Thursday, 30 August 2007

An excellent "And finally..." story:

"Woman pays £1,800 for chicken leg
A woman from Cwmbran, Torfaen took out a bank loan and lived on beans on toast for a year to pay £1,800 in vet bills after her pet chicken injured its leg. Vicky Mills, 24, was heartbroken when Lily, a Rhode Island Red, got her leg trapped in a barbed wire fence. Despite the costs, Mrs Mills told her vet to try to save the limb rather than have her put down. When the treatment failed, she paid for an amputation. Lily was also diagnosed with depression but has now recovered, said Mrs Mills.

Yes, that's still the chicken, she's talking about.

"'My wife loves that chicken so much that she could not bear to have her put down,' said Mr Mills. 'But now she is a happy hen again and laying eggs regularly for us. She is quite happy to hop around on one leg. But sometimes she tries to scratch herself with her missing leg and falls over'."

Sure she'd only fall over if she tried to scratch herself with the leg she still has...?

BBC NEWS | Wales | Woman pays £1,800 for chicken leg

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

This evening's Art and Architecture walk for the work's camera club was successful - as well as a few club members, we hosted around 9 regulars of a Flickr group called the MK Flickrites. I concentrated on the architecture as the light was better for that.

"Court hears of computer blunder
Useful evidence may have been destroyed when a laptop seized from a terror suspect was switched on before being passed to analysts, a court has heard. The court heard the machine had been seized from Mr Siddique at Glasgow Airport in April last year.

A report from Mr Dickson, a forensic analyst with the e-crime unit attached to the police, stated it had been turned on before he examined it. Mr Dickson went on to say that turning a computer on could have serious consequences. He said: 'Nobody should be turning a computer on after it has been seized for any reason unless they are suitably qualified to do so. Anything that they do may cause catastrophic damage to some of the evidence held on the computer's hard drive and the whole process of turning the computer on will cause a number of things to happen to the hard drive which may override things that may have been useful to see.'

Which just goes to show that some claims of ability to recover over-written files are probably complete tosh. It appears that simple re-use of the files in question, but the operating system itself, is enough to trash their contents.

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Tayside and Central | Court hears of computer blunder

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

"Lib Dems urge end to petrol cars
Petrol-powered cars should be phased out within decades to help fight climate change, say the Lib Dems. Environment spokesman Chris Huhne says cars should use alternative fuel - like hydrogen fuel cells - by 2040 as part of plans to make the UK carbon-neutral.

'The EU acting together through the internal market can make sure that change happens,' he said.

The government's draft Climate Change Bill aims to reduce carbon emissions by at least 60% from 1990 levels by 2050. But last month it was reported that officials had told ministers the UK would miss EU climate change targets by a wide margin.

Its a pretty drastic suggestion, but in order to reduce our emissions by the amount we really need to, its probably essential. However, the EU haven't even brought in regulations to limit emissions on new cars - engines are actually getting bigger. Why?

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Sunday, 26 August 2007

"Greek fires threaten ancient city
There are fears for the ancient ruins of Olympia, a world heritage site and home to the Olympic flame, as Greece's devastating forest fires close in. Water-bombing planes are trying to suppress the flames near the site, and nearby villages have been evacuated. About 50 people have died since fires burst out on Friday. They are still burning and nearing villages in the south, on islands and near Athens. The Greek PM has implied that many fires were started deliberately.

Among many tragic stories to emerge, one that shocked many Greeks was that of a mother who burned to death with her four children. They died clutching each other.

What kind of sick idiot sets fire to his own country?

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Greek fires threaten ancient city

Friday, 24 August 2007

Its pretty sad when you find that listed on WikiPedia, one of your home town's claims to fame is that it hosts the UK head office of Tupperware.

Checkboxes, JavaScript and PHP

You may already know that if you name a set of checkboxes as an array, that array can be passed directly into PHP. This is especially useful where the form itself is created from data on-the-fly using PHP. For example:

<FORM ACTION='action.php' METHOD='post'>
<INPUT TYPE='checkbox' NAME='delStory[]' VALUE='4574'>
<INPUT TYPE='checkbox' NAME='delStory[]' VALUE='4577'>
<INPUT TYPE='checkbox' NAME='delStory[]' VALUE='4581'>
<INPUT TYPE='checkbox' NAME='delStory[]' VALUE='4602'>
<INPUT TYPE='submit' ONCLICK='return checkDel(this.form);'>

If all these boxes were checked, action.php would receive a string array in $_POST['delStory'] containing '4574,4577,4581,4602'. However, if you need some client-side form validation, JavaScript will have problems since you cannot directly use square brackets in referring to the form elements. Instead you have to go an indirect route, creating a JavaScript object first - thus:

<SCRIPT TYPE='text/javascript' LANGUAGE='JavaScript'>
function checkDel(form) {
var temp=form.elements['delStory[]'];
var flag=0;
if (temp.length > 0) {
for (i=0;i < temp.length;i++) {
if (temp[i].checked) flag++;
if (flag > 0) {
if (!confirm('Delete - are you sure ?')) return false;
return true;
} else {
alert('NOTE: None of the boxes were checked');
return false;

The problem comes where there is only one checkbox in the form. In this case, you will find that the length of the array is returned as 'undefined'. I have yet to find a way around this...

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Thursday, 23 August 2007

"Democrats condemn Bush over Iraq
Leading members of the US Democratic Party have criticised President George W Bush's speech in which he defended his Iraq policy. Mr Bush said a military retreat could trigger the kind of upheaval seen after US forces left Vietnam. The leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, dismissed the comparison and said the decision to invade Iraq was one of the worst blunders in US history.

Well, actually, Bush is nearly right. He's correct to compare with it Vietnam:
. its a quagmire with no easy way out
. thousands of innocents are loosing their lives
. the lives of hundreds of US military personnel are being wasted

Now, if he'd have just listen to those that were telling him this before the invasion...

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Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Peace pagoda"One of Britain's leading Buddhist monks has died in a freak accident cutting lawns at his temple in Milton Keynes. Reverend Gyosei Handa was killed while using a ride-on lawnmower. Rev Handa was the chief monk at Nippon zan Miohoji Buddhist temple in Willen."

BBC NEWS | England | Beds/Bucks/Herts | Monk dies in freak mower accident

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

"A&E closures 'put lives at risk'
The closure of local A&E departments will put the lives of seriously ill patients at risk by making them travel further for treatment, a study claims. Researchers said it was time to debate the merits of big regional units after finding the risk of death went up with each mile travelled for urgent care. The Emergency Medicine Journal research involved 10,000 cases in four ambulance services between 1997 and 2001. But a government health tsar dismissed the study as outdated and irrelevant.

That's a pretty arrogant response. Hardly 'irrelevant' if your spouse/kid dies on the way to hospital is it? If a patient needs hospital treatment, and its takes longer to get to hospital, how can it do anything other than put that patient's life at risk. New Labour are starting to show the sort of arrogance the Tories did just before they lost power.

BBC NEWS | Health | A&E closures 'put lives at risk'

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Saturday, 18 August 2007

Today's cricket game was rained off after the first innings. Eaton Bray batted first, but were bowled out for 99. This gained the promotion-chasing OU an important 5 extra points. But the downpour that started at tea went on at least an hour, so the match was abandoned.

Friday, 17 August 2007

"Compact disc hits 25th birthday
The compact disc was jointly developed by Philips and Sony History of the CD Exactly 25 years ago the world's first compact disc was produced at a Philips factory in Germany, sparking a global music revolution. The CD was jointly developed by Philips and Sony and the disc has also become a key storage method for computer users.

I had one of the first models of players available - a Marantz CD-63B.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Compact disc hits 25th birthday

Back in the early 80s, music CDs cost around £12 new. Considering how much cheaper they are to make now, and how much technology has dropped in price, they should probably cost about 50p now. But they don't. And the music industry wonders why their sales have plummeted...

Thursday, 16 August 2007

"Legal drinking age rise dismissed
Politicians and drinks manufacturers have dismissed a call by a chief constable to raise the legal drinking age to 21. Peter Fahy, of Cheshire police, said raising the limit would send 'a clear message about the dangers' of alcohol. But Home Office minister Meg Hillier said parents, not legislation, had the power to stop underage drinking.

There have been numerous cases this year of people being murdered trying to protect their property - or themselves - from drunken yobs. Does this government really think they are in the right to continue to sit on the fence and do nothing - and continue to receive the £millions in funds from the drinks industry?

"And drinks industry body the Portman Group said 18-year-olds 'should be trusted to drink'."

Well, that's just pathetic - they might as well just say "we don't care what these drunken idiots get up to so long as we continue to make a profit".

Saturday, 11 August 2007

The OU cricket team were in action for their last-but-2 game of the season today at Eggington.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

"US concerns over Guantanamo men
The US is considering a request from the British Foreign Office to release five former UK residents from Guantanamo Bay detention centre. A senior US official said Washington would seek guarantees that the men would be treated humanely and would not be allowed to pose a security threat.

That's a laugh, isn't it? Its OK, apparently, for the USA to lock someone up without trial for five years, but when another country asks to release them, the US has the gaul to ask that they be treated humanely.

BBC NEWS | Politics | US concerns over Guantanamo men

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Monday, 6 August 2007

"190,000 weapons 'missing in Iraq'
The US military cannot account for 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to the Iraqi security forces, an official US report says. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the Pentagon cannot track about 30% of the weapons distributed in Iraq over the past three years.

As the old saying goes "to mislay one weapon is unfortunate - to mislay 190,000 is pretty chuffin stupid".

"Meanwhile, at the end of July, the US Defence Department admitted that the US-led coalition in Iraq had failed to deliver nearly two-thirds of the equipment it promised to Iraq's army. The Pentagon said only 14.5m of the nearly 40m items of equipment ordered by the Iraqi army had been provided."

I'll give you a hint guys - leave them in the cupboard.

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | 190,000 weapons 'missing in Iraq'

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Sunday, 5 August 2007

"US House passes clean energy bill
The draft law aims to boost US use of renewable energy
The US House of Representatives has passed a radical new energy bill, which aims to expand the use of renewable fuels and cut tax breaks to oil firms. The draft law details support for 'clean' energy sources like biofuels, wind, solar and geothermal resources.

Lets hope this doesn't lead to yet more US-owned or US-backed companies hacking down yet more rainforest.

"It would withdraw some $16bn (£8bn) in annual subsidies from the oil industry. But the bill is opposed by President George Bush, and still has to be merged with other energy measures passed by the Senate before it can become law."

Bush - opposed to subsidy cuts to the oil industry - well isn't that a surprise.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US House passes clean energy bill

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Friday, 3 August 2007

BBC NEWS | Business | Norwich Union in 10% premium hike

"Norwich Union in 10% premium hike
Norwich Union is to raise domestic property insurance premiums by an average of 10% from next week, the BBC has learned. The firm, the UK's largest household insurer, said that the hike was not linked to the recent floods and that the timing was coincidental.

So why the hike? Why not just say "we're raising our premiums by several times the rate of inflation because we want to make an even bigger profit. We'll no doubt raise them again a little while after all the flood claims come in."

BBC NEWS | Business | Norwich Union in 10% premium hike