Friday, July 30, 2010

The London Cycle Hire scheme

Launched today London gains a whole set of cycle racks complete with cycles that can be hired A full Q&A can be found on the BBC site here; well I say full. It's time to play Spot the Flaws.

They've managed to eliminate a biggie right off the bat, the cycles don't come with locks so you can only drop them back off at the proper points. Ah but what if the point is full? Well you can find the next nearest one and you get 15 minutes extra free to get there.

So Question No.1 - If the rack is full how does it know that it's you trying to drop your bike off? I'm guessing from the video that the bikes have RFID chips or similar probably passive chips that draw power from inducement via the docking points; so that's close range. Okay fair enough you'll be prodding the screen while holding the bike.

However all that requires you to use a screen so Question 2 - What steps have been taken to prevent the screens being vandalised?

So about that docking station, currently you use a key to get the cycle out and just slot the bike back in to return it. Multiple questions - How do you know the bike is registered as being returned? If the RFID tag doesn't read is this indicated to the user? Is the software used to record, and in some cases charge, the usage written so as to prevent a bike ID being taken out if it's not registered as being returned?

The question of how to deal with a faulty bike is dealt with by pressing a "spanner" button on the docking point which locks the bike in and prevents its use. Question - What's stopping someone from walking down the row and pressing all the spanner buttons. Can it only be used shortly after docking?

To that end what's stopping some piece of scum walking along the entire row with a pocket knife slitting all the rear tyres? Are they puncture-proof tyres?

Although currently subscription based the ideal is that at some point anyone can use the bikes by paying online, using a phone, or at a terminal when they'll be given a keycode to unlock the bike. How does that work? I mean I assume that a keycode is generated at the point of sale, if I do this online or via phone will I have to designate a pick-up point or will my code work at any of the stations. How long is this code? If it's too long how do I remember it; if it's too short what protection is in place to stop someone just randomly tapping buttons in the hopes of getting a bike for free that I'd end up paying £300 for?

Just hoping someone's thought all this through. I do hope it works as a scheme.

US officials to question UK witnesses over Lockerbie - maybe?

Well I mentioned the "demands" and "grilling" that the US senate wanted to give Cameron over the release of the Lockerbie bomber and how they weren't. Now we hear that the inquiry has been halted as the witnesses "refused to testify in the US"

So now we get that the a "U.S. Senate committee wants to send members to Britain to question key witnesses on the release of the Lockerbie bomber."

Well far be it from me to question how the US taxpayers want their money spent, but is sending a bunch of senators on a holiday to the UK really a good idea? Hey we need the tourist income no problem, but having them fly over and being denied appointments or a refusal to discuss the events seems a bit of a waste of money.

Now check the actual footage from Newsnight and it's a lot more hesitant. When asked about interviewing Ministers here the reply is:

"Well that's actually one of the options we're pursuing and in addition to making a request for them to come to the hearings we will be sending individuals and taking those who made the offer up on having someone travel abroad to Great Britain and to Scotland to interview the individuals and to ask questions and get a thorough understanding of how they came to their decisions"

So that's sending people out to interview those who are willing to talk to them, that's a big difference in tone to how it seems to be reported.

Alcohol crime statistics

One from Liberal Conspiracy on once again how to use statistics to tell a truth. Theresa May's quote

an increase in the number of alcohol related incidents and drink-fuelled crime and disorder
Seems easy enough to understand there have been more incidents involving drink. Except as LC and FullFact demonstrate the Home Office has no statistics on such incidents and the report it got the details from show a decrease in such incidents.

So how can it be a truth. Well imagine last year there were 100 incidents and 30 of them were 'alcohol-related' that equates to 30%. Now imagine that this year the total number of incidents dropped to 75 and 25 of them were 'alcohol-related' that equates to 33%. So the "number of alcohol related incidents" has increased hasn't it?

Well no simply the proportion of them. Good job the Home Office corrected this (after being found out) and I'm sure all those tabloids printing up the headlines about Boozy Britain will incorporate the addition in the quote.

Honest mistake or an attempt to justify pushing through new legislation?

What to do with the old recycling bins?

It seems a spate of letters has hit the Shuttle about the lack of information regarding what to do with the old recycling crates now we have a sparkling new green wheelie bin; ya know that question I posed back at the beginning of the month just after they arrived.

But it's just hit me! What about WalkerNo5's suggestion to turn them into Recyclotron Recyclon 3000 a giant robot; yeah not a robot of course, but - there's a £250k renovation plan going on at Coronation Gardens in Kidderminster. Why not use these crates to build the benches, to provide various statuary around the place and even other areas? What a statement that would make - "Wyre Forest we're even recycling our recycling".

Just a thought.

Tesco - appeal refused

I hadn't spotted this, it was Jim who pointed out this story from listening to the radio. Tav has obviously noticed as he's commented on an 'amusing' point.

So the Co-op has lost its appeal against Tesco building on the CoW site, hardly surprising. However it's what happens next that's crucial, remember the Co-op threatened to leave should the Tesco be built. Firstly that would leave a wonking great space at that end of town with both the Co-op and the old Tesco pulling out, and secondly what would happen to the Post Office that was moved onto the Co-op site? Will they remain in the big unused building... heh perhaps they could move the sorting office into it.

One joke is that the Co-op is really a purpose built supermarket site, if they leave because of the new Tesco, in theory Tesco could have bought it and used that. A bigger joke is having Asda/Sainsbury's/Morrisons buying and taking it over, oo and buying the old Tesco site too and turning it into a big car-park. Oh it is to laugh :-)

Interesting Pay and Display Shuttle notice

When the council makes alterations to the payment structure of any of its run car-parks it needs to put a notice in the paper. One such notice appeared in this weeks paper dated 29/07/10 on page 64 and it makes curious reading.

Firstly it deals with Land at 8 and 8a Bridge Street Stourport, wherever this is. Google Maps shows it as the Factory Shop and indeed there is space next to it - but that's private land. In fact there's only one 'public' area of parking - the bays in front of the Flamingo, which are free.

The next surprise is the introduction of car-parking charges to previously free areas including the Vale Road car-park. This is a surprise as it's currently the only free car-park in Stourport and sources inform me that it's remained that way due to a covenant between the council and the landowner/giver. In fact the same sources inform me that the council tried to make this a PnD car-park several years ago, putting up notices and so forth only to be blocked by this covenant.

So either I'm wrong, and the fact it's remained free for so long weighs against that; the covenant has expired; the council don't remember it exists; or the council hope no-one else remembers it exists.

Even more curiously the notice intends to revoke the use of Resident Season Tickets here... except it's free. [Possibly it's subject to the same 23 out of 24 hour usage that's being expired in Bewdley and ticket holders were exempt from this] So is there some other car-park on Vale Road I'm unaware of? The land is identified on plans and can be seen during short working areas at Stourport and Kidderminster. Online? Well I'll have a look, but won't hold my breath. So anyone with some time fancy a look for me? Wait!

OMG the notice is online along with the reasons for doing it. The Bridge Street car-park

The creation of new surface car parks at Bridge Street
so they're not even referring to an existing car-park yet and
The introduction of charges at The Avenue, Blakedown and Vale Road, Stourport-on-Severn surface car parks to ensure consistency and equity across the district in charging for the use of spaces on public pay and display car parks.
except Vale Road isn't a PnD car-park and never has been. So am I referring to the right areas? I don't know because they haven't provided the maps to which the notice refers. Ya know what I'll accept this as a mistake and give them a call, wait the number is listed as "(emergencies only)"; um?

So I used the dead-tree phone book and called the number there, made sure that they knew I applauded the fact that the notice was even posted so I wouldn't have to try and leave work to see it all, but that it needed a little extra information namely the location map to which they were referring to. With any luck that might get posted too I'll keep my eyes open.

[Update 19/8 - Just to prove if you don't say anything you won't get - the  location maps have been added to the original page linked above so it's confirmed that they were indeed talking about the Vale Road car-park we know and the current Lloyds garage site]

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Playstation 3.41 update now smaller

Another update to the Playstation system software only a minor upgrade from 3.40. It's not been released to fix a problem caused by the previous upgrade as so many other minor releases have been (or at least it doesn't mention any) all it does is update the Playstation Store. Huzzah does this mean they're finally showing file sizes on the description page? Nope they're showing recommended products a la Amazon based on what you're looking at and your purchase content history.

The last update was around the 170Mb mark and as each update contains all previous updates this means a download of over that just to get pressure sale-ed. Of course you can choose not to download it, if you don't want access to the store or online gaming, because you can't sign in without it.

However a new twist comes into play. Reports on the forums that broke the news suggested the download wasn't that large and it seems that's true. It looks like Sony have taken a leaf out of Microsoft's book and the PS3 will now download only what is necessary to take you to the next version. I'm unsure of the size, but unlike the previous downloads where I could eat a meal and still have to wait for the finish this one was pretty much over by the time I'd changed clothes.

So well done Sony for the incremental upgrade ability, shame you premièred it with such a naff reason.

Bridge Bash

I note a couple of flyers posted in town for the Bridge Bash - gosh is something going on at Stourport Bridge? Nope it's Stanford Bridge past Great Witley. When's it on - tomorrow... and over the weekend. Now I understand not putting up advertising too soon, but this seems a little close to me.

Hmm capacity is limited, but you can buy a ticket at the 'door'; um?

[Update 30-7: It managed to crop up on this morning's Midlands Today section, I think they said it can hold 5,000. Again advertising a little close to the event I think.]

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Acer Aspire 5920 power fix

As mentioned in a comment on "Dead Computer - extra" DaBoss's son's Acer failed. He just brought it in and we tried two different transformers, no success - no blue light, no charging light. Unplugged the battery, left the power in - still no success.

He didn't want it to go back to Acer as last time it took 3 months to fix. Should I call up the local computer support or a friend of his who runs a computer IT company further away?

I wondered out-loud whether others had experienced the same problem and come up with a fix. This was pooh-poohed, but I checked anyway and found this little nugget of information.

Out came the battery and cable, on went my finger to the power button for 30 seconds, back in went the power cable and on came the computer. Powered it back down, popped the battery back in and both lights appeared.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dead computer - extra

Yep definitely the power supply a new one plugged in started all the fans, but no video signal and no post beeps. Ah joy. It's been picked up for advanced diagnostics - very handy having a computer support company just up the road.

If it's the MB or the video card it may well end up cheaper to just have a shell computer created and switch the HD's over, the computer's now old enough to make that a possible option.

[Update - the Northbridge fan had stopped, so apparently it was just that and the PSU]

Monday, July 26, 2010

Humax 9200T .23 update

All last year I was having problems with my Humax Freeview DVR, if I tried to set a Favourite List it would fail recordings, if I tried to use Picture in Picture its response time would be as if I were using smoke signals instead of a remote, even simply trying to fast-forward beyond 4x speed would leave me overshooting the mark, rewinding slowly, overshooting again all due to its unresponsiveness.

Was it due to the amount I had stuck on my hard drive it wavered between 30% and 70% full, hmm perhaps if it's nearer the full mark.

And then I heard my parents complaining, they too were having problems with responsiveness and theirs is newer with a different loader (same software) but more importantly almost bugger all on the hard drive.

Singularity PS3 review

Yes I managed to get my hands on a copy below the ridiculous RRP.

A quick flick through the manual and wow that's pretty bare - here are the screens, here are the controls, multiplayer consists of two types of matches here's the recommended speeds. All in all it's about 10 pages with half of that being the copyright and technical filler.

Now I could say this is to avoid spoilers, except at the very beginning of the game you're shown a video that gives away a huge chunk of the story. During the 1950's Russia discovered a new element/mineral (the game can't make up its mind which) called E99 (which would now be called Einsteinium) this promised to produce power and weaponry that would eclipse the USA's atomic stance. The location site is an island off the west coast of Russia and a research station is placed there called Katorga 12. Then all goes quiet. Back to 2010 and an overflying satellite gets blinded by a radiation burst, worried that the Russians are covering up another Chernobyl the USA sends in two 2-man squads to investigate. The game starts with the player in one of the helicopters when something bad happens and you're stranded near-weaponless on the island.

Banks - let's create another crash?

First a recap of the previous problem. Banks were encouraged by various governments to make loans to those they wouldn't normally have done so. People were encouraged to go into debt and all these debts were grouped and sold on, the returns were high and the risks were reported as low. With a culture focussing towards the short-term it was a sensible business decision, until it all fell apart and the banks required bailing out by the governments

Since the bailout the banks have reverted to their old conservative ways of only wanting to lend out money to those that don't need it, this has caused a contraction of growth and is causing more economic problems.

So why do I bring all this up? Well this morning I hear the bright idea from Vince Cable of linking bank bonuses to lending. That is if the banks don't lend out the money they don't get rewarded. Does this sound familiar? Okay it's not as bad as purposefully lending out money to those you know won't be able to pay it back, but it's darn close.

Dead computer

Walked into a quiet office this morning, the main computer was switched off. "Hmm a power cut?" Nope everything else works just the computer won't boot. I check the connections, all the sockets work. I pull off the cover and take a look. A bit of dust but nothing overly bad. I notice there's a lit light on the MB and the network card shows activity lights. I hit the power button and the processor fan starts to spin up, the front extraction fan starts to spin up, but both then die. The power supply fan doesn't even start.

Sounds like the power supply, and of course I've nothing to match it; so I await a delivery.

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's official - police above the law

The death of Ian Tomlinson is back in the news after the decision by the CPS to drop all charges against officers involved. To recap the events here's what the police said at the time:

Ian Tomlinson had not been involved with the police prior to his collapse
His death may have been aggravated by the delay in medical staff reaching due to the protesters throwing bottles
He died from a heart attack

Now what actually happened:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

BNP MEP's invite revoked

Yep after all the calls for the Royal Household to discriminate against Nick Griffin by refusing to extend to him an invitation to attend the Queen's Garden Party in line with every other MEP, he's manage to get himself knocked off the guest list by making this apolitical matter a political matter.

Seems Mr Griffin was so chuffed that all the calls to bar him from the party were for naught that he popped up on his blog and tried to turn his attendance into a rallying point for the BNP and asked the Party faithful what he should ask the Queen should he meet her and appeared on various media outlets discussing this in context with his Party. This is all a no-no and after it was all pointed out to the organisers his invitation revoked.

Before the BNP Party faithful cry foul and start to spit at the "hate-filled far-left opposition" note that Andrew Brons the other BNP MEP is still attending.

Oh wait too late "The politically motivated refusal to allow British National Party leader Nick Griffin MEP to attend a tea party at Buckingham Palace is an attack on democracy, the media, freedom of speech and one million British patriots."sigh.

Apples iPhone 4 antenna and the FCC

So the story of the dropped calls and poor cellular reception due to the placement of the antenna in Apple's new iPhone rumbles on, but with a new twist - it's not their fault blame the FCC. Yup apologists everywhere are popping up to say this is a design flaw in all mobile phones and not just the latest iPhone, and it's not their fault so can you stop with the hating?

Um no. See it's interesting how an attempt has been made to shift the blame to the FCC because they have pretty much nothing to do with this. The FCC measure the amount of radiation mobile phones produce when in proximity to a human head, if it produces more than 1.6 watts per kilogram it fails. So what's this got to do with anything? Well the thing pumping out that radiation is the antenna.

IQ test

I've never been a one for IQ tests; I just don't think it's possible to measure intelligence in that way, the varying standards leave me wary, and isn't it amazing that so many of those who quote their score generally have such high ones ;-)

However this morning I received a reminder of one such test I undertook at I can't recall why I took it and I couldn't recall my score. Nice of them to provide me a link.

Apparently I made a score of 144. Is that good? According to Wikipedia that puts me in the top 0.2% of the population meaning 99.8% of the population are stupider than me, yeah well I've always known that :-P

Heh no I'm not believing that score particularly as the site tries to encourage me to buy a full chart, possibly to frame and stick on the wall. I doubt anyone with a score sub-100 would be interested in that; then again if they're truly sub-100... I can also offer some copper bracelets used for millennia to cure all sorts of ailments; going cheap.

Do Speed Cameras work?

Do Speed Cameras work? This was the question posed this morning on BBC's Breakfast show and the answer is - yes, or possibly no. One area removed them and found no change in incidents, one area added them and noticed a reduction.

To my mind the problem is once again a focus on the event and not the cause; rather than stopping vehicles speeding - why are they speeding? To this end I propose a hypothesis tentatively titled "Compensation of speed".

"Compensation of speed" - Any vehicle when forced to slow down for whatever reason will automatically compensate for this as soon as they are able to do so.

Unfortunately compensate could mean over-compensate. Why does traffic blast up Dunley Road and Vale Road - because they've just been forced through the town. Lion Hill - through Mitton Street. Sutton Park Road and Sutton Road - because they've been stuck at the traffic lights. In all theses examples traffic is slowed down and then presented with the opportunity to speed up on these nice straight wide roads, an opportunity they accept.

The current tactic is to keep traffic at a slow rate, but what if it were possible to prevent the slow-down in the first place?

As I say hypothesis, but I'd be interested in seeing data from incident hotspots and examining the traffic flow of roads feeding it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sexing up the news

I found the coverage of Cameron's first official visit interesting on both last night's and this morning's news. The whole White House visit was pushed aside by the Lockerbie plus BP row. Apparently Cameron was going to be "grilled" by senators, who "demanded" the government investigate and "stated" that an independent review was required.

To which the logical response to all three would have been 'Sod off!' Senators have no rights over law-abiding non-US citizens, cannot demand the UK government do anything and they can by all means set up whatever enquiry they like but they can't demand information from us.

However ignore the reporters and focus on the language used by those involved and Cameron was "invited" to talk to Senators, was "asked" if the government could investigate things and "requested" that an independent review could be set up all in the interests of cordial inter-country relations.

Gosh the reporters wouldn't deliberately be using provocative language to spice up the story now would they?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Academies Bill

The fast-track process in Parliament is for extenuating circumstances only, to allow Parliament to respond quickly to time-critical events particularly those related to terrorism. So how has our new coalition overlords apparently decided to use this process? To push through the academies bill; oh yeah really time-critical there.

It's worth reading the report from the House of Lords into fast-track legislation. It points out that some legislation proceeds quickly simply due to the simple nature and lack of interest/querying, however this is a natural rather than a forced process.

In this case the proposed Bill is not new, in that its creation was unforeseen; it does not close loopholes in existing legislation; it does not deal with treaty matters, it does not deal with terrorism, it is not time-critical,  and isn't being introduced due to public pressure.

As that covers most of the reasons for past fast-tracked legislation, one has to wonder exactly why the pressure is on for this to go the same way.

TMTV small print

With the school summer holidays messing up the morning schedules I spent this morning flicking through the TV guide just to see what was on and landed on a channel called TMTV and a programme called Early Bird, hmm? I popped up the info and got "Remember the Early Bird catches the worm" what's this?

Friday, July 16, 2010

If a tree falls...

... does Stourport become one big snarl-up? Well yes, okay not that bad, but worse than usually.

Seems a tree fell on the Stour bridge blocking the pavement on the right into town. As a result all traffic from the island had to move slightly over to avoid it and as they've widened the pavements and added the tank-buster kerbs making the road narrower this causing a restriction to traffic in both directions.

Fair play, there was a yellow jacket motorcyclist on-scene.

XBox Live and the lack of security

I received a frantic call from a parent friend of mine last night. His credit card had been charged with some XBox Live purchases. His son denied all knowledge of this and he was worried that someone had hacked the account.

The outcome was that the son had done it "by accident" but working this out threw up some concerns about the XBox Live service.

Sacred 2 PS3 review additional

Yes I'm still playing it simply because it turns up so many diamond nuggets that you want to grab RPG (and other) designers, point at the screen and say "Look that's how it should be done". Sadly it seems each moment is tied to the opposite and a cry of "Look that's how you shouldn't do it".

And so we come to escort missions. As I've said say those two words to a game player and they'll groan; say them to a game developer and they'll say "Hey that's a good idea". However Sacred 2 takes the escort mission and eliminates one of the main causes of suffering; this being Sacred 2 however it brings along all the rest.

Parking fines

DaBoss managed to get a fine for parking over his time limit in Dog Lane car-park in Bewdley his ticket expired at X:45 the notice was given at X:55. Really? 10 minutes. Now I understand why payment is necessary - the car-park needs maintaining; I also understand why enforcement is necessary if people take advantage and park for two hours instead of the one they've paid for - it prevents other people using the car-park and denies the council revenue.

However can someone justify serving a notice for a 10 minute infringement when the photo taken of the vehicle shows over half the spaces around it as empty?

I mean other than "It was 10 minutes over"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sacred 2 PS3 review

Imagine you've just purchased a new state-of-the-art entertainment centre; one of those neat toys that has the TV pop-up when required and folds away when not, that hides away all the clutter. It comes, not fully assembled, but in a flat-pack. Taking it out you find no assembly instructions just a component list. Congratulations you've just experienced what it's like to play Sacred 2.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Now will Stourport get a Relief Road?

Oh dear a somewhat self-praising letter in the Shuttle from a Conservative councillor regarding the mythical relief road.

Yup here comes Mark to the rescue, he'll get the funding that our 'voiceless' Independent was unable to obtain. Oh wait perhaps not.

A problem is the length of time this has been in funding hell, if it had been built 30 years ago all would have been well, in the intervening years the sites on which it was to be built have themselves been built upon or near to. While the route from the dual-carriageway to join up with the old power station rail spur and up to the river is still vaguely possible once a bridge is places across the options become to drive it through a caravan park, the sports fields, or the leisure centre. That's assuming the idea will still work anyway given current traffic patterns.

However I can't predict future patterns what with the Tesco on its way. If we have a second bridge that links up to it that will certainly alleviate problems with the town itself, while at the same time becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy that the supermarket will kill the town trade. Meanwhile the standard rush-hour traffic from Bewdley won't touch the road and traffic from Kidderminster will find itself stuck at a new island connecting Millfield Road to Hartlebury Road in the same way that traffic from Worcester Road gets stuck at the OGL island. Coming back that route will find them stuck at the main dual-carriageway in the same predicament - not having the right-of-way they currently enjoy.

While I'm all for a relief road I have to ask rather than what was it supposed to do then, what is it supposed to do now?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Faith or non-faith?

As so often happens a comment thread has gone rogue. In this case for a blog entry on the Shuttle that has nothing to do with religion has turned religious. I'm trying to present the argument that religion is an emotional-based decision and that atheism is a reason-based decision; which is why they conflict so badly. To that end allow me to tell you a story.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Photographers hassled - Not just in the UK

Even with section 44 being consigned to the scrapheap and removing one huge power of the police to harass photographers it seems other countries have yet to catch on or just aren't as sneaky as our officers at concealing their intentions.

In the incident linked the police take exception to being photographed and recorded even though they try to make up laws and apparently try to steal his camera the law was on his side. Not so elsewhere particularly the Land of The Free - the USA.

It seems the police are so worried about their appearances on YouTube they're using wiretapping laws to prevent it; worse yet it seems some State courts are backing them up. That's right in some US States it's now an offence for anyone to record police-offices on-duty even as use as evidence for their own defence.

Although laws differ from State to State the basic argument is that it is an offence to record someone without their consent. In some cases it's allowed when filming is obvious or when no audio is recorded; or, as in the UK, when recording happens in a public place with limited privacy assumptions. However in those States where this isn't covered next time you see five officers beating up some black guy and reach for your video camera you might want to rethink that unless you want to spent 4 to 15 years in prison.

Section 44 revoked

So after being used incorrectly multiple times the infamous section 44 of the Terrorism Act that allows officers to stop and search without suspicion in designated areas has been partially revoked by the Home Office. Of course this has all been done out of the freedom to liberty we can expect from our New Coalition Overlords and has nothing to do with that pesky European Court of Human Rights refusing an appeal that declared section 44 illegal and a breach of Article 8 rights.

Wait am I being serious Theresa May's own statement starts with

"The Government cannot appeal this judgment – although we would not have done so had we been able. We have always been clear in our concerns about these powers, and they will be included as part of our review of counter-terrorism legislation."
So it would have been dropped regardless? Well it would be nice to think so. That said section 44 still applies to searches of vehicles, but changes are being made to when searches can be done. All in all it's much better and should prevent petty abuse particularly when applied to photographers.

Yellow paint in Mitton Street

Jim mentioned some yellow markings in at the top of Mitton Street to Vale Road which I hadn't noticed; coming through that way today it's as if someone's gone mad with a paint can; the top half of Mitton Street and extending around the two corners into Vale Road and Lion Hill are covered in yellow markings on both pavement and road. So what are they up to? There's nothing listed for this week or in the forward planning section.

Wyre Forest, Mark Garnier, and the BSF

Tav's pretty much got an entire section devoted to the effects of the BSF cuts on Wyre Forest and the statements made by our new Conservative MP Mark Garnier, but I think a rough chronological recap might be required.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Google Wi-Spy - missing the point.

Those using Google Earth and Google Maps will no doubt be aware of the street-mapping that they company has been doing involving them driving down the roads snapping pictures. What most will probably be unaware of is that at the same time it seems they were panning the Wi-Fi frequencies and grabbing information from any open network.

Now Google claim innocence in this and blame a "rogue employee" however the US "Consumer Watchdog" group have got into the case by highlighting how this collection could have affected Congress members and may grabbed information regarding national security issues and proved this by demonstrating that at several Congress members homes an open network was detected. As such they're trying to pressure Congress into holding hearings into exactly what data Google holds.

Yeah I think they're missing the point in why the hearings need to be held. I would be more concerned with Congress members who may well have access to national security information running an open wireless network.

Videogame sales failure

I've been awaiting the release of the game "Singularity" a first person shooter set in a crumbling island laboratory with time-travel bits; sounds like it could be good. So why just after release does a game that currently sits at 77 on Metacritic appear at no.38 in the charts? Well let's see - firstly it was released on the 25th of June on the same date as "Lego Harry Potter" and secondly it didn't get released. "Huh?" I hear you ask. Well it may have been released but on the Saturday (26th) no-one in Kidderminster had it in stock even Amazon directly currently has no stock.

As an addition no demo, nor video footage has been released to the Playstation Store (unlike Lego HP which had stuff up for the whole month) and it was released at the end of the month which means it's unlikely to feature a review in the print media before-hand.

Unless you already knew about I'd say from the general public's point of view it doesn't exist.
[Update 14/7 - I note it's now available in Game and Gamestation for £45. Amusing less than the current Amazon price, but still a fiver more than most releases]

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Darksiders PS3 review

What can I say about the action hack-n-slash game that is Darksiders? Well the puzzles can be interesting, which should tell you enough about what I think about this action game.

More collapsing covers

As mentioned in April one of the triple covers opposite Santa Maria Way collapsed. It's yet to be replaced and I note that another is also chi-chinking and is starting to collapse.

On a secondary note the collapsed part of the third lane of Vale Road now sports orange paint markings. Now far be for me to ask why this entire lane wasn't resurfaced at the time Gilgal was shut and no-one would be using it, but why wasn't this lane resurfaced when Gilgal was shut and no-one would be using it?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Traps in the media.

It's a classic image - the adventurer makes their way through the cobweb-shrouded tomb when his foot catches on a raised slab that sinks and causes doors to slam and spikes to protrude from the walls. It's so standard that it and the like appear in movies, video games and RPGs and usually we don't even think about it; well let's start.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Lego Harry Potter PS3 review

If you're into Lego or Harry Potter you've probably already bought this, if you're into Lego and Harry Potter you've probably had this on pre-order and have been camped out on your doorstep waiting to pounce on the postman as soon as they appear with package in hand.

For those waverers the question is - is it any good? The short answer is - it's better than its predecessors. So if you liked them, you'll like this.

Monday, July 05, 2010

More Police harrassment

I've detailed some of the many cases that show up with the police attempting to use powers granted under the Terrorism Act in incorrect circumstances or attempting to apply laws that simply don't exist and here we have another. At a time when the Met have already paid out compensation three times in court over harassing photographers it seems they decided to put the boot into a 16-year old freelance photographer; who unfortunately for them recorded the majority of his encounter and went on to post this and his account to his blog.

Now sadly from the many cases that gain publicity this isn't anything new, what is interesting is the way this recording shows how the officers shift the accusations and 'charges' around as the encounter progresses in what seems essentially a petty minded attempt to get their own way.

A new green wheelie bin

So having failed to get a lie-in during the week I at least hoped for one Saturday morning at which point the apocalypse happened, at least that's what it sounded like. I was awoken by a loud crash as if someone had just driven into my garage door, this was followed by a series of loud 'bonging' noises.

Yep they'd decided to deliver the new green wheelie bins at quarter-to-bloody-seven in the morning and this comprised a big rental van of which they slammed the back doors open (the first crash) and then threw the bins out into the road because there was no ramp (the 'bonging') before wheeling them up to each house.

Stuffed through the handle was a envelope of the change of dates, which I already knew about due to the glossy A5 flyer the council had paid to distribute and the corrected glossy A5 flyer they sent out afterwards. Inside the envelope was more glossiness and some stickers to put on the bin to remind you want you can and can't put in it. Reading the more detailed instructions and huzzah they can now take the thicker cardboard that makes up the majority of internet ordered packages.

One question remains however - what are we all supposed to do with the two original recycling crates?

Miss me?

For those wondering why it's been quiet on the blogging front I've had some time off work to sort out a load of things at home. On the plus side a lot of it was tidying up and sorting out paperwork that had built-up which meant staying indoors during this hot weather. For those going "Huh?" my complexion means venturing outdoors without being slathered in sun-tan lotion even for short periods means turning into a lobster.

On the minus side I was also planning of buying a new bed and mattress which would have meant driving around in a metal box and leaving said metal box standing for periods of time during this sunny spell; so I decided to forego that activity.

Sad as it is to relate as a result I spent a lot of time catching up on TV recordings - 11 episodes of FlashForward and 6 episodes of the Story of Science. So that's roughly 17 hours worth, gods that's pathetic :-)

However I didn't spend a lot of time of time on my PS3 mostly due to the heat it pumped out, when the instructions state a maximum operating temperature of 35 degrees and it's pushing 30 in the room alone I was reluctant to run it for any long periods of time.

Anyway I got most of the stuff I wanted to do out of the way, just wish I'd manage a lie-in having the windows open meant hearing the next-door neighbour getting ready for school every morning and the customary yells for the daughter to get her arse out of the house.