Wednesday, 31 May 2006

"Apple Loses Bid to Unmask Bloggers' Sources
A California appeals court has smacked down Apple's legal assault on bloggers and their sources, finding that the company's efforts to subpoena e-mail received by the publishers of Apple Insider and runs contrary to federal law, California's reporter's shield law, and the state Constitution. The Sixth District Court of Appeals on Friday roundly rejected Apple's argument that the bloggers weren't acting as journalists when they posted internal document about future Apple products.

Good to see that "freedom of speech" does still mean something in the USA. Or at least parts of it (outside Washington perhaps).

27B Stroke 6 | Apple Loses Bid to Unmask Bloggers' Sources

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"Spin between the raindrops
Last spring saw a flood of stories predicting drought and water shortages which never quite seemed to materialise as the doom-laden tones predicted. The preceding winter had been, we were told, 'the fourth driest since records began'.

The country's first drought order - for Sutton and East Surrey Water - starts on Saturday, [yet] current statistics show that May has already dumped more than double the normal amount of rain over England and Wales as a whole. In fact, we are well on course to register the wettest May since 1983, and it may turn out to be one of the half-dozen wettest since records began more than 300 years ago.

With statistics, it is said, you can prove anything. And weather is no exception, making it easy for water companies to define regions and timescales which suit their own agendas.

Philip Eden's (an independent meteorologist) suspicion is that at times the companies talk up the drought in order to distract attention from their own failings, and to persuade domestic consumers into frugality - a measure which helps ensure adequate supplies for the water companies' commercial customers.

Nearly missed this story from last week. You can certainly blame this Government for being so arrogant as to ignore the burden they are placing on utilities and infrastructure as they cram thousands more houses into the South East. But is it really so difficult for the water companies (who after all repeatedly post profits in the billions) to build some pipelines? Even the Romans managed to move water around the place, 2000 years ago.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Spin between the raindrops

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Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Calderwood Leaves Cobblers
Just received news that Northampton Town manager Colin Calderwood has agreed to become the new manager of Nottingham Forest. Shame really, as Colin put a lot of work into getting us promoted.

NTFC Official website

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Monday, 29 May 2006

"Animals 'devastate' UK songbirds
Grey squirrels and wild cats are 'devastating' Britain's songbird population, a study suggests. Predatory animals are having as much an impact as modern farming practices, the report, commissioned by charity Songbird Survival, indicates.

BBC NEWS | UK | Animals 'devastate' UK songbirds

Friday, 26 May 2006

At 16:45 on local time the group of rescuers has informed, that they have begun descent of Lincoln Hall on a rocky belt and soon hope to be in camp 8300.

After all the hoohah yesterday, resulting from the interview with Sir Edmund Hillary, we now have a developing story of the rescue of a climber from Lorenzo's team who has been presumed dead. He managed to survive the night alone and was found the next day to be showing signs of life by a climber from another team. A large squad of Sherpas, from a number of climbing teams, was assembled and so far they've managed to get Lincoln down to a high camp at 8300m.

It should be noted that some of the Sherpas (who are, after all, far more used to life at high altitiude) did suffer snow blindness and themselves had to be assisted down the mountain - underlining just how dangerious it is at these altitiudes.

Note the article is translated from Russian.


More from the BBC:
"An Australian man believed to have died as he descended Mount Everest has been found alive. Lincoln Hall, 50, was presumed to have died on Thursday when he was left behind by his Sherpas after he started hallucinating and refusing to move."

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | 'Dead' Everest climber 'is alive'

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"Google and Dell in software deal
Computer giant Dell and internet search engine Google have reached a deal to install a version of Google software on Dell at factory level. The Dell computers will contain Google software including several personal computer applications, a Google toolbar and a co-branded homepage.

Just so long as people have the option of removing it without screwing up the machine. I certainly do not like the idea of Google Desktop, which searches all files on your computer (including your emails) and stores the indexes on Google's machines.

BBC NEWS | Business | Google and Dell in software deal

Thursday, 25 May 2006

"The ethics of climbing Everest
The triumph of mountaineer Mark Inglis, who last week became the first double amputee to climb Everest, has been soured by the news he left a dying climber to his fate. the saying goes, 'circumstances alter cases' and it is not clear whether New Zealander Mark Inglis, a double amputee, and the 39 other climbers in his group committed a moral wrong by abandoning the expiring David Sharpe on Everest.

I think its an absolute disgrace that the media (or anyone for that matter) should single out Mark for blame or responsibility for David's tragic death. So far he is one of the very few climbers who have spoken of what actually happened.

BBC NEWS | Magazine | The ethics of climbing Everest

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Wireless networking experiments

Photo from flickrWireless networking experiments
Photo uploaded to flickr 25 May '06, 8.53pm BST PST by hockeyshooter

Our wireless networking experiments for the OU geology course SXR339 made excellent progress today as we established connections between laptops via WRT54G routers with a D-Link DCS-900 IP camera thrown in for good measure. With the addition of a couple of 14db-gain directional flat panel aerials, we were able to send 8fps video and 35Mb files over approx 1.2km. All this gear is available off-the-shelf. Sadly the Nikon P2 wireless-equipped camera refused to cooperate, but this may well have been down to its Mac address not being accepted by the Freifunk software in the routers.

Deaths on Everest
"Mount Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary said Wednesday he was shocked that dozens of climbers left a British mountaineer to die during their own attempts on the world's tallest peak. 'Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain,' Hillary was quoted as saying in an interview with New Zealand Press Association. 'I think the whole attitude toward climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top.'"

I find all this very sad. I hope no one's on that mountain who doesn't realise what a risk it is to climb above 8000m. Its tragic that people are dying up there, I'll admit, but people should be realistic as to what's possible. If you're hanging on to life yourself, as well as a rope, you can't just pick someone up, sling them over your shoulder and carry them down. People did stop to help, people did provide oxygen; sadly there was nothing that could be done.

Hillary Blasts Climbers Who Left Dying Man
Climber Was Left To die
Debate rages over Everest dilemma

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Wednesday, 24 May 2006

River Ouzel

Photo from flickrRiver Ouzel
Photo uploaded to flickr 24 May '06, 3.00pm BST PST by hockeyshooter

Its on days like this that you wish you'd taken a better camera with you. Providing you don't blow them up beyond about half size, these recent shots from my Nokia 6230 phone are pretty respectable. But these skies are crying out for a polarizing filter!

Sunday, 21 May 2006

Lorenzo GarianoLorenzo summits Everest
Heard that at around 05:00 local time today my Italian friend Lorenzo Gariano reached the summit of the world's highest mountain via Tibet and the North Ridge. Photo shows a view looking down at the world from 8848m, which Lorenzo wasn't able to send until a few days later - the PDA which we set up for transferring the images was left at BC and its battery went flat!

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Saturday, 20 May 2006

Canon EOS1D sensor cleaning

Photo from flickrCanon EOS1D sensor cleaning
Photo uploaded to flickr 20 May '06, 12.35pm BST PST by hockeyshooter

I've uploaded a couple of photos from today's sensor cleaning. I started with a quick (but gentle) squirt of Ghiant compressed air, then using a wide nylon bristled brush I bought from a local art shop for a couple of quid, having spraying the bristles vigorously with the air (to statically charge them) I wiped the sensor across a couple of times. Finally, another gentle squirt of air and hey, presto - one clean sensor. And all for a fraction of the price of conventional digital SLR cleaning kits.

Ghiant Air-Power from

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Thursday, 18 May 2006

"Lib Dems plan a £2,000 road tax
The owners of cars which generate the most pollution would face annual road taxes of £2,000 under Liberal Democrat plans to tackle climate change. The figure - 10 times the current rate - would cover high-end cars such as BMW's 7 series, Bentley Continentals and the four-by-four Porsche Cayenne.

Now we're talking. Brown's last road tax hike was a complete waste of time.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Lib Dems plan a £2,000 road tax

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

PM Tony pre-empts his own government energy policy review by stating, last night at a CBI dinner, that nuclear energy was "back on the agenda with a vengeance" (isn't that just the sequel to the movie "Back on the Agenda", probably staring Bruce Willis?). He is quite rightly concerned at the UK massive over-reliance on imported gas to generate a good 40% of our electricity, and that our ageing nuclear plants (currently spitting out around 20% of our collective watts) will nearly all be retired over the next 20 years.

Just so long as he realises that the time for action is right now - there's no point having reviews and discussions if you're then going to sit on the status quo for the next 10 years before actually doing anything.

BBC News | Politics | Blair backs nuclear power plans

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Sunday, 14 May 2006

The Ban The Bulb: Campaign Aims...
1. To increase the use of energy-efficient light bulbs.
2. To encourage the taxing and phasing out of incandescent light bulbs.
3. To propose a time limit for the replacement of light fittings requiring the use of incandescent light bulbs and for altering the shopping habits of consumers.
4. To include environmental costs in the prices consumers pay for their light bulbs and to reward those who switch to using less polluting light bulbs.

We've replaced most of the incandescent bulbs in our house with flourescent enegy savers, many of which came from our electricity provider. The few remaining will be replaced eventually.

Ban The Bulb

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Saturday, 13 May 2006

Covered my first cricket match of the season today; this was in the fourth division of the Morrant Four County League.

Friday, 12 May 2006

"Firm fined for chocolate tin size
A biscuit firm has been fined because its Giant Chocolate Fingers were being sold in tins that were too big. Trading standards in Cambridgeshire took action against St Albans-based Burton's Foods because the biscuits only filled two-thirds of the tin. The firm is one of the first to be prosecuted under laws designed to clamp down on the use of too much packaging. It admitted breaching regulations and applying a false trade description and was fined £7,000 by magistrates.

Lets hope there are many more prosecutions like this. The amount of materials wasted on packaging, quite often non-biodegradable, is disgraceful.

BBC NEWS | England | Cambridgeshire | Firm fined for chocolate tin size

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

"HD-ready" is a con. Especially when it comes to integrated televisions - those with a built-in freeview receivers. According to the BBC, terrestrial high definition broadcasts (other than the recently announced London trials) will not start until the switchover from analog to digital has happened. But no current (generally available in the UK) freeview hardware supports the compression format - quite possibly H.264 - that will be required for HD transmissions, which require significantly more bandwidth.

A new HD compatible digital receiver will be required if and when the HD service is rolled out nationally. For Freeview this is not likely to occur for years yet as there is not enough space available on the current spectrum to provide such broadcasts. This may change come the completion of digital switchover in 2012, however OFCOM will be responsible for determining who gets the extra spectrum space and for what services.

In the meantime the latest information relating to the BBC's plans for HD television can be viewed on the following site:

See the BBC's press release about their HD broadcasts of the World Cup and Wimbledon. And ITV is participating as well.

Sunday, 7 May 2006

FootyCovered a local footy game for a change today. Made quite a difference not having a few thousand fans behind me - could actually hear the players swearing at each other. The work's team won 3-2 (credit, where its due to MK City who pulled two back from 3-0 down); the OU are promoted.

Saturday, 6 May 2006

Covered Oxford vs Leyton Orient today, while Northampton were away to Grimsby. The two matches were to affect that last automatic promotion place, but as Oxford lost 2-3, they get relegated to the Conference for the first time in over 40 years. I can't think they'll be there long, though, as they have a big stadium and therefore plenty of income.

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

Larry Bond's 'Dangerous Ground'Intrigued by a review of Larry Bond's latest thriller due to this quote in US Amazon's review "...a muster of trite maritime stereotypes with seabags full of childish personality conflicts..." Misread that as teabags.

Books: Larry Bond - Dangerous Ground