Wednesday, October 31, 2007
It's always fun (and I suppose useful) to go over the keywords used to find this site, the biggest star this month is of course "Stourport" used in variation connotations with bridge, carnival, roads, etc. ; which is fine as that's what most of this blog is about (If you've found this page with those tags use the "Stourport" label on the right).
A couple of the adverts I've mentioned appear with links to Philippa Forrester nothing kinky, unless you count "philippa forrester gmtv feet" which I'm hoping is some report she did. On the other hand I did get a "hannah spearritt primeval underwear" which refers to the show and not her choice in undergarments.
Most amusing was "fiona phillips tanzania patronising" either I'm not the only one who thought this or someone was using patronising in its sense of sponsor in which case go here
Someone was looking for the differences in waiting, parking, and loading which is here leading to more official links
Some more esoteric hits have been about Ian Wright's kerfuffle with the parking attendant, Stourport Forward's Liz Durnell keeps cropping up, for contact info click here obviously a popular girl; and I'm obviously not the only one to wonder what processed with alkali means on the Lindt chocolate bars.
All in all that's 205 visits this month from keywords. Biggest actual site referrer was Orphi with 30.
I'll leave with what I guess is a random referral from Mr Eugenides which just goes to show it's worth looking through the logs from time-to-time.
A quick snippet from out illustrious leader Golden Brown this morning regarding schools that fail to meet with the government's arbitrary standards '...the management will be replaced, if that doesn't work it'll be taken over, if that doesn't work it'll be closed down' and the pupils sent where exactly? To another school that is already just about coping with its own number of pupils and now has another school load dumped on it; how does that help anyone?
Also if a change of management fails and if the national government taking over from the local government fails; then maybe it's not the fault of the school. Gosh can we perhaps blame the pupils or at least some of them? The answer proposed here is to scatter them to other schools like little seeds of destruction or, as is most likely, dump them on the next nearest school like a cluster bomb.
[at which point I'm now being monitored by GCHQ for using "school" next to "bomb", oh and for using "GCHQ" Hi guys, how's it going?.]
The simple point is that it doesn't take many rotten apples to spoil the barrel, and as it stands with children having the 'right' to education they're just be shunted around from school to school until they can leave. They obviously don't want to be there, it's generally the parents whining about their child's rights. The simple solution is to remove the right and obligation for education and give it only to those who want it and earn it.
Any child misbehaving is removed and if they (or their parents) want them back in either there or elsewhere they're going to have to demonstrate that desire. Screw-up too often and nobody will take you (expect for a big pile of cash). The advantages are obvious; with only those at a school who want to be there education can be done without distraction, and competition between pupils and schools raises standards.
Disadvantages are also obvious. Some schools will be more desirable then others (a situation that already exists) with paid-for schools topping the system due to increased funds. Society may become split between the educated and non-educated and may begin the meritocracy that Bliar kept bleating on about and manifestly didn't want. This form of meritocracy leads naturally to aristocracy (those in power have the ability to give their children the best schooling, which leads to them becoming more likely to gain power), but to be honest how is that truly different from the situation we're already in?
We can stick with the rules we've got or we can change them, at the moment we're trying to stay put maybe a new direction is needed?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I've already related how I got fed-up with this game and how it popped up tutorials when I was trying to do things. Well here's a small retraction, the game does pause on these pop-ups (good), but you can't get rid of them unless you do what they tell you to regardless of whether you want to or not (bad). Now here's a fuller review from the start.
So far like the other PS3 games Heavenly Sword needs to load some data onto the hard drive, unlike the other two games I've played this seems to take an age. Once the loading is done, you're at the main title screen. Initially, of course, you can only start a new game later you can continue one.
Another loading screen and you're dumped straight into a battle, a pop-up tutorial tells you about Square and Triangle and needs you to press them to get rid of this annoyance. Perform enough kills and you get the Circle option to perform an instant kill; yep you have to do this. Knock a few more of these out and you'll still be overwhelmed from an unexpected quarter and 'die'.
This leads to a new area where you look back at all the events leading to that battle and nicely done it is too, each chapter is depicted by a giant sword rising Stonehenge-like around you with each section shown as a sunburst-style device on it. You can replay any chapter/section simply by selecting the sword and mark or head into the menu to check out the extras such as animations and galleries you can unlock.
At this point I'm going to complain about loading, load to get to the main menu, load to get to the sword plain, load to get to the next chapter mark. Die and you get another load to restart that point it's all sadly familiar and, to be blunt, not what you'd expect from a next-gen console.
Graphically it's great, though for most of the first half you're so far away from the main character you can't really appreciate it. Performing a Circle kill zooms you in, but it would have been nice to have some control over the camera, other then pan left/right. And sadly on my SD/50Hz television I did see some small stuttering at times. On a similar note sound/vision syncing on the cut-scenes can be broken if you pause them during speech, but can be occasionally reset by re-pausing again.
Top marks for characterisation though, the main character Nariko has facial animations rivalling FF:Spirits Within and you've got to fall in love with Kai who's a fruit loop (every game needs one); even the main enemies are well-realised. The cannon-fodder tend to be samey, but they are an army so what would you expect. They don't all use the same moves either and when surrounded they don't all perform the Hollywood 'attack only one at a time' you can get hit by multiple enemies simultaneously.
Importantly despite the initial opening this isn't solely a square/triangle and circle button-bashing fest, once you get the eponymous Heavenly Sword you suddenly need to master it. By default you're in "Speed stance" when anyone attacks you and they have a blue halo around them you will automatically block them provided you're not attacking at the time; if they have an orange halo you need to hold R1 and shift into "Power stance"; yellow/white and it's L1 and "Range Stance". When you have multiple enemies attacking using all three types and sometimes even mixing their own attacks simply blocking becomes more challenging. Now add in the fact that if you counter at just the right time you perform a powerful blow you now enter a waiting game - watching the enemy, carefully switching stance, and debating whether to let the block happen or attempt to counter it while looking for gaps for you to simply attack.
Sword-play isn't the only style on offer, you soon get to "play" with Kai and her repeating crossbow as well as firing off some cannon balls as Nariko and it's at this point the motion sensitive Six-Axis kicks in. Hold down the firing button and everything slows down as you steer the projectile by tilting the controller. Gentle movements are all that are required and once you get the hang of it it's really great fun. Saying that at certain points you need to activate gongs/buttons using flying hats and that just smacks of pointlessness
So overall it's graphically excellent with a well-told story; the flying hats grate, the tutorials annoy, and the loading screens simply shouldn't be there, but it's playable; not an 'Oh my god you must play this or die', but by no means a 'Burn the unclean game'. 6/10
Halloween is almost upon us, time for that old English tradition of demanding stuff with menaces. Hey that's what it is "Give me something or I'll do something unpleasant to you, your house, your garden". Prompt calls from the Church to return it to it's original meaning - damn straight. So divide your livestock, slaughter and prepare some for the coming winter, and throw their bones in the fire; oops I think they were talking about the original Christian origin and not the original Samhein ritual. Easy mistake to make.
On a similar note of getting back to the way things were (or supposed to be) up popped a story on the local news about freezing human egg for later IVF, should we go against Mother Nature? Hell no, Nature gives you only a certain time to have children and that's when you should have them. Anything else is against Nature, like taking painkillers for headaches, or using antiseptics and bandages. Hell burn all the hospitals down how dare they go against Nature's way. Smash all the telephones, televisions, and computers, ground all the planes, stop all the cars and trains; Nature gave us mouths to speak and feet to walk. Are you wearing clothes! How dare you go against Nature, She gave us skin and hair and that should be enough for anyone.
Of course none of the people who give us these stories are paid to think that would make them journalists and they're all just reporters - paid to take in information and repackage it in a short 2 minute (column) segment to make sense to the listener/reader.
My favourite piece this morning was the news that in order to reach a wider audience in an appeal for information about a murder police are targeting people with Bluetooth mobile phones; anyone within 100 miles of the incident with such a phone will get a text message from them. Um firstly Bluetooth is a short range system, so maybe they meant 100 metres and not miles. Secondly Bluetooth as implemented in mobiles is a paired system; so anyone would have to acknowledge this unknown connection before being connected. Finally what's Bluetooth got to do with SMS texting?
Now they might have got the broadcast tower in that area to send an SMS to any mobile entering its cell except would that constitute an unsolicited message and thus be illegal? I suppose it depends on your T&Cs. In any case the 'news' is rubbish. Now I don't expect
journ reporters to be experts, but when something like this crops up I would expect them to ask someone who might know how this works or at least ask the person telling them rather then take it on faith. Nah i'm just being silly.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Ah instruction manuals, to be precise flat-pack style self-assembly manuals or in this case sheets. Yep a delightful attempt in putting up some shelves in the bathroom, the pipe types that go floor to ceiling.
Open the box, pull everything out and make sure you've got everything - Upper Tube (A), tick; Middle Tubes x2 (B), tick; Adjustment Tube (C), tick; Rings x4 (D), nope loose and x3 meh I only need three shelves; (E) tick; (F) tick, End Cap (G), um which one, is this (G) or End Cap (H)? The picture doesn't help ah well I've got two so who cares; everything else, tick.
Fit (K) to base tube, what base tube? Ah got to be (C) neither the words nor the illustration show (C). Slide (I) onto the pipe, (I)'s tapered which way should it go? Um this way? Move onto sliding the shelves into place, put down tube (C) and watch part (I) slide off as there's nothing to stop it at either end.
Slide shelves onto (B) starting at the bottom, which is the bottom? Slide on holding clip (E) and Ring (A). Realise you've got them on upside down and start again.
Go back to tube (C) put (I) back on and now discover which End Cap it is, push (J) into (G) slide (J) onto (C) and then screw in place. At least (I) doesn't slide off now, well not from one end at least.
Put all the pieces together and attempt to position. Swear at middle pieces as they don't lock into place and keep sliding off each other. Jam one tube into the ceiling and the other into the floor, hold into position as you attempt to rotate the smooth steel tube using only your fingertips as it fits into a corner. Give up and try to use your whole hand - skin knuckles. Swear as the middle sections separate again. Re-fit everything, tighten it up, swear as it starts to fall down. Tighten it up again, and sigh with relief as it now stays put and seems stable.
Repeat with second shelf, but ignoring the instructions. So much easier.
Next up was some cane furniture. Out came the pieces and then checking. Hmm the instruction sheet is for a wicker-work two-seater, not a cane two-seater; might be generic. Certain pieces not there and an extra piece, joy! But all the pieces to make the cane furniture are there and so are all the screws.
Take an arm piece and screw in the back panel. Okay this is the left arm and this is the right, and err this is the front panel and this the back (the front panel being more ornate). Yep back panel in place, now for the front panel. The screws don't reach the thread, great. Tum-te-tum much to-ing and fro-ing and consultation. Realise that the back panel is the front panel and the front the back, everything now fits. Repeat with two single seaters
Sooo much fun.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Finally got all the Carnival pictures up including the night-time river parade and the fireworks, which came out okay. Mike Warren's posted a great shot of trees in the mist; by one of those coincidences he was in Wyre Forest taking shots while I was in Hartlebury Common doing similar. Suzie's been having fun with nature close-ups and Kwerfeldein has uploaded more of his masterpieces of light
Following links [Ah it was Septicisle, of course] I end up at the Spectator and a column by Melanie Phillips this sort of stuff annoys the shite out of me so I posted a comment (which lost my line breaks for some reason)
Okay first of all can we separate 'climate change' and 'global warming'? Next can we differentiate between 'cause' and 'contribution' If we do that perhaps we can see that climate change is a natural process that's been going on for the last 4 billion odd years and we can look at the real options presented :I'd also like to point out once again we have never been heading for another Ice Age because we're still in one. Find a globe, look at the poles, see that white stuff? Right we're in an Ice Age, to be specific we're in an inter-glacial period. We might continue to a point out of an Ice Age or we may fall back into a glacial period; feel free to discuss which outcome might be best for us (I'm voting for glacial as our species has already survived one.)
Please note that contributory factor can mean either accelerating or decelerating the process. Those should cover the 'It's not us', 'It is us', and 'It's not us, but we aren't helping' camps. Now present the evidence for each.
- Global warming is a natural process of climate change and would have occurred in the same manner whether we were present or not;
- Global warming isn't a natural process of climate change and was caused by mankind;
- Global warming is a natural part of climate change, but mankind is a contributory factor;
- Global warming isn't a natural part of climate change, but mankind isn't a contributory factor.
So despite my comment look at the rest of the comments who still treat climate change and global warming as interchangeable elements, and lambaste people for not/believing in it or that we're the cause of it. Stop mixing everything up, both sides aren't helping their respective cases with this mish-mash.
[Update here's (PDF) an interesting paper]
The fields stretched endlessly before me and the conveyors went with it carrying their dark brown river. I walked alongside them an outstretched hand brushing along the sides until I come to a point where the machinery had obviously broken down. The belt has been pulled out of line and left to rust by the side; dark beans spill off the belt into a trough filled with straw to be hand picked and transported over to the next belt.
"So this is what unprocessed chocolate looks like" I thought/said.
"Well done oh great Etruscan detective," another voice thinks/says "but that's the least of your concerns"
"I do not fear the Genesis Pig." I reply calmly. "Why use straw, it must make collection difficult?"
"We have too many replicators" thought/said the voice
"You have a replicating replicator." I grow more alert " It must be stopped"
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Have you visited everyone you've linked to on your website recently, better do it now - go on I'll wait.... all done, good. Did any of them give information about how to blow stuff up, go on a religious rampage, or how to use weapons; if so get rid of them now before you're picked up as a terrorist. Yep linking to sites that provide such information is now "providing instruction or training in the making or use of firearms and explosives by means of the Internet." Appears not to matter that it's not your site, or even in the same country that you're being charged in, heck for all we know the original link was to the site because of its great recipe for banana fritters before they took that down and replaced it with "Jihad!!! Kill all the infidels". Nah "It does not appear to be disputed that you did set up this website and it clear that you knew what the content of the [links] was."
So the defendant also had documents deemed to be terrorist manuals (perhaps like the Anarchist's Cookbook) and videos which were 'hidden' in the windows\options folder wow sophisticated.
Best of all
It is clear from the evidence that you did not have this material because of some innocent curiosity. Indeed there was no evidence, other than the most passing of remarks during one of your interviews, that your downloading of this material was mere idle curiosity.So unless you can demonstrate that you have this (freely available possibly legal) material for some innocent purpose you must have it for nefarious reasons. So one of the charges is?
"...offence of distributing or circulating terrorist publications with the intention of encouraging or inducing or assisting in acts of terrorism. Given that you were providing internet access to what are admittedly terrorist publications, it is difficult to see what else was intended other than the encouragement etc of terrorism."No previous convictions, a record of good character, taking into consideration "you may have been been highly impressionable and vulnerable to the teachings of others." Eight years m'laddo.
Yep so if you do link to sites like this always include a disclaimer, in fact best just to put up a disclaimer full stop. Oh and follow all links from your sites in this manner "I'm just linking this site don't judge me by it".
No I wasn't 'stoned' as someone put it, this is just my normal frame of mind.
First of we start with death, some young lads drowning in a lake. For about 30' the lake is about 3' deep, but then it drops down to 18' - well they should have read all those non-existent warning signs shouldn't they.
Next a 2-year old is trapped under a car, quick send out a crew to cover it. Look a tree and a car and some people and some tape, that was worth driving out for wasn't it. The reporter mentioned that on the way to the scene they saw the ambulance heading out to the hospital - so why didn't you follow it; I wanted to see the two-year old's injuries, damn media never giving the public what they want.
The story of an 11-year old who was stabbed multiple times, both he and his father were convinced he'd die, but thanks to "life-saving surgery" he's okay. Good job they performed life-saving surgery and not just run-of-mill surgery, and out of curiosity would it still be life-saving surgery if he'd died? Anyway his report to camera was interesting "I was concious and I was bleeding profusely and when the ambulance came I was vomiting from lack of blood" someone's been reading the on-site reports or the newspaper reports too much.
Car fire in a lay-by off the A47, quick send another television crew out to cover it, damn they've stuck up a big blue tent over the incident how bloody selfish. Honestly you send a television crew out to get pictures and they go and do that; have they no respect for the press? You can tell the reporter was peeved "If you look over my shoulder you'll see the big blue inflatable tent" where "forensic teams are trying to work out exactly what happened"... or playing poker or having a sauna we don't know 'cos we can't see I don't know why I bother with these live reports if we're going to be treated like this.
Finally a happy note, well sort of, in aid to Honduras sometimes it's the simple things like a "bag to put your school things in" and actually having some school things or "a proper mattress instead of a piece of cardboard" hey that's my piece of cardboard, I earned that piece of cardboard, do you know what I had to do to get that piece of cardboard and now you just swan in here and take it away and give me this soft lumpy thing; how am I supposed to get any sleep on that?
Yep a big television interview and now the Portuguese police are flying in to put 14 questions to the McCanns; in an amazing scoop, and having rummaged around a lot of bins, I can exclusively reveal the first draft of the list
- How did you do it?
- Why did you do it?
- Did anyone else help you do it?
- Why do you feel persecuted by the authorities?
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Yep it's time for BMI, hey isn't that an airline - no silly me it's Body Mass Index; so in the same way I did for RDA let's look at BMI.
BMI is a highly difficult calculation, actually it's not - take your weight in kilograms and divide it by the square of your height in metres (height times height) and out pops your BMI; simple huh. So let's start with the first point and that it's a measurement whose units are kg/m2 what does that mean? Well take a plank of wood say and give it a measurement of 1kg/m if I had 10 metres of it then it'd weight 10 kilograms; easy. Take a sheet of wood weighing 1kg/m2 then if I had 10 m2 then it'd weight 10 kilograms. A swimming pool full of water at 1kg/m3 then 10 m3 would weight 10 kilograms. Length, width, depth - m, m2, m3. BMI is m2 so you're a sheet.
Well no you're a volume, except it's possible to ignore one dimension in this context if you know it shares the same ratio with what you're measuring compared to everyone else; in this case we're ignoring two dimensions and just measuring one (height) so we're assuming everyone's width and depth ratios are identical? Okay maybe they are, well let's pretend anyway. So we've got our magic number that's popped out of our calculation and which is meaningless on its own - I've got a BMI of 25 is that good/bad/indifferent?
To find out what that figure means we need to compare it to other people's BMI, if overweight people have a BMI between 25-30 then I'm approaching overweight, if underweight people have a BMI of 25-30 then I'm underweight, again easy huh. So we take a bunch of people divide them into categories and assign their magic number. So how do we assign people, we can't use BMI to determine who is/isn't overweight/underweight as that's what we're trying to find out, hey we'll use insurance tables that'll work.
If we say that underweight and overweight people are risky then we can measure their BMI and see where they fall in terms of risk assessment - yay! We can trust the tables of course. Oh they'll need prodding and poking to weed out smokers etc. and they'll need updating when it's realised that the insurance companies themselves don't use them, but by and large we can trust them.
Congratulations we now have a simple system for determining how underweight/normal/overweight you are. Well not quite, trouble is muscle is denser then fat so let's try Rugby's Johnny Wilkinson 1.77m and 88kg. 88/(1.77*1.77)~=28 oops sorry Johnny you're overweight, your mum's going to get a letter from your school.
So to recap BMI treats you as an area, it appears to use pre-determined categories to place you, and doesn't account for muscle (or as it happens bone structure, sex, and ethnicity). In fact to use it to determine a person's category seems to be rather useless in this regard and there's a reason for that - it was never meant to be used like this.
BMI was designed for 'sedentary' people of average body composition for simple classification and that's it. It's not an all-purpose general population diagnostic tool. So why is it being used as one?
Monday, October 22, 2007
Yep part my hair in a wave, tattoo strange geometric symbols on my forehead. I've woken up in a prison cell with a sharp stabbing sensation in my wallet and my cellmate Sony whispering "You know you want it" in my ear. I've bought a PlayStation 3.
Traipsing around on foot looking at the deals to be had; Curry's, Comet, PC World nothing of interest. Argos had the same leaflet as before and a flimsy booklet informing me I could find more on page 98; great if the booklet didn''t stop around page 60. Oh silly me they meant 98 of the Christmas booklet, which is... where exactly? I looked at the main desks with the main catalogue, at the special offer books above them, turned to leave and there they were behind the main doors - behind the doors, tucked into a corner!
Gamestation was busy and pushing the 40Gb's, Game was quieter and in a clincher were offering a selection of games at £20 on purchase of a system; Oblivion being one of them. Queued, grab a guy, stated my options (60Gb plus RFoM and Heavenly Sword) mentioned I was getting it while it had b/c and how ironically the first game I'm liable to stick in it is a PS2 one then off he went to get it and I had a chat with the manager.
He was surprised that Sony had dropped the price after all their whining about how much they were loosing on each system; I pointed out that they'd dropped a controller from the bundle and it was Christmas coming up (they now have a pile of spare controllers). We both agreed the lack of b/c was 'odd' and I joked about the rise in sales and the sudden resurgence of some PS3 games in the charts (the ones as part of the bundle). I didn't feel it prudent to ask why Sony were dictating both the price and the games you can offer with it, because as we all know a free market system only applies to the producers of goods.
He did ask if the young chap fetching my purchase had mentioned the extra cover; nope, but I had seen it. £30 total cover, on a £350 purchase yeah why not. Do I need a SCART lead, nope apparently it comes with a converter
Anyway down came my new console, which got double-bagged. Apparently yet another directive from Sony to stop people seeing your purchase and getting mugged. "Has that happened to you" I asked "No, but it's happened in America, they had drive-bys", "Yeah, but that's America".
So first impressions were "Bloody hell that's heavy"; it's a rock. I didn't bother to weigh it, but it's hefty. Back home I worked out the details of where to put it. Removal of PlayStation 2, and then removal of the VCR it was sitting on as I don't think I've used it in two or three years. A spot of dusting <cough splutter cough> a bit of swearing at the Second Law of Thermodynamics as I disentangled all the cables. Finally shoving (I said it was hefty) the PS3 into place and checking the clearance around the vents. I can see why everyone was complaining about the finish I only picked it up and suddenly it had fingermarks all over it.
Anyway I followed the instructions - powered it up, plugged in the controller (lighter without the rumble) cursing the short USB lead; then told it where I was and the time etc. First things first the latest version is 1.93 and I'm running... 1.80; okay one 15 minute round trip later and I've a flash drive with the update on it. In went Sly Cooper 2 which prompted the question of whether I wanted to create an internal PS2 memory card - yes please. A quick play around seemed to show that that was okay, time for a PS3 game.
Oblivion, requires 4Gb of space, loading tum te tum and playing. Hmm nice, good run through tutorial-wise, nice draw-distance with no pop-up I could see, the odd small stutter on loading a new area or auto-saving, but nothing game-breaking. One quick play, well one supposedly quick play later and I'd watched someone get assassinated, solved a quest involving a merchant and some suspiciously cheap goods, and killed some vampire agents in the sewers and this wasn't even what I supposed to be doing as part of the main game.
Okay Heavenly Sword, requires 2Gb of space, loading tum-te-tum, tum-te-tum? Hey how come this is taking longer then Oblivion to load? Ah here we are cut-scene, then dropped into the action, then cut-scene and then oo back in time to when it started (how derivative). The main controls are bashing square and triangle with the occasional cross and circle. Annoying the hell out of me was the tutorial, up it popped 'press this button' over the action that was still continuing. Highly annoying in 1.3 aiming at oncoming assassins 'I'm trying to hit this bloke get that bloody rectangular block of text out of my bloody way' oh and you can use the six-axis to steer arrows and obviously the best way to learn how to do this is in action while they're bloody shooting back at you. Frustrated at letting so many through I turned to Resistance: Fall of Man.
Some more loading, and then more loading between missions; it's... not bad. So far your standard First Person Shooter, little in the way of tutorial, you're not even told how to reload your weapon, guidance is minimal which is both good and bad. I wandered around a house for a while before realising I was supposed to jump down into an alley I had no way of getting back out of, with so many games offering pain or death on falling it wasn't my first option.
Anyway the games fall into the not bad category, Ratchet and Clank in November and the Orange Box coming out this week will help that standard rise. [Oh FFS Orange ain't out 'til November either]
Enough of the games onto the console itself. It's quiet with only the occasional manic disc whirr marking the silence (Heavenly Sword seemed the loudest), the flush touch buttons for eject and power and very light and require just a gentle touch, the menu system is easy to navigate and loads up quickly, the USB ports are a little annoying to get out being situated under the overhang (with both the DVD and PVR requiring line-of-sight they're higher up, with the PS3 on wireless it can sit at the bottom), but the controllers can be used wirelessly.
My biggest annoyances were that the hard-disk indicator light was also under the overhang next to the USB ports. With both Oblivion and RFoM warning about not switching off while the hard drive was activate trying to see this tiny orange light was nigh-on impossible for me. Another hang-up was dust-magnet, seriously it was down for maybe an hour and was already collecting particles. My final query was with recharging the controllers, it only happens when the system is on (not in stand-by) and why did my fully charged controller suddenly require charging after coming back to the system?
Ah well I've packed up my PS2 in its original box (with its original wrappings, I know I know) so I'll stick with it and see how it continues to handle, I still find it amusing that the game I've spent the longest on it with is Sly 2 though.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Doing the browsing thing and came across a comic called Russell's Teapot, for those who don't know here's a description of that observation a short version being that in our society it's okay to be delusional provided it's a group delusion that's been going on for a long time and been passed down from generation to generation.
Anyway here are my two favourites Actual Conversation and Welcome
Back to to obesity and blah blah blah. Our local news popped up with a report that had me interrupting the reporter; statements such as ' perhaps the government could tax unhealthy food? [Okay define 'unhealthy'] or foods that were high in fat or contained too much salt? [okay define 'high' and 'too much']'
GMTV appeared with a simple salt warning 'too much salt leads to strokes and' blah blah blah, except of course too little salt also leads to strokes etc. Hmm hey that didn't get mentioned now did it.
Anyway back to that whole 'unhealthy', or 'too much' argument; how to work it out? Easy, we have an Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for salt it's 6g, so we can set some arbitrary point whereby if one portion exceeds that point it's deemed 'high'. Of course we don't really have an RDA for salt - surprise. We have an RDA for sodium, which is a component of salt (sodium chloride), and that's 1.6g . So multiply that by 2.55 to get the salt limit and we get 4.08g um that's not 6g.
Alright forget that how do we get an RDA anyway. Well that's easy too we take the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for each substance... Okay the EAR is the intake that meets the estimated need of 50% of that group (so you can sort by sex and age). If you just used the EAR that would mean 50% of the group would not be getting enough nutrients, so the RDA takes that figure and adds some, usually about 20%. Why 20%? Um well, um because um; look science!
[Update - Anonymous comment says my 20% is arbitary and the RDA is in fact "set at two standard deviations higher than the EAR" which is simply a more scientific guess]
The EAR is scientifically tested, in one study of Taiwanese children levels of B6 were monitored. The doctors took the standard fluids and measured height and body fat etc. Their growth matched that taken from a previous study and so was deemed normal and healthy, so there levels of B6 were 'good'. So their health was determined to be normal/good because they matched the patterns of a previous group whose health was determined to be normal/good - turtles all the way down here.
Sadly some nutrients don't have an EAR so they get an
Average Adequate Intake (AI) instead, the AI is calculated from various means. If someone turns up with some disease and a low X factor (or a high X factor) compared to a non-diseased person then you can say need more (or less) of that X factor. Or you can just see what people normally intake and judge whether they're healthy or not. Say doesn't that last one sound like the EAR tests?
In essence it appears that the RDA is a fudged factor of EAR or AI that has been determined by qualifying a group of people as 'normal/healthy' and measuring their intake. Of course it takes zero account of your lifestyle, do you exercise a lot, build up a sweat? Hey you're loosing salt you now need the RDA plus what you've lost which is um don't know.
So people who exercise need to replace those lost nutrients, which means eating/drinking foods that will be deemed 'high' in said nutrients, which some people want to tax. Yeah tax those damn sweaty joggers and gym users serves them right.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I've been looking at the plans for the Bistro+Offices+Flats that was applied for and I'm kind of scratching my head - has anyone actually looked at the plans and imagined how the rooms are going to be utilised?
Here's the ten page PDF doc of the plans Let's start at the bottom and page 1.
Undercroft parking - 14 flats plus a bistro plus 10 offices equals 8 car-parking spaces, oh and a motorcycle/bike section. Sure there's a car-park next to it, but that's already used by the existing businesses. Anyway the bike section is behind slot 1 so anyone using it has to cross the path in front of bays 3, 2, and 1 or pass bay 1 on the side between it and the narrowing retaining wall.
Now let's point to the refuse storage and ask who would want to park in bay 2 and how the rubbish is going to be picked up.
Right now for the offices, very handy for the parking having a door leading out from it, except for the bit about having the store room next to it - remember to keep that door locked folks; fun if you've three businesses one in each office, but no assume one business here. No alarms in the hall because of the lift, unless you can block access to that floor which would please the bistro upstairs (see later). So would the outside door have an alarm or not (disabled access to the lift)?
Next floor, page 2. Bistro bottom right and a servery with what looks like a waiter between it and the store below. Hmm so to get to the store from there I need to go out the door, into what appears to be a shared area, out onto the 'grounds', down the stairs, out into the car-park, cross the exit, and into the store - then reverse that to get back (assuming that downstairs door is locked); well I'm sure the owners will enjoy that little trek.
So bistro - eating, drinking and the toilets are... where exactly? Oh yes see, leave the bistro and cross the grounds into the other shared area then open the door on your right into an office corridor and then onto what appears to be a shared-sex toilet. No wait you can leave the bistro and turn sharp right into the other shared area then the second door on your right and second door on your left. Expect the water feature in the grounds to become an impromptu urinal, actually you can probably expect that anyway.
Besides that whole set-up is weird, both the toilet and kitchen are situated on a corridor with two doors at each end presumably to allow access from the offices, but you've got one office that's accessed by that door. So if that if the two corridor doors are accessible to the public you've got to put signs up and whoever's in that office has to share signage with a toilet sign; um lower rent?
Okay two flats, the only two flat that are accessed from outside the building, no need to bump into the neighbours. I do like the fact the bedroom 2 is next to office; I hope the soundproofing is good.
First floor, page 3. All flats, all accessible only from the interior staircases, interesting that they've been sectioned into two parts. No access from the left to the right, but the right-hand side has the lift, that'll make furniture moving a little easier for them. The top second from the left smells of cramming, their bathroom pushes into the other flat and is right behind the main door while the lounge lacks a door and appears smaller then the flat below/next to it
Second floor, page 4. Three flats all on the right-hand side, thus also accessible via the lift. Inconsistent with the previous floor around the stairs and lift. On the previous floors the stairs have their own door, on this they share space with the lift and that section has it's own door. This is because the walkway from the stairs isn't as long so a door cannot be placed that wouldn't interfere with the exit from the lift. The stores aren't including in this space as before as doing so would mean that the door leading to the shared space interfered with the door into the right-most flat, poor forward planning. Interesting to note that the two left-most flats share a completely blank outer wall (privacy issues?)
Third floor, page 5. Same as the last floor, but with only two flats. Light on the inner/bottom rooms via dormer windows, light on the outer/top via skylights. The right-most flat gets a combination window/balconies instead of a dormer window and as well as a skylight in the other bedroom. Would be interesting to see how much light you get in the those rooms. Oo almost missed this, the left-most flat has a dedicated dining room mm prestigious.
Pages 6 through 10 are elevations and plans; and for those wondering the motto on the fountain is "Honi soit qui mal y pense", which is French for "Shame to him who thinks evil/ill of it", is the motto of the Order of the Garter, and I have no idea why they're putting it on a fountain.
Flicking between news stations was a bit surreal this morning - hospitals one one, with hospitals on another, and more hospital news here all detailing their failures on hygiene etc.
All the normal stuff was mentioned cleaning hands, equipment blah blah; but one of the things I came up with was that it appears hospitals aren't designed as hospitals. Sounds stupid I know, but watching the images and having visited several in the last few years I noticed that they're not designed with that purpose in mind. Oh sure they use special carpets or tiles, but it's the little things - why do all the doors have protruding frames, same with light switches, desks with nooks and crannys. The way wards are laid out with one long corridor with alcove bays and the nurses' station set at one end so they can't see or be seen by the patients. Narrowing areas, some areas only dimly lit. Just little things that make me think that although the designer(s) know that this is going to be a hospital they don't really comprehend what is going to be done there.
Makes me think of car-parks; there overall purpose is for people to be able to park and then shop, but look at how much thought has gone into setting out the parking bays and traffic routes compared to actually getting people into the shops. next time you park your car in a purpose-built car-park stop and look at what you've got to do to get to the shops.
A quick Fiona GMTV entry, the dining room was for a disabled school so fair enough sort of; but the best bit was listening to the we's - we were doing this, we were doing that, we were distributing wheelchairs; no "we" made a phone-call to a charity that distributes wheelchairs and they came down.
Yep they set up in central Geita and handed over some 200-odd wheelchairs, of course the film crews were there to capture the moment and apparently some people had dragged themselves miles to get there. Uh-huh, because a central distribution point makes so much sense here 'Do you need a wheelchair? Then come and get one' Just pop in to the local centre situated for your convenience halfway up Kilimanjaro.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Just a quick update on looking around for a 60Gb PS3. HMV has it listed as unavailable, Comet has got one as a "Web Exclusive" with Motorstorm and Heavenly Sword only, Virgin is still bereft of games; but the big surprise is Argos.
I've just been handed an Argos "This week's top deals" leaflet saved from the bin by someone who spotted the PS3 on the front and knew I was looking at it. £349.99 plus three games. Yee ha maybe. Hmm same games as before sans Genji so three of them are racers... looks like RFoM and HS then with one I don't want. Think I'll still see what Gamestation will do on Saturday. They can keep the games plus movies in return for Oblivion and Ratchet and Clank.. except that's not out until 9th Nov. Um The Orange Box, damn 26th Oct; Jericho...26th; The Darkness ah I believe in a thing called love, that'll do nicely.
I'll start with a recurring problem that being programmes starting earlier or finishing later then their advertised times in order to keep you watching that channel. I recorded the first "Sarah Jane Adventures" on BBC2 three weeks ago advertised as being 5pm until 5:25pm, despite the padding I missed the ending. So the next week I set it to record from 5pm until 5:30pm and when watching it back kept an eye on the time bar.With a two minute padding it started at 1:28 into the recording and finished at 29:04 (that's start of credits to end of credits) So this 25 minute programme is 27:36 long. Ironically the next episode is shown afterwards on CBBC from 5:30pm until 6pm.
Next up is the point of the people at the newsdesk. BBC News this morning discussing the 'great digital switch' and how Cumbria was the first one to switch over this morning, well they've turned off analogue BBC2 anyway. The priceless comment about the rolling switch was from the plank of wood that is Dermot Murnaghan "Soon terrestrial television will be a thing of the past". ...? Um so we're going to have to switch to satellite television? I don't recall that being mentioned anywhere. If you don't know what you're talking about then shut up.
Onto GMTV which is being blessed at the moment with the absence of both Kate Garraway and Fiona Phillips. Normally they'd keep Penny Smith on the sofa, but for some reason she's been shunted to her normal position at the news desk so we're stuck with just Andrew Castle. Anyway speak too soon because of cause Fiona has travelled to Tanzania to meet this little girl she's been sponsoring for the past three years; let the patronising whine-fest begin.
We start with her moaning about the travel, how difficult it is and how the plane they wanted to catch wasn't flying that day (um fire the organiser?), hey they managed to get there anyway via "means I don't want to go into"? Really, would this involve a wodge of cash and threatening use of TV cameras? Nah I'm sure not. Made up for by the view of Kilimanjaro apparently, a view I'm sure the natives are used to.
Next she's 'complaining' that the girl was so shy that when they met she just wanted to hug her and she was a bit resistant. Honestly you've sponsored her for three years, never met, are almost a complete stranger to her, and come from a different culture where they simply might greet people differently and she shied away from you wrapping her up in a big hug; how selfish of her.
They were greeted by the slaughter of a cow to cook up a big meal, rather then say thank you Fiona goes off about them killing a cow that they needed. Okay it might be one of those cultural things; you visit and are offered the cow, you politely refuse. The host has done their bit, the guest doesn't feel snubbed and everyone's happy; especially the cow. Sadly only works when everyone is in on the fiction.
Then we're shown a one-room mud hut that sleeps six people apparently they sleep and wash all in this one room. I think we were supposed to be shocked at this (at least Fiona seemed to be), but um I don't think they live in that one room I think they live outside. So if that was the case why would they need multiple rooms and besides it's a mud hut they want more space then they can build some; what they need planning permission first?
While visiting they're building a dining room for the school, as noted above do they need one? Flatten and surface an area of ground, stick some trestle tables down and fit an awning to keep the sun off. Now spend the rest of the money on school supplies.
Ah well we've only got a week more of this, then probably another week of her eulogising over it. Hmm kids cartoons over on BBC2 at the same time, at last something a little more mature to watch.
I mentioned back in August about switching electricity suppliers for a vacant unit. they sent us the bill for the remaining time between the switch 14th July until 13th August, which we duly paid as quickly as possible, last month we get a call from a financial service asking why we haven't paid. "We have" I stated and gave them the invoice number and amount. "No this is a different bill, I'll fax it across".
Yep this is for 14th August until the 31st and of course this one has been sent to the vacant property (unlike the first one). A quick call to our new supplier and they took over on the 13th September; so we owe the old one some money, which we pay. I then mention that they should get back to the company and have them send the bills to the correct address like they did before otherwise we're going to get another call.
Just before 5pm yesterday I get a call from this same company with yet another bill. I sigh and ask them to fax it over, I read it and blink at the total, I check the rates and blink, then the dates and blink. Firstly the previous two bills had a standing charge rate of just over 25p per day, this bill has one of just over 190p per day; and they're also charging from 14th July to the 12th September. So they're trying to charge us for the same 49 days, but at seven times the cost.
The amusing thing (in the not laughing sense) is that I've not spoken to anyone who has a good word for energy companies - everyone has at least one tale of woe spread over multiple companies.
[Update - closer inspection of the latest invoice reveals a different account number, same supply number though. So it looks like they've tried to open a brand new account and back-dated it. I now await feedback from them]
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
So the talk is that they'll be discontinuing the 60Gb model, what isn't being said is whether they'll introduce an 80Gb model with b/c instead. As there's already talk about adding the 40Gb -b/c to the US it would make sense to add an 80Gb+b/c to Europe if only to keep the lines consistent. Then again it is Sony we're talking about here.
So with the possible impending loss of b/c, and the fact my PS2 is starting to wheeze, what can I get in a 60Gb model? Essentially for £349.99 I get the console and a choice of two of the following games
Resistance Fall of Man
Formula One CE
Ridge Racer 7
Genji Days of the Blade
except for Comet who are only offering the 40Gb model, and Woolworths, Argos, HMV and Virgin who aren't offering any games at all. To be precise this is what they're (not) offering on-line.
Anyway that's three racing games, a genre I dislike, and only one recent game.
Kudos to Gamestation who, as well as a choice of two from above, are also chucking in Fantastic Four and Spiderman 3 on Blu-ray.
Boos go to Sony themselves for offering the standard 60Gb + 2 game bundle for £425. Yep the same price it started at.
So next I'll use my feet and see what I can wangle in-store.
I've just got to chapter 8 in Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku - "Designer Universes", oh dear. I think it should have been re-headed "I don't know what I'm talking about". He starts off with something told to him by a teacher as proof that God loves the human race apparently the 'fact' He placed the Earth in just the right position from the Sun; yep it's the 'Goldilocks' factor.
Kaku then goes on to find other amazing things; the Earth has just the right mass to keep an atmosphere, the Moon steadies the tilt and wobble, Jupiter sucks in or fires off the asteroids that would hit us, we're far enough out from the centre of our galaxy not to be bombarded with radiation, blah blah blah. He then mentions that cosmologists have found lots of these 'Goldilocks' factors
Uh-huh "cosmologists", now out of curiosity how many of these cosmologists hold a degree in biology?
The reason we're here looking at all these factors is simply that if they weren't present we (in our current shape and form) wouldn't be here to look at them, we'd be wondering abut how amazing it is that we're close enough to the sun to provide enough energy, how lucky we are not to have a satellite that could cause fluctuations in our tilt, how the lack of a gas giant means in its early life our planet was constantly seeded by asteroids delivering the rare metals that make up 'our' bodies etc.
I've said something like this before, but it obviously needs repeating - Kaku you're a theoretical physicist not a biologist! You want to start spouting off about the conditions required to form life you might want to run your text past someone who's got a degree in that subject first; because what you're saying has been out of date for a couple of decades now and, to be blunt, makes you look silly.
Monday, October 15, 2007
So it looks like all the work is now done, or at least in a stopped state, so how's it looking?
The road's up to the same level as the ironworks so no metal death or ramps to negotiate; some shiny double lines that someone commented look "narrower" have been painted; and the parking outside the Flamingo is now officially part of one long parking bay, so the uphill lane now appears to be too narrow.
The approach to the Pelican crossing is a different texture to the rest of the road, vaguely rumbly; and I'm guessing that the giant swathe of reddy beige that appears to extend across the frontage of both pubs is the 'gateway feature' - lovely as it's already been decorated with a dark tread-like pattern.
Neither of the Pelican crossings are functional yet, and they're now digging up the right-hand side of York Street near the Lion Hill entrance so be advised you're about to turn a corner into a set of roadworks.
[Update - Pelican crossings now functional, the surfaces are actual rumble strips, and the 'gateway feature' extending across the front of the Tandoori (my mistake) has some new stripy tyre motifs; and I thought I was right about this, the warning sign on the left of York Street (none on the right) tells you that the left hand lane is closed with the right side being open; oops]
So far so good, let's see what happens when it rains paying close attention to the join between the bridge resurface and the street resurface, feels off to me.
[Additional - My concern was that leaving the town and switching from the new to 'old' surface my car would drop to the left, it seems that no puddles are forming there though at this time]
A quick second-hand report on the Millfields meeting. The councillor is still awaiting the final plans from all three builders (um so what got approved?), the play area was supposed to be sited behind the cottages that got flooded out (excellent a paddling pool too at no extra cost) and a revelation that at least one of the builders supposedly paid a bond over to the council.
So awaiting the final plans, awaiting news on the drainage that relies on having the final plans, and an investigation into 'threats' over keeping the bond if it exists and some letters being sent out to the builders.
Birthday time, no it's not mine yet someone else's; anyway as a late addition I ordered something off Amazon Friday afternoon and added the Special Express Delivery so as to get it Saturday morning before 1pm
I did this for two reasons, firstly it's too big to fit through the letterbox and also needs a signature so I can schedule being at home and secondly I needed it for Sunday.
1pm came and went, I checked the order and it left Milton Keynes at 7am that morning... well the bridge is closed that might mean a diversion I'll hang on. Nothing, not a thing. Went out Sunday (to do some stuff I couldn't do Saturday and then for the birthday) came back to nothing. I've just checked this morning and hey look it's back out for delivery from Milton Keynes at 6am this morning oh and they tried to delivery it at 9am this morning and have me listed as "not at home" gee there's a surprise.
I bet they found the bridge closed and just decided they couldn't deliver it - great. Not as bad as some eh Invisible, but still annoying.
One miffed email to Amazon and I await their response.
One miffed call to the delivery company "Oh yes you were expecting it Saturday, the driver couldn't make it on time; very sorry" oh and no they can't get the driver to drop it off this afternoon it's now scheduled for delivery tomorrow sometime between morning and night.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Good news for those with smaller wallets a wonderful new 40Gb version of the PS3 is coming (has come) to Europe. Eschewing such fripperies as four USB ports (opting for two), memory card slots, and backwards compatibility, it retains the niceties like Wi-Fi and HDMI.
Screech! Apply the brakes there, the new 40Gb model will feature no backwards compatibility for PS2 games none, zip, zero. According to Kotaku it's that cost issue, as it stands you need some extra semiconductors to run ye olden PS2 games; remove them and you have to drop down to a purely software emulator which is problematic.
Now I'm scratching my head here; in Japan and the US the initial release is with a hardware version of the backwards compatibility, with two different models up for grabs. When it gets released in Europe the hardware (or apparently most of it) gets ditched and we get the whopping great choice of only one model available. When Sony made the decision to drop hardware in the states they sweeten the deal by kicking in an 80Gb hard drive, here they remove all hardware and the memory card slots, and two of the USB ports, and drop the hard drive down to 40Gb.
Nope still scratching my head here. Could it be simply that Europe is acting as Sony's testbed the 'Heck if it don't work at least we haven't annoyed anyone that really matters' approach?
On the importance of backwards compatibility to Sony Europe the latest release is v1.93 now check out their b/c list Now forgive me, but wasn't this the very company that lambasted Microsoft for it's software driven compatibility, stated multiple times how this was a cornerstone of the Playstation philosophy, that is now turning its back on the user base in Europe and simply saying meh?
Oh the plus side this is an addition to the line-up (do I hear those cynical Christmas bells a-tinklin'?) so the 60Gb with b/c and slots is still available... for the moment.
reflecting both the reduced emphasis placed on this feature amongst later purchasers of PS3, as well as the availability of a more extensive line-up of PS3 specific titles (a total of 65 titles across all genres by Christmas).Oh look there's that magic word Christmas, but besides that - excuse me "reduced emphasis" by later purchasers, try can't bloody afford one at the moment and won't bloody buy one if the only way to do so forces me to buy a whole new bunch of games to play on the dratted thing when there isn't anything out on it worth playing yet.
What with Bioshock and now this I'm really starting to look at the XBox 360 with covetous eyes.
I needed some time to look into this hence the delay.
A local author has written a book called "Olympic Mind Games" a fictional account of the 2012 Olympics aimed at a teenage market; down come the heavy boots of the London Olympic organisers telling him to remove it. Note the BBCs reference to this
Under the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 organisers have trademark rights over words such as "Olympic", "London 2012" and "2012".Here's where it gets nasty, the 2006 Act modifies the original Olympic Symbols 1995 Act, in this case taking the easy to understand section 4 limitations and turning them into spaghetti.
Here's the original wording that would have cleared Mr Ronsson from section 4 subsection 3 regarding limitations (what isn't considered infringement)
The descriptions of work referred to in subsections (1)(a) and (2)(a) above are a literary work, a dramatic work, a musical work, an artistic work, a sound recording, a film, a broadcast and a cable programme, in each case within the meaning of Part I of the [1988 c. 48.] Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.and the same section now amended
A person does not infringe the Olympics association right by using a controlled representation in a context which is not likely to suggest an association between a person, product or service and the Olympic Games or the Olympic movement; and for the purpose of this subsection—Much easier to understand eh?
(a) the concept of an association between a person, product or service and the Olympic Games or the Olympic movement includes, in particular—
(i) any kind of contractual relationship,
(ii) any kind of commercial relationship,
(iii) any kind of corporate or structural connection, and
(iv) the provision by a person of financial or other support for or in connection with the Olympic Games or the Olympic movement, but
(b) a person does not suggest an association with the Olympic Games or the Olympic movement only by making a statement which—
(i) accords with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters, and
(ii) does not make promotional or other commercial use of a protected word by incorporating it in a context to which the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement are substantively irrelevant.
Let's put it in simple terms, if you saw this book on the shelf would you think it was written in association with the Olympic Games? Because that's what it all comes down to.
So that was fun last night, a bit of late-night work in York Street meant extending the barriers out into the island so that anybody turning left or going straight on interfered with the traffic in Bridge Street and New Street. Combine that with the lights still being up on Bridge Street and you had a 2 mile tailback through the town, compare that to the less then tenth of a mile queue on the other side and you can guess something needs to be done.
The Shuttle seems to be having an off-day with three (count them three) stories about Stourport they would be Illegal parking in York Street which is actually a story about PACT; Hopes Traffic Chaos Might Ease which is about the reduction of the three-way to a two-way and the removal of the Worcester Road lights; and Street Works Postponed which I've already mentioned and reiterates some points made in the previous article.
The most interesting snippet was that despite being stated as closed the bridge was in fact open for "much of the time" really hmm when exactly was this? I've also added a comment about the closure until the fifteenth I wonder if anyone will read it and answer before the point becomes moot?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
As I was lent a copy of the extended edition on DVD.
"astonishing special effects" it boasts on its front cover and that by itself should give you fair warning. The best quote they could find about the movie to print up on the front of the DVD package isn't about the film it's about the special effects. Turn over and it gets worse "the character is an uncompromising badass" again not about the film but one tiny aspect of it.
The film itself is based on the Marvel character the Ghost Rider that we're told in the intro is essentially the bounty hunter for the devil bringing in those souls with whom a deal has been struck. One such deal involves a young Johnny Blaze motorcycle stuntmen; as you might expect the deal doesn't turn out quite as expected.
Flash forward some years and the devil's son and some elemental angels are looking for a contract for souls that a previous Ghost Rider thought to powerful to hand in to the Devil and thus hid, cue the man himself 'activating' Johnny to go bring in the wayward troublemakers.
To be blunt that's about it. The older Johnny is played by Nicholas Cage who's an actor who always gives me the impression of being awoken at 2am after a late night and asked to give a lecture on the 'Ramifications of quantum uncertainty in an inflationary universe' bemused, befuddled, and in urgent need of a cup of coffee. His love interest (cos there's got to be one) is played by Eva Mendes' breasts; I'm sure the rest of the actress was present, but that's not something either her wardrobe or the camera is particularly interested in. The bad guys are played by actors who don't get an above title credit nor, it appears, a below title one either.
This film is every comic book stereotype dreamt up by someone who's never read one in the last twenty years the plot is shallow and predictable, you don't really care about any of the characters they're simply 2D puppets walking through their lines, oh but at least the special effects are "astonishing", well kinda gotta love that bike at least.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
You dig the road up, you fill the road in; dig it up, fill it in and shake your shovels about. You do the hokey-cokey and you turn around that's what Stourport's all about - hoy!
So yesterday morning stuck in a queue that stretched as far as the eye could see because of the dumb lights set up on Bridge Street (2 minute rotation I think); yesterday evening they'd gone. This morning they're back, as is the queue.
On the plus side they've set up some no parking cones along Bridge Street, feel free to add some to York Street too- yep the left-hand side at the end is still blocked off which was fun when the double-decker stopped to let some passengers off at the blocked-off bus-stop and no-one could get past due to the van parked across the pavement over the single yellow line (8.30am-6.00pm) and single yellow stripe (couldn't see times) opposite and next to the blockage.
[Off-topic as mentioned previously the new Highway Code has been absorbed by the Direct.Gov site and when I was just confirming the meaning of the road markings I now find that rather then a web page as before all markings are now separated into downloadable PDF files - why?]
The Worcester Road lights are still down - yay! Although they have blocked the left-hand exit onto the OGL island, there is another lane so no problem... well no real problem if they told you that the lane was blocked so you could get into the correct one instead of coming to a grinding halt. Oh silly me they do tell you that a lane is blocked further up the road; the right-hand lane, the one that's open.
They've also solved the problem of the temporary road surface mess next to Discovery Road by slapping some wooden boards over the top of it making it ramp-like, but again with the no warnings.
On the good news it was mentioned that Lickhill Road was traffic light free, but I'm unsure if that was down to the bridge closure.
The work in town is of course working to a plan, one that was put forward to public consultation earlier this year and which I criticised. It was easy to review as the plans were made available on-line and still are. The odd thing is that despite the work being started, the actual finalised approved plans are nowhere to be seen, a phone-call tells me they're not on-line (yet, maybe), but that the Civic Centre should have copies - useful.
Anyway the big joke is that only the resurfacing is going ahead, with the 'improvements' being held off until early 2008, except for the street lighting which will still be done. I know I slag them off, but this is a good decision; we've had continuing disruptions since October last year and the businesses need a break especially at this time of year.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Ah yet another study into the effects of violent computer games on children. Of course there should be a 'if any' inserted there, but hey no bias.
Oh and they'll also be looking at ways to protect kids from online material too, but don't look at that, ignore that, look at the video games "Won't someone please think of the children"; actually they are and have been for some time now.
Video games get rated in this country under the BBFC that's the British Board of Film Classification, interesting as the old argument is that video games are different to films due to the interactivity involved. So video games get classified and display said rating, in fact display it in a larger format then for films. It was also mentioned that video games were held to a slightly stricter version, so that a 15 film may be an 18 game.
So where's the problem? You wouldn't buy your 12-year old son "300" (rated 15) so why would you buy "Gods of War" (rated 18)? What got mentioned on the BBC was video games get handed down from one sibling to the next... uh -huh well don't; it's that simple. Do people do that with films, why should they do it for games?
Uh-oh looks like we're heading into educating parents and holding them to account territory; quick divert, divert!
Oo oo yes the ability to get material off the internet. I know I said ignore it, but it's just become a useful diversion and with the average attention span measured in seconds you've probably just forgotten all that as you read this sentence. We need some way to stop little Johnny from downloading that ManHunter demo from the publisher's site - Something must be done™. You mean other then the warnings that it's an 18 certificate demo, so you shouldn't download it if you're under that age? Yes! You mean other then the various schemes that allow sites to be tagged with ratings in the same way that films are, so that a little bit of software will stop them from even visiting that page? Um yes, but I don't know how to install that software; didn't even know it existed... how am I expected to watch them 24 hours on the computer huh, huh? Oh dear we're back to parental responsibility again aren't we.
So here's the nub - video games are already classified in the same way as films, software exists on both computer and consoles that can restrict access to certain items; so what's this study supposed to be for again? Amusingly it's about educating parents to do what they should be doing anyway all packaged up in a sexy 'protect the children' wrapping and it's likely to have as much effect as all the other studies and research. Even if this study does show a link (and even the head of the study says that's highly unlikely) unless the measures are aimed solely at the publishers and distributors, nobody will take a blind bit of difference.
Monday, October 08, 2007
So on the plus side the Worcester Road lights are still gone, but the mess is still there including a nasty temporary patching job when you're coming into Stourport close to Discovery Road; on the downside they've set up some lights in Bridge Street. Directly on Bridge Street so simple two-way's rather then the previous three-way so some small consolation there.
They've dug up the left-hand side of York Street, forcing everyone to the right as before with the light, but this time without telling anyone or preventing all the cars parking down said lane (which they didn't do before either actually). For those of a nervous disposition ignore all the Road Ahead Closed and Bridge Street Closed signs they've left up 'cos it ain't. Likewise ignore all the diversion signs still on display.
Parking attendants were in force and moved on the four cars in High Street and the lorry parked on the pavement in Bridge Street... nope I'm lying again - nobody in sight. Hopefully they're not working to a rota otherwise it'll be as before with the 'Don't park on Thursday'.
No less then four signs on the approach to the town over the bridge, all one after the other and all on the right-hand side of the road RAMP, TE R S, CA R I, and a forth that was completely masked by the other three; feel free to guess the two partials. Oddly enough I don't tend to look to my right to spot signs relating to the left-hand lane I'm currently in.
[update 9/10 - slight mistake the signs have been placed in order of importance so that's NO ROAD MARKINGS, TE R S, CA R I and R; the last one being RAMP, or 'Bloody Hell!']
Although I didn't see it this time around Raven Street is probably out of commission, or at least will be as there was a public notice talking about closure and a temporary reversal of the one-way. Good-old access to frontage allowed, though I'm guessing they'll have to reverse out if they block one end off.
On a positive note they were putting up three street lights over the weekend and I got a reasonable look at them coming down to the bridge - meh too showy for my taste and out of curiosity if the public consultation allowed us to air views on colours and styles of the bins who picked out the lights?
So the lights went down on Friday evening, both sets all ready for the bridge closure over the weekend, and the signs went up for the Shelsley Hill Climb (also over the weekend) directing people over the closed bridge - applause, applause.
Sadly I needed to get into Kidderminster and so unwisely took the switchback to Bewdley. Fortunately it was early, but even so a queue had formed down High Street; of course it's the Bewdley October Festival. Now the stupid thing is I didn't want to go into Bewdley, but of course in the infinite wisdom of the terminally not-caring the by-pass doesn't connect to the switchback (you can get onto the by-pass, but if you go that route you almost might as well go through Shrawley distance and road-wise). Gee I wonder why traffic heads through Stourport over our bridge?
There were some parking attendants about, well one on my way in and another on my way back patrolling Bewdley centre itself; no I tell a lie both times they'd stationed themselves outside the supermarket. No, no ignore the big traffic queue; don't go down High Street, don't look at the car parked sideways in a drive slightly out from the kerb at the point it switches back from one lane to two. Don't bother heading further out and checking the parked cars on those double-yellows that the incoming queue is playing duck-and-dive with.
I only recognised them as parking attendants as I'd seen one in Stourport Friday afternoon, looked like a bus-conductor with a day-glo jacket; "distinctive"?
After that fun I walked into Stourport and had a laugh at all the road closed signs. Road Closed follow diversion - what diversion, two of these signs going in and neither actually with a diversion sign telling people which way to go, plenty outgoing though. I watched as people pulled up to them and then started looking around waiting to be told which way to go.
They were laying down the hot sticky stuff on the roads, happily hitting the pavements with 'spray'. I'm not sure how I managed to walk through without ending up sticking to the pavement further up, natural grace I expect ;-). Quiet, very quiet; did my stuff headed back. Spotted someone pointing out the bridge closure notice sign to one of the workmen and, me being me, joined in.
07:00 Sat until 20:00 Sun"You can't have that" I said, "Look the 15th is a Monday"
on 6th - 7th Oct & 13th-15th Oct
"Yeah, but it'll probably be finished by three o'clock" [am or pm?]
"But the sign is confusing"
"Nah the seven until eight is for the 6th and 7th only"
"No it isn't look" I tapped on each word "seven Saturday until eight Sunday on 6th -7th Oct and 13th - 15th. You can't have eight 'o'clock on Sunday the 15th, because it's a Monday. You're going to get people heading through the switchback or Shrawley because they think the bridge is closed when it's not, or a long queue because they think it's open when it's not. They've buggered up the Hill climb signs too"
"Yeah I saw those, but I don't have anything to do with the signs" he said laughing and walked off
Just follow that for a second. A workman sees the signs directing traffic over a closed road, is told that the notice signs are confusing and does... nothing. Not their business, nothing to do with them.
Suddenly so much makes more sense now.
The lights are still non-existent this morning, not to worry though that big lorry parked outside of Salford House and blocking the Bridge Street exit will help, oh and that one parked at the end of Parkes Passage, and the beer delivery to the Black Star around that blind corner, oh and the bus-shelter repair van parked in lane one of Vale Road; all those will help slow the traffic down no worries.
[addition - phut, forgot to mention that the road isn't actually finished on Bridge Street. Off a 'ramp' at the end of the bridge and onto one at the top; all the signs warning you about it and the raised ironworks cleverly positioned in the right-hand lane - thud is the word I'd use as I came off the bridge. So I'm guessing we've got a whole week of that, plus traffic lights maybe yippee]
Friday, October 05, 2007
I said I would so here it is - forward notice of the next Millfields Estate/Mitton Park meeting. As before at the Wilden Village Hall at 7pm on Friday 12th October. Leaflets have gone out hopefully to everyone.
On the agenda they have an update from Cllr Millis who hopefully has heard back from the planning enforcement team, and perhaps will have a copy of the plans and terms to which the estate should have been built.
Apparently some small work has been carried out in that a soft asphalt temporary surfacing has been put down in a stretch from the main road to the corner and the gaps between pavement and kerbs filled with the same stuff; depending on the weather I'll give it a month before it falls apart. On the down-side it appears this surface is retaining soil and providing a foothold for weeds; shouldn't get too much of a foothold on the roads, but the pavements might get a fringe.
So here we have it folks the showdown, the public choice, where will you cast your vote - will you watch Strictly Come Dancing or X-Factor on Saturday night? Err neither thank you very much if I wanted to watch shoddily made crap I'll turn to YouTube, though saying that I think some of the YouTube stuff probably has higher production values. What grated was GMTV's presenting the question as if that was the only choice you could make, which one are you going to watch. I suppose it comes of working in television, your view becomes a little myopic. I'd feel sorry for them until I remember how much they get paid.
This of course nicely flows into the political scene, post speeches we've gone from the "Brown Bounce" to the "Cameron Come-back" at least according to the polls, but we all know how valid they are. Amazing how the average person looks on polls as a waste of time (unless they're confirming something you already 'know'), yet as soon as you get into politics they become life and death '52% of people don't like red, quick ditch my red ties, shirts, and socks'.
Anyway the headlines are holding up the 38%/38% Labour/Conservative (or Conservative/Labour if you're that way inclined) poll results. So, of course, all the Conservatives are calling for an election; if Golden Brown doesn't call one he is "Bricking it". Ye gods why don't they just dare him to call an election, no double dare him, no double double dare him. If he refuses they can flap their arms while making bwarcking noises; that's pretty much what it boils down to. It's just been pointed out to me he's actually got until 2010 so he can happily ignore the lot of them.
Almost makes me hope for a win by Ming the Merciless, just to see the media and pollsters fall flat on their faces.
As a finale, and talking about battles, here we have Ian Wright and the fight over a parking ticket. Noting that it wasn't Ian fighting, but his friend who was arrested on suspicion of Common Assault, but later cautioned. For the pedants out there (like me) "Assault" is the threat of physical violence, "Battery" is physical violence; "Common Assault" covers both terms. So if you hear about someone arrested for assault because they hit someone it's really common assault.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
House prices drop 0.6% in September shouts the headline, heh yep prices have fallen by .6% meaning house price inflation is 10.7%. Yep it's one of those boo-hoos the prices haven't risen as high as they have previously. They've still risen and still at a rate higher then everything else so stop glooming and dooming.
Does explain why the banks are getting antsy though.
or when it rains it pours.
Those of you with long memories may recall some of the fun that we as landlords experience with the energy companies that I've written about. As a coincidence I've just had two today.
The first one was a back-dated bill for a property during the time it was vacant, note that word vacant as in no-one using electricity except perhaps turning the odd light on and off and the alarms - £5k! To total that they'd have to been using three times as much electricity as our non-vacant unit. Of course it was an estimate, so now we're digging about for meter reads (which makes one wonder what they were doing for all that period of time)
The next joy also involves estimates, another unit's bill came in for September they'd read the meter on the 25th so the bill started with an estimate for the 1st up to the reading on the 25th - a total of around 450 units. So far so right, but the bill has to be for a whole month so now they need to estimate the amount we'd have used between the 25th and the 30th and the total they guessed was... around 450 units.
It's a licence to print money isn't it running one of these companies?
Just caught the end of a report on GMTV this morning, talking about people who are just coming off fixed-rate mortgages onto variable ones and the hassles they now face. A sofa interview with a bank boy started with the aggressive thrust of 'Isn't this your fault for loaning people 5, 6, 7 times their wage?' bank boy shunted the question aside by talking about interest rates, how they need to fall etc. needed to help the economy blah blah. Undaunted the next question was about Nothern Rock which bank boy foolish blamed on the Americans loaning money "irresponsibly"; 'aren't you doing that with the 5, 6, 7 times salary?' came the reply "You're talking about the extremes", 'well yes but aren't those what get us into trouble?' Bank boy blathered about all the safeguards etc. and got back to his main point about needing an interest rate cut.
First things first, banks etc. never used to lend money at this multiple so people simply lied (if you recall a report some time ago some workers in some banks seemed to actively suggest this course), safeguards mean they can't do this now so the banks simply upped the multiple - brilliant.
Next the interest cut isn't some altruistic 'help the economy' it's help the banks; a lower interest rate means more borrowers, means more money to the lenders. Restores confidence in the whole lending system, except perhaps we shouldn't be restoring said confidence because the system needs to have itself shaken up.
Bank boy stated that the odds were 80% that the interest rate would stay the same, but he'd hope it would fall; I'm going to go out on a limb and say I think they'll increase it. The previous increase seem to have simply not had the effect they wanted and they'll up it again. We'll all have to wait and see.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
For those who've been reading you'll know of my little take on the traffic light distribution and how it was ballsed up, you may recall me mentioning the single yellow lines in Bridge Street and how I was sure nobody would be stupid enough to park on the only lane open, well they haven't - hah surprised you. Instead we get four cars parking next to the, now, only open lane in York Street; right next to the traffic light. A hassle for cars in that they have to angle around them from left to right and then back to left to turn into High Street, damn difficult for buses especially ones who've just stopped (or attempted to what with the signs in the way) at the bus-stop directly opposite.
Not to worry the parking attendants are supposed to start on Monday <sigh>
[update 4/10 I spoke to soon, just passed a car parked 90/10 pavement/road opposite the works in Bridge Street]
Traffic has been... sporadic, I've been lucky in being near the front of the streams but lucking behind I've watched it creep over the lights and blow that timing sequence to tatters. The test for movement behind you is how many vehicles pass you in lanes 1 and 2 of Vale Road when you're stuck in 3 and I counted about one per minute which is pitiful.
Gilgal is a big a pain as always, but now more so - two narrow lanes plus one wide vehicle stuck in the queue equals another unmoving lane.
The main Worcester Road lights have also missed the two turnings one into Thomas Vale and one into OGL; which are in-between the lights, can't see them and therefore are not subject to them. I watched twice cars pulling out only to find vehicles heading straight towards them. They were all turning to my direction of travel and could see us waiting so in reality they're being daft, but still a balls up.
Oh and I heard that traffic mid-morning had piled up back to the tip on the main drag, which it only normally does in cases of excess traffic pouring in due to blockages elsewhere.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
It appears my earlier premise that the lights on Worcester Road were biased towards the town may have been erroneous, the three-way has now been set in place and they are strictly dumb. Both this set and the set in the centre of town are operating on a standard 1 minute rotation. This means if you join a stationary queue you have a maximum wait time of 2 minutes before you'll move and a maximum of 1 minute to reach the lights before they change. Obviously the amount of traffic in front of you sets the length of time you'll have to wait, as an example sitting halfway down Lion Hill I joined the queue at 06, started moving at 08 until 09, stopped, then started at 11 until 12, stopped until 14 then managed to get past the light in York Street.
The same time spans occurred in Gilgal - once I'd managed to get join from Vale Road and therein lies the fun for the morning. As it stands I think we don't quite have enough traffic to cause a island-Gilgal-Vale Road-High Street-Bridge Street, York Street-Lion Hill-Mitton Street-island jam, but with the delays in flowing the traffic from Kiddy into Gilgal I'll expect some long queues into the you have de facto right-of-way over us mess that is Gilgal.
So let's point fingers, who the hell allowed the work in Stourport to take place before the work in Worcester Road had finished, it's only going on until the 19th apparently so would it have killed them to delay until then? Nope we get both bloody sets up at exactly the same time. Better yet the part they're digging up on Worcester Road is three bloody lanes wide just switch the right-turn out into a exit road from the island (especially as it's bloody useless in its normal manner anyway) and the island would take care of itself.
No thought except ug we dig now!
Oops forgot to mention the uniform on patrol, nope not a parking attendant a PCSO who of course can no longer do anything much about the traffic; I've been informed that the enforcers don't even start until the 8th - jolly good show why would we need that around at the minute?
Not too bad this morning; I'd got a call about half seven telling me the lights were stuck on red, but this seemed to have been resolved by the time I got out.
The pedestrian crossing lights went out last night, and they'd solved (temporarily I hope) the York Street double lane problem by, wait for it, blocking off the left hand lane with the traffic light. As a result everyone turned into York Street; got into the left hand lane, as the majority do; and then found they needed to switch over, of course all the cars were still parked on the right.
Anyway this was not helped by the Larry, Curly, and Moe signs set up directly in front of the lights - Traffic Lights in operation, yep I can see them; Roadworks Ahead; and Road closed on the right, no it isn't you've blocked off the left. Oh you mean road closed on the right in Bridge Street the road I might be turning into, gee thanks for the warning I was planning on driving down the wrong side of the road like I normally do after turning the corner. Oh and by the way it's road closed on the left if I'm turning right into High Street, missed that one didn't you.
As a bonus they've set them up in the one spot they can that's not a parking bay - the bus stop. So now the bus can't pull in fully against the left-hand lane and thus blocks off the right hand lane that everyone now has to use.
The three-way on the Worcester Road/Hartlebury Road hasn't materialised yet and has in fact shrunk to the point where the two-way system seems to be only in place to direct traffic around the lights themselves. Timing seems to be favoured towards town, that is if the long queue of traffic in the normally quiet Worcester Road is anything to go by.
Oh and Pauline mentions that the Wyre (radio) said that the traffic last night extended from Stourport into Kidderminster, that makes sense with Hartlebury Road blocked off and the feedback up Gilgal onto the main drag. She's having fun as she only gets a half-hour lunch and has to get back to take her dogs out (they're not well) it's took her twenty minutes each way yesterday.
Monday, October 01, 2007
As a minor continuation of my previous post I'd thought I'd check out the revised addition of the Highway Code, for starters it's been sucked into the hole that is direct.gov and secondly they've removed the index.
Anyway what with our new decriminalised parking system better ensure what I can and can't do and this leads to the difference between Parking and Loading/Unloading. The first thing to deal with is terminology, from context "park" means to stop the car turn off the engine and leave the vehicle; "stop" means to stop the car and turn off the engine; "wait" means to stop the car, but leave the engine running (and not leave it as that's covered elsewhere).
Fun as you can't "wait or park on yellow lines during the times of operation " but "You MUST NOT stop or park on..." a variety of things that don't include yellow lines. Inference suggests you can stop on yellow lines,provided you don't leave the car and aren't waiting for someone - feel free to pull out that newspaper and start reading with impunity.
Next we get "You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road. " other then getting all those angels dancing on the head of a pin to define "unnecessary" what is meant by "leave". If you're still in the vehicle have you left it?
I haven't even covered loading and unloading which gets it's own section no. 247 whereby "Do not load or unload where there are yellow markings on the kerb and upright signs advise restrictions are in place" which again infers you can load/unload anywhere else except perhaps where your vehicle is causing an obstruction unless, perhaps, you don't leave it.
So yep they've dug up the first part of High Street next to the junction of New Street and continued on the same line down into Bridge Street. A three-way set of traffic lights have been set up on Bridge Street, York Street and High Street, so far so easy.
- The lights on the left hand side of Bridge Street and York Street have been set next to their respective sets of Pelican crossings, both these crossings are still operational meaning you have potentially two sets of conflicting lights on each of these junctions.
- There is only one set of lights on York Street and that's on the left, therefore these lights only cover the left/straight and not the right turn into High Street, which is currently down to one lane. Normally traffic from Bridge Street has a continuing path across the small island into lane 1 of High Street (now blocked), York Street has a right-of-way right turn into lane 2 of High Street; they can then switch lanes if need be. Thus traffic from either Bridge Street or New Street will, if not careful, collide with traffic coming out of York Street.
- No cones are placing the currently open side of Bridge Street off-limits to parking or loading, traffic can still load/unload there legally
That was fun and I'm not being sarcy, a chat to someone who appreciated the problems that would be caused by those three points and the fact that the Worcester Road lights are still up.
Talking about when these things go up and are finished...
"It would be useful if these things were put up somewhere prominently on your website"
"Prominently? I can't find them and I'm an IT Manager. You only get the excel spreadsheet"
"I compile that and send it through, but there's a summary of the current ones...[directions]"
"Uh-huh the pretty picture whereby if I want to find out about traffic lights, I click on the traffic light and get an application form for setting up a temporary set"
"Oh, you want Road Disruptions"
"Nope, I'll go back a topic from Highways and Transportation to Transport, and I've got exactly the same page... oo Traffic Congestion?"
"What is traffic congestion and what can you do about it"
Yep you get a whole different list if you access the site internally.
Anyway three-way lights on Worcester Road/Hartlebury Road from tomorrow until the 19th, Bridge Lights until the 1st of December and for Don the Lickhill Road lights are there until the 6th of November.
Just read that again - two sets of three-way lights from tomorrow on two of the main points in town.