Thursday, 31 March 2005

"Actor Christopher Eccleston has quit as Doctor Who after just one episode of the new series has been screened, the BBC has confirmed."

Says he doesn't want to be typecast, apparently. Perhaps he's just after more money. But if not, I reckon its ruined his chances of ever working for the BBC again.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Eccleston quits Doctor Who role

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Pretty serious news for Sony in the US.

"Sony has been told to pay $90.7m (£48m) in damages and stop selling PlayStation consoles in the United States after losing a patent infringement lawsuit."

BBC NEWS | Business | Sony faces $90.7m patent damages

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

A note to all the dipsticks I noticed driving to work today in the fog, either with no lights at all or just side lights. Quoting the Highway Code:

You MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet). You may also use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves (see Rule 211).

This isn't just sensible advice, its the law (Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations act 1989).

Monday, 28 March 2005

A very important six points for Northampton Town from the Easter weekend's two games: 0-1 away against Wycombe Wanderers and 2-0 home against Shrewsbury. Combined with a loss by a team above us, it moves the Cobblers back into the playoff zone.

Sunday, 27 March 2005

Quad bikesFirst exposure to quad bikes today, at a race hosted by the Cotswold Enduro Club at Whaddon near Milton Keynes. Very dull day so was trying to use some fill flash. I say 'trying' advisedly because I was struggling against Canon's somewhat naff E-TTL flash metering system which is, to coin a phrase, complete pants.

Saturday, 26 March 2005

Photo © BBCThe new series of Doctor Who. One word. Brilliant!

Except - what do we have at the end? Yes, dipstick announcer talking over the new credits and music. SHUT UP!

Friday, 25 March 2005

Logo © LexarLexar, maker of premium-quality flash memory cards for digital cameras, have just won a whopping $465.4 off Toshiba for violation of intellectual copyright on their flash controller chips. Apparently this could be the biggest IP verdict in California legal history.

Lexar win $465.4 million against Toshiba: Digital Photography Review

Thursday, 24 March 2005

More of the truth behind the Blair governments' actions over Iraq oozes out, casting a cloud over the so-called 'independant' enquiries held to date that apparently exhonorated the PM and his cabinet.

"I cannot in conscience go along with advice - within the Office or to the public or Parliament - which asserts the legitimacy of military action without such a resolution, particularly since an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression; nor can I agree with such action in circumstances which are so detrimental to the international order and the rule of law." states deputy legal adviser to the Foreign Office, Elizabeth Wilmshurst who resigned in March 2003, soon after the war started.

If it wasn't for the fact that most Tories actually backed the government in going to war, I reckon Labour's chances of winning the next election would be just about zero. And its for that reason that they won't be making too much of an issue out of this. More's the pity.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Wilmshurst resignation letter

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Slightly old news, but as "Chelsea tractors" are one of my pet hates, it amused me to come across these articles:

"Campaigners against so-called Chelsea Tractors are calling for the London congestion charge to be raised to £20 for gas-guzzling cars. Hundreds of members of Greenpeace and the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s are hitting Goodge street today [26th Feb] to lobby Londoners on the new proposal, while the groups have hung a huge banner across Marylebone High street that says: 'CHARGE 4x4s £20'."

"Huge backing for 4x4 C-charge rise By Mark Prigg Science Correspondent, Evening Standard.

More than eight out of 10 Londoners are in favour of a higher congestion charge for four-by-four vehicles, a report claims today. The poll of more than 5,000 people - questioned at random at Tube stations - strengthens calls to penalise drivers of the most environmentally unsound cars.

Photo © LaserPod.comVery impressed with my LazerPod that I bought through Ebay for a fiver less than If you've never seen one, or heard of it (I hadn't), its being touted as the modern equivalent of the lava lamp. Very well made from highly polished aluminium, it comes with a choice of two domes or you can use it, as I do, projecting directly onto the ceiling. Can run off three AA batteries but also comes with a mains adaptor. The lighting effects are made using a combination of lasers and LEDs.

Monday, 21 March 2005

© BBCCongratulations to the BBC for bringing Robert Harris' superb book Archangel to the small screen in a two part series that finished last night. Daniel Craig was very well cast in the role of historian Fluke Kelso on the trail of Stalin's missing secret notebook.
The programme was slightly spoilt by the inclusion, at the end of the first episode, of significant trailers for the second: surely if people are going to watch the first half, they'll watch the second anyway, without having to be told what's going to happen?

My home county of Bedfordshire has won the bid to host what will become, by the end of the century, the largest aquarium in the world. The Nirah Project (yes, its an acronym) will be four times the size of the successful Eden Project and be designed by the same team. Stewartby's old brick pits beat off competition from Monmouthshire in South Wales and Liverpool.

Quoting the Times Education Supplement:
"When the UK's Nirah Project opens by the end of the decade, some 2 million tourists are expected to wander around the lakes, lagoons and rivers housed in twin living-rainforest domes.

Its creators estimate it could take up to three days for a person to completely get to grips with the site, which will dwarf the Eden Project.

The Project's website (minimal at time of blogging)
BBC News Article from last year, before the bid was approved

Sunday, 20 March 2005

Pretty miserable day of motocross up at Crick in Northamptonshire today - compensated for somewhat by the excellent Wheatsheaf pub in Crick village. The weather just would not improve.

Friday, 18 March 2005

"...industry lobbyists in the US have resisted moves to certify that timber is legitimately produced. And the leaked State Department memo shows that the US government will refuse to sign up to the Blair initiative."

Just how much more contempt can the US government show for the environment? They really don't give a shit about this planet, so long as they can make money out of it.

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | US blocks forest protection plan

Spring has definately arrived, here at my place of gainful employment. But it comes with another warning on the environment, as two locations in Scotland report record high night-time temperatures for March, one for 50 years and another for 80 years.

Spring flowersSpring flowersSpring flowers

"HARARE, Zimbabwe - A woman testified that she paid a popular local musician to fly four mermaids from London to Harare to help her recover a stolen car and cash.

Businesswoman Magrate Mapfumo said she paid $5,000 to fly the invisible mermaids to Harare on the advice of musician Edna Chizema, who is on trial for theft by false pretenses...

Firstly, I wasn't aware that London was a particular popular venue for mermaids. And secondly, I thought they always had to fly cargo because of the water than they need to be kept in.

Yahoo! News - Woman Paid Invisible 'Mermaids' Airfare

Photo © Associated Press"Explaining why Hitachi's Emiew used wheels instead of feet, Toshihiko Horiuchi, from Hitachi's Mechanical Engineering Research Laboratory, said: 'We aimed to create a robot that could live and co-exist with people.'"

Don't these people ever watch Doctor Who? Don't they realise the reason why the Darleks never conquored Earth was because they ran on wheels - and hence couldn't get up stairs? Sony's and Honda's walking robots are going to kick yo' silicon butt - and that's not a reference to Bridget Neilson.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Hitachi unveils 'fastest robot'

Thursday, 17 March 2005

What is in Nescafe instant Cappuccino that makes it frothy when you mix it? Doesn't mention Sodium Bicarbonate on the box...

Read this morning that the US Congress has voted (albeit narrowly) to allow oil exploitation in Alaska's Artic Refuge. The current government's contempt for the environment continues.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Senate backs Alaska oil drilling

Tuesday, 15 March 2005

An incredible revelation:

"A German historian has claimed in a new book presented on Monday that Nazi scientists successfully tested a tactical nuclear weapon in the last months of World War II."

Doesn't sound like German historians are convinced of this story. I don't doubt that there will be a TV programme on this subject soon

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Hitler 'tested small atom bomb'

TV programme on ITV1 right now echos my concern that the new system intended, at least by the credit card companies, to reduce or eliminate credit card fraud called 'chip and pin' is not as safe as they'd like you to believe. A commentator rightly states that this is the first time that at a location other than a bank, you are expected to put not only your card into a machine but also your PIN number. How do you know that the machine you are putting your card into is legitimate? Once a criminal has read both your magnetic strip (or the little gold chip) and had your PIN number, they can take cash directly off your account using a counterfeit card loaded with that data.

Monday, 14 March 2005

"Software giant Microsoft thinks IPTV - Internet Protocol TV - is the future of television, and it sits neatly with its vision of the 'connected entertainment experience'."

Well I guess they would - they're not making any money out of television at the moment and therefore would be behind any technology that would enable them to do so. As I've said before on this blog, the Internet is not the place for TV signals.

BBC NEWS | Technology | TV's future down the phone line

Sunday, 13 March 2005

MouseThis is the little chap who's been nicking bird food from our garden recently. We reckon he's a 'left over' from when a previous neighbour kept rabbits - hence rabbit food which was stored in the garage.

Friday, 11 March 2005

Our department's 6-a-side footy team start the season with two wins from two games, beating The Reelers 2-0 on Thursday and Toxsix 1-0 today.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

This is precisely why I think Apple's move to Unix for its operating system was a bad move. Under OS9, it was pretty obvious what 90% of the files dotted around your hard disk did and if something went wrong or clashed, you knew where to look to sort things out. Under OS-X, that's no longer the case, as this article highlights:

"Mac OS X has a well-deserved reputation for being reliable. But, when things do go wrong, you may have to traverse some huge potholes to get to the solution. In many cases, even seasoned troubleshooters abandon any attempt to find the true cause of a symptom, ultimately just hoping to get the problem fixed without understanding why the fix worked.

Why is this? The major reason is quite simple: Mac OS X is a very complicated collection of software. The main /System folder alone is over 1 GB and includes thousands of files. Making matters worse, very few people (maybe no one) have even a clue what most of these files actually do. And Apple does not offer much help.

MacFixIt - mac.column.ted: The Trouble with Troubleshooting Mac OS X

Got a funny smell coming from your shiny new G5? Read on...

"Left my beautiful new 17 inch cordless G5 sleeping while I went out for an errand. Two to three hours later, others in house smelled something electrical burning in room where computer was sleeping. Called fire department..."

MacFixIt - iMac G5 power supply problems

"France is in the grip of a one-day general strike, just as Paris hosts a team of inspectors from the International Olympic Committee."

Good timing, French Unions - I guess you're expecting sympathy for your actions? Just hope that some nit from the English bid doesn't say "well, that would never happen on London's Underground".

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Paris strike hits Olympic visit

Wednesday, 9 March 2005

"BT is starting its push into television with plans to offer TV over broadband."

Aaagh, for goodness sake, why? What possible reason do they have for this? Why clog up the Internet with media that is quite adequately being transmitted by existing means? Why reinvent the wheel?

"It also sees delivering TV over broadband as a way of getting high-definition (HD) content to people sooner than they will be able to get it through conventional, regular broadcasts."

Just how the hell are you going to deliver HDTV over broadband? You can't even deliver current broadcast quality, full screen, full motion video over the highest ADSL speed now.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Broadband set to revolutionise TV

Thursday, 3 March 2005

© AP"Bubba To Be Saved

He could have survived two world wars and Prohibition. He also could have been dinner. Bubba is a 22-pound leviathan of a lobster pulled from the waters off Nantucket, Massachusetts, and shipped to a Pittsburgh fish market.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent Wholey a letter asking him to work with the group to release Bubba back in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maine.

Another group calling itself People For Eating Tasty Animals reportedly offered Wholey a hefty price for the lobster. At Tuesday's price of $14.98 a pound, Bubba would retail for about $350.

Only in America. But I guess no lawyers have gotten involved - at least not yet. - 'Bubba', 22-pound lobster, to be saved

Wednesday, 2 March 2005

Well, that's a turn up for the books:

"Star Trek campaign 'raises $3m'

A campaign to save Star Trek spin-off show Enterprise says it has received a $3m (£1.6m) donation from anonymous figures in the space flight industry.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Star Trek campaign 'raises $3m'

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

Another uninspired performance from Northampton Town ended in a very surprsing result this evening. With just 2 minutes of regular time left, Danny Crow chipped the Yeovil goalie to equalise the game at 1-1. I must admit that I'd already left the game but managed to see it as I headed back to the car. The Cobblers were deeply affected by the loss of Scott McGleish who was forced to leave the game early on with a shoulder injury.

© BBCAnother education story that I missed earlier in the month.

"Lesson cameras training teachers.

Head teacher Philip Harte (St George's comprehensive school in Salford) can monitor teachers via the camera. [He] only has to click a button or move a joystick and the classroom is his.

Whatever he wants to see, he can - the teacher's facial expression, even the writing in a pupil's exercise book.

What's wrong with getting of his arse and going in to the classroom, like our headteachers did when I were a lad? Why the hell does money have to be wasted on technology? Absurd. Perhaps its to get the kids used to living in a police state, with Big Brother constantly monitoring their every move, as they will experience when they leave school?

BBC NEWS | Education | Lesson cameras training teachers
"Ofsted has once again highlighted concerns about pupil behaviour. A fifth of England's secondary schools believe they have a problem with 'gang culture', an Ofsted report suggests."

Is it any wonder after the government has continually erroded teachers' ability to apply discipline? Its all about league tables and statisics these days - there's no apparent concern, at least from ministers, of how 'good' a school really is; about how much the kids are really learning; of what the teachers think.

BBC NEWS | Education | Schools 'in fear of gang culture'