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.