Friday, May 28, 2010

Brush your teeth, save your life.

With the reports coming in that those who never or rarely brush their teeth being 70% more likely to suffer a heart disease you'd expect me to jump all over it; lovely, lovely statistics. Except the newspapers seem to be reporting it in context.

I mean the first thing I'd jump on is whether this is simply causal - that is people who take care of their teeth tend to eat a healthy diet and exercise more so than those who don't; yet medical histories and such were taken into account and this has been reported by the newspapers.

Even more so the newspapers themselves quote the scientists in their speculation that this may be the case and that more studies need to be done.

Next I'd point out the simple '70% more likely' is of no use unless we know the base figures, but yet again although we don't get those figures we do get most of the newspapers reporting that the base chances of heart disease are fairly low.

Could this be a new era in statistical reporting by the media. Is this the end to 'Twice as likely to die' headlines?

I keep expecting to look up and see pigs flying.

The Bradford murders take 2

So I did say the 'quality' media was talking about murder singular and the tabloids murders plural. So it looks as if we can place the BBC and GMTV news in the latter column as they headline that Stephen Griffith the man arrested is up in court on a charge of three murders.

Again we have one murder and two suspected murders. I mean what happens if he's convicted of three murders and one of the dead women turns up alive working the streets of Bradford, far-fetched think again. But of course this is England we wouldn't torture someone to get a confession, we'll just let the tabloid press tear his reputation to shreds and no doubt howl about miscarriages of justice if he's only convicted of the one actual murder that we know has taken place.

But then again what can we expect all this has happened before.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Bradford murders

Do a news search regarding the Bradford murders and you'll quickly spot that the police have been questioning a suspect. Well that's a good thing isn't it? Well yes until you start looking at how some of the media are reporting it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The right to peaceful protest, unless we don't like it.

Was it an act of synchronicity that had the Queen laying out the government's pledges on removing the limits on peaceful protest at the same time that the Lord Mayor of London was pushing the courts to have a protest camp removed from Parliament Square?

Is it a coincidence that police turned up at the 9-year protester Brian Haw's tent and had him arrested for obstructing police security checks?

Should we be concerned over the statement from Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, that

it was not for the police to decide "what should and should not be done on private property," but added: "The one thing we would look for in any government is to properly clarify around Parliament what it is they want and what they do not want."
Oddly enough I think what the government wants around Parliament are people slapping their backs and telling them what a good job they're doing and what they don't want are people negatively criticising them, but then again I think that's what they want to happen everywhere so why should the area around Parliament be considered so special?

Welcome to the new coalition government because peaceful protest is fine so long as it's held somewhere they can't see it.

Stourport High Street blocks

Those with long memories may recall my mentioning that when work was carried out back in December 2006 on the High Street in Stourport they replaced the block paving with non-matching blocks. No don't get your hopes up this isn't about them finally getting around to replacing them. Last month (IIRC) work was being done next to the Wheatsheaf where this discrepancy was most obvious. I thought nothing of it until a skip turned up outside HSBC and drew my attention to that area. The blocks are now grey and seem to cover a different area.

Now I'm trying to find my original photos which aren't on Flickr for some reasons, but I'm sure it was a case that the difference was in texture more so than colour, yet here we have some slabs that appear completely different.

So yet more digging through my files to find out what's going on.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bewdley Parking

Once again the parking in Bewdley has made the letter pages of the Shuttle and once again it seems that most people still aren't aware of the actual laws that govern this activity.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The General Election 2010 statistics

As Ben over at Bad Science points out trying to scrape together all the information from the different constituencies regarding any election is difficult without a central open record. I'd put it more akin to trying to herd cats.

As such I'm indebted to TheyWorkForYou for providing a csv file of all the current MPs as well as the two xml files listing current and previous MPs. Unfortunately although this information is the best out there it still doesn't add in certain information such as age or career. For that I had to turn to the newspaper databases. No simple downloads there, nope had to pull the information by hand and some of it just wasn't there.

U.K. Bans Doctor Who

Another headline from my news feed the full title (that is being displayed) being "U.K. Bans Doctor Who Linked Autism to Vaccine" otherwise known as The Need to Stop Using Capital Letters for Every News Headline. Yeah then again You Are Watching Fox.

Political Compass explanation

The main Political Compass page is still the point to add your own score (come on Jon, Rob, and WFBNP) but I decided to add this page due to a comment from Orphi who laments over his negative score (hey I'm even more negative) and asks "I wonder what these numbers mean?".

The political compass site takes the basic Left/Right poles and adds on two more Authoritarian and Libertarian it treats the original LR line as an economic position and the AL line as a social position; but what does that mean?

The LR line determines where you stand on the production of wealth. In simplistic terms those on the far-left believe everything should be state-owned whereas those on the far-right think everything should be privately owned

As Political Compass states this single line means that Gandhi and Mugabe exist at roughly the same point and that can't be right. Add in the AL line and things become clearer.

Again in simplistic terms those at the far-Authoritarian end believe in the state, the construct of country over that of the individual. Those at the far-Libertarian end believe the individual is more important than the collective.

So take someone who thinks all production should be controlled by the state for the state and you're looking at the top-left corner. Someone who thinks the same but that production should be privately owned and you're looking top-right. Despite the traditional point of view that they are opposite to each other (Left and Right) these two share common ground. They both agree that the state is more important than the individual they just disagree how to keep production flowing.

In the lower quadrants we can have someone who thinks that production should be in the hands of the people, but that they should be free to choose what that production is. They appear bottom left. Someone who thinks that production should be in private hands, but also thinks they should be free to do what they choose appears bottom left.

As both I and Orphi appear bottom-left than roughly speaking our outlook appears to be that of letting people do what they want but that some restrictions should apply in terms of the well-being of the individual.

WalkerNo5 appears bottom-right which inclines him more to the position that the individual should be able to take care of themselves.

[Update as per comments. Even I'm getting mixed up with the axes. walkerno5 and I differ in economic terms not libertarian ones]

Restricted to 70mph

I meant to post about this some time ago, but I've not seen it since and didn't trust my memory. However it's just been refreshed by the Royal Mail van in front of me this morning with a sticker on the back informing me that this vehicle is "Restricted to 70mph". How odd as I thought we all were; unless the Royal Mail are delivering the post along long private roads or taking it overseas if it tried to go above 70mph it would be breaking the law.

So why bother informing me? Why should I expect this vehicle to travel faster?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Windows 7 and the DVD Maker

Just had a cry for help from someone I've not spoken to for a while, of course it's about computers what do you expect [sigh]. She has some avi video files that she wanted to burn to a DVD for use in a standard DVD player.

She's got to the point where she was added files to the disc but couldn't progress any further. So yeah like so many others before her she was trying to add files to a disc in data mode and would then wonder why the DVD player wouldn't read them.

I directed her to Windows DVD Maker. Excellent she was very happy and was about to ring off (typical woman just wants me for my brain :-) ) when I asked her to check what letter the DVD Burner was located at. It was blank. No drive letter no drives in the drop-down box. Ah.

So Windows 7 recognises the drive as being writeable and offers up the standard burn files explorer window, but a programme from the very same company doesn't recognise a burner being installed.

It seems this is a common problem with a variety of solutions that range from the simple removal of the USB modem or any USB devices through re-installation of the drivers and up to deletion of the drive. No USB Devices plugged in and no way was I going to talk her through anything else.

So sadly I conceded defeat and suggested she talk to her brother the systems architect who built her computer and told her it wasn't possible to burn these videos.

Sneaky little Amazon

An email pops through from Amazon - would I be interested in Alice in Wonderland on DVD? Wait hasn't that only just hit the cinemas? Yes it has but that's not the one they're selling, nope it's the 1983 version, but I have to wonder how many thought "Oo the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version" and clicked purchase without paying attention.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

PSN Portable ID updating

Yeah that little graphic to the right that shows my current trophy score from the PS3. Does it update or does it not do so automatically?

From the 23rd April I've purposefully avoided logging in to the Playstation site to see if it will update. As of today it still shows me at Level 11 with 716 trophies. My PS3 tells me I'm level 12 with 811. I'm guessing not.

So I've logged in at the Playstation site and "My Profile" tab is still 716, but the "My Trophies" tab shows the correct 811. I've not clicked the update, but instead just returned to the "My Profile" tab and now it shows the correct 811.

So you have to log in for it to update. So what? Well you can't do this from the PS3 itself. So if you use your console with a keyboard on the internet and frequent various forums and want to add your Portable ID to it. It will NEVER update, unless you get access to a computer.

Anti-Piracy measures: just imagine the stupidity

Only last year the new SpinIt washing machine was introduced for sale in the UK matched with the new WashIt soap powder, but it seems the Widget company have been having problems with hacking. Their spokesman explained -

"It was a revolutionary idea, we would synergise our new SpinIt product with the WashIt powder to provide a quality experience for the consumer. By incorporating a bar-code scanner into our SpinIt we could ensure that  the soap drawer simply wouldn't operate without swiping a WashIt box past it. Thus ensuring our product could calibrate load, water levels, and temperatures to give a perfect wash."

However is seems this synergy wasn't welcomed by a few of the purchasers of the machine who soon discovered ways to 'hack' the machine. We spoke to one 'hacker' who insisted on anonymity -

"At first it was fine we got really good results from using WashIt, but then the price went up and I mean really went up and soon we were noticing how much our income was being chipped away on soap powder. Then one day I accidentally swiped my old empty WashIt packet in front of the machine instead of the new one and the tray just opened. That's when the thought struck me - so long as I kept an old packet I could use whatever soap powder I liked"

Our informant wasn't the only one who discovered this and message boards across the country lit-up with consumers sharing this handy 'tip'. The Widget company tried to hit back stating that use of third-party soap powders was restricted under their EULA and that anyone found to be using one would have their warranty revoked. Sadly for the company this did little to stem the tide and work began on fixing the problem.

"The difficulty was in distinguishing between an old empty box of WashIt and a new box and as such we've introducing new time-stamped boxes. Each packet of New WashIt will feature a separate bar code that will be used to open the soap drawer along with an expiry date printed prominently at the bottom. This along with the mandatory update firmware update will ensure our consumers won't suffer from substandard cleaning"

When asked why 'hacking' consumers would download this latest patch the spokesman replied

"It'll just download in the background. Sure you can disconnect the machine, but that's pretty much admitting you're breaking our terms and conditions and we'll simply revoke your warranty automatically. Besides, the update comes with some additional features that our loyal customers will be sure to enjoy."

Political Compass

I've mentioned the Politcal Compass website before elsewhere, but it cropped up again on a Shuttle comment regarding the difficulty in fixing people the default left-right political line, something else I've mentioned.

I can't quite remember my score from last time I took it, but I do recall it was bottom left somewhere near the Dali Llama's supposed score. This time around it came out as -6.5x,-7.85y that is -6.5 horizontally and -7.85 vertically which is pretty much the same.

So why the post? Firstly to note the score for posterity, but secondly as I'm about to challenge all those who post regarding politics on the Shuttle to publish their scores and rather than clog up the Shuttle's website (as well as the fact they seem to have a habit of losing or removing older comments) I'll provide a point where they can be kept.

So... I post on the Shuttle as FlipC - The Mad Ranter, Stourport and my score is -6.5x -7.85y

Over to everyone else.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

InFamous re-dux

Just to show the lasting appeal of the InFamous game; despite finishing it with 100% completion three times, despite already reaching the Platinum Trophy over the weekend I popped it into my PS3 and started playing it again and it's still fun.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Precognition in RPGs

I recently re-read a column from by Bryan Jonker titled "Stupid People Tricks" that tried to deal with the problems that precognition abilities cause in Role Playing Games. As, for some reason, my mind was filled with various time-travel tropes it led to resonance and herein lies the result.

That Liz Jones

Via Angry Mob.

Oh woe is me here I am on a six figure salary and I'm whining that I'm over my overdraft limit and can't afford food and not one of my 'friends' has dropped by with a nice bottle of £50+ wine and an invitation to pay for a trip to a nice spa. Not even an email or a text to acknowledge my plight.

Driving courtesy

Ah wonderful Vale Road I come round in lane 1 but want to cross over into lane 3. I do what I'm supposed to do that is continue in my lane and find I can get into lane 2 very easily as all the traffic from Mitton Street is sticking to lane 3.

I slow down looking for a gap, there's one behind the car that hit the Road at the same time as I, but it's not quite large enough unless the car behind them slows their acceleration a bit. They speed up instead.

Rather than do what most do and break the speed limit, blast up the second lane, and force my way in; I slow down some more to see if I can get in behind them.

The car behind the accelerating one does indeed slow down a little and lets me in. I merge and slam on my brakes as the accelerating car turns right into Mitton Walk. Oddly enough I can't see a right-turn indicator when I'm on the left-hand side of the car. Now if he'd slowed slightly I could have merged in front of him with little difficulty and he wouldn't have suffered in any way. Honestly some people.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Chris Addison - Have I Got News For You

Excellent HIGNFY last night with Chris Addison on Paul Merton's team laying into journalists. I can't quite quote verbatim but the best bits:

On the coalition -
"I don't understand why journalists don't get this 'They're not the same party' well no if they were it wouldn't be a coalition"

On Clegg's 'two-timing' -
"I thought that was what negotiations were? You try to get the best deal you can"

On the journo stating that Brown should have resigned on the Friday -
"But he was constitutionally unable to do so as there was no-one ready to form a government"

Ian hit back that announcing he was going to stay until October meant he was levered out like a barnacle. Sadly Chris didn't make a response, or at least we didn't see one. My response would have been -

"So he should have resigned and then all the papers would call him selfish for scuppering a potential Lab/LibDem coalition. Creating a leadership crisis while his Party is supposed to be in negotiations with Clegg"

And these are the people who are paid to know this stuff and inform us what's going on?

Strained back Part 2

Well thanks to an Ibuprofen last night, a ten minute session with a massage wand, and a hot-water bottle I managed to get a good night's sleep and woke up with only a twinge if I move a bit sharpish.

If it acts up during the day I've brought in the hot-water bottle as the pills make me drowsy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Strained back

Don't know how, but somehow I've acquired an ache at the rear right of my back that gets quite sharp when the muscles in that area tense. Until this happens you don't realise (or forget) just how often this area is pulled about.

Simply turning around, taking a deep breath or compensating for the tilt as you turn a corner in a car and ouch. Hopefully if I stay physically inactive today it'll fade by tonight.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Supplementary Vote System

As mentioned of the voting systems being proposed I found the Supplementary Vote system to be the simplest that still allows for a majority win. In that entry I kept the mechanics and the politics vague, now it's time to look a little deeper.

GMTV's Best Dad in Britain

Yet another one of these stupid 'awards' from GMTV the only reason I'm even posting this is because of the example given on how to enter.

They show a form you fill out and handily give you an example of what you should type as a voiceover repeats what you can see. So you get a fake name, email address, telephone number, and a "I think my Dad is best because..." then you have to attach a photo. The browse button is clicked a photo of a cheery man is selected and the file name appears as "mydad.jpg". The attach button is pressed and the name of the file in the field - "mymum.jpg". Oops.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Voting systems

Due to the hung Parliament the question of how we vote has been cropping up with each Party offering a new system that in no way favours their own Party over the others. What's on offer or what could be offered? I'll give a run-down of the types and their pros and cons. What I won't be dealing with is the process of voting, the boundaries, or getting people out to vote. This is about how the people vote, how clear it is to them and how clear the result is. These are the main choices on offer.

God of War Collection and God of War III review

Yes Game were doing both the collection and GoWIII at a reduced price which was cheaper than the 'trilogy' offering of exactly the same games in a cardboard sleeve; so I bought them both.

Anarchy in the UK

Four days since the General Election and we still don't have a government, there are riots on the streets of the major cities and mass looting... yeah course not no-one's really noticed yet.

The Queen is still in charge and the Prime Minister is still the Prime Minister. The councils are still doing what they do, the police are still working, the hospitals, the fire service all still functioning.

So the big story is oooo what will the markets think, will the pound drop in value, blah blah. Yep once again it's the financiers who decide things and there's nothing we can do about it.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Our Wyre Forest MP

So yes we've reverted to the blue and now have a Conservative MP in charge, which will certainly play well with our Conservative County and Conservative District councils, but might not be much use if we end up with a Lab/LibDem shared government.

As is sadly the norm our new MP came in with only 63.1% of the voters not wanting him and is thus the least disliked of all those who stood and therefore the winner.

The General Election result

So an hour this morning of both the BBC and ITV drumming their fingers and going um. As of this minute 622 of 655 seats have declared, the current leading Party being the Conservatives with 292 seats. As they need another 34 seats for an overall majority and there are only 33 left baring any recounts we've a hung Parliament.

If the Conservatives go cap in hand to the Liberal Democrats (currently 52) they can have their majority, but that's unlikely. Trouble is that as it stands even if Labour (251) and the LibDems join forces they still need another 23 seats between them to form a majority.

So if the the Lab/LibDem can't gain those 23 seats it's the rise of the minority parties. If the Conservatives manage to pull in all 33 undeclared they only need to get one of the "others" on board to tip them over into a majority.

Gosh isn't this exciting?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Non-inheriting CSS?

Something I must have come across in the past but it's just hit me again is the way CSS class sometimes seems to suddenly stop applying to an entire block of text for no apparent reason. To take a simple code snippet imagine two classes .bold{font-weight:bold;} and .red{color:red;} and the code as:

<p class="bold">Some text and <span class="red">some red text</span> and some more text</p>

When displayed it should appear as:

Some text and some red text and some more text

and it does, note that all the text is bold including that in part in red. Now instead of using a span element turn it into a block element such as another p

<p class="bold">Some text and <p class="red">some red text</p> and some more text</p>

and it returns the following:

Some text and
some red text
and some more text

Sadly the Google editor keeps reinterpreting my code into div elements but the principle remains. I found this out using an ul element in a p element. Now if I used a div element it seems to work correctly except I don't want a division I want a paragraph of text with a list and I want the whole paragraph in bold.

So far that means closing the paragraph before the list and reopening it after and applying the class style to both paragraphs and the list, which is a tad annoying.

The new government

I try not to be biased here and I'll try to stick to that as I discuss what the outcome of the General Election could be. First off I really do hope we have a hung Parliament. Despite the fear-mongering from both the Parties and media I think that a shared Parliament would be closer to the democratic decision of the people via the vote.

Trying to plump for one party over another is difficult, to be blunt I don't like any of them. At their higher reaches all of them seem only to pay lip-service to the ideals of serving the public and concentrate more on retention of their own power and furthering their own agenda.

So if the Conservatives get in will we return to the 'halcyon' days of Thatcher with private interests trumping public ones? If Labour retain power will it be the status quo a steady erosion of personal liberties performed ironically to protect us. If the Liberal Democrats get in what will they do? Will it be the same as the early days of the Labour regime when they couldn't shake off the feeling that they were still the opposition party and acted as such?

I don't know however the one thing I do hope for and having shared this with others to peals of laughter and applause and much "God that would be so good" would be for whichever Party comes out on top to do so without their leader having failed to win over their own constituency.

As my friends said it'll never happen, but it would be so good.

The big vote

Yep it's the General Election today and I don't know what it's like where you are but here it's cold, grey, and miserable, which pretty much sums up the whole election process in my eyes.

Bumped my way along the potholed car-park and voted this morning, no I'm not telling you who for that's between me and MI5.

I found it interesting this morning to see the BBC's giant touch-screen map of the UK with all the constituencies marked out in appropriate colours blue, green, red, yellow and there just south-west of Birmingham a large incongruous splodge of purple.

Will it stay purple, will we retain our independence of the big parties or will we revert to the Conservative 'rule' that dominated this district when a certain firm also dominated the job sector? Will we fall out of favour with the big two and resent being passed over in favours for our independence and turn Liberal Democrat? Will we return to our brief flirtation with Labour before the hospital fiasco? Big shock will we look at the 'high' population of Polish in this area and turn to UKIP or the BNP?

We'll find out tomorrow as well as who is nominally in charge of us all.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Millionaires support the Party that makes them money

In a shock twist for the forthcoming general election it turns out that those with large sums of money are supporting the political party that is most likely to let them continue to make large sums of money and keep as much of it as possible.

"Look it's not selfish" said one, "If I make lots of money then by extension so is everyone else. If I put into the banks they have more money to lend out in loans which helps small businesses. If I don't then I'm spending it, on a new Italian sports car or another home in LA and that helps the British economy."

"These pool-boys and dog-walkers need to be paid, I'm creating good poverty-wage level jobs for those willing to obey my every command and stand there soaking up my tantrums when they serve me a drink with ice cubes and not shaved ice like I bloody told you, yes I did, I don't make mistakes you're fired"

"I mean I'm a benefactor to society keeping the money in circulation; it's not as if that huge fortress-like building over there with the gold pound sign on it is filled with money into which I dive and wallow around in on a daily basis"

"The simple fact that I have money means that I'm a contributor I wouldn't have it otherwise would I? You have to have earned it.., or inherited it, or have your parents earn it and send you to a private school where you can rub shoulders with people who'd give you a cushy job later. But anyway it's mine and I deserve to keep as much of it as possible and that's why I want you - the people without lots of money - to vote for this Party. Don't be selfish just think of me and my chums. I promise we'll raise a glass of Cristal to you once we er they are in power"

Access database can't be accessed

There's a simple shared database sitting on a computer, accessed via a simple front-end in Access 2000. I go to access it this afternoon and it states that it's not accessible - it's either exclusively locked or security blocked.

I navigate to the UNC where it's stored and try to open the table itself, no can do. I try to take a copy to check it locally - nope. I try one of the other tables stored in the same place - fine. So it's not the share or network security.

So I ask myself one of the basic IT support questions "What was the last thing I did with it?" and the answer pops up - I compacted and repaired it. "Where did I do that?" on the local computer. Why should that make a difference I don't know.

I can't open it remotely so I go back to the local computer, open the file and compact and repair; still not accessible remotely. This time I open the file using the network UNC location; compact and repair - bingo.

My guess is a compact and repair embeds the file location of the lock file that's created when the table is accessed. When opened remotely it uses that rather than the path it was opened from to locate the lock file. Of course the remote computer doesn't have a lock file at c:\user\users\files\database\ it's at \\computer\database\ so it fails.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I think you're Common People - Tory video spoof

Spoof Tory election video via Liberal Consiracy. Regardless of your political leanings, you've got to admit it's well done. I wonder what Jarvis thinks?

Transcript of lyrics below:

We don't vote for the PM

Despite the media and despite the cult of personality that seems to have been inflicted upon us, the vast majority of the population won't be voting for the next term's Prime Minister. As I've said before, and will keep saying, it's possible for a party to be returned without its leader winning their seat.

For Gorden Brown in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath they could choose to elect one of seven other candidates.

Those voting in Whitney could vote for David Cameron or they could vote for one of the other nine candidates.

In Sheffield, Hallam they could vote for Nick Clegg, but the vote could go to one of the other eight candidates.

In all three cases the other two major parties are fielding candidates so it's not a certainty that they'll be elected. Why, therefore, does the media keep focussing on them?

Not the only one asking this it seems.

Democracy in action

In connection with my 33 stand unopposed entry it's worth reading the letter from the Humphries regarding the Pound Green and Button Oak AGM. Careful readers of the Shuttle will note that there have been many comments on how decisions have been railroaded through.

Who voted for these people? In some areas this time around it may be no-one.

So you want to be my MP?

It's taken long enough and a truck-load of scandal for a political party to advance any notion that we the people should be able to turf out a sitting MP should they ya know not do their job.

Imagine if this were the business model that both Labour and Conservative seem to worship:

"So you want to be my MP, are you qualified?"
"I think so"
"Okay I'll give you a trial run of five years we'll give you the money for a new house in London and pay for your expenses. If during this period it turns out you're unfit for the job we'll still employ and pay you but we'll let you go at the end of your term with a full pension oh and you can keep the house"
"Sounds fair"