Thursday, 28 September 2006

"California to cut gas emissions
California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a law which sets targets to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions. Becoming the first US state to impose such limits, California is aiming to reduce its emissions by 25% by 2020. Details on how the state will achieve the cut have not been worked out, but it seems inevitable that businesses will face tougher emissions limits.

Good on California to set an example. Well done, Arne.

"While good news for the environment, critics argue that firms may relocate."

Why don't companies realise they can save money by reducing their emissions - why is being slightly less environmentally harmful always seen as costing money?

BBC NEWS | Business | California to cut gas emissions

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Wednesday, 27 September 2006

"New trees to reclaim Amazon lands
By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Rio Branco
A Brazilian state intends to make cattle ranchers reforest land which they have cleared for grazing. The government of Acre in the Amazon has established a nursery growing seedlings of species such as mahogany which they will issue to ranchers.

Ranchers may be made to reforest up to 30% of their land. The government sees this as a vital component of its longterm aim to develop sustainable forestry as a key income generator for the state. Until a decade ago, private landowners were allowed to deforest 50% of their land. Now legislation has amended the figure to 80%; but many ranchers have not replanted at all.

So reforesting 30% of the 80% they've cut down isn't actually very much, is it?

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | New trees to reclaim Amazon lands

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Monday, 25 September 2006

Photo © Sky Sports
I grabbed this shot of me on the sidelines at a Northampton game earlier this year that was televised by Sky.

This weekend's motocross was the first meeting of the newly-formed Northampton Classic Club, on a track near Long Buckby who race bikes from years gone by. Their categories are Pro '06, Pre '65, Pre '74 and Pre '84 sidecars. The club doesn't have a website yet.

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Saturday, 23 September 2006

"Wal-Mart goes green on packaging
Wal-Mart has become the latest company to join the green revolution - announcing a move to cut packaging by 5% over five years. The retail giant says the scheme will start in 2008 and save the firm $3.4bn (£1.78bn) as well as 'millions of pounds of trash reaching landfills'. The amount saved overall in the supply chain could be $10.98bn, Wal-Mart said.

Five percent over five years - that's pathetic; if its going to save them money, why not 50% in one year? This is no more than a jesture.

BBC NEWS | Business | Wal-Mart goes green on packaging

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Friday, 22 September 2006

"Slimming photos with HP digital cameras
They say cameras add ten pounds, but HP digital cameras can help reverse that effect. The slimming feature, available on select HP digital camera models, is a subtle effect that can instantly trim off pounds from the subjects in your photos!

Is this for real? I've looked for a release date of 1st April on this page, but I can't see one. Are we now so obsessed with being slim that we need this?

Slimming photos with HP digital cameras - HP Digital Photography Center

Thursday, 21 September 2006

"Branson makes $3bn climate pledge
Sir Richard Branson is to invest $3bn (£1.6bn) to fight global warming. The Virgin boss said he would commit all profits from his travel firms, such as airline Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains, over the next 10 years.

The funds will be invested in initiates to develop new renewable energy technologies, both run by Virgin companies and external businesses. 'We must rapidly wean ourselves off our dependence on coal and fossil fuels,' said Sir Richard.

Wow. But what's he going to run his planes on instead of kerosene?

BBC NEWS | Business | Branson makes $3bn climate pledge

UK photographer Danny Clifford reported a very serious rights-grab recenty:

"Greedy Robbie Williams at Milton Keynes
So, there I was on my way to Milton Keynes and it is only mid afternoon. I thought it would be best to get up there early... I found somewhere to park not too far from the gate where my photo pass was to be handed to me. So, I made my way slowly to the gate. When I got there I had quite a long wait until Robbies PR company turned up and gave me my pass... at about 7:30 they showed up and then handed me a contract to sign. I read the contract and then rubbed my eyes and read it again. It said that Robbie Williams was giving me the opportunity to photograph his show, but, wait for it, he would own the copyright of all of my images. I couldn't even have the right to display the photos on my website in my portfolio, as Robbie Williams would own the photos. He would also have the right to sell on my images to whoever he wanted to. So, I explained this to the PR company and asked them to remove that paragraph in the contract. They said they couldn't remove it. I then said well, I am not signing it, so, good bye and off I went. I have been shooting in the music industry since 1988 and never have I given away my copyright. I am not about to do it now.

Online Diary: Greedy Robbie Williams at Milton Keynes

The Daily Mirror picked up on this too:
"Daily Mirror and Greedy Robbie Williams & Bic Runga
Today's Daily Mirror in the UK have picked up on the Robbie Williams trying to grab the copyright of photographers images.

Looks like German newspapers felt the same way, publishing blank images in their articles on the concert. Good on Danny for putting his foot down - as he says, if one artist/company starts getting away with this, they'll all try it on.

Daily Mirror and Greedy Robbie Williams & Bic Runga - 3am Content - EXPOSED GREEDY ROBBIE PICS A FIGHT

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"Software Pirate Gets 7 Years
A California man was sentenced by a federal judge for multiple counts of copyright infringement for selling pirated software online.
By Gregg Keizer, TechWeb, Sep 11 2006 01:00 PM

A California man has been sentenced by a federal judge to serve more than 7 years in prison for running a massive software piracy operation that netted him millions. Nathan Peterson, 27, of Antelope Acres, Calif., pleaded guilty in late 2005 to multiple counts of criminal copyright infringement for selling pirated Adobe, Microsoft, and Symantec software via the Web. According to federal authorities, Peterson netted more than $5.4 million from the sale of $20 million worth of software. He sold the phony programs from his website starting in 2003 and didn't stop until he was arrested in February 2005. Peterson often included a serial number that allowed the purchaser to activate and use the product.

'Stealing the intellectual property of others is always a bad idea in any context. It's theft,' said Chuck Rosenberg, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in a statement issued Friday.

A long time in gaol was my first impression, but this was a pretty serious violation of copyright. Send a message, I guess.

Software Pirate Gets 7 Years - News by InformationWeek

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

PHP logoPHP. How do you check to see if a variable is empty, when it might have a value of zero? empty($var) returns true if its zero, so you can't use that. I found that you need to test for $var===""

Monday, 18 September 2006

"New child car seat laws in force
New laws which mean more children must use child car seats are now in force in England, Wales and Scotland.

Child seats or booster cushions are now compulsory for under-12s under 135cm (4ft 5in) tall, but consumer group Which? says many parents are not ready.

Drivers face fines from £30 on-the-spot or up to £500 in court if they do not ensure that the children they are carrying comply with the regulations.

So, what happens with mums giving lifts to other kids to school? Are they going to be expected to buy a seat for every kid they take? How many mums are going to be prepared to do that? Result: more cars having to do the school run. Well done, Government - yet another piece of ill-considered legistation from the Nanny State.

BBC NEWS | UK | New child car seat laws in force

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Sunday, 17 September 2006

FootyFirst game of the season for the OU First team against Scots Carlton on the MK New City Heating Sunday League. I think the final score was 3-6.

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"Brand bonfire for 'label addict'
A journalist and music promoter is to set fire to his branded goods in a bid to generate a 'more responsible attitude' among consumers.

This guy never heard of charity shops? He'd rather waste its value than let someone else benefit? Why not auction in all off? Or sell it all on eBay for charity?

If he does go ahead with it, perhaps the relevant council should sue him under public health regulations?

BBC NEWS | UK | Brand bonfire for 'label addict'

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

"Surgery for museum's 'ugly' fish
A fish at a Scottish museum has undergone surgery after visitors complained it was too ugly. A harmless but unsightly growth was removed from the goldfish, which was on show at the Royal Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The operation was paid for using coins thrown into the fish pond at the popular visitor attraction.

Hang on a minute. Supposing the fish got infected from the coins?

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Surgery for museum's 'ugly' fish

Monday, 11 September 2006

"Family homes plan will force us out, say elderly
A Conservative-led council is proposing compulsorily to demolish 160 homes and relocate their occupants, many of them elderly, so that houses for the more affluent can be built. Ironically, it is just the kind of demolition scheme that was singled out for criticism by David Cameron, the Conservative leader, on a tour of Liverpool earlier this year.

Residents are united in opposition to the plan proposed by Barrow in Furness council in Cumbria under a £46 million extension, approved by Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, to the Government's troubled Pathfinder regeneration schemes.

There's little enough sense of community left in the UK now - plans like these will destroy what's left.

"Steve Warbrick, the head of regeneration at Barrow council, said that a study had shown that families were moving out of the area, and that the scheme was about getting 'a balanced, sustainable community. We want a balanced approach. But it cannot be done without some disruption,' he said. "A fair proportion of these terraces are owned by private landlords who aren't prepared to invest. We have to intervene.'"

Perhaps they don't want to 'invest'; perhaps they can't afford to? What right do you have to turf them out because of that?

Telegraph | News | Family homes plan will force us out, say elderly

"US remembers 9/11 five years on
Ceremonies are being held in the US to mark the fifth anniversary of the 11 September attacks.

Five years already since the morning I phoned my mum to say "are you watching TV?".
"What channel?" she replied.
"Any channel" I said.

And what did it achieved? Peace in the Middle East? No. America and the West out of the Middle East? No. 2973 lives lost - taken - for no reason.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US remembers 9/11 five years on

Saturday, 9 September 2006

"Saddam 'had no link to al-Qaeda'
There is no evidence of formal links between Iraqi ex-leader Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda leaders prior to the 2003 war, a US Senate report says. The finding is contained in a 2005 CIA report released by the Senate's Intelligence Committee on Friday. US President George W Bush has said that the presence of late al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq before the war was evidence of a link.

Opposition Democrats are accusing the White House of deliberate deception. They say the revelation undermines the basis on which the US went to war in Iraq.

The other basis - the prime excuse was the presence of weapons of mass distruction - which didn't exist.

"The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says that the US president has again and again tried to connect the war, which most Americans think was a mistake, with the so-called war on terror, which has the support of the nation."

Again and again he's lied to his nation - and his nation re-elected him. What does that say?

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Saddam 'had no link to al-Qaeda'

Friday, 8 September 2006

"Conference marks Star Trek's 40th
Star Trek cast members and fans are gathering in Seattle to celebrate the popular sci-fi show's 40th anniversary. Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols and George Takei from the original Star Trek series are among the celebrity guests attending the three-day event. They will be joined by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Majel Roddenberry, widow of late series creator Gene. The first Star Trek episode was shown in the US on 8 September 1966.

Happy birthday Star Trek.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Conference marks Star Trek's 40th

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Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Done The Impossible DVD

And once you've watched Serenity, visit Done The Impossible to order the special DVD - "the story of the rise and fall and rebirth of the cult TV show 'Firefly' as told from the perspective of the fans who helped save it". Total for the DVD to the UK is $24.80 which is about £13.

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Serenity DVD from AmazonAnd once you've watched all of Firely, get Serenity, the movie that Jos Whedon got made against all odds after the TV series was cancelled (that's probably a first).

Added later:
Johnathan Ross reviewed Serenity on Film 2005 and said of it:
'This is a huge and pleasant surprise - hip, smart, funny, and exciting,
topped off by outstanding special effects'
'My overriding thought ...was: why on earth couldn't the three most recent
Star Wars films' have been a third as good as this?'
'Swashbuckling fun'
'Serenity is a guaranteed crowd pleaser'

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Firefly complete series DVDMy sci-fi-mad brother recently lent be the DVD box set of Firefly, which I'd never heard of. From Buffy creator Jos Whedon, this has got to be the most inventive, original sci-fi series ever made - better even than Farscape and the new Battlestar Galactia. Think Cowboys and Indians in space. Absolutely superb. And absolutely criminal that the Fox network cancelled it - showing such contempt for the creator, authors and cast that not all the episodes that were filmed were even shown in the USA.

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Sony DVD-R discs from AmazonTrying to backup some digital photos to a Windows data DVD using Roxio Easy DVD Creator 6 and I get the error E80070057: The parameter is incorrect. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Have software engineers learnt nothing in the last 30 years? Is it so difficult to give a human message, instead of something only a Roxio software author would understand?

Apparently it could be for one of two reasons. Firstly, I might be writing an MP3 file with an incorrect bit rate. Quite how that would affect things, I don't know. The other possibility is that my writer (a Lacie-badged NEC ND-3500AG) doesn't like my media (Sony DVD-R 16x with AccuCORE, whatever the hell that is). So I start a hunt for firmware and find both a nice, friendly flashing application (NECWinFlash), and a web page with a whole list of relevant firmware files I can try. So I take the NEC drive from the original 2.06 to 2.16 and thence to 2.18 - which worked.

Apparently one hint that things aren't all rosey on the writing front is when a write speed is not selectable in the final writing dialog box. To run a check (perhaps when trying a new brand/kind of media for the first tie) do the write in 'Test only' mode - if there is an incompatability, the disc will be ejected - and you'll be met by the kind of cryptic message above.

Sunday, 3 September 2006

Jetskis at Willen Lake

Photo from flickrJetski
Photo uploaded to flickr 3 Sep '06, 10.26pm BST PST by hockeyshooter

Once again, Willen Lake in Milton Keynes played host to the National Jetski championships. Temperatures were down on last year, but the event still pulled in a sizeable crowd.

I've posted a gallery of photos.

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Motocross at Crick

Photo from flickrMotocross
Photo uploaded to flickr 3 Sep '06, 10.25pm BST PST by hockeyshooter

The Northamptonshire Motorcycle club hosted a motocross race near Crick this weekend. A full gallery from this event is now on line.

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Friday, 1 September 2006

"Cameron calls for emissions law
Conservative leader David Cameron has joined environmental campaigners in calling for a law on climate change to be promised in the next Queen's speech. In a letter to Tony Blair, green groups are pressing for legislation that would set targets for 3% annual cuts in greenhouse gases across the UK economy.

Time to get real, Mr Blair, and put your money where your mouth is. Our emissions have gone up since Kyoto. Becoming a world-leader in alternative energy technologies could be a real money spinner for the UK. Don't let someone else beat us to it.

"Environment Secretary David Miliband said the government was taking action at home and abroad against global warming. 'We welcome a wider debate on how we can make further progress but we need to focus on the means of achieving it, not on setting additional targets,' he said."

You're missing the point. There's been enough talk. Its time for action. Talk any more and it will be to late.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Cameron calls for emissions law WiFI SD cardThis neat little device promises to bring a little revolution to fast-working sports photographers wanting to get images from camera to client even faster than is possible already. Its basically a flash card with an 802.11 wireless transmitter built-in. There must be some clever buffering because the transmission speed even of the g-flavour of 802.11 would not be fast enough to keep up with a Canon 1D of Nikon D2H working at its top frame rate - even for a short burst.

I have to wonder if it will ever reach the market - it reminds me of the 'electronic film' designed to turn 35mm film cameras into dSLRs. Watch this space...

"It just doesn't pay to be a loyal customer
Time to buy a new mobile phone: always an exciting time for those of us who ought to get out more often. I had already decided I wanted a sleek 3G Nokia... So, how much? My local Vodafone shop quoted me £250 plus around £30 a month. I said a colleague had got one from Orange for £19 plus a comparable monthly tariff, and that down the road they were offering them for nothing on a similar monthly tariff. Sorry, he said, this was the price for existing Vodafone subscribers.

Writes Victor Keegan in The Guardian.

These big companies never learn, do they?

Guardian Unlimited Technology | Technology | It just doesn't pay to be a loyal customer