Daily archives: August 2, 2010

links for 2010-08-02

  • Manchester Photographic will be open to the public on Friday 6 August and looks set to become the new home of photography in the city.
  • Created during World War II as a purely U.S. operation free of the perceived taint of European allies, the Pond existed for 13 years and was shrouded in secrecy for more than 50 years. It used sources that ranged from Nazi officials to Stalinists and, at one point, a French serial killer.

    It operated under the cover of multinational corporations, including American Express, Chase National Bank and Philips, the Dutch-based electronic giant. One of its top agents was a female American journalist.

  • What’s an average cyclist? According to the UK Department for Transport’s just-published National Travel Survey, it’s someone who uses their bike to make a quarter of all their trips.

    This everyman uses their bike for six journeys a week, totalling 17 miles and taking just over two hours. Back in 1995, he or she was only doing 13 miles and making just five trips.

    (tags: bike cycling)
  • This directory of para-states is not a list of terrorist organizations, and is not constructed to supplement or complement the list of terrorist organizations of the US Department of State. The guide intentionally casts a wide net, and includes both the nasty and nice.
  • Who cares if it's a fixed gear? Even though I enjoy coasting (on bikes and through life), thank you very much. Glow-in-the-dark + bikes = awesome.
    (tags: bike)
  • The Secret Intelligence Service, sometimes known as MI6, originated in 1909 as the Foreign Section of the Secret Service Bureau, under RNR Commander, later Captain, Sir Mansfield Cumming, which was responsible for gathering intelligence overseas. By 1922 Cumming's section had become a separate Service with the title SIS. Cumming signed himself 'C'; his successors have done so ever since.
    (tags: SIS research)
  • HDR or High Dynamic Range photography has recently become a popular style of digital post processing and there are now many simple to use software packages and photoshop plugins available that make the HDR effect easier to achieve than ever before. Unfortunately HDR imagery if wrongly executed has the capacity to look garish, amateur and can (in my personal opinion) make a bad image worse (typing “HDR photography” into google will provide a plethora of poorly taken digital photography given the HDR treatment). So is HDR is a tool of evil, sucking the life out of photo’s everywhere? Of course not! But like any tool, it has to be used correctly in order to yield pleasing results. This short tutorial aims to put right many HDR myths, and will also give you a good starting point in your HDR journey.
    (tags: photography)
  • Here’s bright spot in the news of the day: energy from new solar installations has, for the first time, become cheaper than energy from new nuclear plants, according to a new Duke University study. Thanks to cost-saving technologies and economies of scale, price can no longer be an excuse to invest in nuclear power rather than solar.
    (tags: energy solar)
  • Know what's great about fabricating your own ride? Being able to knowingly make something stupid. Case in point: Slim's Wheelie Van, a chopped 1964 Chevy G10 van with big-block Mopar power behind the rear axle. Yes, it does wheelies.
    (tags: CustomCars)
  • The futuristic-looking triple-bladed Sikorsky X2 helicopter just "unofficially" broke the helicopter speed record of 249 mph set in the 1980s by 9 mph — and they're trying to go faster.
    (tags: helicopter)

Yudu e-magazine publisher

Yudu looks interesting. In their own words-

Explore the YUDU library to read online magazines, free eBooks and other digital content. Browse thousands of free digital magazines or buy your favourite titles in the YUDU Store. Self publish your own digital magazines, eBooks, digital brochures and more with our free publisher software.

Simply upload your PDFs and other documents to create search engine friendly page-turning publications that can be added to your website or sent out on email. Create your own personalised library to store and share your digital magazines and other content.

And here’s a sample of one of the magazines you can read for free. I usually find myself drawn to the hotrodding magazines on these e-publishing platforms.-

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Publisher Software from YUDU

Tiger- Part One

Chain hotels are built to a reassuring pattern. Wherever you are in the world the rooms are laid out the same, the colour scheme is familiar and the furniture is made to the same pattern. Only the flourishes added at the end give a hint of locale. It was the paintings of can-can girls and Montmartre which reminded Gerry Williams that he was breakfasting within shuttle bus distance of Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

That and the lack of a decent Full English breakfast. He liked a good croissant, and these had just the right mix of crispy shell and fluffy insides, but for the work of the day to come he felt he deserved something a touch heartier. At least the coffee was strong.

Williams sat with his back to a corner, flanked by prints of the Eiffel and Arc de Triomphe, with a good view of the whole of the restaurant area. He watched the business travellers and tourists- and those posing as business travellers or tourists- over the rim of his bowl of coffee and ran a blasphemous little prayer through his head that this would be the last time. When this deal was done he could go home and die with his family in a convenient car crash before being resurrected with a new name in a new country. Simon was young enough that the transition wouldn’t be too had for him. Karen had always known it was a possibility.

Williams spotted them as soon as they entered. Definitely fake business travellers- shirts and ties at breakfast time were a giveaway, no-one who had to do it regularly put on the noose until it was needed. They moved like thugs as well. The classier kind, but thugs nonetheless. They had businessman hair cuts, short but not crew cut, and were clean shaven but were obviously not there on a layover or between sales pitches.

The pair steered straight for Williams’ table. Most of the other patrons remained blissfully unaware of the sharks gliding past them. He let them come to him because the shorter, darker one had reached into his jacket and moved the lapel far enough back for a shoulder holstered gun to be visible. They came to a halt flanking his table and blocking his escape routes.

“Mister Williams,” said the taller of the pair, “it’s so good to meet you.”

“I’m sorry, you have the wrong man. My name’s not Wiliams.”

“You are checked in as Tony Wedgewood, I know, but let us not pretend you are not Gerry Williams. We have a proposition for you.” The shorter man had been tapping at the screen of a mobile phone and now he laid it on the table. On the screen was a photo of Simon and Karen. They both looked terrified, and with good reason. From the right of the screen the unmistakable barrel of a Desert Eagle pointed at them. Williams’ vision narrowed to the phone and the image it displayed. He could just hear the tall man say, “You are going to help us steal four million Euros. Now, if you will show us to your room, we shall discuss the details.”

Notes Starting today I bring you Irwin, my attempt at something modern yet pulpy. Fast, short adventures featuring a recurring cast of characters. Each update is a scene from the story, intended to be a few minutes’ of reading, often with a cliffhanger ending. They are also the first draft and once each tale is completed they shall be reworked and published through Kindle and other channels. For now updates are Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, but I’ll go to every weekday if I get far enough ahead.

Some of the characters in Tiger also appeared in So Much To Answer For (available in print from Lulu.com and for the Kindle as part of the Post and Publish collection) and long, long ago in the Deputised Experts webcomic. The comic isn’t strictly canon, but I’m planning to incorporate some of the bits from So Much To Answer For into future stories.