Monday, 27 March 2006

"Wind power 'ahead of predictions'
Onshore wind farms will provide about 5% of Britain's electricity by 2010, according to the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). In a new report, it says turbines are being installed faster than predicted. If this is correct, onshore wind farms will take the government halfway to its target of generating 10% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

That's good news - but a shame that the target is only 10% of the country's energy needs.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Wind power 'ahead of predictions'

Sunday, 26 March 2006

"Tories demand action on housing
Conservative leader David Cameron has demanded urgent action to tackle what he calls the growing gap between rich and poor due to high property prices. He warned of 'a growing inequality at the heart of British life' because the property ladder was beyond young people from less well-off families. He called for more housebuilding to provide an adequate provision.

We aleady have New Labour wanting to concrete over most of the South East of England, regardless of the consequences, now the Tories want to do the same. If Labour would have exercised some common sense when house prices started to go through the roof, and increased interest rates to control and limit the growth, this situation would not exist. Instead of which, they just let prices run away. Was this, perhaps, because a good number of them own several houses and would therefore benefit from their rise in value?

BBC NEWS | Politics | Tories demand action on housing

The weather stayed clear (even had a little sunshine) for today's motocross trials in the Great Brickhill woods. Hosted by the Berkhampstead club, this was the annual John Kinkead memorial trial.

Saturday, 25 March 2006

Northampton vs Notts County

The Cobblers were looking for a top-three spot after today's League 2 game against Notts County, and they got it even having had captain Sean Dyche sent off for a careless and dangerous tackle in the second half. Jason Lee scored his first for Northampton in the first half but Josh Low, returning from a long period on the injury list, sealed the three points late in the second.

Thursday, 23 March 2006

"Judges Overturn Bush Bid to Ease Pollution Rules
WASHINGTON, March 17 — A federal appeals court on Friday overturned a clean-air regulation issued by the Bush administration that would have let many power plants, refineries and factories avoid installing costly new pollution controls to help offset any increased emissions caused by repairs and replacements of equipment.

Ruling in favor of a coalition of states and environmental advocacy groups, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the 'plain language' of the law required a stricter approach. The court has primary jurisdiction in challenges to federal regulations.

'This is an enormous victory over the concerted efforts by the Bush administration to dismantle the Clean Air Act,' Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney general, whose office led the opposition from the states, said in an interview.

Its very satifying to hear stories like this - proving that many Americans do actually care about the envionment, even if their own government clearly don't.

Judges Overturn Bush Bid to Ease Pollution Rules - New York Times

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The Chancellor's £35-a-year increase in the road tax for the most-polluting cars (aimed at 4x4 Chelsea Tractors, but in theory hitting lots of other vehicles just as much) seems pretty pathetic given £35 probably wouldn't buy a single tank-ful of fuel for one of these machines. The fact that you see dozens of these beasts tearing up and down the motorways indicates that saving money is not something their drivers ever consider. Here's some examples of what cars are in what bands.

Chuffed that two of my photos won 1st and 2nd place in the motion/action category of the annual Open University Camera Club competition last night. There were around 150 entries and judging went on till nearly 11pm and the judge seemed pretty impressed with the overall quality of the photos.

Wednesday, 22 March 2006

"French MPs vote to open up iTunes
The French parliament has backed plans to give consumers more choice over music downloads from the internet. MPs backed a draft law to force Apple, Sony and Microsoft to share their proprietary copy-protection systems by 296 to 193 votes. The aim is to ensure that digital music can be played on any player, regardless of its format or source. The French bill says that proprietary copy-protection technologies must not block interoperability between different systems.

Not law yet, but its coming.

BBC NEWS | Technology | French MPs vote to open up iTunes

PCMCIA 3G/GPRS wireless modem cardDell and Apple are phasing out PCMCIA card slots (sometimes called PC cards, or cardbus cards) in favour a new format that is not backwards-compatible. Whilst most modern laptops feature the sort of things that you once needed to buy cards for (eg: modems, firewire interfaces, etc). there are quite a few people continuing to use specialised cards (eg: 3G/GPRS wireless modems) that will not work in new laptops.

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Tuesday, 21 March 2006

"The secret agent
Lying to customers, faked signatures, false passports and dodgy deals with developers. An undercover investigation reveals the secret world of estate agents' dirty tricks. Faking documents is something of a habit in the St John's Wood office, where Emma Clarke worked undercover in the lettings department. I was shocked when she played me her secret footage which showed staff cutting, pasting and gluing signatures onto contracts. They call it 'chop chop'. Then after a while, when the owner is utterly desperate to sell, they make up false offers well below the original valuation so the owner reduces the price. The manager called it "price reduction hour" and "vendor care" - everyone else calls it lying.

Proof - if it were needed - that estate agents are amongst the lowest forms of life.

BBC NEWS | Magazine | The secret agent

Monday, 20 March 2006

A brief extract of Bill's wild ramblings - and a link to his blog, where you'll find a whole lot more...

"Cosmic Jam is released today, and I am twirling round the capital like a sycamore leaf caught in a tumble dryer, which could happen if the laundromat employee was momentarily enraptured by sunlight shimmering off a dew-laden spiders web, allowing leaf ingress to the machines."

Bill Bailey's blog

Sunday, 19 March 2006

Sunday's NMCC motocross near Long Buckby proved an interesting new course I'd never been to. Quite twisty with a few decent jumps.

Saturday, 18 March 2006

Bill Bailey: Part Troll
Was laughing so much watching Bill Bailey: Part Troll on Channel 4 last night (again) I could hardly see the tv.

Reading vs Wolves

Reading ran out of puff and showed a weak defense to Wolves who equalised in the second half to leave the Championship game 1-1 at full time. Got very close to having photos published - one in Sunday's News of the World is almost identical to one I submitted and was taken only a fraction of a second earlier or later. Again the Vodefone Mobile Connect card gave problems with sending images via email - the SMTP server connection gives a timeout.

Forced to go to Tesco supermarket today instead of my normal Waitrose as the carpark que was backed up to the road. And what a mistake: Tescos is a soulless, hateful place. They seem very reluctant to indicate the country of origin on their fruit and vegetables. The till staff issue plastic bags like confetti. Quality does not appear to be a factor. Never again.

Monday, 13 March 2006

Looking for an English user manual for a Sony Camcorder? Here's the link:

Sony : Service and Support : United Kingdom : FAQs, Manuals, Drivers & Download

Sunday, 12 March 2006

Luton MCC's first motocross of the year was held today at their Toddington course. Impressed with the Canon 1D battery performance (for a change) as it managed nearly 500 frames, in very cold weather, without conking out.

Just found this little article hidden away on the BBC News website - it hasn't been mentioned once on the TV news:

"Alaska hit by 'massive' oil spill
An oil spill discovered at Prudhoe Bay field is the largest ever on Alaska's North Slope region, US officials say. They estimate that up to 267,000 gallons (one million litres) of crude leaked from a corroded transit pipeline at the state's northern tip. The spill was detected on 2 March and plugged. Local environmentalists have described it as 'a catastrophe'.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Alaska hit by 'massive' oil spill

Another example of the absurd rules and regulations that are strangling this country:

"School is 'unable to plaster cut'
A parent has spoken of his anger after his wife had to go to their daughter's school to put a plaster on when staff said they were not allowed to. Julie Scott, 38, was called by staff at Uphill Primary School near Weston-super-Mare, after her daughter Emily, 9, cut her finger. The school said strict guidelines meant they were not allowed to give plasters.

BBC NEWS | England | Somerset | School is 'unable to plaster cut'

Friday, 10 March 2006

"Downing Street sees the eco light
It only took one person to change a light bulb over the famous black door at Number 10 Downing Street, but the new bulb could save even more energy. The new low-energy bulb is all part of an environmentally-friendly campaign going on inside Number 10 and Chequers, the prime minister's country residence.

Nice to see the PM setting an example.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Downing Street sees the eco light
Here's a link to Rowan Langley's "Renewable Energy generators' Journal". There's photos on there of the kit he's installed at home.

Renewable Energy generators' Journal

"Power from the people
The energy minister is doing it. David Cameron's doing it. People are blogging it. Is DIY power generation going to be the next big thing? Solar panels and miniature wind turbines could soon become an officially-promoted part of the urban landscape.

The equipment is still pretty expensive, but I would predict that within 10 years, the housebuilding regulations may well include a requirement for some degree of home power generation. Personally, I like the idea of solar-powered air conditioning.

"The type of wind turbine that Mr Cameron is reported to be seeking is the D400 StealthGen, produced by the Nottingham-based Eclectic Energy, and costing £2,200 plus another £400 for installation."

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Power from the people

Sunday, 5 March 2006

Chris in the Grotte di Toirano

Photo from flickrChris in the Grotte di Toirano
Photo uploaded to flickr 5 Mar '06, 5.38pm PST by hockeyshooter

Lorenzo and I visited these very impressive gaves near Toirano. What can I say - very impressive, and well worth a visit if you're at all interested in geology. See their own website for information.

Cat inspects satellite hardware

Photo from flickrCat inspects satellite hardware
Photo uploaded to flickr 5 Mar '06, 5.44pm PST by hockeyshooter

Very friendly and apparently technically-minded cat at the agritourismo I was staying in in Poggi. This is the kit Lorenzo will be taking with him to send photos from Tibet and Everest -

Coast near Imperia in windy weather

Photo from flickrCoast near Imperia in windy weather
Photo uploaded to flickr 5 Mar '06, 2.55pm PST by hockeyshooter

We've had some very windy weather (lasted three days) all along the coast. I took lots of photos of the sea battering the harbour walls.

Saturday, 4 March 2006

Cat in Cervo

Photo from flickrCat in Cervo
Photo uploaded to flickr 4 Mar '06, 1.57pm PST by hockeyshooter

You can't go to Italy without getting at least one photo of a cat. This lazy example watched us eat lunch at a bar in the square in front of Cervo's famous church, which is still undergoing restoration.

Friday, 3 March 2006

Almond blossom

Photo from flickrAlmond blossom
Photo uploaded to flickr 3 Mar '06, 12.52pm PST by hockeyshooter

A morning walk up the hill from Poggi and the almond trees are in blossom. Lorenzo's second presentation on his Everest expedition is this evening.

Thursday, 2 March 2006

You have received a new message

Photo from flickrAnother sunny day in Imperia
Photo uploaded to flickr 2 Mar '06, 12.01pm PST by hockeyshooter

Lunch at a little cafe near the harbour where the opening sequences of The Bourne Identity were shot.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Ligurian coast from motorway

Photo from flickrLigurian coast
Photo uploaded to flickr 1 Mar '06, 4.38pm PST by hockeyshooter

Well, here I am in Liguria (Italy) for the fourth time - just can't get enough of the place. Flew over with my friend's parents and sister who were by coincidence on the same easyjet flight from Luton to Nice, plus a bunch of English kids on an exchange with a school in Bordighera.