Thursday, 31 May 2007

"US urges new greenhouse gas goals
US President George W Bush has urged countries to agree on long-term goals for greenhouse gas emissions.

Sorry - who? I thought for one moment, you said George W Bush...

"He said he would hold meetings bringing together the US and 14 other major emitters, including developing nations, to set targets by the end of 2008."

You're sure you're talking about the right guy here?

"BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin says Mr Bush's speech was short on details, and White House aides have made clear Mr Bush will oppose demands for the US to cut emissions and join a global carbon trading system."

So what does this mean, exactly? That he just wants other countries to reduce their emissions?

"In his speech on Thursday in Washington, Mr Bush said his administration took climate change seriously."

Can anyone say "U turn"? The only thing the administration has been doing to date in relation to climate change is trying to deny that its happening.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US urges new greenhouse gas goals

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86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore. You Won't Believe Who Wins

"86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore
If you think that Americans are getting fatter, take one good look at the operating system (OS) your computer is running right now. It gets larger and more weighed down with every update.

System 6.0.8 requires 1MB, Windows XP requires 1.5GB and Windows Vista 15GB. Yes, Vista needs 15,000 times the hard disk space as System 6.0.8.

A very interesting comparison, and not really unfair as it compares real-world tasks. The Mac Plus was one of the first computers I ever used.

It just underlines how bloated modern software has become and how much emphasis there is on bells-and-whistles rather than actually doing work. Sadly, Apple are just as guilty in this areas as Microsoft.

86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore. You Won't Believe Who Wins

"Banking on green gesture?
Within the headquarters of HSBC, the UK's largest bank was announcing that it was to split $100m (£50m) between four environmental groups and charities, chosen for their involvement in addressing some of the global causes and effects of climate change.

The scheme marks a doubling of HSBC's previous $50m environment investment project, Investing in Nature, which ended in 2006 ... However as a percentage of HSBC's 2006 record profits of $22.08bn the sum represents less than 0.5%.

Now, now, don't be so cynical BBC - that's my job.

"After showing a short HSBC-branded film featuring imagined scenes including London under water and the Amazon being transformed into a huge motorway, the bank's chairman Stephen Green said that withdrawing from so-called 'sensitive sectors' - including energy, water, forestry, chemicals or mining, would not be the right thing.

HSBC would remain committed to clients across these sectors, Mr Green said, 'as long as we are confident that they are engaged in a journey towards environmental sustainability'.

Perhaps HSBC could offer preferential rates to business that show a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint?

BBC NEWS | Business | Banking on green gesture?

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Sunday, 27 May 2007

BBC NEWS | UK | Reaction to 'stop and question' plans

"Reaction to 'stop and question' plans
Home Office proposals to give police the right to stop and question anyone in the UK have provoked a barrage of criticism.

And quite rightly too.

BBC NEWS | UK | Reaction to 'stop and question' plans

The expanion of our Police State continues:

"Stop and quiz powers considered
The government is considering giving police officers across the UK 'stop and question' powers under new anti-terror laws, says the Home Office. The proposal, allowing police to ask people about their identity and movement, is among measures being considered by Home Secretary John Reid.

The measure is so far used only in Northern Ireland. Police elsewhere have to have 'reasonable suspicion' a crime has been committed before they can stop people.

And the real kicker, bearing in mind the people stopped may well be completely innocent of any crime:
"Anyone who refuses to co-operate could be charged with obstructing the police and fined up to £5,000, according to the Sunday Times."

BBC NEWS | UK | Stop and quiz powers considered

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Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Lord Puttnam

Lord Puttnam
Lord Puttnam,
originally uploaded by hockeyshooter.
Lord Puttnam, the recently-installed Chancellor, gave a speech today at the Open University Strategic Forum entitled 'Ethics in Real Life'. Got myself positioned well in advance to get the big OU logo in the background and concentrated so much on the angle and background I forgot I'd left the flash on. I had the lens on f5.6, it was very bright, so the ISO was on 200, but with the flash turned on the camera had to restrict the shutter speed to the sync speed, thus over-exposing the image.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Loca - About Loca

"Imagine that you are walking down the street when you hear a beep from your phone. You see a message reading: 'You were in a flower shop and spent 30 minutes in the park; are you in love?'

How would you react to this message? How would it make you feel?

Loca is an artist-led interdisciplinary project on mobile media and surveillance; exploring the shifting boundaries between art practice, the event and data systems. Loca is grass-roots, pervasive surveillance; tracking the trail of digital identities that people leave through physical space.

"Its all right - we know where you've been" - Pink Floyd, The Wall, 1979.

Loca - About Loca

Monday, 21 May 2007

Britain - a Police State? Surely not? Well, in the last three days, we have:

"Police chief's 'Orwellian' fears
A senior police officer has said he fears the spread of CCTV cameras is leading to 'an Orwellian situation'. Deputy chief constable of Hampshire Ian Readhead said Britain could become a surveillance society with cameras on every street corner.
BBC NEWS | UK | Police chief's 'Orwellian' fears

...then we have:

"Brown will not block secrecy bid
Gordon Brown has rejected calls to block a controversial move by MPs to get out of freedom of information laws. MPs pushed the plan closer to becoming law earlier in what critics called a 'shameful day for Parliament'. The MPs say they want to protect private letters from constituents - but critics say the move would also allow them to keep their expenses secret.
BBC NEWS | Politics | Brown will not block secrecy bid

...and now we have:

"Staff asked to 'snoop' for police
Council staff, charity workers and doctors could be required by law to tip off police about anyone they believe could commit a violent crime. The Home Office proposals, leaked to the Times newspaper, insist public bodies have 'valuable information' that could identify potential offenders. Possible warning signs could include heavy drinking, mental health problems or a violent family background. The Tories say the plans would require staff to 'snoop on their customers'.
BBC NEWS | UK | Staff asked to 'snoop' for police

And people wonder where all those ex-Stasi members disappeared when the Wall came down...

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Sunday, 20 May 2007

originally uploaded by hockeyshooter.
Covered Northampton MCC's second event of the season at Long Buckby this weekend. Was not happy at the presence of another event photographer, uninvited by the club and intent on stealing all my business. Their website even contains text copied word-for-word from my own. Time to call in my lawyer nephew perhaps...

Full gallery of indexed and searcheable images, available on proper photo paper, for less than my competitor, should anyone be interested.

Friday, 18 May 2007

As a browncoat (that is a fan of the fabulous "cowboys in space" series Firefly and its related big-screen movie, Serenity) I was intrigued to hear of the forthcoming Special Edition DVD of Serenity. Apparently it may contain this scene removed from the original, showing Inara at the training house.

"Hailing from a tough Australian country town, these four boys aged between 18-22 have grown up with a healthy respect for the fine art that is Foot to the floor rock n roll.

They have entertained audiences on the main stage at the 2006 Big Day Out and at such legendary venues as The Tote, The Espy, The duke of Windsor, The Gaelic Club, Spectrum and The Metro, Airbourne have also shared the stage with The Rolling Stones, You Am I, The Living End, Motley Crue, Magic Dirt, After The Fall & The Detroit Cobras to name drop a few.

Very reminiscent of The Cult. Solid guitar rock. Throughly recommended - if you can find it outside of that is.

Artist Wiki: Airbourne –

"Yahoo 'censored' Flickr comments
Yahoo has been accused of censorship on its popular photo website Flickr, in a row that has highlighted the issue of copyright in the online age. Earlier this month photographer Rebekka Gudleifsdóttir discovered that seven of her pictures were reportedly being sold by a UK-based online gallery. She raised the issue on Flickr but a photo and comments were deleted.

This is precisely why I watermark and add additional copyright statements to all my images.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Yahoo 'censored' Flickr comments

The copyright violators in question are only-dreemin and you'll find that they are already mentioned on quite a few blogs. At time of writing, the photographer was not able to persue them through the UK courts as she couldn't afford to do so - so they get away with it.

The moral of the story is: never upload full-resolution images to the web, and watermark any images you do upload, preferably place in areas that would make it very difficult or impossible to edit out.

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Thursday, 17 May 2007

Have configured my somewhat ancient-but-still-serviceable Nokia 6230 mobile phone to echo my status via BuddySpace, kick in the screen saver and start or stop the music playing via iTunes on my iMac. Here's how:

First, pair your phone with your Mac using the OS X-included Bluetooth utlitity. Then, using the AppleScript editor, create two scripts along the lines of:

tell application "iChat"
set status to away
end tell
tell application "iTunes"
end tell
tell application "ScreenSaverEngine" to activate
tell application "iChat"
set status to available
end tell
tell application "iTunes"
end tell

...and save them in, say /Applications/AppleScript
If you find that the editor complains that it can't find ScreenSaverEngine, it lives in:

Next, download and install Apple's free application Proximity and point it at these two scripts. Pick your phone from the paired devices list and set the polling time to something like every five minutes.

Now when your phone leaves the office, your music will stop, your screensaver will kick in and iChat will let people know they can come and steal your things...
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Monday, 14 May 2007

Deforestation: The hidden cause of global warming - Independent Online Edition > Climate Change

"Deforestation: The hidden cause of global warming
In the next 24 hours, deforestation will release as much CO2 into the atmosphere as 8 million people flying from London to New York. Stopping the loggers is the fastest and cheapest solution to climate change. So why are global leaders turning a blind eye to this crisis?

Indonesia became the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world last week. Following close behind is Brazil. Neither nation has heavy industry on a comparable scale with the EU, India or Russia and yet they comfortably outstrip all other countries, except the United States and China.

What both countries do have in common is tropical forest that is being cut and burned with staggering swiftness. Smoke stacks visible from space climb into the sky above both countries, while satellite images capture similar destruction from the Congo basin, across the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo.

According to the latest audited figures from 2003, two billion tons of CO2 enters the atmosphere every year from deforestation.

This is truly staggering.

Deforestation: The hidden cause of global warming - Independent Online Edition > Climate Change

Finally got thumnail images to appear in the popups from waypoint markers in Google Maps using their API and JavaScript - this is for our wacky wireless-network-in-a-field experiments for geology field trips, but could equally be used for all sorts of location surveys. Chris Breeze's excellent Downloader Pro 2 geotags the images and at the same time spits out an HTML file with the track recorded by the GPS device (in this case a Garmin geko 301). I then add some significant waypoints and pick an image most appropriate to each location. Each waypoint is drawn using a function derrived from the help pages Google provides for their API.

The API is a little clunky: for example, I can't get the default zoom value to work, so you get the same zoomed-out view each time it loads.

In my work as a Moderator on the Open University short course on digital photography, T189, which includes Adobe Elements 5, a number of students were finding that the ISO field in their EXIF data (the shooting data embedded into the headers of JPG image files) was not being shown in the software. Apparently its not a fault of the software but of Canon, who have on occasion not stuck to the standard and have recorded the ISO setting not in the EXIF ISO field but in some other field that varies between makesb - and which Elements ignores.

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Sunday, 13 May 2007

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Spider-Man 3's success continues

"Spider-Man 3's success continues
Spider-Man 3 has remained the most popular film in North America, earning six times as much as its nearest rival on its second weekend of release. The action movie generated $60m (£30.3m) in three days, early estimates suggest, compared to $10m (£5.1m) for British drama 28 Weeks Later.

Which rather surprises me since I found it disjointed and overly long, when I saw it on Saturday night.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Spider-Man 3's success continues

Covered OU Reserve's cup final win against White Hart at Newport Pagnell this morning in pouring rain. Good test of my foul weather gear!

Friday, 11 May 2007

How to uninstall norton: "Every day, thousands of people search the internet for a way to uninstall Norton from their computer. (Over 10,000 on Google alone). There are several reasons."

Yeah - me too. Trying to help a neighbour update his paid for Norton Internet Security, and the installer for the new version won't install because the previous version is only half installed. He doesn't have the original CD, so we can't use that. And the web-based (IE only, of course) removal tool won't work.

Conclusion (which I already knew): avoid Norton AV or Internet Security like the plague.

Monday, 7 May 2007

CoinWhat's so remarkable about this photo of a coin? Nothing. Its the camera that's remarkable. I used a Ricoh Caplio 500SE-W which is not only waterproof and environmentally sealed to IP67, but also has built-in Bluetooth and 802.11 wireless functionality. You can set it up so that you can send photos straight after you have taken them. It can even resize them before it sends, allowing you to keep the original 8Mb file on the SD card and send a web-sized copy straight to a webserver. Very clever stuff!

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Rain drops in a puddleRain drops in a puddle
What's so unusual about that? Nothing, except that it hasn't rained here for quite a while. And today its tipping down. The National Rivers Authority are worried that our rivers are going to suffer from toxic algae and fish, water voles and the like were going to be poisoned, since we have had about 4% of the rainfall we should have had in the last month.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

First home game of the season for the OU, with Caddington batting first and making nearly 200. But I was frozen sat on my little stool with the sun stubbornly refusing to come out until I'd finished. Went into the office to finish scanning the last of the annual camera club competition photos.