Monthly archives: March 2010

Good news and sad news for cyclists

The good news is more for American than British cyclists. Ray LaHood, Obama’s Transportation Secretary, told a cycling summit of his support for sustainable communities and getting people out of cars. Any politician looking at ways to get more people walking and cycling is a good thing.

Unfortunately, the news on this side of the Atlantic isn’t so good. The Sun reports on a soldier killed whilst cycling along the A338 on Salisbury Plain. Blame for the accident is being laid on a huge pothole which Captain Jonathon Allen was avoiding when he was hit by a lorry. I have to agree with The Cycling Lawyer, who points out that it wasn’t the hole that killed Captain Allen, but the lorry, the driver of which tried to overtake at the wrong time.

In future, can we have more stories like the first and less like the second please.

Objects of Desire- Heavy music calls for heavy speakers 1

As my job involves listing fairly high end audio equipment on the web I’m in danger of becoming an armchair hi-fi expert whilst listening to mp3s on crappy computer speakers fed from a basic sound card. There’s no way I can afford the sort of equipment needed to really appreciate my music. Maybe I should make some.

Whilst researching a product today I happened upon a load of pages about DIY speaker builds. Including this one- speaker enclosures made from granite. They look about the size that I’d put in the Bookshelf Speaker category. But those would have to be very sturdy bookshelves. The write up is on DIY audio projects, which has a number of other builds.

Also intriguing is this radial loudspeaker project, which should project sound 360 degrees. Not sure what reflections off walls would do to that, but it looks cool nonetheless.

Turning everything on its head, here’s a project to turn a speaker into a microphone. Ideal for capturing more accurate bass notes and particularly drums, it says.

I’ll probably not get round to doing anything like this, which is a shame. For now I’ll just have to wonder how I can save up for something entry level from Whafedale, Tannoy or any of the other shiny products I get to stare at.

There’s crazy, there’s stupid and there’s pompous. And then there’s Glenn Beck 1

Yes, the Obama administration want to kill Glenn Beck. In Glenn Beck’s head. There’s a reason I have a category called American Idiots.

Point of Contact shall feature a character called Ben Glock (unless I change my mind and use the man himself because no parody could be as extremely stupid as he is), who will look like a balloon on a stick propped inside a bad suit and saying the dumbest things possible whilst thinking he’s being clever.

Chorlton Green Festival

Chorlton Green Festival

Chorlton Green Festival was on Saturday. It was overcast but didn’t rain in the end, luckily for all the stalls that were outside. I chatted to Friends of the Earth and the local Green Party, blagged quite a few goodies and picked up a few leaflets.

Practical Cycles had a load of interesting bikes.

Manchester Free Software gave me a Linux boot disk. I may soon be in the position to det up a Linux box, if only to re-learn how to use it.

Little Valley Brewery had many interesting beers, but I didn’t think midday drinking, and potential falling off my bike, was such a good idea.

There are more pictures on Flickr.

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Objects of Desire- More Morris Minors

I’m not obsessed, honest, it’s just that all of a sudden I’m seeing them everywhere. I think it might have something to do with the Morris Minor Millennium Company, which is on Upper Chorlton Road.

This bunch were all in Chorlton, there was a cabriolet as well, but I spotted that whilst I was on my bike.

Chorlton Morris Minor Chorlton Morris Minor Chorlton Morris Minor Morris Minor Traveller Morris Minor Traveller

Point of Contact- too close an encounter

A big, big spaceship bearing down on our heroes. How will they get out of this?

A continuity note- I was making a complete hash for drawing George’s stripey top, so I’m going to stop. I’ll remove the stripes in all the previous pages when I redo some of the art for the print version.

If you’d like to follow just the Point of Contact comic you can subscribe to its RSS feed.

The Webcomic List

Correspondance on the Digital Economy Bill

I received this email from my MP last week-

Dear Mr Pattinson,

Thank you for getting in touch to make your views known on the Digital Economy Bill. I have received a vast number of complaints from constituents in the last few days expressing disapproval to the Bill. As I understand it, the Bill has been rushed and ill-conceived and although it contains some good points, it has been badly drafted, without thorough consideration. Moreover, it is disappointing that the Government seems intent on rushing the Bill through Parliament before it is dissolved.

The Digital Economy Bill is wide ranging and covers issues such as a new remit for Channel 4, the classification of computer games, plans for switchover to digital radio and the future of regional news on ITV as well as the issue of illegal downloading.

The Liberal Democrats support the creative industries and believe that many aspects of this Bill are vitally important to the continuing success of our radio, television and content industries.

We are also concerned about the financial implications of illegal downloading of copyright material and recognise the importance of protecting intellectual property.

A report published on 17th March 2010 predicted that a quarter of a million jobs in the UK’s creative industries could be lost by 2015 if current trends in online piracy continue.

Commenting on it, Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, said: “The results of the study stress that the growth of unauthorised file-sharing, downloading and streaming of copyrighted works and recorded performances is a major threat to the creative industries in terms of loss of employment and revenues. The scale of the problem is truly frightening now – let alone in the future if no firm actions against illegal file-sharing are taken.”

For these reasons we do believe that some action is needed and must form part of the Digital Economy Bill.

However, we have opposed – and defeated – government proposals (contained in Clause 17 of the original Digital Economy Bill) to give itself almost unfettered powers to act against copyright infringement.

Furthermore, as a result of debates instigated and amendments passed by the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, the government’s original proposals relating to illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing have been significantly improved.

As a result, no action to introduce “technical measures” (whether temporary account suspension, bandwidth throttling or whatever) can be introduced until;

1. soft measures (letter writing) have been used
2. an evaluation of their effectiveness has been undertaken
3. an evaluation of the need for, and likely effectiveness of, technical measures has been undertaken
4. further consultation has taken place
5. proposed legislation is brought before parliament for decision, and
6. there is an explicit assumption of innocence until proved guilty

The Liberal Democrats remain concerned by some aspects of the system for tackling peer-to-peer file-sharing being introduced in the Bill and will take further action in the Commons to scrutinise and improve the legislation. In particular, we are concerned that there will not be enough time for in-depth consultation on the initial code that Ofcom will draw up. We also feel that there is currently inadequate protection in the Bill for schools, libraries, universities and other businesses offering internet access to the public.

We are also unconvinced of the merits of the various technical measures that have been proposed, including bandwidth shaping and temporary account suspension. For this reason we have amended the Bill to ensure that any such measures cannot be introduced without proper consultation and not until evidence has been produced to prove that this is the best available option. We are further seeking to ensure that any measures brought before parliament will be subject to maximum scrutiny in both Houses and that it will be possible for changes to be made to them before a final decision is made.

We are urging the creative music, film and video games industries to work more vigorously to develop new business models which will make it easier and more affordable for people to legally access their products. We hope that this combined with “soft measures” and an effective education campaign will mean that further action will not be required.

We agreed at our Spring Conference last weekend to establish a working party to address these issues. With at least a year before there will be any attempt to introduce “technical measures”, this will provide an opportunity for the party to consider the outcome of research into the effectiveness of the early stages of the implementation of the legislation in the digital economy Bill.

The Bill has now completed all stages in the Lords but cannot proceed unless it has, as a minimum, been debated at a “Second Reading” in the Commons. We believe that many of the measures in the Bill that do not relate to illegal file sharing are important and must be allowed to go into law. However, in respect of those that relate to illegal file sharing we will not support them in the Commons if we are not satisfied that the procedures in place are fair and allow for full consultation and scrutiny before their introduction in the future.

I assure you that the Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport team will make sure the Bill is debated thoroughly when it passes to the Commons and that Government attempts to rush it through will be blocked. It is essential that a Bill with such extensive provisions be debated and considered thoroughly.

Thank you for taking the time to get in touch.

Kind regards,

John Leech

Despite Mr Leech’s reassurances, it looks like the Liberal Democrats may not be prepared to debate the issue as thoroughly as needed. I hope the Open Rights Group have got the wrong impression and the Lib Dems are going to put some serious effort into opposing the bill.

Everybody loves a man in uniform

The Household cavalry has celebrated its first gay wedding.

One groom wore ceremonial uniform with his Iraq medal, the other morning dress with an orchid. Surrounded by silverware and paintings commemorating great battles, Lance Corporal James Wharton, 23, and his new husband enjoyed their first dance to Tina Turner in the warrant officers’ mess of the most prestigious regiment in the land.

via Pickled Politics

RIP Iain Elliott

I didn’t know Iain all that well, so feel underqualified to say anything directly. However, a lot of the people I care about are affected by his passing, so it seems fair to say that we’ve lost another of the good guys.

I believe there are going to be charity collections held in Iain’s memory. I shall be helping out at them as much as I can.

Feed in tariffs on Radio 4

Costing the Earth on Radio 4 today examined the feed in tariff, which should become available with the new tax year, and the economics of buying yourself a windmill or solar panels. You can listen to it through iPlayer.

Normally listen and watch again programmes on the BBC site expire within a week, but this one says it’s okay until January of 2099.

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Is that #cashgordon or #crashgordon ?

A day can be a long time on the internet, and I’m two days late with this…..

In last month’s Wired there was an article about how the Conservatives learnt not to be afraid of the internet and craft themselves sophisticated online campaigning tools. (I can’t find the article on the Wired site, they do keep some stuff back so those of us who buy the magazine get something out of it.)

On Monday, however, the Tory web strategy didn’t prove all that clever. The latest creation was “Cash Gordon”, aimed at drawing attention to the money Labour gets from Unite and make a big deal of it. The site invited Twitter users to have their say and add the tag #cashgordon to their tweets, all of which would be displayed on the front page. The feed was unmoderated and quickly filled up with as many, if not more, anti-Tory tweets than the intended anti-Brown ones. Not only that, but it seems you can hijack this sort of feed with tweeted code that will redirect the page. Cue Rickrolling, porn and the Labour website appearing instead of the intended attack site.

Perhaps more embarrassing is the news that the Conservatives paid £10,000 for the site, and got something which came out of the box broken.

Goodbye New Moore Island

As the temperature rises so do the oceans- not just from the melting icecaps but also from thermal expansion of all the water in them. On the other hand, this is solving some international disagreements.

India and Bangladesh have argued over possession of New Moore Island (South Talpatti to Bangladesh) for 30 years, but they don’t have to any more. The island is now submerged.

Yesterday I was drawing a view, as from space, of India and its neighbours. Let’s hope it isn’t out of date by the time it gets published.

Running a criminal empire is a lot like making love to a beautiful woman

I’m thinking of getting Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, which is an offline release of two of the GTA4 online games- The Lost And Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. But now I can’t stop thinking of it as The Ballad of Swiss Toni.

That might be an interesting game.

An architectural wander around Didsbury 2

Saint George

This wander wasn’t as thorough as it could have been- rain stopped play. So just some stuff on or near Wilmslow Road through Didsbury village. I’ll be getting on my bike and doing more wide ranging wanders later in the year.

Letter box

This horse themed letter box looks like it’s been sealed up.

B Oldfield

“B Oldfield [something] agent & dealer”


I don’t normally include new buildings in my wanders, but I liked the spike which runs down from the peak of the roof through the balconies.

Stained glass

I did a bit of post processing and masking with this one to bring out the colours of the stained glass.

Number 2 Passage

Number 2 Passage.

Church of England Girls' School

Didsbury Police Station

This is above one of the windows of the Didsbury Police station. I had to stand on the wall in front of their notice board to get a better angle. I shouldn’t tempt fate, but it seems that even then I wasn’t suspicious enough looking to be stopped by cops for photographing.

Didsbury Architecture

There were another two of these decorative thingies (I’m going to have to start learning the proper architectural names for stuff) on this house. They looked like they’d both been restored, but they were obscured by scaffolding so I couldn’t get pictures.

Didsbury Architecture

I noticed a few of these decorative roof toppers- again, I’ll have to learn the proper name- on houses along Barlow Moor Road.

The full set is on Flickr. Some of the images can be bought as prints from my Qoop store’s Manchester section.