Supposedly this is the rush day for shopping, at the same time it's supposedly the busiest day for the roads as everyone tries to get away. I'm trying to put those together and coming up with an "Eh?".
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Supposedly this is the rush day for shopping, at the same time it's supposedly the busiest day for the roads as everyone tries to get away. I'm trying to put those together and coming up with an "Eh?".
Had to drop my mother off this morning in Kidderminster and had to go via Comberton Hill. What's with all the gulls swooping around the road. Had to slow down so as not to hit them.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A running stream of blog entries from Hugh over at the Shuttle is causing some discussion as always seems to be the way when science meets religion. As certain commonalities keep cropping up I think some basic grounding in science is necessary.
First off no worries I still think this is a and much better than its predecessor, but I thought it would be handy to quickly list the things that made it better and the things that still need work; seeing as Ubisoft seems to be paying attention to such views.
Okay let's try this again. The pretty sign with a number in it is a conditional maximum limit. That doesn't mean that if you travel at that speed it's 'safe' it depends on the conditions. That number has, normally, been determined by considering at what speed the majority of vehicles travelling in good light conditions, with good road conditions can safely do.
Given that it's dull and icy no-one should be travelling at that speed.
Likewise given said conditions vehicles should allow some extra distance between themselves as even though the main roads look clear you may not stop in quite the distance you might think.
Finally although it is dull it's not dark. If you want to put your side-lights on for reassurance feel free, but there's no need to put your full lights on. Unless you can't see without them on in which case you have much more troubling problems to contend with and probably shouldn't be driving at all. Sadly as far as I know there is no rule about lights except when you must have them turned on. So in theory you could (and I know some that do) drive around in broad daylight with them turned on.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Having finished the first Assassin's Creed I turned to the sequel, was it going to be as slow and repetitive? Short answer - no. It seems Ubisoft have taken the negative criticisms to heart and produced a game I'm playing not just to find out what happens, but because it's fun to play.
Friday, December 18, 2009
As I've mentioned my credit card details were stolen and used in some online transactions. This led to a discussion about credit card security and what can be done to beef it up.
Caught a quick section on the local news, Wednesday I think, about the gritting being planned. The reporter told us that normally the grit is mixed with molasses to help it stick to the road, but this time they're not doing that because sugar is so expensive.
Who's paying for this, oh wait it's us. And if you asked us if we wanted the most efficient method of keeping traffic flowing and lowering the accident rate or the cheapest method which do you think we'd pick?
Yes there's a balance to be kept, but this isn't like cutting the hours on litter pickers this is life and death here. It's all very well for the police to ask for you only to drive "If necessary" yes keeping my job is necessary, keeping the country working is necessary. As for the call to use public transport, tell that to my cousin who's local service was cancelled. Gods you can almost guarantee that those coming out with these things are all based in London.
Yes at last I've finished Assassin's Creed for the PS3 and once again the game decides to throw me for a loop near the end. As I'd mentioned the informer missions had turned into both timed and stealth kills and now with the last target in my sights I find I can't kill them the same way I have all the others.
Bit of a queue into Stourport this morning, a queue that promptly vanished once I got onto Vale Road and into the standard queue at Gilgal.
So what was causing it? Cars parked up the right-hand side of High Street as usual, narrowing the road down and preventing the traffic from moving as soon as any car tried to park on the left or a bus pulled into the stop.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Always nice to get forewarning of things like this. I can't think how I forgot this was happening what with the complete lack of signs up on the bridge and the fact this was posted to the newspaper four days after the latest edition had been distributed.
[Additional - the dumb thing is that I was reminded on the way into work by the large loader with tractor parked up in one of the roads; I just didn't connect it with the bridge work due to the lack of signage]
[Update it was finished by lunchtime and it was indeed what I thought it was - flattening out that dip I'd mentioned before]
As mentioned Pater and Mater have the HD television from Sainsbury's, but not a Blu-ray player. Mulling it over I mentioned to them the possibility of buying a PS3 Slim.
I'd forgotten how much they were - £245 for the 120Gb version, £270 for the 250Gb. With the BDP-S360 (the non-Sony centre version of my BDP-S363) at £130 it's a bit steep.
What does set the PS3 apart from my parents point of view is the wireless internet connection and browser. This means Dad can check/bid on pricedrop.tv or whatever without having to run upstairs and wait for the computer to boot. In other words use it the same way I do when I just want to quickly do something online. The other advantage is the direct link to the BBC iPlayer, hopefully at some point the other channels will catch on and make their players compatible.
Well it's not urgent might as well wait for a bit and see what happens.
A bunch of kids on community service get caught in a freak storm and gain powers! How could I not watch this?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Just had the 09/10 BT phone book dropped through the door. Picked it up and thought "Hmm that seems thin". I've just compared it to the previous one 720 pages old version; 606 pages new version.
Frontspiece 1-10; 1-10
Classified 11-285; 11-189
Business 286-441; 190-334
Residential 442-716; 335-602
Endspiece 717-720; 603-606
With text remaining the same size for both. So roughly the same amount of businesses and residential numbers with roughly a third of the adverts pulled from the new one. Make of that what you will.
I'm still ploughing through Assassin's Creed, I had a free half-hour so I tried to complete one mission. Now although you need only two information gatherings to be completed I try and do them all and too an extent this is where the repetitive nature creeps in.
There are times I wonder if any of the delivery drivers are actually aware of what those yellow lines at the side of the road mean? You know those single yellow lines on the kerb with the sign that says no loading/unloading between certain hours.
Hello Mr Boots Van parked up at 8:40 slightly offset from a bus-stop on a no loading restricted area; oh silly me it doesn't apply if you get there early. After all what are you supposed to do - cruise around until you can legally park?
Not helped, of course, by the fact I've never seen a warden around at this time. Now call me silly, but if you have time restrictions in an area would it not be an idea to occasionally see that if it's being complied with?
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Having checked out the Sainsbury's offer on the Sony Bravia 37W5500 I liaise with my family at lunch and they confirm they'll have one.
So there I am trying to get into the right-hand lane of Vale Road from High Street and as usual the lane is queued from Gilgal all the way back down.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Just got a tax reminder for one of the cars at work, did it over the phone because I find it oddly easier than via the internet. Anyway dialed the number and got told "This number has changed to" a 0300 number. At least it put me through, but come on this reminder's only just been published.
For anyone thinking they're using up old forms, the section that gives the number is printed onto the form rather than being part of the form itself. I wonder if anyone's told those in charge of the printing methods that the number's changed?
As mentioned (before the Shuttle I might add again) Jamie Shaw of Labour won a seat back onto the District Council. The Labour post here sums up the voting. The Wyre Forest DC page adds in 9 non-counted results.
So 1425 ballots from an electorate of 4603, of which the winner received 544. So that's 38% of the vote and 12% of the electorate vote. So 61% of those voting didn't want Jamie to win (1% leeway on non-counts) and 69% of the electorate didn't care who represented them at the district level.
While shredding my way through Sainsbury's I spotted near the entrance a stack of boxes with Sony on them. Obviously drawing my attention as my parents are looking for a television and no-one other than the Sony Centres seem to stock Sony. I took a closer look.
£599 for a 37" Sony Bravia. "Ah, must be the lower end model" I thought. 37W5500; that's the equivalent model I've got and at a price that's cheaper than I bought my 32", and still cheaper than the Sony Centre's 32" offering.
But you do you get the three year guarantee? Just checked Sainsbury's site and hah they're offering the 32W5500 at a cheaper price than the 32V5500 which isn't as good a spec; what's going on? Oh yes it does come with the Sony guarantee according to a comment.
Pulled out a pair of shoes I hadn't worn in perhaps six months to head into Kidderminster, mum had spotted an offer at Aldi she wanted me to investigate. Drove in with no problem, walked along and felt a pulling sensation in my shoe.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Caught a story in print of the 10-year old's letter to a caught burglar being made into a Christmas Card.
Still no card yet, but did have a Sales Receipt from Currys dated the 7th for something I hadn't ordered being delivered to somewhere else other than to me.
As mentioned in an update to my "Letter to the Shuttle" I had a reply from Clive Joyce that the work isn't going to be as bad as stated.
As games entered the mainstream and onto consoles it became ever more necessary to allow a simple just play style, which in turn led to the creation of the tutorial portion of games. After all why read a manual when actually doing it teaches you so much better?
From what I understand the ICHC candidate won a place on the town council and Jamie Shaw won a place on the District council. So that's him on both town and district, should prove useful.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
My GamerScore is getting some time off as I'm trying to complete Assassin's Creed, that is the original one, not the sequel.
Just to show I'm not picking episodes that support my view of the bad habits displayed by the CBeebies programme "Pingu" here's a synopsis of today's offering.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
I realise that during reviews for games I mention the frame rate and any screen tear, but have yet to truly explain what that means. Time to change that.
Yes I've had a go at Martha Speaks, and now it's time to look at the preceding programme "Pingu".
Wow it seems an old friend really has it in for Mitton Street and Lion Hill.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
A discussion with Hugh about Darwinism reminded me of something that happened with the Bratii over the weekend.
A call from the Egg security team asking me to confirm security details. Um no I'll call you back.
A touch of naughtiness from Jason on last night's Gadget Show when discussing what the boys want for Christmas.
Yet more roadworks
With Stourport returning to normal after the disruption caused by the work around Gilgal it's good to see that the powers that be have decided to inflict yet more pain for us in the same area. For those who missed the announcement it seems that the Stour Bridge will be closed for a week in the new year for resurfacing. Now while I have called for and agree that this area requires the work to be done some questions present themselves.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Jim pointed me to a notice in last week's Shuttle I'd missed regarding a temporary road closure. Thanking the ability to look at the digital version I examined it in more detail.
Having got the hang of the control system etc. I decided to create a new mage and replay my previous missions diverting slightly from my previous path to try my hand at the DLC Warden's Keep. I'm glad I did, but there were problems.
Just had a car blare its horn at me for daring to cut across it. Yep that's right I cut across them so I rightly get a blast.
So we all trooped off up to see Bratus Minor and celebrate his 8th birthday
Well I said I had no idea why that hole had been dug at the end of High Street as there were no signs up. I was wrong there is one sign up - a small one facing away from the flow of traffic with E-on written on it. So it's electricity; except I've still seen no sign of anyone actually working there.
Yes we did get the Acer back in the end on the Monday. As you might expect it didn't come with the invoice that arrived this weekend.
On the bottom of the invoice are the payment terms "Payment on receipt". Yeah see quotation is not request for payment, if it were you wouldn't need to put that on the invoice.
Friday, December 04, 2009
To recap - meters were changed and not identified. One of our properties was confused with another and a bill issued which we paid. Meters now sorted and identified. Meter for actual unit no longer exists so is cancelled.
Just as the trophy bar to the left doesn't update until I log in at uk.playstation.com so to does the trophy tally on my PS3 not update until I try to do something with the PSN network.
[Update 3/3- this page has been getting a lot of hits presumably due to the Big Glitch]
Having re-discovered the new location for the weekly roadworks report, I could now check on exactly what that hole at the connection between High Street and Vale Road is for.
to Worcestershire Web Team
You hate me, you really hate me. I'd like to thank everyone at the Worcestershire Hub for making pretty much every direct link I have to your site useless.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Having mentioned the bankers' bonuses and tax implications I took a look at my tax spreadsheet and realised I hadn't created a new 09/10 set
So the latest news is that if the government tries to prevent the £25.5bn bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland from paying out £1.5bn in bonuses the board will quit.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Yes I'm still talking about this because it really is that big a game and there's so much tucked away into corners.
Perhaps we could create a bye-law that means anyone parking outside the Hollybush has to set up a notice of such next to Stour Lane?
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
As per my previous entry I took another stab at DA:O with particular reference to those items I found lacking.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Managed to have a delve into Dragon Age: Origins on Sunday enough to get through my opening quest at least.
Incisive arguments as usual on GMTV this morning.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Having once again found myself mouthing "F*** me" and shifting the car to the left as I drive past the restaurant on Sandy Lane to avoid the oncoming vehicles in my lane I was prompted to give a call to the Worcestershire Hub.
Still playing Brutal Legend and reached some of the RTS sections where you defend the stage, and draw in the fans. I can see why some people complain.
Recently the content of Amazon's newsletters have become quite minimalist.
An article in the Shuttle bears closer inspection as to the attitude of some of the 'young'.
I'll start with the admission that I'm not a fan of motorway driving, according to the BBC this morning I'm not the only one.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
No sign of the laptop. Another call to the payment centre that being the only one who provided me with any information and the line is answered by Mr. Surly. He tells me that the unit hasn't been shipped and it's nothing to do with him call this number.
Posted by FlipC at 2:35 pm
Traffic lights on the B4125 next to Cook's while workers did workey things to a telegraph pole. As it's offset into Hartlebury Common this meant the use of a cherry picker and this is what the lights were protecting. Well at least until 2pm when the lights were still up but the reason for them had gone.
I'd like to say this is another example of where market forces 'efficiency' breaks down, except this can only occur where the value of the drivers on the road is zero. If this were a toll road drivers would have value and any work would be cleared up as soon as possible.
I've only seen one and apparently there are three floating around, however in my opinion the one I've seen captures the essence of modern policing to a tee.
A kid comes along and knocks askew one of the letters hanging on the screen, then another kicks one of the letters to the cries of "Oy!". Then a policeman shows up to talk to the owner and then is shown sauntering off having down absolutely nothing... no wait I tell a lie he readjusts the skewed letter.
See perfect representation - the police show up after the event and do bugger all.
Bewdley Bridge is closed according to Central News due to "Fears of flooding at Beales Corner". Bit of a catch 22 complaints because they've closed it when it's not flooded, complaints if they don't close it and floods happen.
Anyway the river is up and has been since Monday. It hasn't burst its banks, but the putting green is once again flooded an occurrence that seems to be happening at least once a year now. Oh and Engine Basin has overflowed into the carpark since at least Friday when the procession started. Now if only someone had suggested that a foot high wall be built along the edge so this wouldn't happen...
[Additional - the pool of water fills the car-park, now as this is a private pay car-park you'd think they'd want to stop this from happening]
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A work Acer computer seemed to get fried when the transformer went pop; so off to Acer it went to be looked at.
Just had two Jehova's Witnesses turn up at work because "It's difficult to find people at home". Congratulations a captive audience whose only desire is to get you to leave as soon as possible, sure leave the magazines, put them with the others in reception type of way.
"I'm not religious in anyway"
"Oh okay bye then."
Well I could have preached the true word of the Four Gods, but the word states "Teach only those who seek it". ;-)
Watching the news this morning about the forthcoming decision on bank charges and the phrase "Supreme Court" kept cropping up. I'm sure some watching (those who pay attention at least) may wonder why a US court is ruling on this and how that affects us?
They are of course referring to the UK Supreme Court. What do you mean you've not heard of it, it's been around for oo almost two months now.
Yes the UK gained a Supreme Court on the 1st October 2009 taking the function away from the House of Lords. At first glance this seems a sensible arrangement taking away the final say from an unelected, appointed house comprised of people who may not practice law and handing it over to an unelected, appointed house comprised of people who do practice law.
Except that's not why is was done. See previously this was handled by the Lord Chancellor who acted as the judge, except the LC is also a government minster with executive and legislative powers and other than separation of powers this might violate the Convention on Human Rights regarding a fair trial. Yup it's another case of doing things to satisfy the EU.
Hold on however, sometimes these impositions are a good thing. Isn't this one of them, isn't this the constitutional reform that takes away power from the 'privileged class'? Well yes, but look at it another way the judges in ordinary cases are steeped in law the basis on which they make decisions cannot help be influenced by this - yet as we know at times the law is an ass.
Acting only on the experience gleaned from sitting in the House of Lords members, I think, were more likely to take a common sense approach and reflect 'the people' more rather than the government position.
Of course the big point about this is - who knew about it? I don't recall any headlines in the paper or reports on the television.
I got a phone call last night from The Artist, mobile to mobile with both of us in bad reception areas and OTD screaming in the background; damn she's got some lungs on her.
A rather clever one got caught in the spam filter, regarding a tax refund. The apparent sending/return address is firstname.lastname@example.org; note how the r and n can blend into an m. Oh and of course the official one is a .gov.uk.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Yes I keep going on about Gilgal, but that's because no-one seems to want to do anything about it. This morning the jam at the Gilgal/Vale Road junction blocked up the third lane, which in turn stopped traffic getting out of High Street, which in turn stopped traffic in Bridge Street, which in turn stopped traffic on the bridge and Dunley Road.
I've offered a low to zero cost option that might alleviate some of the problem by changing the traffic light timings to allow traffic to clear, and have been ignored.
Any time I mention this in the paper the same negative criticism can be heard 'Drivers aren't using it correctly'. Yep if drivers from Vale Road treated it as the merger system that it is (and in turn treated Vale Road as the merger system it is) we wouldn't have this problem. Every time I come back with the question "How do you merge into a queue of traffic?" and every time they come back with the Minster Road traffic is "supposed" to let vehicles merge. Yep that's right the entire system is based on "supposed", drivers doing what they're "supposed" to do.
That's not a solution that's wishful thinking.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sony announced that from November the 19th Playstation 3 owners will be able to rent or buy movies via the Playstation Store. For anyone without a PS3 or a PSN id who may be tempted by this announcement they can check out the fun at the UK Video Store
My news feed popped up with one from the Guardian "X Factor: Celebrity tributes pour in for Jedward over Twitter". Are they dead? Did they overdose on hair gel? I mean why else would any celebrity issue a tribute to two talentless twerps?
For those paying attention 3D has been back in vogue with the announcements of manufacturers regarding 3D televisions. Channel 4 ran several 3D programmes and some films are being released with a 3D version available.
So I hereby present Backward Compatible take on 3D glasses. Amen brother, amen.
So Brutal Legend from Asda for £25. I popped it in got it updated and took it for a test drive.
Headed up on Saturday for some shopping both normal and Christmas. Got out a little later than I'd hoped and ended up arriving around 10:30. With one minor hold-up from the bus stopping in front of me. Hey I know let's not put the bus-stop a little further down where there are multiple lanes, let's put it next toa speed bump and concrete divider so it's impossible to overtake
So yes I and the Bratii ended up playing Munchkin Quest; I'd got everything ready before they'd shown up so we got straight into it.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Once again it's time for the Three Kings Parade and the switching on of the lights in Stourport and once again by the cry of "This is when we've always done it" it's being held at 6pm today. So yes once again just as we reach the end of the rush hour in Stourport they'll be closing the town's roads down. Once again the parade will run through the streets while commuters are either stuck in traffic waiting for it to finish, or have just got home and want to collapse after a hard day's work.
Seriously is there any reason we can't hold this on a Saturday or Sunday?
Had five minutes spare during lunch so I knocked out some guide mats
Two slots for the backpack, Helm, Armour, Footwear. Two slots each for Race and Profession. Then some space for the movement counters, health and gold, icon reminders and phase order. Should keep things tidy.
[Update - Got the sizes wrong. Redone and now most fits onto one sheet]
One of the times I had the Bratii over I tried to introduce them to the board game "Arkham Horror" in hindsight this may have been a little complicated for them. I say this despite the fact that Bratus Minor picked it up quickly and enjoyed it so much he wanted to play again next time they came visiting.
Caught a story on the news last night about armed police escorting security vans in cash collections. The reporter pointed out that this cost money to provide and asked one of the officers how he thought the public would react to police providing these services at tax-payer expense to private firms.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I've mentioned Quick Time Events (QTE) before, but playing a quick game of Prince of Persia on the PS3 reminds me of how badly these can be implemented.
Router claims there's an internet connection, but nothing connects. Hmm I can ping the DNS servers so there is indeed a connection what's up, must be the DNS.
A quick call and a test ping to Google directly and yep it's not resolving names. A quick call to our ISP and... they've changed the DNS server addresses. Normally this wouldn't be a problem as you obtain the information automatically, but our original setup instructions gave us a manual setup. One auto and a reboot later and everything's working.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I did a quick mention that it appeared work had started on turning the old Shell site into the sheltered accommodation; looks like I was wrong. Although there is plant machinery on site as well as a portacabin, the workers themselves are moving between in and the neighbouring Esso site.
I wonder if the owners of the Shell site know?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The government is anxious to get business to pay VAT and PAYE etc contributions electronically; so much so that soon they'll be phasing out any other way of paying. So what you might ask, doesn't this mean less paperwork and a more efficient payment system - yes it does, but there's a small catch.
Caught a animation for kids on CBBC over the past few mornings called "Martha Speaks" wow is it patronising... patronising that means to behave in an offensively condescending manner toward someone. At first glance it appears to be a vocabulary builder, except the level seems more CBeebies than CBBC. Oh and it is of course American.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Two new Windows 7 adverts have cropped up and boo was this a failure on the marketing side. To be blunt if they'd shown these (and only these) adverts I wouldn't have been able to write this.
A mother illustrates the easy way to schedule her children's computer time and a father shows how easy it is to hook up all his electronics. Most importantly both do it with some degree of humour.
Needed to go into Kidderminster on Saturday so had a mosey around some areas. My parents are looking to upgrade their television and setup to the same as I so I poked my head into the Sony Centre and lo and behold they had the 32W5500 at a base price of £699 perhaps as a consequence of this.
Finally finished the two games that form The Chronicles of Riddick. I don't mean finally as in "I'm glad those are over" I mean "Damn those are two long games" without giving away anything just when you think you're finished another section presents itself.
A river fell out of the sky and once again showed up the poor drainage around here.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Coming through town this morning and we get a van in Bridge Street loading/unloading so that's fine, followed by a Land Rover type parked in the bays, well not quite. The bays were empty, the driver in the car and yet still they managed to stop half in a bay and half over the zig-zag white lines of the crossing next to it.
A comment on my entry Drug Ship destroyed deserves a fully answer than can be provided for in the comments section.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
So Bioware's latest venture has been released , oh wait amend that - the PC and Xbox360 versions have been released, just not the PS3 version. Oh wait sorry done it again that should be - just not the PS3 version in Europe as it's available elsewhere.
From the Shuttle one of their Editor's Choice stories headlined "Looking for Girls in school years 8 or 9" positioned next to the "Dating this way... Two's Company" advert.
Yep I came back home to find that the box was stuck in the 'waiting to record' mode and wouldn't turn on or off. A power-down and, as it has done before, it froze after trying to load the guide up.
Now this only seemed to be happening after the great channel shuffle and when I set a favourite list. Most interestingly the box works fine with such a list when switched on manually, but only seems to fail when it comes on automatically to record something.
Anyway once again I wiped the channel list and rescanned; and once again it wiped my scheduling so I had to check what was supposed to record last night and today etc.
So I'll think I'll have to forgo the ease of having all the channels I watch in an easy to find order and stick to the default listing.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I don't know about anyone else, but since they've dug up and filled in the left side of Mitton Street when turning at the 'junction' it seems there's a lump where they've filled in that just wants to throw me into the wrong lane.
It might settle with wear, but damnit they had the whole street closed and did anyone think this might be a good time to just resurface the lot?
Anyway with the Gilgal entrance now open I'm once again seeing traffic halting at the Mitton Street 'junction' giving priority to the Gilgal traffic.
My birthday next week (yay?) and inevitably I get asked what do I want to do as a family celebration. I needed the reminder actually, I knew it was coming up but from the age of around 12 it's been "Woo-hoo I've lived another year big whoop" I mean sure if I were living in some poverty/war/famine stricken hell-hole or had a profession as a stunt double/marine this would be an achievement.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
As mentioned Sainsbury's didn't have a copy of this game in stock on Sunday, good job too. Damn my brain is scatty when under the weather enough synapses have triggered for me to recall that there was supposed to be a collector's edition available. A quick search finds it's a Game stores exclusive and priced at £49.99 [sharp intake of breath]. It does come with an artbook and an 'exclusive' download of Insomniac's moon.
Damnit I really like R&C, but in these times I'm really trying to watch the money output, particularly after the TV+Blu-ray money drop. I'm still playing Chronicles of Riddick, I'm still playing Fallout 3's DLC, I fancy delving further into Condemned 2 again despite the lack of updates trophy-wise and in this slightly dozy mood jumping around in InFamous would be fun. Nope I don't need it; I'll wait until it drops in price.
Something I haven't explicitly mentioned is the current work going on at the petrol stations in Vale Road. The only one currently open (Esso?) isn't as it appears to be having its tanks replaced. Now just for fun it appears that work is starting on the sheltered accommodation that is being built next to it on the other station site.
So instead of turning the corner and going into the back of a bus, you also have the option of turning the corner and finding your lane blocked by a wagon.
All signs gone, all cones gone. Damn if it ain't really bumpy trying to drive along it now. Hey I know while they had it closed they could have resurfaced it... nah silly idea. Besides I'm sure all the lumps and bumps will even themselves out once the Tesco lorries start to use it.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Not been feeling too good, haven't eaten since Friday night; just not hungry. Ventured out on Sunday morning to get some petrol from Sainsbury's (I had a voucher) and managed to forget my wallet. Fortunately found out before buying anything (I always check) and had to go get it, still forgot to pick up my Nectar card.
Poked my head into the main store to see how much they had the latest Ratchet and Clank game for, and found they hadn't got it in stock yet. Ended up continuing through Chronicles of Riddick instead and managed to finish the Butcher Bay section on Normal difficulty.
Mitton Street was supposedly closed again over the weekend, I say supposedly as there was no signs up on the approach from Vale Road, just Minster Road; and the electronic sign they had up before in Kidderminster didn't have time to cycle through before I'd driven past it.
[Also forgot to mention the guy who cut across in front of me into the third lane at St Mary's without indicating (and at least acknowledged the fact with a hand wave) who then wound down his window and shouted at me for using my mobile. OMG I'm going to be so distracted on my phone I'm going to hit someone.. at the red-lit traffic lights, with two other sets of lights to cycle through, with the car in neutral, with the handbrake on. I should be locked up like the monster I am.]
Friday, November 06, 2009
Having an HD television and noticing that the jerkiness in the opening scenes of Batman: Arkham Asylum had disappeared I though to check out the flawed TimeShift once again.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
The US ones were by all accounts horrendous, the UK versions are... I don't know, patronising, terrible?
Now this is taking the piss. We've got someone looking at something opposite Harold Davies Drive and set up a manual Stop/Go sign. We've got someone who appears to be recladding a house on the left in Gilgal setting up protective cones; and a whole heap of signs warning everyone of roadworks and traffic lights on the Worcester Road from the island.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
I normally let Windows Vista download and install updates by itself as so far they've all been petty little things. Then today Microsoft in their wisdom decided to make IE8 an automatic download.
A post from Orphi and subsequent comment about the hats in TF2 reminds me of why I dislike multi-player achievements.
So now they've decided to alternate the sides of the road they're using, first off you're forced to the right lane, then back to the left, before back to the right again until you get past the pub. This, of course, is slowing traffic up.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Intermittent faults resolving internet addresses both name and ip address, just rebooted the router. So I'll see if it stays up now, otherwise it might be the ISP at fault.
Cable connections seems fine, might be wireless. But other wired computer was also showing glitches?
Wired now glitching, pull cable, reinsert - fine. Could be the router.
One crash of Vista later and everything seems to be fine on the laptop and the main computer - go figure! And no it wasn't an IP conflict.
Mitton Street is now back to one lane. Something that I hadn't noticed (or has just occurred) relates to the lane closure signs. The one heading into Mitton Street from the island informs you that the road narrows on the right, when it narrows on the left and of the two lane closed signs approaching Gilgal. The one on the right correctly informs you that the right-hand lane is closed, whereas the left-hand sign (that you see first due to the bend) informs you that the left-hand lane is closed.
I'm sorry but this is just basic stuff and they can't get it right; does no-one care?
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Well they've finally pulled their finger out and put up some signs; yeah on the day they're doing the work. It appears that they've made use of the electronic signs that are still in place and indeed the one leading from Kidderminster past Brinton Park advises people that "Milton Street is closed" I'm not sure exactly where Milton Street is, but I'll be sure to avoid it.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Came through Stourport this morning, as I do, and found two delivery trucks parked in High Street. Not, I might add, on the right-hand side over the No Loading starting at 8am nor in the parking bays on the left. Oh no these were parked on the left-hand side of the road either side of the pedestrian crossing.
Just a quicky, but I've had to double check that they meant this weekend, because there are still no signs up at all. Okay it's two consecutive weekends and the second one they mention is dated with 6/7 November; I think it's therefore safe to assume they do indeed mean this weekend. Oh dear. I think a phone-call is in order.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Got a letter at home from Severn Trent Water detailing the closure. Um don't SWT read or watch the news - there's a postal strike going on. The only piece of mail we've had a work today was one of Royal Mail's own promotional 'Buy Festive Stamps'.
As of this morning still no signs up warning people about the closure.
It's interesting to note how when a scientist comes out with a statement that contradicts government policy how quickly those in power are to disassociate them. The current news is Professor David Nutt on the classification of cannabis. Note the two official responses:
A Home Office spokesman said: "Prof Nutt's views are his own."
a spokesman for the ACMD said: "The lecture Prof Nutt gave at King's College was in his academic capacity and was not in his role as chair of the ACMD."
Oh sure it's really just making it clear that Prof. Nutt isn't speaking in an official capacity, but consider what the reactions would have been if he'd backed up the official view in an academic lecture. Would we have the official bodies falling over themselves to point out that it was an unofficial statement; I think not.
[Additional - got to love The Great Beyond's last line on this
So there you have it, the view that the UK should have “a fully scientifically-based Misuse of Drugs Act” is apparently not one the UK government would share.]
[Update - and he's been fired. That would be the Home Secretary firing the chair of the independent ACMD]
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
After discovering the way to close down the last tab in Firefox with a middle-click; some odd things started to happen. I would close tabs only to find new tabs opening up with places I'd already visited and left. I think now I've solved why - middle-clicking the new tab button will open the most recent in your "Recently Closed Tabs" history, keep doing it and it'll work it's way through the list. That's actually pretty neat.
My thanks to Steve for the heads-up on the forthcoming Mitton Street closure. Good job he did as although it made number 2 in the Shuttle's most read section, it's about to fall off the end of their first-page news section. Enjoy the justifications for this closure here
A brief report on the sale of cigarettes from domestic houses since the clamp-down on shops popped up on BBC Breakfast this morning. "Highly addictive and half the price of legal tobacco" yeah because it's only all right when it's a highly priced highly addictive substance and the proles can't get their hands on it.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I did a review back in 08 and returned a verdict of 'fun but flawed'. But now with the update and trophies is it any better?
Well Susanna Reid still isn't wearing her wedding ring, but of greater interest is the fact that Penny Smith from GMTV is wearing something big and sparkly on the fourth finger of her left hand.
Yes, yes I've stated many a time I'm not into this stupid gossip, but as I've also said the news organisations rarely report on their own unless a public announcement is made; so I've made an internal bet with myself as to whether anyone's going to ask questions about the shiny rock that's appeared or only after an announcement (if any) is made.
[Update 28/10 - the ring has now moved to a different finger]
Monday, October 26, 2009
An envelope came through the door marked "To The Occupier" normal rubbish, but a quick glance had me do a double-take.
"As an island we have been fortunate in the past 30 years to be self-sufficient with fuel" with some more stuff then "YOU decide whether the above is FACT or FICTION. Bury your head in the sand or TAKE action to PROTECT YOUR FUTURE." Anyone else think these tactics sound familiar? Still pondering - "The alternative is to keep giving your hard earned money away to FOREIGN owned energy companies"
Though I'm sure it's all coincidence it does smack of the same rhetoric I've seen in BNP and UKIP pamphlets, all it needs is a photo of Churchill and a change of colour scheme from green and blue to red and blue (on white paper).
On a mild fisking note "Now is the time to look for a safe INVESTMENT with guaranteed returns." Okay is this one of them, because you know you don't actually say that although the close of the page is an unattributed quote "Solar Energy - an index linked investment with tax free returns" so one might think that they're talking about this company in specific, rather than solar energy in general; whoever 'they' are.
I was asked to check the route of the X3 bus service into Stourport. During the works diversions were in place. Now the works are over I was asked to see if the X3 was back on its old route. Of course it should be, but hey has anyone told them the works are over?
Causing a lot of fuss, but imagine what the situation could be like if the Royal Mail was a private business given a contracted licence by the government to collect and deliver the mail?
In an effort to tip myself over to level 8 I ran through some sections of Force Unleashed. Since the trophies came out I've been playing it on the hardest setting.
Babysitting on Sunday didn't go overly well.
Friday, October 23, 2009
For reasons I won't get into I've been going through CCTV footage, pulling out relevant segments from the multi-camera recorder. This of course takes time to process.
"Can't you just pull the entire lot off the hard drive to hand over?" asked DaBoss.
Now in theory I could go and pick up a 1Tb portable hard drive, plug it in, and copy the entire 320Gb HD onto it; or even a 500Gb one. Now my PS3 backed up its 50Gb data in about 2 hours, so at best it'll take around 12 hours to back up. That's assuming the DVR is using USB2.0 if it's 1.0 (which it might well be) it'll take even longer and of course provided the DVR provides enough power for the hard drive to work.
Then even if we could hand it all over, they'd still have to use the provided viewer which can't splice segments together which means viewing it all 5 minutes at a time.
As I've already mentioned where and how you can park a query now leads me to define the differences in the 'state' of the vehicle
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Still getting to grips with my new Sony 32W5whatever HD television and spotted an oddity. If the TV is left in standby mode when I turn on the Sony Blu-ray player it also turns on the TV and changes to that input. If I turn on my PS3 it doesn't (nor incidentally my SCARTed PVR although that will switch to the correct input*).
Which means finding the remote and fiddling with the input button, annoying. Now unofficially it seems that the PS3 will switch with some televisions and not others, but officially from Sony's own manual this feature only exists in the CECH-2000 model series... which would be the new PS3 Slim.
I'll call them up to confirm this, but if so how dumb.
[Update - One phone call later and a brief time on hold while she consulted with a specialist and the Word of God is to try using the HDMI3 input. "Ah now see I thought I'd make sure this worked by using the HDMI1 slot, silly me" so not a wasted call, and at least I made her giggle and laugh]
[Update - Big surprise that didn't work either]
*which is fun when I'm playing my PS3 and the PVR turns on to record something as it overrides the signal and I get a black screen for two seconds.
The BBC2 quiz show Eggheads is currently being hosted by Jeremy Vine a presenter who makes me wish for the return of Dermot, he's that bad.
Other than his manner and bad jokes something over a couple of shows just boiled my head. For those unfamiliar with the show the contestant and an egghead of their choice answer three multiple-choice questions alternately, standard best of three wins. However if there's a draw questions are still asked, but the choices are removed.
How did Jeremy present this - "Removing the alternative answers". Gah! If you're removing the alternative answers then you're leaving only the correct one.
He didn't do it in the latest episode; perhaps someone complained :-)
After multiple deaths and restarts, with shifting tactics and one attempt that had me beat the Titan with a sliver of health left only to be taken out by a remaining goon I finally got through the elevator section fight in Batman.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I've been quiet on this matter for good reason - I wanted to see how things settled down once traffic started to flow back through Stourport.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
As mentioned previously I'm playing through Batman on the hardest difficulty setting and it makes a big difference. Such a difference was hammered home by my first true encounter with a Titan Henchman in what seems to be the notorious elevator fight.
Monday, October 19, 2009
From the Express and Star a flying triangular object with lights over the Merry Hill shopping centre. Doesn't look like Chinese Lanterns to me; nor a kite. So a balloon perhaps? Shame the video cuts between the middle light first appearing and then switching to just the light.
Half the tribe came over on Sunday including the Bratii; they timed it just right and arrived just before dinner was served so no need to keep the Bratii amused. Dinner eaten and much sitting around the table later and amazingly the Bratii stayed in place rather than attempting to dash off and drag me with them; though Bratus Major decided that using his mobile to surf the internet was acceptable behaviour at the table [sigh].
Friday, October 16, 2009
This is the review of the collectors edition of the game to go with my initial review of the demo.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
They're still clearing away the signs, but both lanes of Gilgal are now open. Last night they did themselves no favours though as Gilgal was still closed, the traffic lights were still up as Worcester Road was still down to one lane and in an effort to make friends and influence people the left-hand side of Mitton Street was closed.
That boded well for this morning (or to be precise this evening) if all the traffic from the island was to be forced into the right-hand lane against the Gilgal traffic, but this morning I found that as I'd predicted they'd closed off Gilgal to Mitton Street and redirected traffic around the island.
So in theory no hold-ups at Mitton Street means better flowing traffic around the island, but I'll wait and see if the extra 360 traffic from Gilgal causes problems due to the island's height and thus reduced sight-lines.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Travelling hopefully for the last time to Great Witley a car picked me up before Dunley. I was doing ~55mph in the 60 zone and yes he was up my arse. Dunley's a 30 so I'd slowed down and then braked when my deceleration wasn't enough. Through that and back to just under 60 and yes still on my arse. On the approach to Great Witley coming up to the S-bend I've already mentioned I see two cars following a van who are travelling slower than I. I enter the S as they leave and the idiot behind me overtakes in a roar and then has to slow down behind these three.
M397 YBV named.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
So I beat the Shuttle by 7 minutes in getting the story about Gilgal opening hah take that old-style media :-P
Well the rumours that they were ahead of schedule seems to have been proved true. A letter (actually three) has just dropped through the door usual blah but the pertinent part -
As a result we are pleased to inform you that The Gilgal will be re-opened on Thursday 15 October 2009 at 06:00hrs.
Presumably that also means they'll be removing the traffic lights at the island?
Yes I've splashed out on the downloadable content for Fallout 3 and I've just finished the Operation Anchorage simulation.
Monday, October 12, 2009
The lights dimmed, flickered, and then everything went dead. Here and across the road so not just us. One of the computers has just rebooted and the lights decide to flicker again.
No; staying steady so far.
Do you all still have your booklets from STW? Well take a look at the description for phase 2. "Work continues to replace the water mains and the street lighting" Now a little bird whispers in my ear that not only has no electrical work been done here, but that none was every scheduled by the contractors.
Could this be the reason they're apparently ahead of schedule? Also adds fuel to the fire that the work is only being carried out to accommodate the future needs of the Tesco store.
Of course it could be a mix-up of the definition of electric work; does "lighting" count? Look at phase 3, however, "The work to finish the water pipes renewal and the electricity cable work" so is that a continuation of electrical work that hasn't taken place or simply bad phrasing and it meant that "electricity cable work" would be done rather than finished?
Apparently in a feat of "What the hell" over the weekend workers have switched the roadworks to the other side of the Worcester Road leading to Mitton Street.
So they've set-up traffic lights at the island. Why the need for lights? Well as they're forcing everyone down the 'wrong' side of the road they need to force all the vehicles around the island the wrong-way to line them up correctly.
Now unless these works are starting right at the very junction there's no need for this. You simply let the traffic move as it's been doing and then shift it to the right and then back to the left to enter Mitton Street.
To my mind this is connected to the mysterious Arrow sign at the entrance pointing traffic into the lane they would normally be using anyway had the works not been there. Are the contractors under the impression this is a one-way system?
Anyway expect delays from the traffic trying to turn right into Hartlebury Road whose reaction would be to travel normally, and joyous fun from any long lorry trying to do either that or round the island the wrong way to line up to Mitton Street.
Really is this some sort of universal law of roadworks - If there are two means of affecting traffic, pick the most difficult and/or confusing?
I'll get a closer look tonight. If indeed the works do start at the junction, fair enough; if not I'll make a phone-call to the Highways Agency.
Heading into Sainsbury's on Saturday and got caught up at the entrance. A few more people coming in and out, but the real problem was a couple with trollies standing in the entrance having a natter.
"Hey let's all stand in the entrance blocking everyone, what a great idea"
Did I just say that aloud? Yes. Bugger! Actually no I'm not going to apologise, not going to try to defend myself I'm just fed-up of it all. When did this start to happen, I don't remember this in my youth, hell I don't remember this 10 years ago, but go out today and I can't recall an instance when someone hasn't decided to block off a pavement, an aisle, or simply stop dead in the middle of a street without a single thought for those around them.
Yes, yes I'm a bit odd and fussy, but some things you just expect everyone to do; like drivers driving on the left. I mean a couple walking down the middle of the pavement meets another couple walking up the middle of the pavement. Simple solution each couple moves to the left (or sometimes the right) and with me following the up couple I mentally prepare to move in either direction - they split-up with one to the left and one to the right which provoked a mild mental hiccup as my brain ready to move left or right to follow them tries to do both.
Walking along Vicar Street low sun in my eyes yet I and others still seem to be the ones expected to get out of the way of all the people with their backs to the sun with a clear sight of us all. Almost made me want to stop and shout "Look! That big bright thing in the sky means I can't see you clearly so understand that and accommodate that" fortunately for me my social overlay was still intact and I thus remained silent.
People in the supermarket searching the aisles with trolley set perpendicular to the shelf blocking it off; just put it to the side, put it behind you, how hard is that?
It was quite interesting to note the mild look of shock or surprise when I reached one of these narrowings and allowed someone heading in the other direction who'd reached it first to get through. I'm sure they were expecting me to barge my way along and expect them to get out of my way.
All-in-all it was a muttery day for me though; so for anyone encountering me that day I'm not mad (well only as much as the majority) I was just fed-up with the general lack of thought being exhibited.
Thought for others folks, it ain't that difficult.
A phone call last night means that Devil Child has a sister who, until another name suggests itself, I'll refer to as OTD. My cousin The Artist is of course very happy, mother and child are fine and though I've yet to hear the full story I suspect that this time they didn't get the run-around from the hospital that they did last time
Friday, October 09, 2009
One thing I forgot to mention about the dinghy report was the end sentence regarding the work itself. Apparently it's ahead of schedule and will be complete by the end of the month. So when was it supposed to be finished... that'd be the end of the month.
So either they're wrapping up Phase 2 early and can complete the four-week scheduled Phase 3 in two to three weeks or someone never expected Phase 2 to finish on time.
As with buses so it is with TV shows, you wait for ages then all the good ones turn up together. Yesterday was Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Micro Men, and School of Comedy. I'm also recording FlashForward and True Blood. No spoilers or very few at least.
Stourport featured in the lunchtime and evening BBC Midlands news yesterday, seemed someone had spotted the story about taken a dinghy to work and thought it good enough to film. As a side-effect it also confirmed my travel route as they had a race leaving at 7:30 with a car following the diversion; took an hour for it to get in.
In this day of email and electronic payment as a business we find little need to post things, however some things still need to be done the old fashioned way and that means a trip to the local post-box.
This particular one serves the needs of the estate and therefore many businesses so it was with some surprise that I noted the new sign placed over the old collection times - From 21st September the last collection from this post-box will be at 4pm.
That's instead of 6pm. Now stop and think about that for a moment, this serves businesses. Businesses that often post things on the way home, businesses that mostly finish at 5pm or later. Oh but of course they realise that as they've added a little note underneath that we can instead use the Lombard Street post-box set outside the Co-op because the last pick-up from there is 5:15pm. Thanks, that makes all the difference.
Okay sure the roadworks are causing problems, but we've ordered stationery twice this week from a provider on the 'wrong' side of the divide and chatting to them they've simply adapted their schedule to take that into account. So why can't the Post Office do the same? Because when it comes to standard post they've got a monopoly, and when you've got one of those you expect your customers to adapt to your needs and not the other way around.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
A letter in the Shuttle about parking motorcycles and mopeds in bicycle spots and getting ticketed has prompted me to write a bit about parking restrictions etc. Just to cover myself I'm not a lawyer so don't take this as read.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Okay here's something to ponder - when the roadworks finally finish at Gilgal they'll start work on Mitton Street. That means they should be blocking off access from Gilgal and redirecting traffic down to the island to do a 360 (in the same way the traffic from Baldwin Road is forced to turn left).
So here's a question - is this better than allowing the traffic to join directly from Gilgal. We locals know that everyone stops at that junction from Worcester Road despite it not being a priority, but we also know the speed in which vehicles round that corner and dart past can be damn intimidating.
So if that section was permanently blocked off they'd be no queue from Mitton Street to the island, and Gilgal traffic still has right of way over most of the rest of the traffic at the island. To facilitate this the island needs to be lowered so you can actually see the traffic on it and the exit from Worcester Road needs to be merged into one lane; both of these being things I think should be done regardless.
Oh and as an afterthought might stop any future large lorries bound for you-know-where using Gilgal if they can't turn completely at the island.
Anyway be something to observe when Phase 3 starts
Rumours flit around and land in my ear. Now as we all know the work going on at Gilgal is both water and electricity and is to replace the old fittings that we are told are in such a state that they need to be done now before winter sets in.
However a new theory has sprung forth that this might not be the entire truth, or possibly even a truth. This completely unsubstantiated rumour has it that the work being carried out has nothing to do with the state of the utilities and everything to do with the Tesco to be built on the CoW site as well as the houses that planning has been submitted for.
Or to put it another way this 5 week plus 4 week disruption is so that the Tesco and a possible new housing estate will be served correctly.
Now as I say this is completely out-of-there and I don't know how the water/electricity will be set-up on the site, so it must surely be a coincidence that the work going on stretches around Gilgal up Mitton Street and ends just as it approaches the CoW site; coincidence got ta be.
Queue in the same place to Holt Heath, except I'd made good time to that point so not a hardship. What was heart-pounding was the S-bend before Great Witley, the speed limit applies single sloped carriageway with the clear warning and a multiple slow warning.
Heading down I had to break suddenly (annoying the van behind who'd been up my arse the whole way and knocking to the floor various items in my car) to avoid the jeep-type heading towards me in my lane. No he wasn't overtaking someone, which he shouldn't be anyway; no he wasn't avoiding something in the road; and no this wasn't a slightly in my lane this was a full-on driving down the wrong-side of the road.
Fortunately my breaking and his swerve back to his side of the road meant no collision.
I don't get it. I see it so many times with cars turning corners and taking bends being moved out to the other lane when the answer is to simply slow down. Sure some corners can take you off-guard and you'll find yourself starting to swing out but again the answer is to slow down and bring the vehicle back under control and yet I still see cornering that ends up on the wrong-side until they hit the straight and pull back into lane.
Never a cop around when you want one.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
As mentioned previously a squeal could be heard when Broken Steel the add-on for Fallout 3 that raises the level-cap came out. Well now the Operation: Anchorage and The Pitt have been released and downloaded by yours truly.
Again with the queue to Holt Heath though this time it stretched back to the turn to Ockeridge. Heading in it still surprises me the attitude of some drivers -
They sit on your arse as your doing 40ish in a 50mph as if willing you to go faster. "Why are you travelling so slowly? What do you mean it's raining and visibility is down? What do you mean that the roads are slick with water? The limit here's 50 so that's what you should be doing as a minimum"
One car overtook on the A449 and managed to squeak back into the queue just before it hit the speed camera van that was parked on the side - damn.
Monday, October 05, 2009
So I downloaded the 1.5Gb of demo and was thankful for the 200+Gb of space I now possess in my PS3. So exposition at the start, I like the style of graphics, I like the story, I like the amusing choice of whether to allow swearing or to bleep it out and the choice to allow gore or not. Then into the game and hmmm.
Having finally sorted out which meters belong to which properties, having had the invoice that took estimated consumption for a meter that didn't exist based on a reading from someone's meter cancelled; I thought that'd be the end of it all.
Nope - just had an invoice for £2k for the same meter that doesn't exist for an empty property that still uses the same reading from the meter that belongs to someone else.
Managed to head in on Saturday with the camera and take some photos of the outside of Debenhams to confirm the missing cycle bars.
Came in again via Great Witley and joined the queue for Holt Heath! Differences between this and the queue from Shrawley however are a) shorter, and b) on the flat. Then got stuck in the standard slow-moving queue to Holt Fleet and Ombersley. That's not the point though.
Getting on to the A449 was easy, coming up parallel to the join I could see a big gap between a Land Rover-type and a Stown Hall truck. I'd slowed down slightly so was only travelling at 40mph when I joined and then sped up to 50mph (the limit); the Stown Hall truck sped-up and came right up my arse until we expanded back to two lanes when it (and the car behind it) overtook me.
It sped past myself and the Land Rover in front before being forced back into lane as the lanes shifted back to one again. Then jumped straight back out to overtake a 50mph convoy as we approached the flashing school lights. It then had to force itself between two cars in the convoy as the lane ran out again, before pulling out once again and overtaking them as it approached the sign informing us that the road ahead was narrowing on the right.
Now sure I'm not a speed limit enforcer, and that road used to be 60/70mph until it was sectioned off at every turn, but all of the vehicles weren't travelling slowly; no-one was tootling along at 30mph. So to want to travel faster was slightly off, but combine that with the knowledge that the road keeps alternating between one and two lanes and through a school warning is insane.
Sadly I failed to get the licence plate, but if Stown Hall employers are reading this - which truck of yours was on the A449 heading to Crossway Green at 8:50?
Friday, October 02, 2009
Got back home on Thursday to find my box still on waiting to record Veronica Mars; wouldn't turn on, wouldn't turn off - locked. So power off and back on, through the boot-up and 5 seconds of picture followed by freeze.
Hmm this sounds familiar. Yes indeedy pulling out the aerial allowed me to access the menu, wipe the channels and re-tune them once-again and so far everything's been fine when it switched itself on last night to record Buzzcocks.
I'm guessing it was the EPG getting stuck, but just for fun I'll blame the reminder notices that were still coming up making sure I'd retuned.
Oh and yes this meant another missed VM.
[Update 5/10 - which from the "previously" of the next episode meant missing a murder, an arrest and a jail-break for which VM was arrested as an accomplice. Oh yeah that's the episode I miss. Oh and just to rub it in the spot before the episode I recorded is an 'advert' for 4OD about how I can catch-up if I miss a show, ya know except this one]
Having got totally fed-up with crawling up the hill to Holt Heath, this morning I took the longer route through Great Witley. This is rather counter-intuitive - I want to go East and am blocked so must go South or North (I've been going South) Great Witley is West. So that's West then back all the way back East and what a delight it was; with only a couple of slow-downs from a Farrier van and someone who didn't like driving with the sun in their eyes I reached Holt Heath in less time than it took to reach the Lenchford and join the queue.
I forsook the left turn and took Church Lane instead to the island, and again that seemed to make a huge difference as the distinctive car I'd been following that took the first left turn was nowhere to be seen. A standard slow queue and 10 minutes to Ombersley then another 10 minutes and in.
Now to see if this route stays clear next week.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
A response to Bruce's entry at the Shuttle on A Dad's Point of View that would take up too much space in the comment box.
So from the title here why can't everything be as simple as fridge? Both buying and using any item in this particular case what might be termed 'high' technology. I'll start with something I tell anyone who comes to me for help with their computer, phone, or latest gizmo who then mutters something about why they can't make these things easier - "The more things something can do, the more things that can go wrong with them" to mangle that I can produce the tautology "The more things something can do, the more complex it is".
Now I'm certainly not one to praise the user-interfaces on a lot of devices, but I ask those who come to me to think about what their gizmos do and can do and how they would create an interface. Beyond a magic mind-reading button there's not much of an answer.
The next thing to ponder is why we consider a fridge to be both easy to buy and use. In theory when shopping for one all we're looking for is an enclosed box that'll keep things cold; by that reckoning we should simply buy the first one we see when we go shopping; so why don't we? Because it's more complex than that.
What size is it, how much power does it use, is it just a refrigerator or is it a freezer too, does it make ice-cubes, what are the gasp between the shelves, what's the door shelf like? These are all the equivalent questions that can be asked when buying a computer, phone or whatever; the big difference is that all the questions about the fridge can be physically grasped - I can see how big it is and the shelf spacing, but how big is 3Gb of RAM and is a 160Gb hard drive the right size? Same complexity, but virtual. The answers are the same - it depends on what you want to do with it.
But using a fridge is easy and using a gizmo can be hair-pullingly annoying. Well yes but ask what it is you want the fridge to do, and we're back to complexity again. The most I want out of a fridge is for it to keep things cold and for the door to open when I want it to, my gizmo on the other hand I want to talk to other people, take photos, email them, connect to the internet, type my letters, do my finances, make my videos, and then entertain me with a selection of games.
So not much we can do on the usage front, what about the buying? Well a lot of that is down to terminology, and the trick is to translate the virtual terms into physical ones.
So let's say advice on buying a computer for a novice. The first question is the same as that for the fridge - what do you want to be able to do with it? This is the equivalent point of size, ice-maker etc. and just as turning to a white goods salesman and answering "Well pretty much everything" or "Dunno" is about as useful to me as it is to him.
Next is to turn those virtual terms into physical ones. Hard-drive, that's your filing cabinet, RAM is your desk size, the CPU is you shuffling the paperwork, and the GPU is the wattage of the bulb in your lamp. Just like buying a fridge balance requirements against price.
The Sony TV handled the re-tune with aplomb. with the Humax I tried to remove those moved or blank channels and simply re-tune those back in. This it did, but bolloxed up the entire ordering system because, thank you very much, they hadn't just shifted frequencies they messed around with the channel numbers too.
So I would have to go back in delete those and re-tune again. Sod that I just went for a full re-tune. Of course this meant losing all my scheduling after all you can't record a programme for a channel that doesn't exist. Due to the current crap level of TV that wasn't a hardship and back in they went except one. FlashForward on FIVE.
I recorded the first one on Monday but have yet to see it. So I moved through the EPG and picked the second one next Monday. The series link then set itself for the repeat tomorrow and the repeats on FIVER. So that's three extra recordings a week.
Another clever bit was with ITV2+1 that moved from 27 to 33; yet 27 was still available and showing EPG information. Turning to it it came up with a 'We have moved to 33 retune your box' message. Okay but why's the channel still transmitting and why is the tag for 33 ITV rather than ITV2+1?
Well done there people another smooth transit.
So I leave just past 8:10 and arrive at Ombersley at 9:00 that's 7.5 miles in 50 minutes, to be precise that's 5 miles in 20 minutes and 2.5 miles in 30 minutes.
To add insult to injury DaBoss had turned up early and had supposedly left at 8:30 via the same route and got in before me. Yeah how the hell did that happen? Well the only deviation he took was at Holt Heath, instead of left, left, he went left straight left and came out of Church Lane thus cutting off the queue that I must have been in.
The time difference I'm betting was caused by Mister "What's the Use in Hurrying?" who trundled along the whole way at 20mph or left wonking great gaps in the queues he did reach.
One of the websites uses a couple of FrontPage extensions, nothing major just a form emailer and a hit counter; they stopped working after what appeared to be a server upgrade. A phone call later and assurances that the extensions had been installed and were functioning.
In a feat of desperation I summoned up FrontPage and tried to publish the site via its internal tools, just to prove that it wasn't the pages being simply ftp'ed across that caused the problem.
Yeah, it's definitely my end that's at fault here... right.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
For those with Freeview it would have been difficult to avoid those annoying boxes that seem to appear every time you change channels telling you about the re-tuning that needs to be done today. It got mentioned on both GMTV and Breakfast this morning along with some explanation; but for those still left puzzling here's the reason.
To start with a little bit of technical information is required. All the channels are split into groups called Muxes (singular: Mux, short for multiplexer) these are internally labelled as 1, 2, A, B, C, and D and are in order of strength.
BBC gets Mux 1 to itself, this is to ensure that anyone able to get Freeview can at least get the BBC services which they are, after all, paying for. ITV and Channel 4 divvy up Mux 2, and every other channel gets spread throughout the lower Muxes.
For those paying attention you might have noted the absence of channel Five. Now those of a certain age might well remember the problems when this channel was introduced. Essentially back in the day when the most common connection between a VCR and the TV was the aerial lead, you had to tune in the TV to the frequency the VCR was sending down the aerial. Guess what frequency they used to broadcast this new channel? Not quite but damn close to that used by the majority of VCR equipment. Add to that the fact that as a lower strength frequency meant that a lot of the country couldn't get channel Five you 'd think that when it came to the new shebang that is digital someone would take note of history.
Nope, Five was shoved into Mux A which parts of the country still couldn't get.
So this great re-tuning is to shunt Five from its dismal hole up into the numbered Muxes with the big boys. At the same time they're clearing out Mux B ready for the HD broadcasts that pretty much no-one in the country has the equipment to receive and can't buy yet (but HD caught a lot of people on the hop and it's good forethought so no real negatives from me)
The price to pay is that to make room some of the numbered Mux channels such as ITV3 will be moved down to a letter Mux, which some can't get. So some parts of the country will gain a couple and lose a couple of channels.
However all the major channels won't move, so BBC1 etc. won't suddenly go blank on you.
Now for their stated reason as not to interrupt peak viewing they're performing this switch at noon today. Fair enough except for all those trying to record something that occurs between then and when they get home from work that might be on one of those channels doing the Mux Shuffle. This is not helped by the small fact that no official documentation has been released to state which channels are moving or to where. So if you're recording something on one of the minor channels (or Five) at these times cross your fingers in the hopes of recording it.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
A few colliding thoughts reminded me of an overheard conversation in a store between two ladies. The attention-grabbing phrase was PSPGo! the new handheld console from Sony that is released this Thursday they were browsing the game aisles looking for something to buy him.
This proved to be a problem as the PSPGo! is a media-less format; it doesn't take cartridges, or discs for its games. Instead you buy them from the online store and download them to play. Now this is great if you've got a credit card, but if you're too young you're kind of stuck unless you run to Mommy or Daddy all the time.
Well there is a way around that in that they can buy PSN Cards, buy a £20 or £50 voucher enter the code in the store and get £20 or £50. Problem one is that so far they only come in these denominations, problem two is that little Johnny now has a £50 in store to buy whatever he wants including Blood Bath 3: The Goring unless you've managed to set the parental guides or are watching him constantly.
So I offer Sony these two suggestions
1. A Top-Up card similar to those used by Pay-As-You go phones, tied to a user account simply top-up with any amount and the amount is credited to the store account. Nice and simple to use and even the young can use it without Mom or Dad around. (Basically the addict gambit, spend money in small amounts and you're likely to spend more than you would plonking down one large lump sum).
2. Sell the downloadable games in stores. Yes sounds mad, but this would simply be an extension of the existing PSN Cards but tied to a specific game. Buy the 'game' enter the code at the store and you get to download it. Allows Mom and Dad to keep an eye on both purse-strings and monitor which games are being played.
So suggestion one allows for Birthday/Holiday gift money to be spent in store without having to wait for a set amount, and suggestion two allows those who feel the giving of money or gift vouchers to be a cop-out to buy a full game there and then.
Suggestion two also adds in the bonus that packaging and storage would be minimised (though not to the zero of digital download) while also allowing for the impulse buys that occur when in a physical store.
Basically it means more money for Sony, which I think they'd be interested in.
The laptop that kept losing keyboard and trackpad capabilities has been tested and a diagnosis made - it was the battery. So yays to me for stating it was a hardware fault after much software faffing.
So to find a new battery. Acer don't even list that model anymore on their "Find your battery" page which is a missed trick as it's more likely for an older model to need one than a newer one. A telephone call got a price of £81.65 inc VAT and delivery with a 30 days delivery window.
Partmaster (Currys, PC World) offer a genuine one for £88 not necessarily counting delivery and a couple of generics one at £70 and one at £75; both apparently identical. Another phone call creates confusion in that they both appear to be the same and both work with this model. I can't tell that because usefully the "Suitable for" section on the list runs out of space and doesn't appear on the main item page. As an added bonus I can't even tell them the items I'm looking at as Partmaster doesn't provide part numbers for either.
You almost get the impression that they don't want to sell anything.
Getting from Holt Fleet to Ombersley wasn't that bad this morning, sure there was a queue but at least it was moving. Of course the time I made up for at that point had already been wiped out getting from the Lenchford.
After the joy yesterday I'd left earlier and found myself joining the queue for Holt Heath further back than I had compared to yesterday; in this instance though a truly unforeseeable occurrence - someone had broken down on the hill. So the queue tailing back from Holt Heath down the hill now had to get past a broken down car while watching for traffic hurtling down towards them at 50mph. 20 minutes to get through not helped that when I finally got to first place at the junction I just missed getting out before a moped. Now I guess he'd been trundling along that stretch at 30mph because he'd built up a convoy behind him; took an extra two minutes to get out from there.
On the plus side I must have missed the clearing away of the accident on the 4025 as there was just a flashing police car and a seriously dented vehicle up on the verge in the opposite lane.
Monday, September 28, 2009
After some spirited detective work on Batman over the weekend I synced up my trophies up to 372. Now previously in order for this to be reflected on my Portable ID I'd have to manually update; so imagine my surprise when I find it sitting at the 372 count.
Looks like Sony have pulled their finger out and set it to update on sync... the official link still doesn't take you anywhere useful though.
[Update 2/10: Hmm not quite perhaps. It auto-updates when I sign into my account via the Playstation site, so at least I don't have to manually click the tab and button, but doesn't seem to update otherwise]
I've been informed that the dates on the signs warning of the works in Stourport have changed with the end date moving from Sunday 25th October to Thursday 29th October. At first I thought that this might be accurate if you took into consideration Phase Three of the works, except those supposedly continue through to Sunday 22nd November.
So either the Phase 3 works are going to be shorter than planned or the Phase 2 works have just got themselves a four-day extension.
I will attempt confirmation of the sign changes unless anyone beats me to it.
Yet another story in the print version I can't find online is entitled "'No need' for signs across the county" in which Cllr. Brian Glass discussed the numerous signs scattered about warning off the works in Stourport, that they
overstated the threat of congestionNow I'm one who called for extra signs at the diversion routes to warn people who normally use them why they're getting so much extra traffic; I agree the wording is too vague. The signs state that the through route to Stourport is closed - this is perfectly correct however the implicit meaning is that Stourport is closed off which is untrue the through route to the A449 is closed nothing else. Now I see a couple of signs now sport extra blocks of text in that Stourport is still open and trading, but not all. The signs need to be made even more specific so long as you don't want to get to the A449 or that area Stourport is fine.
Oh and just as a cake and eat it moment -
"The biggest problem is that people are saying 'Don't go into Stourport it's choc-a-bloc'. There is a lot of traffic at rush hour but at other times there is no problem getting in and out"Um yes that's because everyone's saying "Don't go into Stourport it's choc-a-bloc", if they weren't it probably would be choc-a-block especially if we take Cllr Glass' advice to
"find your own route around"Fine for locals; I would also like to point out again in my particular case that although I can get into town with ease, in fact more ease than normal, I can't get back out again and indeed this will be the case for everyone driving from the Millfields Estate, Wilden etc. i.e. anyone who is 'attempting' to use Stourport as the through route to the A449 is scuppered.
A report from the BBC this morning about HMS Iron Duke destroying a drug smuggling ship off the coast of South America acting on a tip off from US Coastguard. Five and a half tons of drugs were removed as well as the crew.
Hmm let me ask some questions that the BBC failed to do.
1) Where was the HMS Iron Duke? Was it in international waters or territorial waters?
2) What was the US Coastguard doing off the coast of South America?
So if they were in territorial waters were they there with the permission of that country and did they have permission from that country to act in this manner? Are drugs even illegal in that country?
If they were in international waters, by whose law were those drugs illegal? By what right did anyone have to seize both them and the crew?
The BBC reported that the ship was destroyed before it entered normal shipping lanes and caused problems. However the only reason it would do so was because the crew had been removed and no-one left to man it, nor drop anchor.
With both cargo and crew supposedly legally detained where are they being sent to for trial?
What is seems on causal inspection is that the US Coastguard illegally boarded a vessel, illegally seized its cargo, kidnapped its crew and then had the HMS Iron Duke illegally destroy the ship. Now if anyone else had done that they'd be called pirates. Anyway it be fun if the owner of the vessel sues for compensation.
[Update: The Sun (and so far only The Sun) states that this happened in the Caribbean so may well have been under our jurisdiction; not helped though by the BBC story illustrating the story with a view of South America highlighting Brazil and Argentina
The story is also a little confused with either the US Coastguard alerting the HMS Iron Duke or the Duke running interference for the US Coastguard]
Well the roadworks outside Astley Gardens have gone so no more traffic lights yay! Came through quite neatly until I got to The Lenchford and joined a queue again. 10 minutes to get from there to Holt Heath. Then through quite quickly to join the slow traffic to Holt Fleet then another queue to get to Ombersley and once again I join it at the base of the hill. Another 10 minutes to get to Ombersley so it seems the re-opening of the Droitwich Road is adding traffic.
Gonna have to add some extra time to my journey.
Oh and talking to someone who comes in from Kidderminster the roads into Kidderminster are chock, so no reason to switch routes.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Not being as easily accessible around lunchtime I'd taken to bringing in a drink to eat with a brought-in lunch. Not wanting to faff with a flask of coffee or messing with bringing and remembering in milk when I'm the only one here who drinks it I'd picked up five kinda randomly chosen assorted bottles of soft-drink one for each day.
In order these would be Irn-Bru; Sprite; Tango Orange; Vimto; and Ribena Strawberry or to put it another way drinks (or labels) I haven't drunk for probably 5+ years. Pretty much how I remembered them, though I did enjoy Irn-Bru and the Strawberry Ribena was very nice. What did shock me was the RDA guidelines on the labelling. Okay I hold these to the high regard they deserve, but it was the mild duplicity of them that shocked.
The main two categories were Calories and sugar the others being trace or 0 . Values for four of them were much of a muchness with Calories from 107 (Irn-Bru) to 113 (Ribena) and Sugar from 26.3g to 27.3g (as before) with only Tango Orange having much less at 48 and 11g.
Okay as figures pretty meaningless until I add in the RDA percentages and that becomes roughly 5% and 30% for the four and 2% and 12% for Tango. So that's a third of my supposed sugar content in one drink! Well no look closer and you'll spot the text next to the figures that this is for a "250ml Serving" the volume of each bottle being... 500ml. So that's 60% of my RDA in one bottle - ouch.
So how do you define a serving? Does the bottle come with a half-way point to inform you that you have just poured one serving? Nope! Do they intimate that you shouldn't drink all this in one day? Four out of five just tell me to Serve Cool or Store Cool with only Ribena stating "Once you've opened me pop me in the fridge and drink me within 4 days".
Now if you're drinking this on the move, which is how the portable bottle design seems to suggest, who's going to drink half then store the rest away?
Anyway I'm going to have a rest this week-end and go cold-turkey from sugar :-P And that's got nothing to do with the fact I'll be glued to my much missed PS3.
As mentioned previously my Humax failed to record the 3 o'clock episode of Veronica Mars for reasons unknown. Well not to worry good old 4OD will allow me to catch-up in the way they keep advertising.
Not only is there no Veronica Mars, but the link on the E4 site's programme section tries to take you to "http:///". There is no dedicated page to, no way of finding out about it. All excellent work here people.
So yes reunited with my PS3 I glanced over the Store and almost squealed Broken Steel is now available for Fallout 3 for £7.99 and ups the level cap from 20 to 30. Now I have my wonking great hard-drive and have gone from 5Gb free to 219Gb free I think it can safely reside on my hard-drive without worries.
So much to catch up on ;-)
I finally got my PS3 back yesterday, should have been Wednesday but... no I'll start at the beginning.
It went away on the 3rd, not hearing anything from Sony despite giving them my home number, mobile and email I called on the 10th to check it had arrived safely and was told that if I had given it to the courier and had the paperwork then everything was fine and that they had a 21 day return policy.
So this Tuesday being day 19 and still having heard nothing I call again. Details are taken and I'm put on hold... yes they have it, back on hold... it'll be sent out for tomorrow.
This Wednesday, day 20, a frantic call comes in apparently no-one had informed Head Office that they were supposed to be dispatching my console and were hurriedly trying to find it. Wednesday comes and goes and no console.
Given the traffic situation around here and said frantic call I give them that and wait Thursday and yay it turns up. The serial number is checked before being signed for and matches so good news there.
I have the console and an envelope which contains a bent piece of metal which is a disc caddy, four silver screws, and two blue screws. I check the console hard drive and find that it's missing the blue screw. Kudos to Sony they've actually taken on board both the problem and my desired action and left the screw that caused me problems out so I can replace the drive.
I boot up the console to check it's fine and it automatically displays in HD - yay.
My new 320Gb drive goes into the spare caddy and screws in neatly. I power off the PS3, slide the caddy out, and slot in the new one. I leave the blue screw for the moment, replace the hatch and boot up.
The hard drive formats in no time at all, and the OS is still the latest I upgraded to and my sign in user details are still there. So I guess they're kept in an internal non-volatile memory - very nice. I plug in my back-up drive and start the restore 1 hour and 41 minutes starting at 6pm. I eat dinner, watch the Simpsons, find I can't watch the latest episode of Veronica Mars as it hasn't recorded and watch something else. 7:45 and it's finished and everything's back except my trophies.
Oh wait no not quite on the reboot it didn't recognise that it was supposed to be outputting an HDMI single so another reset was in order which found and set everything automatically.
I log in and sync and it trundles through that. I go back to my show. 8pm and it's finally done. I slip in Arkham Asylum and the TV does it's dance and informs me it's now set to 720p...? I check the box and the game is supposed to run at 1080p. I back out the game and check the video settings.
My TV accepts 576i, 720i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p. I untick all but the first and last and try again. The TV flickers and shows up 576i I hold my breath and it switches up to 1080p.
[Update - a quick search reveals that 720p is the native, but you can force the upscale by doing what I did however smoothness and other things takes a hit. I think I'll set it back and see if I notice a difference]
I dally with Batman gain a new trophy and then end. I check this new addition to my trophy collection and find I have 2% for this game; I started with ~37%. Uh-oh. I re-synced and they all reappeared, but I hope I'm not going to have to do that every time and it's just a one-off for each game, or just that one.
[Update - 28/9: It seems the game needs only be played once and then re-synced for the trophies to 'stick'. However some of the games required updates and it appears those didn't require the re-sync after play. I'm guessing it's a case of the game thinking 'I'm new so I'll reset the trophies' unless an update comes in which appears to counter this assessment
On the plus side I hadn't played Force Unleashed online for a while and an update came in giving me trophies - yay! Then a notice came up telling me that to have them awarded I'd need to delete any save games I had - boo!]
My final act is to attach the blue screw which turns most neatly.
So altogether this seems to display a lack of communication between the Sony support centre and the Sony Head Office. They failed to pick up my console when they should have (the 2nd) and failed to deliver when they said they would (23rd) in both instances because they didn't know they had to. On the plus side they sent me a second caddy which I didn't ask for and made life much easier and did so for free as well as handling all the carriage charges despite being almost two years old and one year out of warranty.
I'll give them a thumbs up for that at least.
Well the roadworks on the railway bridge were gone last night so that route's as clear as it ever is; and they've finally removed all the cones off the 449 at Ombersley so that's back to two lanes as well.
Clear run this morning, though I was amused by both the van in front and the car behind. The van pulled out in front of me at Pearl Lane just at the roadworks and we all hit the red light together which of course was now blocked from my view. A car turned up behind me and the lights switched. The van surges off through this 30mph zone and I hit 30 and stay there, the car behind keeping a moderate distance. The van is disappearing off to the horizon and the car behind is now up my bumper.
We progress like this until we hit the first National Speed Limit Applies sign and I speed up to around 40/45 in deference to the road, the vehicle behind keeps pace and I catch up to the white van who is not being held-up by anyone in front. Back to a 30 and white van gains ground on me and her behind is back up my bumper. Approaching the Lenchford and I let the engine out and approach 60. I end up slowing down as I catch up the white van as we approach the Holt Heath junction and I check behind me to find that the vehicle that's been chasing me all this way hasn't even got up the bank yet it's just appearing as I pull out of the junction.
In other words both of these vehicles wanted to do 40ish regardless of limit or conditions. Damn I hate those types of drivers.