Thursday, September 30, 2010

BBC Shop

The reply to the BBC reminded me to check the price for "The Onedin Line" as a gift. Amazon have series 1 & 2 at £10.93 and £28.99 respectively, but nothing beyond with the only full set being a Dutch import. Same for Play. So go to the source the BBC shop and a search for "the onedin line" returns only one result - the second series at £27.99; what makes this odd and noteworthy is that on this page under "Best Sellers" is "The Onedin Line: Complete Series 1 (DVD) for £29.99.

So they only have series 2 except for the fact they also have series 1. So how can I discover if they have 4-9?

Turns out they won't. The BBC only released the first two in the UK with the second apparently edited. So I need the BBC 1st series the ABC for the 2nd and the Dutch 3-5. As for 6-8 who knows. What a rational industry television is.

The car-park saga rumbles on.

A bit of 'news' from the Shuttle trying to paint the recent car-parking alterations in a good light. I've commented there, but I'll highlight and expand here.

Restricted season tickets, which are half the price of full season tickets, are now extended to include Vale Road in Stourport, The Avenue car park in Blakedown and the Dog Lane and Gardners Meadow car parks in Bewdley.  
Hurray! Wait half of that is to include car-parks that were originally free.
Rail users have the option to park all day on Comberton Place in Kidderminster for £2.50, rather than at the railway station, which costs £3.50.
Except according to the order as presented to the cabinet Comberton Place appears as
Part Comberton Place Surface Vehicle Park, Kidderminster
Free - Up to ½ hour
70p - Up to 1 hour
£1.00 - Up to 2 hours
£1.80 - Up to 3 hours
£3.60 - Over 3 hours
£7.20 - 24 to 48 hours
Anyone see a £2.50 there? Are we talking about a different Comberton Place not listed in the order?

[Update 1/10 No we're talking about a different order. It seems the Draft proposal offered to the Cabinet has been altered and only just posted.

So Part Comberton Place Surface Vehicle Park, Kidderminster is now
Free - Up to ½ hour
50p - Up to 1 hour
£1.10 - Up to 2 hours
£1.50 - Up to 3 hours
£2.50 - Over 3 hours
£5.00 - 24 to 48 hours
Shoppers can park and pop into town for a reduced cost on Stadium Close car park, in Kidderminster, near the Harriers Ground, for 50p for up to two hours. 
Well firstly it's interesting to see the concept of "fair and equitable" in place given that trying to stay for that length of time in Stourport would cost 70p and £1 in Bewdley. Secondly what does the actual order state?
Stadium Close Surface Vehicle Park, Kidderminster
£1.50 - All day
£3.00 - 24 to 48 hours
Um again anyone see a 50p there?

[Update 1/10 - Again they changed the order the figures now read -

Stadium Close Surface Vehicle Park, Kidderminster

30p - Up to 1 hour
50p - Up to 2 hours
£1.00 - Up to 3 hours
£1.60 - Over 3 hours
£3.20 - 24 to 48 hours
For residents, all restricted and full season ticket users can now leave their cars for up to two months, without needing to move them, instead of only being able to park for 23 hours in any 24-hour period.
Firstly there is only one Residents ticket and that's for Bewdley. As such there's no ability to distinguish between a resident holding a season ticket and a non-resident with one. Secondly the ability to park for greater than 24 hours only applies to the long-term car-parks (fair enough). Thirdly this 23 out of 24 parking, while existing for some time, has only recently been enforced. So well done for removing a barrier that didn't affect anyone until you started penalising them for it. To be fair this can be read as 'For residents you can now purchase a ...' however the latter two points remain.

Oops and don't forget the "No return within [X] hours" so you can't just shift your car to another space. You have to leave, drive around, return and hope that the enforcement officer notes that you've moved.
Across the district, visitors and residents can now buy tickets to park for up to two days so they do not have to move their cars if they want to stay overnight or for the weekend.
See above regarding the 23/24 parking. And now a word from our sponsor
"Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of focus on a couple of aspects of the district car parking review and the many positive features have been largely overlooked. Our intention with the review was to make car parking charges fair and equitable across the district and this is what we have achieved with the new arrangements so far."
So what positive features, and who said you've achieved fair and equitable charges? Oh and the final killer
However, this is only the first phase of our review. The second phase will come as the council sets its budget next year and further inconsistencies in parking charges are addressed.
Say what?

BBC's reply to Sherlock

On the 2 August I posted that Sherlock had failed to record. Having discovered that it wasn't just me, or my particular model of recorder I made a complaint to the BBC. On the 27th September they finally replied.

Now to recap how things are supposed to work with my box. I set it to record a series, that information is kept in the box. 15 minutes before a programme is supposed to start the box wakes up and reloads the programme guide (EPG) to check if it's moved. With the slot confirmed it waits for when the programme is supposed to start and then waits for the broadcast signal. As such I've seen programmes start recording before the EPG changes (early) and after the EPG has changed but the programme hasn't started (late) likewise I've seen it record after the programme has already started.

So with this in mind consider the reply.

We are not aware of any problems with the broadcast of this programme or the time signal related to it.. This largely depends on who provides and updates the EPG on the PVR.
Except the EPG wasn't causing the problem, it happily stated that the programme started at the time it did.
The BBC use both Freesat plus and Freeview plus which provide an 8 day EPG and accurate recording so that in these circumstances this delay would have been picked up, not so in others. If you finds [sic] that this continues, simply add time to account for this, as the EPG may not be updated in time to trigger the recording correctly at the later time.
Except there was no delay for this programme it started at the scheduled time as also shown in the EPG.
The only accurate junction we transmit in real-time is the Now/Next change. The EPG update does not respond to a real-time change which a recorder can start on (like PDC). It's likely that your equipment uses scheduled time to record programmes, having got the programme information from the EPG to set up the recording slot.
Nope it uses the signal otherwise every recording would start bang on time and they don't.
The BBC sends a trigger at the exact time the programme starts, but only Freeview plus DVD recorders will react to this.
Except this is a Freeview Plus recorder though not a DVD one; I think they mean DVR. So in other words despite stating that many others had this problem in that the programme only started to record 20 minutes in despite the EPG displaying the correct information it's a problem at my end.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The new council Single Site design

I've ripped into the Single Site plans but Tav asks if I looked at the Sun Path Analysis in the Supporting Documentation? The answer was no as of the plans filed this was just one document and it's not as if they need to do any work like the Tesco in justifying why they want to build and on this land and blah blah blah.

But due diligence and all that.

The new council Single Site

I've mentioned it before, but we've finally had the full plans for the new council single site issued. Tav's been looking into over at WFA as well as 'borrowing' the Shuttle's artists impression.

The main criticisms are over its looks - it looks like an office block. The daft thing is that it looks better from the air. As this rough 3D plan shows.

North is to the left of the image. The two open areas may not be fully open, the plans don't seem to indicate quite, but they are both courtyards. Now we've been told this has been made the height it is to make better use of natural light. Except the skylights are on the back away from the sun, and that jutting out 'cover' also extends down a storey. So that's not direct light. they want then? Without running a test it seems to me that the position of the two courtyards would also see them in shade morning and evening while possibly being under the full sun at midday.

The PS3 repair saga continues

The story so far - At the end of last month my PS3 displayed a non-specific hardware fault (green, yellow, red) and as I had it insured off it went to be repaired. A fortnight later it came back and 3 hours of non-continuous gameplay later it died the same way.

Off it went again and a fortnight later returned last Thursday. This time it managed to last about 9 hours before dying last night.

Checking with the insurance company the standard procedure from the repair company is to declare it unrepairable. At which point I'll be insured with vouchers to pick up a new one. Trouble is I don't have a 'new' one I have an 'old' one with backwards compatibility.

So my choice is pay £130 to Sony to get it 'repaired' and get one of theirs from their old stock (that may be new or refurbished) or give up on PS2 games and get a new one? A choice made more interesting in that Sony have registered a patent for a PS3 add-on that emulates the PS2 hardware.

As an aside it's a damn good job this happened now as re-reading my insurance they don't offer a renewal on items over 36 months old. In my case that'd be the end of October. So a month of two later and I'd have been stuffed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Labour Leadership

So the hottest topic has finally been decided and to be honest I still forget exactly which of the brothers actually won; was it David or Ed?

The major outcome of this election has been a demonstration of how a new voting system works and the full voting results posted to the Labour Party website. From this we can see that using the old first past the post system the winner would have been David with 37.78% of the vote. And through each round David is in the lead and creeping towards the required 50% until the final elimination of Ed Balls from the contest where it seems his supporters threw their backing towards Ed and let him pip his brother to the post.

Moreover the full details as posted allow us to see exactly which groupings voted for whom. For the MPs and MEPS this is listed by name so we can check the results ourselves. And doing this produces something odd.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Stourport Carnival 2010 photos

The photos I took of the Stourport Carnival are making their way up to Flickr; as previously mentioned I didn't stay for the walkers, but I did get the floats.

Of the ones uploaded so far my favourite has to be this one, just an accident of composition.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Transformers movie review

Yes I know it's old, but I was re-watching it and after "Shaolin Soccer" and 2012 I felt a quick recap necessary.

What can I say about this film? Well if you teach any sort of film-making class this film should be near the top of your list as an example of the art of direction, cinematography and pacing and all because of that old adage - "You don't realise how much you appreciate something until its gone". Yep this film should be taught as a how not to do it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

PS3 repair again

Huzzah my PS3 is apparently repaired again and has been despatched so I should get it tomorrow. Let's see if it lasts more than 3 hours before conking out this time.

Vale Road outcome

So it seems the Cabinet have spoken  and what a load of rubbish they seem to have come out with. Unable to attend for the normal reason (Hey let's hold the meeting just after work in the neighbouring town - rush hour is just so fun to drive in) I'm relying on the ever dutiful Tav at the WFA for the highlights; as I say there - yet another reason these events should be recording and uploaded to the internet.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Using symbols with CSS content element

Within CSS there exists two pseudo tags :after and :before. Well applied to a class or element they can apply formatting to, well, after or before the element in question. A minor controversial inclusion is a property that only exists for these two tags "content:" Using this combination you can add any characters before or after any element or class. So if you have a class of "failed" you can create the css formating of

.failed:before{content: url(images/red-dot.gif);}

and in front of each failed class element would appear this image of a red dot. It's also possible to add text and even style it

.failed:before{content: "Failed"; color: red;}

Now each failed class element will have the word Failed in red letters before it. So far so easy, but what if you want to include something different say a special character like "→"you might expect to be able to do this:

.failed:before{content: "→";}

using the special entity code, but all you'll see is the letters typed. What is needed is to tell the css parser to treat this as actual code rather than as a string and that means escaping it using a "\" as it doesn't understand the & symbol that needs to be omitted and as it still reads the "rarr" as a string the hex version needs to be used instead.

→ is → is &8594; in decimal which is &2192; in hex. So the full CSS coding would be

.failed:before{content: "\2192";}

This will work for any special characters the browser can use.

(Created for Orphi)

A night in with a film

Dark and miserable looking outside last night I decided to stay in. I didn't fancy reading and sans PS3 that meant a film; but what did I fancy?

Something that didn't make me think - so out goes "Donnie Darko" et al. Hmm action, but no zombies; out goes "Resident Evil: Extinction". Something light; out goes Bourne. After 2012 something that won't make me wince every five minutes due to plot illogic; out goes "Transformers" and "Die Hard 4.0". Something a couple of hours long that won't make me want to continue; out goes "Battlestar Galactica".

I ended up with "Shaolin Soccer" and I'm glad. The dubbed version because I couldn't be arsed with subtitles, but still a wonderfully made film with so many nods to the styles of other genres such as Westerns and musicals. Though what does it say when I find the idea of footballs catching on fire or players leaping 50 feet into the air less mind-bending than most of the events in 2012 or Die Hard 4.0?

I mean of course it's stupid, but this is an obviously fictional universe (the bad guys are called "Team Evil" for Christ's sake) yet everything conforms to its own internal logic. It's just a delight to watch with so many 'this is a film' in-jokes. I still laugh at the scene where Chow is crawling on the football pitch it's almost "Police Squad" level.

I'm not sure if I prefer this to the other Stephen Chow film I own "Kung Fu Hustle"; tough call. "Shaolin Soccer" makes me laugh more so I'll go with that.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wyre Forest 2010 District Election spoiled ballots

Whenever I've found a spare 5 minutes I've been plugging the results of our latest district election into a database so I can run comparisons etc. I've got the 2010 results and the 2006 results side-by-side and I thought "Hmm that's a lot of spoiled ballots there. I wonder why no-one has said anything?"

I checked my original source from Wyre Forest and saw that although all the candidates votes were shown as were the electorate totals, turnout and percentage turnout; the actual number of spoiled papers was missing. Now logically if the vote totals 3,542 and the number of ballot papers issued was 3,569 then the difference of 27 should be what I'm looking for. Yet the numbers seemed high.

Another check and the turnout percentages between 2006 and 2010 were almost double in most cases so that should increase the number of spoilt ballots; how to check though? I ran a simple sweep compare turnout percentages and apply to the 2006 results to predict 2010 results. Easy enough, but I realised that only really works if the electorate figures remain static. In other words if in 2006 I had a electorate of 1000 and a turnout of 500 with 10 spoilt and then in 2010 the electorate doubled as did the turnout the percentage would remain the same as would the number of spoilt predicted.

So I ran the figures using the Turnout numbers themselves.

The results - The first column is the ward, the second the number of spoiled ballots in 2006, the third the electorate percentage prediction, the fourth the turnout prediction and the fifth the actual 2010 number as calculated by the difference in turnout to votes.

Aggborough & Spennells36627
Areley Kings510928
Bewdley & Arley12212259
Blakedown & Chaddesley8131320
Habberley and Blakebrook6101012
Offmore & Comberton7121238
Oldington & Foley Park35513
Sutton Park9161731

Bloody Hell! Although there's a couple that match most are double or more of the prediction. Now that either means that the increase in electorate was met by people who didn't know how to vote or that people were purposefully spoiling their ballot papers (as I suggested several times pre-election) to show their dissatisfaction.

So why didn't the return show this, why did the 2006 return? Are there no standards that are used to show what data should be given? Anyway take a look at those figures. Not enough to influence the vote and thus trigger an enquiry, but hell.

2012 movie review

I finally got around to seeing the movie 2012; it's not bad. The acting and script are a bit ropey (or downright terrible in places), but the cinematics and direction are noteworthy. But to enjoy the movie I had to turn off a whole chunk of my brain - the logical science based bit.

A quick recap of the plot - a scientist discovers that the Earth's core is heating up which will lead to disaster for the planet. The world's governments get together and start plotting a solution which leads to a big engineering scheme in China. Jump a few years and our hero a divorced father of two limo driver learns about this scheme and determines that he's going to save his family. And that's it, but with lots of destruction and things going boom and tender heart-warming scenes.

Now we get into spoilers and the parts that made my brain ache. Non sciencey ones first - the sheer level of coincidence.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Papal gifts

A news report on the BBC's Midlands Today ran regarding the making of a cross to present to the Pope when he arrives in Birmingham. A silver cross, plated in gold with garnet insets it was made to duplicate one found at the Staffordshire hoard.

Now the silver and the creation of the master moulds was donated, no word on the gold, the garnets or the final workings though. Now don't get me wrong it looks gorgeous, it's a fine piece of work, but does the Vatican really need yet another valuable 'trinket'?

I mean this isn't a present from the country, one head of state to another, it's a gift from Birmingham. Do we care if the Vatican remembers Birmingham kindly; has this visit generated any form of revenue for the city that we'd like to see again. Hmm I bet the hotels are packed out so there's that, but does it compensate the cost of organising the visit in the first place?

Couldn't we have just got him a plaque with "Thank you for visiting Birmingham please come again"? Perhaps a T-shirt? I mean delightful as the cross is it's hardly going to stand out in the Vatican collection is it?

Heh like Dumbledore in Harry Potter who always gets books when he wants socks I bet the Pope will be thinking "Oh great another cross, that's all I seem to get 'Oh the Pope's coming let's get him a cross'; I wish someone would do something original for once"

Yet another plague of locusts

I mentioned the police 'threats' and I mentioned the army 'threats' regarding cuts to their budgets then I made a joke about how "the terrorists win" excuse was being left for Military Intelligence. The story this morning - MI5 chief states that there's still an imminent threat of terrorist activity in the UK.

At least they didn't continue with "so you'd better not cut our budget" but yeesh you just can't make this stuff up any more.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How to take good photos

Following on from the disappointment that was "How to Take Stunning Pictures" I thought I'd take their tips and flesh them out a bit for beginners. As I can get technical and/or distracted I'm writing to a rough plan - Tip, Why, and When that doesn't work. So no technical stuff and no technobabble.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lion Hill lane closure

I noted it yesterday and it was still up today a part closure of the left-hand land of Lion Hill where Severn Trent Water appear to have dug up the pavement.

As you might expect - no it doesn't appear on the Weekly Roadwork report, nor the Lane Closure or Road Closure reports. If it's still up tomorrow I suppose a call is in order. Again it may seem petty, but they're not allowed to just dig up the public highway without informing the local authority beyond emergencies; and even then they should let them know.

How to Take Stunning Pictures

Attracted to the title of this channel Five programme I recorded it last night and managed to catch the first half this morning. Hmm.

We get a quick introduction from host Suzi Perry about how we've gone digital and almost all of us now have a camera to hand. We get a cluster of 'famous' photographers with the promise that they'll be showing us techniques to get the best shots, a montage of future footage, and then a more in-depth look at the photographer of the day who'll be showing us how to take portrait shots.

Another plague of locusts

So with the police force alluding to increased crime if their budget is cut and as WalkerNo5 stated our own local police force coming out with the 'fact' that with budget cuts they wouldn't be able to police the unions demonstrating against cuts; it's now time for our Armed Services to get into the action.

Yep cutting our military budget would compromise operations particularly in Afghanistan. Tcch how unoriginal. We can't cut our military because of France. They're at the borders right now waiting to invade the second the budget is cut; them and the Spanish divvying up the South while the Nordic countries rape and pillage their way in the North.

See that's original - I'm expected some crackpot to pop up and state we can't cut the military budget because if we do the terrorists win... or perhaps that excuse has been reserved for our Military Intelligence services?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apple FaceTime printed adverts

Apple is pushing its FaceTime application where you get video calls on the iPhone although only from one iPhone to another and only via WiFi in other words pretty useless when you look at things like Skype.

Now while the TV adverts are just awful it's the print ones that got me thinking. Here's the setup from Apple's own site

Just to explain the larger picture is what you see the smaller picture is what they see. So the man's phone is the one on the left, the woman's the one on the right. Note the woman is looking down and to the left; however on her phone she's looking down and to the right. Check the squiggles and the hair parting on the man and you can see this is the same mirrored image.

However now take the printed adverts. There are two types the 'grandfather' looking at the child holding the picture and the 'father' looking at the kid with a broken arm. So taking the same picture as above imagine that the mini picture of the man appears simply as a smaller version of the one on the right. That's how both these printed adverts appear. But just the one screen on the left - the other screen shows the mini mirrored image as this version does

[Update 21/9 - Scanned photo]

Has someone screwed up or has this been done on purpose?

A plague of locusts

With all the cuts that the government is planning it seems that Chief Superintendent Derek Barnett is urging the Home Secretary not to touch the police budget or they'll see "unrest".

This reminds me of a Dilbert strip in which both Dilbert and Wally's budgets were being reviewed. Each had to submit why their budget shouldn't be cut. One stated that the result would be a "plague of locusts" the other that "the world would stop turning". She cut them both in the hopes that when the world stopped it would fling the locusts into space.

And there's the point. Every single department is going to state that they need their budget, that they can't do without the funding and that to cut it would result in disaster. This isn't to say that it might not be true, but the default response is never "Oo yes please take money away from us" and so has to be backed up with a little more than say-so.

[Update - I had considered adding a more sarcastic note - that police cuts would mean more crime, NHS cuts would lead to more ill people, Fire service cuts to more fires, and Diversity workshop cuts to more... um. And then the Daily Mash beat me to it]

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fair, equitable, and consistent

The reasons for the October changes in car-parking prices is according to the cabinet about being fair equitable and consistent. So let's ask if that's what is being done.

Now I've already complained that it seems the cabinet is treating every car-park as if they were the same; yet I have to confess documentation suggests otherwise. So we appear to have a quandary - how can you treat disparate items consistently?

Let's say I wish to pop into one of the three major towns in this district; just a flying visit of less than an hour. Depending on which car-park I used this would cost me 30p (Stadium Close), 50p (Comberton Place) 80p (the majority), Free (The Avenue) or for those that don't allow a 1 hour stay £1.10 for two hours.

If it were only half-an-hour it would be free, or 50p.

I'm scratching my head here. Now sure you want to designate some car-parks as very short-term, short-term, medium-term, long-term and very-long term; but why the price difference? If you want to encourage short-term parking in a specific car-park you put up an ½hour rate, an hour rate and a two hour rate. For medium stay you drop the short charge and add a long charge, for a long term you carry on. For multi-stay car-parks you have the range of charges.

So why are they all different. Why do some short-term car-parks not offer the free half hour, why does it cost £2.20 to stay up to 3 hours in Severn Meadows, but only £1.60 at Comberton Place?


The other um woman?

"Where have you been?" demanded Sainsbury's when I got back home.
"Um, out" I replied trying to hide the shopping bags behind me
"You've been out shopping haven't you?" she shrieked as she spotted the bags hidden behind my legs. "And with my own bags too"
"Ecological" I muttered in defence
"Who was it? Was it that trollop Tesco?" she spat at me
"No, no of course not you know I don't feel comfortable around her" I replied quickly
"So who was it then. Oh I know it was Morrisons wasn't it; just because she's younger than I am. That's it isn't it?"
"Easier access" I mumble
"Oh yes that's all you men think about it isn't it - easier access" she said in disdain and then burst into tears "But I thought you were loyal to me?"
"I, you know not exclusive" I stammer
"Just because she's younger than me" she wailed
"No of course not besides she doesn't wear it as well as you; too much frippery"
"Really?" she asked as the sobbing subsided a little
"Really, and she makes you charge and, and she smells like fish when you first meet her" I charged on
"She does doesn't she, but do you think she's prettier than me?" she pleaded
"No, no she's not as pretty as you" I reply in all honesty
"But why? Why did you go to her?"
"I don't know. I can't explain it sometimes, sometimes you just have to have a change"
"So, so can we still be together?"
"I don't know, I really don't know."

So yeah Morrison's or Sainsbury's? I mean I could just two-time them both; but it's so stupid that it actually feels wrong to do that. Seriously misplaced monogamy trait rearing up there :-)

Data Protection

My mother received a letter in the post apparently from a bank, the usual blah except part of the boiler plate text started "As you know" - well no she doesn't. She doesn't use this bank, she doesn't have her name in the phone book, or the mobile register, or on the electoral roll; and, as far as I can tell, this bank isn't affiliated with anyone she does business with. So how did they get her details and why her and not my father?

Parking charges - an interesting omission.

Once again I have to turn to the e-edition of the Shuttle as they still don't put the council public notices as standalone items on their website. This is a pain as it's flash based and therefore not searchable.

On page 77 of the 9/9/10 issue we get the list of parking charges and their changes for Oct 10 and Jan 11 (because of the VAT increase). Anyone care to guess which car-park doesn't appear on this list? The currently free ones. Presumably that's because the charges have yet to be agreed and therefore cannot be raised.

So the full result is increasing the prices of the existing pay and display car parks and removing some (all) of the free ones. All in the name of being fair, equitable, and consistent.

Is it spam?

A sudden flurry of comments all emanating from "Driving Piano Lessons Nelson" when the first two came in with simple "thanks for your post" and "thanks for sharing" I placed them in the new Spam section of Blogger. However although their are more all centred around the Petrol entries some of them actually seem as if the entry has been read.

For example on Petrol prices where I discuss the dynamic between the three petrol station that were on Vale Road one comment reads

These scenarios only work if all 3 petrol stations are content with the money thaey are making, otherwise 1 of them would be willing to cut sales.
Now that makes sense within context. So are they spam? I don't want to remove genuine comments, but with so many from the same source and so many of the "thanks" type. I'm unsure. Any thoughts?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vale Road perspectives

On one side we have the council saying that they want to have a fair and consistent policy for the car parking within Wyre Forest and on the other the residents who want free parking.

Presented like that the council seem to have the upper hand; why should the residents of Mitton Gardens get free parking when everyone else is paid; hardly fair is it?

The key perhaps is in the consistency part. As I joked on the video consistency is only a virtue if you're not a screw-up; but it's also only a virtue if you're applying it items that can be grouped together.

From the council's point of view these are car-parks; they alter only in size and that determines whether they should be short or long-term stays. Therefore it is only right and natural that they are treated in the same manner. However imagine that I owned a piece of land in Stourport and another identically sized piece of land in the City of London and decided to sell them both. I think all reading would agree that the land in London would fetch a higher price, but why? After all in essence both pieces of land are identical.

That's because their surroundings aren't identical and that has a large impact on things. So to take the current situation - there is little to no free parking in Stourport in the long-term. The High Street and York Street bays are highly time-limited and there are no odd side roads that you can just park in and access the town. This is in contrast to Kidderminster and to an extent Bewdley.

As such the car-parks in Stourport cannot be treated in the same manner as car-parks in these other towns, the surroundings alter their character. Now if they're different it is incorrect to impose a consistent approach to dealing with them - they have to be examined on their own merits.

Consider the new Tesco. When they applied for building permission they had to submit various impact assessments; why? These reports had nothing to do with the core situation of building a store and selling goods, but it was known that it was likely to have an impact on its surroundings.

So now consider switching the Vale Road car-park from free to pay. Can that not be considered to have a similar impact as building a Tesco store? If so did the council perform similar impact assessments to determine how this would affect the surrounding areas?

If so where are they? If not, why not?

What would the impact be? Well it seems the council have fallen into the same trap as the music industry. When calculating money lost to pirating they assume that everyone with a stolen song would have bought it had the pirated version not been available. In the same terms it seems the council assume that everyone who currently parks for free in Vale Road would pay once that option has been removed.

It's a matter of time and effort. For those who use it as parking for work why should they pay to park in Vale Road when they can park for the same amount of money on the Riverside and be both closer to the town and not have to play dodge the traffic. For the residents tempers will no doubt fray as they try to find spots around Mitton Gardens and Severn Road while at the same time providing yet more obstructions in a town that already suffers from jamming.

In other words the economic benefits of a pay car-park could well be outweighed by the very impact of creating it.

Vista and missing thumbnails

For reasons to complex to get into DaBoss has created a single file in which to store all his photos about 3000 in all; of course he wants to go through and remove the crap; except Vista doesn't seem to want to display all the thumbnails in a folder view.

I used Disk Cleanup and removed the thumb databases to force them to rebuild, yet still it would conk out after cataloguing around 900.

I then opened up Windows Gallery, navigated to the folder and watched as it created them all. Went back to the folder itself and there they all were.

So it seems that Windows Gallery forces the creation of thumbnails whereas the folder view doesn't? Oh well done Microsoft.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Vale Road H&W radio discussion

Taken from the streaming player so my apologies regarding the sound quality; I've had to turn it into a video to get Flickr to accept it. This did allow me to add my own comments to it though.

Damnit I forgot Flickr has a 90 second limit. I've uploaded it to YouTube instead

Vale Road petition

The battle of Vale Road continues with Neville Farmer starting up an online petition to change the council's mind. I want to sign it I really do (and still might) but the wording annoys me.

We, the undersigned, request Wyre Forest District Council to reverse its decision to impose parking charges on users of the Vale Road car park, to respect the wishes of Thomas Vale and family and maintain a free parking space for the benefit of residents, worshippers and visitors to Stourport and agree so in writing for perpetuity.
Which is all good and laudable except we have no evidence beyond hearsay and rumour that such an agreement ever existed.

PS3 non-specific hardware fault

As mentioned I received my repaired console back on Tuesday, I managed to get the cables working (one had kinked) and ran it for about an hour with no problem. Wednesday I turned it on when I got back and left it to download the "Quantum Theory" demo. I then gave that a go and then tried another game - freeze and phut.

Green light, yellow light, flashing red light. Oh great. I left it for a while and managed to eject the disc before it failed again. Left it overnight and it managed to stay running for about a minute before failing.

Looking around it does seem that the old phat consoles seem to have problems around the three year mark. So another call to the insurance company and another wait.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Blogger Stats

Now out of draft and fully integrated into Blogger is their very own statistics service. So does this mean I shall get rid of the chunk of javascript that powers Google Analytics? Um well no.

The Blogger stats service runs within the main Dashboard which makes it easy to get to. You get  various tabs - Overview, Posts, Traffic Sources, and Audience. You can then pick if you want to see Now which gives you the last 2 hours of data; Day, the last 24 hours; Week, the last 168 hours; month (sic), last 30 days; or All time. You can't pick a date range yourself.

So how good is it. I checked out Traffic Sources, and Referring Sites for a month on both this and Analytics. According to Analytics my top referrer was; according to Blogger it was Um the what now? Checking all time it seems the number of hits for the month (10/8 - 8/9) was identical for all time (May-September) but didn't appear at all for the Week. So according to Blogger I had over 1900 referrals from thecarloanguide just in August that didn't get picked up from Analytics; oookay.

At least the keyword stats are comparable between the two as in the page views although annoyingly Blogger splits those up by country, browser, or OS without bothering to give an overall total on the page. Wait this has been in draft since July and not one single person thought it was a good idea to put the actual total of pageviews up? I mean I've just been using it for 5 minutes and I've spotted that flaw.

So anyway I'll keep an eye on it but Analytics still seems the better option for now.


Does it remain a spoof when you think "I bet someone's trying to make one of those right now"?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Drink driving

Another story likely to fall in the wake of Blair, Hague, Coulson, Rooney is that of the police officer who physically assaulted a women in a police cell. Now the main fuss should be that he dragged her and threw her into the cell and that is how it is, however the secondary consideration that's cropping up here is exactly why she was in custody in the first place.

Apparently she had visited her daughters house and decided not to stay, instead she slept in her car. In the morning she found she had a flat battery from leaving the heater on. At this point the police turned up and she asked if they had any jump leads to start her car, they then arrested her for failing to provide a breath test.

HD fun with the PS3

Bear in mind that the HDMI inputs for my TV are set to "Auto" this means they appear on the input list only if something is plugged in to it.

I fished out the analogue connection for my PS3, plugged it in and turned on the input and got a picture- yay! All my data was there - double yay! I head through to the settings and set it back up to HD. It tries to display the test and I flick to the #1 input. No picture. I flick back and the screen returns to standard output. I try again. Nope. Oh crap don't tell me the HDMI is fried.

I turn the console off and on and the TV. Try again- nothing. I remove the cable from #1 and plug it into #3 it appears and I switch to it - picture. WTF? Oh great is #1 input on my TV screwed? I remove the blu-ray input from #2 and plug it into #1 then turn the player on - picture. I plug the PS3 into #2 - picture.

So the PS3 works with #2 and #3 but not #1 while my blu-ray player happily works with #1 and #2. Yeah I'm going to go with the cable input here. I'll try swapping the ends over and if that doesn't work switching the cables entirely.

Anyway the internet connection works, and oh look it wants a bloody update. Yeah that worked. So now all that's left is troubleshooting this damn connection and testing it with an actual game.

Only Connect

If you haven't already discovered this gem of a quiz show on BBC4 look it up now. The new series started last-night and bowing to public pressure they've changed one aspect of the show. It seems that the only thing that unites the people is their dislike of the show using Greek letters on their 'number board' as this is "pretentious, elitist, snobbish even" So the Greek letters are gone.

So contestants please choose your Egyptian Hieroglyph.


Proof that the BBC subscribes to Market Forces

Damn Guido can come out with some crap at times. His latest is Proof that the BBC is the Guardianista's Broadcasting Arm. In other words a left-wing organisation; and his proof? The recruiting budget. Yep it turns out that the majority of the funds dedicated to recruitment ends up as adverts in the Guardian. See it's proof.

Well it's proof to Guido, to everyone else it's proof that the Guardian has a dedicated Media section which attracts recruitment ads from that entire sector, and is thus bought by people (regardless of politics) who want to work in that very same sector.

Perhaps Guido can next uncover the scandal of my local council spending the majority of its money in our local papers rather than in the Metro or the Herald.

Science needs no God

Hawking popped up in the news with a controversial view only to be displaced by Blair and Rooney. In essence Hawking stated that science had no requirement for God. As one might expect this brought out a stream of believers challenging his view all of whom seem to be oblivious to the torturous efforts they're going to in order to force their world-view into reality.

Repaired PS3

With excellent timing my PS3 turned up just as I was leaving for work. I quickly checked it physically, plugged it in, and ejected the trapped disc; yay! Except I've no picture. [sigh] it's been reset to analogue output; so I'll have to mess with cables and set it back to HDMI output.

So as yet I've no idea if any of my data still exists.

Monday, September 06, 2010

A repaired PS3

Supposedly repaired at least. According to the online status it was repaired on Friday, but only got shipped this morning at 8am. The delivery company sent an email at 3pm telling me they had it and using a a link key 1052 characters long that doesn't work; the actual identity is only 9 characters long.

Neither the link nor the tracking page works with Firefox or Chrome; unsurprisingly it works with IE though and manages to get partway through with Opera. Nice to see this huge company tests its site with other browsers.

The bigger joke though is that they gave me the consignment number which only works with this page, rather than the parcel number which is what I require to work the Google-linked tracking page that functions on every browser I've got.

GMTV nope it's Daybreak

So long Good Morning TeleVision hello Daybreak.

I'll start with the new studio - it's bigger and for no apparent reason. The previous studio was a semi-circle - sofa in the centre with the news desk on one side and the weather board on the other (they swapped over a few times). Now we have a huge oval with the sofa at one pointy end, the weather board opposite, the news desk to the left (facing the sofa) and the sports desk on the right. There seems to be no reason why it's so large or even why there's a sports desk other than it allows the two presenters to lean on it to talk about sport.

In terms of content we now get our Five a Day that is the top five stories presented in a carousel picture format and little sweeps at the bottom telling us which story is coming up next. I'm not even sure what the point of the presenters are any more.

At 7am we had the defectors Adrian and Christina VO'ing the Five a Day, then they mention a tennis story and turn to the Sports Reporter who was sitting on the opposite sofa, he gives a one-sentence reply.

Back to A&C and a mention of entertainment, they turn to Kate who is sitting next to Sports Reporter for a one-sentence reply.

Back to A&C who mention the weather; cue weather girl sitting next to them and a one-sentence reply before we return to A&C who introduce a video report.

Report over and we return to A&C who turn to the women who did it, who gives a one-sentence reply before we return to A&C who hand us over to the News Desk.

It's like the news for ADD or "Memento" sufferers.

Got to love the weather board though. They've left it curved so the presenter stands close to talk to us, then has to move away from us to point at the board, then back closer again, then away. I hope they've put some durable carpet in that spot.

Oh and purple while fabulous as a colour-scheme does not work well with strong light and skin-tones; unless the goal really was to make everything look like a B-grade sci-fi movie.

Well it's the first one, so I'll make allowances for that, but as it stands Ave! Television novo, similis television seneci!

PCSO taking care of business

An event that occurred on Friday related to me by a witness. A PCSO, who from the description I'm guessing was John Sinclair, ordering someone off their bike as they cycled the wrong way down High Street on the pavement. Complete with swearing on the cyclists behalf.

Well done, applause, applause. It's crowded and narrow, and they shouldn't have been doing it in the first place. Now all we need is to tackle those who think they can park outside the Lloyds cashpoint and Drinker's World.

Stourport Carnival 2011

I did get to wander up to the field and take shots of them preparing as well as setting off, however I wasn't feeling too well and thus left them before they reached the walkers and the field.

Pretty much the same as last time with plenty of people around. Photos to follow.

Friday, September 03, 2010

iTunes yet again, again, again

Yep it updated to the latest 9.whatever and lost the playlists again, now I booted it up and it lost them again as it asks for an update to version 10.

I mean all the music is there, but I have to reimport it all again and oh look it can't find the album artwork for something I bought from the Apple Store because they no longer sell it. I'm also trying to discover why it's filing a single folder with three songs in it (one from disc 1 and two from disc 2) as two separate items not even next to each other in the album list! For some reason I have three "Various Artists" that follow on from bands beginning with "W"

Ah solved it. Despite appearing under "Various Artists" and being stored by iTunes in the "Various Artists" folder the Info pane belonging to them wasn't tagged as "Various Artists". Oh that makes sense.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Playstation Plus again

Not that I care too much what with my PS3 still in for repair and "currently being assessed by an engineer" since last Wednesday, but Sony EU have a new offer for those who have yet to sign up for their Playstation Plus rip-off loyalty scheme subscription package.

Now remember if you signed up for a year when it first came out in July/August you got a free copy of "Little Big Planet" a game I already own. Now sign up for a year in September and you get a free copy "Ratchet and Clank Quest for Booty" a game I already own. Yay?

Of course just like energy, telecom, and insurance companies this offer is only available to new subscribers and no you can't cancel your subscription and rejoin.

Ah Sony it's as if you're showering candy over a diabetics convention.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The wonders of technology

Two weeks ago an appointment was made for DaBoss, but it turned out it clashed with something else he hadn't entered into his diary. This was at the same time we were testing Apple's MobileMe so moving the appointment acting as a good test to see how everything synced. The appointment was moved - to today. Everything synced up and I used this very appointment to demonstrate to DaBoss how it had worked.

Guess who's forgotten it and isn't even in a position to get here?


Stour bridge tree felling

I mentioned the tree branch that fell onto the pavement alongside the Stour bridge not too long ago; what I didn't get around to mentioning was that someone's decided to fell the trees on the bank from which the branch fell. It's quite amazing the sense of space that's been generated as you hit the bridge from the island side - everything just vanishes off the left.

Vale Road work

With a sigh of resignation I note that the dip in the third lane of Vale Road that was repaired not so long ago now sports an orange outline indicating that it requires yet more attention. Is it truly too much to consider having repairs that last longer than a few months?