Monday, June 30, 2008

Danger in the name of safety

I was sat facing the bridge at the pedestrian crossing lights in Bridge Street, just a couple of cars back. The lights had just changed to red and we had all, of course, dutifully stopped. The beeps started and the pedestrians crossed, the beeps stopped; the lights remained on red.

Another group of pedestrians approached the lights to cross and stood waiting. The lights were still red, the cars still stationary*. The pedestrians stood, the cars still waited at which point the group gave a visible "Sod this" and started to cross - at which points the lights changed.

For any foreign readers the sequence is as follows - red with beeps (safe to cross), beeps stop and flashing amber (continue to cross, but don't start), green.

To put it bluntly it appears they've increased the red time to allow the slower members to cross safely under red and decreased the amber without altering the beep timings. The result is the pedestrians who are cued more by the beeps then the lights stand around waiting (when it's perfectly safe for them to cross) watching the non-moving cars (who in turn are wondering why the pedestrians aren't crossing) until frustration hits either of them and they make a move.

In other words in my opinion they've made this crossing more dangerous.

On a vaguely related topic I note that the main road outside the newly narrowed lane to the Thomas Vale site is beginning to look like it was paved with rubber.

*I also like to point out that after the first group had crossed and the beeps stopped the car facing me at the head of the queue drove though the red light, likewise did the car behind him. Normally I'd be highly disapproving, but in this instance the light heads have been twisted and it's now difficult to see the lights from the head of the queue. So the driver was taking his cue from the beeps just like the pedestrians.


On of the many things that amuses me is the way prices of movies on DVD alter. For example the two disc edition of "I Am Legend" released at the end of April for £20 is now £15; whereas the two-disc edition of "The Golden Compass" has barely dropped from its starting price. "Bloodrayne" on the other hand started at £12 and hasn't changed; oh and incidentally it's a must-see movie for anyone who watches an 'okay' movie and claims it to be rubbish. To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee 'Call that a rubbish film? Now this is a rubbish film!" it's not even so bad as to propel it back to good.

I also see that "Planet Terror" (recommended by my cousin the Artist) has dropped down to the bargain status of £8 and I note with amusement that the price of the combo pack of the one-disc editions of AvP1 and AvP2 is cheaper than the price of just the two-disc edition of AvP2.

On the game front I see Gamestation has knocked "Dark Sector" down to £20, but "Haze" is still up at the £45 mark despite getting a much larger kicking in the reviews than the other one. "Overlord: Raising Hell" is also the standard price as is "MGS4", but "Civilisation Revolution" is £30 which is just really strange.

A surprise

No not my car, bumping into an old school friend I haven't seen in 10+ years. He, of course, called out my name; I, of course, needed prompting.

His first words "You're not ginger any more!"
To which I responded with a swish of my ponytail
My first words "Wow you've tripled in girth!" well no I didn't. I do find it interesting to note that of my old male school mates that I've bumped into they've all grown in that way except the ones who started out like that and have just stayed as such.

Ah well we exchanged quick details, but we weren't positioned for a long-term chat. Given our local proximity it's just odd we've never bumped into each other for that length of time.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Can't choose your blood relatives, can't sell them. [sigh] A lot of late-night round-robin phone conversations detailing the antics of one member of the family whose actions may lead them to being banned from certain places and lead to the curtailing of enjoyment for certain other family members. We may be able to smooth it over as a misapprehension or a one-off, well a one-off of this specific action at least, and put them on a form of supervised probation.

Unfortunately we can't accept testimony from the member in question as their default take on any such matters is -

  • The event did not occur.
  • It wasn't me.
  • It was someone else.
In some variant of order regardless of witnesses or the fact that they just did it again while we discussing the first time they did it. Just not fun.

Speaking of not fun I'm going to have to tax my car as the new one is now two weeks away, then I'll have to get a refund off the DVLA. Annoyingly if I tax it for six months it includes a non-refundable £7 "administration fee" IOW pay £79.75 and get back £60.79 or pay £145 and get back £132.91; f*****s.


So 1 year of Gordon Brown in office as Prime Minister and everyone's looking at the Henley by-election. The big fuss is, of course, that Labour placed fifth after the BNP though this isn't what should be making waves in the party. The fact is they lost their deposit; one of the top three political parties in the country couldn't scrape in 5% of the vote. I'm not going to say this is unprecedented, but seriously - wow!

Sadly I'm sure the party dictats will console themselves that this election had the lowest percentage turnout since 1910 and that this difference was caused by Labour voters not bothering to vote in what everyone considered a one-horse race (Conservative-held since 1910). However that's the small point, despite me not liking national politics getting involved in local politics (yes I know it's an MP they're electing, but I'd still prefer to know what they're going to do for this area rather than what party they belong to) this has to be taken in that light.

Even knowing that they're going to lose Labour still managed to get at least 10% in every election bar one (1983 - 9.5%) so this shows a dissatisfaction with core Labour voters not just floaters. Cameron of course what's Gordon to stay, which should be reason enough for the party to replace him, but they won't because they have no-one credible to replace him.

On to the joy that is Zimababwe. That bastion of bias-free reporting the Daily Express ran about four pages on Monday about what was going on. An article I can't find online (the physical version being recycled) stated that 'we' discovered he was a dictator when he 'stole' land from the white farmers and left his people agriculturally poorer.

I'm sure the emphasis you should be reading is the bit about leaving the people poorer (thus a dictator boo hiss), I'm sure the emphasis that was placed was on the fact that they dared take the land from white people (boo hiss), but perhaps what should have been emphasised was that he 'took' land from a minority and 'gave' it to a majority (though if you read more he supposedly gave it all to his own followers and cronies).

Now had Mugabe taken the land (from whoever) and then sold it to a bunch of multinationals, I'm betting that the people would still be poor and hungry but the MDC would be reported as a bunch of rebels attempting to overthrow the democratically elected leader who has led his country with his sound economic plans and that as such he's entitled to protect his people against these 'terrorists'. Instead we get the Western world decrying Mugabe's actions and have to listen to Nelson Mandela coming out against him, yeah Nelson three words The Freedom Charter.

You wait. Zimbabwe will either fall under Mugabe in which case businesses, sorry concerned governments will step in to help; or a new leader will be elected and find the country broke (in many senses) and find that many businesses, damn done it again sorry concerned governments will be happy to step in and lend a hand. They'll just need to be a few itsy bitsy changes first in how the economy is run.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kidderminster Shuttle

So I mentioned that I was having fun with the Kidderminster Shuttle site when Tav pointed out they were having a revamp. I used to use the thisiskidderminster domain to get there, but that was screwy so I've had to switch to kidderminstershuttle. They've now rescinded the previous index page and it redirects to the main NewsQuest page, but fortunately all my old links still work.

As has been mentioned the site is much cleaner and fresher, but it still has problems.

First off my old registration didn't work, meaning I had to re-register not really a hardship because it never kept track of my posts anyway. [sigh] and it still doesn't and this leads to problem number 2.

Comments on the blogs don't appear with the default templates used by the blogs, but they do if you use a different wrapper accomplished by changing the folder name IOW blogs/story shows only the blog entry but news/story, sport/story, leisure/story and shuttlextra/story show the same story but with comments and of course a different menu structure. Removing the folder name or using li/story (Local Info) yourstory/story or harriers/story gets an Oops page, which is interesting (nor anything in the orange menu).

Problem 3 is with the news stories the default home being /news/ check the older ones for replies to comments and you head for /news/1/ then /news/2/ and then you're stuck with the link referring you back to /news/2/.

Advance the number manually and it only adds one extra story to the bottom and keep the link at /news/2/ however fill-up the news stories at say /news/10/ and the link changes to /news/3/ at 20 it goes to 4 and yes 30 goes to 5.

So we have a mismatch between the two numbering systems. Once you go beyond 2 it appears to refer to the story at the top of the page whereas the links refer to the page itself.

As a test I tried blogs/30/ and hey lookie it took me to page 31 so it's a screw up in the news template.

Oh and wonderfully on the main blog home page we've lost the credits to the writers and I couldn't help noticing that the preface to Lord Baldy's entry on the Kidderminster Carnival didn't carry through to the entry itself, but only for this one entry.

As I commented on the WFA "did anyone actually test this before making it live?" These aren't petty little things.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just bits of news

Well GMTV news anyway.

Okay, diet pills approved that have been linked to depression, oops sorry suicides. Except a) that's for people who have a tendency that way; and b) there was someone on Ch4 who pointed out that loosing large amounts of weight can lead to depression anyway.

The official report on flooding has come back stating that neither government, councils, or insurance companies were prepared for it. It then went on to state that the Pope is still Catholic and that bears do indeed defecate in the woods. [sigh] Okay a bit unfair we really did need this official report to beat them over the head with.

A couple who are still coping with the after-effects of the flood claim that their house would have been done if the builders concentrated on just one house at a time instead of doing a load piecemeal; hahahahahah. Okay playing nice - doing multiple houses at once means that more families get a chance to start to move back into their homes, but of course we know that's not the reason they do it.

If the builders did one at a time then the other houses would be done by other builders and they'd lose money likewise if they did them one at a time they'd have to hire equipment multiple times over rather then for one long stretch and move it around and they'd lose money. Getting specialists in over long periods of time is also cheaper then pulling them in one at a time to do otherwise would mean they'd lose money. Oh sure if they concentrated on one house they'd get it done quicker and have a happy customer, but what the hell has the customer got to do with it?

On news from Wimbledon we had Croft talking about Maria "...yesterday Maria Sharapova revealed those wonderful new shorts out on Court 1 and a sort of tuxedo-style shirt which got everyone talking about it as it was rather see-through out there, but she still looked stunning so she is through to the second round" Two points - despite wearing a see-through top she was still stunning and from context she made it through to the second round because of her fashion sense? Silly me I thought they were playing tennis.

On a different note we had some fuss over the new unelected body who would oversee planning regulations. This is of course completely different from the current situation where we have an unelected body overseeing planning appeals. Oh though this interview did have several gems from Hazel Blears that 'ministers should be accountable to the electorate' well that's a damn nice concession of her and that 'ministers don't make decisions based solely on politics, they're bound by laws' I've no idea how she kept a straight face for that one.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Podnosh via Bad Science about education where the Charities Commission state (PDF):

The Commission, having been satisfied on the evidence before it, accepted in a particular case that an interactive website was a process capable of delivering educative value as it was capable of delivering learning through improving the student's analytical and learning skills.

An individual’s blog, on the other hand, is not likely to be of educative value, as
neither the subject matter nor the process is of educational value.
So define educative value:
There are two main aspects to educative merit or value:
  • is the subject capable of being of educative value; and
  • is the process such that it delivers educative value?
Er sorry am I the only one a little dissatisfied with a definition of educative value that uses itself as a term? It gets better
The educative value, or benefit, will usually be self-evident.
Ah so that's why we don't need a rigid definition. Oh but note the "usually"
Where the value is not self-evident, positive evidence of merit will need to be given.
and the definition of merit is?

Oh hell the two other blogs have given this a light fisking what I was more concerned with was the part where it gives the defintions of charity. Apparently the "advancement of religion" is a charitable purpose. Excuse me, how? Sure if you have a church organising a centre for helping the poor that's a charitable purpose (and appears in its own right), but how can the advancement of religion in and of itself be considered one. Do we atheists require charity?

We then get a quote from the Education Act 2002 that education should "promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society;" Spiritual? Wow sorry is the 21st Century or the 19th? If a school fails to teach religion as anything other than a collection of cultural myths is it failing its pupils?

Ah well here's a link on the same theme from Devil's Kitchen about the proliferation of religion in cities.

Religion to me is a crutch. For those unstable on their feet it helps them get around, trouble is those who hand out the crutches want everyone to use one. They give their children this crutch as they start to walk and teach them that it's the only way to get around and because that's the way they've been raised they never consider they don't actually need it.

Oh sure occasionally someone will come up with a shiny new crutch or an old traditional crutch and they might swap, but ask them why they need one at all and they look at you as if you're mad. They'll watch you walk around unaided in amazement and then try to get you to try the type of crutch they use because there's obviously something wrong with the way you're walking and this will help.

Minor observations

I note they're cracking on with the building at the toll house on Bridge Street - 4 one-bedroom flats sitting on the first and second floors with 3 B1 (non-retail business) units on the ground floor. Will be interesting to see what businesses they get in there.

Both the Isle of Wight photos and the Weston-Super-Mare photos have been uploaded. I was impressed by the shots my father took on the IoW especially as they were all on Auto. He knows how to use the various pre-set scenes such as portrait and landscape, but has yet to get to grips with shutter priority etc. which is essential if you start zooming in without a tripod.

For my shots I'm still impressed by the Canon Powershot A640 in how it handles light

As I say in the description I was tracking this bird and snapped it as it went overhead before I lost it and only realised the sun was there as I hit the trigger, yet the bird is in focus and not shadowed and the sky is still blue... I'd be vaguely proud of myself it I'd planned it :-)

Looking through the shots I took on Sunday (I'll try to upload them today) I was reminded of an incident as I headed back from Woolies. I was standing on the corner of High Street and York Street when a gaggle of cyclists came up Bridge Street and turned right into York Street at the island. One small problem - York Street is one-way towards Bridge Street; oh wait not a problem they all bounced up onto the pavement and headed off along it. All proper cyclists mind in helmets and fluorescent lycra about half-a-dozen of them. The lady standing next to me queried "But it's one-way?". Yeah not for cyclists.

Likewise recently I witnessed a cyclist bouncing up the pavement to circumvent a red light at a pedestrian crossing, another cycling down the wrong way of Lion Hill on the road, not to mention those travelling up the narrow paths of Gilgal the wrong way, and a friend mentioned how at a set of road work lights a cyclist just happily sailed through a red-light against the flow of traffic.

On the plus side I have also witnessed cyclists using the cycle lane on the Stourport Road, waiting at traffic lights and signalling directionality; so like most things it may just be the few giving a bad name to the majority (there happy Dan ;-) )

For those who expressed sympathy for my sun-burnt hands (all none of you) the right one which wasn't too bad has returned to it's proper shade of off-pink with squiggly blue veins and the left one which was worse (why escapes me) is also back to its proper shade albeit with a fringe of dead skin around it. [sigh] White - red - white, damn you Coco Chanel.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Well they obviously didn't want a photo of me (can't blame them), but they have printed an edited version of my letter about photo paper ratios in this month's Which? magazine. Their answer was to print from the computer rather than straight from the camera so you can control cropping, except that wasn't my point. Why can't you buy photo paper in the same ratio that most cameras take their images?

With the magazine came the Which Car? Awards issue. I note Hyundai appears in the 'Good' category (2nd highest) for Brand reliability so I'm a happy bunny. Odd that they reviewed the Getz, the Matrix, the i30 and the Coupé but not the i10?

Effect and cause

I got to read the Sunday Express [sigh] front page headlines "Suicides 'Linked to mobile phone masts'". Apparently some Doctor has discovered that of the 22 suicides he looked at they lived closer than average to a mobile phone mast. Thus at an instant we can know that mobile phone masts cause suicide or at least severe depression - ta da.

Except of course that might be complete nonsense. Let me offer what may be a more plausible solution to the statistics.

1) Currently people don't want mobile phone masts put up next to their houses.
2) So those who live next to them either had them there for ages or couldn't fight the planners.
3a) From point 1 the price of houses next to masts is likely to fall
3b) From point 1 those who can afford to move away from the mast will do so

Therefore it could be said that those who live closer to a mobile mast are either 'poor' or may have been forced into negative equity.

I think that either of those two may be enough to cause or exasperate depression. Ironically in this hypothesis it's the media's own trumpeting of the 'health risks' caused by mobile masts that would have caused this; in that instance the headline could truthfully read "Suicides 'Linked to media scare stories'" though somehow I doubt that'd ever get printed.

Update - I note that Bad Science has found this story too.

Lego Star Wars II on the Nintendo DS

Got to have a go with LSWII on the DS, It's a3+ game, but boy is it frustrating at times. I have to wonder if the designers every tried to play it; let's see.

Flicking switches can be annoying as it's difficult to see if your facing the switch to activate, as it's the same button as attack it can be a little annoying.

The DS has no diagonal controls it's just up, down, left, and right. On the first level you're walking along a suspended platform then turning and walking along another. On the screen these form a lopsided "^" shape and you have no diagonal control. Better yet once you cross these platforms you have to rotate a switch by pushing against it, with no diagonal controls.

Bad camera angles were annoying especially as the camera is non-controllable.

[Update the camera is controllable, you click on the camera icon on the bottom screen and twirl a globe around. IOW not something you can do in combat, but it might have made the platform walking easier. Of course setting the angles correctly in the first place would have been even better]

There's a grapple point you can use to get to a higher platform, but it's 'behind a wall. You have to walk behind the wall to trigger a change in camera angle to see it - this is not a hidden secret you have to use this to advance. Likewise on another level the camera went nuts and couldn't decide which way to point and just went into a topspin. Moving forward it settled down, but left me highly disorientated as to which way I was supposed to be going.

Character AI. Wow they're dumb. Using a grapple point I've had the other character knock me off the edge when they used it. I've had them standing on the other side of a moving block I'm trying to shove and stopping me. I've had them surrounding an enemy (which they can't kill) forcing me to either shoot and kill them or move in for a close attack. Best of all I've had them commit constant suicide...

... Trying to cross some quicksand via a platform. Obi-wan has no problem as being a Jedi he can double-jump across, Luke not yet a Jedi has a single jump followed by a dive. So I hop over to the platform as Obi-wan and on to the other side and find myself hearing the repeated death of Luke. He jumped for the platform, but he started in the wrong place and got killed. Now he's been resurrected at the closest safe point to his death, which is on a slope. You can't jump on a slope so he simply stands there sliding down into the quicksand at which point he's resurrected back into the same spot. I have to jump back over wait until he now walks towards me, then jump to the platform, wait until he jumps over from his new position then jump across and wait again.

The puzzles are annoying at times, but this is due to poor layout. You need C3-P0 to open a door. As you enter the room you see he's on a high platform. You grapple up and cross the two diagonal walkways I mentioned earlier then turn one of them around. Except how far do you turn it? The platform extends out of camera view so start at 3 o'clock and turn it to 6'o'clock and it goes nowhere, same with 12 o'clock. Nope it has to be 9 o'clock and then you zigzag across it.

Another fun one was having R2-D2 trapped at the bottom of a cliff. The other characters could jump from ledge to ledge, but they were too high for R2. Getting to the top you see C3-P0 on a ledge with another ledge opposite. Ah-hah R2's a hoverer so you get him up there, hover across and activate him. Cue 5 minutes of trying to get R2 up this cliff. Silly me the ledge that P0 is on is reachable via a double-jump Jedi except 75% of the time you try this you don't succeed and thus assume that it's not jumpable.

Finally the help system stinks. Approach a movable box and the action pauses while a message comes up telling you that boxes such as these are movable. Move the box, move another box, move to the next screen approach the box and... a message appears telling you that these boxes are movable. As there's no in-mission save this seems a little pointless. It does the same for doors that can only be opened by a certain type of character, it does it when you approach the door control as that character and it does it even after you've opened the door.

Oh and the edge detection was a pain with the controls and non-movable camera I kept walking off platforms while picking up goodies and with no depth you couldn't tell if some of the goodies were on the platform or floating just off from it.

Gotta say I wasn't impressed... nice graphics though :-P


Saturday was a wash-out so I forwent the carnival, if it was the Stourport one I'd have probably turned up. Annoying as Sunday was nice all day if breezy.

Headed out Sunday morning and took some photos of the mess that is the pavements (to be uploaded after the Weston set)

Had the Bratii etc. over that afternoon, well Minor anyway Major was just about to finish a Scout camping trip not far away from here. The plan was to pick him up and head back for tea, that got screwed up when the Scout Master asked if my uncle could drop off another kid back 'home'. That's be an hour round-trip so they decided it wasn't worth the hassle staying, which is fair enough. Not sure what the plan would have been for the kid had my uncle not been picking up Major. So some free time eating the malt loaf that Major 'steals' half of then leaves on his plate.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Little things

Thinking about the fact that it's been a week since they resurfaced the exit from Areley Common to Dunley Road but no-one has repainted the Give Way markings at the end of it yet.

Wondering if the timing on the Dunley Road Pelican has been altered to increase the red-time.

Watching a guy this morning trying to negotiate his three-wheeled walking frame past the new finger post outside the Tandoori.

Noting that the new gritty pavements still look grubby despite the rain.

Anticipating the drop to the left every time I cross the Severn bridge.

Spotting someone up a ladder outside the Swan. Hmm?

Seeing two workers replacing the billboard ad on Gilgal with their van parked with a small length of partitioning cones at either end completely unsuitable for that corner.

Anticipating the duh-dum from the thrice-refilled inspection hole that has sunk on the Stour bridge.

Seeing that water is still pooling at the entrance to the OGL island from where the 'repair' works were done.

Getting stuck behind the cars trying to turn right into Thomas Vale that are now having to wait for cars coming up the road to clear first.

Marvelling at where all the poppies have come from

Still waiting to get a firm date on my new car.

Wishing I had some Sourz Apple, which is quite nice when mixed with lemonade.

or if possible some of the Cherry, which works well with Cola.

Kidderminster Carnival

Huzzah the Carnival is tomorrow leaving New Street at around noon before getting to Brinton Park. For us out-of-towners there's plenty of parking at the park itself... well okay no there isn't, but there's a car-park nearby oh wait that's the Netto one um yes the one in New Street itself holds just under 40 cars that's only about 700 yards away normally a bit full though. Ah there's the big ones in town they'll only a mile away all Pay and Display of course so you'll need to allow for travel time there and back. Yes indeedy the streets around the park are going to be packed.

Heh tried to look at bus timetables, so I want to start here where I know there's a bus-stop and finish somewhere around here where I'm not sure there is one. Oh no you can't do that you can only search on each major stop and hope that it passes by where you want to get off. Anyway it would look like I need a #3 which makes sense as I know that passes down the Stourport Road to get to the Hospital, except from what I recall from someone else who took it recently it would cost me more for a return ticket then it would to pay for parking... hmm it would give me 'unlimited' time though. I'll have a think.

Wouldn't it be nice though if you could click on a map and have it find the nearest bus-stop and work out which service(s) you can use?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bloody IE6

A bit of a technical rant this one I'd forgotten how damn difficult it was to create a drop-down menu in CSS that works in bloody Internet Explorer bloody 6. In theory it should be easy - create the menu as a list using the ul and li tags then set the hover attribute on the li children. Easy peasy if I'm writing for Firefox, Opera, or Safari, but oh no you've got allow for the gorilla in the room that is IE6.

See IE6 doesn't allow you to use the hover attribute with anything other then anchors (links) it doesn't recognise child selectors so you have to spell everything out in descending order - gah!

Oh well a snippet of conditional code, and yes I'm always highly amused that IE has the built-in ability to be able to specify code that only it can read, that points to an js file that bodges the job by applying a class name to every menu item when the mouse passes over it and removes it as the mouse leaves. (Hmm better change it to an htc I suppose)

So far so good, except it's a bit jumpy and the menu occasionally vanishes [sigh] I slap a border around various items and yep now I remember IE creates a gap between list items, if the mouse updates while in this gap the class is removed and the menu vanishes; so I add yet another bit of IE only code to fix that.

So I have a html file, a proper css file, and for IE a js file and another css file I've named bloodyie6.css.

I've had to add a couple of extra gubbins due to the fact that IE's box model (the way it determines where everything goes on the page) is quite frankly shite too.

Now sure the W3C specs aren't a model of accuracy and sometimes open to interpretation on how to implement something, but at times you have to wonder if Microsoft purposefully built this browser to be incompatible with every other one.

Kidderminster Shuttle

Is it just me or has it got quiet at the Shuttle? The last four articles on the news page are dated 5:18pm Sun 15th, 3:07pm Monday 16th, 3:17pm Monday 16th, and 4:15pm Tuesday 17th. As we normally get 6+ stories per day I wonder if they're having problems?

A bit of a slap

There are times I don't want to give politicians a slap to wake them up to reality, but those times are becoming less and less frequent. This morning we had one insightful guy not criticising the possible 40% increase in energy prices, but instead asking "Why are they so high?". Gee I don't know why would prices increase?

The easy target is the companies, but it really isn't their fault it's the basics of supply and demand. If the supply decreases, the price increases... except the supply hasn't decreased, but it might. That is where the trouble lies - Russia has implied they'll shut off the pipelines if anyone interferes with their dictatorship, and Iran has been causing trouble near the main oil shipping route.

The analogy to the current petrol 'crisis' is easy to make - fuel tanker drivers went on strike and petrol stations weren't getting deliveries, but they had plenty of fuel in stock to last out the strike. So why did some stations run out, because they might not have enough fuel to last the strike and you might as well make sure your car is topped up because if you don't and it does run out you're going to be stuffed and more fool you. If the fuel drivers strike hadn't been publicised, if the media hadn't speculated on how much fuel was left nobody would have noticed any difference.

For the 'energy crisis' the same is in affect except this time the deliveries are still coming through but they might not continue to so might as well 'top your tank' and make sure you've got enough - hey look at that more demand for the same supply and up goes the price.

Off from energy we get Ruth Kelly on bicycles "Most short journeys of under 2 miles are done by car" wow yes we should all be either walking or cycling those distances except she doesn't make clear why we take those short journeys by car.

Are you going to do your weekly shop by bicycle, foot or bus if you have a car available? If you're not old enough to get a free bus pass, but still a little cautious of travelling those distances under your own steam are you not going to take your car? Are you going to walk your young children to school (to protect them from the paedophiles, murderers, and Islamofascists that the media constantly tell us are hiding in the bushes) and then walk back, load them up on cycles and try to monitor them in the hurly-burly of the traffic, or just shove them in the car? What if it's tipping down with rain, snow, or hail? Are the buses running on time? Are they running at all? We've no timetables at our bus stops any more so it becomes more a act of strategic planning than a spontaneous desire to pop out somewhere.

I'm not saying we don't take unnecessary trips by car, and I certainly try to walk whenever I can, but it's this kind of blanket statement that requires a slap to the side of the head before some well-meaning soul decides to start fining drivers if their journeys are less then some arbitrarily decided distance because it's 'bad'.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stourport pavements

Yes the white shiny stuff they've put down is still filthy and looks like it needs a good scrubbing, but fear not for they are putting up the finger post signs. One offset left from the map and the post hole can be seen here and one in front of the Tandoori post hole here.

[Update - posts in situ respectively here and here.]

Yes they really are putting that post right in the middle of the pavement there because they can't move it down to in front of the pub because that would block the delivery vans who pull up onto that raised bit, they can't move it down because there's both an access-way and a lamppost in the way, and they can't bring it further up because of the steps. No doubt it'll have a finger pointing at either the amusement park or the basin (and direct people to try and cross the road at this point instead of at the crossing further up) so it can't go closer to the road edge. I'll get some photos when they're finished as and when I feel like it :-)

A small note on the roads that I should have made earlier is that they've repainted the lane markings on Vale Road, Gilgal, Mitton Street and I think Lion Hill; they have of course stopped short of doing York Street as doing so would highlight the too narrow lane caused by the new parking bays; no sorry silly me it's no doubt due to them wanting to repair the gouges in them first, oh dear forget my head they're not going to patch these until they've all been dug up again by the utility companies.

Talking of patch jobs they've finally square cut out and replaced this section as they've done with the rest of Areley Common and Hermitage Way, I give it two months before the edges start to crack.

Opera 9.5

A wonderful new upgrade to the Opera browser almost as wonderful as the 'upgrade' from XP to Vista. Let's see - they've changed the style of the interface (telling that the most popular downloadable skin is Original Opera 7/8/9) they've changed the mail storage format which means a full re-index of all your mail assuming that it finds it, it moved all my folders about, lost my dictionary and passwords and basically screwed everything up.

Tried to get things working by re-indexing my mail files manually, lost a ton of them then refused to store any new messages correctly. Oh and it couldn't keep track of replies to my messages

Being a smart-arse I kept a back-up of both my profile and mail folders, re-installed 9.27 pointed it to the right locations and hey presto everything back to normal - oh sure I've lost my copies and threading of anything I sent today (yet another reason not to use Opera as your email client), but that's a small price to pay to have both the tracking and spell-checking back.

Oh yes and it starts up quicker, finds mail instantly, and isn't locking up my computer unlike 9.5

Monday, June 16, 2008

Besides the seaside

Off to Weston I went last Saturday with my aunt, uncle and the Bratii; as someone who needs caffeine and a leisured breakfast this meant waking up at 6am to leave at around 7am. As it turns out it only took me half-an-hour to get to the their place, but I know they'd been resurfacing the roads so better safe then sorry. I wait and around 8am we all get ready to leave when Bratus Pater gets a call

"Oh, um oh right, we're off now" he says.
"Calling to find out where we are" I joke
"Yes" he replies "the coach was supposed to leave at eight"

Turned out the booker had made a mistake and booked it for 8 and when communicating this fact my uncle treated it as a joke. One speedy trip later and we get to the coach I'm sat with Bratus Major, Bratus Minor getting his own seat due to possible car/coach sickness (he was fine there and back).

Throughout the drive I sympathised strongly with William Shatner, Lucy Lawless etc. when faced with rabid fans - "You know on Lego Star Wars Episode [X] Chapter [Y]..." Wish I'd never sold him the damn things now :-) Did try to introduce the Theory of Relativity to him by asking how fast the cars were going as we passed them he was bemused when I told him that technically they were travelling in reverse.

Crossed over the Severn Bridge and pointed out to both Bratii that this was the same river that passes through Stourport - eliciting a wow from Minor. Asked them if they knew why it was called the Severn "Because there are seven rivers that flow into it?" asked Major, which was an impressive if incorrect answer.

Traffic was really quiet and we hit Weston after about 2 hours, and as is normal for this seaside resort the sea itself was non-existent with the tide coming in around 4pm - an hour before we were leaving; lovely.

The Bratii tried to build some sandcastles with Minor outperforming his brother until I took pity on him and showed him that his brother using small shovel loads out of necessity to fill the bucket was better then being able to shovel in a ton of sand at a time. We three adults kicked a football around getting dangerously close to their castles prompting them to create defences.

"No don't kick it now it's not ready!" exclaimed Major
"What you think real invaders would wait? 'Hey guys let's wait until they get their defences in place before we attack'?" I replied before scaring him by tapping the ball over the top of the castles.

Both I and Bratus Pater took photos of Minor with his castles including a bridge with enough of a gap underneath to wriggle a finger through. Major refused to have his taken with his castle so I caused him to storm off in a sulk by getting his brother to pose with it instead. The two of us then had a good chase with me trying to take his picture and him avoiding it, heck I can sympathise but it was good fun.

Getting hungry we wandered up to the Winter Gardens where I knew they were having a Farmers' Market and picked up on signs telling us of a Book Fair "Book Fair", "Book Fair at the Winter Gardens" etc. Got to the entrance "Book Fair Admission £1"... sod that and we carried on to the Market. Mmm some nice cheese and a piccalilli made with curry powder. [Sigh] and yes me being a right saddo I popped into the nearby Waterstones and picked up the Blood Angels omnibus too.

Heading around to the front we ate at the Winter Garden Cafe, to be honest we should have left after two minutes and may have been better for it except for the Bratii "I'm hungry" whine. Only one member of staff there as we approached and she was trying to give directions to an elderly lady, she was passed off to another member of staff who'd just come back inside, and the gentleman before us was dealt with.

"I'll have the largest pot of tea you've got" he stated and she bustled to sort him out.
"How many cups do you want?"
"Just the one"
"I'll give you a bigger cup then".

At this point the other staff member came in and started a conversation with the guy about something written on his tee-shirt before heading behind the counter to finish the transaction while the other one rung it up. Finally Bratus Pater ordered and I followed and we went outside to wait. Not the best spot though we had some shade, but it's next to the pavement and the main roadway so busy.

Food arrived in spurts Bratus Mater and Minor had a jacket potato with salad and coleslaw, Major had a child's portion of fish and chips, I had a triple decker club sandwich (cheese, tomato relish, and bacon) with chunky chips, salad, and coleslaw while Bratus Pater had the same sans the bacon. We weren't asked if we wanted any condiments and Major was dispatched to locate some. Bloody vinegar bottle had a standard shaped screw remove lid which was in fact a flip-top, but I managed not to drown everything.

So here's the problem - We all had big plates except Major's kid's portion, but he had a pile of the big chips and a fish the size of the plate and this topological challenge was solved by putting the fish on top of the chips; except of course you now can't get to the chips and the fish is a bugger to cut up. It's also well worth noting that of the four of us who had salad and coleslaw four of us left the majority of it behind. The coleslaw was bland with a horrible aftertaste, the salad was beetroot heavy (though I got less fortunately) and earthy and the greenery was stems and frills with no leaves at all - no tomato, no cucumber, no lettuce. Being English of course we didn't complain just left it all and vowed not to return.

Desirous of seeing some water at least we headed up to the harbour and the rocks, passed by the 50% closed beach as they were in the middle of adding sea defences with me joking that I didn't even know the sea was at war with Weston and fielded off yet more Lego Star Wars questions.

"You know on Episode..." Major started.
"Oh gods! Can't you do something about him?" I asked his father
"But he can't talk about it at home 'cos we don't know what he's on about"
"Well on Episode 5 how many hearts does Darth Vader have?" continued Major oblivious to this
"I don't know I haven't memorised it I just kill him"

Just to tease I mentioned that the final Episode 3 boss battle with Anakin (which he's just getting to) is the hardest of the lot. You both start with the same amount of health and both armed with light sabers. The armament means you can block his attacks and he can block yours, however blocking attacks forces you backwards and you're standing on a platform of lava.

Ah-hah I'll keep attacking and force him off and he'll lose one health point. Great tactic, but it takes too long and oh look the platforms you're standing on are collapsing and if you fall into the lava it's a restart at full health for the pair of you. Use an unblockable attack and you'll lose twice as much health as he counters because you can't block either. Try to jump over him as he's in the middle of a combo and you can try to hit him, but time it wrong and he'll just turn and block. To be blunt this is the most controller throwing frustration in the whole game except...

...there's an AI bug which will allow you to defeat the boss in about 15 seconds and best of all having a look at GameFAQs nobody else has found it yet (or are keeping quiet about it) and hehehe I'm not going to tell Major because he used cheat codes to unlock the characters. Serves him right he didn't even try to earn enough to buy them just went straight to the 'net for the codes.

Anyway reaching the harbour and yet more bloody construction work obscuring how you got down to the beach so we walked around the upper edge. You can't even swim across the whole harbour area now as they've strung it up with warning signs about the soft mud so all you can do is paddle.

Popped into the RNLI shop where one of the guys tried to interest the Bratii in how it's run, yeah I could have told him that was a lost cause. I bought Major a monocular despite the fact that apparently last time he'd be bought one elsewhere it hadn't even managed to make it back on the coach; Minor got some pirate figures.

Much clambering over the rocks and amazement from me that they haven't cordoned off half of it due to the dreaded Health and Safety. Onwards for an ice-cream and a mental note that they also sold jacket potatoes etc. in a much nicer locale then the Winter Gardens. I decided for a large Honeycomb ice-cream. Now Bratus Pater had a single Strawberry which was a single cone with two scoops for £1.50, my large one was a double cone with about six scoops for £2 and very nice it was too.

Bratus Minor wanted to head out of sight and play on the rocks and went for a sulk when refused permission.

"Joined his brother for a sulk" said his father (no I've no idea why the other one was sulking could be anything)
"Yeah, but [Major's] got the extra years of experience" I replied

We split up heading across the bridge as the tide started to come in with Pater and Minor heading to the harbour beach to build a sandcastle with water filled moat and the rest of us heading for the Crazy Golf. [Sigh] at this point I recall why I don't do this, if the ball isn't sunk after two or three go's Major gets frustrated and takes it out on the ball/the ground/the obstacles. Once he's had his turn he just sits and works out the next hole or stares vacantly into space while whacking the club into the ground or getting in the way of us or other players. Anyway I lost by one shot to Bratus Mater, he lost by 30ish to me; they both missed the free game course, but I rang the bell and got a token valid for anytime this year - woohoo!

Heading out was good timing as the other two were heading our way. Minor "I wanta go to the SeaLine centre" so another split as the three went off and I took Major onto the Grand Pier. We all forsook the land train at £1.40 a ride each and we ended up at the pier by the time it got there anyway.

Feeling lazy the pair of us took the pier train at 40p each got to the end and sat down for a drink. Trying to find the fudge making place we headed through the arcade out the back and then back in where we spotted it on a mezzanine floor above the entrance we first came through - neat signage all displaying 'this way to the teddy-bear thing oh and maybe the fudge thing too if you want'.

Bought some nice fudge as a souvenir for me and me parents and then discovered that Major had never seen the coin fountain games. You know the ones - you drop a 1p/2p/5p/10p into a slot it falls down the wall onto a moving platform where it might knock off some of the coins perched on the edge onto the platform below, which may in turn cause some coins to be pushed off into the winning slot - highly addictive if you're not careful. Otherwise I wasn't impressed oo Time Crisis 3 yep we're up to 4 now they were rather old and the big back protection screens weren't well light shielded and thus difficult to see.

We walked back down the pier, still trying to get Major to pay attention to what's going around him, and then onto the beach to greet the sea before returning to the pick-up point to wait for the others. With the tide coming in it was bringing in the wind,which in turn caught the sand and meant you couldn't sit and face the beach without getting a face-full of sand. The others soon turned up, Minor clutching some green snake toy thing and sweets, which of course caused Major to demand some too and so back they went to get some [sigh].

Back on the coach, though this time I get Minor as Major wanted to listen to Harry Potter on the MP3 player by himself. Headed back the long way avoiding the stupid toll on the Severn Bridge - yes it really does only operate in one direction and was introduced to keep the Welsh out of England and to deter those foolhardy enough to want to venture into Wales... no not really, but it's still stupid.

Major got into a tantrum because the MP3 player kept skipping chapters all by itself a problem solved by locking the control buttons so they couldn't be pressed ;-)

Took just over two hours to get back and I got back to Stourport around 8pm. The fudge was nice, the cheese had melted (fully sealed so into the fridge to solve that) and the back of hands were (and still are) a bit sore and burned and I was knackered and had a really early night - ah good fun :-)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Yet more adverts

Shredded Wheat minis oo wonderful for diets as discussed by several women, yep men are only interested if it helps us play cricket. Similar to Special K a women-only substance.

Costcutters are still providing a dichotomy by claiming they're not just there for the little last minute things by having someone pop-up with those last minute things you've forgotten/run out of.

Tesco's feel your pain and in this time of rising costs are cutting prices on all sorts of things... um so a) how can you do this now and b) why couldn't you do this before?

Cadbury's have their new Twisted adverts I've little to say on this without revealing my own twisted mind, but having this erect bar spitting out a creamy white substance should give you the gist of my thought processes.

On a final note the Telegraph is giving away guides to How to Photograph Absolutely Everything with their paper, this is of course easy peasy - first locate some exotic material, or other negative energy provider and spin it into a loop then expand; step through the 'portal' created so you're now outside the Universe; take a photograph; return. Oh you don't think they mean How to take a Photograph of Absolutely Anything do you?

Friday the thirteenth

Yes the inevitable calendar turning has once again thrown up this particular combination and of course GMTV have to do a quick report on it. Now as I've mentioned before in another entry of identical title

I'm not superstitious, I don't throw salt, cross my fingers or care about black cats. I don't walk under ladders, but that's due to an aversion of having things dropped on my head. I also don't appeal to the nature spirits by 'touching wood'.
So listening to people talking about magpies (well magpie to be exact) and such stuff always amuses especially when not one person doing the questioning asks 'So why don't you like [superstition]?' possibly though that's due to the answer most likely given being 'Because it's bad luck'. Of course a serious questioner would then follow up with 'Why's that?' At which point the full show of ignorance is displayed.

So why is Friday the thirteenth supposed to be unlucky, well the majority opinion is that Friday is considered unlucky and the number 13 is considered unlucky so conjoining the two makes it doubly unlucky. Of course this just pushes the question back to why is Friday and 13 considered unlucky in the first place?

The answer to both is simple - we don't really know. Oh sure on the 13 front you can point to the 12 stages of Ancient Egyptian with the 13th being death and it's links to Tarot. You can turn to the Norse legends of the thirteenth guest and tie those in to the Christian Last Supper. Heck you can even try to say that 13 is unlucky because we can count to 10+2 feet though if you know anything about the various counting systems in place around the world you can put that one down as wishful thinking (or bullshit if you prefer) , but bluntly it's considered unlucky because... it's always been unlucky; it's a meme, it's traditionally unlucky and thus requires no reason to define it.

Gotta love those irrational fears our species seems to infect itself with :-P Ah okay that's a little unfair we're pattern seekers. So if we're told that Friday the thirteenth is unlucky and OMG something bad just happened on that date (such as one's clutch snapping) we note the 'connection' between the supposedly unlucky day and the unlucky event. If it had happened the day before or after no such connection is made because we haven't been primed to see one. Of course if something bad always happens to you on a Wednesday you might start to spot the connection, but if such an event happens every Wednesday the eighth would you notice?

Perhaps the internet community should start a Lucky Day meme hmm I like the connotations of Wednesday with Woden and Mercury and thanks to the HSBC adverts we all know 8 is considered lucky in some countries so there we go spread the word Wednesday the eight is Lucky Day; the next one is in October.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Online auctions

Flicking through my list of online comics my eye was caught by an advert for an auction site; an 32" FullHD LCD being sold at £100 will do that. Now that tiny cynical part of me thought "Yeah right, special offers or it costs £300 delivery or some such" nevertheless I decided to have a quick look as well heck you never know.

The site in question is called Telebid and the way it works is quite clever (from the company's point of view). First off there are different types of auctions - the normal pay what you bid, the fixed price, the penny auction, and a night auction. I'll ignore the last two and concentrate on the former types as they're much easier to explain.

So you find something that's being auctioned, unlike eBay all the products are being auctioned by Telebid so there's no worry about paying £150 for the cardboard box an XBox came in. Once you've found what you want you bid for it by either pressing the big Bid button or by phoning a number and tapping in a code. Now here's catch number one, each bid costs 50p, here's catch number two, each bid increases the auction end countdown by about 7 seconds. Catch three there's an automated process that bids for you according to various criteria, but does so only in the last 10 seconds or so of the auction. That's where it gets clever.

Here's one I was watching, a non-fixed price auction meaning you pay what you bid, the current bid was ~£25 with 15 seconds to go, drops to 10 and pow in comes two autoBids pushing the clock back. It ticks down and pow another set come in. So although you know that the auction has to end (in this case) on 30th June just past 9am it still might end at any time before that and once the time drops to that magic 10 second mark that's when the autobidding starts and remember each bid costs 50p.

Clever point number two is that each bid advances the total by a set amount (7p) so imagine two autobidders set to bid up to £26 on this auction that'll be 7 bids each at a cost of £3.50 to increase the price by just £1. At the current time this auction stands at £46 with roughly five bidders, so assuming sequential bids each one has used 60 bids at a cost of £30. So true cost of this auction is £46+£30+£10 P& P or £86 RRP is £180 so still worth it, but it's one of those things you really have to watch how you bid. Oh just had 10 autoBids in pushing the price up to £50 and the clock to 2 minutes.

Clever point number three is that the autoBid has a start from price too, so put in that and a limit and you can at least work out the maximum number of bids you'll use. Except if it never reaches that price you'll never bid and, lovely touch this, once the 'from' price is reached you can't stop the autoBid. So put in a too high price and you won't get squat, put in too low a price and you'll whip though your stash of bids in record time.

So sit there in front of the screen clicking bid and hoping it registers in time, stay on the phone at whatever rate it is, or use the autoBid system and hope you don't run out of bids.

The fixed price auctions look good as no matter what the price the cost is still the same, except this pushes the 'bid' price higher. One auction is at £203.98 which means it's had 2914 bids costing £1,457 for an item with an RRP of £929.99. Assume that's what was paid by Telebid add on the fixed price of £69 and P&P of £39.80 and they've made a minimum gross profit of £635.81.

I'm impressed, but I doubt I'll give it a go myself, I think the cost of bids made that will lose will outweigh savings (minus bids) made on items I'd win.

Hey the normal auction just ended at £54.88 the winner used 66 bids to win (nice they tell everyone this) so exact cost was £54.88+£33+£9.80 that's £97.68 a saving of £82.31 on the RRP. Of course if the winner had tried just three times before on the same item with the same number of bids and lost they'd be down £16.69.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

42 days

And so our Parliament debates today on the wisdom of extending the detention period for 'terror suspects' to 48 days. Some polls seem to indicate that the people are all in favour of this extension, needless to say civil liberty groups aren't, but why not what's the problem?

We need to go through the process in its basic form - you are arrested, you may or may not be detained, you are charged, you are tried. Now the hassle from the point of view of the law is that once you're charged you can't be interviewed, this is why you have a detention period.

This detention period is used to obtain or secure evidence relating to the offence for which you've been arrested and is limited to 36 hours and 36 hour extensions can be obtained up to a maximum of 96 hours after which you have to be charged or released. That is unless you're a terror suspect in which case the detention period is 7 days, oops no 14 days, wait sorry 28 days, er maybe 48 days depending on when you're reading this.

Let's go back to the beginning of the process - you are arrested; why? You have been arrested because the officer suspects you have committed an arrestable offence, that you are currently committing an arrestable offence, or that you are about to commit an arrestable offence. the word "suspects" is important because it requires some modicum of evidence.

So an arrest has been made and the suspect placed in detention. The police can now question them about the offence for which they've been arrested. Let's use a bank robbery as an example, if it's after the offence the police may ask where the money is, who else was in on the job etc. During a crime, well it's pretty much bang to rights. Before a crime - why were you heading into the bank wearing a balaclava on a hot summer day?

So far so obvious, but the question has to be why do the police require more questioning time for 'terror suspects' over normal suspects? The answer seems to be twofold - firstly they're brought in more on the suspicion they're about to commit an offence rather than having done so or are in the middle of doing so. This is an obvious difficulty to paraphrase Pratchett - I arrested the man what done it, is much better then I arrested the man what looked like he was about to do it especially when asked to prove it. So you need the time to get the evidence, except hang on a sec this isn't like arresting the bank robbers as they charge towards the bank this is all who they've been talking to and what they've been reading and buying. So the amount of evidence that can be brought before a court at the point of arrest may well be non existent. In other words the officers are looking for enough evidence to charge you after you've been arrested, which is the wrong way around. Enough evidence for charge should already be available before arrest, remember the detention period is to secure or preserve evidence not go look for it.

Secondly it's to allow more time for questioning to unravel the plot and uncover any co-conspirators etc. Except that means the detention period becomes less about securing and preserving evidence by questioning about your offence, but about other peoples possible offences. Referring back to our bank robbery this would be similar to asking the suspect if they knew any other bank robbers who hadn't been caught yet, a request I strongly suspect would result in a "Don't answer that" from any competent lawyer and subsequent complaints.

So it appears the detention period for 'terror suspects' is to allow the police to do things that they wouldn't be allowed to do when dealing with ordinary suspects. Except why the difference, if you can do this for people arrested under terrorist offences why not for people arrested for other offences? Pretend that it appears that I'm fashioning a bomb - wallop I'm arrested as a terror suspect and held for up to 28 days, despite the fact I may just be planning to blow up a bank vault. So it's all down to intent as to how you're arrested and held, and that's a damn slippery slope to start down.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In our news

Bridge Street traffic disruption ends proclaims the Shuttle, hurrah now all we have to do is cope with any upcoming York Street disruption, High Street disruption and/or Basin Link disruption, which will have a completely different affect on the town oh yes.

Next up Lorry sinks in road well that'll teach the driver to treat our roads as if they were fit to be driven on.

Save money through re-use yep no argument here. This is a WCC project and lo in their news archives they have this story and a non-linked website address which the Shuttle could/should have provided. I would add it myself, but hey look you can't comment on this story.

Exhibition celebrating Stourport basins Damn missed this, telling though that an exhibition on the basins is being held over the river up at Church House. Now if the old Post Office had been turned into an exhibition centre/museum...

Action call after vandal attacks The killer statement in my opinion being

[...] damage to vehicles tended to take place on Friday and Saturday nights and advised residents to park in a secure garage or in a drive, tucking in wing mirrors and pushing down aerials. She added that if it was necessary to park in the road, people should park under a street light or invest in an outdoor security light.
And don't forget the bars on your windows or your own protective sphere when you have to venture out. Okay I'm not getting the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia out, but seriously it's like the old joke -

Doctor, Doctor my arm hurts when I do this!
Then stop doing that.

What happens when everyone starts following this advice? Instead of whacking cars they'll be kicking fences and gates - this is not a solution! Well done to Spike for his comments.

Following that story I'm amused by Fall in anti-social behaviour Like so many news stories it defers from mentioning exactly how these statistics were gathered

No confidence in county council has also been reported on the WFA Hmm as the Town Council seem to have as much power as a one-watt light bulb I expect the WFDC to be shaking in their boots over this.

National chain shop fronts "tattiest" according to Jamie talking about Threshers and Blockbuster. Of the shops in High Street I'd agree those two may well be not as well maintained or as in keeping as the others, but they're not overly bad. As Spike points out

One for the diary Family fun day in Stourport or at least one for someone else's diary as I've been invited down to Weston, the only hassle is getting my car over to the pick-up point. The clutch has been re-jiggered, but I'm still not overly happy with it. Ah well a day at the seaside sounds fun, must remember the camera though.

Monday, June 09, 2008

OGL Island

As part of my massive uploading to Flickr some photos need to ordered to make a point.

The OGL island has three exits/entrances for sake of ease we'll call the one from Gilgal "A", the one from Hartlebury "B" and the remaining one from Worcester "C".

First off we'll have a shot taken from the viewpoint of a vehicle approaching along A and looking at C.

There are two things to note here firstly that the when you have traffic in the left-hand lane only of C it obscures the view of the right-hand lane as you approach the island. As traffic from A only needs to stop for vehicles turning right this means drivers have no idea what's coming until they reach the island. For non-locals they may not even realise an extra lane even exists and thus be doubly confused.

The second point is made clearer in this photo.

To put it simply once a vehicle is on the island it cannot be seen from this exit. So traffic coming straight across from B prevents right-turn traffic from C allowing vehicles from A to move onto the island - except they can't see this until it's too late! As you might expect this causes traffic to come to treat this Give Way as a Stop. This particular problem is not just confined to point A.

Traffic at B cannot see if right-turn traffic at A is being stopped

Likewise traffic at C cannot see if traffic from B is being stopped

Everyone's blind to traffic on the island so is it any wonder that it comes to a halt?

Stourport just around town

Big Flickr update uploading as I type, some of the Auto shots on my HDR trials plus a couple of my Paint Shop Pro experiments; some of the pavements before they 'iced' them, and some of the roads which are starting to break up exactly the way I predicted. I also loaned my camera out to my parents who went over to the Isle of Wight and they've taken some nice shots that I'll upload too.

Wandering through town on Saturday I watched people crunching over the new pavements and purposefully kicking at it, unprompted I overheard one couple calling it "horrible" and another complaining that "it gets in your toes". Indeed the crystalline fragments are already been carried into the grooves of the nice new paving stones and annoyingly into shops. Oh and it's already starting to look dirty.

I've also been reliably informed that the nice map of Stourport inlaid at the top of Bridge Street was done with Italian tiles, seeing as one of the main uses of the canal was to carry goods to and from the Potteries one has to ask why the use of local tiles wasn't insisted upon? The point was also raised questioning the wisdom of putting a smooth tile surface directly in the middle of a stretch of non-slip surfacing.

They did a quick job on the skate-park the part they cut out has already been filled in and re-levelled and I can confirm that the reason for the alteration was indeed due to the puddles forming at the ramp end. Of course it hasn't rained since so it's difficult to tell if the job's done the trick, likewise I've yet to see how well this 'icing' holds up in a downpour.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bridge Street works

Subsequent to my last post mentioning the reappearing traffic lights, it might have been Laser Civil Engineering not Central Networks. Having just walked back from dropping my car of for its MOT (note it took me as long to drive there as it did to walk back via the same route) I noted that work had been done on the pavements close to Raven Street and Coopers Lane. They've been resurfaced in some light mica type material, which looks totally out of place to the surroundings.

I also note that the skate-park is being partly dug up. I don't think I mentioned that the surrounding grass has been reset with a plastic honeycomb, which should stop it being churned up; but now the area between the ramp and pyramid has been removed. This is part of the entire concrete slab that took so long to lay due to needing the right weather conditions to use the super special leveling machinery. As we know that turned out well with a puddle forming at the base of ramp every time it rained.

So it seems someone's noted the problem and is attempting to fix it, good timing after the school holidays, but it does mean there's likely to be a seam between the two sections. Now of course if it had been done properly in the first place by a specialist skate-park firm rather then a spin-off from a playground developer...

Oh and as for the map that's at the top of Bridge Street I mentioned. They have High Street feeding directly to Mitton Street then a bridge which as this is a celebration of canal heritage I have to assume is the canal bridge (especially as it then links to Lion Hill). Trouble is the section that runs from the canal bridge to the High Street is not Mitton Street, depending on who you talk to it's either High Street or Lickhill Road. Looking at my unlabeled pre-canal map that shows Mitton Street connecting directly to Lickhill Road with 'High Street' as an afterthought, this would suggest it's Lickhill Road. Either way it's not Mitton Street proven by the fact that the Black Star on the other side of the bridge is 1 Mitton Street. Oopsie!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bit of a break

Having some time off to do some work around the house and garden - hence the rain. Also got to get my car MOTed and it's always easier to do when you're not having to use it. Anyway here I am looking at the miserable weather and cleaning out my spam and I have to remember to call the dealers and see if there's a confirmed date for my new car other then 'the end of this month'.

Had a wander around Stourport on Sunday (heh new name for the town beats Stourport in Traffic). I've been neglectful of late of the Swan end of town and thus hadn't seen the shiny new front of M&Co. Apparently it's all women's clothes (and possibly kids) but if it gets popular they might get some mens stuff in too, which would be nice.

Took some photos of the road wear in Vale Road, the Stour bridge, and York Street (to be uploaded as and when); and the state of the pavement in Bridge Street. I also had a shufti at the new houses on the Thomas Vale site and once again wondered why, after building more houses, they subsequently narrowed the access road down to a single lane?

I also got a good look at the Bridge Street 'feature' outside the old Job Centre which is a stylised map of the town, except I'm going to have to dig out my pre-canal map and check something out.

Oh and I note they were putting the lights back up on Monday looks like Central Networks again.