Monday, October 31, 2011

The EU referendum

A little late too the EU referendum party, but so what it deserves to be kept in the spotlight. Not necessarily the 'rebels' in the Conservative Party, but that Nick Clegg stated in 2008 that:

"Nobody in this country under the age of 51 has ever been asked that simple question."
No! No-one in this country has ever been asked that question. The vote in 1975 was whether we wanted to join the Common Market it was about trade and economy not politics. No one in this country has ever voted directly to join the EU.

The second point is to remember the Eire EU Constitution vote. Everyone recall that? It was supposed to take place in 2005 or 2006 but never happened after the French and Dutch public rejected it. As all member countries needed to agree the constitution was dropped never to be heard from again.

Well at least until it was reformed as the Treaty of Lisbon which contained many of the same elements but amended rather than replaced the old treaties.

This time the people of Eire got to vote and rejected it and as again because everyone needed to agree it was dropped never to be heard from again.

Until the next year when they asked the public if they'd changed their minds and this time they voted for it.

Why is this an important thing to know? Because the EU referendum debate was triggered by public petition. So all those who think that the public has the right to decide for itself how and where our laws are implemented should simply ask again. If people still care they'll get enough votes and they can keep on doing this until they don't or the politicians finally accept what democracy means - People Power.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Orange Care

Letter to the office:

Your mobile phone is currently protected by Orange Care, which means that you can avoid the hassle of replacing it if it's lost, stolen, damaged or develops a fault.
We wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of the benefits you receive with Orange Care and advise you of some changes to your Orange Care agreement which will come into effect on 5th December 2011.
Ah the old carrot then stick approach. Okay I'll pass on the carrot what's the stick?
The term 'Admin Fee' applicable in the case of a successful claim will now be called an 'Excess'
Presumably because they've had trouble justifying £15 worth of admin fees?
The amount of the 'Excess' that is payable on successful claims will change from £15 to £50
Ah so they definitely can't justify £50 of admin fees. Of course we can just cancel, but woof that's a hell of a prices.


Visibility down to 200 yards in places and people driving around with no lights on. "Gosh I'm in a Silver/White/Grey car driving through the fog I wonder if people can see me clearly perhaps I should switch on some form of illumination? Nah I'm sure they can see me"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Warhammer 40k: Space Marine review

I'm a fan of the Warhammer 40k setting and as such there's a lot going on in this game to tickle my fancy; sadly if you're not a fan there's a lot here that just doesn't work.

In concept this is a formulaic shoot/hack third person affair and if you've played one then you've pretty much played this. If things had been left there then that would have been okay; of course they weren't.

A near miss

Nearly rammed the back of a car in Vale Road this morning. Driving along in the third lane with no-one behind me and only the one car ahead. As we approach Mitton Close and the entrance to the car-pack they suddenly hit the brakes and start indicating to turn down it.

As always I'd left enough room to account for such sudden manoeuvres and simply slowed down to give them enough time to turn. At which point they pulled up into the turning blocking half my lane. They had stopped to pick someone up who was standing where so many stand at the entrance to the turn.

Fortunately as mentioned there was no-one behind me and just as fortunately no-one in the second lane.

I swear people don't think. Do the turn and stop a little further on, then turn around in the car-park don't just bloody stop.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Political climate

I've mentally noted this before, but there seems to be an attitude amongst some politicians local and national whenever it comes to having to ask the great unwashed public their opinion on something and I'm not just talking about not trusting us to answer 'correctly'.

Yes I know some people hate my analogies/metaphors but tough ;-)

A prisoner has been sentenced to death and is asked how they'd like to be killed - death by stoning or death by oxen (being pulled apart by such). He picks stoning as he thinks it likely to be the quicker and less painful method.

As he's led to the stoning arena he passes what appears to be a hospital room with a single dentists type chair in the middle.

"What's that?" he asks of his guard
"It's the lethal injection room. You get given a dose of poison and just fall asleep and die" his guard replies
"That sounds much better than stoning can I die like that please?" begs the prisoner
"But you chose stoning" states the guard
"But I didn't know that this was an option" cries the prisoner
"That's your problem not mine" states the guard. "You should have asked; or at least researched all the available methods of death before picking one"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Water pipe ownership part 2

Although I've been updating the original entry as this has been going on for some time I think the latest non-information deserves a new entry.

As a brief recap we'd reached the point where the government is transferring property from one private owner to another and I'd asked exactly what right they had to do that.

I mean if the government was transferring some of its property it would expect to be paid for it; and if the government was taking land it would pay the owners. In this instance property is being transferred and the owner is the one being expected to pay for that privilege.

Given that it's been two months since this was being looked at I popped off an email and very quickly got a response that HM Land Registry have yet to get back with any concrete information.

So yeah the government has enacted legislation which came into force at the beginning of this month without checking first to see if they can actually legally do what the legislation entails.

Good old politics.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Photograph colour casts and perception

I've covered this briefly before, but having finally managed to watch the Horizon show regarding colours and having to explain the concept to my godparents I think it's worth looking at again.

One of the main problems with digital photography is taking a shot, looking at it and then stating "But why is it so orange/blue/red when it clearly isn't like that when I look at the scene in front of me?" The short answer is - because that really is what the scene looks like and the camera is correctly reproducing it.

Tesco shuffle

Having asked about the Tesco covenant I have been informed that Tesco were restricted to only food stuffs and convenience items however this seems to have been ditched in return for the extra 500 square metres of retail space they 'acquired' in planning in 2009.

So it appears they're not only getting extra space, but are also no longer restricted as to what could be sold in it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tesco covenant

Given that work is under-way at the Carpets of Worth site and Tesco's known propensity to apply for retro-active permission for changes made it's time to make sure all the ducks are in order.

My Tesco tagged articles detail all the planning permissions and site drawings etc. there is however one niggling memory that I can't place.

Someone somewhere (Shuttle/WFA/here!) stated that the new store would be limited in the types of items it could sell - so no clothing section etc. Checking through the documentation and decision notices I can find no such covenants stated.

I cannot locate the originator of this statement; can anyone recall who it was? Was it you? Where did you get this information from?

Batman Arkham City Collector's Edition packaging

Just out of interest I wonder how many recipients of the Collector's Edition of Batman: Arkham City this morning have already dropped their figurine?

Step 1 - Remove the  flimsy plastic film surrounding the transparent obloid box.
Step 2 - Pick up said box
Step 3 - Swear as the contents of said box fall out of the bottom of it.

Yeah it's set up like a display case with the opening flap on the base. If picked up by the sides, like most people would I'm sure, the heavy figurine pops the flap and everything falls out.


I woke up early this morning to the darkness feeling a little hot and a little thirsty, thought "hum" and closed my eyes. I opened them to find myself standing in a nearby street, but everything was blurry. I realised I wasn't wearing my glasses. Had I slept-walked out the house? I headed back carefully through the blur and avoided the Christmas Carollers at the end of my street. The front door was unlocked and I headed in to the living room where I warned my father about the carollers heading our way and... wait this isn't right.

I woke up.

Still a little hot and thirsty I got up and padded downstairs where my mother had just finished a fruit cake and was insisting I try it as she'd changed the recipe. I said it was very nice but it was difficult to tell because my mouth was so dry and ... wait this isn't right.

I woke up.

Still a little hot and thirsty and in need for a pee I got up and headed to the toilet. Lost in contemplation I reached over to turn on the tap to the sink to run some water for my glass and... wait this isn't right.

I woke up... at least I think I did. That sort of thing really screws up one's notions of reality.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yappy dog

Oh for the love of... some bloody yappy dog has started up in a nearby yard sending out a series of yips on a five second on five second off pattern with some odd long pauses to make me think it's finally stopped before it goes off again.

If you know of the toy dogs that yip then backflip then you also now know exactly the sound being made. It's as if this dog was the model for them.

Really doing my head in.

The Subway kiss of life and death

As I've said before we're pattern seeking creatures in this instance I've noticed that whenever I mention to someone that the Subway in Kidderminster is open it then closes. If I mention that it's closed it re-opens.

Of course there's nothing special about the fact that I'm talking about it, it's a natural progression of a franchise in a new area. Saying that though I now state that it appears open and thus if it suddenly closes again within the week you all know who to blame :-)

Barclay - Joined up banking

Being an Egg customer my credit card is now being moved over to Barclay. Frankly I wouldn't really care except

a) they've changed my PIN;
b) it now features the VISA contactless system which would allow a thief to buy a slew of £15 products before I noticed it was gone... okay I've just checked it will ask for my PIN "every now and again, for security purposes"; and
c) Along with my card was another missive from Barclay asking if I wanted a Barclay Credit Card.

I've had a look at all the places I can use my wonderful new contactless credit card. At least I tried to look. Using VISA's fantastic map system simply tap in a postcode or town to view such stores.

Excellent except some are in completely the wrong place or have no identifying information and it will only show information within a radius of that location. Tap in "Stourport" and scroll around the map and there are no locations in Kidderminster. Of course there are they just don't get displayed until I tap in "Kidderminster" Gosh yes because I don't travel more than 2 miles away in case I get lost and scared. At least it's easy to see each location oh wait no I have to click on each rather than being able to hover over it.

At least I can use it at "Weavers Wharf Retail Park" which as everyone knows is located on Worcester Road on the way to Hoobrook. Although personally I would prefer to use it at "." in Worcester Street.

Dead Island Tips - Part 5 The Monster List

It's not all traipsing about the island helping people out and practising skills there are monsters to fight and it always helps to know thy enemy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dead Island Tips - Part 4 Advanced tips

Up to gaining access to the Lifeguard Tower the game covers pretty much all the knowledge needed to complete it, however it does leave a few things either unexplained, with fuzzy definitions; or doesn't mention them until later despite being useful right now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dead Island Tips - Part 3c The Resort Exploring the Lifeguard Tower

With everyone safely transported to the Life Guard Tower it's time for a leisurely look around. Talking to Sinamoi sets a new quest - help the others around the station.


Quests can be seen in the menu screen and come in two main types - at the top in white are the uncompleted quests; at the bottom of the list in grey are the completed quests. Only the white ones are of any real interest and they are split into three types.

  1. The main story quest - Completing this advances the story chapters and can open up new areas.
  2. Side-quests - Not needed to complete the story but can often good rewards for completion
  3. Continuous quests - Never-ending quests. So long as the criteria is met the reward is always on offer.
Marking a quest as active will create a guideline and a goal flag to appear on the maps. Accepting a quest will set it to active; on completion of an active side quest the main story quest will become the active one.

Stuff in the Station

The representation of the station is full of new yellow icons. Once found these will always appear on the main map even when the player is out of range.

Fast Travel

A double arrow. It is possible to travel from any Fast Travel point to other selected Fast Travel points. For example it is possible to travel from the Tunnel FT point to the Life Guard Station, but not from the Life Guard Station FT point to the Tunnel. Fast Travel within the same area is instantaneous; Fast Travel between areas will require the game to load up that area.


This icon appears to be either a fan-spread of money or cards. Buy or sell items here - it is inadvisable to sell any of the non-weapon pick-ups unless the cash is absolutely necessary as they are used in weapon modifications.


Not appearing yet, but as a reward for completing a quest that can be found in the station, drivable vehicles will appear on the map as a yellow steering wheel. They will reappear eventually at their original pick-up points if abandoned. All cars have at least four spaces - a driver, a side passenger, and two flat-bed passenger spaces as well as four storage spaces. All passengers can use weapons while in the vehicle. Driving comprises of steering, acceleration and barking (check the manual for exact controls). There are no hand-brake turns; reverse or forward motion can continue even if the opposite control is used; the car will stop almost instantly if the driver leaves.

Enemies can be run over and killed although this nets less experience than killing them 'by hand'; hitting enemies or items will fracture the windscreen until it is punched out. Enemies can still injure anyone in the vehicle.

Next entry - advanced bits not covered.

Dead Island Tips - Part 3b The Resort Quest

Having rescued Sinamoi he now asks if you can get his key card from his bungalow and open up the Lifeguard Tower for them. A Quest and a Guide line now appear.

Daybreak texting

I'm normally one for small print, but in this instance my attention was drawn by the interjection of Adrian on the Daybreak show. He had just invited viewers to text comments to the show when I imagine a producer bellowed "Terms and conditions" down his ear at which point he hurriedly read out was had just flashed up on the screen that the viewers had to be 18 and over. So what?

Well it means no-one can text in.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The world according to the Bratii

With the Bratii on Sunday and somehow the conversation migrated to world leaders (I honestly don't recall how). Take into consideration that Minor is fast approaching 10 and Major is 15.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Greek Bailout Part 2

I mentioned that Greece might be able to help itself by cutting import and export taxes or by devaluing its currency (if it were allowed to) and I wake up to find that instead they're increasing internal taxes. This is a short-term solution and not a good one for any country, for Greece it's a joke.

Allegedly tax avoidance/evasion is endemic as such instead of people not paying 20% they'll not be paying 21% instead. To counter this a new property tax will be collected through electricity bills a difficult thing to avoid for property owners. Don't pay the tax on the bill and the power is cut off.

How many will choose to have the power removed and to cook and light their properties with fire? How many businesses that have to use power will simply up and move out of the country? How many illegal splices will be run off the mains cable and the investigators intimidated (or bribed) into ignoring them?

No business is going to start up knowing they're going to facing this tax. No business is going to hire new workers with this overhead.

Greece is just digging a deeper hole for itself.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


So I've already noted that Hallowe'en begins on 17th September. I'll now note that Christmas begins on the 1st October.

I'm also glad to note that I'm not the only one seeing this.

Greek bailout

On the breakfast news this morning a young Greek women stated "We don't want your money we want jobs". Excellent, so you're all willing to work for free then are you?

You see a business can't expand and create new jobs unless they're making enough money to accommodate them. Likewise a new company can't start up and create new jobs unless they know that there are enough people out there willing to pay for their products and/or services.

So if the Greek government wants to encourage new jobs it has only a few options available to it. It can lower taxation on businesses thereby allowing them to retain more money and thus expand their business and hire more people.

Another option is to reduce tariffs on export; make it cheaper to buy from Greece and thus encourage more cash flow into the country.

In both cases the downside is that the government itself loses money from tax revenue and is based on the assumption that the businesses will pump the additional money back into the Greek economy.

A counter would be to increase tariffs on imports. This would have the effect of increasing the price of  goods made with imported material; however it could open up new markets within the country itself to provide those goods internally and thus also keep the cash internal too. Due to the low export tariffs such a company may be able to compete more effectively with the external company that used to provide the goods in the first place thus making even more money.

Both of those could work except that Greece is signed up to the Eurozone and thus there is no import duty within the EU. They could create a new tax, but I'd expect them to be reported to the WTO if they tried that.

Instead both these measures could be implemented indirectly by devaluing Greece's currency - as it would no longer be 'worth' as much outside the country imports would be more expensive and exports would be cheaper.

Except it's part of the Euro and thus has no say over its value.

Welcome to the inherent problems of a common currency market.

Oh and before anyone points out that the USA is the same type of system - they have the same problems. Note that Texas received a $1bn agricultural subsidy last year  what is that if not a bailout they don't have to pay back?

Pretend each state is its own country that's signed up to a Common Market, Common Currency with Free Trade and movement across borders. Now look at how much each 'country' pays into the system compared to how much they take out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Knowing the law

In my entry regarding taking photos Orphi asked

what exactly can members of the public do to avoid being pushed around like this?
I replied that they can stop accepting it by knowing the law; with that in mind here's the basics.

Again first off I Am Not A Lawyer; however the best bit is that no-one needs to be because the basics really are that easy to understand.

The base of law in the UK is that anything and everything is legal unless stated not to be. The law is then split into two main sections - case and statute. Statute law is that enacted by the state, for the UK that would be the Crown via the government; case law is made up of the decisions taken by previous courts.

Both sets of laws can then be dealt with in one of two ways - civil or criminal. Civil is deemed to be between citizens; criminal that between a citizen and the state.

The police can be involved in either types of law, but their powers derive from Statute Law; this defines what they can and cannot do under given circumstances. To take Law A detailing Circumstance A and Law B detailing Circumstance B a police officer cannot use the powers granted by Law A under the circumstances from Law B. In the case of the father taking photos the Prevention of Terrorism Act deals with the circumstances of control orders on specific individuals as this wasn't the case it didn't matter whether the Act gives an officer the power to confiscate property as it did not apply in this instance.

It is also worth remembering that the police are held just as liable under the law as non-police; should the officer in the incident above have taken the phone and/or deleted photos they could be accused of theft and/or criminal damage because they had no right to do so.

Now not everyone can memorise all the laws, however as the police act with powers granted under Statute Law should they wish to exercise such powers a member of the public being confronted with them can ask for the details. The officer is not obliged to provide them, but failing to do so or providing incorrect information could be considered prejudicial to their case

How does this apply to private security? Private security have no additional powers and no additional rights beyond that of the ordinary citizen. They can detain a person if they think they've committed a criminal act, but only temporarily until the police arrive. They can use reasonable force to escort a person from private grounds if they are representing the owner. They can refuse entry to private grounds if they are representing the owner and use reasonable force to prevent such entry. They have no rights to confiscate goods and no rights to search a person or their property.

Quite simple really.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Wyre Forest Traveller site debacle Part 3

There seems to be mutterings over the cherry-picking of sites apparently favouring the dominant Conservative council members. To which end I present the five short-listed sites and the ten second-tier sites along with their internal designations and ward locations.

Censoring the internet

Once again we get the message that the government truly doesn't understand the internet with supposed measures about to be introduced to block pornography unless the subscriber "opts-in". This will supposedly be handled at the ISP level. How exactly?

Chances are the ISPs will simply create a black list of sites and prevent content from them. Except that's exactly what the majority of internet-protection software does anyway. Sure one could argue that the parents don't know how to install or configure them, but that's their problem and one they should fix themselves rather than handing off the problem to someone else.

Oh and of course they don't really work. A black list is dependent on being updated and generally gets larger and larger. Blocking an IP address will block any multiple web addressed pointing to it, but providers will switch to dynamic addresses and so both IP addresses and web addresses will need to be maintained which the providers will simply change or forward.

That doesn't even address anonymisers  whereby traffic is directed to that site then forwarded on to the requester using the covering address.

Even in a business sense the government appears to be contemplating shutting down this entire branch of software production and potentially putting some companies out of business. After all way would anyone need this type of software when the filtering takes place at the provider's end?

Stamp with FAIL.

Taking photos

Once again we see the misconceptions over taking photos being applied. This time to the Braehead shopping centre in Glasgow. Sadly like so much it's a case of 'he said, they said' so the exact terms being bandied about cannot be verified, but the context is clear.

Firstly the obvious statement that I Am Not A Lawyer, but the statements I make echo and combine statements made by those who are.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Wyre Forest Traveller site debacle Part 2

My father drew attention to something that he read in the Shuttle; not wanting to take either his or their word for it I decided to read the actual Baker Associates Report. Page 28 section 5.16 lists 5

potentially suitable sites for Gypsies and Travellers
these are:

Yard south of A456 - Clows Top
Land off Lowe Lane - Fairfield
Land off Wilden Top Road - Wilden
The Gables Yard - Stourport-on-Severn
Open land north of Sutton Park Rise - Kidderminster.

On page 42 section 8.6 a further 10 sites are added as
having potential constraints, but are considered worthy of further investigation for Gypsy, Traveller and/or Travelling Showpeople either to supplement or replace shortlisted sites in the short to medium term and to provide for long term needs, if required.

They are:

Land north of Habberley Road - Bewdley
Site at Stourport Road - Bewdley
Former Blakedown Nurseries - Blakedown
Land at Lawnswood - Cookley
Former school site - Kidderminster
Lea Castle hospital site - Kidderminster
Land adjacent Nunn's Corner - Stourport-on-Severn
Saiwen - Stourport
Former depot - Stone
Redundant farm, St John's Road - Stourport-on-Severn

As I and others have mentioned of these sites the Cabinet is allowing 7 through for public consultation. They are:

Site at Stourport Road, Bewdley
Former Sion Hill School Site, Kidderminster
Lea Castle Hospital Site, Cookley, Nr Kidderminster
Land adjacent Nunn’s Corner, Stourport-on-Severn
Saiwen, Stourport-on-Severn
The Gables Yard, Stourport-on-Severn
Farm, St John’s Road, Stourport-on-Severn

That is of the 5 sites shortlisted only one is on the public list, the other 6 were listed only for "further investigation" or to replace the shortlisted sites  in the "short to medium term". Perhaps any member of the Cabinet would care to make known exactly why four-fifths of the 'proper' list needed to be replaced and given this need what value for money this £17.5k report gave us?

To put it another way either Baker Associates got four of the five main sites wrong for reasons they didn't investigate or they got them wrong for reasons they couldn't know.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Petrol cartel again

Despite the number of times I and others explain it the price of petrol keeps reappearing in the Letters pages of the Shuttle. So let's try one of the argument again.

Let's assume there is little to no new market in petrol sales. Sure there are those who have just learned to drive, but they're flightly; nice to have but can't be depended on quite yet. Unlike other markets there are few stating "Well I'd buy petrol if only it were a bit cheaper" or "I was planning a long car trip, but what with the price of petrol I won't". As such the core market is relatively static.

With that in mind consider a hypothetical petrol station selling at 135.9p/litre. As we know VAT is 20% and fuel duty is 57.95p/litre the station is getting 55.3p/litre. To make life simple let's consider all of that as profit.

This station sells 2,000 litres of petrol a day and thus makes a profit of £1,106. However a competitor sets up shop and starts selling at 130.9p/litre. The next day our first station realises they're losing 250litres worth of sales per day thus 'only' making £967.75.

Simplistic competition dictates that our first station should lower their prices to match. However customers can be fickle things and in this case doing so would only lure back half the litres lost.

Selling 1750 litres at 135.9p makes a profit of £967.75.
Selling 1875 litres at 130.9p makes a profit of £958.75.

Provided there are no more losses the first station makes more money by keeping the price at the same level and not matching the competition.

The Conservative conference

I've tried to avoid all thee of them, but the newspapers keep on about them. Once again out of all it what still drives me to a small fury is David Cameron telling the nation that he knows "tough things are". No David you don't "know" you can intuit how tough things are; you can see how tough things are; but you don't know how tough things are. In fact no MP can know how tough things are.

The base salary of an MP is £65,738 per year that's over 2.5 times the median individual full-working wage in this country; using the 2007/08 figures that puts them in the top 5% of tax payers in this country. As Prime Minister there's an extra £132,923 on top of that putting him in the top 1% of this group at £198,661 per year. That's over 7.5 times the median wage.

That doesn't even take into account expense claims.

Stop telling me you know times are tough; you don't.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


Okay so I said they had a sign up in Mitton Street stating right hand lane closed and it was the left-hand lane in Severn Road - I was wrong. The lights are on the left, but the actual roadworks are on the right. However all that pales into insignificance because they've now closed off the left-hand lane of Mitton Street in order to demolish the CoW brick wall. There are plenty of signs up though perhaps someone could explain why there need to be ones in the left-hand lane of Gilgal given that this traffic won't be going near them?

Anyway continuance is that the path widening/road narrowing will NOT be happening. However this poses its own interesting question as one of the justifications of Tesco building on this site was due to the link to the town. Now while I'm unsure how dependent this was it's difficult to state that the current connection between the town and the site that was used as a measure of the distance is in any way viable.

So with no route from the town this is going to be mainly car traffic with little to no connect between the two which is pretty much what everyone's been saying. Wow big surprise there.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Dead Island Tips - Part 3a The Resort basics

Having learnt the basics of the game in the Hotel; it now throws that out of the window. The player revives in a hut with no guide line, no goal flags and no information on what to do next. Experimentation will hopefully lead to trying to leave at which point a new quest point will become available - Find a weapon. Again no guide, no flag. The 'weapon' in question is a paddle by the door.

The joys of BT

DaBoss' mother has been getting lousy broadband service; it's not a wireless problem as they've physically plugged it in so at last BT are going to look at the exchange and give her a call today.

I get a phone call from DaBoss; the broadband is still functioning (barely) but the voicelines are dead - no dialtone and ringing in just results in it ringing out as if there's no problem. On it's own this is just a fault to be reported; except for that call which is expected from the exchange engineer.

Now if it's something they're doing at the exchange then it will resolve and they'll be able to call. If it's not they'll call and get no answer and probably file it as such. The logical thing to do therefore would be to contact the engineer and give them another number to use so that if it's not something they're doing at very least one of the faults can get sorted and then we can move on to the next one.

That's not possible. Now I could have the phone line diverted to the mobile; except that won't tell us if the faults fixed and to remove the diversion would require yet another phone call to BT and sitting in yet another queue.

What a mess.

Notions of reality

Looked after the Bratii on Sunday. Herein follows a rough transcript of a conversation with Minor:

Minor: "I'm tired because I had to stay up and fix my Lego model car"
Me: "No you didn't have to stay up you wanted to stay up"
Minor: "Muh I got it working you press the button and the lights go on"
Me: "Oh it comes with a power source then?"
Minor: "No it comes with batteries!"
Me: "Which are the power source - the source of the power"
Minor: "No they're batteries - god!"

Mitton Street/Severn Road works

On Monday, as per the order,signs appeared in Mitton Street on the outside of the right-hand corner on the approach to Severn Road. In order they were - a Roadworks sign, a Road Narrows on the Right sign, and then just after the Severn Road junction a Roadworks End sign.

Of course what we didn't have was any actual roadworks.

On Tuesday a new one appeared just after the Road Narrows on the Right - a traffic light sign. This was to indicate the traffic lights that had been set up blocking the left-hand lane in Severn Road.

So can we expect any roadworks in Mitton Street itself that will block off the right-hand lane or has someone, once-again, got the signs wrong?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Why you should read the Daily Mail

I'm not a fan of the Daily Mail, but I'm re-evaluating my position on this. Why? Because the reporters and editors are obviously attuned to a parallel universe. How do we know this? Well they released an article on Amanda Knox being found guilty including quotations from the prosecutors about how pleased they were with the verdict; they reported how Know reacted when the verdict was announced; how the victim's family reacted; how Knox and her accomplice were led out of jail and would be put on suicide watch.

So what? Well they managed to release it minutes before an "Innocent" verdict was returned.

Now some cynics may claim this simply proves that the reporters at the Daily Mail just make things up and write stories as they expect (or want) them to appear rather than as what actually happened, but I say open your mind.

If somehow they are linked to a parallel universe this would explain so much. Perhaps in this universe droves of immigrants really are flooding the country, perhaps all councils are celebrating Winterval; perhaps Health and Safety officers are patrolling around and snatching conkers from children; and perhaps House Prices really are the main economic factor of the entire country.

Scientists should examine this and document every article the newspaper produces detailing exactly where it differs from our own reality. Perhaps by examining their archives we could even discover the initial point of divergence and postulate exactly what it is about the newspaper that allows this link to be maintained over the course of years and changing staff.

Do it for Science!

[Oh and yes the Guardian and Sun also jumped the gun however they did so in minimalist style. Before anyone complains the first verdict was guilty... to slander so it would be possible to report on reactions to this. Quotations could be from the first time she was found guilty; but this would be rather misleading at the minimum. It would be impossible to to describe her being escorted back to prison though.]

[Update - Oh FFS! I swear I wrote this before I read this]

Dead Island Tips - Part 2 Getting Started

Past character selection and into the game proper. It does a fair job of a tutorial but some things have been missed out. Below are the very basics needed to navigate the first hotel section of the game; I'll flesh out each part in other entries.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Playstation Gamer cards

I've given up on the official Playstation Network Personal Trophy cards on the grounds that they never seem to update themselves except when I manually tell them to and that I can't manually update them from the PS3 browser.

PSNProfile's cards, on the other hand, appear to update themselves and amusingly (or not) provide the extra kind of information that would naturally be collated and available to Sony should they bother to get their thumb out of their arses and use it.

As such I now know my standings as compared with every other PSNProfile sign-up; the milestones (my first Platinum, my 500th trophy etc.) and, for me, most interestingly the rarest trophies I've managed to acquire.

Sure it's not perfect; it tells me I'm currently ranked number 7,579th but neglects to mention out of how many (7,580? No it's 54, 077). It tells me my three rarest trophies, but doesn't allow me to see all my trophies in rarity order. Likewise I can't see my trophies in order of achievement. It also tells me my l337 (Elite) trophy without explaining exactly what makes it so.

Nevertheless it's still miles better than the official version.

Dead Island Tips - Part 1 Character Selection

With four options available which character is the best one to play in Dead Island? A trite answer would be "Depends on how you want to play". Although almost always true to some degree there are some biases apparent that make this a little more complex.

In the quest to make more money

Again while in Merry Hill I noticed a new set of packaging for the Blu-ray version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The original packaged version I'd looked at with some distaste because it was the standard cinema edition a fact that could only be gleaned by studying the small print. This new version is the extended one and proclaims such on the front cover.

So they released two versions on DVD and two versions on Blu-ray; with the extended versions being released after the 'normal' versions.

Excellent way to milk those fans.

In the same vein I did see the new Star Wars box-sets too. Beyond adding lines to Vader I wonder how much more 'improving' Lucas has done to it. Next I'm sure we'll see a cheaper version supported by digitally added sponsorship (Anakin's pod racer with decals) before returning full circle to the Definitive Version which removes all the tinkering and tries to pretend that films I-III didn't happen. Though with Lucas' hand on the tiller I expect that would have to be a Commemorative Edition.

Those are the prices from Head Office

Tootling around Merry Hill on Saturday and spotted the second series of a box set for which I already possessed the first of. I picked it up and put it back down again - £40! For something that's over 2 years old; that's still the full price. Next to it however was the complete box set of all three series... £25. No different content; the same three individual packs bound as one.

It's the same with the Harry Potter films. I decided not to buy the last two when I noticed that the current complete set of Blu-rays was lower in price than I'd have to pay for those two individually.

To me there's something not quite right about that.

Council Tax freeze

The top story at the moment is the continuation of the Council Tax freeze. This by itself wouldn't prompt me to write anything however the manner in which the morning news channels are obviously reading the government script does.

Apparently this freeze will on average save people £72 per year; except it won't and here's why. Imagine two energy companies A and B who charge the same average amount each year. Company A decides to increase its prices by £72 per year; company B doesn't. Anyone switching from A to B will save £72 per year; anyone sticking with B could be said to be saving £72 per year by sticking with B and not moving to A.

Now apply that to Council Tax; a monopolistic system which you are legally obliged to pay for. They're not saving us £72 per year they've simply decided not to charge us an extra £72 per year. How magnanimous of them; maybe we should send them a thank-you card?