Tuesday, 29 November 2005

"Blair reignites nuclear arguments
A fierce debate over nuclear power is under way after Tony Blair launched an energy review which could pave the way for a new generation of nuclear plants. The energy review would be headed by the Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks and report by the middle of next year, he announced. It would measure the UK's progress against a review carried out two years ago.

A review. We're going to think about it. Again. That's all we ever do - think about things, have meetings, hold conferences. That's two years and now another six months wasted. Pathetic.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair reignites nuclear arguments
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Monday, 28 November 2005

Wind farm generators" How coal is cleaning up its act
Coal is back on the agenda as a serious player in meeting the world's future energy demands.

After being pushed to one side in [Thatcher's] 'dash for gas' in the 1990s [subsequent to her selling off the nationalised power generation utilities], attention is returning to the role of coal in the global energy mix because of its widespread availability and stable price.

I read recently that since Thatcher destroyed our own coal industry, and made certain that our own mines could never be used again by allowing them to flood, we now import and burn dirtier coal from abroad. However, coal is still less efficient than gas - and China is set to build hundreds more coal-fired power stations as its economy grows.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | How coal is cleaning up its act

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Sunday, 27 November 2005

Grey Heron

Photo from flickrGrey Heron
Photo uploaded to flickr 27 Nov '05, 8.10pm PST by hockeyshooter

This grey heron visited next door's roof again today, presumably wondering if there are any fish in their pond.

Saturday, 26 November 2005

An injury time goal from Josh Low gave Northampton Town a point against Lincoln City in their League 2 game today. Lincoln, who appearently hadn't won in 10 games, were very dominant in the first half, and the Cobblers were extremely lucky to have not been beated. Quite why Manager Colin Calderwood chose not to go with the same starting lineup as the previous week, when we beat Bristol Rovers 4-0 last week, I have no idea.

Thursday, 24 November 2005

This is an interesting organisation who arrange help for charities and the like to get on the web.

"InterConnection works to make Internet technology accessible to non-profit organizations in developing countries. Founded in February 1999, the organization has grown to include a pool of over 100 Virtual Volunteers; it has supported over 70 organizations in 23 countries, and it has partnered with several international development organizations."

InterConnection - website support for non profits and NGOs in developing countries
"Brown urges worker wage restraint
Pay increases for millions of public sector workers should be held down to close to 2% to limit the risk of inflation, Gordon Brown has said. The chancellor has asked the bodies which review pay deals for doctors, teachers and some civil servants to remember the need for wage discipline.

What was your pay increase this year, chancellor? With gas and electricity going up at least 12% and house prices (and hence mortgage payments) going through the roof, why is it that public sector workers should be the ones to feel the pinch just to keep your obviously plucked-out-of-the-air figure for inflation down? I see strikes on the horizon.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Brown urges worker wage restraint

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Fire in security lodge

Photo from flickrFire in security lodge
Photo uploaded to flickr 23 Nov '05, 9.14am PST by hockeyshooter

I guess the safest place to have a fire, if you're going to have one, is in your own security lodge.

Monday, 21 November 2005

Mazda UK does a 404

Photo from flickrMazda UK does a 404
Photo uploaded to flickr 21 Nov '05, 8.22pm PST by hockeyshooter

Just as Fifth Gear are reviewing the new Mazda MX5, I check the UK website - and find this. Good timing, Mazda.

Sunday, 20 November 2005

Northampton 4 Bristol Rovers 0

At long last, a decisive home vistory for The Cobblers. Bristol actually dominated for the first 20 minutes and it looked like the game had the makings of another draw. Manager Colin Calderwood had changed the lineup for this game, benching forward Scott McGleish in favour of Andy Kirk and Junior Mendes on the front row. Kirk scored two, one from Smith and a nail in the coffin just before the end from Pedj Bojic - his first home goal with the club. The win lifts the Cobblers one place in the League 2 table.

Saturday, 19 November 2005

Wheel clamp"Man challenges fine with 1689 law
A man has invoked the 1689 Bill of Rights to fight a £60 parking fine from Worcester City Council at a tribunal. Robin de Crittenden, 67, of Willenhall, near Wolverhampton, argues the bill protects people from having to pay fines until convicted by a court. He said the challenge aimed 'to put the politicians back in their kennels'.

Good on yer, mate. Most companies that clamp use it as a way to print money. Existing government legislation is useless.

BBC NEWS | England | Hereford/Worcs | Man challenges fine with 1689 law

Thursday, 17 November 2005

"Ex-MI5 chief sparks ID card row
The case for identity cards has been branded 'bogus' after an ex-MI5 chief said they might not help fight terror. Dame Stella Rimington has said most documents could be forged and this would render ID cards 'useless'.

The Conservatives said her comments showed the cards could be counter-productive. The Lib Dems said plans should be abandoned. Downing Street has so far only said Dame Stella is a private individual who was entitled to her views.

I can't help thinking that she would have been described somewhat differently if she'd have had the opposite opinion of them.

"She said: 'ID cards have possibly some purpose. But I don't think that anybody in the intelligence services, particularly in my former service, would be pressing for ID cards. My angle on ID cards is that they may be of some use but only if they can be made unforgeable - and all our other documentation is quite easy to forge. If we have ID cards at vast expense and people can go into a back room and forge them they are going to be absolutely useless.'"

Well, that's pretty unequivocal.

"Former government crime advisor Lord Mackenzie disagreed with Dame Stella's assessment, saying there were plenty of examples of occasions when ID cards would have prevented crime. He told BBC News: 'Let's look at the Soham murders. If Ian Huntley had had an identity card, would he have got the job at Soham school which allowed him to commit the murders? I think not.'"

And why not? Did he apply for the job under a different name? Did he try to hide his identity?

BBC NEWS | Politics | Ex-MI5 chief sparks ID card row
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Wednesday, 16 November 2005

"UK 'benefits from Afghan peace'
Establishing peace in Afghanistan is in Britain's best interests, the Defence Secretary John Reid has said. The supply of drugs from the country (as well as the presence of terrorists there) threatened the region and also the wider world, he said.

Under the Taleban, the export of drugs from Afghanistan had tumbled dramatically. As soon as they were kicked out by us and the USA, exports reached new record levels. So I don't know what he gets these ideas from. See these earlier reports:

BBC News | UN warns on opium fears

"Under the Taleban authorities, poppy cultivation was prohibited. The ban had been decreed by the Taleban's spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in July 2000 and led to a massive fall in production in the last growing season, according to the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP)."

BBC News | US concern at Afghan opium surge

"Spelling mistake wastes £23,000
A spelling error in last month's education white paper meant it had to be reprinted the day before publication at a cost of 'just under £23,000'. Education minister Lord Adonis, who made the admission in a written reply, blamed 'minor drafting errors'. A slogan was mistakenly spelt 'Higer Standards, Better Schools for All'. Liberal Democrat spokesman Baroness Walmsley said this raised questions about the 'standard of literacy' among some Whitehall officials.

Nice to see the Government spending our money so wisely.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Spelling mistake wastes £23,000
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Tuesday, 15 November 2005

"Longer pub opening gets go-ahead
The government has beaten off a last-ditch attempt to prevent pubs opening round-the-clock from next week. A Conservative motion to cancel the part of the Licensing Act allowing extended hours was defeated by 74 votes in the Commons.

Opponents say later closing times will lead to increased crime, violence and anti-social behaviour. But ministers say the plans, which come into effect on 24 November, will encourage 'grown-up' drinking habits.

Just glad I don't live next to a pub. And you can bet that the clowns who thought this idiotic idea up don't either.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Longer pub opening gets go-ahead

Monday, 14 November 2005

"Blair 'failing' over environment
Environmental charity WWF UK has severely criticised the government for what it says is a lack of action on climate change and the environment. It says the UK has wasted opportunities presented by its presidency of the EU and the G8 group of wealthy nations. And despite differences in rhetoric, there is little to choose between Tony Blair and US President George W Bush.

But a Downing Street spokesman said the government had achieved wide consensus in the G8 on tackling greenhouse gases. Last year environmental charities applauded the prime minister when he said he would make climate change a priority.

But WWF UK now says he was trying to please environmentally concerned voters more than demonstrating the will to use leadership in tough negotiations.

Blair seems keen on talks and conferences and agreements, but in his own country, he appears to be doing almost nothing.

BBC NEWS | UK | Blair 'failing' over environment
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Sunday, 13 November 2005

Jake and family

Photo from flickrJake and family
Photo uploaded to flickr 13 Nov '05, 1.48pm PST by hockeyshooter

First time for me today shooting baby photos. This is young Jake, my great nephew, with his mum and dad. I don't think I've found a sport yet that is as difficult to photograph!

EOS1D, EF 28-70/2.8 L zoom, 1/250 @ f11, using two Courtenay flashes on stands with umbrellas, triggered by 550EX 1/32 power bounced off the ceiling, Lastolite background.

Friday, 11 November 2005

Britain raises its threat level
We've gone from "Pretend Nothing's Happening" to "Make Another Cup of Tea". Our higher levels are "Remain Resolutely Cheerful" and "Win". In parliament today, the British attitude level was raised from "Miffed" to "Peeved". Soon though, it may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross". Londoners have not been at "A Bit Cross" since the Blitz in 1940, when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance". The last time the "A Bloody Nuisance" warning level was issued was during the Great Fire, in 1666.

Joke - dead pan mode.

"Photographer Lord Lichfield dies
Royal photographer Lord Lichfield has died at the age of 66 after suffering a major stroke. The Queen was among the first to pay tribute to Lord Lichfield, saying she was 'deeply saddened' at the news. Lord Lichfield was the Queen's first cousin once removed and was the official photographer at the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Diana.

Patrick always came across as a "thoroughly nice chap". He'll be sadly missed, especially by the Queen.

BBC NEWS | UK | Photographer Lord Lichfield dies

Thursday, 10 November 2005

"Call to outlaw net ticket touts
Concert, theatre and sport promoters are calling for ticket touting to be made illegal, saying the internet has made it easier to rip fans off.

Oh, the irony.

Lets see what it costs to see Elton John at the M.E.N. Arena Manchester next year. Ticket price £50.00 (yes, that's fifty quid). On top of that, a certain online ticket agency charge £6.00 'service charge' plus £1.75 postage. You sure you're not just wanting to protect your profits, guys?

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Call to outlaw net ticket touts

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Have found that the website for the BT (that's British Telecom, the state telecoms company the Tories sold off at enormous loss to the nation - and enormous gain to the shareholders) Shop crashes - not just causes problems with, but actually crashes - Firefox web browser.

Yet more meddling in education from New Labour - a subject they just can't leave alone.

"Baby education 'absolute madness'
A national curriculum for babies and toddlers has been dismissed as 'absolute madness' by parents who fear childhood could be taken from children.

Under the Childcare Bill, childminders would teach the curriculum to children 'from birth' until they start school. All three-year-olds in childcare in England would learn rudimentary maths, language and literacy.

But the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations described the proposal as 'bizarre'. Spokeswoman Margaret Morrissey said: 'We are now in danger of taking away children's childhood when they leave the maternity ward. From the minute you are born and your parents go back to work, as the government has encouraged them to do, you are going to be ruled by the Department for Education. It is absolute madness.'

An education spokesperson for the Government replied "we're the Government, we know best - any more arguement from you and you'll be sent to bed with no tea".

BBC NEWS | Education | Baby education 'absolute madness'

Saturday, 5 November 2005

Ironic, don't you think, that in the same week as new anti-terrorist legislation is (narrowly) passed in Parliament, that specifically bans the "glorification" of terrorism, the British public waste £millions setting off explosives (fireworks) celebrating a 400-year-old act of terrorism. Is this therefore going to be the last Fireworks Night?

"'Gas muzzlers' challenge Bush

President George W Bush is facing a rebellion over his softly-softly approach to climate change. Nine north-eastern states are poised to sign an agreement setting Kyoto-style legal limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power stations.

New York and New Jersey are among these rebel states. And in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is forging ahead with legislation to cut emissions from cars by 30% within a decade. This could transform the motor industry.

That's the way to go, guys. Ignore Bush - he's ignoring the problem. Its about time the US motor industry recognised they are part of the problem. And there's no excuse for not reducing electricity consumption.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | 'Gas muzzlers' challenge Bush

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" '1.5m more' face inheritance tax
Rising house prices are to leave 1.5 million more people liable to pay inheritance tax, research suggests. It means the number of people over the tax threshold would soar by 70% from around 2m in 2002 to 3.5m in 2009.

Another stealth tax from New Labour. And another explaination as to why they didn't step in to slow house price growth.

BBC NEWS | UK | '1.5m more' face inheritance tax

Thursday, 3 November 2005

Another Googlewhack

Photo from flickrAnother Googlewhack
Photo uploaded to flickr 3 Nov '05, 5.56pm PST by hockeyshooter

This is the second GoogleWhack in one day. A little more likely this time as its the name of my friend's cat. An ex-breeders and a show cat, its a pretty unusual phrase to start with.

You have received a new message

An attempt to make a posting via email via my Nokia 6230 mobile phone via MMS failed hopelessly. The Vodafone system mangled it, embedding lots of links and images.

A new member of our camera club has been asking about triggering studio flashes from his Canon SLR, feaful (and rightly so) that the high trigger voltage of the Courtenay heads might damage the camera. The "industry standard" solution to this is the Wein SafeSync but these cost a whacking £45, even via eBay. Thinking that they can't actually contain particular complicated electronics, I searched the web to see if anyone had managed to make their own. Its basically an opto-isolator:

Optoisolated Adapter for Older Flash Units to Low Voltage Cameras

Evidence of a Googlewhack

Photo from flickrEvidence of a Googlewhack
Photo uploaded to flickr 3 Nov '05, 11.42am PST by hockeyshooter

Wow - I've just found a GoogleWhack. Of course, merely mentioning the word here will immediately ruin the GoogleWhack, so you need to view the screen grab I've uploaded to Flickr to see what it is. What I was actually looking for was Meet-O-Matic.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Should you be offered some cheap Canon gear in London, fellow bppa member Terry Richards has had his kit stolen:
» a pair of Canon EOS1D MkII bodies
» a Canon 14mm f2.8
» a 17-35mm f2.8
» a 35-350mm L
» a 300 mm f4 L
» a boxed 1.4x converter

"£100 for an iTunes download: The real cost of roaming
Roaming Rip-Offs: Mobile phone operators are stinging GPRS and 3G users with roaming charges of up to £20 a megabyte. That works out at up to £100 for a single iTunes download, and up to £5 just to check your tariff

The only time I use GPRS is when sending MMS (picture messages). I sometimes use this facility to send images to Flickr via email attachment (did quite a few from Italy) and this is the main reason why I bought my Nokia 6230 in the first place. Fortunately the images my phone takes are pretty small to start with (640 x 480) so even full sized, they don't represent much data. But the phone companies expect people to want to watch movies and "TV" on their phones - read this article and you'll see why.

This is another reason why the phone makers are keen to up the resolution of the cameras built in to phones - the lenses are often still pretty naff, so the increase quality is lost. But the files are enormous and unless you know how to set the phone so it reduces them before sending, it will end up costing you a fortune to send them as MMS.

£100 for an iTunes download: The real cost of roaming - ZDNet UK News

New Audio Recording Centre wiring

Photo from flickrNew Audio Recording Centre wiring
Photo uploaded to flickr 2 Nov '05, 6.55pm PST by hockeyshooter

I volunteered to wire the audio cabling of our new Audio Recording Centre, which is used primarily to record course material for print-disabled students. Photo shows wiring the control room end of the cables. Each booth is connected via an 8-pair multicore, only three pairs of which are used: XLRs female to male and male to female, plus one line with 1/4" each end for monitoring. All the panels, connectors and cables came from Canford Audio, an excellent and reliable UK supplier I have used since 1982.

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You have received a new message

Photo from flickrWireless network workshop
Photo uploaded to flickr 2 Nov '05, 4.11pm PST by hockeyshooter

Saul Albert and Jo Walsh today ran a workshop on wireless networking, explaining how certain commercially-available hardware (eg: the Linksys WRT54G Wireless Broadband Router) can be flashed to enable and control all manner of features for those intending to set up their own low-cost wireless LAN to share, for example, a broadband connection. Its worth noting, though, that the WRT54G does not have a built-in ADSL model.

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