Monday, March 31, 2008

Computers - Lying Liars

Onto the internet to check some stuff and no connection. Hmmm, the networked computer with the USB modem is saying everything is fine and can connect. So computer can see 'server', but can't see the 'net; 'server' can see both the net and the computer. I look at the server internet connection - "Connected, Shared" fine. I check the computer, reset its address, get a violation; force the issue and I can see the 'server', not the internet. I clean things down a bit, still the same. I head back to the 'server' check the firewalls again and finally decide to run the network sharing wizard to recreate a network sharing disc in case something's got screwy. 'Hey' says the computer 'do you want to share this broadband connection' uh you mean the one you're telling me is already shared? 'Yep that one' oookay tum-tu-tum and hey look the computer can now see the internet through the 'server'.

It is at this point that I recall that we switched broadband providers and instead of creating a new connection I'd just reused and renamed the old one and this was the first time it had reconnected since then. So somehow the 'server' still thought it was shared and was reporting it as shared, but just wasn't sharing it. That was fun.

Also got a shiny repaired Vista laptop that had been shutting itself down after a power cut, turned out to be dust filled fans I think someone's been taking those wireless ads seriously and been using it down on the beach :-) The owner's away so I've picked up a .ts viewer so I'm going to a) see if I can wipe down my PVR and b) transfer a programme he missed and see if it plays.

Brain numbing

A little discombobulated at the moment in an attempt to free up space on my PVR. All 8 episodes of "Ashes to Ashes", which was quite fun; 3 episodes of "Torchwood", which was okay; 3 episodes of "Bionic Women", which was meh; A "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles", a series I'm enjoying; the stop-motion version of "Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf" which I also enjoyed; "The Hidden Story of Jesus", a two-hour programme containing about 15 minutes worth of information I didn't already know; an Horizon episode about drugs, which was quite boring; and a Panorama about child-vice, which didn't really address any issues other then 'more must be done'.

As a brief respite, and in an attempt to get a bunch of 80s songs out of my head, I ripped through Diana Wynne Jones' "Deep Secret" some may know her name from the animated adaptation of "Howl's Moving Castle" those of a certain age may also recall the BBC adaptation of "Archer's Goon". If there was any justice we should all be saying "Harry who?", but other then some recurring characters she does one-offs and the one true series "Dalemark" uses Scandinavian type names and is hardly easy child's fare. so everyone pat Rowling on the back for 'inventing' the genre.

I also managed to have a quick look at some cars. The Hyundai Amica has been discontinued, not a pity as sitting in the showroom model and flicking through the gears I twice failed to switch into second. In the same spirit of testing I then found that I needed to hop up to get into the rear seats then sit like a turtle; no way in hell that's acceptable for the passengers I carry. Moving onto the i10 I sat in the highest grade "Style" model and promptly found I was hitting the right-side of my head on the sunroof sill; fortunately the two lower in the range don't feature a sun-roof. Controls were dials rather then sliders, which I prefer, and I could see the dashboard from my position; sounds stupid, but you'd be surprised how often the steering wheel gets in the way. I could fit into the rear seats without too much discomfort, but that came at a premium of boot space - not much (In retrospect I'm being unfair here, especially looking at other cars, the boot space will do fine).

Another couple of showrooms and nothing small.

I was a bit miffed, I was doubly miffed as I'd got a 20% this-week-only WHSmiths voucher and found that the remaining three of four books I wanted to buy had gone and they had nothing else I was prepared to spend money on. Miff reduced slightly when I used a £10-off voucher for Staples that was about to expire to get some ink cartridges and got a free 1GB stick - a freebie to Dad to back his files up on so he can retire that 3½" Floppy disc (I know, but he knows how that works)

Resorted back online to find cars, amazing how many hoops the manufacturers want you to jump through just to get hold of the technical specs of the cars. Nissan Micra 3719x1660; Kia Picanto 3535x1595 a definite possibility if it wasn't for the even smaller boot - 157 litres (i10 - 258). The Citroen C1 looks nice, if it wasn't 1630 wide, but the boot space is 199 litres so wider and less capacity then the i10 - nice. Fiat Panda 3538x1578, but it's back in Band C at 135g/km and it's £500 more. The Ford Fiesta is just under 4m long, seems to come with the same options as the i10 but costs £2k more. You'd think the Mini was small, but the Mini One is 3699*1407 so it's longer, but narrower and £3k more and still in Band C at 128g/km and it's group 5 insurance!

As someone said to me you wouldn't think it difficult to find a small cheapish 4-5 seater car, but nope they've all got bigger on the outside and smaller on the inside.

[sigh] Still taken by the i10, I'll try to organise a test drive in the Comfort model see how she handles and more importantly if I can get out when she's parked in my garage gods £7k when my Matiz was £3k. Still, group 2 insurance and band B tax.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Roadworks Saga

"Oy" said over the road "Mr Traffic information Advisor, how long are these bloody road works going on for?"
"31st" I replied
"I called up Wyre Forest and they said the 7th of April"
"There might be some work still going on, but the traffic light application was until the 31st"
"I get half-an-hour lunch and need to get back home to let the dogs out, it's taking me 15 minutes each way"
continued conversation and I head to a computer to check.

Junc Worcester Road Hartlebury Road Stourport on Severn 25/03/08 07/04/08
Hartlebury Road Junction A4025 Worcester Road Stourport on Severn Severn Trent Water Temporary Lights 25/03/08 07/04/08
New files, new dates. Except without the original files, which I didn't keep, I can't prove anything.

"There was no advance notice of roadworks posted and Wyre Forest told me it was listed on a notice board at the Civic Centre - yeah like I've got time to go down there"
"It is online; if you know the address" I stated
"Yeah and seeing as the dates have changed little point of looking at that either."

The kids are still on holiday, some of them start again next week resulting in twice as much traffic in the mornings... oh joy!

Income Tax 2008

Well there I was saying how I couldn't be bothered working out the effects of the Budget and then I just go and create a simple spreadsheet to plot the basic changes in Income Tax.
From £6,000 to £200,000 a year this is the percentage change in the amount of base income tax from 2007/8 to 2008/9.

[I'll put me teeth in and explain that a little better, this is the percentage difference between gross pay minus income tax from last year to this year]

That's with no benefits, under 65, single, etc. just the base rate. So anyone earning under £16,500 a year will be losing money. ASHE puts the 2007 median pay at £19,943 that's 50% of the population on either side of that figure.

Breaking that down further into percentages we reach £16,797 at 40%. This means that in pure income tax terms the bottom 40% of this country will be handing more money over to the government; it gets better.

Taking the values for each of the percentage breakdowns values ranging from £6,192 through to £42,902 1 person per section earning the amount given gives a loss of £1,336.76.

Okay perhaps a little unfair as I'm included part-timers so I'll turn to full-time only.

Median pay: £24,002, 25% at £17,040 so only around 25% of full-timers are losing out. Loss to the government £1,903.06.

Either way you look at it in pure income tax terms the people at the bottom are going to be earning less and the people at the top more. Make of that what you will.

All quiet

Just in case you've been wondering why I've not been as vocal recently it's been a down week. I'm hunting through various specifications trying to find a car that's the right size to fit in my garage and that I can get out of without becoming two-dimensional. So far the smallest one is just under four inches wider then my current car, with seven inches of play on the nearside; that sounds fine until I take into account the door frame which is about three inches wide. Still looking for a four-door as the two-door models seem to have longer doors (decreases the angle for me to get out), I've given up on an automatic as the ones I've looked at oddly enough have higher emissions then their manual counterparts as well as being more expensive.

Friends keep suggesting things like the Hyundai Getz which is 12 inches longer and 8 inches wider or the Ford Ka which, other then being two-door, is just under 5 inches longer and just under 6 inches wider. The Toyota Aygo would be nice being 4 inches shorter, but it's 5 inches wider. So far the Hyundai i10 is the best match being only just under 3 inches longer and just under 4 inches wider. Any suggestions gratefully received.

[Duh my current specs might help - length: 3495mm width: 1495mm]

At the same time I've been playing catch-up on recorded TV in an effort to wipe my hard-drive. Ever since the latest update it's become damn sluggish on switching PnP when left on for more then 10 minutes, as I have a tendency to flick between news programmes it's getting annoying; I don't know if it's the update, the drive being quite full, or a corruption in the files themselves. Either way I want to clear it down and give it a format. The good news is I'm borrowing a laptop with enough capacity to hold a good chunk of the files, the bad news is last time I tried it the file copied over was unreadable by Windows despite all the forums saying it should just play. Yeah suggests some corruption, but they play back on the box itself fine - hence the prolonged catching up.

I've already mentioned the lights on the OGL island, amusingly although screwing up Gilgal and Hartlebury it's actually aiding the traffic from Worcester Road when for a minute they get right-of-way on the island. Oh and yes I'm still annoyed at the stop and shuffle of some road users.

Pothole-wise they've patched a couple next to Cook's in Wychavon, the tears in York Street I mentioned ages ago are becoming full-blown holes, and the many-patched strip from Areley Common to Dunley Road is disintegrating

Oh and I got a IHC leaflet, well to be precise I was handed one in town last weekend. I didn't mention it as it was just like the Conservative advert just spread over more pages - general 'we want to do this' and 'we've done that' stuff.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Video Game ratings

And so up pops Dr Tanya Bryon with her 'won't someone please think of the children' report on video games. The reported conclusions - A new set of ratings, more public awareness on games, and consistent guidance for the industry on advertising. Wow how um pointless.

I agree in getting consistency in advertising, feel free to apply the same standards to the BBFC while you're at it. Likewise I'm fine with raising public awareness it's a good intent which will have about the same degree of success as with film classification - i.e. bugger all. The real meat of the argument lies with the shake-up in ratings, let's look at that.

Firstly it's acknowledged that games of a certain nature are already submitted to the BBFC for rating; other games already submit themselves to the voluntary PEGI system. The problem may be that PEGI rate a game at 16+ while the BBFC look at it as an 18 and as quoting from the BBC

Dr Byron has said games should have just one set of symbols on the front of all boxes which are the same as those for films.
Yep just like this one. Oh wait that has two ratings on it one in red and one in blue; sure they're the same age, but then again can anyone point to a game that has two different ratings? In fact browsing through them I can't find a single game that features even two ratings from different boards on their front cover it's either PEGI or BBFC.

Is that the problem? Are parents seeing a game with a BBFC rating of 18 and then another with a PEGI rating of 16+ and wondering which is suitable for their 12-year old child to play (answer - neither)? What confusion can possibly arise from a system that has a larger set of age ratings compared to the other? Can my 12-year old watch/play an item listed as BBFC PG on their own, well if it's labelled PEGI 7+ I'd say the answer was yes otherwise who knows?

Oh wait she means having the same set of symbols, hmm yes because these are so difficult to understand whereas the BBFC system is easy; everyone knows the difference between a Uc and a U and a PG, 12A and a 12 rating. Simplicity itself.

What's even stupider about this recommendation is that the PE in PEGI stands for Pan European whereas the B in BBFC stands for British, so these ratings will only apply in Britain anyway, the game industry will still be submitting their wares to PEGI, but now will also have to submit them to the BBFC for them to be sold here.

Of course some might say that the PEGI system has no legal force in this country. The whole system is voluntary yet the industry still uses it, because they're not stupid; likewise the retailers aren't stupid and usually refuse to sell a PEGI 12+ to a 7 year old. Will giving it a legal standing prevent minors getting their hands on such items? About as much as it already does with films, cigarettes and alcohol, they'll just get someone else to buy it. So the question to ask is - what's the point?

None - it's bandwagon jumping, tabloid pandering; the simple fact that we've had this six-month review and the majority of it comes down to 'educating parents' shows that the system in place already works. PEGI works and the only good thing that might come out of this is the removal of video games from the purview of the BBFC, but expect the reverse because it'll just turn into a power struggle and it's just so much easier to hand everything over to the BBFC then legally enforce a 'foreign' system.

We'll just get more censorship and more inconsistent rulings from our Moral Guardians.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A bit about Iraq or not.

Still being discussed on GMTV this morning, and they even had the Foreign Secretary William Hague on; that is until Ben demoted him correctly to Shadow Foreign Secretary. Well Fiona was whittering on in a voiceover about James Blunt before getting to the unimportant matter of Iraq. As I've mentioned I wonder at times why she's still employed, you'd think she was sleeping with the boss or something... oh wait she is.

Anyway Hague was monotoning about economic stability in Iraq and what could be done, lessons learned from Afghanistan or possibly the other way around (look I was doing my best to stay awake here). Hmm so let's see well Afghanistan's stable I hear they've a bumper poppy crop to process into illegal drugs and sell abroad. Could be a good trade for Iraq, poppies grow almost anywhere so it saves highly cultivating those areas we bombed to rubble.

Hah silly me we all know growing poppies for such use is illegal that's why the Afghan government, as pressured by the USA, is cracking down 'suggesting' that it's really quite simple - the Afghan farmers should grow something else. Now they've not enough land to grow food to sustain themselves plus family so they need to grow something to sell in order to buy the food in, basically a cash crop; something that's will grow on their land and be worth enough money to buy food etc., something like... poppies. No not poppies um... something else. Yep it's about that well thought out.

The obvious solution is that these farmers should retrain, sell the farms to property developers and move to the city to work as tele-sales operatives or computer programmers. Hey I'm not joking those are the types of suggestions that appear when we in the UK lose yet another manufacturing industry. All those workers who've spent twenty years welding cars together should get a degree in computer science and re-enter the job market. Because as we all know a forty-something with a shiny new degree and who helps support a family is the equivalent of a twenty something with a shiny new degree and no dependants when it comes down to getting a new job; don't we?

A nice welcome back

Family stuff over the bank holiday weekend, which pretty much killed any ability to do stuff. Not saying it wasn't fun just you can't do anything that you want to do, sounds selfish but I have a dislike of guilt-tripping participation in events ;-)

So back to work and oh joy a queue. Hmm so we've discovered what it would be like if they set up traffic lights at the OGL island - painful. Okay to be fair it is a set of fixed-time lights with no sensors and a lane being closed, so you can't compare. Needed to have a look at the list of works to find out what was going on and according to that it's good old Severn Trent Water with work scheduled until the 31st of this month -whoopee a whole week of this. At least they've got a decent inter-red time to let the traffic clear up to Mitton Street though.

Now depending on exactly what they're doing what are the odds that someone will take advantage and properly resurface that nasty bit of road on the exit? Nah I doubt it.

Of course we achieve one of my queuing pet hates, no not the car that leaves a three-car gap between it and the vehicle in front when you're trying to join the end of the queue from a junction; instead we had the 'why are we moving?' situation. We've moved forward and the car at the front of the queue has stopped. Everyone shuffles along and stops. Now I can see the car at the front of the queue it's halted, it is stationary, it moveth not; so why do we all now shuffle forward a yard and stop, then shuffle forward another yard and stop? What's altered? No-body's left the queue, the car at the head of it hasn't shifted, a non-existent set of traffic lights in the middle of the queue hasn't changed to green, so why are we moving?

Seriously people just move forward to a safe point behind the vehicle in front of you and stop until that vehicle moves again, how difficult is that to manage?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It depends on your definition of anyone

The boy wonder Milliband popped up on GMTV to spout off about 5 years in Iraq and one of his pearls of wisdom struck me when he complained that the problems arose because the war was too easy and that the peace was harder then anyone had thought.

To me this exemplifies the way our government thinks. Prior to the war we essentially had two groups; one who said we'll wrap the war up in a few months, institute democracy to the cheering crowds and then leave; the other group said you'll be there for years fighting and then be there for even longer dealing with the 'peace'.

As events have shown the second group was wrong; the war itself went through quite quickly. So following the mindset that no-one who was right about the length of the war predicting the extent of time spent on the 'peace', we can state that therefore nobody predicted it would last this long.

More succinctly - the people who agreed with us didn't think it would last this long and everyone else doesn't count.

Apply that attitude at every decision made by the government and suddenly so much makes more sense.

How the mind doth work

For lengthy reasons I won't go into I ended up trying to get to sleep last night with multiple songs playing through my mind. Songs skipping from one to another - Gloria gloria in excelsis deo; semper crescis, aut decresis, vita detestablis; all the lonely people where do they all come from?; I see a red door and I want to paint it black; losing my religion; I don't need no good advice; mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; let it shine; quo plus habent, eo plus cupiunt; and the rain came down; I am the son and the heir.

Well you get the picture, anyway somehow I skipped to the Boogie Pimps, and stalled; I couldn't remember it. I tried to pull the video and match lyrics, but kept seguing into other songs. All I desire; can't stop the beat; I'm a different person yeah, turn my world around. Very frustrating and at some point my brain finally switched off and I got some sleep.

I woke up trying to snatch the contents of a dream - something about a guard/bounty hunter perusing a book about postal voting and both he and someone else ending up unconscious and lashed to a stricken plane by their prisoner and the rest of the group wondering how the hell that had happened in the short time they were away; at which point I started to sing Don't you want somebody to love, don't you need somebody to love.

What a piece of work is man :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


For rally drivers using Mitton Street to get to town at the moment.

Start. Straight, Keep right 30, short right 90, keep right5, switch left, keep left 5, switch right, keep right 5, short left 90.

Not to worry I'm sure whatever Severn Trent Water are doing at the moment will need to be redone again later when the road is narrowed down.

We're sooo sorry

And so the Daily Express had published a front-page apology to the McCanns for some of the things they printed, what interested me was the wording which to my mind suggests that the cause was really something like this:

In a down town office in Fleet Street a lowly intern works his way through the backlog of newspapers until

Intern: Oh my; chief!
Chief: What's all the yelling for?
Intern: I've found a story we've published last year that wasn't true.
Chief: That can't be [looks at paper] well I'll be.
Intern: What can we do?
Chief: There's only one thing we can do
[both glance over to big red phone covered by a cheese dish]

Meanwhile in stately Desmond Manor millionaire Richard is educating his young ward Peter in the finer arts of Etruscan architecture when the newsphone rings

Richard (aka The Publisher): Yes chief?
Chief: Publisher we have a problem
Publisher: We'll be right there [puts phone down] quick Editor to the newscar.

[blast of fire and a spinning newspaper and our Dynamite Duo are at Fleet Street]

Publisher: What's the problem chief?
Chief: Well Publisher this fine young intern has brought this to my attention [holds up paper] a front page story with no facts to support it.
Editor: Holy False Headlines.
Chief: The question is what do we do?
Editor: Can't we just pretend it never happened? It was a whole year ago.
Publisher: Shame on you old chum, we're the last guardians of truth, bastions of morality; to leave this story uncorrected we are deceiving the honest readers who have bought this paper out of their hard-earned wages and who rely on us to educate and inform them.
Editor: Gee sorry Publisher I just wasn't thinking.
Publisher: No there's only one solution to this - a front page apology and as soon as possible.
Chief: Now why didn't I think of that - Publisher you've done it again.
Publisher: Just doing what any honest publisher would do chief.

Of course no mention of the fact that the McCanns were thinking of starting libel proceedings. As someone said "Do you think they'd have published an apology if they thought they had any chance of winning a court case?"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stourport road update

The two big holes that got missed out of the repair round last time have been filled (although new ones have sprung up in the opposite lane to the ones they previously fixed), as has one on the Bridge Street/High Street island, and the left hand lane leading from High Street to Vale Road.

I'll check on the one in lane 1 of Vale Road itself at some point, the square in lane 3 Vale Road next to the caravan sales is still depressed enough to jolt you if you go over it at any speed above 20mph unless you cut to the left or right. The multiple-repaired hole on the Stour bridge is so far holding steady at a slight sharp edged depression, but the lane opposite it leading into Stourport is starting to break up, as is the bottom half of the road in York Street. The exit onto Worcester Road is in the same state it's been for a while i.e. horrendous, but I'll acknowledge it's been difficult with the building going on around it.

With that in mind the parts they've dug up for the building work are not level with the rest of the road so we have a sharp edged depression running along both lanes. Further along coming into Stourport in Wychaven's territory I note a foot long crack leading from one of the drains.

Mitton Street's a little odd at the moment with the left hand lane coned off just before Stour Lane, to force you into the other lane so you avoid the hidden set of roadworks around the corner, people being people here of course they drive around the cones and get back into lane before grinding to a halt. Don't know what they're doing but someone was also moving barricades up near the top too.

Oh and the river's up enough to overflow the Engine Basin, though that's hardly news as that seems to be happening at least once a week now.

And the banks came tumbling after.

So first National Rock and now Bear Stearns. I tuned in to the ITV national news at 6pm to learn more about what some reports are stating could be the worst since World War II. Of course first I had to sit through the much more important stories of the Mills-McCartney divorce and Shannon's family celebrations. Then good old ITV boiled it down to 'bank collapse, shares falling, don't panic' while showing us the trading boards lighting up in red.

So what's going on? Well I've already discussed the sub-prime events and this is yet more backwash from that. Basically the sub-prime crash hit Bear Stearns' hedge funds (no don't bother asking what a hedge fund is) pretty much making them valueless. All the other institutions who have been stockpiling money (because they know even nastier is to come) got antsy and called in their markers; that is every lender and every marker - at the same time. Unsurprisingly this fouled things up to the point where the Federal Reserve stepped in along with JP Morgan Chase to take it over.

This in turn created worry over the liquidity of other banks so investors ditched their shares in droves to sink their money into something more stable, which is why as a result gold prices risen. Ironically banks and other financial institutions that would have been fine have now had their share price reduced meaning they might not be as stable as they would have been if everyone hadn't panicked.

Over here the Bank of England has loaned out £5bn to the banking sector in order to stabilise the market and to encourage lending once again. Except, as I've mentioned, the banks are building up a cash reserve and these loans are most likely destined to sit in this cushion and not be loaned out in return.

So all in all the banks still don't want to lend out money, are still quick to pounce on weakness in a desperate bid to get something out of any upcoming fall, and all that without us even hitting the big problems that are looming on the horizon.

But hey £24m for Heather Mills and £35k a year for their kid that's the important thing to focus on.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Publication corrections

Popping into my local WH Smiths I noted the snazzy new Guinness Book of Records Gamers Edition 2008. Attention snagged I couldn't resist flicking through it; it looked vaguely interesting, but then the page turned to a double page spread on Jak and Daxter of Playstation fame.

A quick read stated that the game was credited as being the first to realise a 3D environment with no loading screens. At which point I shut the book and put it back. See J&D was released on Dec 2001 for the Playstation 2, but Legacy of Kain a game that featured a 3D environment with no loading screens was released Aug 1999.

In fact Soul Reaver featured two environments as you could switch seamlessly between the material realm and the spirit realm, which would visibly alter and morph the environment around you. It also featured gates that allowed you to seamlessly walk between one location and another. Oh and I forgot to mention that this outstanding example of how all videogames should be by now managed to be crammed onto the now-puny hardware of the Playstation 1.

Playstation 3 games overview.

What are the Playstation 3 games like at the moment? The short answer is - still not good enough.

The troubles appear to lie in multi-format games and the fact the XBox can still be deemed the better console to work with. While this leads to things like the vertical tearing I mentioned in TimeShift or the occasional slideshow frame rate of The Orange Box sometimes the quality of a product can be seen in the little things that you don't even realise are there.

The Playstation 3 has a number of nifty little widgets that an owner might not even see, pop in a disc and not have it autoplay and it should change the background wallpaper and even play some appropriate music, the same goes for the cache data the game might save to the hard drive and even the savegame files.

Let's start with Resistance: Fall of Man a PS3 only title, it change the wallpaper... and that's it, not impressed.
Same goes for Ratchet and Clank from the same studio.
TimeShift also changes the wallpaper, but also plays some music. Well some might call it music it's a short weapon tone that's very badly looped and all the save files are just title screen icons.
The Orange Box is better, wallpaper change and the theme music from Episode 2 which I could just listen to by itself. The cache data does the same thing, the save files have a in-game snapshot of when it was saved except for the quick-saves, which features only the Half-Life lamda symbol. Now if I mention that QuickSaves are a PS3 only feature of this multi-console game...
Onto the best - Heavenly Sword another PS3 only title and it does things in style, background change, title music, and a video icon playing the trailer for the game on both disc and cache data.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and The Simpsons Game reveal their real roots in that they use no cached data at all with everything being streamed off the disc. Now considering the XBox360 houses a 12x DVD player meaning you get a 132 Mbit/s throughput whereas Sony have a 2x Blu-ray player with a 76 Mbit/s throughput; this means data access and thus loading is slower. This seems odd when you consider the default hard-drive in the PS3 has a 336 Mbit/s throughput.

So why not use the hard-drive? Because the game was designed to run on consoles that don't have one and the programmers obviously couldn't be bothered to change it.

And that's the state of play at the moment, the games just aren't using the full capacity of the PS3 compared to the XBox360. This may have to do with the programming environment, but can also be laid at the feet that the PS3 is simply younger then it's competitor.

However this might be changing with the forthcoming release of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which is tempting even me a person who hates race games.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Car watching

If you've been paying attention, and you should be as they'll be an exam after, you'll know my car broke down on Tuesday night. Now it's happened before and I've talked about it with friends, but when mentioning a key-point here it reminded me of some of the events around me.

The key-point in question was that so far I've been lucky enough to break-down in areas that I can either pull-in off the road or at the least get out of the majority of the lane to let traffic past. What I was going to follow the comment with was 'despite the people around me'.

So I'm parked just behind the marked-out bus-stop in a parking space, behind me are the disabled bays. It's a two-lane one-way road with a pedestrian crossing just the other side of the bus-stop then a stupid little island.

Car-watching -

There are three cars already parked in the other lane opposite the bus-stop.

A tall car parks behind me in the disabled section, two guys get out and saunter across the road and up right into High Street

A car swerves onto the bus-stop in front of me and stops abruptly, waits then accelerates sharply into the other lane and off right into High Street.

A long bus pulls in and I hold my breath as it angles in past me and the cars opposite.

Car pulls in in front of the ones in the opposite lane over the zigzag markings of the pedestrian crossing.

Guys come back and leave in the car behind me.

Car comes in and parks behind all the other in the other lane directly opposite me.

Really hold my breath as another long bus angles past me. He couldn't swing out or swing in so he's angled and none of the other cars can get past. passengers get on and off and he then drives off.

Low van pulls in behind me, guy gets out with what looks like a toolkit and vanishes up High Street.

Range Rover type car tries to parallel park between two of the cars in the other lane against the flow of traffic, the parked car behind that point now tries to pull out past him into traffic.

A car pulls in front of the bus stop over the zig-zags and stops... hazard lights go on... then off.

Long bus tries to pull in, again sticks out at an angle because he can neither swing around nor pull forward... leaves.

Passenger alights from parked car and heads left down Bridge Street, car pulls off into High Street.

Car directly opposite me leaves

Another car moves into the space before it

I notice how damn dark it is up the left-side of York Street

I start to go mad as the wind causes the two hanging signs to creak just out of sync with each other.

I wonder how it is that I can't find a radio station that's playing any music I like, and how come the same new song from Duffy gets repeated over three different stations.

Okay, other then how my dumb memory works, the point was there's an entire car-park down New Street opposite where I'm parked, High Street has an entire length of car-bays, and for most of it's length the road I'm parked in has a set of car-bays and the bottom end of it on the opposite side was pretty much clear. And yet everyone was still jostling for position in an area they shouldn't really be parked in just because it's closer to the takeaways.

Oh and yay I've just got my car back with a new clutch cable and a lubricated release arm, which sounds kind of kinky.

The Budget

You might (or might not) be surprised I haven't mentioned The Budget, to be blunt it's because I knew what the result was going to be before it even started - I'm going to have less money. Sure it's all what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts, but those are tiny swings and massive roundabouts.

The simple point is that the government needs more money as things cost more, except... except why is that?

It sounds a daft question, but hey I like daft questions especially when the default answer currently seems to be "because" so let's get to it.

Firstly are prices going up? Well it depends on what the government spending money on? The price of land is going up, if the government is buying it for roads or other developments; that's simple supply and demand. The price of goods is going up, but why. And wages are going up, because the cost of living is rising; but why is the cost of living rising?

I've dealt with land elsewhere to summarise we have a finite amount of land and essentially an infinite demand; oddly enough costs go up, but it's not helped by the governments insistence that they never fall.

The price of goods and cost of living have some overlap. Utilities are charging us more either as a direct result of fuel, or for maintenance, or both. Given the state that most utility infrastructures were left in this isn't surprising. Fuel is costing us more, other goods are costing us more. We need more money to pay for this so wages need to increase in line.

As the government also needs to pay for services and wages it makes perfect sense that they too require more money except...

Well income tax is a percentage so is VAT, so if wages increase and the cost of goods increases then so does the amount in tax received. But why is the cost of goods increasing, we expect prices to fall as the processes get more efficient. Unless the goods themselves are becoming scarce what would drive up their cost? Well the stores are having to pay higher wages for people to buy the goods that are increasing in cost because the stores are having to pay higher wages because... That's a circle, but still it requires something to kick-start it off.

Well fuel prices are increasing and goods need to be transported, so that's costing more. The fuel price has nothing to do with the government except for the fixed fuel duty and VAT on top of it... ah.

Also rate bills have increased, because the local councils need more money because costs are rising... and we're back into another circle aren't we.

So except for the property price increases, the raw cost of fuel, and repairing a neglected infrastructure; it kind of looks to me that the reason that the government needs more money is because the government keeps taking more money off us in various different ways.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Men are from Earth, and so are women

It seems a simple question "Do you want a lift this morning?", but little do most people know that this is a dive into the mindset of the stereotypical man and women.

Q. Do you want a lift this morning?

Female Answer: Well I am running out of [X] it might last to [day] when I do the main shop, but I'm not sure. Then again [Y] is coming over, she's just [Z], so I'd have to make sure I'm back in time. I'd better not risk it.

Male Answer: [pause] No thanks.

The important point is that both answers are correct while at the same time being completely incorrect; it all depends on the sex of the questioner. If they're the same sex - no problem; otherwise - wrong followed by tension.

So as a public service here's how to stop the tension arising.

Tips to women when being asked a question by men:

Think of men as simple creatures, a bit like dumb dogs, when they ask you a question all they want is the answer. They're not interested in the reasons behind your answer, just the answer itself. This isn't to say they don't care or aren't listening, they are; it's just they're parsing your response for the answer to the question and everything else is discarded. So with that in mind here are some things to consider:

  1. Telling a man about X, or Y's problem with Z during the response to a question is not the same as informing them about X, Y or Z. Do not be frustrated/surprised when the man in question expresses no knowledge about these events at a later point in time.
  2. If at any point during your response you give a definite answer do not be frustrated/surprised if the man interrupts you. As far as he is concerned the question has been answered and no further discussion required.
  3. If at the conclusion of your response you have not given a definite answer or you have done so in a way that can be interpreted in multiple ways, do not be frustrated/surprised if the next thing you hear is "So is that a yes or a no?"
Therefore to please a man - keep your answers short and definite.

Tips to men when being asked a question by women:

Think of women as chatty social creatures who will happily use ten words when only one will do. It is important to remember that any time they ask a question it isn't solely about what they ask, it is instead an invitation for social interaction. So with that in mind here are some things to consider:
  1. If you respond with a simple definite answer do not be frustrated/surprised if the if the next thing you hear is "Why?".
  2. If your answer is slightly longer do not be frustrated/surprised if you are interrupted with other questions or statements regarding your response.
  3. It is important to note that anything you say will be remembered. If you cannot do something because of X and later mentioned you did Y instead expect questions to follow.
Therefore to please a women - give reasons for your answers, if these reasons change and at some point you are discussing this form your conversation in the manner "Well I was supposed to do X but [reason] so we ended up doing [Y]."


Tension may arise when a conversation does not follow the pattern expected by the participants, hopefully these guidelines will help explain and remove any frustrations that may be caused by some inter-sex conversations :-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Driving back from work heading down York Street and attempted to change gears - crunk and thunk. Yep my clutch cable has gone again. The AA were delayed so I managed to cadge a lift home and got them to pick me up from there. He was surprised it had gone once let alone twice and suggested it might be the 'pivot on the release arm'. Translating that into something I can understand I'm thinking it's like a stiff hinge on a door, opening and closing the door puts stress on the door or the frame until it's pulled out entirely.

So I'm driving on a temporary cable until Friday when a new one is coming in. That means I'm being a little more careful about changing up and down and trying to limit when I do - in Stourport! Hahahahaha that's called not driving anywhere.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No new restaurant in Stourport?

From the Shuttle we get a story that an application for a new restaurant in Stourport has been recommended for refusal.

The sharp eyed among you may have noticed that it is the same application I took a photo of here and postulated that it was in readiness for the new Basin Link.

So why has it been recommended for refusal - because it would

"jeopardise the longer term comprehensive redevelopment of the area".
What? The entire point of the Basin Link as stated in the design brief was to have cafes etc. along it. the only reason this should fail is if they want to put the Link through the building. So what's going on?

I pledge allegiance to the Queen

So along with citizenship lessons the government now expecting teens to recite a pledge of allegiance. Well actually they don't, they're looking at some official-type ceremony to mark the transition to becoming a citizen and a pledge was mooted as part of that.

The first problem I have is the ceremony bit, it you're born in this country you're automatically a citizen of it and as such you already have a yearly celebration which is referred to as a 'birthday'. So what's it all really in aid of? Well if you listen to the government its an attempt to join people together in a common bond via a shared national identity, to my mind it's a subtle attempt to remind us all we're subjects of Her Majesty and therefore Parliament; basically a 'you work for us' creed.

Let's be blunt we've never had a general pledge of allegiance because, like so many things in this country, we don't need one. Pledges were personal things made to a chieftain, a king, a god, or a spouse; they meant something. By pledging to a person you give up certain freedoms with only the possibility of gaining some reward.

That's how our system of government works. It has never been about having to assert the rights you have, but the prohibition of action - if nothing says you can't do it, then you can.

So what's changed? Well it's easy to blame immigration and migrants bringing in 'foreign' ideas and demanding the right to educate their children in their religious/social manner; except read that previous paragraph again - do we have any laws that are stopping this from happening? No so no 'rights' are being demanded they already exist. It's possible to complain that by cutting themselves off foreigners are creating their own ghettos with their own language and customs; at which I'll point out the Yorkshire accent and chasing a cheesewheel down a hill.

So we can't blame immigration, but we still need to find out what's changed. Perhaps it's the advent of mass transportation, we can all work further away from our home bringing together a bunch of people from various areas who only interact within certain times and parameters. Much has been made of people who don't know their neighbours, with talk about bringing back shared spaces etc.; except this doesn't hold up either. Unless you're going to a paid school then your kids play with other local kids and parents are drawn into that social grouping with other parents. Unless you constantly shop out of your local area you'll be bumping into familiar faces and interacting with the same people in stores. Social interaction still exists.

How about education, do we teach out children where they've come from as a nation and how the things that happened have altered our country? Well we might teach them this type of thing at an early age, but what meaning does it have for them? What interactions do they have with authority, from their point of view they're free so explaining why they're free is meaningless; freedom is the natural state of being and doesn't require explanation. So perhaps mandatory history lessons throughout the educationary period are an answer, with emphasis how the past has shaped the future? It might help except apparently schools are already turning out innumerate illiterates and that's with compulsory lessons.

So what's changed? How about politics? We're all being told about exercising our democratic rights while at the same time being slowly shunted out of politics by lack of knowledge of procedure, rules, and regulations. I've mentioned this before as it stands if my local politician (at any level) does something contrary to the wishes of their constituents there's nothing we can do about it for five years. Now while it can be argued this gives them leniency over band-wagon jumping and tabloid pleasing to contemplate the longer-term, current events seem to suggest otherwise. With our government acting increasingly subservient to a European Parliament we have even less connection with, perhaps a sense of apathy is understandable. Except can that be blamed for the lack of 'sense of citizenship' in the country; it may be a factor, but hardly the sole cause.

Perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way, instead of asking "What's changed?" I should be asking "Why do the government think anything's changed?" and I draw a blank. Sure things have been changing that's what a healthy society does, but can anyone connect these events with a lack of commonality?

Sorry, but I'm coming back to the 'you work for us' reason.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Busy Weekend

Managed to get into Kidderminster briefly, checked on the Slingfield Mill, they've posted the application (dated 4.3.08) for the greenhouses on a lamppost outside. The two (not three) trees are certainly shorn and denuded, but I wouldn't say vandalised.

The Tesco store there has added in some saucer-sized domes into each car-parking space, I'm guessing wireless monitoring of spaces and possibly alerts if a vehicle is over time.

[Update via Tav at the WFA from the Express and Star so an accurate guess on my part; I'll join my voice with Tav's on querying how it can determine the makeup of passengers though]

Wanted to get to Stourport, but ran out of time "I'll try tomorrow" I thought forgetting I had a birthday party in Tenbury to attend.

So Sunday I gave my aunt her birthday present by taking the Bratii out of her hair for a bit with a walk around town. A little worrying that Bratus Major was making statements such as "I don't know where that goes!"when asked. We hadn't exactly gone far from their home we'd just avoided their normal well-travelled routes, I just don't think it had occurred to him to see where these paths and roads went. Maybe it will now, but I'm not holding my breath.

We passed by their new Co-op and I got a plea from Bratus Minor

"Can we buy something?" he asked
"I don't know; have you got any money?" I replied
"Then I guess we can't"
"Have you got any money?" he tried
"Yes, some"
"So we could buy something then" he attempted
"Noo listen carefully - I have some money, therefore I could buy something"

That got a big laugh out of Major. Well it's important to get these things straight at an early an age as possible.

His father has been trying to teach Major algebra, which he hasn't quite started on at school yet. To that end he's picked up one of those books that lay out what is being taught and how it's being taught. Me being me I had a flick through it.

It starts off simply enough with how the place system works, shame it didn't mention that we use decimals therefore the 'places' advance by a power of 10; it might come as less of a shock when they're introduced to binary etc.

Prime numbers and what they are - a number that is only divisible by 1 and itself. Except remember 1 isn't a prime number, no explanation given just that statement. How to use prime numbers to determine the Highest common factor (HCF) and lowest common multiple (LCM) which I'll admit I'd forgotten.

Next how to multiple numbers. This was a little odd, you had the standard method

x 45

Then you had a grid method

5 50010015


which apparently is also being taught. Hmm now I can understand why it's useful in that it shows exactly why you get the numbers you do and negates the need to 'carry' numbers., it's just that it's a big amount of faff and requires more working-out space. The previous method requires a number of working out rows equal to the number of digits in the smallest number. The grid method requires the same plus a column for each digit in the other number, imagine trying to multiply two five-digit numbers via the grid method.

Then we had square numbers and cube numbers and the equivalent roots, we even had surds.

Proving Pythagoras, and the parts of circles and squares etc. Again we got bald statements such as 'the angle formed by a triangle connecting a diameter line to the circumference is always 90°' why? Because it is, just accept it and move on.

Ah well it all led to a spirited debate on what the point of algebra is in 'real life' my point was that it allowed a generalised term that could be built upon. So for example the floor area of a square or oblong room is "a.b" it doesn't matter what floor I'm measuring so long as I can remember "a.b" then I know I need to take two different measurements and that they need to be multiplied together. I can build on it by changing it to "a.b.c" and get a volume. We deal with Pythag when we look at televisions that are sold using a diagonal measurement. We use algebra all the time, we just rarely see it in its pure form.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Apropos of nothing

I wish Jaguar wouldn't send out stuff in cardboard envelopes, especially when there was nothing contained therein that would suffer under folding. Seriously the envelope was thicker then the contents. Right PITA to open and I bet it isn't recycled paper either. Oh and the name was wrong too.

Conservative Leaflet

So after me saying I don't get much from the Conservatives guess what came through the door, my very own local newsletter.

Front-page is about the exciting multi-use games area over on the Rec that the Conservatives fought hard for; well that's what they say.

"I am delighted to see that our Conservative-run council is investing in Areley Kings"
That's the District Council for anyone wondering.

Second page and Cllr. Partridge is also "delighted to announce that the Conservative-led District Council has been successful" in getting £132,000 out of the Lottery fund for the play area (whose proper name escapes me) next to Redstone Marsh on the Walshes. Oo Conservative-run and Conservative-led I suppose that makes things easier.

Missing or damaged street-signs? Cllr Partridge is apparently on the case with a new campaign. Saying that though the area's not exactly huge how long would it take to drive/walk/cycle around and play spot the sign?

Third page is an ad exactly the same as the Mitton newletter - Conservatives we're great.

Forth and final page is about the resurfacing in Bredon Way, seems everyone's jumping on my bandwagon about roads :-P Anyway apparently
"It took many months of putting pressure on the Highways Department"
in order to get Bredon Way resurfaced. Hmm interesting why wasn't it originally included in the scheduled works for Abberley Avenue?

Oh and a final note about the forthcoming DC elections on May 1st and the call to get sorted out now if you need a postal or proxy vote. I'll echo that call, although I don't like the system in place if you don't vote you've no call to complain about who's running things or how they're doing it. Even spoiling your vote is a method of protest as their numbers get noted too.

[Additional - I'm ignoring the A4 Wyre Forest Matters sheet as the only thing of note is the petition about the Driving School in Kiddy which fails to mention the organiser is a member of Wyre Forest Conservative Future]

Stourport Roads Guide WIP

I'm still working on my down and dirty guide to 'fixing' the Stourport road system, when a comment from Tav over on the WFA reminded me of the existence of the Stourport Pride Public Realm Design Guide and the fact they'd run and published the results of some traffic analyses under certain circumstances. Checking through I'm amused that so far the conclusions they've come to match mine own, and I don't have any fancy computer programmes. I wish I did have an analyser though as I've a ton of ideas that don't feature and it would be interesting to see the results (and cost).

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mind ramblings

Traffic's not been too much fun, as has been mentioned previously, the Vale houses are having stuff done to them which involves blocking half a lane, and some related/unrelated works were going on close by. AFAIK Hartlebury Road's still got a set of traffic lights, but at least you can get to Wilden Lane from this side.

Confronted by a Direct Fuel Services delivery this morning at work, love their slogan "For the home, the farm, for industry" sounds like something Mel Gibson could shout out in a dodgy Scottish accent.

Chronicle popped through the door just as I was leaving, caught a sidebar title about contractors being forced to mend potholes (p11). Of course they're talking about the recent resurfacing in Kidderminster around Marlpool Lane etc. Ringway blame the materials - 'It wasn't us it was the one-armed man' they said before jumping out of the cracked outflow pipe in the dam.

Been postings some comments up on the Shuttle site, some even get replies. Katie Doolan has even replied to one of my comments on her blog, the first Shuttle blogger to do so. She's always been good about this; the others seem to be slowly following suit.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

Out on Friday, but just saw a trailer today. So we have a story written by a British author featuring Henry VIII (English), Anne Boleyn (English) and Mary Boelyn (English) being played by Eric Bana (Australian), Natalie Portman (American), and Scarlett Johannson (American) respectively; ah well at least there are some British stars, but don't worry I'm sure they're all baddies. Oh and I forgot it's got an American voice-over on the trailer with the guy talking about someone called Bow-lynn... never heard of her.

Ah well I'm sure a movie will come out soon based on the life of George Washington with Ray Winstone in the title role and Juliette Binoche playing Martha.

That's all folks

From the Shuttle the DCC has voted 9-2 in favour of the Tesco plan, so now only the Secretary of State can stop it now; oh but at least we're getting £478,000 for bus services. Oops silly me up to £478,000, yep a maximum not a minimum.

The Shuttle has also expanded the Town council meeting report. As I feared technically they had little choice despite the colossal mess they might know this is going to cause; and quite correctly if this was taken to appeal and the council lost (on said technical grounds) they'd lose any of the imposed conditions that might keep the problem in some sort of check.

Ah well all we can do is wait to see what is actually going to be done, as opposed to what has been said is going to be done, and see if Tesco bother to follow the planning conditions that have been set. Hopefully unlike the building of Mitton Park someone will be available to monitor the situation.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


At times I wonder why I watch GMTV in a morning, after all if we rate Channel 4 news as a thick juicy steak then GMTV falls into the category of chicken nuggets - bland, inoffensive and nutritionally void.

Then a moment of clarity descends and I realise - it's to prime my s**t detectors.

So this morning we get the 'news' that relevant crime rates have increased since the 24-hour drinking laws, this is then linked to youth binge drinking, which in turn is linked to youth violence. To 'debate' this we get a guy who probably thought he was here to defend the 24-hour laws, and a women whose son was killed by drunken youths. Oh yeah that's fair.

As has been pointed out in several other places the rise in crime rates was expected. Instead of police attempting to be in multiple places at once come chucking out time, they can attend different locations and arrest/detain more people. It's a similar argument to noting that crimes go up in proportion to the number of police officers on the force - perhaps if we fire them all then crime will cease to exist?

We then get my favourite Fiona introducing a piece about getting kids to "eat healthy"... eat healthy what? You can be healthy, eat healthy foods, drink healthy drinks, do healthy exercises; but you can't eat healthy, or exercise healthy you do that healthily.

Anyway the women that followed I ignored as yesterday she was espousing the benefits of home-made granola - "Simply put in the oven for 40-45 minutes" she said to the 5-minute cereal/toast munching audience as they tried to do ten things at once because they were running late.

Are you paying too much council tax? Well in startling news in turns out that houses were assigned their Band categories in 1991 and they haven't been revised since, you might belong in a lower Band. Well at least the advisor stressed three times that if you force an assessment it might turn out you belong in a higher Band and have to start paying more. I loved the bit where he tells us if we think our property has been undervalued we shouldn't mention it, yeah damn right if they made a mistake that means we're paying less money then it's their own fault... of course if we've been paying too much money then I demand it refunded.

Hah the VOA now have a big fat box on their site entitled "Got a query about your Council Tax Band?" impressive.

Onto the American primaries, well the Democrat ones anyway, and Hilary trying to gain ground in Texas. Support for her was demonstrated by a crowd chanting Hil-ar-y. Breaking news - Texas supporters of Hilary Clinton support Hilary Clinton; which I find odd because O-barm-a has a much nicer cadence.

Anyway Fiona mentions "Wouldn't it be nice for the United States to have a female President"
"or Black" points out Ben. Forgetting about the Republicans, but they too run the gamut of selection from Elderly White Male all the way through to Not-quite-so-Elderly White Male; so there's a lot of choice there too. Personally I hope the voters pick the best candidate for the job regardless of party, race, or sex; then again if you believe the reports we are dealing with a nation that seems to vote for the tallest candidate with the nicest hair.

Traffic fun

So as I've just mentioned one of the provisos of the Tesco plan is money towards pedestrian crossings, just to demonstrate the joy of traffic lights in our town we have some minor works going on in Worcester Road. Traffic lights at the red dot, end of the queues (that I witnessed) at the blue. (from Google maps)

That's one small set over an area just over an arms span in width, now imagine having another two or three permanent sets in town. Admittedly not constantly activated, but if they're set with the same timings as the one in Bridge Street they might as well be.

Stourport Town Council Meeting

I couldn't make it, some joy at work meant be unable to leave early. However Tav has pointed out a snippet from the Shuttle, which confirms reports I've had. My informant and I had a small argument as he still insists the site has been "ear-marked" for a retail despite my explaining three times that all we have is a possible A1 and a retail plan that requires a certain amount of floorspace which could be fulfilled by a single site supermarket that could only be placed on the CoW site. "Well it's not much use you knowing this if you don't tell anyone" he replied; ah the price of anonymity. I also bit my tongue over the fact that the if the councillors can't be bothered to know this what are we paying them for?

Anyway as reported the plan was approved with only two (or three) nays, provisos were added about Tesco coughing up some dosh for traffic control in the areas I've already mentioned.

so now we wait for the real decision tonight.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Conservatives and Tesco

Just so it doesn't seem I'm picking on the Labour party I was handed the Conservative newsletter for Mitton, big whoop as it seems they've finally discovered that new housing estate next to Leapgate.

An A3 sheet folded in half to produce four A4 pages the front page has a picture of Cllr. John Holden measuring a pothole despite the fact the Worcestershire Reporting page advises you not to, next to it is a big headline "War on Potholes" yeah let's go shoot and bomb them, oh wait that might not work.

The story itself is confusing

At the Stourport Town council Cllr John Holden says, "We need your meeting in February the Town Mayor, help to report all the potholes in Cllr Mike Slater and Cllr John Holden
I didn't even know that the two Councillors suffered from potholes, at this point you realise that there's two columns here; it's not a big gap. The main point is that the two councillors raised concerns about the roads in Stouport and that the County has invested an extra £15m in the County's roads. Well I don't know how much has already been invested and I note that it's the County's roads and not the District's roads; it would be tempting to suggest that the lion's share remains in Worcester, but that would be beneath me.

We do get a tear-off Freepost reply slip on the back for reporting potholes, as Jim said "We'd need to send them pages instead"

Inside on page 2 we get a bit about Tesco and the results of their survey - 47% say yes, 53% say no. Sorry my mistake I'll quote it exactly
YES - 21 (47%) NO - 24 (53%)
45 people of a population of over 19,000… I'm not going to even bother working that out. What is interesting are the reasons from respondents posted under the results.

In the Yes column we get the correctly pointed out fact that it's an upgrade rather then an additional supermarket, but then it all goes a bit strange with the assertions that the traffic would be no different to when it was the Bond Worth and that it'll cut congestion in Tan Lane and Lombard Street. Well Bond Worth wasn't retail and the majority of traffic in Lombard Street is heading for the Co-op, so that's a miss and a partial.

Then we get that this will encourage competition, that Stourport is filled with Charity shops (to the detriment of traders) and that any retailer who's "good at their trade would have nothing to fear". So we get competition well no, any who can't compete will stop trading leaving an empty shop ready to be filled by another Charity shop after all who's going to go head-to-head against Tesco? If they're restricted to food we might get some other types of stores opening, but that's hardly acting as competition to Tesco is it?

In the No column we get a mix "Bridge First, Tesco second" which suggests if Tesco opted to build a second bridge we'd welcome them in. Another points out all the Tesco outlets we already have in the wider area, which doesn't answer the point that we want shoppers to stay here. Then we have the sensible point that the current Tesco location is more suitable for the elderly and less able; but only for those without transport and who cares about them? Someone asks why Tesco can't extend into the Tan Lane School, which is something I've already asked and had answered - we need more housing. Oh and finally the roads won't cope, which we all know. The article ends by informing us there's a Tesco Planning Committee meeting tomorrow at 6pm at the High School, which is funny as they're holding a Development Control Committee Meeting there at exactly the same time.

Onto Raven Street, which I hadn't realised was part of Mitton and still not sure; you'd think they'd be something somewhere that showed Ward boundaries. Anyway we've got four streetlights now instead of one, it is/was a dark, dank route.

Third page is a Go Conservatives advert I won't repeat it.

The final page has the tear-off slip and another two-column that looks like one-column story with Cllr. John Holden "out and about" in the Stagborough and Lower Lickhill areas of Mitton" residents of which were happy to see them as apparently they only ever see the Conservatives about, ironic when you consider it's appears quite the reverse on the other side.

Timeshift Playstation 3 review

TimeShift has been in development for some time now, so long in fact that it was originally intended as a PS2 release, before being re-crafted for it's younger sibling to enjoy sadly at times this seems all too apparent.

The Story

The opening sequence is promising with a newsfeed from outside a destroyed laboratory before everything including the blast rewinds and your viewpoint switches to the last few moments inside the lab. Someone wearing a fancy suit plants a bomb and 'vanishes' you the unseen hero don a similar suit just as the bomb goes off and then everything freezes before you're hit with a montage of images and awake in a bombed-out alley listening to someone on a big public screen talk about registration and killing POWs; a voice from the suit tells you you're in an alternate 1930's you watch a giant mechanical four legged death machine stomp past you before you black out.

You're picked up by a resistance member who takes you to see his bosses, despite not knowing who you are and that you later discover you're dressed in the same way as some of the enemy. You then have to prove your worth, beat the bad guy you saw jumping out of the lab and nick his suit controller to repair your own.


Here's the bugbear, you can't change them; they're the standard FPS set-up, but you can't change them.

Controlling time.

You don't get this ability to start with or for most of the first level it's an auto function controlled by the suit that only activates in emergencies, when you first hit an emergency it malfunctions and you gain control… sort of.

See you have three options Slow, Stop, and Rewind mapped to the square, triangle, and circle buttons each running your time energy down by different amounts. Press the left trigger then one of these and voila, except you don't need to. Just press the left trigger and the 'suit' will decide what is most appropriate to the situation, the buttons are just to override its decision.

This is a problem although you can override the controls the simplest option is to just accept the suit's decision, except at times it can be completely wrong, Stop time to walk through the flames, step forward to take out some guards and the suit will still default to the energy sapping Stop rather then the longer-lasting Slow. I lost count of the number of times I expected a Slow and got a Stop because the game was expecting me to perform a certain action close to where I was standing. It does highlight which option is defaulted if you can spare the time to look at it.

As a result on subsequent plays I ignored the default option and always opted to override the system.


Not bad, not good; but not bad. Shooting one lone guy brought in a nearby bunch to surround my position, that said I had a duck shoot when I hid in the back of a lorry and an squad came round to investigate one at a time.


Here's the killer. At times you think this is nice - bleak tenements constant rain, which also slows, stops and rewinds, then you start to move and it all goes wrong. As has been mentioned elsewhere I play on an SD screen that means the PS3 doesn't have to generate as many pixels to throw at me, despite this it couldn't keep up with the camera moving; extreme vertical tearing.

What's vertical tearing? Point your camera at that post, now move from side to side and you'll see that the post splits in two; the two halves aren't being updated at the same time. Well that's what you get in TimeShift; not in just one enemy or feature heavy level, but all the time and with every single movement.

[Before Dan or someone else mentions it, apparently the vertical tearing is a PS3 only 'feature' and doesn't appear on the Xbox360]

It gets even worse when you get out into the sun - all the shadows are hard-edged. It sounds silly, but again it hurts the eye and even reduces visibility. On one level climbing up some scaffolding the paths were edged with wire mesh, I couldn't tell at times what was wire mesh blocking my path and what was a shadow cast by the mesh. Oh yes that's right you don't cast a shadow so that's no guide either.

Everything is just too harsh and jerky. The game is simply unplayable for any length of time due to eyestrain.


With the aforementioned caveats the time-controlling aspect of the game is fun, but can readily become too easy. Get a hold of the easily dodged slow-moving one-shot kill crossbow and you can simply Stop/slow time for a headshot every single time; with ammo crates that refill all held weapons being plentiful you never need use another weapon.

Stop time and you can snatch their weapon out of their hands, start time again and laugh at the expression on their faces; sounds good doesn't it - well it doesn't work. The first problem with it is that you can only carry three weapons at a time, grab the soldier's and if it's not one you're already carrying you'll ditch whatever you were using; there's no option to just chuck theirs away.

The second problem is trying to snatch the weapon in the first place; the game uses an area-mapped context system. What that means is if you're not standing in just the right place then your frantic button presses will get you nothing. This wouldn't be a problem if the prompting for such actions didn't lag behind being in the correct position to carry them out.

This is most noticeable with vehicles which use the same system, head for a vehicle to clamber onto the back and use the turret and up will pop the context action to do so, oops no it's gone you've stepped out of the zone. When you're doing this in slow time watching your meter running out the last thing you want to do is dance around a vehicle or turret attempting to get the game to recognise you want to use the damn thing.

The game itself is linear though press button A to open door B use time shift to freeze these platforms so you can cross, but despite this you enjoy a freedom on choice beyond 'which weapon shall I use' based on the time controls, stop time and walk past the guard, slow time and kill him, rewind time and completely avoid him it's all up to you.

Sadly what with the poor graphics and context actions you start to get the feeling that this came out a bit too soon, before it was really ready. This is reinforced by a couple of major mistakes. Firstly the loading screens are a bog-standard static image with progress bar, as I say as per normal, except they've decided to add 'game tips'. Now with some specific games this works, namely big RPGs, but if you can't figure out how things work in an FPS then you've a bigger problem at hand.

The descending note about these 'tips' is how bloody awful they are and how they break you out of the game "In the game you play a scientist with a mysterious past" Oh right okay "Try using a swarm grenade on a group" a what; what's a swarm grenade? I've never picked up any other type of grenade except a clutch grenade. Yep that's right it's a multiplayer item only. The others tips are equally as inane.

The second clanger is the ending. It's a complete waste of time, much as I hate spoilers I have to do this. You remember that giant mechanical death machine at the beginning; did you wonder how much fun it'd be to infiltrate and take it apart piece by piece? Well don't bother thinking about it as you'll never find out; instead you'll be sniping at it from a distance before somehow teleporting to the site and shooting the bad guy in the head as he stumbles from the wreckage.

It's pathetic you could have climbing through it, altering time to cope with moving pistons, and shooting down soldiers. Then a climax in the control room facing someone wearing a similar suit to your own with the same powers, but nope you get peek-a-boo long-distance sniping with a scripted-events boss.


Oh this game could have been good; sort out the graphics, ditch the suit 'AI' and the loading 'tips', re-jig the context actions, and put in a proper ending because, despite all these faults, the game itself is quite fun to play; more then that it's quite fun to re-play. Instead of slowing time how about rewinding it and getting in position to shoot that barrel as the squad charges around the corner; the possibilities are fun to play with. Ah it could have been so good, but it just feels like it was rushed out too soon. Rent it or look for it cheap.