Monday, 31 March 2008

Lots of reading and generally lounging about today. Dinner at Lorenzo's Mum's in Diano Marina: aubergines, artichokes and asparagus.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Early rise to join an Italian Alpine Club walk up in the hills, although Lorenzo and I actually took a slightly different route. Lots of brilliant sunshine and I think this is when I managed to get sunburned. Eventually met at the summit with dozens of other walkers taking part in some regional "get out and enjoy the countryside" thing. Back to Imperia (temperature has now risen to about 22C in town) for lunch at the nice little seafront cafe near the road up to Poggi to indulge in some first class people - or rather waitress - watching. Read in the afternoon, then snack dinner for a change. Later spent a good few hours uploading a few images to Flickr, then fiddling with Facebook, where I accidentally asked a very beautiful friend of mine out on a date - you do have to be careful what you click!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Builders arrived at 07:40 this morning. Set off around 11:00 to the Giardino Esotioco Pallanca (Pallance Exotic Gardens) near Bordighera - a massive cacti collection arranged on a steep hill looking down onto the Med. Took over 100 photos, mostly with my new Canon 100mm macro lens (glad I took it). Pizza slice lunch at a seafront cafe to the North of Imperia, reading and rest in the afternoon, then dinner at Lorenzo's.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Builders arrived outside my flat at 08:00 so no lie-in for me. Lorenzo getting hassles by the Italian equivalent of the DLVA with his old Alpha Romeo Spider. Lunch on his roof in brilliant sunshine - temperature must be at least 17C. We then went for a strenuous (for me) walk up from Cervezo in the hills. Dinner with a couple of Lorenzo's friends (the girl being the spitting image of actress Clare Danes) in a very nice restaurant - I had gnocchini (which I can just about pronounce properly now) with mushrooms in a white sauce - superb!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Start of my fifth holiday to Liguria, Italy. easyjet flight out mostly OK (I don't like flying), but quite turbulent flying into Nice. The #99 bus from airport to Nice Ville train station (4 Euros) very straightforward and convenient. Got a train ticket (I asked in French) direct to Imperia, but had to wait for over an hour as most trains stop at Ventimiglia on the way. Rush hour in Nice does seem to involve much of a rush! Had dinner at Primo Piano pizza restaurant in Imperia.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Mashups workshop
Mashups workshop,
originally uploaded by hockeyshooter.
Following Tony's demonstrations with Yahoo Pipes (which I had briefly looked at before but got nowhere with) I had another play this evening and produced which puts all places mentioned in the last 50 news stories from my department's website onto a Yahoo Map. I wanted to go a bit further and use Google Maps instead, but its just too slow loading in all the data.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Bush speech hails Iraq 'victory'

"Bush speech hails Iraq 'victory'
Overthrowing Saddam Hussein was 'the right decision', US President George W Bush said in a speech to mark the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. He said the world was a safer place because the US had acted. Mr Bush spoke as anti-war protests were held in several US cities amid mounting opposition to the war and its costs.

In his speech, Mr Bush dismissed what he called 'exaggerated estimates' of the war's price tag. 'The costs are necessary when we consider the cost of a strategic victory for our enemies in Iraq,' he said."

Costs? Is that the extent of the 'cost' of this conflict to you? How many billions of US Dollars you've wasted?

How many sons and daughters have been sacrificed to give you your 'victory'?

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Bush speech hails Iraq 'victory'

UK consumer inflation hits 2.5%

"UK consumer inflation hits 2.5%
UK consumer inflation reached its highest level in nine months last month, due to a new method for calculating energy bills. The Office for National Statistics said the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) hit 2.5% on an annual basis in February, up from 2.2% in January.

I really don't know where they get figures like this. The petrol I buy has gone up by more than this in two days. Our Council Tax has gone up by 4.3%.

BBC NEWS | Business | UK consumer inflation hits 2.5%

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Build, delivered and installed a new PC for my Brother yesterday. Opted for XP Home as I didn't fancy supporting Vista. He'd been out and bought a Lexmark X3470 all-in-one inkjet printer from Tesco. Plugged the printer into one of the rear USB ports, started the machine up, but it got stuck during the boot process and wouldn't even start the memory test. Considered it just a fluke, perhaps because I hadn't installed the software yet, so I unplugged it (which immediately allowed the machine to boot OK), went into Windows and installed the drivers. That's a long process being an all-in-one device since it comes with some imaging software. Plugged the printer in again and all seemed to be fine - printed a photo from and tested its scan function and all worked.

I shut the machine down and left them to it, but they rang me a bit later to say that again the machine wouldn't boot. On removing the USB cable, all was fine. So just what's going on here? How is the printer stopping the computer from booting? The only instances I've known issues like this is USB-powered devices, like webcams, taking too much power from a USB port. But the printer is mains powered, so that shouldn't be the case here.

The computer is built around a Gigabyte GA-8IK1100 motherboard housing an Intel 3GHz Prescott processor and 1Gb RAM in two sticks running Windows XP Home.

Friday, 14 March 2008

EU leaders meet on CO2

"EU leaders meeting for their spring summit in Brussels are poised to agree on a timetable for cutting greenhouse gas emissions."

And HM the Queen is opening Heathrow's new Terminal 5 today - just to underline our government's obvious commitment to reducing CO2 emissions...

"But a UK proposal to cut sales tax on 'green' goods is unlikely to succeed. The idea put forward by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown would cover such products as low-energy light bulbs.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said some countries did not agree with the idea which he described as 'a very sensitive issue'. He said the question was whether or not lowering VAT was the best solution for promoting environmentally friendly goods. 'We have some doubts,' he added.

Mr Barroso went on to say that he did not want to dismiss the importance of positive discrimination for such products, but alternatives such as rebates might be more suitable.

So instead of taking the easy solution - just lowering the price - you prefer a complicated and no doubt expensive rebate system, almost certainly open to abuse? How typical of the European Parliament - simple or obvious is never the answer.

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | EU set to agree emission cut plan

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Safety camera?

Safety camera?
Safety camera?,
originally uploaded by hockeyshooter.
Bedfordshire Police "safety" camera positioned 20 yards from a national speed limit sign, on the exit from a village, with no houses - or people - for the next 1/2 mile. Tell me this isn't just for raising revenue.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

HTML over Flash

Ever been in the situation where you want to put some HTML on top of Flash movie? You’ve cursed the designers for using Flash, and stated that it is impossible? If that’s the case, I’ll advise you to reconsider.

The solution to the problem is actually very easy...

Easy - and it works, too.

How to put an HTML element on top of a Flash movie - Robert’s talk - Web development and Internet trends

Monday, 3 March 2008

Blind rocker Healey dies aged 41

"Blind rocker Healey dies aged 41
Blind Canadian rock musician Jeff Healey has died in a Toronto hospital aged 41 from a rare form of cancer, his publicist has said. Healey, famed for playing his electric guitar flat on his lap, died of retinoblastoma which claimed his sight when he was a one-year-old-child.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Blind rocker Healey dies aged 41

This has come as quite a shock. I was privileged to have met Jeff and the band in London whilst I was in the biz. Despite loosing his sight so early in life, he was a demon axe-man, playing with a unique style as you'll see if you watch the Patrick Swayze movie 'Roadhouse'. Their version of the George Harrison/Beatles track 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' is truly superb.