Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mitton Street closure update 3

Well they've finally pulled their finger out and put up some signs; yeah on the day they're doing the work. It appears that they've made use of the electronic signs that are still in place and indeed the one leading from Kidderminster past Brinton Park advises people that "Milton Street is closed" I'm not sure exactly where Milton Street is, but I'll be sure to avoid it.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Came through Stourport this morning, as I do, and found two delivery trucks parked in High Street. Not, I might add, on the right-hand side over the No Loading starting at 8am nor in the parking bays on the left. Oh no these were parked on the left-hand side of the road either side of the pedestrian crossing.

Mitton Street closure update 2

Just a quicky, but I've had to double check that they meant this weekend, because there are still no signs up at all. Okay it's two consecutive weekends and the second one they mention is dated with 6/7 November; I think it's therefore safe to assume they do indeed mean this weekend. Oh dear. I think a phone-call is in order.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mitton Street closure update

Got a letter at home from Severn Trent Water detailing the closure. Um don't SWT read  or watch the news - there's a postal strike going on. The only piece of mail we've had a work today was one of Royal Mail's own promotional 'Buy Festive Stamps'.

As of this morning still no signs up warning people about the closure.

The politics of science

It's interesting to note how when a scientist comes out with a statement that contradicts government policy how quickly those in power are to disassociate them. The current news is Professor David Nutt on the classification of cannabis. Note the two official responses:

A Home Office spokesman said: "Prof Nutt's views are his own."
a spokesman for the ACMD said: "The lecture Prof Nutt gave at King's College was in his academic capacity and was not in his role as chair of the ACMD."

Oh sure it's really just making it clear that Prof. Nutt isn't speaking in an official capacity, but consider what the reactions would have been if he'd backed up the official view in an academic lecture. Would we have the official bodies falling over themselves to point out that it was an unofficial statement; I think not.

[Additional - got to love The Great Beyond's last line on this
So there you have it, the view that the UK should have “a fully scientifically-based Misuse of Drugs Act” is apparently not one the UK government would share.
[Update - and he's been fired. That would be the Home Secretary firing the chair of the independent ACMD]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Firefox middle click

After discovering the way to close down the last tab in Firefox with a middle-click; some odd things started to happen. I would close tabs only to find new tabs opening up with places I'd already visited and left. I think now I've solved why - middle-clicking the new tab button will open the most recent in your "Recently Closed Tabs" history, keep doing it and it'll work it's way through the list. That's actually pretty neat.

Mitton Street closure

My thanks to Steve for the heads-up on the forthcoming Mitton Street closure. Good job he did as although it made number 2 in the Shuttle's most read section, it's about to fall off the end of their first-page news section. Enjoy the justifications for this closure here

Cigarette Tab Houses

A brief report on the sale of cigarettes from domestic houses since the clamp-down on shops popped up on BBC Breakfast this morning. "Highly addictive and half the price of legal tobacco" yeah because it's only all right when it's a highly priced highly addictive substance and the proles can't get their hands on it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed PS3 reprise

I did a review back in 08 and returned a verdict of 'fun but flawed'. But now with the update and trophies is it any better?

Penny Smith engaged?

Well Susanna Reid still isn't wearing her wedding ring, but of greater interest is the fact that Penny Smith from GMTV is wearing something big and sparkly on the fourth finger of her left hand.

Yes, yes I've stated many a time I'm not into this stupid gossip, but as I've also said the news organisations rarely report on their own unless a public announcement is made; so I've made an internal bet with myself as to whether anyone's going to ask questions about the shiny rock that's appeared or only after an announcement (if any) is made.

[Update 28/10 - the  ring has now moved to a different finger]

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stay Warm BNP/UKIP leaflet?

An envelope came through the door marked "To The Occupier" normal rubbish, but a quick glance had me do a double-take.

"As an island we have been fortunate in the past 30 years to be self-sufficient with fuel" with some more stuff then "YOU decide whether the above is FACT or FICTION. Bury your head in the sand or TAKE action to PROTECT YOUR FUTURE." Anyone else think these tactics sound familiar? Still pondering - "The alternative is to keep giving your hard earned money away to FOREIGN owned energy companies"

Though I'm sure it's all coincidence it does smack of the same rhetoric I've seen in BNP and UKIP pamphlets, all it needs is a photo of Churchill and a change of colour scheme from green and blue to red and blue (on white paper).

On a mild fisking note "Now is the time to look for a safe INVESTMENT with guaranteed returns." Okay is this one of them, because you know you don't actually say that although the close of the page is an unattributed quote "Solar Energy - an index linked investment with tax free returns" so one might think that they're talking about this company in specific, rather than solar energy in general; whoever 'they' are.

X3 bus service

I was asked to check the route of the X3 bus service into Stourport. During the works diversions were in place. Now the works are over I was asked to see if the X3 was back on its old route. Of course it should be, but hey has anyone told them the works are over?

Postal strike

Causing a lot of fuss, but imagine what the situation could be like if the Royal Mail was a private business given a contracted licence by the government to collect and deliver the mail?

PS3 freezing games

In an effort to tip myself over to level 8 I ran through some sections of Force Unleashed. Since the trophies came out I've been playing it on the hardest setting.


Babysitting on Sunday didn't go overly well.

Friday, October 23, 2009

CCTV footage

For reasons I won't get into I've been going through CCTV footage, pulling out relevant segments from the multi-camera recorder. This of course takes time to process.

"Can't you just pull the entire lot off the hard drive to hand over?" asked DaBoss.

Now in theory I could go and pick up a 1Tb portable hard drive, plug it in, and copy the entire 320Gb HD onto it; or even a 500Gb one. Now my PS3 backed up its 50Gb data in about 2 hours, so at best it'll take around 12 hours to back up. That's assuming the DVR is using USB2.0 if it's 1.0 (which it might well be) it'll take even longer and of course provided the DVR provides enough power for the hard drive to work.

Then even if we could hand it all over, they'd still have to use the provided viewer which can't splice segments together which means viewing it all 5 minutes at a time.

Parking Laws - 2

As I've already mentioned where and how you can park a query now leads me to define the differences in the 'state' of the vehicle

Thursday, October 22, 2009

PS3 Control for HDMI

Still getting to grips with my new Sony 32W5whatever HD television and spotted an oddity. If the TV is left in standby mode when I turn on the Sony Blu-ray player it also turns on the TV and changes to that input. If I turn on my PS3 it doesn't (nor incidentally my SCARTed PVR although that will switch to the correct input*).

Which means finding the remote and fiddling with the input button, annoying. Now unofficially it seems that the PS3 will switch with some televisions and not others, but officially from Sony's own manual this feature only exists in the CECH-2000 model series... which would be the new PS3 Slim.

I'll call them up to confirm this, but if so how dumb.

[Update - One phone call later and a brief time on hold while she consulted with a specialist and the Word of God is to try using the HDMI3 input. "Ah now see I thought I'd make sure this worked by using the HDMI1 slot, silly me" so not a wasted call, and at least I made her giggle and laugh]

[Update - Big surprise that didn't work either]

*which is fun when I'm playing my PS3 and the PVR turns on to record something as it overrides the signal and I get a black screen for two seconds.

Eggheads - Alternative?

The BBC2 quiz show Eggheads is currently being hosted by Jeremy Vine a presenter who makes me wish for the return of Dermot, he's that bad.

Other than his manner and bad jokes something over a couple of shows just boiled my head. For those unfamiliar with the show the contestant and an egghead of their choice answer three multiple-choice questions alternately, standard best of three wins. However if there's a draw questions are still asked, but the choices are removed.

How did Jeremy present this - "Removing the alternative answers". Gah! If you're removing the alternative answers then you're leaving only the correct one.

He didn't do it in the latest episode; perhaps someone complained :-)

Batman on Hard attempt 2

After multiple deaths and restarts, with shifting tactics and one attempt that had me beat the Titan with a sliver of health left only to be taken out by a remaining goon I finally got through the elevator section fight in Batman.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mitton Street Roadworks

I've been quiet on this matter for good reason - I wanted to see how things settled down once traffic started to flow back through Stourport.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Batman on Hard

As mentioned previously I'm playing through Batman on the hardest difficulty setting and it makes a big difference. Such a difference was hammered home by my first true encounter with a Titan Henchman in what seems to be the notorious elevator fight.

Monday, October 19, 2009

UFO at Merry Hill

From the Express and Star a flying triangular object with lights over the Merry Hill shopping centre. Doesn't look like Chinese Lanterns to me; nor a kite. So a balloon perhaps? Shame the video cuts between the middle light first appearing and then switching to just the light.

Family weekend

Half the tribe came over on Sunday including the Bratii; they timed it just right and arrived just before dinner was served so no need to keep the Bratii amused. Dinner eaten and much sitting around the table later and amazingly the Bratii stayed in place rather than attempting to dash off and drag me with them; though Bratus Major decided that using his mobile to surf the internet was acceptable behaviour at the table [sigh].

Friday, October 16, 2009

Batman Arkham Asylum PS3

This is the review of the collectors edition of the game to go with my initial review of the demo.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gilgal now open

They're still clearing away the signs, but both lanes of Gilgal are now open. Last night they did themselves no favours though as Gilgal was still closed, the traffic lights were still up as Worcester Road was still down to one lane and in an effort to make friends and influence people the left-hand side of Mitton Street was closed.

That boded well for this morning (or to be precise this evening) if all the traffic from the island was to be forced into the right-hand lane against the Gilgal traffic, but this morning I found that as I'd predicted they'd closed off Gilgal to Mitton Street and redirected traffic around the island.

So in theory no hold-ups at Mitton Street means better flowing traffic around the island, but I'll wait and see if the extra 360 traffic from Gilgal causes problems due to the island's height and thus reduced sight-lines.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Someone who needs speed lessons

Travelling hopefully for the last time to Great Witley a car picked me up before Dunley. I was doing ~55mph in the 60 zone and yes he was up my arse. Dunley's a 30 so I'd slowed down and then braked when my deceleration wasn't enough. Through that and back to just under 60 and yes still on my arse. On the approach to Great Witley coming up to the S-bend I've already mentioned I see two cars following a van who are travelling slower than I. I enter the S as they leave and the idiot behind me overtakes in a roar and then has to slow down behind these three.

M397 YBV named.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gilgal electric work? 2

So I beat the Shuttle by 7 minutes in getting the story about Gilgal opening hah take that old-style media :-P

Gilgal reopens early

Well the rumours that they were ahead of schedule seems to have been proved true. A letter (actually three) has just dropped through the door usual blah but the pertinent part -

As a result we are pleased to inform you that The Gilgal will be re-opened on Thursday 15 October 2009 at 06:00hrs.

Presumably that also means they'll be removing the traffic lights at the island?

Fallout 3 Operation Anchorage review

Yes I've splashed out on the downloadable content for Fallout 3 and I've just finished the Operation Anchorage simulation.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Power failures 2

The lights dimmed, flickered, and then everything went dead. Here and across the road so not just us. One of the computers has just rebooted and the lights decide to flicker again.

No; staying steady so far.

Gilgal electric work?

Do you all still have your booklets from STW? Well take a look at the description for phase 2. "Work continues to replace the water mains and the street lighting" Now a little bird whispers in my ear that not only has no electrical work been done here, but that none was every scheduled by the contractors.

Could this be the reason they're apparently ahead of schedule? Also adds fuel to the fire that the work is only being carried out to accommodate the future needs of the Tesco store.

Of course it could be a mix-up of the definition of electric work; does "lighting" count? Look at phase 3, however, "The work to finish the water pipes renewal and the electricity cable work" so is that a continuation of electrical work that hasn't taken place or simply bad phrasing and it meant that "electricity cable work" would be done rather than finished?

Traffic lights at OGL/Parsons Chain island

Apparently in a feat of "What the hell" over the weekend workers have switched the roadworks to the other side of the Worcester Road leading to Mitton Street.

So they've set-up traffic lights at the island. Why the need for lights? Well as they're forcing everyone down the 'wrong' side of the road they need to force all the vehicles around the island the wrong-way to line them up correctly.

Now unless these works are starting right at the very junction there's no need for this. You simply let the traffic move as it's been doing and then shift it to the right and then back to the left to enter Mitton Street.

To my mind this is connected to the mysterious Arrow sign at the entrance pointing traffic into the lane they would normally be using anyway had the works not been there. Are the contractors under the impression this is a one-way system?

Anyway expect delays from the traffic trying to turn right into Hartlebury Road whose reaction would be to travel normally, and joyous fun from any long lorry trying to do either that or round the island the wrong way to line up to Mitton Street.

Really is this some sort of universal law of roadworks - If there are two means of affecting traffic, pick the most difficult and/or confusing?

I'll get a closer look tonight. If indeed the works do start at the junction, fair enough; if not I'll make a phone-call to the Highways Agency.

Old Age galloping on

Heading into Sainsbury's on Saturday and got caught up at the entrance. A few more people coming in and out, but the real problem was a couple with trollies standing in the entrance having a natter.

"Hey let's all stand in the entrance blocking everyone, what a great idea"


Did I just say that aloud? Yes. Bugger! Actually no I'm not going to apologise, not going to try to defend myself I'm just fed-up of it all. When did this start to happen, I don't remember this in my youth, hell I don't remember this 10 years ago, but go out today and I can't recall an instance when someone hasn't decided to block off a pavement, an aisle, or simply stop dead in the middle of a street without a single thought for those around them.

Yes, yes I'm a bit odd and fussy, but some things you just expect everyone to do; like drivers driving on the left. I mean a couple walking down the middle of the pavement meets another couple walking up the middle of the pavement. Simple solution each couple moves to the left (or sometimes the right) and with me following the up couple I mentally prepare to move in either direction - they split-up with one to the left and one to the right which provoked a mild mental hiccup as my brain ready to move left or right to follow them tries to do both.

Walking along Vicar Street low sun in my eyes yet I and others still seem to be the ones expected to get out of the way of all the people with their backs to the sun with a clear sight of us all. Almost made me want to stop and shout "Look! That big bright thing in the sky means I can't see you clearly so understand that and accommodate that" fortunately for me my social overlay was still intact and I thus remained silent.

People in the supermarket searching the aisles with trolley set perpendicular to the shelf blocking it off; just put it to the side, put it behind you, how hard is that?

It was quite interesting to note the mild look of shock or surprise when I reached one of these narrowings and allowed someone heading in the other direction who'd reached it first to get through. I'm sure they were expecting me to barge my way along and expect them to get out of my way.

All-in-all it was a muttery day for me though; so for anyone encountering me that day I'm not mad (well only as much as the majority) I was just fed-up with the general lack of thought being exhibited.

Thought for others folks, it ain't that difficult.

A new addition to the family

A phone call last night means that Devil Child has a sister who, until another name suggests itself, I'll refer to as OTD. My cousin The Artist is of course very happy, mother and child are fine and though I've yet to hear the full story I suspect that this time they didn't get the run-around from the hospital that they did last time

Friday, October 09, 2009

Stourport in the news - Gilgal

One thing I forgot to mention about the dinghy report was the end sentence regarding the work itself. Apparently it's ahead of schedule and will be complete by the end of the month. So when was it supposed to be finished... that'd be the end of the month.

So either they're wrapping up Phase 2 early and can complete the four-week scheduled Phase 3 in two to three weeks or someone never expected Phase 2 to finish on time.

Current TV shows

As with buses so it is with TV shows, you wait for ages then all the good ones turn up together. Yesterday was Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Micro Men, and School of Comedy. I'm also recording FlashForward and True Blood. No spoilers or very few at least.

Stourport in the news

Stourport featured in the lunchtime and evening BBC Midlands news yesterday, seemed someone had spotted the story about taken a dinghy to work and thought it good enough to film. As a side-effect it also confirmed my travel route as they had a race leaving at 7:30 with a car following the diversion; took an hour for it to get in.

Posting changes

In this day of email and electronic payment as a business we find little need to post things, however some things still need to be done the old fashioned way and that means a trip to the local post-box.

This particular one serves the needs of the estate and therefore many businesses so it was with some surprise that I noted the new sign placed over the old collection times - From 21st September the last collection from this post-box will be at 4pm.

That's instead of 6pm. Now stop and think about that for a moment, this serves businesses. Businesses that often post things on the way home, businesses that mostly finish at 5pm or later. Oh but of course they realise that as they've added a little note underneath that we can instead use the Lombard Street post-box set outside the Co-op because the last pick-up from there is 5:15pm. Thanks, that makes all the difference.

Okay sure the roadworks are causing problems, but we've ordered stationery twice this week from a provider on the 'wrong' side of the divide and chatting to them they've simply adapted their schedule to take that into account. So why can't the Post Office do the same? Because when it comes to standard post they've got a monopoly, and when you've got one of those you expect your customers to adapt to your needs and not the other way around.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Parking Laws

A letter in the Shuttle about parking motorcycles and mopeds in bicycle spots and getting ticketed has prompted me to write a bit about parking restrictions etc. Just to cover myself I'm not a lawyer so don't take this as read.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Gilgal - Mitton block the road?

Okay here's something to ponder - when the roadworks finally finish at Gilgal they'll start work on Mitton Street. That means they should be blocking off access from Gilgal and redirecting traffic down to the island to do a 360 (in the same way the traffic from Baldwin Road is forced to turn left).

So here's a question - is this better than allowing the traffic to join directly from Gilgal. We locals know that everyone stops at that junction from Worcester Road despite it not being a priority, but we also know the speed in which vehicles round that corner and dart past can be damn intimidating.

So if that section was permanently blocked off they'd be no queue from Mitton Street to the island, and Gilgal traffic still has right of way over most of the rest of the traffic at the island. To facilitate this the island needs to be lowered so you can actually see the traffic on it and the exit from Worcester Road needs to be merged into one lane; both of these being things I think should be done regardless.

Oh and as an afterthought might stop any future large lorries bound for you-know-where using Gilgal if they can't turn completely at the island.

Anyway be something to observe when Phase 3 starts

Gilgal works and Tesco?

Rumours flit around and land in my ear. Now as we all know the work going on at Gilgal is both water and electricity and is to replace the old fittings that we are told are in such a state that they need to be done now before winter sets in.

However a new theory has sprung forth that this might not be the entire truth, or possibly even a truth. This completely unsubstantiated rumour has it that the work being carried out has nothing to do with the state of the utilities and everything to do with the Tesco to be built on the CoW site as well as the houses that planning has been submitted for.

Or to put it another way this 5 week plus 4 week disruption is so that the Tesco and a possible new housing estate will be served correctly.

Now as I say this is completely out-of-there and I don't know how the water/electricity will be set-up on the site, so it must surely be a coincidence that the work going on stretches around Gilgal up Mitton Street and ends just as it approaches the CoW site; coincidence got ta be.

Driving too fast

Queue in the same place to Holt Heath, except I'd made good time to that point so not a hardship. What was heart-pounding was the S-bend before Great Witley, the speed limit applies single sloped carriageway with the clear warning and a multiple slow warning.

Heading down I had to break suddenly (annoying the van behind who'd been up my arse the whole way and knocking to the floor various items in my car) to avoid the jeep-type heading towards me in my lane. No he wasn't overtaking someone, which he shouldn't be anyway; no he wasn't avoiding something in the road; and no this wasn't a slightly in my lane this was a full-on driving down the wrong-side of the road.

Fortunately my breaking and his swerve back to his side of the road meant no collision.

I don't get it. I see it so many times with cars turning corners and taking bends being moved out to the other lane when the answer is to simply slow down. Sure some corners can take you off-guard and you'll find yourself starting to swing out but again the answer is to slow down and bring the vehicle back under control and yet I still see cornering that ends up on the wrong-side until they hit the straight and pull back into lane.

Never a cop around when you want one.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Fallout 3 PS3 add-ons

As mentioned previously a squeal could be heard when Broken Steel the add-on for Fallout 3 that raises the level-cap came out. Well now the Operation: Anchorage and The Pitt have been released and downloaded by yours truly.

What a difference a spot of rain makes

Again with the queue to Holt Heath though this time it stretched back to the turn to Ockeridge. Heading in it still surprises me the attitude of some drivers -

They sit on your arse as your doing 40ish in a 50mph as if willing you to go faster. "Why are you travelling so slowly? What do you mean it's raining and visibility is down? What do you mean that the roads are slick with water? The limit here's 50 so that's what you should be doing as a minimum"

One car overtook on the A449 and managed to squeak back into the queue just before it hit the speed camera van that was parked on the side - damn.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Brutal Legend PS3 demo

So I downloaded the 1.5Gb of demo and was thankful for the 200+Gb of space I now possess in my PS3. So exposition at the start, I like the style of graphics, I like the story, I like the amusing choice of whether to allow swearing or to bleep it out and the choice to allow gore or not. Then into the game and hmmm.

Severn Trent Water The joy continues

Having finally sorted out which meters belong to which properties, having had the invoice that took estimated consumption for a meter that didn't exist based on a reading from someone's meter cancelled; I thought that'd be the end of it all.

Nope - just had an invoice for £2k for the same meter that doesn't exist for an empty property that still uses the same reading from the meter that belongs to someone else.

Debenhams and the Slingfield Mill

As I mentioned earlier this year the addition to the fronts of the Slingfield Mill were supposed to retain the fa├žade of the front a notion that the pdf'ed mockup flatly laughed at.

Weavers Wharf and the vanishing cycle bars Take 2

Managed to head in on Saturday with the camera and take some photos of the outside of Debenhams to confirm the missing cycle bars.

Stown Hall truck

Came in again via Great Witley and joined the queue for Holt Heath! Differences between this and the queue from Shrawley however are a) shorter, and b) on the flat. Then got stuck in the standard slow-moving queue to Holt Fleet and Ombersley. That's not the point though.

Getting on to the A449 was easy, coming up parallel to the join I could see a big gap between a Land Rover-type and a Stown Hall truck. I'd slowed down slightly so was only travelling at 40mph when I joined and then sped up to 50mph (the limit); the Stown Hall truck sped-up and came right up my arse until we expanded back to two lanes when it (and the car behind it) overtook me.

It sped past myself and the Land Rover in front before being forced back into lane as the lanes shifted back to one again. Then jumped straight back out to overtake a 50mph convoy as we approached the flashing school lights. It then had to force itself between two cars in the convoy as the lane ran out again, before pulling out once again and overtaking them as it approached the sign informing us that the road ahead was narrowing on the right.

Now sure I'm not a speed limit enforcer, and that road used to be 60/70mph until it was sectioned off at every turn, but all of the vehicles weren't travelling slowly; no-one was tootling along at 30mph. So to want to travel faster was slightly off, but combine that with the knowledge that the road keeps alternating between one and two lanes and through a school warning is insane.

Sadly I failed to get the licence plate, but if Stown Hall employers are reading this - which truck of yours was on the A449 heading to Crossway Green at 8:50?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Freeview Retuning aftermath 2

Got back home on Thursday to find my box still on waiting to record Veronica Mars; wouldn't turn on, wouldn't turn off - locked. So power off and back on, through the boot-up and 5 seconds of picture followed by freeze.

Hmm this sounds familiar. Yes indeedy pulling out the aerial allowed me to access the menu, wipe the channels and re-tune them once-again and so far everything's been fine when it switched itself on last night to record Buzzcocks.

I'm guessing it was the EPG getting stuck, but just for fun I'll blame the reminder notices that were still coming up making sure I'd retuned.

Oh and yes this meant another missed VM.

[Update 5/10 - which from the "previously" of the next episode meant missing a murder, an arrest and a jail-break for which VM was arrested as an accomplice. Oh yeah that's the episode I miss. Oh and just to rub it in the spot before the episode I recorded is an 'advert' for 4OD about how I can catch-up if I miss a show, ya know except this one]

What a difference a new route makes

Having got totally fed-up with crawling up the hill to Holt Heath, this morning I took the longer route through Great Witley. This is rather counter-intuitive - I want to go East and am blocked so must go South or North (I've been going South)  Great Witley is West. So that's West then back all the way back East and what a delight it was; with only a couple of slow-downs from a Farrier van and someone who didn't like driving with the sun in their eyes I reached Holt Heath in less time than it took to reach the Lenchford and join the queue.

I forsook the left turn and took Church Lane instead to the island, and again that seemed to make a huge difference as the distinctive car I'd been following that took the first left turn was nowhere to be seen. A standard slow queue and 10 minutes to Ombersley then another 10 minutes and in.

Now to see if this route stays clear next week.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Simple as a Fridge

A response to Bruce's entry at the Shuttle on A Dad's Point of View that would take up too much space in the comment box.

So from the title here why can't everything be as simple as fridge? Both buying and using any item in this particular case what might be termed 'high' technology. I'll start with something I tell anyone who comes to me for help with their computer, phone, or latest gizmo who then mutters something about why they can't make these things easier - "The more things something can do, the more things that can go wrong with them" to mangle that I can produce the tautology "The more things something can do, the more complex it is".

Now I'm certainly not one to praise the user-interfaces on a lot of devices, but I ask those who come to me to think about what their gizmos do and can do and how they would create an interface. Beyond a magic mind-reading button there's not much of an answer.

The next thing to ponder is why we consider a fridge to be both easy to buy and use. In theory when shopping for one all we're looking for is an enclosed box that'll keep things cold; by that reckoning we should simply buy the first one we see when we go shopping; so why don't we? Because it's more complex than that.

What size is it, how much power does it use, is it just a refrigerator or is it a freezer too, does it make ice-cubes, what are the gasp between the shelves, what's the door shelf like? These are all the equivalent questions that can be asked when buying a computer, phone or whatever; the big difference is that all the questions about the fridge can be physically grasped - I can see how big it is and the shelf spacing, but how big is 3Gb of RAM and is a 160Gb hard drive the right size? Same complexity, but virtual. The answers are the same - it depends on what you want to do with it.

But using a fridge is easy and using a gizmo can be hair-pullingly annoying. Well yes but ask what it is you want the fridge to do, and we're back to complexity again. The most I want out of a fridge is for it to keep things cold and for the door to open when I want it to, my gizmo on the other hand I want to talk to other people, take photos, email them, connect to the internet, type my letters, do my finances, make my videos, and then entertain me with a selection of games.

So not much we can do on the usage front, what about the buying? Well a lot of that is down to terminology, and the trick is to translate the virtual terms into physical ones.

So let's say advice on buying a computer for a novice. The first question is the same as that for the fridge - what do you want to be able to do with it? This is the equivalent point of size, ice-maker etc. and just as turning to a white goods salesman and answering "Well pretty much everything" or "Dunno" is about as useful to me as it is to him.

Next is to turn those virtual terms into physical ones. Hard-drive, that's your filing cabinet, RAM is your desk size, the CPU is you shuffling the paperwork, and the GPU is the wattage of the bulb in your lamp. Just like buying a fridge balance requirements against price.

Freeview Retuning aftermath

The Sony TV handled the re-tune with aplomb. with the Humax I tried to remove those moved or blank channels and simply re-tune those back in. This it did, but bolloxed up the entire ordering system because, thank you very much, they hadn't just shifted frequencies they messed around with the channel numbers too.

So I would have to go back in delete those and re-tune again. Sod that I just went for a full re-tune. Of course this meant losing all my scheduling after all you can't record a programme for a channel that doesn't exist. Due to the current crap level of TV that wasn't a hardship and back in they went except one. FlashForward on FIVE.

I recorded the first one on Monday but have yet to see it. So I moved through the EPG and picked the second one next Monday. The series link then set itself for the repeat tomorrow and the repeats on FIVER. So that's three extra recordings a week.

Another clever bit was with ITV2+1 that moved from 27 to 33; yet 27 was still available and showing EPG information. Turning to it it came up with a 'We have moved to 33 retune your box' message. Okay but why's the channel still transmitting and why is the tag for 33 ITV rather than ITV2+1?

Well done there people another smooth transit.

Lengthening journey

So I leave just past 8:10 and arrive at Ombersley at 9:00 that's 7.5 miles in 50 minutes, to be precise that's 5 miles in 20 minutes and 2.5 miles in 30 minutes.

To add insult to injury DaBoss had turned up early and had supposedly left at 8:30 via the same route and got in before me. Yeah how the hell did that happen? Well the only deviation he took was at Holt Heath, instead of left, left, he went left straight left and came out of Church Lane thus cutting off the queue that I must have been in.

The time difference I'm betting was caused by Mister "What's the Use in Hurrying?" who trundled along the whole way at 20mph or left wonking great gaps in the queues he did reach.

FrontPage Server Extensions

One of the websites uses a couple of FrontPage extensions, nothing major just a form emailer and a hit counter; they stopped working after what appeared to be a server upgrade. A phone call later and assurances that the extensions had been installed and were functioning.

In a feat of desperation I summoned up FrontPage and tried to publish the site via its internal tools, just to prove that it wasn't the pages being simply ftp'ed across that caused the problem.

Up popped

Yeah, it's definitely my end that's at fault here... right.