Sunday, 29 June 2008

Noisy git

A pox on the selfish, disrespectful scum who had an all-night party somewhere in north Leighton Buzzard last night. Not near me, but even with doors and windows closed, I could still hear it. And just where were the police?

Saturday, 28 June 2008

10p tax losers 'need more help'

"BBC NEWS | Politics | 10p tax losers 'need more help'
Alistair Darling must do more to help the 1.1m low-income households still losing out as a result of the scrapping of the 10p tax rate, MPs have said. A £2.7bn emergency package announced by the chancellor last month did not go far enough, the cross-party Commons Treasury committee said in a report. The money had not been 'well-targeted', with £2bn going to middle-income workers who had not lost out, it added."

What a mess. Just why exactly did they get rid of the 10% rate? To make it less complicated, wasn't it? This Government really is clueless.

BBC NEWS | Politics | 10p tax losers 'need more help'

Friday, 27 June 2008

Royals 'cost the taxpayer £40m'

"BBC NEWS | UK | Royals 'cost the taxpayer £40m'
The Queen and the Royal Family have cost the taxpayer £40m during the last financial year - up £2m on the previous 12 months, official accounts show. The total is equivalent to 66p per person in the UK - an increase of 4p."

What a bargain! If only all Government departments cost so little to run and yet were able to bring so much income to the country!

BBC NEWS | UK | Royals 'cost the taxpayer £40m'

Thursday, 26 June 2008

UK plans big wind power expansion

"BBC NEWS | Politics | UK plans big wind power expansion
Thousands of new wind turbines could be built across the UK over the coming decade as part of a £100bn plan to boost renewable energy. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the UK should be a leader in renewable energy. But he warned it would not come from "business as usual" and he called for a national debate on achieving the UK's target of 15% renewable energy by 2020."

I don't doubt there will be a lot of protests around the country from people not wanting turbines spoiling the view, but you can't have it both ways. But why exactly should we expect our energy bills to go up so much? Who exactly is building these turbine? Where's this £100bn going? Perhaps we're not talking about Government money here at all - perhaps Brown is simply asking the generating companies to spend £100bn of their money?

BBC NEWS | Politics | UK plans big wind power expansion

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

KMi Roses win again

photoKMi Roses, my department's 6-a-side cricket team, won their fourth and final group game today, making it four out of four - a record. I think we set another record by getting four wickets too.


"XML for PHP developers, Part 2: Advanced XML parsing techniques
The example ... uses the DOM to parse the document and retrieves an element with getElementById. It's necessary to validate the document by setting validateOnParse=true before referring to the ID. According to the DOM standard, this requires a DTD which defines the attribute ID to be of type ID.

What it doesn't tell you is that for getElementById to work under PHP5, the ids in the XML have to start with a letter - its no good having just numbers in the field. Quite why that should be the case I don't know since there's nothing in W3C's documentation to say this should be the case.

XML for PHP developers, Part 2: Advanced XML parsing techniques

Monday, 23 June 2008

DIY Asus Eee PSU

PSU for Asus EeeJust finished a prototype field power supply for the Asus Eee notebook computers we are contemplating using for our wireless geology field trips to Scotland later this year. It uses a 7Ah 12v battery plus a 3A variable-voltage regulator set to 9.5v. I spotted the irony in using lead-free solder in a project that uses a lead-acid battery.

Green energy push planned for UK

Evaculated solar panels"BBC NEWS | UK | Green energy push planned for UK
As many as a quarter of British homes could be fitted with solar heating panels under new government plans for a 'green revolution'. Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the new proposals are 'the most ambitious' such strategy that Britain has seen.

The goal is to meet the EU target of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020. But at a time of consumer anger over fuel prices, the plan concedes that green power will cost more.

More? How can it cost more? Its free! Or are New Labour going to tax sunshine now?

It should already be part of the building regulations that all new buildings, domestic or industrial, should have solar water heating. Why not have around 80% of your hot water heating free?

BBC NEWS | UK | Green energy push planned for UK

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Who is selling your photos online?

"A man goes to an REM concert. The conditions on the ticket banned taking photographs, but Steve Miller and his wife, who were conveniently seated in the middle of the front row in the Royal Albert Hall in March, noticed that everyone around them was taking photographs and the staff weren't stopping them. So they took some, too - about a dozen nice, bright, clear, good-quality concert photographs. Miller put them up on Flickr, as you do, and thought little more about it.

Then one day in mid-May Alison Clarke, another Flickr user, contacted him to let him know that his photographs were up for sale on eBay.

So the photographer is complaining because someone is selling images he wasn't actually supposed to have taken in the first place?

Being a part-time freelance photographer, I'm all for protection of peoples' rights, but in this particular instance, the photographer was well aware they had broken copyright law themselves in the first place.

Who is selling your photos online? | Technology | The Guardian

Thursday, 19 June 2008

New template

Attracted by the idea of a dynamic blogroll, I took the plunge and updated my template to one of the new designs. Not many of those available 'off-the-shelf' were actually much cop, but I'll give Blogspot/Google their due in that they do support the inserting of all manner of HTML and JavaScript code, meaning I could create a pretty close approximation to what I had before.

Having said that, the stylesheets are huge so if you want to do any manual tweaking, you'll need a lot of patience.

Beware of incoming tide

"Beach sign warns of rising tide
A new sign on a Devon beach, which warns the public about the tide coming in, has been described as 'ridiculous' by some local residents. The road-sign style warning notice at Castle Cove in Dartmouth reads 'Beware of incoming tide'. South Hams Council said it had erected the sign on the advice of its insurers and public safety was 'paramount'.

Nanny state again. I think its the council covering its arse that's paramount here.

BBC NEWS | England | Devon | Beach sign warns of rising tide

Cycling cities

"Bristol named first cycling city
Bristol has become England's first "cycling city" in a £100m government scheme aimed at encouraging cycling. The city intends to double the number of cyclists over the next three years with a series of innovations. Sharing the funding will be York, Stoke, Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton Buzzard, Southend, Shrewsbury, Southport and Woking.

Just so long as Beds County Council planners and the local developers take this as a green light to build the approximately six thousand houses around my home town of Leighton Buzzard. Might sound daft, but this is the sort of justification they've been looking for.

BBC NEWS | England | Bristol | Bristol named first cycling city

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

MPs demand much more

"MPs demand 22% pay rise as Brown offers public sector 2% - Times Online
The chairmen of the Tory and Labour backbench committes held an unprecedented joint meeting to push for a £13,000 annual salary increase, The Times has learnt.

The MPs, whose salary is £59,095, are also demanding, in addition to the inflation-busting pay increase, an improved petrol allowance. Last year it was cut from 57.7p for the first 20,000 miles to 40p, in line with Inland Revenue rates. The revelation that MPs are seeking such a big increase, within seven months of the general election, is likely to attract widespread criticism at a time when the Chancellor is seeking to limit the public sector to increases of about 2 per cent.

Perhaps they'd like to see a national strike - the kind we got in the 1970s which brought the country to its knees? Coz that's what they'll get!

MPs demand 22% pay rise as Brown offers public sector 2% - Times Online

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Consumer inflation 'could top 4%'

"Consumer inflation 'could top 4%'
Rising food and energy prices could push UK consumer inflation above 4% this year, the governor of the Bank of England has warned.

"This year" - who are they kidding? Prices are going up more than 4% a month - some by more than 4% a week.

"Increasing household energy bills were also a significant factor, along with the rising cost of books, stationery and foreign holidays. However, this rise in the cost of leisure and recreation was offset by a fall in the price of DVDs, according to the ONS."

Oh, that's all right then - if I can't afford to buy food, I'll start eating DVDs instead.

BBC NEWS | Business | Consumer inflation 'could top 4%'


Currently having problems deleting cookies set using PHP.

I have a need to set them on one server and to be read by scripts in another server. To do so, I need to apply the top level domain when I set the cookies, otherwise I can't read them when the visitor moves subdomains. But for some reason, I cannot delete the cookie from the other server, even if the domain is specified in exactly the same way.

Perhaps its a security feature and therefore just not possible to do?

Saturday, 14 June 2008


photoAttended the European Cable Wakeboard Tour today as it visited Willen Lake in Milton Keynes for three days. Managed to get some decent shots despite the sun not wanting to stay out for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Click the image to visit the gallery.

Friday, 13 June 2008

UK to press ahead with EU Treaty

"UK to press ahead with EU Treaty
The British government is expected to continue ratifying the EU Treaty despite its rejection by Irish voters. The British government says the Bill to ratify the treaty will continue its progression through Parliament.

A 'No' vote by Ireland could spell the end for the treaty - as it must be ratified by all 27 EU member states.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: 'On 1 June Baroness Ashton made clear in the House of Lords that we will have the 3rd reading of the Bill to ratify the treaty on 18 June. It's the intention of this government to complete the legislation programme that it's begun on the Lisbon Treaty.

Regardless of how stupid and pointless it might ultimately turn out to be. Brown can't possibly back down on anything, can he?

BBC NEWS | Politics | UK to press ahead with EU Treaty

Irish minister says EU vote lost

"Irish minister says EU vote lost
Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern says substantial vote tallies across the country show the European Union Lisbon reform treaty has been rejected. Tallies are not official, but Mr Ahern says it is clear the No vote is ahead in a vast majority of constituencies.

I guess the British Government can be happy they didn't waste money on a referendum now.

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Irish minister says EU vote lost

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Photo competition

group photoThis evening saw the awards presentation for the first annual Walton High photographic competition, with first second and third prizes awarded in Under 16s and Over 16s categories, plus a rather smart trophy for the overall photographer of the year. The quality of all of the finalists' images were very impressive and you certainly couldn't tell which photos had been submitted by the younger group of students.

Competition Home

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Photo competition

photoThis evening saw the judging of all 198 entries to the 2008 OU Camera Club annual photographic competition. I didn't win anything myself, but did have one photo shortlisted in the Architecture gallery. As Chairman, it was good to see so many images entered - I had been concerned that we wouldn't get enough. Thanks to the visiting judge Derek Larkin from the Wellingborough Camera Club.

Brown under fire

"BBC NEWS | Politics | Brown under fire over 42-day plan
David Cameron accused Gordon Brown of making 'so many concessions' in his bid to win the terror detention limit vote the legislation was now 'unworkable'. Mr Brown accused Mr Cameron of leading 'opposition for opposition's sake'.

Legislation for legislation's sake, Gordon?

"It would only be used with the support of the director of public prosecutions, the backing of Parliament in a vote, with judicial safeguards and only for a temporary period."

And how, exactly, would Parliament be able to vote without knowing the facts behind the case - which the Police and Security Services would almost certainly not want known?

"Home Secretary Jacqui Smith confirmed that suspects held beyond 28 days but then released without charge would be eligible for an "ex gratia" compensation payment."

I suppose the Police might be tempted to charge the suspect with something like littering just to avoid paying the compensation.

"Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, said the organisation was not best placed to advise because it was not responsible for prosecutions or criminal investigations."

If MI5 were at all in support of this, there's no way he would have made a statement like this.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Brown under fire over 42-day plan

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Broadband in MK

"Fibre, copper and aluminium
What I didn't pack was any aluminium cable, which would have been useful in Milton Keynes yesterday. The city's telephone network, built in the seventies when the price of copper was sky-high, has an awful lot of aluminium in it, which makes it pretty useless in terms of delivering broadband.

So Milton Keynes, a new town, is trapped in the 20th Century when it comes to the high-speed internet - which is why the fixed Wimax network we were there to cover is an attractive option for some residents with no other way of getting broadband.

Rory [Cellan-Jones] is absolutely spot on - a good part of MK is wired with aluminium cabling, meaning it simply cannot take high-data-rate ADSL signals.

BBC NEWS | | A blog about technology from BBC News | Fibre, copper and aluminium

See also the web pages of the Milton Keynes Broadband Action Group

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MI5 chief clarifies 42-day stance

"MI5 chief clarifies 42-day stance
The head of the security service MI5 has clarified its position on government plans to seek powers to detain terror suspects for 42 days. Following controversy over MI5's failure to back the plans, Jonathan Evans said MI5 was not the appropriate body to advise on detention limits."

Or he could have stuck his head in the sand and shouted "LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING". But then that's Gordon's Brown's line.

BBC NEWS | Politics | MI5 chief clarifies 42-day stance

Monday, 9 June 2008

3G iPhone

"Apple announces cheaper 3G iPhone
Apple has unveiled a second generation of its iPhone, with support for faster 3G wireless networks. The new device(s) were launched by Apple boss Steve Jobs who said the phone would be 'more affordable' for consumers, starting at $199 (£100).

Pity the poor suckers who bought the first version for $599 and are still stuck in the contract they were forced to sign up to just to own one.

"The iPhone was first launched last year and was criticised for its support for slower 2G networks only. Mr Jobs said the 3G iPhone was 'three times faster' downloading content over a mobile network compared to the original device."

Yes, we know that Steve, that's why no one could understand why you launched a 2G phone the first time.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Apple announces cheaper 3G iPhone

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6-a-Side Cricket

My department's cricket team won - just - their first match in the annual six-a-side cricket tournament today. Neil (pictured) merrily knocked the ball around the ground.

Manchester C-charge plans backed

"Manchester C-charge plans backed
The government has approved a peak-time congestion charging scheme for drivers entering and leaving Manchester."

All Labour MPs in the Manchester area can now expect to loose their seats at the next election - if they weren't already.

BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Manchester C-charge plans backed

Friday, 6 June 2008

Network Rail Big Bonuses

"Bonuses of £55m at Network Rail
Rail infrastructure firm Network Rail has said staff will receive total bonuses of £55m, as it announced annual pre-tax profit of £1.6bn for 2007-08. Chief executive Iain Coucher will get a reward of £305,581."

You'll want to remember this next time your train is delayed an hour because there's a leaf on the line.

BBC NEWS | Business | Bonuses of £55m at Network Rail

Wireless cows

photoTime again for more wireless network tests before we (well not me personally) head north to Kindrogan in Scotland to support another disabled student on their SXR339 summer school. As usual, we head for a field in Wolverton and for a good hour or so are ignored by a herd of cows. Their inqusitive nature eventually got the better of them though and they mosied on over to investigate.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Yahoo 'sabotaged' Microsoft deal

"A billionaire Yahoo shareholder has claimed the Yahoo board deliberately 'sabotaged' Microsoft's bid to buy the internet company. Investor Carl Icahn claimed the board went to "inordinate lengths" to prevent the $47.5bn (£24bn) merger deal with Microsoft going ahead."

Maybe they thought a takeover by Microsoft wasn't a good thing and didn't want it to go ahead? If so, what's wrong with a company's directors acting they way they want?

BBC NEWS | Business | Yahoo 'sabotaged' Microsoft deal

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Chinooks still in their shed

"The Ministry of Defence has been accused of a "gold standard cock-up" over eight helicopters which have cost £422m but have yet to fly for the RAF.

Mr Leigh, NAO, strongly condemning the MoD's handling of the whole affair, saying: 'The Ministry of Defence's programme to make airworthy the eight Chinook Mk3 helicopters, which it acquired in 2001 for special operations work, has been a gold standard cock-up. Nearly seven years since they were delivered, the Chinook Mk3s are still languishing in climate-controlled hangers - despite the fact that they are desperately needed on operations in Afghanistan.'

Only a government can waste money on this scale. Anyone with half a brain would send dodgy goods back to the suppliers. British Government says, "its all right, will shove 'em in a hanger for seven years in the hope no one will notice".

BBC NEWS | UK | MoD accused of Chinook 'cock-up'

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Tuesday, 3 June 2008

OU on iTunes U on BBC NewsWe've made it on to the BBC News website too.

The OU in iTunes UAfter much effort and long days (and quite a few long nights), The Open University now has a presence in iTunes U - one of the first non-US Universities to be added to the educational part of the iTunes system.

Monday, 2 June 2008

The politics of fear

Rarely a day passes without President Bush forcibly reminding the American people of the dangers posed by terrorists and the need for a permanant war on terror.

OK, so its an old article, but substitute Gordon Brown for President Bush and its still just as relevant today.

The politics of fear | Comment is free

Facebook pages not loadingI get so sick of Facebook pages not loading. Seems to happen most often in the evenings here in the UK, presumably because the USA has just woken up and Facebook's servers can't cope with the load. Get it sorted!