Sunday, 31 December 2006

A local trials event was lucky to feature an appearance by FIM World Trials Champion Alexz Wigg. Unfortunately I didn't realise who the guy was until later so I didn't get any photos worthy of his skills.

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Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Boxing day saw the 81st annual Wild and Woolly scramble, hosted by the Northamptonshire Motorcyclists' Club at Blisworth. This is now the longest-running motorcycle event in the world. A full gallery of these nutters' antics is now on line. And most of my kit and clothing is clean again...

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Friday, 22 December 2006

"Rice backs 'worthwhile' Iraq war
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has again defended the war in Iraq, saying the investment in US lives and dollars will be 'worth it'. Ms Rice said a lot had been sacrificed for Iraq but success would change the entire Middle East.

And what sacrifices have you made, Ms. Rice? Have you gone a single day since the invasion without water? Electricity? Medical care? Members of your family?

"The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says that in her interview with Associated Press news agency, Ms Rice made it plain that she still believed Iraq should be seen as the centrepiece of US-Middle East policy."

You mean that disaster is a 'centrepiece'? What other stupid ideas are the current administration going to come up with?

"The BBC's Peter Greste in Baghdad says the response in Iraq to the charges [against a number of Marines accused of murder] has been muted. He says there is a perception that Iraqi civilians die every day, either directly or indirectly as a result of US military action, and that this case stands out only in the numbers involved."

Aren't all the deaths (since the invasion) a result of US military action?

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Rice backs 'worthwhile' Iraq war

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Today, last working day of 2006, is dedicated to the dipstick that invented the SATA data connector for computer hard disks, which falls out at the slightest provocation. If you're going to replace an existing standard (IDE) at least improve on it, people!

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

A very frosty day in December

Photo from flickrA very frosty day in December
Photo uploaded to flickr 20 Dec '06, 1.52pm GMT PST by hockeyshooter

Very cold today - definitely the coldest it has been so far this winter. Frost on pretty much everything, thanks to last night's fog. Perfect opportunity to get out and test my new Canon EOS1D Mk.IIn on something other than footy. Given the dullness, I thought they'd look better in B&W.

Only two footy games on last night. I was the only photographer who was sending from one of them. And not a single shot of mine in the papers today.

There's no justice.

Got in a strop with the new Canon EOS 1D MK.IIn - it kept making new folders and managed to somehow duplicate filenames. Found I hadn't formatted the card since Saturday's game plus the camera had reached 9999 images and rolled over.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

"Blair 'failed to influence Bush'
The 'disaster' of Iraq and Tony Blair's failure to influence US policy will overshadow his time as prime minister, a leading UK think tank has said. The invasion and the post-war 'debacle' have damaged the UK's global influence, said the Chatham House report.

Outgoing director Victor Bulmer-Thomas said Mr Blair's successor would have to build better relations with Europe. But Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett told the BBC the 'whole thesis of this note is just plain wrong'.

Sounds pretty accurate to me, missus.

"She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'Nobody said that Tony Blair has so much influence that single-handedly he can solve all the problems of the world.' ... 'The notion that we do not have any influence out there [in the Middle East], or in the European Union, or in the United States is just not true.'"

Well, make yer mind up - either he has influence or he hasn't.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair 'failed to influence Bush'

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Sunday, 17 December 2006

OU Reserves team played Stewkley in a cup match today.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

"Airport expansion plans confirmed
The government has reaffirmed its commitment to airport expansion plans despite opposition from green groups. Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander told MPs the government was committed to a third, short runway at Heathrow airport and a new runway at Stansted.

Well any shred of green credibility this government might have had has just evaporated with this (not entirely surprising) news. What was the point of doubling the tax on flights one week, then increasing airport capacity the next? Oh, I know - to get more money out of us.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Airport expansion plans confirmed

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Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Just bought myself a 2-year Pro account on Flickr and found that all the images I had uploaded ages ago that I thought had 'disappeared' for good (since you can only host 200 images on the free account) were back again - which is brilliant! I had already made a sale of some newsy photos that the client had found through Flickr, so I figure its a legitimate business expense.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

This has got to be the cheapest rain cape you'll ever see - short of making one yourself:

Newpro UK website

Monday, 11 December 2006

Chuffed to find that not only did The People publish one of mine from Saturday's Rushden vs Oxford game, but The Sun did too in their footy roundup today. There was also an article in the Guardan on Curtis Woodhouse, who scored Rushden's goal, but they didn't use any of my photos. To be honest, I'm not sure I even bothered sending them any.

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Nene Park Stadium

Nene Park stadium today withnessed a big Nationwide Conference upset as Rushden & Diamonds (second from bottom) beat visitors, and league-leaders-for-the-entire-season Oxford 1-0.

I'd been sent to cover the game for The Sunday People. Everything worked ok except the paper for some reason couldn't read the photo captions and I had been getting frantic phone calls from my agent, which I couldn't hear, asking for me to send them in a separate email.

The home side celebrated like they'd just won the FA Cup at the end.

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Thursday, 7 December 2006

"Former Army chief criticises MoD
General Sir Mike Jackson, the former head of the Army, has criticised the way in which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) runs the armed forces. Speaking at the annual Dimbleby Lecture, he said soldiers' wages were 'hardly impressive' and 'some accommodation' was 'frankly shaming'. But the MoD said it was always working to improve conditions for its forces.

Yes, like every other Government department, they say they are taking steps to improve things, but at the end of the day, nothing much actually happens. They waste billions in their pathetic miss-management of big projects, but the guys and gals on the ground still get shot at and blown up and we can't even supply bullets that go bang properly.

Please remember, MoD Civil Servants, that whilst you think you might be serving your country, these people are giving their lives for their country. And are getting paid a lot less than you for doing so.

BBC NEWS | UK | Former Army chief criticises MoD

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

My favorite part of cult movie The Blues Brothers is when they visit Rays Music Shop to buy instruments. And naturally, its one of the many blatant copyright violations on YouTube:

"New homes to be 'zero emission'
The majority of newly built homes in the UK should be 'zero-carbon' by 2016, according to the pre-Budget report. At present, more than a quarter of carbon emissions come from households, adding greatly to global warming. But the report did not say how this ambition will be achieved, with details not expected until the next Budget.

'Within 10 years, every new home will be a zero-carbon home and we will be the first country ever to make this commitment,' said Chancellor Gordon Brown during his pre-Budget speech. But the proposals provide no details on how the government will ensure that new properties meet such standards, nor does it give a definition of a zero-carbon house.

Typical of New Labour's woolly, half-arsed attempts to be 'green', then. "Zero-carbon" is just another in-vogue phrase they've picked up on; sorry, Gordon, but the electorate as not as naive as you obviously think we are.

BBC NEWS | Business | New homes to be 'zero emission'

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"Brown unveils 'green' tax plans
Gordon Brown has sought to establish his green credentials as he announced fuel and air duty increases in his 10th and possibly final pre-Budget report. He also said stamp duty on some 'carbon neutral' new homes could be scrapped.

Although fuel duty is going up 1.25p per litre from midnight and air passenger duty from £5 to £10 for most flights, Mr Brown rejected demands to re-link petrol prices to inflation.

I find it highly suspicious that the two petrol stations on my way to work had both put up their prices last night, before the Chancellor's announcement, and will no doubt increase them again tonight.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Brown unveils 'green' tax plans

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Monday, 4 December 2006

"UN chief tells of Iraq war sorrow
The situation in Iraq has become 'much worse' than a civil war, the outgoing United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has told the BBC.

So, further to my earlier posting, Kofi has changed his mind.

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | UN chief tells of Iraq war sorrow

"Iraq's national security adviser says he is shocked by UN head Kofi Annan's suggestion that the average Iraqi is worse off than under Saddam Hussein. Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie also accused the UN of shying away from its responsibility towards the Iraqi people."

What about the thousands that are dead now - would you admit that they are worse off? Perhaps not? The UN's most responsible action would have been to stop this war from happening in the first place. But just how likely would that have been?

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Anger at UN chief's Iraq comments

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"UK nuclear weapons plan unveiled
Tony Blair has told MPs it would be 'unwise and dangerous' for the UK to give up its nuclear weapons. The prime minister outlined plans to spend up to £20bn on a new generation of submarines for Trident missiles. He said submarine numbers may be cut from four to three, while the number of nuclear warheads would be cut by 20%.

So we sign up to an identity card system that the government admits is no use against terrorists and now we're going to waste more billions on a weapons system is also useless against terrorists. No wonder New Labour has had to raise taxes so much.

BBC NEWS | Politics | UK nuclear weapons plan unveiled

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Sunday, 3 December 2006

Carstensz Pyramid podcast imageI got at least the audio recording software working after Friday's hard disk crash and Lorenzo has recorded the first message of his audio blog from Carstenz Pyramid on Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) in Indonesia. I had to manually compress the WAV file and upload it to the webserver via VPN, but the web page script works fine, even thought the file naming isn't the same now. The podcast is also operational, but none of the automation is as I lost the batch file that did most of the work and I haven't been able to recreate it yet.

Fortunately he's a long way from the typhoon that has so far killed at least 400 people, but I am wondering if he's going to find that the helicopter will no longer be available due to having been pressed into the relief efforts. We'll just have to wait and see.

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Me at MK DonsHere's me at another MK Dons game, this time courtesy of the BBC who appear to have exclusive rights over FA Cup games - at least until the Premiereship teams come in I guess. Dons not surprisingly lost to League 1 Blackpool, although it wasn't a walkover by any means. Meanwhile Northampton were knocked out in their 4-1 away loss to Barnet - so both my local teams are out.

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Friday, 1 December 2006

Today has not been a good day. The C: drive in my desktop PC at work died for no apparent reason and whilst I haven't lost document (they are all on a SAN that is backed up to tape) I have lost all my applications, including quite a lot of registered shareware, and their settings files. Our department has no system in place to backup peoples' desktop machines.

The Woolamaloo Gazette brings to my attention, as a complete contrast the some of the crap that finds its way onto services like You Tube, a set of videos recorded by veteran of the Pacific theatre of War War II, Les Loken, who was born in 1912. These contributions are absolutely priceless and they remind me of the community history project "CLUTCH" that I was involved in a few years back. This project unearthed some wonderful recollections of how life used to be.

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"Deputies: Man on crack when alligator attacked
[South Florida, USA] -- A man who was attacked by an alligator this morning was naked and smoking crack at the time, Polk County deputies who rescued him said today.

The alligator had the man in his jaws when deputies arrived at Lake Parker in Lakeland about 4 a.m. today. They were called by nearby residents who reported hearing a man yelling for help.

The first deputy on the scene was unable to free the man, Adrian J. Apgar, from the alligator's mouth. It wasn't until 3 or 4 of them were in chest-deep water that they were able to pull him free after the tug-of-war.

Can't help thinking that British police wouldn't have been so keen to wade in to help the guy. And, frankly, I wouldn't blame them. How confident were these deputies that there weren't other gators in the same lake?

Man on crack when alligator attacked - Orlando Sentinel

"Motorists 'must pay for road use'
Motorists should be asked to pay to drive on the nation's road network, a report commissioned by the government is set to recommend.

We already do pay - over and over. VAT and Special Car Tax on a new car, road fund license every 6- or 12-months, and the higest rate (I believe) of tax on fuel in the world. We pay VAT on having our cars serviced and even VAT on the mandatory MoT inspection.

"Former British Airways chief Sir Rod Eddington has examined options for modernising the UK transport network. He is expected to report that road tolls could bring £28bn a year of benefits to bus and rail users. A high-speed railway from London to Scotland is an option, and expansion of key airports may be recommended."

"Expansion of airports" - from a former British Airways chief - well, isn't that a surprise. Lets tax, even more, an already massively taxed form of transport to help out a massively under-taxed form of transport.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Motorists 'must pay for road use'

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