Monday, February 28, 2011

And the award goes to...

... the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science for once again managed to convince the media world that their awards ceremony still holds any relevance to anything.

"Well I wasn't that bothered about seeing The King's Speech but now it's won four Oscar's how could I not see it?" Yeah right.

Mass Effect 2 - minor points

You know me I hate to see wasted potential and in this case it applies under "Why didn't they change this?".

Mass Effect 2 on the PS3 is a 3rd person action/shooter/RPG game where you fly around the galaxy land on planets or space stations and solve (or create) problems.

The big flaw of the game is your own ship.It comprises four decks - Captain's Quarters, CIC, Crew, Engineering. To access a deck you use the elevator and then watch a loading screen - why? None of these areas can be deemed that large compared to the areas you traipse through on planet or station and those areas use a delayed load option so that it loads up as you approach the door and the most you get is a brief hiccup. But travelling through your own ship? Starting at CIC if you want to check in on each deck and then return that's four loading screens you'll be looking at and each is a minute plus.

Why would you want to visit each level - they each have different crew members and functions. Luckily the Armoury, Research Lab, Personal Computer and Galaxy Map are all on CIC. Want to change your armour or clothes; you have to visit your quarters; want to talk to some of your squad members (to open up more research options and possibly loyalty bonuses) they're scattered across the ship. It's ridiculous.

[Update - though not listed as a fix the latest patch 1.02 has sped up this 'transit' time. Although it has apparently created some new bugs; specifically to do with the Genesis comic]

This leads me to my final minor gripe and that's the loading screens themselves (as we see them so often). It's a nice schematic of the ship (or station or shuttle drop/launch) with a spinning green disc top right and the word "Loading" next to it. So what? Well occasionally part of the schematic lies underneath the loading icon. Seriously people you know that's where the icon is going to be so even if it is a layer over the top why not design the schematic to make it appear as part of it; just box it off in the same style; make it an actual gauge rather than a spinning disc; do something other than slap it over the top. You can't tell me someone looked at that and thought "Yep that looks fine".

It has other flaws but these should have been the easiest to do something about. A full review to follow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Exponential numbers

A bit nerdy but the current system used by the internet can only handle 232 addresses; the new system that's supposed to be coming into use can handle 2128. So it's a difference of 96 so what?

Well the first system can handle 4,294,967,296 addresses and the second 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses.

To put it another way if we wanted to assign an address to a grain of rice the first system could handle a volume of rice contained in a cube roughly 7m to a side. For the second we'd need a cube roughly 29 million km to a side that's about 18,000 Sun's.

Kind of a big difference :-)

Just to check my figures assume a grain of rice at 0.075cm3
Multiply by 2128 equals 2.55x1037cm3
Equals 2.55x1022km3
Cube root equals 29,441,973km
Volume of Sun equals 1.41x1018km3
Divide larger by smaller results in 18,074.

Petrol Prices

"Driving will just be for the Rich" trumpets the Express "£105 to fill your car as oil price doubles" Although their actual story adds the proviso "could" to all of that, but dammit headlines can't contain possibilities only certainties otherwise it'll confuse the sheep loyal readers.

So how are they working out these figures. From the story we see a figure of £8 per gallon so we can use that.

£105/£8 = 13.125 gallons
13.125 = 59.6674559 Litres

Call it 60 litres. That means the estimate slathered on the front page only applies to a 60 litre car (mine's 35 litres).

To continue a 60 litre car filling up for £105 means a cost of £1.75 per litre. Current price here is £1.29 that would require a 35% increase. The current estimates an extra 5p or 4% increase. Justification for the Express' story - experts say that if the crisis spreads than the price could hit these heights.

Oh and this totally ignores that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Angola, and Nigeria have all stated that they'd pump more oil should the price rise which would stabilise things.

No just ignore that and panic and don't forget to buy the Express so you know exactly how much you should be panicking.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Video Game Collectables notes for designers

For those who've managed to avoid the lure of video games a collectable in this case is easy to explain - You've just finished wiping out an entire population of baddies who've all managed to cram into one room when you spot something shiny in the corner you head over to it and a message pops up on the screen "1/10 Gnomes found".

Worcestershire Explore the Countryside

Just a quick note - Grid References require a two letter prefix to make sense. For most in this case that would be "SO". Feel free to try it without and see how far you get.

TWOP - a dissection

Well David you asked me to have a look at the TWOP so it's your own fault ;-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

History lessons

Just to stop David George from getting to happy this is about the Bratii :-P Well okay it's about education.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our council under AV

What if all of our council members had run under AV, what would the results be:

Current AV
Conservative 23 11
Health Concern 8 18
Labour 3 4
Liberal 6 6
Liberal Democrat 2 3

That would be a Health Concern council, but not a majority they could be outvoted. Note that this is based on certain assumptions of party voting. For the majority the differences were large enough to work within a margin of error; seven seats fell within 5% of each other. Due to these assumptions I'm not naming names or seats.

[Assumptions required -

Con - Vote HC
HC - 50% split
Lab - Not vote Con
Lib - 50% split
LibDem - Vote Lab
UKIP - Vote Con
Green - Not vote Con
Ind - 50% split

iTunes files

Once again iTunes opened up with a blank catalogue this time though I watched its folder.

It created an "iTunes Library.itl", then an "iTunes Music Library.xml" an "iTunes Library Genius.itdb" and finally an "iTunes Library Extras.itdb".

Then it created a "Temp File.tmp" and then an identically sized "iT.tmp" while at the same time deleting the "iTunes Library.itl" file. Despite this iTunes itself still displayed my music catalogue. Then I closed it down.

No itl file was created so I renamed the "iT.tmp". Reopened iTunes and my music was still all listed.

What the hell is going on?

Monday, February 21, 2011


The referendum is getting news and both sides are sharpening their claws. Tav has posted the Mitton Conservatives view on AV, which sadly appears to be a copy and paste job from the No2Av site. I also managed to watch the 10 o'clock show that had arguments for both sides.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

On consultations and referenda

The big local news is the government's U-turn on selling part of the forests. In the House Our Glorious Leader responded to putdowns with

"I would have thought the whole point about a consultation is that you put forward some proposals, you listen to the answer and then you make a decision. I know it is a totally alien concept but what is so complicated about that?"
Now call me silly but for me a consultation runs along the lines of "We're planning on doing this, what do you think?". We certainly got the first part, but does anyone recall the second? Unless, of course, what Mr Cameron meant was that it wasn't a public consultation. If that's the case is the plan now being halted because of what these other people said and has nothing to do with the half-million strong petition from the public?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bulletstorm PS3 demo

This is the game that according to an 'expert' on Fox News will turn your child into a murdering rapist. So hey sounds like fun.
[Update - there are no full reviews out; allegedly EA have put in an embargo until it ships in the US today (22nd). So that's a good sign isn't it?]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DC Universe Online Subscription ties

If you read what the distributors of video games say you'll find they don't like the practices of video game stores that buy and resell your old video games "Hey", they say. "You're getting to buy a game from a customer cheaper than we sold it to you and then reselling it and keeping all the profit, that's not fair". Well tough. You don't see jumper manufacturers crashing jumble sales and demanding their 'cut' do you? No roving patrols at car boot sales or looking out for garage clear-outs. The second-hand market is a part of business; what you going to do about it?

And the answer returns from Sony and their latest 'hit' the MMO "DC Universe Online. You buy the game for around £40 and 30-days to discover if you like it or not before having to take out a subscription at (for PS3)

  • 1 Month – €12.99
  • 3 Month – €34.99
  • 6 Month – €64.99
And if you don't like it.... tough because the activation code within the game is tied to your PSN account so no-one else can use it.

What's the big deal? The other MMOs also include keys that need to be entered on installation so none of them can be sold second hand either this is just console owners being whiney. Well not quite. Take the biggie "World of Warcraft" for instance I can download it and try it, all for free for 10-days. If I like it I can then buy it and take out a subscription.

For "DC Universe Online" I have to pay up front first. There's no free download, there's no demo; if you don't like it then you've just wasted £40 and you can't even recoup your losses by trading it in.

Now of course the way around this is to sell subscription keys and create a free 30-day key that can be used by anyone. The free one would be tied to the account so it couldn't be entered by that person multiple times. People can take a punt on buying the game knowing they can trade it in if they don't like it and this lowers the initial barrier cost to new subscribers.

But of course this isn't about that - it's about killing the second hand market; so well done Sony; well done.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Big Air in China - Murray's Sly 3 challenge on PS3

I was nearly at 100% for Sly 3 on the PS3 just that trophy and the platinum one would be mine. All that lay between me and it was Murray's Master Thief Challenge in the episode "A Cold Alliance" namely "Big Air in China". Murray the big pink hippo has a Ball Move that allows him to bounce around, the mechanics are simple - use the analogue stick to move and hit the X button just as you hit the ground so as to rebound; yeah simple...

The challenge is to hit three way-points without taking any damage; so no going into water, no landing on explosive barrels, no being hit by any enemies. Oh and all this within a time limit.

On the PS2 this was quite simple provided you timed your X button presses and looked out below - on the PS3 this is soul-crushing. Some online sites suggest they've changed the height of Murray's maximum bounce. I'm not sure; try bouncing on some of the highest points and you can only go so far up. I think there's a ceiling in place and sadly it's not that far above the way-points you're supposed to reach.

So you start high up and the first challenge is to bounce up to a pagoda that's almost as high as your starting point, but first you need to make it across the stilt houses on water. Land on the walkway of the closest then do the same for the next avoiding the sloped roofs as they can both bounce you in the wrong direction and mistime the X button press. Land on the closest flat part of the pagoda roof directly next to the target pagoda or the ground next to it, then onto the one to the right, then up to the rock ledge. If your bounce is good it should take only one or two bounces to be high enough to reach the top and the target.

Do NOT attempt to bounce up the pagoda. Each tier overlaps and you'll waste a lot of time trying to curve around the roof edge.

From the pagoda you're heading towards General Tsao's palace. Head for the archway, you can save a bounce if you can land on the sloped roof of the arch and be directed closer to the wall; if you miss remember the explosive barrels on the left in the depressed section. Avoid the trampoline they don't work and mess up your bounce. Over the wall and you may hit the top roof in one bounce or you may need to bounce off the lower tier. Hit the next way-point. Don't dawdle as there's an enemy on the roof and you don't want any damage.

A choice of two routes here. One over water one over land. Water's quicker but I'll take the land. Head off the roof towards the left side entrance; bounce over the bridge and head left to the bell. Bounce off the bell pavilion roof and onto the snowy slope. The last way-point is on the top of this cliff and this is where the fun lies.

Your ball height is not that much greater than the ledge and there's no intermediary steps. Logically you should get as close to the cliff face and keep bouncing then inch over. Sadly some %$*&% designer has made the base of the face slightly sloping outwards along with the snow; get too close on the way down and you'll either slide down the face and lose your momentum or you'll hit the snow slope and... lose your momentum.

There are two ways of doing this 1) keep bouncing and when you hit maximum push inwards as you travel up on the next bounce and hope you hit the ledge; 2) at the maximum height turn off ball move (L1 by default) and double jump towards the ledge. The second method is slightly easier. I did it the hard way [sigh].

Then congratulations every other challenge should seem a doddle after this.

As an aside is it just me or do you get a higher bounce when you hit X as you land on an enemy?

Two aspects of the Big Society

I managed to watch the 10 o'Clock Show from Thursday which highlighted some interesting points about the Big Society and provided a fair balance of views, completely undermined by the next piece to camera about how dumb the Big Society is. As they said on the adverts "The good thing is we're not the BBC so we don't have to be unbiased". Regardless of that it did highlight what appears to be two different aspects of this whole idea.

Aspect 1 is we the people having more say and influence over governmental effects. At first glance this seems a good idea, democracy at its finest. Sadly I see two problems with this. Firstly we the people are ignorant. Note that's not the same as stupid - it's not that we can't understand or apply knowledge just that we don't have the knowledge to make sound ideas.

At a local level the Single Site provides a good example of this. Those who question it are repeatedly told that it will save £500k a year and who can be against that? How do we know it will save that? Because the report says so. Which report, what report?

I've always said we tend to take things to extremes and the answer to this provided is no different. We're either left to track down the information we seek for ourselves with the 'professionals' telling us to just trust them; or we're drowned in information and have to try and pick out the relevant parts with the professionals still asking us to trust them.

The second problem I see relates directly to this and which I'll call "The Irish Referendum Problem". If you allow the people a say in the form of a referendum and these can be called by either a percentage of the population or the government then we will continue to have a referendum until the government gets the result they want.

Incidentally this ability to keep holding referendums until the turnout dwindles as everyone gets fed-up and the 'correct' result is provided is subject to a motion by the Labour Party that such won't be valid unless a certain percentage vote. At the moment this is being tied to the forest situation, but it should apply to all such. Amusingly this motion is being attacked as undemocratic by some parties.

The second aspect is the ability to directly run your own services. This is the one that's drawing the flak - closing down the library? Well if you really want it why not run it yourself; for free? Because I need to earn a living unlike pretty much the entire bloody cabinet - I don't have time. People who do have either the time or inclination to volunteer for things already are. The only thing this changes is that they can now have more things to volunteer for. Whoo-hoo spread that butter extra thin.

Now it can work in specialised circumstances and I can foresee the government cherry-picking those success stories and weaving a story around what I call "Flat Roof syndrome". 'Hey look at countries near the Equator their residences tend to have flat roofs. Think how much space we could save by doing that; we could have a garden on top or patio style rather than more space on the side. If it works in this predominately hot and dry country why shouldn't it work in our cold and wet one?' In other words 'Look it worked here, if it doesn't work for you it must be your fault'. Yeah the volunteer library in some leafy suburb of London is exactly the same situation as some burnt-out car wreckage of a council estate. You're obviously not working hard enough if it fails.

Looking at both of these aspects I see one common thread - petulance.

'Oh so you're complaining that you don't have access to information well here's your information. Here you go sort it out yourself. Don't like the way I'm running things well do it yourself I'm just the person you pay to do this. I'm just the one who understands all this, but no if you think you can do better here you go. Don't come crying to me when it all fails'

It needs a middle ground or it needs someone on the government to explain it better beyond the wishy-washy "Wouldn't it be nice if everyone was nice?" that seems to be the basis at the moment. Remember we're paying these people. If we question something it's up to them to point us at the information to form the basis for some valid points; if we don't like the way they do things they should explain why they have to do it this way or why it shouldn't be changed to what we want.

What they shouldn't do is throw their rattles out of the pram.

Stourport to Kidderminster speed changes

I hope everyone has noticed the new speed limits on the dual-carriageway route from Stourport to Kidderminster and back. Highly publicised weren't they?

For those (I'm guessing the majority) who haven't noticed the derestricted zone now starts and ends at the Birchen Coppice end of the dual track it's now a 40mph zone on the Kidderminster side. Now I've pointed out in the past the cars zipping past at the traffic lights into Kidderminster and suddenly discovering the two lanes become one with no warning other than a couple of painted arrows and that most tended to treat this switch from two to one lane as a speed change anyway. In that respect it's fine.

However as a result heading into Stourport the zone starts some way into the dual-track; so it is now more difficult to overtake a stationary queue of traffic using the dual-lane lead-up and stay within the limit. I can see why this has been done and to a large extent I approve I'm just curious as to why it starts so far back rather than at the lights?

In any case I can see this being ignored as 'everyone'  knows it's a 70/60 in much the same way everyone ignored the Worcester Road switch 50-40-30 becoming a 50-30 and just carried on at 40 until the residential part starts (where the old 30 limit started).

I just thought I'd give fair warning those who use this route.

Friday, February 11, 2011

At least just try to look pretty 2

Another one from Sky via Guido. Yep who cares about an MP's party, their policies, or their actions we should be judging them by appearances. Just to check this is the same Sky that fired Andy Gray and possibly encouraged Richard Keys to resign publishing a piece entitled "Who Is The Hottest MP Of Them All?"?

Oh wait it's not sexist because they include both men and women; that's all right then isn't it?

And the applicants are...

Too late to link I'm afraid but it seems someone at the Daily Mail got their wires crossed by advertising for a junior reporter in the Guardian! Copy of the details from the Daily Quail who also links to prospective candidates letters.

Next up the Guardian advertising for a Picture Editor in The Sun.

Open letter to Konami

Dear Konami;

Do you like money? As a business I'm guessing the answer to that is yes. Do you want more money? Again I'm sure the answer is yes. As such allow me to explain a way for you to accomplish this.

Release Silent Hill 1, 2 and 3 as High Definition upgrades for the Playstation 3

Congratulations you've just made money.

Yours sincerely


High power usage in sleep mode

I've now gotten into the habit of switching the laptop into sleep mode overnight before unplugging it - it lasts overnight and is obviously much quicker to start in a morning. Power usage in such cases has been around 15% roughly 1% per hour.

Imagine my surprise this morning to see my battery down to 5% - what happened?

The only difference I can think of is that I left both Windows Mail and Firefox open when it went into sleep mode. Oddly this morning rather than both programmes being there Mail had to start up and Firefox displayed it's crash recover session screen just as if the computer had unexpectedly restarted. Yet there was no BIOS boot up or resumption from Hibernation just the standard log in screen I see from Sleep.

Any one any thoughts?

[Update - happened again. I've looked at the Event Viewer and it woke up at 3am to install some updates and reboot several times - nice]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

University cap rise makes little sense

To start with let's make something clear - the government are not raising the cost to go to university they're allowing the universities to charge more; it's up to each university what it does.

So a student wishes to go to university and can't afford the fee, they apply for a student loan. Where does that money come from - the government.

If the universities take advantage of the raising of the cap this means that the government pays out more money in loans. However this is a loan and as such will be paid back... or not. You only start to pay after your earnings reach a certain threshold, which is being increased from £15k to £21k and it's written off after 30 years anyway.

To put this together the government is placing itself in a position whereby it will be loaning out more money while at the same time making it less likely that it will be paid back at a time when they're trying to make cuts and the graduate unemployment figures are rising.


Gosh motoway services prices are high

Another Which report that shows how much more motorway service stations charge over their town based stores; this gets coverage on Daybreak.

Shall I go into it again or just point you to what I wrote in 2009?

My favourite part of the Daybreak report was that it started 'We all know that motorway services charge more' yet amazingly they're still able to do business - gosh why's that?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Unconnected forces on the road

About 25 minutes to travel just under a mile this morning. It's happened enough for me to spot the connections - A fast flowing river on a clear winter's morn.

For those wondering what on earth that's got to do with traffic I'll explain. When the river is flowing faster it does so because it is carrying more water; when it does that certain riverside roads can be closed off and traffic diverts through the town; even when they're not closed off traffic still diverts just in case they are and the signs haven't been put up yet. As a result there's extra traffic in town from two directions.

In Winter the sun is low and the three major choke points High Street- Vale Road, Gilgal entrance and the island exit all lie such that you are either driving into or having to look directly at the sun; traffic slows down.

So more traffic makes things slower anyway on top of which they're driving even slower due to the sun. The only way it could be worse is if it had just rained and the road became a mirror.

Monday, February 07, 2011

ASBO or CBO what's in a name?

In an effort to remove Labour from the collective memory in the same way ancient Pharaohs had their enemies names removed from monuments the ASBO is about to be consigned to the scrap heap.

Now personally I disliked the glib term of ASBO ooh anti-social behaviour; excellent now who gets to define what anti-social is? If I don't join in with the neighbourhood barn-raising does that make me anti-social? The closest definition is a civil version of breach of the peace tied to loitering.

Now the talk is of CBOs or Criminal Behavioural Orders, unfortunately there's a huge flaw highly apparent there for those who took in that ASBOs are civil orders not criminal ones - remember two courts and laws civil and criminal. So unless the government are criminalising anti-social behaviour that's a problem; and if they are that's a bigger problem for the reasons I've mentioned regarding definitions.

The media have latched onto the taking away of "iPods" or other electronic gizmos which is in a sense a temporary version of the Proceeds of Crime Act remember my thoughts on that? Excellent they're going to take his iPod; except it's not his it's his friend's cousin's friend's and thus you can't touch it.

More importantly (and about time too) are the notion of Community Triggers that is once complaints from five people come in it has to be examined. It's hard to emphasise how important this is to get down in a binding form, but this remark helps

Some chief constables also say that the government is in danger of putting a higher value on neighbourhood policing than on other areas such as counter-terrorism and dealing with more serious criminals.
Yes and do you think that "serious criminals" just pop into being fully formed - they all started somewhere care to guess where?

So that's from the media how about the actual press release from the Home Office?

  • Community Triggers - check.
  • Criminal Behaviour Orders - check... after conviction. So civil or criminal?
  • Crime Prevention Injunctions. Using civil burden of proof though. If that's in a criminal court that's a nasty precedent to set.
  • Community Protection Orders. Please define "community", but no this sounds good putting the burden on the council or police to prevent persistent behaviour in set areas. Although this has a "Bear Patrol" ring to it.
  • Police Direction Powers; sorry Police 'Direction' Powers. This seems to be where the take your iPod media slant comes from note "confiscate related items" - hanging around on street corners we're taking your iPod and your hoodie and um what size shoe do you take? Okay we're taking your trainers too definitely a related item to your ability to stand there.

So yeah a mixed bag there; some good intentions, but as I've said before in reply to those "give the police powers" they might turn on you next.

Last one on the roads can turn off the lights

In a head-scratching move some counties have decided to switch off the lights on sections of the motorway at off-peak hours; or in some instances reduce the light levels on non-motorway stretches at the same time. All part of the 'must save money' mentality. The other cost -

“On urban main roads, with mainly a traffic function, a reduction in accidents involving injuries of approximately 30% can be expected at night following an improvement in the lighting from very bad to good”
Admittedly that's from very bad to good and not the other way around, but one can infer a possible connection.

Now I moan and rant about the road network a lot, I'm sorry, but I hope that when I do so I offer suggestions that in my own opinion might be beneficial - I do try to be constructive. With that in mind...

Friday, February 04, 2011

Misleading on forests?

A small expansion on Neil's comment to our (37% at least) representative to Parliament Mark Garnier's take on voting against the Labour motion.

If you were told that Garnier 

explained that the bulk of the Wyre Forest owned by the Forestry Commission (FC) was “heritage forest”, covered by the guarantee that it would not be sold off but could be transferred to a charitable trust.

He added there was also FC-owned “multi-use” land that had a commercial value and could be subject to lease arrangements. 
And were then shown the map of Forestry Commission  land in this area how would you interpret the colour index?
I'm guessing that you'd think that the "bulk" in green represents "heritage forest".

The actual colours: Green is multi purpose; red is small commercial; and those two specks of blue - Heritage. Has Mr. Garnier been misquoted by the Shuttle, is the map produced by Defra incorrect, or does Mr Garnier not realise that the bulk is not Heritage.

There is a fourth option of course but I shall not be crude enough to state it.

[Update - from a review over at WFA it's possible to reconcile this if you declare the entire green area to be owned by Natural England (although they only state they manage it in conjunction with the FC) and declare the lower red bit to be owned by the Guild of St George. That leaves only the top red section and the blue section... yet it's still difficult to look at these two similar sized blobs and state that the blue part forms the "bulk"]

[Update 2 - Tav's been delving more into this and discovered that the Guild owned land appears to be part of the big green blob. So we have two red's which appear to total more than the blue and a green which appears to total more than the red and blue - yet the blue forms the "bulk"?]

Poor delivery

The company ordered something from Apple on the 18th January this year, according to their info it was shipped that very day. Still nothing. A look at the carrier shows Walsh Western International - try and find a tracking page for them off Google I'll wait...

Okay I'm betting a lot of "Walsh Western tracking for Dell" follow those and delightfully it brings up other people's delivery statuses - neat. I only found the correct page via a forum that now gives a wrong link, but at least allowed me to get this far. Do you see Walsh mentioned? Nope it's "Syncreon". Click on "My Order" and you can progress.

So our delivery (the details of which reduced as I rechecked) - dispatched the 18th and reached Leicester on the 19th.... where it seems to remain.

We don't need no stinkin by-pass 2

As a follow on to my timed journey I did another, recall it took about 6 minutes to get from the 30 zone to the island. This time:

Fire -  Arthur Brown: 2:54
Carol of the Bells - Arthur Fiedler: 1:13
Love Shack - B52s: 3:58 in (just as the "Bang bang bang on the door" started)

So call it 7 minutes... that was to get to the start of the 30mph from which I took my last reading.

In then took:

Love Shack - B52s: 1:25 (the remainder of the 5:23)
Venus - Banarama: 3:39
Walk like an Egyptian - The Bangles: 3:20
Where's Your head at - Basement Jaxx: 1:50 in

So call it 10 minutes. That's 17 minutes total to travel 1.3 miles. I've been in worse.

As an example a different night I turned the corner at the island with 1:40 on the music and reached the Mitton Street entrance at 2:50. Just over a minute to travel 0.1 of a mile. No-one turning right into the station or Baldwin Road, no-one broken down - just traffic coming down from Gilgal and not always in the left 'priority' lane, but due to the curve in the dark you can't distinguish which lane they're in so everyone stops just in case.

Now sure some sections are worse, however I would like to point out that for those trying to get from Stourport proper towards the Worcester Road and back there is no other route available that either doesn't go in the totally opposite direction, down country lanes, or lead back to the same point from another direction.

Let's face facts - we're not going to get a bypass from the dual-track to Hartlebury Road any time soon and the 'by-pass' via Discovery Road leading to Mitton Street will do nothing if not make things worse and this has been the known situation for over 30 years yet what's been done about this section of road... they've put a sign up on the entrance to Gilgal warning of merging traffic.

Recall that at either end of Gilgal we have a lane that can travel at the full speed travelling around an inside bend being joined at the outer side by traffic that can't travel at the same speed while negotiating the tight inner turn. The natural line that the fast-moving traffic takes is to switch lanes in both cases as they come around the turn as this is the straighter course. Stop them!

Extend the damn dividers so you can't cross the lanes on the corner, but only once you're on the straight. If that's too expensive edge the cross-hatchings in unbroken white lines rather than the broken ones which supposedly means you can't travel through them. I doubt that latter will have much effect, but it's an attempt at least and hardly expensive - they need remarking anyway as they're starting to fade.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Save the Forests and the problem with Big Society.

From Neil via WFA comes a stock reply from out MP with regard to the proposed sell-off of our Forests. According to our representative (or at least representative to the 37% who voted for him) the issue at stake "is not one of ownership" but rather what's done with the forests. It seems from his point of view he doesn't care who owns it provided that it is "protected and managed" and that "current access to the public must be maintained".

And how exactly will that be managed? If the Forestry Commission is set up as a regulatory body for this why take the management away from them. If they don't handle this it will be up to "Big Society" to challenge the owners in the courts.

Unfortunately it seems a product of the same flawed thinking that got all our utilities and public services privatised - public bodies cannot be run at anything other than a loss. Why not? As someone said isn't it amazing how our utilities were suddenly able to make money once privatised, what was stopping them doing what they do now back then?

The theory behind this sell-off, beyond the quick cash and the pitiful yearly saving (£10m/year Forests, £6m/year Parliamentary food/drink subsidy) is that the new owners will want to keep the place well-maintained in order to attract visitors, who in turn will pay the car-parking fees and purchase things from the snack/gift shop. Excellent - now what's stopping the Forestry Commission from doing that?

Don't give me any rot about how as taxpayers we fund it already and thus shouldn't pay 'extra' for its use. Look at what the private public transport services receive on top of the fees they charge us; the fees for driving licences and passports paid to government departments we fund etc. There seems no problem for charging us for services provided by departments or businesses we already contribute to.

Some may think that entire concept unfair anyway - why should I pay both my private health care and your NHS treatment; why should I pay to use my car and for you to use public transport; an attitude that seems to pervade throughout the Conservative Party. A desire it seems to return to the good old days where only those who could afford it were educated; where only those who could afford it received health care etc. Oh wait these will all be taken care of by the "Big Society" or 'charity' as most would rename it.

The concept that the paid-for services will upgrade their equipment and thus sell the old stuff off to the cheaper services who in turn will sell there's on to the charities is humourous to consider given the shelf-life of so much equipment. The results of such an experiment is already known - stratification of society. Those at the bottom will have little opportunity to rise given their poor education and poor health; while those at the top need to do very little to maintain their own standards - how much work does Lord Sugar have to do, how much Paris Hilton? So long as you don't squander it away you and your immediate descendants are set.

This is what the Conservatives are slowly working toward and all with the connivance of the Liberal Democrat so desperate for power.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Millfields estate repair work

As mentioned the three builders were set to repair their own areas of the Millfields estate though not at the same time as originally planned due to council interference. It does however get better (hah) in that in at least one case the work has been subdivided up into sections.

The rough situation is that Builder A does work in Section 1, Builder B then does work in Section 2 then Builder A works in Section 3.

Other than causing a huge amount of disruption in that each contractor has to deliver, remove and store equipment multiple times; the biggest joke is that the first section that is being worked on is/was the main entrance that every other contractor will have to drive through and over to reach their own section.

To emphasise they're repairing and resurfacing a road and then driving all the heavy machinery over it.

Makes you want to cry.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Govermental forward thinking

Consider the following:

Police launch new crime mapping website
Site is advertised in all major newspapers and on all major channels
Site crashes under heavy load.

Seriously what did they expect - just a few people to pop on after the announcement. This would be as if Blizzard's servers crashed the day Cataclysm was released due to "unexpectedly heavy traffic".

Not only can't you access the maps, it seems to have taken the entire site with it; so no server-load balancing there then.[Update - my mistake is only the mapping part the main site is / ]

Not a clue.

Incidentally I note this is my 2011th post.

The fix being worse than the problem

A couple of old ones. I mentioned some time ago the depression after the resurfacing of the bridge as you come out of town that wasn't suited towards motor vehicles and not that clever for cyclists. Our local Labour Cllr. Shaw took that up and the section was resurfaced some time ago. Again as mentioned at the time rather than simply fix the depression that entire section is now depressed. It's still like that and I swear it's getting worse.

To my mind this makes no sense the entire footing on which it is based is artificial, non-natural, how can you even have a depression - it's not as if the soil has sunk below it. Also recall they received an award for this entire job.

The second one is just before The Rough alongside the meadow. Prior to the resurfacing water would also form across the surface at this point. Since the resurfacing it does the same, but in greater quantities.

I'm still curious as to what form of quality control is undertaken on these jobs.

Vari-coloured street lamps

Here's a puzzler. Street lights tend to be of the old yellow sodium style, this applies to both the metal poled and the concrete poled versions that run along the Dunley Road. However some time ago the concrete set running from past the Rough towards Areley Common were replaced with higher metal posts the light emitted from these new heads can only be described as 'pinkish'.

Recently the set of concrete posts running in the other direction were also changed; the light these emit - white.

So we coming from the town we now have run white, pink, yellow. Do our council not specify the colour; do they just buy a job lot, have white heads become cheaper since they bought the pink heads?

I'm not complaining - the white heads are excellent and it's almost the equivalent of daytime driving now; but why are the pink ones still up?

[Update - another point is that the high-vis white lights occur when there are street lights on both sides of the road  whereas the lower intensity pink lights overlap a stretch when they exist on only one side]

Building and road work

The old petrol station site on Vale Road has now been cleared for the sheltered accommodation to go up and Jim tells me of the road closure on Wilden Lane. The official report states that it's for three days between the 31st and the 8th and extends for the entire length. On the one hand that may mean less traffic from Hartlebury Road,  on the other the same as they simply come down from the A449.

The work is listed as Highway Maintenance/Improvement. Seeing as I simply don't use that road anymore due to the poor state it's always in it will be interesting to see what will be done.