Friday, March 30, 2012

The NHS - Conservatives keep it simple

Yes it's from the Labour Party so take it with the pinch of salt that any such active opposing view deserves, but still worth a re-blog

Before and after - the new NHS structure.

Oh yes much easier to follow.

The Darkness 2 PS3 review

Ah The Darkness a game I played (and still do) repeatedly despite the lack of trophies or alternative endings just to enjoy the story; now it has a sequel and the first question is "Does it match up to the original?" not really. My first part will review this as a game in its own right; the second as a sequel.

To recap Jackie Estacado is an orphan raised within the structure of an Italian Mob family who in the first games is a hitman sent out on a job that goes wrong. The situation awakens a malevolent entity within him called the Darkness that gives him special powers. People die and Jackie uses this power to get his revenge and become head of the family before realising that the Darkness is starting to control him rather than the other way around. He vows to suppress it and manages to do so for two years. That's where the sequel begins.

The Darkness II Jenny's Cafe Music

Because I liked it and because it took some detective work to find it (I'm sure it's buried in the credits somewhere though) for those who want to know the music playing in the café scene with Jenny starts with Black Betty by The Ram Jams with the dancing music being I Only Have Eyes for You by The Flamingos.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

VAT on hot food

I found this entry from Liberal Conspiracy interesting to read concerning the recent budget; doubly interesting is the way that 'Pasty-gate' is slowly eclipsing the 'Granny tax'. It's a sad thing to say that this current coalition may fall due to sticking 20% on a Greggs Pasty then 'acquiring' £5m from pensioners.

The Chancellor states that this and other measures were being introduced to close down loopholes in tax law; I can relate. It may sound silly but the law and programming code are very similar - you're trying to set up explicit instructions that sometimes lead to unexpected results. In both cases you try to find the errant instruction and alter it to get the result you expected and wanted.

In fact despite both being possibly a mass of interwoven and tangled instructions the law should be the easier to 'debug' as in order to make an exception the unexpected result has to point out exactly why they don't have to follow the rules. However sometimes it's worth while to step back and then slowly step-through the instructions and assumptions that make up the code/law. Let's try that with VAT.

Petrol Panic!

Okay I want all my readers to read this carefully and think through all the implications then ignore everything and drive like a maniac to your nearest petrol station and fill your tank to the very brink; then do the same for any jerry-cans you've got and hey you got a bath - strap it to your roof and fill that too.

The Esso station on Vale Road this morning was full and starting to queue; the Total was surprisingly quiet. I've just been informed that the Habberley Service Station has just run out; though seeing as there is currently no strike I'd expect more to be on its way soon.

Annoyingly these things always seem to happen when I genuinely need to get some petrol. At the beginning of the week I had [wobbles hand] just enough to get me through to the weekend; however with all the joyous queuing I thought I'd play safe and might as well top it up. I'm just amazed that I managed to beat the panic by a whole two days.

It has been noted by a colleague that if everyone does panic buy now should a strike actually occur the majority won't notice because they won't need any fuel. Does that mean that this was a cunning plan on the part of the government?

Italian Food Market in Stourport on Saturday

Is everyone looking forward to the big Italian Food Market being held in the Civic Centre carpark in Stourport on Saturday?

What do you mean what Italian Food Market? There's been at least three bright yellow signs up in Stourport one at the old Lloyds building as you leave town; one at the Lion Hill end of York Street as you enter; and one right next to the bus-stop in High Street; not to mention the A4 flyers up in shop windows.

Sure it doesn't feature on Wyre Forest's own events calendar; nor the Shuttle's version. However at least the Shuttle mentioned it yesterday and it made page 5 of the print version. Yeah I mean so what if the thing most people are likely to both a) want to attend and b) be able to attend gets only a three line paragraph amongst the Cabaret review, Co-op advertising and back-slapping at least it's there.

Kudos to the Stourport Town site as it's been up there for at least two weeks; minor faulting to the Civic Centre as they still haven't listed exactly what time it starts and finishes (9am-4pm according to the Shuttle).

I'm expecting to take a wander down there, but if I hadn't happened to have a long clear space in front of me as I drove down Lion Hill I wouldn't even have known about it.

[Update - At least they've informed the most important online news service]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Increase in Stamp Prices

For those not paying attention the price of stamps is going up as of the end of April. A first class stamp currently 46p is moving to 60p (a 30% increase) and second class from 36p to 50p (a 39% increase). How can they do this?

Price increases can occur for a variety of reasons the first being the simple 'law' of supply and demand - let's call it the auction effect. A retailer or auctioneer offers a product at a price they think it will sell at. If there is a great demand for it they increase the price; if no-one wants it they lower it.This applies all the way down the chain - if more people want the raw material the price goes up which in turn increases the price of the finished item. If the workers demand more money to keep up with inflation the price of the product needs to increase to maintain the companies profits.

However a second cause for increase is exclusivity. It's possible for demand to drop but for the price to increase because there are people who are prepared to pay that amount for the product. A company can drop the amount of product it makes for whatever reason and thus have to raise prices to maintain profit. The tie-in to exclusivity is monopoly which in turn relates back to supply and demand.

If only one company makes the product and a large number of people want it they can choose not to manufacture a large number of them and charge a premium; or they can continue at the same production rate and still charge a premium..

How does the Royal Mail fit in here? Well demand for their product/service is dropping so the price should also drop; however they have a monopoly so to maintain profits they increase the price instead. As this is likely to decrease demand even more they'll be heading into the exclusivity zone whereby sending a letter using them will be its own status symbol "I'm so wealthy I can afford to send letters using the Royal Mail".

This, however, stands against its currently government-owned status. The government shouldn't be funding a service that is only available to those who can afford it. Rather than demand a lowering of prices I see a full privatisation in a manner similar to the mash-up of energy providers/network maintainer or train/rail.

The flaw in that is that it changes nothing. There are already alternative services out there. Unless they're allowed to set up their own mailboxes the Royal Mail will still have domination over collection. Perhaps the government could force them to accept and re-distribute the competition's mail in the same way British Telecom had to open up their network; but I can see the competition's mail being 'accidentally' delayed in favour of Royal Mail's own.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lack of co-operation

The ongoing Tesco roadworks means a few diversions; the current one being that all Mitton-side traffic is being diverted into Vale Road. Coming from that direction gives them priority into lanes two and three; the town-side traffic has priority only in lane one. By itself this can cause some delay as the diverted will be trying to switch from lane two to lane one and some of the lane one traffic will be trying to switch to lane 3 to reach Gilgal.

Then the builders on Vale Road shut-down lane one; then lane two. So all the traffic from Mitton-side was funnelled down their prioritised lane three; and all the traffic from town had to attempt to merge with them.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Schedule of Tesco Works

Although they've been in the paper (this time correctly) it's a bit messy even on the official notifications so I'll add the current schedule of the Tesco works here along with a description.

20th-23rd March. Daytime only. No right turn from Mitton Street to Vale Road to add in Puffin pedestrian crossing (work now completed)

26th-29th March. Daytime only. No left turn from Mitton Street to Lion Hill to add in Puffin pedestrian crossing works.

30th March-4th April Daytime only. No left turn from Mitton Street to Vale Road to add in Puffin pedestrian crossing. For those going "huh?" the Black Star is in Mitton Street.

10th-14th April Daytime only. No right turn from Mitton Street to Lion Hill to add in Puffin pedestrian crossing. For those going "huh?" see above.

16th-18th April Nightime only (21:00-06:00).Worcester Road to Lion Hill closed i.e. what most consider to be the entirety of Mitton Street is closed. Presumably to install traffic lights. To show how well the planners know this town they described it as "Lion Hill to Worcester Road"... it's a one-way system; the other way.

18th-20th April Nightime only. High Steet to Lion Hill closed i.e the other part of Mitton Street next to the Black Star is closed. Presumably to connect pedestrian crossings.

20th-21th April Nightime only.Worcester Road to Lion Hill closed again. Final checks?

After all that hopefully no more Tesco work; which is ironic as the rumours are getting more solid that Tesco aren't even going to build there now due to budgetary constraints.

[Update - How odd the signs that have gone up say only the 16th 17th and 20th as well as some dates in May]

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Political Compass

The Political Compass website appears to have updated its questions; they certainly don't feel as American as they used to from my point of view.

Last time I took the test I was -6.5x and -7.85y this time... -6.75x and -7.90y So on the scale of 0-10 pretty much still embedded in the Left/Libertarian side of things.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mini-SIMs, Micro-SIMs and Apple SIMs?

Another glance behind the scenes at things that will probably affect a large number of people, but that they will probably never have heard of. In this instance SIM cards those network-provided bits of cardboard to use in mobile phones.

At first we had the mini-SIM cards, but as developers wanted to produce smaller hardware in came the micro-SIM cards; and now being pushed by Apple is the nano-SIM. Well so what - it was Apple's push that led to the main usage of micro-SIMs isn't this just more of the same?

Not quite. The outrage from the non-Apple producers seems to be based on two main points. The first is that as part of the standard the new nano-SIM requires a "drawer" to protect it; much like the "drawer" in the iPhone and iPad's or to put it a little more clearly - much like in the Apple patented iPhone and the Apple patented iPad. Now sure if this becomes a standard a particular "drawer" mechanism can't be patented, but with all the legal tussling going on at the moment I think it's possible to forgive the other producers for looking askance at a new standard that appears to be incorporating patents that a competitor owns.

The second point of contention is against the methods being used by Apple to pass this through the standards body. Votes are ascribed to subsidiaries; Apple are apparently looking to register six European subsidiaries making them the body's largest voting block. Nokia (currently the largest vote holder) asks "whether it is right that one group of companies can obtain a high amount of votes by filing multiple membership applications".

From a consumer point of view why should we care? Consider the absolute worst case scenario - Apple use their leverage to push forward this standard. Telecom providers don't want to have to make multiple different SIM types and start shifting production to making nano-SIMs. Apple already produce goods that allow the use of these SIMs and other producers start making goods to do the same... at which point Apple takes them all to court for violating their patents and prevents the sale of their goods within Europe.

[Update - Oh look Apple has patented a particular type of nano-SIM drawer]

Traffic signs

Two signs at Mitton Street that made me chortle. "Vehicles should use both lanes and merge at roadworks" hah yeah right - traffic doesn't use both lanes and merge when they know the lane they're moving into is clear they're certainly not going to do it when they know they're going to get stuck.

Secondly "Pedestrians use other footpath" just past the Chinese takeaway on the right.

That is roughly where the first cone is on this image. Take a look at the other side of the road. Do you see a footpath? If you answered "no" well done that's because there's never been one there. Now one might state that there's a footpath further up towards the corner except a) that still leaves a gap in which pedestrians need to use the carriageway and b) no there isn't because it's also currently being dug up.

They've removed the footpath and then instructed pedestrians to use a non-existent alternative. Applause, applause.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A liberal position?

Tav is soon to be on his way down under to frolic with all the poisonous beasties to be found there as well as people who aren't politicians.

It only took a few comments into all the well-wishing for back-biting to arise between commentators. Rather than indulge them there I'll address Jon D here who makes a note regarding the 'liberal evacuation' that

I wouldn't want to have been in the position of that one liberal, apparently known as a Ranter, that got left behind. He was so liberal he couldn't decide to get on or not as that would have been taking up a position, then again if he stayed that would have been taking up a position.
Amusing to me as I do hold some positions:
  1. That just because someone says one stupid thing I shouldn't automatically disregard anything they say;
  2. That just because someone says something I disagree with (or dislike or find abhorrent) doesn't mean they are wrong by default;
  3. As far as possible positions should be held on the basis of rationale and evidence and actions taken accordingly.
I can understand why this may make me seem contradictory at times. For example I dislike knee-jerk reactions by politicians based on tabloid headlines, but have to consider that said tabloid may have things right for once and that an instant reaction may well be what is required.

In similar ways I may approve of a position held, but disapprove of the actions taken to implement it and vice versa.

Likewise I can see why during comment threads this might be considered as me not choosing sides. One side may say something I disagree with and provide no evidence to back up their statement; however at the same time the side I agree with may simply state that the other is wrong and likewise provide no evidence for their side.

When either side does provide evidence that either a) isn't, or b) is wrong I'll point that out regardless of whether or not I agree with their position. In the case of those I disagree with it's in the hopes that they'll realise they're wrong and switch sides. In the case of those I agree with it's to stop them relying on false information that could be discredited and may make them consider switching sides.

If either side cling to discredited evidence I'll hold those I agree with in more disdain than those I disagree with. Sure you're position is wrong and your evidence is wrong, but I understand why it's comforting to ignore everyone else. For those I agree with though, why hold onto 'bad' evidence to support your position when there's 'good' evidence available?

So it's not that I don't take a position on things; merely that those I have can make it appear that I don't.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vertically aligning inline-blocks

As mentioned in my previous entry my three div columns had been set up as inline-blocks with the same IE7 trick as often applied to list items. The list wasn't evenly divisible by three so I sectioned them off in at logical alphabetical intervals with a variable number of items in each column. Saved and displayed the result.

They were staggered. The first column was correctly sitting at the top of its container, but the second column was 1 line down and the third 4 lines down. What was happening? I scrolled down to the bottom and found them all bottom-aligned.

IE7's z-index or why do things appear behind others?

Again with coding a website; in this instance it should be simple - a list of names; using the technique to automatically set onmouseover to elements by class when the name is hovered over with the cursor a pop-up appears next to it with some additional information.It works in IE7, Opera, Firefox and Chrome.

Rather than have just one long list I then columnised it by splitting it into three div elements and using the inline-block and IE7 inline fix to get it to display in all the major browsers... except the popup doesn't work correctly in just one browser - can you guess which?

No prizes if you said IE7. However the reason it doesn't work is interesting in and of itself and displays just how messed up IE7 really is/was.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Summon the police (Whoop Whoop Whoop)

I've blogged before about the misuse and abuse of poweres granted to the police particularly in regards to photography and the terrorism acts.

19-year old Azhar Ahmed posted the following on his Facebook page in regard to the deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan

"People gassin about the deaths of Soldiers! What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed.. The women who have.been raped.. The children who have been sliced up..! Your enemy's were the Taliban not innocent harmful familys. All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL! THE LOWLIFE FOKKIN SCUM! gotta problem go cry at your soldiers grave & wish him hell because thats where he is going"

In other words the typical type of rubbish that crops up from time to time complete with poor grammar and spelling. At the start this is little different from any commentator doing a 'how dare you get upset about X when Y' that appears from any part of the political spectrum. The latter part does go too far and may be deemed morally reprehensible, but that's it.

Does he threaten a particular soldier? No he doesn't. Does he threaten soldiers in particular? No he doesn't. Does he call on others to threaten soldiers? No he doesn't. Yet despite this he's apparently been arrested for a "racially aggravated public order offence".

Let's just check that posting again... nope I can't see where he calls for all white soldiers to die or all black soldiers; non-Muslim soldiers; Christian soldiers; British soldiers; Amercian soldiers. Just soldiers.

So when did "soldiers" become a recognised racial or ethic grouping? Has this been applied to others? Will the police be hunting through older comments for those who called for "bankers to be strung up" to face such charges? How about those stating that "come the revolution the first against the wall will be the lawyers"? How about any who said that the police should crack some heads regarding the Occupy movement?

Somehow I doubt it but state that our (actually not just ours as he's not that specific) boys and girls in the Armed Forces should die for what they're doing and face a potential six months jail-time.

So remember - if someone makes a statement you find offensive don't tell them you find it offensive; don't ignore them or try to reason with them just summon the police.... whoop whoop whoop?

[Update 21/3- hattip to Septicisle. It seems someone's had a quiet word and the "racially aggravated public order offence" has been dropped instead he's getting charged under the Communications Act presumably section 127 why he's being charged for his "all soldiers should DIE" remark while those who made much more explicit threats in return are not being charged is a mystery. No wait of course it's not a mystery - he said a bad thing about 'our lads'. the others just made racially aggravated remarks how's that against the law. Oh wait.]

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Council Tax freeze - the other shoe drops

As mentioned last year oh how nice they're not charging us more for the reduced services and it even made it into the budget for our district. Yeah Council Tax isn't going up... just had the business rates bill. The standard multiplier has increased from 43.3p in the pound to 45.8p.

So along with the fact that Labour scrapped the void rates on industrial premises and the Coalition allowed the exemption threshold to drop to a pitiful value meaning so many landlords now need to pay who didn't before what a big surprise they're not raising council tax.

To crunch those numbers it's 43.3% of the rateable value increased to 45.8% which may seem a rise of 2.5% but is in fact a rise of 5.8%. But hey that's okay as it only applies to businesses. It's not as if they'll just charge customers more and there are plenty of new shops opening all the time around here to keep competition healthy even if they do.

How to keep the money coming in while keeping the electorate happy (and in the dark) - politics [spits]

Assigning onmouseover event handler to element by class in javascript to affect sub elements

Tested in IE7, Opera11, Firefox11; Chrome17.

As with my all-time most popular entry on IE7 and the inline-block style I'm going to be explaining things as I go along. If you just want some code that works scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Highway diversions

It's only taken three weeks, but the notice to shut down the turns from Mitton Street into Vale Road and Lion Hill have finally been published correctly; I noted with amusement that the standard "not less than seven days from the date of this Notice" isn't present for the obvious reason this is set for the 20th. The diversions are amusingly long, but that's not what I'm writing about. That would be the other notice; the one that shuts down Mitton Street in its entirety at night.

That is from Worcester Road to Lion Hill and then High Street to Lion Hill/Vale Road; though they state the first the wrong way around and they either miss off that it's Worcester Road to Lion Hill/Vale Road or they're only shutting down the one lane. It's the diversions that got me wondering though.

Shutting down Mitton Street to Lion Hill means that those heading down Gilgal have to turn left to Worcester Road (A4025) and indeed that is the first road on the diversion. Most locals would then head up Hartlebury Road but that's not really a suitable road so it's up the A4025 to the A449 turning towards Kidderminster and then onto the other Worcester Road (A442) up to the Bus Station island and then turn back towards Stourport along the A451.

Now so far so good except if you carry on down the A451 you enter Gilgal which is where you've just come from. Again locals will turn right towards Bewdley on to Worcester Street (B4195) and then turn left down the one-way Lombard Street to reach the A451 at Lion Hill. The diversion notice misses out that penultimate step; it takes you from the B4195 straight to the A451 which means doing a U-turn as the only point the two connect is at the point you entered it.

Now what the official route may be is continuing down the B4195 towards Bewdley and then turning left onto Lickhill Road and driving all the way back past the Lombard Street junction and onwards to Lion Hill.

Why not say that though given that the second diversion starts with "U11500 Lickhill Road" and takes you back up to the B4195 and then back to the A451 at the Gilgal end.

Perhaps the Highways Agency are under the impression that Lombard Street is part of the B4195. Hardly reassuring.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Energy companies - just reading the script

A phone call from an energy provider (not ours)

Me: "Hello [company name]"
Girl: "Hello is that [company name]?"
"Yes it is how can I help you"
"This is [energy company] I'm contacting you with regard to energy usage by [company] at [unit]"
"Ah yes they'll be leaving at the end of the month"
"So are you going to take responsibility for the energy usage"
"Well we're the landlords"
"Yes I know you're the landlords, that's why we're calling you"
"Well yes we're the landlords what other choice do we have? Can we say no and not have to pay anything?"
"Yes you can; but then we'd disconnect you"
"So we don't really have a choice... okay I 'll suppose we'll have to work out a landlord's rate and only pay for electricity used"
"No you'd have to pay the standing charge too"
"No a landlord's rate where you pay a higher rate for electricity, but no standing charge"
"I don't know if we do that"
"That's okay I know [rival company] does we'll just switch to them"
"Well I don't know about rates that'd be the sales team; I'm from the [team] that's all I deal with"
"You don't think that given your sole job is to contact people in this situation that it might be worth finding out if you do a rate that only applies to the situation about which you are calling?"
"I don't do rates that'd be the sales team"

Marvellous. Seriously why is this person there; you could do this with an automated system... "Hi this is [energy company] calling you about [robotic voice - location] if this applies to you press 1 now...." and then pass on the details to the sales team.

Removing the paragraph mark from before an linked table object in Word

Another aide-mémoire. I needed to format two columns of a larger Excel spreadsheet in a way that Excel 2000 wouldn't easily accommodate, but Word 2000 would. To save on data processing I chose to Paste Special|HTML Format|Linked. That means if I edit the original spreadsheet the document changes.

I added my two columns and then formatted the page to landscape with four columns (so four columns each holding two columns of data). They didn't line up at the top. Showing the hidden characters there was a paragraph mark sitting at the top of my table pushing that column down by one 'row'.

I positioned the cursor before it and hit delete; nothing. I tried to select it and it selected the entire table. I tried setting the "Text wrapping" of the table, but as soon as I changed it it wouldn't adhere to the document columns and would disappear off the end of the table.

After much messing about the paragraph mark jumped down to join its comrade at the bottom. Great how did I do that?

By being insane.

Rather than select and reposition the table using the "Table properties" dialogue box; I grabbed the square selection icon top-left and then moved it slightly. This automatically sets the table to being "Around" rather than "None" in the dialogue box; I then set it back to "None".

Still not removable from the bottom, but at least everything aligns now.

So changing it in the actual dialogue box doesn't do it; but getting it to change itself does. Excellent!

[Update - Oh FFS as soon as you move the linked table; it converts to being an unlinked table]

[Update - It's possible to alter it using section breaks, but as soon as I save the linked spreadsheet Word removes the section break; seriously Word just deletes it. Any text entered before them remains, but is now bunched up in the first of the four columns rather than across the whole page]

Managing traffic lights

Imagine the situation - you're having to shut down one lane of a road. It doesn't see a lot of traffic, but it joins up with another at the point you're working at. In order to allow traffic to pass along it safely you need to make sure there'll be no traffic turning into it and so you place pair of traffic lights.

To ensure a smooth  flow of traffic the lights have sensors to detect traffic waiting so they can switch when needed; however being automated the possibility of error needs to be taken into account and so every so often they switch even if there is no traffic waiting.

Sadly the road you're not working on is very busy and even this short delay is causing tailbacks. It has therefore been decided that at peak times the sensors will be overridden by a manual control. Namely someone sitting in a van and pressing the button to change the lights.

The question is - how do you organise this?

Looking at this with a programmer's eye it seems simple. I can declare the busy road traffic to be an invariable - that is there will always be traffic on it; sure that won't always be the case, but in simplified terms it works. The road being worked on is a variable - there is sometimes traffic on it. The lights only need to switch when the variable changes i.e. when there's traffic waiting at the closed-down road.

Logically therefore I would place someone to monitor the variable; keep the busy road light at green and press the button when traffic appears at the closed-down road.

It seems, though, that I'm not privy to certain information. That must be the case as to why the Tesco contractors have set-up someone to sit at the busy road in a position where they cannot see the closed-down road's queue and to change the lights every so often even when nothing is coming out of the closed-down road. i.e. doing pretty much what the sensors would do.

Otherwise my conclusions is - they're pillocks.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Talisman 4th edition review

The Bratii (ages 15 and 10) were over Sunday and I pulled out a copy of the latest edition of the Talisman board game to give it a whirl with them.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The new Tesco traffic light system

It took a while thanks to the new planning portal not displaying links or giving names of documents (Hey 12+ documents all called "Additional Plans" easy to keep track of where you are), but I've finally found the document that seems to be the blueprint of the traffic light system going up in Mitton Street.

And here it is in all it's PDF'ed glory tucked away in the middle of application 08/1053

So not only the "Controlled Pedestrian Crossings" at the big splitter; but the "Controlled Traffic with Pedestrian Crossing Facilities" too. But take a look at the exit from Severn Road and note the dotted lines that indicate parking bays. For a major egress isn't that bay damn close to the splitter? Imagine one of the long buses trying to negotiate that. For double the fun imagine what would happen it there was a bus parked in each of the two bays.

Digging further the decision date is listed as being the 22nd October 2009, but this was decided at a special planning meeting held on the 6th August 2009 with the minutes being viewable here. What I found interesting in reading these minutes is in what isn't mentioned. Remember this is the only document I can find that shows these new pedestrian links.

Points 3 and 4 list the 106 agreements

Contribution to improve pedestrian linkage to the Town Centre utilising Lodge Road of £30,000
Except these linkages don't use Lodge Road, none of them do
Contribution of £50,000 to improve junctions along the route of the enhanced bus services and/or otherwise affected by traffic impact from the development which may include (but not be restricted to) the junction of York Street/Bridge Street/High Street/New Street
No mention of pedestrian work on these junctions simply 'improvements'. The closest we get is a mention is on page 11 under "Pedestrian Linkage/Connectivity to the Centre" where
A new pedestrian link between the residential development on the west bank of the Stour to the site, and the town centre beyond, is a clear benefit
Except are they talking about the supposed Lodge Road linkage rather than the Mitton Street one? Either way no mention is made of the impact to traffic this will have oh wait sorry -

and the provision of the new road link, which will improve traffic flows and conditions in the town
Well yes putting in a additional method to get across to town will help I won't argue that; except all the benefits will disappear as soon as the lights go in.

It's just a joke how this has been handled.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

A tale of one traffic light

Once upon a time there was a happy little traffic light and it was a good little traffic light - it would turn red and then a minute later it would turn green and then a minute later it would change back. The little traffic light enjoyed changing colour and knew it was doing an important job. But people didn't seem to like the little traffic light and would call it hurtful names. This made the little traffic light sad.

The little traffic light didn't know why people would say hurtful things about it, but we do don't we boys and girls. Because the little traffic light was set up at the end of Discovery Road on the Worcester Road and when it was red the traffic along this road would start to back up all the way to the island. And when the traffic got this far it would stop people using the island even those who didn't want to go in the direction of the little traffic light and then the traffic would back up all the way to Gilgal and the left-hand lane would become one big queue of traffic.

With the left-hand lane of Gilgal stopped this meant that traffic from Vale Road couldn't get into it; even that traffic who wanted to use the other lane and so traffic would back up Minster Road and also block the right-hand lane of Vale Road.

Oh dear with the right-hand lane of Vale Road blocked traffic from High Street can't get in and that stops all that traffic even the ones that want to use the other two lanes of Vale Road. And with the High Street blocked this stops traffic from Lombard Street, Lickhill Road and Bridge Street getting out. This queue goes all the way back to Bridge Street and then all the way back to Dunley Road.

And this is why people are saying nasty things about the little traffic light because that one minute delay has caused a two-mile tailback of traffic that takes over half an hour to move through.

But it's not really the little traffic light's fault it's the fault of the people who said it could be put there; because they really don't have a clue how it would affect traffic through this town.

So save your name-calling for them and don't blame the little traffic light.

The End

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Multiple copies on one A4 sheet in Microsoft Word

I'm printing some A6 A5 flyers off; just the one page and as it was mostly text it was done in Word. So you tell it to print and you select "4 per page" in the print dialogue box and you get a single page with one copy of the flyer sitting top-left. Okay let's try printing off four copies.

Four pages with a single flyer sitting top-left.

The trick is in being specific - in the page range section tell it that you want to print page 1 and page 1 and page 1 and page 1 by typing "1,1,1,1" without the quotes.

Okay now say you want 12 flyers how many copies do you print? Not 12 instead 3; you're printing 3 pages of the set (1,1,1,1). For 100 it'll be 100/4 or 25 of the set (1,1,1,1).

Logical, but potentially confusing if you approach it from the wrong point of view.

Adding insult to injury

With Mitton Street subjected to a two-way set of lights halting the flow of traffic from Worcester Road - BT have now set up a three way set of lights at the end of Discovery Road on the Worcester Road, luckily just for one day/night.

Half-an hour to drive 2.5 miles on Monday - 25 minutes to drive 13 miles on Tuesday via the other route. I shudder to think what it's going to be like tonight.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


I've not read any of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight novels; nor had I seen any of the films based upon them. Flitting around the internet sides were drawn up - those who thought they were awful and those who thought they were amazing.

A couple of weeks ago one of the terrestrial channels decided to show it and I stuck it on to record so I could form an opinion for myself.

Mitton Street traffic lights

As a taste of things to come the Tesco workcrew shutdown the exit lane from Severn Road yesterday. To allow traffic out along the 'wrong' lane Mitton Street traffic needed to be filtered and so a set of traffic lights were set up.

Of course only one traffic light was needed at each end as Mitton Street is still down to one lane from Worcester Road to Lion Hill despite the fact that they're still not doing anything to either the road or pavement that justifies such measures.

Therefore the flow of traffic from Worcester Road went something like this:

Traffic from Worcester Road can only turn left at the island when there is no traffic from Hartlebury Road.
When there is no traffic from Hartlebury Road traffic can only turn left when the traffic from Mitton Street has cleared.
The traffic from Mitton Street can only clear when there is no traffic from Gilgal.
When there is no traffic from Gilgal the Mitton Street traffic can only move when the lights are on green.

In other words turning left requires a rough conjunction of four events. Half an hour last night to drive one mile and these lights are set to become permanent.

Friday, March 02, 2012

HMRC's Payroll Software

Rather than pay a continuous subscription for a bit of software that will give me PAYE and Income Tax values this year I've been trying the HMRC's own bit of kit.It's not bad if not exactly streamlined.

However one tiny annoyance keeps bugging me - every time I start it pops up a notice that I should check that it's up-to-date and that the best way to do that is to have the software check automatically and I should click here to find out how to do that.

Except it's already set up to check for updates automatically; by default it's set up to do that. However I ran the special link that would check for updates and it found none. Just to check I headed to options; automatic update settings and then (despite it stating it had checked) hit the "check for updates now" button - no updates.

As one last check I hit the link that was provided to check for updates manually - the latest version is my version is... wait a sec, gotta find a screen that tells me...

So despite running the check for updates in three different ways - it didn't detect I needed an update or perform the correct task. As one last check I ran their own Diagnostic Tool; it finished and pushed me to this page.

Gives me so much confidence in the HMRC.

[Update - it gets better. The link tells me I need the July update to get up to version (which I already am) to ensure the data is transferred before I download the 2012 update. Except there is no update just the full version which installs in its own directory separate to the  version I've got and then (smoothly I'll admit) allows me to click to import the databases. So now I've two versions of the software installed along with two sets of start menu icons]

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Nokia C6-01 lost outdoor profile

A colleague brought me their phone (a Nokia C6-01) and stated they had a problem with it and perhaps I could assist. After an update they'd found they'd lost one of the profiles one labelled Outdoor that increased the ring volume automatically.

I checked the menu system quickly and found no such profile; I checked online and found no-one else complaining - so I headed to Nokia's own site and started digging.

If you try searching with the right parameters something interesting occurs. My first discovery was the South African web page that didn't list an Outdoor profile; however Google had it found with that search term? Pulling up their cached version gave me the reason why. The top version is cached, the bottom current:

It gets better - I located the current version of the manual at v3.0 and then a previous one at v2.0; changes in layout mean profiles appear on page 30 of the new version and page 32 of the old. As on the web page "Change your profile for meetings or outdoor use" has dropped the outdoor part in the newer version.

So Nokia have removed a profile as part of the system update and then removed every reference to it in the new guides without telling anyone. I wonder how many people are scratching their heads and insisting that it used to be there?