason for this update / post.

I used to think I had a reasonable handle on Twitter's block but how it is implemented (how it appears to the user) has become increasingly app- and platform-dependent so it's really not possible to say with much confidence what someone will see if they're blocked / if you've blocked them.

On official Twitter apps such as desktop / browser Twitter and Tweetdeck (owned by Twitter I believe) it seems that you can no longer see anything, no profiles, no tweets in search. If you've blocked someone you'll no longer see their tweets, even if retweeted - this is a new and positive step for most people. But...

Remember that third party apps (Echofon for iPhone, Twicca for Android etc) often behave very differently from official apps and can let people you've blocked see your tweets.

Every time Twitter updates block I see a lot of tweets from people commenting that others now can't see their tweets - but they can, always have been able to and always will be able to. Please let anyone that needs to know, know, thanks.

More detailed information for block function enthusiasts (can't just be me, surely!)
I've done a quick test with a couple of accounts and apps and, thanks to a handy alternative medicine quack who's blocked me and who helpfully provides a testing ground, I present my results below ;) Feel free to share your findings too in the comments... especially if they're different from mine.

Desktop / browser platforms 

Twitter for desktop / browser (ie twitter.com on Firefox)
Profile view: I can't see it if I try and visit, it says they've blocked me.
Search results: their tweets don't show up, and clicking on a reply no longer brings up their tweet in the conversation thread. This may be different on other browsers. A friend reported they could see conversation threads on Chrome (though only on multi-person tweets, not one-to-one conversations) however Twitter's had another update since the latest one and this may no longer be the case.
Embedded RTed links: Clicking on a referred link also fails to show me the tweet and returns "you are not authorised to see that status". In fact the referred tweets don't show up in search, only on profile of sender (tweet shows as 'this tweet is unavailable' and message is "sorry you are not authorized to see this status."

Dabr.co.uk - basic functionality Twitter app
Profile view: not visible
Search results: namesearch: their tweets show up, hashtag search: tweets show up
Embedded RTed links: Not seen specific examples but given their actual tweets are visible anyway...


iPhone apps 
Twitter for iPhone
Profile view: I cannot see the profile of an account that has blocked me, it says that I'm blocked.
Search results: I can't see any tweets they've sent in search results. Clicking on other people's tweets in response to the blocker's tweets also doesn't show their original tweet in conversation.
Embedded RTed links: These are where the blocker's tweet is retweeted as an embedded link. Clicking on these referred links shows "Error loading Tweets (401)" - previously it would have displayed the tweet and any conversation.

Echofon for iPhone
Profile view: I can't see any tweets (the message given is that they've made their account private, though that's not true) but I can see their followers / following list
Search results: their tweets show up in search results. Clicking on the tweet lets me reply to it or retweet it (comment RT only).
Embedded RTed links: Tweets show in search and appear as normal embedded tweets, rather than "this tweet is unavailable". However clicking on the tweet brings up a blank page.

Osfoora for iPhone
Janetter for iPhone
- both show tweets in search results

Android apps
Twitter for Android
I don't have an Android phone so can't test this myself but discussions on Twitter suggest that profiles are now properly blocked. I don't know about search results or conversation threads. Let me know, thanks.

Fenix for Android
I'm seeing reports on Twitter that this no longer shows tweets

Twicca for Android
Reports on Twitter suggest that tweets from blocked accounts are still visible. 


Conclusion
It's now a lot harder for someone to see your tweets if you've blocked them (or for you to see the tweets of someone who's blocked you). But it's not impossible and I often wonder if making it look as if it's harder just misleads people a bit. If your account is public, it's visible to everyone.