Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Uploaded Photos

Photos from Sunday uploading as I type. We've got our nice newly laid Dunley Road complete with ridges; the bollards on Betty Dawes Hill; the new shop front at Buftons; the newly laid island; the re-vamped Outback; and the one fresh lane in Vale Road and the one patchy lane in Vale Road.

New Parking initiative

It seems Wyre Forest District Council have set up a new scheme to encourage us all to shop locally. I had popped into Kidderminster to pick up a couple of things I couldn't get in town and parked in the short-stay section of the Bromsgrove Street car-park. I headed to the meter and found a sticker over it telling me it was out of order and to use the other one; off I trotted.

Picking one of the two side-by-side meters in the medium-stay sections I popped in my 70p for an hour, pressed the button, and out spat my money - "Funny". I tried it again - same result. I looked at the time allowance as I put my money in and watched its unchanging face. Yep that's right these meters aren't calibrated to accept that you want to stay for an hour. So I stuck a quid in and stayed in town for two - well done WFDC it worked.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Burnout Paradise

A few entries a while back I mentioned having the demo of Burnout Paradise on my Playstation and how much the Bratii enjoyed it; it seems I didn't mention how much I enjoyed it at the time too.

Now the thing is I hate racing games, this is particularly annoying as it seems every game and its dog seems to incorporate at least one vehicle section regardless of overall game play and style. I just don't get on with them, I have difficulty with the pseudo-3D which is not a problem at low speed but causes havoc when whoosing past me; the vehicles never seem to feel right particularly with a gamepad. For proper racing games the curve is way too steep for me with even the slightest of nudges or going even the teensiest bit off-track levaing you wrecked, skidding, and basically out of the race. With the requirements ramping up from 'finish this track' to ' beat this track' to ' beat this track in X time' it means over 50% of the content is something I'll never get to and if by some miracle I do the incentive to play the 'lesser' tracks vanish.

So to sum it up - I don't like racing games, but I do like Burnout Paradise?

At the time it was at full price, £40, then Sony put it on the PSN Store at £25 and it was tempting but a niggling voice told me that it'd turn out just like all the other racing games so I left it alone. Then this Saturday I spotted it at Gamestation for £15 new - that was too tempting so I picked it up.

Got home popped it in and watched as it upgraded to version 1.50 - 3 updates of around 350Mb, 150Mb and something smaller. Then I started playing.

Damn this is fun; really, really fun. The cars handle well and though I still have difficulty with the 3D it's just as the Bratii found - it's fun to crash; it's really fun. I don't even care about the races (120 different events of 5 different types) it's just so fun to speed around the city dodging traffic beating the Road Rules time, finding the shortcuts (400), the Super Jumps (50), and the billboards (120) to smash through. Even did some of the events those involving smashing other cars or avoiding being smashed - just sheer pleasure. I've not even touched the online versions of these events yet either.

Sure there are some events that need particular vehicles to do and the events do get harder, but I never get the impression that I have to do these things; if I want to stay at this level I can do and just drive around like a maniac.

Best comparision I can think of is GTA4 without the guns, or the swearing.

This is DJ FlipC pulling drifts around Paradise City signing off.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Headset at last

Took a trip up to Merry Hell and finally found a Sony PS3 headset in Currys.digital; note not Currys, or PC World, or Comet, or Game, or Gamestation, or HMV, or Zaavi.

Another case of too much packaging as half the box was empty; nice thick manual but that was simply because it featured every living European language.

As it was Bluetooth I headed for the Accessories menu on my PS3 and, turning on the headset, scanned for it - no problem; except it didn't show up with the extras that were supposed to make it the headset for the Playstation.

So I read the manual and found that for that to happen you have to link it via the docking station's USB cable. So I deleted it and linked it up again and there it was showing me charge levels etc.

Onward to Home to give it a whirl and yet another update this time to 1.04. Everyone seems to be ignoring me - is it not working?

I wander around and find someone who looks like they're not busy and ask if they could give me some help for a second. They say yes - thank you jbinney08. They can't hear me, but adding them as a friend and 'phoning' them he can hear me through his headset - wierd. Ah well at least I know it works, but why does it not work in general?

I head to the forums to see if any one else is having the same difficulty and while there check on waht the 1.04 update does...

Additionally, as part of version 1.04, the voice chat feature within PlayStation Home will be temporarily suspended.
Oh just bloody typical that is. It'll be back with the 1.05 update supposedly today.

[Update - Nope they've re-enabled it for private areas only]

Friday, December 19, 2008

'eBay bought my holiday'

A report on the BBC this morning about the credit crunch and how people are spending and/or saving money featured a tiny snippet about a young women who was going on holiday to South Africa and was funded this to the tune of £5,ooo from the sale of clothes on eBay.

Me being me my first thought was "I wonder if she's declared that extra income to the Revenue?"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Steps House

Forgot to mention this The Steps House (pub) on the junction of Gilgal and Mitton Street is displaying a big "Now Open" red on white banner; more information is available below on proper fixed boards, however some marketing genius has gone for black on dark red.

That is

Lines of text
Arranged on a board
In this way
So that it is
Difficult to read
While moving

Which way?

As mentioned previously this morning the right-hand side of High Street was taken up by Yet More Roadworks, still there this afternoon I spotted the sign telling me they were on behalf of Severn Trent Water.

Just to demonstrate that no-one bothers to check these things there are two signs up warning you of roadworks ahead and that the road narrows to the left. This is perfectly correct as they've been put up orientated towards all the traffic coming down High Street from Lickhill Road... yeah shame the road is one-way in the other direction.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Custom Ringtones on the Apple iPhone

Basically in case I forget and because other guides on the 'net seem to skip some steps.

Oh and NO hacking and NO third-party apps for your iPhone are required. This has been done using iTunes 8.02.20, iPhone 2.2, and Windows (XP though Vista will also work)

Basic Preparation:

Create a folder under My Music (or Music) and name it iTunes Ringtones if you haven't already done so. (not a necessary step, but it keeps things tidy)

If you haven't already imported the tune/tone into iTunes copy the file you want to turn into a ringtone into this new folder.

Open iTunes.

Check that your import/ripping format is set to AAC not MP3. Quickest way to do this is by right-clicking a music file. If you don't see "Create AAC version" you need to change it; if you can then you can skip the next step.

To change the import setting:

Go to Edit|Preferences, You should be on the "General" tab. Only one button should be there - "Import Settings..." click that and change "Import Using" to AAC Encoder. Remember after this you might want to change it back if you're ripping CDs for an MP3 player.

Preparing the file

Locate the track in the Music Library of iTunes, if you've yet to import it simply drag it from the Ringtones folder you should still have open.

You may or may not want the full track as the ringtone, if you do then you can skip the next step.

Cutting the track

Right-click the track in iTunes and "Get Info". Choose the "Options" tab and you'll see a "Start Time" and a "Stop Time". If you alter these then the track will only play between those two points .

Don't panic - the full track will still be there and deselecting these two check boxes will play the full track once you've finished.

When selecting the length of the ringtone it is important to note although the iPhone will happily transfer the track across it will not display it if it is less then approximately 7 seconds long. If the full track is less than this you will need to loop the track (beyond the scope of this guide).

[Update - From Jeff in the comments it also appears the ringtone can not be over 30 seconds in length]

Duplicate the track

Right-click the track in iTunes and "Create AAC version" a duplicated track will appear in the Library. If you've altered the Start and Stop times as above only this part of the track has been created.

Right-click the duplicated track and "Show in Windows Explorer", this will open the folder it is stored in and highlight the duplicated track. If it isn't already there move the file into your Ringtones folder.

In Windows Explorer right-click the file and rename the extension from m4a to m4r. If you can't see the extensions you will need to enable this (do a search for hide extension and your operating system i.e. Windows XP, Vista etc.)

Make iTunes recognise the ringtone

Drag your renamed file back into iTunes and it'll appear under the heading Ringtones even creating the category if it wasn't already there.

Get it onto your iPhone

If your iPhone is plugged in you can change the sync settings to transfer it, or simply drag it onto the device.

Check it transferred

Once the sync is done your iPhone should now have a Custom heading above the default ringtones (Settings|General|Sounds) and these can be used as the standard tone or selected per contact.

[Update - From Jeff in comments before trying to assign the tone to a contact set it as your default ringtone first. I myself did this just to test the ringtone worked, but did not consider it would be a necessary step. I also did not leave it as the default ringtone, but changed it back before assigning it to a contact so it appears the iPhone may just need that nudge to 'know' it's there]

Feel smug

Because tech support has told you that you can't do this in the UK.

Nota Bene

The steps outlined here probably won't work with DRMed music, they might but I haven't tested it so don't blame me.

iPhone

The boss got one yesterday and muggins here had to set it up.

1: It syncs using iTunes - not a problem as he's already using that for music, but it's a real memory hog, It beats Outlook in VM usage when you've got enough music on it.

2: Like the Nokia you can only change the sync settings when the phone is connected. You can at least cancel the sync, but come on people it has a unique identity and how many identical model phones are you going to sync with the same computer.

3: It has no manual - no sorry it has a five page accordion strip of paper showing a few things; it's all intuitive see. (the manual is a 80-odd page download)

4: It doesn't sync with Outlook 2000, although iTunes happily sees the Outlook profile and the folders and tells you it's syncing - it doesn't.

5: It won't sync over Bluetooth.

6: It doesn't officially support custom ringtones - although there is a sneaky (yet legitimate) way around it. Amusingly one not known by our technical support team "It can't be done".

7. No obvious way to quick select some settings - he wants to be able to turn Bluetooth or Wi-Fi on or off (we've found it helps battery life in some mobiles) and the only way to do that is three menus deep.

8. Why was Contacts on the second screen, oh sure you can move it over to the first screen once you've worked out how, but why?

9. Still yet to find a way to alter the hold length on the button to turn it off, damn long time.

[Additional -]

10. The camera is only 2MP, and doesn't have a flash. Oh and doesn't seem to take movies either.

11. It doesn't show up in Explorer as a Mass Storage Device (or similar) so you have to use iTunes to drag and drop stuff and it'll only drag and drop if it likes it. Once some photos had been taken it did suddenly declare itself as a camera and appear in Explorer. Said photos don't sync using iTunes you have to use a third-party bit of software to do that (or Explorer just to copy or paste).

Okay it feels nice, the interface is easy to use, but you have to wonder over some of the choices made as to the way some things are implemented. It ain't easy at times.

It's right there

Delivery van for the butchers this morning parked in High Street at 8:45; that would be this butchers - note the No Parking and No Loading signs to the right of it. Oh and yes there were parking spaces free in the bays opposite.

There's a reason these restrictions are in place and if everyone 'knows' that there's no enforcement before 9am and after 5pm everyone ignores them.

[Additional 18/12 - And this morning we've a small set of roadworks in the right-hand lane of High Street followed by a parked car as someone gets some money out of the cashpoint; a lorry filled with full binbags, presumably for the charity shop; and a van of cardboard boxes for Pot Luck. Is there any point to the signs and kerb markings?]

[Additional 19/12 - Roadworks still up, with a van parked in front of them, and a council litter van blocking the entrance to the bus-stop with a taxi parked behind it. Oh and the delivery van further up on the right and the delivery truck further up on the left parked on the zig-zag markings]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Research, research, research.

Again with the Daily Express this time regarding the X-Factor and the song Hallelujah. Apparently if most people know it as the song from Shrek II and if you search for it on the internet that's how it'll be found.

Except of course it featured in Shrek I (or simply Shrek as it was called then) as a simple internet search will demonstrate. Pfft but why bother checking things, not as if this is a newspaper or some other factual source.

Getting the perspective right

Good old Daily Express featuring how much Anthea Turner and her husband may have lost in the property credit crunch. Apparently they've an estate in Surry, and a ch√Ęteau in France. In a quote Anthea claims "Our backs are against the wall — we may even lose our mansion." and "We are in it like lots of other people who have been bitten by economic circumstances. I can’t remember the last time I slept properly because of the worry."

Hmm yes turfed out of one mansion and forced to live in the other - how dreadful for you.

[Update 16/12: It seems I'm the only one to be annoyed by Anthea's Oh Woe Is Me, I Feel Your Pain quotes, Vannessa Feltz has torn a strip off her too]

Monday, December 15, 2008

My weekend

Headed into Kidderminster, checked in at Game - still no headset, but they did have the official mini-keyboard at £25; no I didn't buy it. Headed over to Woolworths which was still packed and still had nothing that I wanted (at least nothing that hadn't sold out) saying that though I did pick up a Baa-ing Lamb for Devil Child and contemplate the Doctor Who figures for Bratus Major, sadly one has to take into account that by the afternoon post-unwrapping any smaller parts will go missing and at least one figure will have a broken body part. Did I mention I still have the boxes for most of my old toys?

I managed to get onto Home after a couple of false starts and the big difference is that there are know some things in the shop for sale and some more videos in the Theatre. The fabled MotorStorm, Drake's Fortune, and Red Bull challenge are non-existent and all the shiny screenshots posted around the web don't match what I'm seeing. Of course I live in LeperLand (i.e. Europe) and not the USA or Japan so I'm getting used to these big announcements that don't apply to me.

Headed out Sunday morning and took some photos of all the newness in town, poked my head into Woolworths when it finally opened and walked out after spending £50; yep it turns out they stil had things in stock as everyone had headed to Kidderminster and left Stourport alone.

A little bird told me that the new Tesco application got mentioned at the latest Labour Party meeting with someone producing the latest road plan, apparently someone commented that if they put the lights where they had planned it would be "chaos".

Got to hear the dire tale about a lunch at Creations. Apparently the food was scarce, and the service patchy, although the food itself was quite fine. I then headed out to Cadmore Lodge where I got more food at a cheaper price; although I think their new chef is still trying to get to grips with things - the vegetables were quite al dente and in some cases not warm, the meat as always was superb.

Then had a minor argument with my father on the way back over the correct use of car headlights; see or be seen. Amusing as by the end of it he was arguing over a point I agreed with - you use your full headlights when conditions are such that dipped/side lights may not be as visible. but you don't need full headlights in the middle of the day (unless conditions dictate otherwise)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Alcohol Advertising

Suddenly struck by an advert appearing on the Daily Mash. As you may or may not know one of the scriptures laid down for advertising alcohol is that it is not permissible to show or imply that drinking this brand will make you attractive.

So the advert I saw:How is this any different to alcohol? Simple, if this were alcohol they'd be dragged before the Advertising Standards Agency post haste, but it's not so remember people Drink Pepsi Max - get laid.

Oh and yes of course the Lynx adverts and every single perfume/aftershave ad in existence.

So why the difference - because alcohol is eeeevil, eeevil I tells ya! No moral qualms over the adolescents who died after spraying themselves with a cans of deoderant, or those who drink litres of soft drinks and end up with diabetes. No of course not they were obviously not using the product in the correct way or responsibly. Yet alcohol is eeeevil! The demon drink that seduces you, that makes you lose control and drink more and more of it. No cries of misuse for alcohol ban it, ban it all, ensure it's never linked in the mind with popularity; have a litre of Coke instead much better for you?

Woolworths 2

Well I got their first for a change. Well kind of :-)

Sony Home 1.03

Well it appears the Beta has gone open last night. I connected last night around 6:45 and picked up an update from 1.01 to 1.03 then tried to log in - network failure; hmmm? Try again - network failure, and again - network failure. Gave up and headed for the Store for the Thursday update - no store just my XMB wallpaper. Anything there? Yes because hitting the circle button prompted the question of whether I wanted to leave the store. Was the failed Home connection causing problems? A reboot and still no store.

So I gave up and whipped through a quick sesssion of Lego Batman. Finishing I tried the store again and lo it appeared. Over to Home and past the Online and over to Initialising - server error, and again, and again, and again. So I gave up.

Seems load balancing might not quite be up to scratch yet. I'll try again tonight briefly and see what happens.

Apples and Oranges

Imagine offering someone a salad with pieces of mandarin orange in it and being told "Oh I can't eat that I'm allergic to apples" that's what happened this morning on BBC Breakfast talking about peanut allergies they had a girl on who had a peanut allergy and she was asked about her peanut allergy - "Well I can't eat nuts". It seems she's particularly sensitive to cashews, and they first noticed the "peanut allergy" when she tried a macadamia nut; none of which botanically are nuts.

Perhaps she has a seed allergy, but that doesn't jibe with the media.

Okay I'm not getting at the girl, I'm getting at the lazy reporting and the constant conflation that peanut equals nut 'cos see it's got the word nut in it and with that in mind I invite any member of the press around for a nice plate of horseapples.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Go!View

I'd like to congratulate Sony on their latest email missive advertising their new service Go!View

Watch TV Shows, Movies and Sports wherever you find yourself

With GO!VIEW, you can catch your favourite shows on a PSP™ , on the go. Imagine watching top TV shows like Lost, Heroes, Scrubs and Top Gear when you want, where you want. Or how about some sporting action like Barclays Premier League and UEFA Champions league football from Sky Sports? Still not enough? Well how about a range of top movies too. With over 100 new videos added every month, there's always something to watch.
So just like the service already available in the US? There are three 'packs' to chose from entertainment, comedy and sports. Hmm when was comedy not entertaining? Anyway a free one month trial is available which allows access to all three packs, but not movie or TV to Rent (though still available on pay-per-rental basis) .

So what have I missed out? Well try their website and tell me how much any one package costs? Tell me if it's possible to sign up using the internet capabilities of your PSP or heck even your PS3? Tell me they're not stupid enough to insist you use a PC to download the movies and then transfer them to a device that has its own internet capabilities, oh wait guess they are that stupid.

Oh and by the way I don't own a PSP, Sony you know this as I've not registered one with you and haven't ticked the 'Tell me about PSP things' option.

Credit Cards

Oh yes the government is going to have a strict word with credit card companies about
interest rates.

For the umpteenth time - They Are Businesses!

Someone from the Independent appeared on GMTV and didn't play ball. From the questions asked it seems she was supposed to be all 'Evil, evil they're all evil' instead she explained why they're doing it and in effect blamed the people using them.

See when you put money on your credit card you are Borrowing The Money from that company, normally if you pay it off straight away you incur no charges, if you don't or can't then you get hit with interest.

What did anyone think was going to happen? This is what you signed up for, if you don't want to pay any interest rates pay it off in full; if you can't then don't use your credit card. I'm sorry but how difficult is that?

If you've got a fat wodge of debt in the pipeline then transfer it to a card offering 0% on transfers and then DON'T USE ANY CARDS and just pay off the transfer.

You can't blame any company from loaning you money and then wanting it back. You're the one who wanted the money, you're the one who thought you could pay it back; the company was just giving you want you wanted you know being businesses and all.

Yet here we see companies being asked to go easy on people during this rough time. Why? Why are we the prudent savers being penalised on behalf of the flagrent spenders. They get their goods, get to enjoy them and then have the government in their corner when they can't pay back the loan that bought everything. You can't pay back the money then you send the baliffs in to pick up that 40" Plasma television, the Wii, and that designer pair of shoes.

For anyone arguing that these debts are for staple needs then I'd like to point out that anyone taking out loans to buy food and basic services is a lot more trouble then is being dealt with here

Can you see me?

In a recently reshown episode of Mock the Week during the free-for-all mike session Ed Byrne was being constantly beaten to the mike or indeed cut-up as he approached leading to the outburst "Am I f***ing invisible in this jacket or something?". I felt asking the same question about my car both last night and this morning.

Entering Lion Hill I at night (lights on of course) I switch to the right-hand land and start down it, at which point someone decides to cross the road from left to right putting them straight in my path. As I approach the corner a gaggle of people are approaching the pedestrian drop kerb and I slow down (because it's a corner, because it's an unmarked merger, and because there were people there) good job to as a young women takes one step out before looking around and going "Oh a car".

This morning I had a couple decide to cross from right to left not good as most vehicles either drive down the middle of the road (not marked, but two lanes) or move to the right only to swerve back to the left to avoid all the illegally parked vehicles. As I got to the end of High Street somone decided to chance their luck crossing in front of me at the junction.

Down into Gilgal and the turn past the garage and I see people still haven't mastered the concept of crossing points with one person standing on the point of the triangle and another trying to cross to said point.

Hey people it's cold which means windscreens can get fogged, it's damp too which means the roads are slippery, the sun is low and right in my sights; so for the love of god be a bit more f***ing careful will you.

[Update - and that includes you two trying to cross the Worcester Road at Cook's. This time I know you saw me because one of you hesitated before crossing. Accelerating to 50 before decelerating to 40 after you decided to get in my way and ready to brake sharply had you slipped over.]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ah the smell

Driving home last night, obviously a bit chilly I fired up the heater. Not something I tend to do as it draws in air from the outside (yes it can recirculate air, but there's a ton of warning about how and when and where you should do that with phases of the moon diagrams etc. and I just can't be bothered) and while that's fine while moving that's not something that tends to happen a lot in Stourport rush-hour traffic. So sitting in a queue with the heaters on you can tell that the driver of the car in front is smoking, or the person who's just walked past is.

Anyhow I'm trundling along at not a bad clip and turn into York Street, get halfway down and "What the hell is that smell?" Down the rest of York Street and into Bridge Street it was as if I'd parked in a chippy... but not quite; the smell was slightly off more fried onion then fried potato. Lingered in the car all the way home. I don't really notice it when I'm outside, possibly because it creeps up on you, but it was a concentrated blast that turned my nose.

I don't know if it's me but it seemed a lot more intense, perhaps the new Subways is providing the extra tang?

Infamous area

We got mentioned twice on last night's ITV Central news. The first was regarding Cermaspeed's problems, and featured our illustrious leader; the second mention was for Lloyds Garage fighting the compulsory purchase order, which didn't feature our illustrious leader or anyone else for that matter (we had a quote instead about increasing visitors).

Catching the BBC Midlands show the gorgeous Sarah Falkland mentioned a burst water pipe in Gilgal and it later featured on the running news ticker later, though as "The Gilgal", nope it's just Gilgal. It didn't feature on the morning Central bulletin though the A1 and M5 did - honestly some people's priorities are seriously askew ;-) Anyway no sign of anything this morning though it might explain why it was so darn quiet... then again it is a Wednesday and for some reason they do tend to be quieter then other days.

[Update 11/12: Turned out to be Mitton Street opposite Peter Handley.

As Tav points out we got yet another mention from the ITV National News when the studio crossed over to a reporter "in Worcestershire" and I found myself thinking "That looks familiar" before the word Stourport popped up in the top left corner.]

[Update 12/12: And now a reporter in Bewdley about one of their funny-numbered streets]

[Update 16/12: P30 of the Jan 09 Which? magazine "In Argos, Kidderminster"]

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tesco one more try

As Tav pointed out in a comment on my Woolworths entry Tesco have produced yet another planning application for the Carpets of Worth Site. From the online planning portal let's run down the history so far:

06/5079/INV 12/12/06 - 36 Documents (5 drawings, 27 supporting documents)
07/1105/EIA 31/10/07 - 71 Documents (24 drawings, 40 supporting documents)
08/1053/EIA 01/12/08 - 56 Documents (19 drawings, 33 supporting documents)

All the elevation drawings are done by Saunders, in 2006 we get ink outlines; in 2007 someone found the fill tool so we get coloured blocks; and in 2008 we get a more sophisticated fill with gradients and background clouds (wooo!).

Consistency not exactly a strong point here, in 06 the elevations are presented as North, South, West, East. In 07 we see West, East, South, North; and in 08 - South, West, North, East. The North entrance that had disappeared off the 07 drawings is back and looking sleeker.

The road layouts have been done by Arup. In 07 the overall plan was designated TS-G-01 r08, overall plan; in 08 we're up to revision 12. It would be much easier to compare the two if the 08 version didn't have an embedded link that takes you to Arup's homepage. Some minor graphical changes with the major additions being pointers to the listed buildings that are being retained.

The major concerns for traffic are found on the Mitton Street plans for 07 and 08. At first glance nothing different they still want to add in three controlled crossing points at Lion Hill etc. (though amusingly none lead to the supermarket directly due to the pavement widths), and they still want to put in traffic lights at Severn Road with crossing facilities, presumably to enable both pedestrians to cross and vehicles to get out of Severn Road. I'm unsure how that helps pedestrians trying to cross Severn Road from the town side, but hey that's their fault for not sticking to the plan (i.e. cross the road, cross the road, walk, and then cross back over.) and we all know that no-one would be stupid enough to use the not-crossing point to get to the correct side of Mitton Street and then use the not-controlled-by-lights to cross Severn Road - who'd do things like that?

The kicker on this plan is the layout of the bus stops. In 07 from Mitton Street we had a bay, probably as useful as the one in High Street, but hey at least you can attempt to get past it. Now in 08 the bay has gone and instead we have two stops opposed to each other. They have at least moved one down, but we've gained what appear to be parking bays on one side similar to Bridge Street. The road's nice and wide so it shouldn't be too much of a hassle though, again as with Bridge Street, if not handled correctly all traffic leaving the site may well be overtaking; it depends on widths.

The extension to the road relief from Discovery Road is interesting in that it shows a smooth curve to the bridge over the Stour and an almost afterthought access road to flood plain. The point of the relief road is that it will be continuing straight at this point and as with he original stop-dead of both Discovery Road and Millfield Road should reflect this as it did in the 07 plans.

The site plan has jumped from revision H to K with little difference, neither the 07 or 08 plans show the crossing from Severn Road across both lanes of Mitton Street. Oh and the 08 plans have removed the areas from the buildings hmmm.

Can't get at the 08 flood report, but the meat should be in the Environmental Report, for Traffic analysis substitute 4's for 7's in the new one and the wording is nigh on identical, the only addition being 7.1.21 which mentions that extra counts were taken in Nov and validate the 06 model. This is also repeated later (7.1.46).

I still want to highlight the base flow on pages 49 and 50. From Gilgal to Severn Road the flow is 4,764; from Severn Road to Vale Road it's 2,805. As once you start on this road the only exit available to you is Severn Road (no I'm not counting Stour Lane) the logical conclusion is the flow in Severn Road is the difference of the two figures - 1,959. The figures posted here - 246; slight difference.

Again with the forecasted flow, as with the previous locations the maximum flows are forecast at 1,988/hour, 1,100/hour, and 476/hour. Um add those figures up and once again we find that if we have a maximum of 1,988 vehicles entering Mitton Street and a maximum of 1,100 leaving then we need to offset 888 vehicles. If 476 are heading down Severn Road, then where are the other 412 going? I'm willing to accept that these are estimates, but it's the crowing tone 7.1.58 that it's "less than 25% of the capacity of the [Severn] road" that annoys.

Missed this last time, possibly because the document was so slow to load or simply wasn't there at the time, Transport Assessment as to injuries - apparently we had a cluster of pedestrian injuries at the "Lombard Street – Mitton Street – Bridge Street – Lickhill Road Junction" Bridge Street doesn't join any of those other three, I think they meant High Street. Nice to now they actually look at maps when they get this information.

Final point I just need to go back to the flow figures - remember it was 1,988; 1,100, and 476? Well according to the Transport Assesment they're 1,873; 1,911, and 529.

Okay that's it the challenge was regarding the traffic data and it seems obvious all they've done is got some moure counts 'validated' the model and just resubmitted with some tweaks. The traffic flow is something we take very seriously around here so how come one document can quote one set of figures and another a different set?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Woolworths

Managed to get out Sunday morning essentially to restock on supplies and to check whether Game had the Bluetooth headset in. I parked at Crossley (in case Game drew a blank) grabbed the couple of things I needed from Sainsburys and wandered into town.

Not exactly a ghost town, but certainly less busy. Up to the Swan Centre, into Game which had a few more people in it; no headset. Over to Gamestation, no headset; I'd heard then been some problems with delivery. Back past Woolworths and its "from 50% off" signs and decided to poke my head in.

Ah so this is where everyone was. It was like an all-you-can-eat buffet for a Vulture/Hyena meet-n-greet. The amusing thing was that the things I was interested in were only 10% off and that was from the full retail price; anything else had long since left the shelves. Just to help with the discounting here they'd put up some little calculator signs for people so you'd have a list stating that:

£2.99 with 10% off £2.69
...
£9.99 with 10% off £8.99

Thanks for that I'm sure many a customer was curious as to whether the store was rounding up or down [cough].

Ah well I battled my way out empty handed (the length of the queues disuading me) and headed back to my car stopping by at Currys for a copy of Resistance 2 for £33 and Lego Batman at £26(?) Meh I needed something simplistic for my brain and I'd progressed so far in the other two Lego sets that the only things left were the annoying challenges. Oh and no I still couldn't find the headset anywhere.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Bollards

With the fuss kicked up by Cllr. Gittins over the bikers who shouldn't be cycling down Betty Dawes Hill anyway it was interesting to see a set of shiny bollards down the side of The Rough. From the brief glance I got on Wednesday they seemed to be more for warning vehicles about the edge of the hill then stopping bikes, though it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the ones extending to the path were later removed to fir anti-cycle ones.

Adverts

Oddly enough catching up on a few recently.

Zavvi seem to have spent some money on a block with all their wonderful offers, kind of amusing in a schadenfreude type of way.

From the makers of High School Musical a film about a bunch of teenagers singing about their lives, the makers of High School Musical 2 a film about a bunch of teenagers singing about their lives, and the makers of of High School Musical 3 a film about a bunch of teenagers singing about their lives,comes Rock Camp a film about a bunch of teenagers singing about their lives. Wow no-ones going to accuse them of being unoriginal are they.

Lots of adverts for CDs featuring singers I've never heard of who despite this all have 'much awaited albums' yeah sorry I can't hear you over the MP3 player and all the iTunes music I've downloaded. Wake up and smell the internet. The only advantage to buying CDs is not having to wade through DRM to get hold of the songs.

[wipes nose]

So many adverts for RED the driver instructor school whose cars I've never seen in this area, oh and some advert for having an MRI scan as a check-up whose advert impressed me so much I can't remember who it was. Though they do have seven clinics so one's never far away - yeah kind of betting that's one in Edinburgh, one in Cardiff, and five in London.

[Additional - 8/12: forgot about the iPhone one that demonstrates how easy it is to get onto the apps store download, install, play, then answer a phone call in the middle of it; then in text at the bottom of the screen 'Some steps have been omitted or shortened' - um sorry the whole point of the advert was to show how quick and easy it is to use and you've still had to omit or shorten steps?]

Ill

One of the advantages of a laptop is that I'm currently in bed writing this with just a nasty mini-flu - cotton-wool head, aching limbs, temperature fluctuations we all know the symptoms.

Trying to stay awake being the tough part. I slept yesterday from around 11 'til 4 and forced myself to stay awake for the rest of the evening so as not to lie awake at night. Feeling better this morning, though still achy and nose-drippy so I required yet more non-tiring stimulus to stay awake. Thank you channel Dave and two hours of Top Gear repeats. Now over to Airport or Airplane or something I powered up the PS3 - not to play games I might add, but because yesterday was Store Update day and I wanted to see what was available and it may keep my brain from turning to mush (or more so) for another hour. Hence also the grabbing of the laptop.

I'm supposed to be baby-sitting the Bratii tonight and had to ask if an alternative could be found, not that it wouldn't be justifiable passing this back to them after all it's the most likely place I caught it from in the first place.

Also wanted to do a bit of pre-Christmas shopping tomorrow, and that's likely to out too.

Ah well can't be [wipes nose] helped

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fallout 3 (again)

I'm still playing Fallout 3 on the Playstation 3 when I'm still only half-way through the main quest of Oblivion; it's just so much more fun to play.

Quests can be easy to find, levelling isn't some arcane ritual, and the fact that the world doesn't level with you means you can have some fun going back later to that spot where the Raiders chased you off and dealing with them. That's not to say it's easy at high levels, it's easier, and that's what you should expect as some reward for your experience. You can still wander into trouble though if you blunder into a camp of five Super-Mutants even at level 20 you've got to be careful.

Other petty little things make it more fun - ammo is weightless, unrealistic but it saves on the tedious inventory shuffling; the VATS ability compensates for the less precise (then PC) control system; it also has much more replayabilty as quests can be solved in various ways depending on what skills you've decided to increase - up your Strength and intimidate them, increase your Speech and smooth-talk them, increase your Sneak and simply steal what you want from them.

It also has no game-breaking moments such as the 101% Chameleon Suit, it doesn't restrict you from popping pills (they just have no additional effect), but you can become addicted to them if you rely on them to heavily.

That's not to say it doesn't have its problems, I've had a couple of freeze-ups, the arbitrary level cap at 20 is darn annoying, and the karma system can be a pain - case in point I'm warned by a town resident to get away and to check the shed or basement to see why. Both are locked and unlocking them gives me a negative karma hit. I'm then confronted by the other residents and they attack me, no negative karma hit for defending myself, but checking in their houses every item they have that I can take would be classed as stealing... they're dead, they attacked ME and I can't take their stuff? Bizarre.

The biggest annoyance can be with VATS when you're hiding next to an object. Hit R2 pick the torso at at 95% chance to hit and watch as you fire nine rounds into the side of the wall you're crouched against. Oddly enough if I'm aimed at a wall I'd consider the percentage chance to hit at a lot less then 95%.

There are thirteen songs available in full via GNR radio, which seems a lot but they'll soon be bingle bangle bungle stuck in your head. Despite that I still have the urge to keep the radio on.

I think once I'm finished the only thing that'll interupt me from delving back in is the Bioshock DLC or possibly Resistance, but return I will.

Preperation

It's that time of the year again, the weather gets colder the streets glisten with ice, the sun shines straight into your eyes of a morning and evening and everyone runs around in little circles as if this is the first time this has happened in living memory.

We're supposed to be a first-world country FFS our infrastructure shouldn't collapse every year for exactly the same reasons as last year.

Of course there's no profit to be made buffing up our system to cope with perhaps a month's worth of bad weather, far cheaper just to inconvenience everyone and simply to shrug and declare the problem as "one of those things".

Well the trains run most of the time, the power doesn't go off regularly and the roads aren't normally jammed so who are we to grumble if there's the occasionally hitch? Every fraking year though at exactly the same time?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Balloons for Baby P

From the Shuttle. Tempted to add a comment there, but decided to do it here where it may offend less people.

Why? Will anyone there know Baby P, or the family? Will this release of balloons act as a signal to the government to tighten up procedures? If we were to release a balloon for every child in this country who was killed in this way, hell let's not be prejudiced here, let's release one for every child in the world who has died this way and we'd have a balloon shortage.

Would everyone there be doing the same if this story hadn't been whipped into a mad frenzy by the press, do we hold such events for those who don't make the national papers?

“I felt like I needed to do something. I think there are a lot of people who feel the same.”
Sums up the helplessness of us all doesn't it. A government service appears to fail in its duty (a duty that we all pay for) and the only thing we can think to do about it is to visit the park and release some balloons.

This is all the flipside of 'Murder in far-away county' that has us bolting our doors and peering nervously out despite the fact it happened 200 miles away and had never happened here in living memory. It's all brought to our personal level regardless of whether it is or not.

Damien Green

I really was trying to stay out of this, but with all the fuss I found this is a perfect demonstration of how our Lords and Masters really think of we the proles.

First off they vote on anti-terrorist measures that allow the police to stop, search, and basically invade our privacy and then they have the gall to complain when such powers are used against one of their own.

Secondly ID cards for all are still in the pipeline, but the talk is of having two separate systems, on for us and a ringfenced version for the 'important' people; the justification being that PC Plod is likely to go nosing around to find out about the Beckhams, but won't bother looking up his neighbours details. Of course if everyone's details were protected it would hinder the operational procedure of the police, MI5 etc. and as we all know people with money and power don't break the law [cough]

The fuss is simple to see - imagine if the police used these fancy powers to detain or lookup an MP, a newspaper editor, and a member of the general public; whose details would you see in the headlines the following day? How many cries of "How dare they" would ring back and forth, because like so many in power who frame our legal system the blind assumption is that none of that applies to them.

We're constantly patronised with the phrase "If you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear"; perhaps someone should be parroting that back to Parliament.

In an amusing act of synchronicity Channel 4 showed Enemy of the State recently; now with Devil's Kitchen getting involved in sending out copies of 1984 to MPs, perhaps it could be followed up with this film on DVD?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Shopping for a computer bag

To go with my shiny new computer I required a shiny new computer bag and a mouse and I wanted to know what they were like which negated online buying.

First stop Kidderminster town, not for a bag but to check out the newly released Official Playstation Headset; not in Gamestation, not in Game. Oh wait Game were getting them that day in a later delivery - that's useful.

Over to Currys to look at bags, then Staples, Comet, Maplin, finally PC World.

Currys had a load all designed for 15.4" screens (mines 16.4" WXGA) and only a couple of 17" bags, but I had measurements and found a bag that would work and was simple and easy to get in and out of; mouse range was fairly useless. Hmm Resistance 2 at £33 though - tempting.

Staples - again with the 15.4's same type of mouse range.

Comet - as per Currys

Maplin - not much.

PC World - a plethora thereof but nothing I liked and as always nobody to ask questions of.

Back to Currys and grabbed someone to check the price of the one bag which of course wasn't labelled. The reason became obvious when it turned out to be twice the price of the other - £60. Ran away!

Back to Staples and grabbed someone he showed me the 17" neoprene something or other which consisted of basically a sleeve for the laptop and cost £20. I mentioned mice and told him I wanted a bluetooth one that could just connect to the laptop without requiring a USB dongle (not one mouse in any of the stores used the magic word Bluetooth, they were all "Cordless" without any specifics) While he disappeared off I measured up a clamshell 15.4" bag and found that if I ditched the velcroed strip divider for the power supply it would do nicely - sturdier and only £13.

Back came the guy clutching a mouse - the only one he could find with the correct magic word eblazoned upon it - reduced to £15. I took them both.

The case is very nice and the laptop fits into it well. The mouse hooked up first time around; it's missing the USB charging cable (hence the reduction) but it's a standard mini-B so I charged it up using my Playstation. No dongle and its own on/off switch to save power.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Playstation Home

Ooo just had an invite to the Home Open Beta, code to be redeemed by the 1st. I'm not sure if I really should get excited I'm betting this has gone out to practically anyone who has both a Playstation account and has bought something from them.

[Update - 01/12: Well I signed up and read the user agreement and it's Fight Club rules so that's that]

Packaging

We needed a couple of MicroSD cards and duly ordered them online and had them delivered this morning (in a suspiciously warm package). The cards came with the almost obligatory two adaptors and thus took up 42mm x 32mm x 1mm. With their own packaging they were 101mm x 114 mm x 5mm.

The box they both came in measured 295mm x 249mm x 85mm.

Measles

Not only the BBC this morning, but our own Kidderminster Chronicle have caught on to the potential epidemic that has hit this country. In the Chronicle we are urged to ensure we get both doses of the MMR jab and on the BBC Breakfast show we're told that the potential epidemic is being caused by children not getting both jabs.

Yep it's all due to those lazy parents not getting their kids to the clinics... nothing to do with the full media blitz attacking the MMR jab, nothing to do with headlines such as "MMR causes Autism" nope nothing to do with that at all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vale Road strikes again

A wonderful new sign telling us that the road will be shut from the 29th until the 1st, presumably they mean just the weekend and aren't including the Monday as that will be serious fun.

[Additional - there are some times I didn't notice before 20-00 - 01:00 so perhaps not so bad unless it's 20:00 on the 29th until 01:00 on the 1st]

[06:00 not 01:00 sorry]

I can't criticise the timing the weekend is, as is often the case, the right time to do this. I will be interested in the diversion. Can't imagine the traffic being sent down Vernon Road it'll have to go all the way down Lickhill then all the way back again along the Bewdley Road, except for all the locals who will indeed be using Vernon Road.

Sony FW21L

Yep the new computer arrived around 11am a Sony FW21L. Plugged in the battery, powered it up, and watched it do it's Vista'ing thing as it set up. Then watched it pick up 29 updates and want to install them and reboot.

Removed the trial edition of Office 2007 to install the companies licensed versions of 2000 - meh it does what we want, but you can't install it with another version 'installed'. Opera and Firefox followed and installed as I restored some local data from the backup.

Swore once again at Microsoft's blatent stupidity when it comes to connecting to a secure wireless network - "I can't connect" no of course you can't you haven't asked me for the security key you stupid operating system.

Also more swearing at trying to remember how to connect to an XP shared printer - create a local port then edit it to \\hostname\printer and despite the automated wizard insisting it can't connect this works like a charm.

Nice ergonomics although the power lead connector is on the wrong side for me (always something), although the keyboard isn't really larger it just feels like it is due to some nice spacing between the keys. I think I'm going to miss a numpad and I am already missing a scroll wheel so a mini mouse is in order.

Weight is alright, especially compared to DaBoss's high performance machine, but I wouldn't want to lug it around much. Sticky label on the rest claims it's Full HD 1080, which gave me a laugh considering the screen resolution is 1600x900.

Haven't tested the Blu-ray player yet, but have run a couple of online movies to try out the sound, a little tinny but without any real bass on a laptop that's what I'd expect.

It's also darn quiet. It's been on continously for around four hours and the fan kicks in on occasion with barely a jolt.

The indicator lights hmm I'm sure some would like them next to the screen so they catch see them and these are sit on the front lip where you can't. I prefer that no blinking lights to distract me and if I do want to check on things I can just lean back slightly.

Ports are arranged logically - modem, network, d-sub video, HDMI, and FireWire on the left; three USBs and the disc drawer on the right.

You can turn all the wireless off using a switch on the front which in turn sits next to the MagicGate and SD slots.


Okay major bad points are the documentation. You get a full listing of what to do when things go wrong, but what you don't get is any written explanation as to how to use some of the extra settings such as the built-in video camera. It should be part of the installed documentation, but I couldn't find anything. I ended up using the All Programs to delve through what was installed until I came across ArcSoft WebCam software which is now showing my ugly mug on the screen - yay? Worrying there doesn't seem to be any to turn it off manually.

Ah well it's nice to use, isn't getting overly warm and is'nt wrecking my eyes so that's a good thing :-)

Apples to oranges

Yep it's good old GMTV again reporting on Terry Pratchett's petition regarding Alzheimer's and the disgracefully woeful sum being invested in research.

From the reporter we learn that there are 700,000 sufferers, but only 3% of medical funding is spent on them. I'm pretty angry about that too 700,000 out of a population of 60,975,000 is only 1.15% - they're getting more then twice the amount they should be. Oh wait sorry am I supposed to be angry about how little they're getting? Well I would be if you told me how 700,000 compare to the ill population or how the 3% compares to the funding of other diseases; but hey you're busy people and I can't expect that sort of information.

Wait though here's Fiona to the rescue telling us that cancer is funded to the tune of £289 per person while Alzheimer's only gets £11 per person.

Ooookay comparing the funding for cancer in its entirity against one specific disease - nice. How much does lung cancer get or bowel cancer?

Of course this wouldn't be personal would it Fiona?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A lesson in percentages

Subsequent to GMTV's inability to calculate VAT I found someone still struggling here's the conversation which I'll follow with what is hopefully some simple explanations

"How do you calculate VAT? Say I had something that I bought for £100 how do I do it?"
"If you want the base price divide by 1.175"
"About £85. Now how do I work out what it would be if it was 15%?"
"Um divide by 1.15, but what are you trying to do?"
"£87. So there's only £2 difference"
"What are you trying to do?
"Work out the price of something when the VAT is 15%"
"Well you've got to start with the base price that doesn't change so divide by 1.175"
"£85"
"Then multiply by 1.15"
"£98"
"So that's how much it will be at 15%"

Explanation time

"per cent" means divide by 100 so 15% can be written as 15/100. So to determine what 15% of something is you multiply it by 15/100 that is you can multiply by 15 then divide by 100 or divide by 100 then multiply by 15 it doesn't matter which.

So 100% of something just means 100/100 which you should spot is just 1 so to determine what 100% of something is you just multiply it by 1 - duh!

So now for the tricky part taking something and adding 15% to it. I'll go through it step by step-

First off we want to find 15% of our amount which we'll call x so as above that's

15x /100 or x/100 * 15, but the former is easier to write.

Now we want to add it on to 100% of the amount x, so that's

100x/100 + 15x/100

Now when you have the same denominator (the bit below the line) you can simply add the numerator (the bit above the line) to reach

115x/100

So we can just multiply by 115 then divide by 100 or 115/100; as with the 100/100 equals 1 we can rewrite this as a decimal 1.15.

For 17.5% that's 17.5/100 or 0.175 to add it to the whole 1 it makes 1.175.

That works in reverse too so for something you've bought at £9.99 inc VAT@17.5% you can work out what the original price would be by simply dividing by 1.175. To find out what it would be with VAT@15% take your new figure and multiply by 1.15.

That's for adding on percentages that already exist. How do you subtract with say an item at £24.99 with 22% off; what's the price?

Well it's just as you've already done just with a minus figure. Take the full amount and subtract the percentage

100x/100 - 22x/100 or 78/100x

78/100 is the same as 0.78 so simply take the £24.99 and multiply it by 0.78 to get £19.49.

Important note

What happens if you take 22% from £24.99 to get £19.49 then add 22% back on? You get £23.78. Why haven't we got the full £24.99 back? Because we're adding on 22% of £19.49 and not 22% of £24.99. Unless we know that £19.49 is the reduced price and how much it was reduced by we can't get back to the original amount.

Extra Credit

If we do know that £19.49 represents a 22% reduction then we can use the above formula to realise that this price is 78% of the original (remember that's what per cent means and lookee there at the 78/100 we used). So to get back to the original price we can invert it, that is instead of multiplying by 78 and dividing by 100 we can multiply by 100 then divide by 78.

100x/78 or 100*19.49 / 78

Result: £24.99.

Extra Extra Credit

So that's all fine and dandy but what if you've got your £24.99 and want to work out just the VAT@17.5%? Simple - work out the base price (divide by 1.175) and then get the VAT (multiply by 0.175)

24.99/1.175 * 0.175

Result: £3.72


The two most important things to remember are that per cent simply means divide by 100 and that if you subtract or add 15% to something you can't simply add or subtract 15% to get back where you started from.

Vale Road

Sent to the Shuttle:

I hope, like me, every Stourport resident has been enjoying the new game "Guess the Lane" currently being hosted on Vale Road. For those yet to enjoy this quiz it's really simple to play - as you approach the road from Stourport you'll see a road sign telling you that some of the lanes in Vale Road are closed; then you'll see another sign telling you that some (perhaps different) lanes are closed. It's time to 'Guess the Lane', which lane will you chose? Do you trust the signs, or play a hunch it's all up to you; changes daily, fun for all the family.

[Additional - Just for those who want to play at home. The first sign tells you that lanes 1 & 3 are closed, the next two opposing signs tell you that only lane 3 is closed. Which lane do you use?

For those who answered lane 2 - congratulations you've just hit a load of cones; the answer is lane 1 as both of the others are blocked.]


[Update - Woohoo!]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shopping fo HD

When of course I should be shopping for a new computer, or to be precise a laptop, same sites in some cases so meh. Anyway doing so has pinged a memory so:

I'd poked my head quickly into Currys and Comet on Saturday specifically to see the Panasonic 32LZD85 (damn my brain for just knowing that model number). Currys just had the 80, but Comet had the 85 in all its shiny glory.

Okay maybe not as it was being fed from an aerial connection (not even component, it's the equivalent of filling an F1 car with the same stuff you use for your lawnmower). I had a play with the remote - easy enough and the menu was well-laid out. Turned the overscan on and off and on to see the difference and I seriously recommend everyone do this just to see how much of the picture you can lose - it can be scary. Then I started poking around the back of it and as if by magic a store assistant appeared asking if I was okay.

"Well I like the overscan, but your source is off - see the white line at the top; now if you could run an HD source it could be better"
"It is HD"
"No it's running through the aerial, is there any way I can see it with an HD source?"
"Oh um no you can't have it with an HD source"
"You mean you haven't got a portable Blu-ray player you can hook up"
"Um the 42" and those on the back wall have HD sources"
"Well yeah but none of these [I wave at the majority on the floor area] do. Don't you find it odd that you're selling HD televisions - that people are wandering around comparing the pictures and that's not what they're going to be seeing?"
"Most people aren't connecting up to HD sources"
"... okay, it's supposed to have an SD card slot I can't seem to find it"
"I don't think the 32" has one just the 37""
"That's Odd, the spec from Panasonic says it has one"
"Nope can't see one"
"Ah well. See I was looking for two, if I could have seen it in HD and checked for SD I'd probably have taken them now"

Then I turned and left. I mean seriously, as Orphi's said too, they don't know and don't seem to want to know, but they've just lost a sale for £1,500.

Computer go pffft

My work computer that is. Was misbehaving this morning, then we had the power off for 20 minutes and it refused to POST. Then it finally got to boot and then rebooted itself. It'll boot into Safe mode and Safe mode with Networking (just without the networking) so it's a weird software fault or a hardware error. Either way it's about time I had a new one so time to do some shopping - only debate is whether to go for Vista or try to stick with XP.

Back-ups are okay - and in theory I can yank the HD and plug it into one of those USB cases just annoying - then again it is at least 8 years old.

VAT calculations

Good old GMTV again you can almost guarantee they'll get things wrong. This morning it was the possibility of a VAT reduction - what would that mean for us?

'Well here's a CD that cost me £9.99', said the reporter. 'If VAT was 15% I'd save 24p'

She repeated this for a toy at £12 a would-be saving of 30p and some perfume/gubbins set at £45 a would-be saving of £1.12 - woo!

Um.

£9.99 is the price of the CD including the 17.5% VAT so the base price is (£9.99/117.5)*100 or about £8.50, VAT being £1.49, if we add 15% to the base price we get VAT of £1.28 a saving of... 21p. How about the others?

Price of £12 - saving of 26p not 30p, price of £45 - saving of 96p not £1.12. What have they done - the same thing so many seem to do nowadays. You take the price you've paid and work out 17.5% of that then work out 15% and compare the two. The result being:

£9.99 saving of 24p
£12 saving of 30p
£45 saving of £1.12

Using simple figures let's see why that happens. I take an item with a base price of £1.00 and add 10% to it making it £1.10 (100/100*10) I then reduce it by 10% which makes it 99p (110/100*10); a penny cheaper then my base price. With a £10 item the price becomes £11 reduce and it becomes £9.90; 10p cheaper. In other words you cannot simply add and subtract percentages and return to where you started from and if you do the bigger the price the more it seems to get cheaper by.

This is what happens when you get art major's doing mathematics.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A chorus of horms

On the Dunley Road just heading into town towards the bridge, now you know me I get annoyed but I rarely vent it in this fashion and I was tempted to join in.

I was about fourth back in line so our convoy had just gone through though I couldn't see the tail of it. We all sat and waited for three minutes and then a group of cars sans convoy vehicle appeared, then the convoy vehicle trundled up with a string of cars and parked off to one side.

The cars came through and then we got a gap tum te tum. Then some more cars came through then another gap tum te twiddle. Then some more cars and a minor gap and then some more cars then a gap. Halfway through this gap somebody vented via horn which invoked others. Then some more cars came through and we got another gap... more horns.

Then more cars and a bus who couldn't pull in to the bus stop because the workmen has illegally parked their vehicles in the way. Then a gap with horn motif. Then more cars then a gap and then finally joy of joys the convoy vehicle did a 180° and led us to the chosen land. Well as far as Harold Davies Drive that is where we all ground to a halt to let a bunch of the work trucks reverse about.

15 minutes... 15 frigging minutes we were sat there.

Oh and icing on the cake they'd closed down two lanes of Vale Road again (it was one lane this morning) and the silly #@&% in front decided that everyone coming up Mitton Street had right-of way despite the fact that she was staying in that friggin' lane all the way up to the lights. Someone tried to overtake in the middle lane before pulling back into their position behind me because you can't see the closed lane from the first lane (due to other vehicles) and you can't trust the damn signs to be accurate.

Government gibberish

I've just opened a letter from HM Revenue & Customs (and yes I still want to say and write HM Customs and Revenue) I had to read one of the paragraphs a few times.

Under Government proposals you will have to send online your 2009-10 Employer Annual Return, due 19 May 2010 NEW
Now maybe it's just me, but yes each word made sense and as a combination the meaning is fathomable but try saying it out loud and see how weird you think it is.

I also think they're pushing electronic filing a bit in 2 sides of A4 and 10 shortish paragraphs the word "online" appears 18 times
Before you can file online you need to register with us. Our dedicated team of online filing recruiters [...] can give you all the help you may need to send your forms online.
Hmm do you think this is something to do with being online?

Three Kings

Three Kings parade tonight followed by the switching on of the lights. Surprising amount of coverage in this week's Shuttle with an entire four (ish) wrap-around with details and attractions and adverts... oh wait silly me that's the Kidderminster switch-on tomorrow. Details of the Stourport event gets two pages starting at page 30 most of which are adverts.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make it to either this year, which is a shame, I've just got a load of stuff going on that takes a higher priority then freezing my nadgers off to watch some twinkling lights and sing some hymns before being flipped upside-down to shake loose my wallet at the 'fair'. If the Bratii or Devil Child were around I'd make the time, but distance constrains them.

How did it end up like that?

Standard Friday so I'm giving the office a quick vacuuming after pulling out the shredder bucket, we've acquired a Dyson DC04 and I needed to use the hose attachment to get in and sweep up the remaining overflow shreds. Like many (all?) uprights nowadays it has a built-in hose attachment - the hose runs up the back of the cleaner and like a spine the extension wand fits into it and keeps it rigid while in upright mode and incorporates the handle to manoeuvre it around.

So lacking an manual I did the logical thing - flicked the green catch that releases the wand and hose and then went to pull the wand out; it stopped. "That's odd", I thought. I then spotted another green catch which when pushed allowed the wand to part from the hose. Spinning it around I flicked up the green tube cover at the handle end and tried to fit it to the hose - no go. I looked for other clasps, catches, or other accessories that would allow it to bond all with no success. So why wasn't it working...

Here's why

Yep that's right you're not supposed to detach the wand from the hose unless you want to use the hose directly. You're supposed to hold the junction of hose and wand and wave the handle around along with any attachment you want fixed to the tube cover.

Presumably highly trained engineers working with numerous focus groups have discovered that people don't want the hassle of separating two parts and rejoining them the other way around despite the fact that using it the correct way really screws with the centre of gravity due to the high disparity of weight between the tube and the handle and that the handle section is much larger than the tube, which means you can't fit it down those narrow cracks that you um got the hose out for in the first place.

Ah well what would I know there I am trying to hold the thing by its handle, how positively quaint of me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Going to church

As an anarchistic atheist it's interesting to visit a church particularly a Roman Catholic one though sadly in this case it was for a funeral.

While of course my thoughts should have been on the deceased (not not with the deceased) and with the family I couldn't help but critique the actual service. They do like hierarchy don't they? Worked their way up to the bishops, then saints, Mary, Jesus, and finally God; it's their own petty little bureaucracy. Then of course we get the "all glory is yours" etc. which stuck in the throat, then a little point from the priest about how we should think of the family in their time of mourning as with the family of Lazarus - um do you mean Lazarus the beggar (of Luke) who we're told now feasts at the table of Abraham or Lazarus of Bethany (from John) who came back; either way I'm not sure the comparison stands.

We got some short stuff (guff) about the symbology of bread, wine and the altar, hmm yeah sorry but I know the history behind this and it's not all peace and love you want to get back to the good old days slap a fatted calf down on it and slit its throat that's what it's all about.

Then finally we get the reason we're referred to as a 'flock' - sit for this, stand for this, sit down again, stand, now kneel all so polite that I expected at one point to be asked 'would you kindly'.

Anyway the eulogy was the best bit even though it got interrupted twice by an incoming message tone from the mobile of a member of the congregation, which sadly almost seems to have become de rigueur these days.

Oh and the fact that the Vale Road closings had switched back to two lanes made it so much easier to pull the procession out; silver linings.

Economic excuses

Chatting with someone and they mentioned the company they work for keep sending out messages about how this crunch isn't affecting them, how they've made more profits then ever before, then fired half the work-force.

Stupid point #1: They're now getting agency staff in to do their jobs.
Stupid point #2: At least one of the laid-off workers received a standard compensation package was then told that the position that they'd been removed from was vacant at another branch and that they was a cinch for the job if they applied. So in effect they've paid him to transfer to another branch.

Dunley Road

For those wondering what the hell is going on with Stourport the answer is simple - Dunley Road is currently down to one lane; can't say we didn't have any warning oh wait yes we can. Fortunately it's a manned control point with Stop and Go signs, unfortunately it stretches from just past Areley Common all the way to the bridge.

I came to a halt in a side junction and Groove is in the heart started, this song is 3:45 long; by the time any of us (by which I mean the entire queue in Dunley Road started moving) we had reached 3:33... of the next song. So what was the problem?

A delivery van for the new Drinker's World had parked quite correctly opposite the bays in Bridge Street, you know the ones that anyone coming from the bridge have to overtake in order to progress. So we had cars stopped alongside the lorry quite legitimately in their own lane stopping any of the larger vehicles (like buses) from getting past the cars parked in these bays.

Once you'd got past Bridge Street it was clear sailing - Vale Road has only one lane closed and York Street is open with both - it's just that no-body can get past Bridge Street.

Knock-on effects what knock-on effects?

[Update - Apparently they're also working further up in the Village near the Londis not that a single lane there will make an inch of difference. On the plus side though the workers on Dunley Road (and when they were doing York Street) are cracking on and the bridge side control point has already moved down for vehicles to switch to the 'mind the ironworks' lane. Seeing as they are progressing so well it makes one wonder why they decided to start work during the morning rush-hour?

Oh and as an aside those pretty yellow cones with the blue circle and red border with line motif aren't just to liven up the side of our streets; and no they don't mean "You can't park physically on a cone, but you can park between them"]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

HD once more

What with the economy shrinkage, the credit crunch and Christmas fast approaching it appears some retailers are in full panic slash price mode and as such it is our patriotic duty to take advantage of this while it's going on. So to that end I've been finally musing on the purchase of a HD television and have been refreshing myself as to the nuances contained therein.

First up is the new kid on the block FreeSat, at the moment the number of receivers and built-in televisions can be counted without taking off your shoes and as such still remain relatively pricey. This is annoying as, for the moment, this is the only method to receive free HD broadcasts. The option for me is to pick up a FreeView TV then down the line pick up a separate FreeSat box.

Next is the prevalence of the FullHD logo, as I mentioned in the earlier article this appeared to be an enhanced specification to the HD Ready logo - I was wrong. FullHD has no official guidelines and simply indicates that a TV has 1080 lines; that's it. The official version is HD Ready 1080p which is indeed an enhanced version of the original. 'So what?' you may cry; well it can make a difference in four ways.

The first obvious point is the "p" in HD Ready 1080p, anything with this logo has to support full progressive scan FullHD only indicates it has 1080 lines.

Secondly it's the gorilla in the corner that is HDCP the copy protection system that prevents you ripping and selling broadcast material. The kicker is that for content that demands HDCP you won't be getting HD output you'll be getting the same scaled version you'd get if you'd hooked up with a SCART cable. HD Ready 1080p requires all HDMI connections support HDCP; FullHD... [shrug].

[Update 20/11 - Something I should have made clear is that plain old HD Ready logo'd televisions also have HDCP so a FullHD HDReady television will have HDCP, but it won't necessarily have the other features mentioned here]

The third catch is 24fps playback, as I'm sure I've mentioned due to frickin' weirdness film is shot at 24 frames per second, but television is set at 25fps (or 30fps for the USA) and when placed onto VHS and DVD it was set at one of those two speeds (and format), but for Blu-ray HD content films retain their native speed. So a player that can transmit 24fps hooked to a television that can display 24fps is obviously better then one having to faff with the speeds. HD Ready 1080p at the minimum has to support 1080p@24 (although it doesn't require 720@24); FullHD once again [shrug].

Finally something that most won't even realise a process known as overscan. To put it bluntly for ye olde CRT televisions part of the tube would be hidden under the casing so you wouldn't see the full broadcast picture. In theory this should be banished with both plasma and LCD televisions but it still crops up because some HD tuners don't filter out a flickering bar that runs across the top of digital broadcasts. So to remove the bar you enlarge the picture a little and lose some of the top and bottom, but to keep the same ratio you have to also lose some of the sides. HD Ready 1080p demands that 1080 signals can be displayed without overscan.

So after all that everyone should be on the look-out of "HD Ready 1080p" logo'd televisions. Are their any out there? Yes, just difficult to find as there are plenty of "HD Ready" televisions that do 1080p, but aren't "HD Ready 1080p". Look for the logo demand nothing less.

I before E

Catching Freshly Squeezed on Channel 4 this morning I saw Wyclef Jean's new video for "Let me touch your button" a filmic video with the music played on top and the film's dialogue shown in subtitles. At one point the host of a night-club introduces the last-ever performance of the mystery that is the Lady in Red that forms the goal of Wyclef. According to the subtitles she is apparently "the blood in your viens" High end video, top stars; how wierd [sic].

On an unrelated note Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe is back on BBC4 sometime around 10:40 IIRC, my stupid PVR didn't load up the EPG so I'll have to remember to set it tonight.

Monday, November 17, 2008

York Street

As mentioned in an update it's York Street that's being resurfaced - good. At the moment it's the entire right-hand lane and stretching around the corner into High Street. As such anyone wanting to turn right at this point has to do so using the mini-island. This of course works well after all that's what an island is for, however it does cause the traffic coming up Bridge Street to come to a halt not least of which is because a) it's difficult to see the indicators of oncoming vehicles when the roads are set at 90°, and b) vehicles turning left still aren't bloody indicating anyway.

Oh and they haven't closed or moved the bus stop either so when that's sitting there no-one can move. On the plus side they are cracking on with it, just have to see how long it can stand up to all those cars being parked on it.

Me being me I can't stop without mentioning the bizarre nature of what's going on sign-wise. Starting at the end of High Street you round into Vale Road with a sign warning you of closures in lanes 2 & 3 to find only lane 3 closed. Heading through Gilgal onto Worcester Road you get a diversion sign at the OGL island (turn right), 360° and back to Mitton Street noting the repeat of the sign for Vale Road and into Lion Hill and you get two end of roadwork signs (one for each lane), then approach York Street for another diversion sign and the notice of work.

What... the... hell?

[Update 18/11 - They reopened the right-hand side last night. You wouldn't choose to drive down it due to the raised ironwork, but had little choice as all the cars instantly started parking in all the bays down the left. This morning they've closed off the left hand lane.]

How to cook to the kids

Looking after the Bratii Sunday afternoon. The initial thought was they'd bring sandwiches, but I said "Hey I'll just do a simple stir-fry for them" which they thought wouldn't go down well with Major, "Tough", I said.

Anyway Thursday I get a call inquiring if indeed I can cook for them, I agree wholeheartedly. So come Sunday I instruct Minor as to the location of the tablecloth and mats - "Behind the chair, second drawer down" there is only one chair at this point and only one set of drawers. Comes the cry "I can't find them!" I instruct Major as to the location and the table is duly laid.Minor plonks himself down in a chair at the table "What are you doing?" I ask. "Waiting for dinner" he returns. "You don't get fed unless you help with the cooking" I joke. Still he gets down and we troop into the kitchen.

"Okay the thing to remember about stir-fry is that it doesn't take long to cook so you need to get things ready before you start. Wok" I flourish a wok (okay really a funny shaped sauce-pan) and put it to one side. "Bowls, turn the oven on to keep them warm, stick them in". "Chicken, oil, soy sauce, vegetables [pre-packed I'm afraid], and noodles"
Minor chimes in "Can I have it without the noodles?"
"No"
"Ohhhhh"
Major laughs "Have you ever had noodles?" he asks.
"No"
More laughter
"Well you've got a choice", I say "You can have noodles, noodles, or noodles"
Minor thinks about it "Hmm"
"Okay", I get out two chicken breasts. "You cut these up small, do your think they'll be enough there?"
"Hmm looks okay" muses Major
"Right I'll cut them up small. While that's happening the hob goes on high. That means it's really hot" I aside to Minor. "In goes some oil [a flavoured version with some garlic] in, not too much, and we wait until you can see some steam coming off it" I cut the chicken into small pieces.
"I can see something" cries Minor all excited
"Yep well done. Now in goes the chicken, back up this'll spit a bit"
"A bit" dead-pans Major [hey it wasn't that bad]
"See how it's changing colour? You just keep turning it like this. Okay do you want to add some soy sauce?"
Major takes the bottle "How much?"
"A few glugs, seeing as you don't like exotic things I'm not doing a sauce so the flavour's going to come from the soy"
He sprits barely a teaspoon in.
"A bit more like this" I take the bottle and glug some in, steam follows
"Woah" from the pair of them "It's all bubbly" says Major.
"Okay vegetables" stir those around. Pak choi, beansprouts, peppers, onion; a nice mix.
"Now noodles, you [Major] can stir this while I open the noodles"
He pushes the concoction carefully around the pan and still manages to lose some out the sides
"Try and get the stuff on the top to the bottom and then keep doing that"
He proceeds with a bit more enthusiasm and even keeps it all in.
"Okay in go the noodles" yeah I know straight-to wok noodles, but it's just a bit easier.
He stirs some more.
"Want me to take over?"
"Yes please"
More stirring. "Needs more soy sauce"
More stirring "Okay, I'll move that over now and get the bowls out. Watch it that [the hob] is still hot"
On go the oven gloves and out come the bowls.
"Those are hot?" says Major
"Yes" I reply and then take off the gloves and separate them bare-fingered to Major's amusement.
"Okay let's see how much you can eat"
I spoon out roughly equal portions with a little less for the kids. Pass it through to the table and hand them a fork. They dig in.
"This is much better then raw" pipes up Minor.
"You what?" queries Major.
"Doing it from raw".
"We always have it from raw, you just don't see it", Major laughs. "It's the soy sauce, really makes the chicken taste good. I'm eating all the chicken."
"I like the soy sauce"
"Do you like the noodles" I ask and get a nod in return "I don't want any noodles" I mimic and get a chagrined look from Minor and laughter from Major. "So you'd be happy to have this again?" more nods "Next time I'll do it with a sauce if that's okay with you [looks at Major]"
"What type of sauce?"
"A slightly spicy tomato?"
"Hmm sounds okay"
"Well I could do it with rice", blank look from Minor. "Or perhaps a curry instead, with some lime pickle and mango chutney?"
"Ummm better stick with the tomato"

And that was that, oh except Bratii Mater is now going to get a request for soy sauce whenever they do chicken and queries as to the location of their wok.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More roadworks

The signs are still up for Vale Road and yes the cones are still lined up on the pavement; this has gotten silly now.

[Update - Huzzah they've closed off lane 3 of Vale Road; means the signs are still misleading though and as an additional bit of fun Ringway are offloading vehicles on one of the Hartlebury Common carparks in Worcester Road]

[Update 17/11 - still only one lane closed]

On the good news (hah!) front a sign appeared at the end of Lion Hill yesterday afternoon warning drivers of roadworks starting on the 16th and lasting for 4 days. The reason I didn't add this yesterday was because the length of time this work will be carried out for was written in what appears to be biro on a piece of masking tape stuck to the sign and thus not easy to see if you weren't specifically looking out for it.

Now as I say this appears at the end of Lion Hill and thus it is completely unclear as to whether these works apply to York Street or Mart Lane; checking with the schedules would be helpful except for the fact that work is listed for both these roads for an entire period Sept08-Mar09. I'm guessing (hoping) that it's Mart Lane, which would make sense, but as I say it's unclear.

[Update 17/11 - It appears to be the one side of York Street or at least the High Street end, seeing as that is impassable due to the cars parking there, big deal]

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Someone new

A company nearby has acquired a tech guy and as we're all friendly around here we were introduced and left to chat. It's always nice to get acquainted with others in the same line of work - having two separate, but overlapping pools of knowledge is handy.

So he asked about using PHP with MySQL, which I said he should have no trouble with just to watch out for SQL injection attacks, then we ended up talking about menu structures and the ubiquitous fault of IE6 not supporting pseudo-classes for anything other than anchors and I mentioned there was a js workaround I'd utilised for my suggested re-work of the Stourport Carnival site.

"Oh", says he. "I work on the Stourport Town site"
"I sent you an email offering the use of my photos", I replied.
"... FlipC" he said.
"Yup"

and at that point we talked about the faults of Stourport... [sigh] alright I talked about the faults of Stourport and he managed to interject at times, hey I didn't pick the title for this blog at random you know ;-).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Toll House wall 3

The plans have finally been made available online and show the existing wall structure as remaining; an attempt to justify this has been made in the supporting documentation thusly:

Rather than use the adjacent controlled crossing, some pedestrians used this frontage strip to then cross the road near to the bridge. The applicant considered that this created a possible hazard and on this basis constructed the low wall.
Note that it was the "applicant" who decided this not the council, and not the Highways Authority. Also note that the gap between the bridge wall and the frontage wall remains and that with the new 90° wall anyone using it is in a dead-end and must walk with their back to traffic along the edge of the road.

To put it another way when the front wall collapsed blocking the frontage people would still cross prior to the controlled crossing and walk along the wall in the road so putting a wall here is unlikely to change that behaviour, but simply removes the option of continuing safely.

Now some may find it odd that I'm advocating a position for people not to use a crossing, I'm not, however at times this road is visibly clear or vehicles are queued at the controlled crossing and as such I have no problem with people crossing the road in a careful manner. This wall simply forces those who do so at this point to walk in the road between wall and vehicles. My main point however is the gap between the bridge and Bridge Cottage that leads down to the river. Anyone coming up this, albeit steep non-paved route is now forced onto the road at the top through the gap.

An interesting point in the supporting documentation is that the frontage "formally contained a lean-to structure for the full building width" when was that exactly? I remember walking home from High School and using the frontage and that was at least 20 years ago.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vale Road

No hints this morning, but this afternoon signs were up at the entrances to Vale Road warning that lanes 2 and 3 were closed. There are indeed a long stretch of cones along one side of the road - all on the pavement.

Now I'm aware that the signs need to go up prior to cones being placed and that they need to stay there while they're being removed, but I would normally at least expect to see some workmen about in the process of doing one of these things.

Signs warning you about non-existent hazards can at times be as dangerous as the hazards themselves.

[Update - 13/11: Signs still up, cones still lining the pavement.]

Monday, November 10, 2008

A spot of rain

This morning's news was about the rain last night, last night? It started around noon yesterday and finished around noon today. The rumour-mill has it that the Holt Fleet bridge is closed as is the Switchback and Wilden Lane, which would explain the traffic this morning.

Fortunately it was still raining slightly hence cloudy otherwise we'd all be overtaken by snails as everyone is blinded by the combined glare of the sun and the road. As always it's nice to note exactly where the rain piles up; Worcester Road always gets puddles in exactly the same place so much so that I can almost navigate around them on autopilot; the entrance to Lidl was waterlogged and extended out to half the width of the first lane in Vale Road, and as always in the most ironic way the Severn Trent Pumping Station entrance was one giant puddle.

Likewise it always interests me to note the number of drains that coincide with dropped footways, not only a problem for wheeled appliances but when (not if) the drains can't cope the safe point that people are supposed to cross becomes a moat forcing them to unsafe points at a very time when visibility and stopping distances for vehicles are reduced.

What's even better is that due to the combination and wind, water, and Autumn the leaves have turned into a delightfully skiddy slush matting the kerbs along the roads.

Again checking for rose-tints in my glasses, but it was never this bad before was it?

The Toll House wall 2

As I mentioned at the end of the original "The Toll House wall" entry I was keeping my eyes open for the next set of planning permissions, well they popped up at about the same time as the Tesco turbine project, so why didn't I write about it then - because none of the documentation is available online; and still isn't.

I'll keep trying.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wind Turbine at Tesco

Tesco are going all green by wanting to install a wind turbine at their store in Kidderminster, nothing to do with wanting to save money and everything to do with the environment in that the turbine will "act as a landmark for the area and will encourage people to think about green-issues such as renewable energy, recycling and energy saving measures."*

I, like Mr Oliver, wonder why they don't deck the roof in solar panels. A cynical soul might suggest it was to do with the fact that solar panels tend to be more expensive and require greater maintenance, of course I'm not one of those so I'm sure it's more to do with the fact that they wouldn't be as visible and thus set such a good example to the area.

Now to be blunt I'm all for a wind turbine, I just have some minor queries. First up they're using an Italian Ropatec Double Vertical WindRotor (incidentally not featured anywhere on the manufacturer's website) and my first impression is urgh; it's blocky and horrible. To contrast here's a photo of the English QuietRevolution which looks more like a art piece then a turbine.

Next this is a 6kW wind turbine, but if you take a closer look they'll only be getting that sort of output with a wind-speed of 14m/s, the average for our area appears to be around 5m/s which from their graph would appear to produce less then 500W. I'd also like to take this time to point out that not one single piece of supporting documentation provided with this application supplies a wind-speed, average or singularly measured, for this site. One would think that in an application for a wind-turbine a measurement of wind-speed would be a pre-requisite.

So yet another blot on the landscape in the name of green, producing on average very little of use. So why?

Non-recognition

Had a ticking-off from over the road at work, she was in front of me at Vale Road and waved a couple of times and I didn't respond. I followed her into work and got out.

"You miserable git", she laughed. "I waved twice and all I got was [puzzled look]"
"Car, red, wheel at each corner", I responded. "That's as far as my vehicle recognition skills go. All I could see in your rear-view mirror was your eyes and it wasn't until you turned the corner that I got a full face view in the side-mirror and by that time we had a car between us all the way in"
"I'd have thought you'd have recognised the number-plate as it's sat opposite you every day", she said.
"Car, red, wheel at each corner", I shrugged. I suppose it's part and parcel of my 'can't remember names' mind-workings.

In a similar way I got a call from The Artist last night, in a lousy service area, with a PS3 question. He'd just installed the latest update 2.52 and couldn't find his Sign On icon all he had was Account Management.

"That means you've signed in", I said. "It changes to that".
"Ah, cool", he said. "Birthday soon, 35 eh"
"Oh yeah, forgotten about that"

His too as we were only born a month apart. Damn I forgot to chastise him, he swore me to secrecy on a possible event a while ago and when I'd mentioned I'd spoken to him to my parents the first thing they asked was if I'd heard anything about 'this event' which they'd heard of from his parents - big fricking secret that was :-)

Anyway I walked him through some of the PSN offerings and recommended the Mirror's Edge Demo download before we got cut off. Looked up his 'score' later, seems he's still managing to buy games with zero trophies. Reminds me gotta get him to buy The Orange Box now the price has plummeted so we can go TF2ing together.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Finished BioShock

Without getting into spoilers I had some short time last night to complete the penultimate escort mission in BioShock before tangling with the Big Bad and ended up finishing the game; mildly disappointing.

Trouble was during the escort period the BB kept taunting me over the radio describing a course of action they'd taken so when it came to the finale I thought "Well I'm going to assume X therefore I'll load up with Y which will protect me" and it did.

So with the default difficulty setting and a full load-up it took less then 5 minutes to knock him down and I sailed through with over half my health kits still available and the majority of my ammo in hand; I'd had a harder time dealing with an insane artist and an enraged Big Daddy.

Ah well I still enjoyed the game and I'll return to it in Survivor mode post November patch and DLC and see how it pans out there; time to delve into Fallout 3 methinks.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The next US President

So Obama wins 349 to 163 and McCain concedes, except here's the weird thing - no official results has yet been released for any State.

That's right who wins what State is all based on projections by the media and even then in some cases they can't decide which way a State will fall. From Wikipedia 4 of the 51 States are without a projected decision, that's 44 votes undetermined. Sure not enough to tip McCain over Obama's 349, but take a look at the projections for Florida, Indiana, and Virginia all projected for Obama though only with less then a 4% disparity between the two main party votes.

If we take all the projected votes for McCain, add in the votes from undetermined States and then say that those projected for Obama with less then 4% difference switch then McCain still only gets 240 votes, which is still not enough to win.

Except once again these aren't real figures they're all projections based on some official releases from districts and exit polls; some may turn out to be complete rubbish. Sure it would require all of the above to all come to pass and then, say, have New York switch to McCain; but for the third time these aren't the final results so how can anyone have won?