Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Consultation Paper a Review of Elections to Council

I'm not sure that this new world of openness and transparency at CaRT has arrived yet. 

Community participation in decision making can and should take place in any social activity. Especially activities that are maintained by charitable donations.  For instance the CaRT  consultation with interested parties on representation issues. Consultation is a process by which the interested parties input on matters affecting them is sought. Its main goals are in improving the openness, transparency and encouraging best practice by involvement in setting procedures and policies. However, choosing an option from a list of those on offer is not meaningful consultation. 


ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has a very good definition of consultation. "Consultation involves taking account of as well as listening to views and must therefore take place before any decisions are made. Making a pretence of consulting on issues that have already been decided is unproductive and engenders suspicion and mistrust about the process."

A public consultation usually involves some form of formal notification to publicise the matter to be consulted upon. The consultation is a two-way flow of information, ideas as well as an exchange of opinion. Not forgetting some participation in the drafting of policy.

On the 19th of  November 2013 CaRT issued a Consultation Paper titled 'Review of Elections to Council.' However, this is CaRT's idea of what consultation actually is. I'm not sure that it is an open and transparent consultation in the traditional sense.

The consultation can be downloaded Click Here

On the previous election of individuals to Council. There was a furore across the boating world when it was discovered that the Inland Waterways Association were fielding their own team of candidates. It came as no surprise that the anointed team were elected. 

You might be wondering why this important issue has been ignored and has not been addressed as an item in the Consultation. I believe it is oversight and purely coincidental that one of the four named people who are steering the consultation is Clive Henderson, a CaRT Council Member who was elected to council as one of the team of IWA candidates I also believe in the tooth fairy and father Christmas.

Online election: "We intend that future elections will be on-line and all communications by email or electronic media. This was not possible in the first election as we did not have comprehensive contact information nor sufficient time to develop the communications and systems needed to support an on-line election."

Those who do not have a personal email address or access to the internet will be encouraged to work with a friend or buddy who has internet access so we can communicate by email and electors can vote. "We will also ask boating and other waterway associations to provide this facility for their members."

That's a handy option for us to choose for large associations like the IWA to ensure another one horse race. So by the time I reached page four of the 'consultation' it was obvious that everything was already following the style of the deeply resented 'South East Visitor Mooring Consultation' and was already a rubber stamped, pre-ordained outcome. I wonder if the IWA will also field a team for the 'volunteers' representative or maybe even the 'friends' representative.  I am minded of the quote of Ian Hislop made on the steps of the high court. "If this is justice I am a banana." In other words the process was in his opinion the same shape as a banana.
Has anyone else noticed the lack of any meaningful communication with the non IWA aligned part of the electorate from 'our' elected representatives. Their deafening silence says so much about their worth. I would bet that the only communication that you have received was the 150 word election manifesto from the 33 candidates. Have any of them been in touch with you to elicit your thoughts on any subject. Do you believe that the IWA hijacked the election. Has any of them actually used the boating media. Do you believe that they are truly independent. Do you believe they represent you. Do you believe they only represent the IWA.  Are they invisible. Are they doing a good job. Do you have any faith in them?

Critically Endangered

Once a common sight in Britain's rivers, the European eel is now on the critically endangered list. The population has plummeted by 90% in the past 30 years. As water quality improves it seems strange that eels and other migratory fish have not significantly recovered. One of the reasons for their decline are man made obstructions in rivers, like weirs, which prevents young eels migrating upstream. But now conservationists are hoping measures they are taking in waterways across the country are gradually helping their numbers recover. Eels will live in the rivers for between 10 to 40 years, until they swim across the Atlantic Ocean to their breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.

A European wide recovery plan was established in 2009 that required all countries to create "eel plans" for their river systems which would encourage recovery and to ensure that enough adult eels would make the journey back to their spawning grounds. It was intended that a reserve of 40 million eels for conservation and restocking work would be collected. The French were allowed a quota to catch 15 tonnes of glass eels, for various markets (about 50 million of them) The French were also supposed to reserve, in the course of the season, about 12 tonnes for restocking European rivers. They were all sold to the lucrative trade in China, where they are eaten as a delicacy. This means that the restocking requirements for European countries will not be met.

But there is better news for a fish. A refuge has been created in Northumberland for a rare species of fish threatened with extinction in its native Cumbrian habitat. Numbers of Arctic char have plummeted at Ennerdale because of acidity in the water caused by the surrounding coniferous woodland. The trees are being moved back from the lake, but in the meantime Kielder Water has become an "ark".

The next Vincent Wildlife Trust national polecat survey will be starting in January and run from 2014 to 2015. The aims of the survey are to gather up-to-date information on the current distribution of the polecat in Britain and investigate hybridisation between polecats and ferrets. The VWT will be collecting records of polecats, polecat-ferrets and feral ferrets from all over mainland Britain. They will be appealing for records verified by photos and also carcasses. So whilst you are out boating if you come across any relevant sightings please get in touch with the VWT at: enquiries@vwt.org.uk or for more information see their website: www.vwt.org.uk/our-work/projects/national-polecat-survey

Monday, 30 December 2013

Curriculum Vitae

I found this on the net. Knowing my deep admiration of personal honesty and verbosity. I have to ask, is this the best CV ever written? The answer is yes. But I still say that the personal reference that I wrote for my friend Tom when he made an application for a post with the University for Industry was at least equal. (Tom still got the job.)

My name is Benedict  Le Gauche and I was born on 02/05/83 which makes me 28 and ripe as a lemon. I’m looking for a job I’ll like.  As a man of integrity I’m not about to try and give you the impression that all the jobs I’ve had previously were brilliant learning experiences tailor-made to equip me for precisely the job I’m applying for (hello you) when in reality they have been, for the greater part, boring and drudgerous and disheartening.  

I should state I was not bad at them.  The capacity to bear such trials whilst retaining an at-most-times sunny disposition might be called something like ‘the ability to work under pressure’.  Yes.  I wasn’t bad.  I was good in fact – I can’t think of a job I wasn’t good at. (I can: a call centre job at a company called GOVNET – ‘a communication tool that government uses to communicate with the third sector’ and home to the most disastrous horse shit I’ve had the pleasure of peddling, commercially.) So, but via some kind of weird pride or fear of being disliked I have hitherto been inspired to perform above averagely for every company I’ve ever worked for and believe that I can harness this same fear in the furthering of your company goals.  Who knows? I might even like the job!  Though this is statistically improbable. 

Some short sentences about me:  I excel at customer service – really fly, you should see.  I can lift more than it looks like I can lift.  I like working on my own if there isn’t anyone fun to work with but can also stand the company of people I hold in contempt and am, in this sense, versatile.  I can work incredibly long hours, and will work for very little money.  I have ginger hair and for a lot of people this is a talking point.  Sometimes I do not feel like I am completely in control of myself and I have to pinch myself very hard.  I like the great outdoors.  As of the 11th January 2011 I am free from all venereal disease.  Thanks for taking the time out to read my application.  I’ve tried my best to be honest.  I really excel at customer service and do, through great force of will and habit, hide the worst of my qualities.

Work History

Cleaner/Caretaker;  The Women’s Organisation, Manchester ;  11/08/2010 – Present
Duties include:  Working out how dirty I can let the building get without Lisa complaining and then cleaning to this exact standard.  Composing lewd/crass emails to Alison.  Enjoying the reversal of gender stereotypes.  Pride swallowing.  Key holding.

Host:  Zion Arts Centre, Manchester; 02/02/2011 – 28/07/2011
Moving chairs from one place to another place.  Tables, sometimes.  I sat on the front desk.  I collected printouts from the office which is 300 meters away from the desk and I brought them back.  When people passed the desk and made little jokes in a kind of we’re-in-this-together spirit I laughed even if the jokes were not at all funny.  This made me feel hollow.  I tried to fill the hollow by eating stem ginger biscuits that I stole from the cafe.  The biscuits were delicious but they did not fill the hollow.  Duties included:  Checking that the toilets were still there and that it was ok in them, still.  Keeping a log of this information on an A4 that was taped to the back of the toilet door.  Taking orders from people who are conspicuously younger than me.

Copywriter ; Tailormydesign.co.uk, the internet ;  July 2010
Duties included:  Writing about fabrics and tailoring like they were something I thought were exciting and meaningful.  Researching the exact tone of condescension invariably used in the Q&A sections of trendy fashion websites and overcoming an astonishing sense of dread in order to copy seven shades of shit out of exactly this tone.  Wondering whether I preferred prostitution of the mind or of the body.  Wondering whether this made me a writer.  Wondering when it would end.

Waiter/Barista/Kitchen Porter ; Koffee Pot, Manchester ;  I did this job like five times in 2010
Duties included: Washing up until somebody told me it was time to wash the floor.  Washing floors.  Pretending I was cooler than I am and that I was ok with all this washing up.

Commis Chef ; Stock Restaurant, Manchester ;  28/09/2009 to 15/12/2009
Duties Included:   The preparation and presentation of fine-dining dishes.  Intimate acquaintance with panic.  Embracing with grace and good cheer being called ‘Julie’  by most of my colleagues.  Teamwork.  Because I personally went in to resign instead of anonymously skulking off I was commended for my bravery and forthrightness though I really only went in to collect my ipod and my terrifyingly sharp knife.

Telephone Guy ; GOVNET, Manchester ; 15/8/2009 to 28/8/2009
Duties included:  Pretending to be on the phone.  Joining my irrevocably compromised colleagues in the morning chorus of ‘I’M GOING TO SELL SELL SELL (my soul)!’.  Trying to work out what it was the company did and what part of that I was supposed to be doing.  Hiding.

Bookseller ; Blackwell University Bookshop, Manchester ; 01/06/2006 to 10/12/2008
Where I was kept on after temping because I was more than willing to share my social time / pass notes on Belle and Sebastian with the full-time staff.  My meteoric rise to ‘Fiction Buyer’ – I was for a time featured on their website as an ‘expert’ – was tempered only by my devil-may-care attitude toward punctuality and what was termed in meetings with management as my ‘attitude problem’ (FUCK OFF).  Having achieved a dream I attributed apr├Ęs coup to my traumatic childhood at such a tender age (the dream of being able to buy ‘all of the books’) I withered on the publishing vine and hit the bottle.  I eventually left, to Denmark, in pursuit of dubious love.  Duties included:  Daily use of the full suite of Microsoft Office programmes.  For two years.  So now I can’t look at a latticed window without seeing, in my mind’s eye, Excel and everything that follows.

Weekend bookseller ; Books Etc. Manchester Printworks (now a Cafe Rouge) ; 02/08/2005 to 20/12/2005
Where I ignored signs that the world of book selling was not quite as I’d pictured it in my dreams (signs included: Simon’s cadaverous skin and desperate smell.  Eve’s quiet fury at how unlike the dream of youth real-life-retail-maturity had turned out to be.  And Richard’s faltering attempts to allay this same fear and same desperation by writing plays that no-one ever performed, no-one ever saw, drunk, as was I, on the promised authority of the author over his and all possible worlds.).  Duties included:  Cashing up.  Data input.

Retail man ; NEXT, Market Street Lancaster ; 06/09/2001 to 01/02/2003
Duties included:  Resisting the desire to fold my arms.  Resisting the desire to yawn.   Resisting the desire put either of my hands into either of my pockets.  Resisting the desire to scream aloud.  I learned how to separate women who’re clutching with their dear lives to the same knitwear without ruining the knitwear.   Learned how to dress wounds.  Learned what it means to be a man (thanks Wendy).

Education // Training

Customer Service Certification ; Mary Gober International ;  June 2007
After a two day course in a hell hole hotel deep in suburban Leeds my self-satisfaction is up from 46% to 79% and number of written complaints I receive down from 400 to 35 (all statistics in line with their website)

BA (hons) Philosophy (2:1) ; Manchester Metropolitan University ; 06/06/2002 to 06/07/2006      
Pointless.

A levels, English Language (C), English Literature (C) Mathematics (D) ; Preston College, Preston ; 06/06/1999 to 06/07/2001                          
I learned that I was not nearly as clever as I’d always assumed I was.  A difficult pill to swallow.

GCSEs in all manner of subjects (4xA, 2xB, 3xC and 1xD ); Garstang High School, Garstang, Lancashire ; 1994 – 1999
So unfathomably long ago that I can remember only vague scenes and almost certainly nothing of value.

Extracurricular Pursuits
I read, I brood, I play squash, I collect Nina Simone and Fats Waller and Billie Holiday records because they are beautiful.  In order that the cheques do not stop I sometimes spend time with the family.  I like going to parties (If ever I sit next to you at a party it is likely that I will talk to you about the author David Foster Wallace in a way that you will find dreadfully boring and it is likely that you will start looking around in an increasingly frantic manner for your friends. I will be hurt by your obvious attempt to escape and I will most likely betray this hurt by rhythmically stroking my ironic tie).  I play the piano and the guitar.  Sometimes I’ll give a cigarette to a tramp.  I draw pictures of my friends and give them to them as birthday presents.  I like to close my eyes and pretend I am Darth Vader.  I pursue love and happiness like anyone else, with about the same level of success.

 Facts and Figures
  • Average time I stay in a job: 357 days
  • Average wage: £6.15p/h
  • My weight, as of June 2011: 56KG
  • Number of friends on Facebook: 289
  • Age at which I was 100% sure I’d passed puberty: 21
  • Average number of letters in my eight ex girlfriend’s Christian names: 5
  • Number of letters in current girlfriend’s name: 9
  • % of customers satisfied: 97% (up from 74% thanks to The Gober Method)


Photography Podcasts (2)

I have written previously about my Apple iPod that I use as a relaxation through entertainment mainly at bedtime or occasionally when I am out walking the dogs. I have found myself chuckling away at a comedy program only to get a few strange looks from people walking the towpath. Now I wear a pair of bright pink ear buds which make it more obvious that I am listening to something and that I have not lost the plot. I find that the iPod is ideal in such situations because of its small size. 

For a bit more background on the ever growing world of podcasts you can read my original posting on Podcasts and Podcasting. Click Here.

So what have I been listening to recently in the digital world of podcasting. 




The Art of Photography is a show about photography! New episodes come out every Sunday. You can view them here on the Art of Photography web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes and YouTube so you never miss a show.

Tips from the Top Floor is a weekly show about photography. It is brought to you by photographic myth buster Chris Marquardt. When he's not on a commercial assignment.
You can view them here on the Tips from the Top Floor web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

Photography 101 The podcast is for anybody who wants to learn the secrets of taking better photos traditionally or digitally. Tips on cameras, composition, lighting and digital imaging in Photoshop are among the topics to be covered. You can view them here on the Photography 101 web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

The Photography Show is a podcast published weekly covering all things photography related. The Art of Photography is produced as an ongoing series teaching photographers everything about photography. There is a flickr group where you can carry on further discussions about the podcast and submit photographs. You can view them here on the The Photography Show web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

Staying In Focus is a weekly podcast where I Patrick Onofre have the pleasure of talking to some of the most creative and talented photographers in the business. I’ve shot weddings, celebrities, Fortune 500 companies, gourmet food, rehabilitating Marines, and everything in between. It’s been a truly amazing experience so far, and I am always taking the opportunity to grow and share my passion for photography with everyone! You can view them here on the Staying In Focus web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

Popular Photography Radio Each podcast brings listeners expertise in a wide range of creative techniques, exclusive camera and lens tests, buyers guides and how-to resources for photo enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. Providing listeners with vital, comprehensive advice from leading experts. You can view them here on the Popular Photography Radio web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

Who knows maybe you might be able in the future to listen to a podcast with the soft dulcet tones of a dyed in the wool Yorkshire cynic. Who might just wax lyrical about all things with good, bad and indifferent aspects that he comes across as he makes his way along the canal.


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Photography Podcasts (1)

I have written previously about my Apple iPod that I use as a relaxation through entertainment mainly at bedtime or occasionally when I am out walking the dogs. I have found myself chuckling away at a comedy program only to get a few strange looks from people walking the towpath. Now I wear a pair of bright pink ear buds which make it more obvious that I am listening to something and that I have not lost the plot. I find that the iPod is ideal in such situations because of its small size. 

For a bit more background on the ever growing world of podcasts you can read my original posting on Podcasts and Podcasting. Click Here.

So what have I been listening to recently in the digital world of podcasting. 


The Podcast A pioneering Podcaster and blogger, Martin Bailey inspires and helps photographers from around the world to see and capture the wonders of this awesome planet we call home. With patience and a deep respect for his subjects, it has been said that the he captures the soul of the animals he photographs, and one can smell the air or feel the wind in his sometimes powerful, often ethereal landscapes. You can view the podcasts here on the 'The Podcast' web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

Photography Tips and Tricks The weekly podcast that offers tips and techniques for taking the best photos you have ever taken. You can view the podcasts here on the Photography Tips and Tricks web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

Improve Photography. Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast, author, and complete photography geek. You can view the podcasts here on the Improve Photography web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

Digital Story is a weekly digital photography podcasts, photo tips, reader submitted pictures, equipment reviews and  more. You can view the podcasts here on the Digital Story web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

The Week In Photo. Camera techniques, technology and news. You can view the podcasts here on the Week In Photo web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

PhotoTips. Has become one of the fastest growing podcasts on iTunes. Explaining the concepts of photography in everyday language. You can view the podcasts here on the PhotoTips web site and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

Who knows maybe you might be able in the future to listen to a podcast with the soft dulcet tones of a dyed in the wool Yorkshire cynic. Who might just wax lyrical about all things with good, bad and indifferent aspects that he comes across as he makes his way along the canal.



Smartphone Apps for Boaters (30)


No matter which genre of smartphone you own or are thinking to buy. The apps that are available will have an influence on how happy you are with the phone. There are plenty of top quality apps that you can download. However for me There's always a remarkable sub-selection of apps that are totally free. 

The wonderfully named 'Android' phone seems to have cornered the market in the same way that VHS did with tape systems. Android's open source strategy is the main factor for its success. Being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator apps available.

If you are reading this posting the chances are that you do a bit of blog reading/creating and have a smartphone. I use a laptop on the boat, I use a PC when we are at home and now I have started to use a Blogger app for the smartphone everywhere else.


The American spook Edward Snowden was a systems administrator who turned into a what is termed today as a whistle blower. He worked for the American 'National Security Agency' which is a sig-int (signals intelligence) gathering part of the American Government. Snowden revealed that the NSA was doing its own form of phone hacking to monitor mobile phone calls.

Basically what Snowden did was to provide proof - if proof were needed - that demonstrated what had been well known for years. The Internet is an insecure medium for all kinds of transactions. However, what has happened post Snowden is a change of emphasis. No longer to provide proof that criminal elements are busy with their scams. The proof is that America is behaving like the criminals and that the NSA has turned the Internet into an information (spying) gathering network. And that the NSA has done this and continues to do this on an industrial scale.
I'm not an American, I don't live in America, I have little in the way of any links to America. I am British, I live in Britain and I am a citizen of Great Britain. Now call me simplistic, but if its criminal to spy on my personal information by Nigerian scam artists - Then it must be criminal for the NSA to spy on my personal information do as well. 
Now on the grand scale of things. If the NSA want to listen into my phone calls. I'm sure that knowing when my next bog pumpout is scheduled will be very very edifying. Plus as they want to gather the dirt, it seems quite appropriate.

Even the Economist has published recommendation.
That fact that the NSA has been routinely monitoring the phone calls of the general population of its allies is one thing. But the revelation that it has been targeting the phones of our leaders is something totally different. Call me an old fashioned cove if you must. But its not cricket old boy to routinely monitor the phone calls of your friends. In fact no true friend would even consider doing such a thing.

A mobile phone of any description is just a telephone with a radio attached. Like a broadcast radio, anyone can listen into the radio frequencies. To make this listening in more difficult to achieve the telephone manufacturers have been using various methods of encryption or cryptography. Now the various forms of cryptography are getting stronger. Strong in this case means taking longer to decrypt and at the same time requiring more and more powerful computer systems to do the decryption.

Now, if my government chooses to spy on me, then so be it. As a citizen of Great Britain it comes as a given. We expect our security services to keep us safe and so the security services need to be able to carry out such tasks. But we have a system of checks and balances built into such a system because the security services also need to obtain a court order. With the appropriate court order, our security services can obtain details and assistance from our service providers to carry out such surveillance.

There is no court in any country in the world would grant America a court order to spy on its citizens.  So the Americans have a whole different approach. They are trying to get mobile phone manufacturers to provide vulnerabilities into the smartphone firmware. Now, because our smartphones have a built in computer. That can be used to surf the net, send text and emails. Not only that but the phone can fix its position with satellite navigation and because we might be using them for banking. This makes us into very juicy targets indeed.

But it does not stop there, there is a back-up plan 'B'.  Many of the email systems that we use on the Internet are located on large computer systems located in the USA. How do they get you to use such systems? They provide you with a free basic service. Outlook (free) Gmail (free)  Yahoo (free) are typical of what's available. Your chosen free email service will typically reward you with plenty of free storage, free spam filtering, a desktop email program as well as mobile access from your smartphone. (there's a surprise)

Outlook provides free email with almost unlimited storage which allows you to keep all your messages. Accessible with the web interface or using POP on desktop and mobile device. (there's a surprise)
Gmail is the offering from Google for free email. Almost unlimited free on-line storage allows you to keep all your messages. Gmail's simple POP and IMAP access bring Gmail to your smartphone. (there's a surprise)
Yahoo is a free web based email program with unlimited storage which allows you to keep all your messages. Includes SMS texting, social networking and instant messaging with support for mobile devices. (there's a surprise)
Google, which, of course, must be able to read its customers’ e-mail in order to inflict advertisements on them, nevertheless relies on people trusting it to guard their data. On October 30th the Washington Post reported that America’s spies have bugged private, unencrypted fibre-optic cables which carry information between the data centres in the worldwide networks of Google and Yahoo, without the companies’ knowledge.
Then there is back-up Plan 'C' Facebook, a simple messaging system that is organised by the people with whom you communicate. Facebook combines social networking with shared emails with everybody. Providing conversations with Facebook friends and SMS texts in a single interface.

Not forgetting back-up Plan 'E' Ask yourself, just how good do you think Google's Android or Apple's iOS smartphone system are.

Another is back-up plan 'F' Impersonating the mobile network itself. This is much easier to achieve than you might suppose.  By setting up a fake mobile network and persuading the target's phone to connect to it. At a hacker conference in 2010, a security researcher called Chris Paget gave a Live Demonstration of how this works, using less than £1500 of off-the-shelf equipment. A  rogue mobile network can instruct phones that connect to it to do all sorts of things, such as turn off encryption.

Police forces around the world are known to use fake mobile networks to silently listen in on calls made by their targets. A recent book available on Amazon describes how the security services have removed several such fake mobile networks - run by foreign embassies - from around Washington, DC.

Typical analysis software Click Here

So what can you do to protect the personal information contained inside your SmartPhone?

EncryptIt is a multi purpose utility to encrypt any text. It utilises best practises for encryption to ensure your data is safe from prying eyes. Encrypt your emails, messages, memos, notes, appointments, etc. 

EncryptIt uses 256bit encryption. Uses salting to enhance the security of the seed/password to withstand brute force attacks and rainbow tables. Uses salting to randomise the output to further enhance security.

Instructions:
 

To encrypt:
1. Type or paste text that is to be encrypted.
2. Enter a seed (password), and hit the Encrypt button. The output is the scrambled text which can be save in an application or sent to someone.


To decrypt:
1. Paste the scrambled text to the application.
2. Enter the seed (password) and hit the Decrypt button.



Saturday, 28 December 2013

Guy Martin Returns.

One to watch tomorrow night

The boaters favourite TT racer 'Guy Martin' returns to television. The new series starts on Channel 4, December 29th at 8.00pm. TT racer and lorry mechanic Guy Martin claims that nothing can match the adrenaline rush he gets when racing in the Isle of Man TT at 200mph. In this four part series, he sets out to create four speed based challenges by getting his hands dirty in a range of unique engineering projects.

In the first program Guy attempts to break the British record for outright speed on a bicycle at an incredible 110mph. With help from British Olympic track cyclist Laura Trott Guy undergoes a relentless training regime to get himself fit enough for the record attempt.
 
In the second program Guy attempts to set the world record for riding a motorcycle on the surface of water. With the help of Sir Isaac Newton's and his Third Law of Motion. Where every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If he can maintain enough speed on his bike. Newton's 250 year old theory says he should be able to achieve the seemingly impossible and ride on water. Surrounded by an army of rescue teams and emergency divers.
In the third program Guy is on a mission to do the seemingly impossible, fly using muscle power alone. He wants to build the world's fastest human powered aircraft - a plane without an engine that he will cycle into the air. Guy is ready to put his plane to the test against the UK's leading engineers in the Icarus Cup, where he will set out to pilot the fastest HPA the world has ever seen.

In the final program, Guy sets out to break the record for the world's fastest gravity powered sled. With the help of the UK's top sports science engineers, athletes and experts in composite engineering Guy will first build, then try to ride the toboggan on the unforgiving slopes of the Swiss Alps and reclaim the record from a group of thrill-seeking Germans who set it three years ago. Guy  heads to the world famous Cresta Run in St. Moritz to experience his first taste of going blisteringly fast on ice, before meeting up with a crack team of engineers from (my old employers) Sheffield Hallam University who help him build a prototype toboggan.

Recycling cycling

There is an interesting snippet of information available around the governments own predictions about cycling. It makes you wonder why CaRT are so busy encouraging cyclists onto the towpath. Especially in view of the governments own research that claims that the use of cycles is little more than a passing fad. 

Transport minister Robert Goodwill has told MPs that the government’s official traffic forecasts predict that cycling in England will carry on growing for just a little longer, until 2015. Then it will then drop significantly by 2025 and to continue to stagnate until 2040.

At the same time, England’s population is expected to increase. Crucially the officials who’ll decide where transport cash is to be invested. Will be investing in the infrastructure based on the prediction that cycling will fall by 22 percent after 2015 and stagnate by 2040. 

So much for the much vaunted “cycling revolution” that was launched just a few short months ago by the Con-a-Lib government. David Cameron said: “This government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle – as well as encouraging far more people to take it up.”



Friday, 27 December 2013

Old Waterway Photograph (8)


Collecting postcards, or Deltiology as it is known, is a fascinating hobby. Our recent history has to a point been documented by postcards. It's curious in a way even with all the wonderful advances in technology. It's hard to believe that the good old picture postcard is still with us and still going strong. I did a posting on collecting old photographic postcards. Which gives some simple background information about what is an interesting hobby. Click Here



This is the eighth postcard photograph in the series. The 'Glory Hole' is possibly one of the most recognisable parts of the inland waterways. The High Bridge in Lincoln, is the oldest bridge which still has buildings on it. It was built about 1160 A.D. and a chapel built in 1235 dedicated to Thomas Becket was removed in 1762 with the current row of shops dating from 1550. Bridges like this were common in the Middle Ages, the best known being London Bridge, but most have long since been demolished because of their obstruction to the river flow and to shipping.

Since the 14th Century the bridge has contributed to floods in Lincoln and after any heavy rain the bridge is virtually unnavigable, which may be why it got its name. The Glory Hole has a narrow and crooked arch which sets a limit on the size of boats using the River Witham and going from Brayford Pool, at the start of Foss Dyke to Boston and the sea. Brayford Pool is a natural lake formed from a widening of the River Witham in the centre of  Lincoln. It was used as a port by the Romans - who connected it to the River Trent by constructing the Foss Dyke - and has a long industrial heritage. 

Originally dug out by Romans and later used by the Vikings, Brayford Pool has operated as an inland port in the city for almost 2,000 years. In 1964, five years before the Brayford Trust was founded, an operation to clear the pool was conducted and 25 shipwrecks were removed from the water.
 
What is buried under an island in Lincoln's Brayford Pool is a mystery waiting to be solved, according to guardians of the area. The island, which lies at the south-eastern corner of the pool, is not believed to be a natural formation as the area was built by the Romans. But, with rumours the area might be of historical interest, members of the group who look after the waterway say they are open to offers from anyone with information or the will to investigate.

John Handley, secretary of the Brayford Trust, said it was rumoured that beneath the modern day island lay the remains of an ancient vessel. Following a survey conducted in 1994 by the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with a maritime organisation, an obstruction was discovered south east of the island. It was believed to have been an old boat but no conclusive evidence was found. He said no further work had been carried out because the nature of the site would make it expensive, but he thought it might make an ideal project for a university student. Until someone decides to take on the task of uncovering the mystery of the Brayford island, the people of Lincoln can only guess what might lay beneath it.

The island is believed to be not more than 50 years old. Dr Mick Jones, city archaeologist at Lincoln Council, said "I'm aware that a sonar survey of the Brayford Pool was done about 20 years ago, which revealed a large object buried at some depth towards the south bank, but we don't know what this is and, without further investigations, we'll never know. It could be something ancient or something modern. The pool has been dredged a number of times, which produced finds of medieval and later pottery and other objects, so it is possible that ancient objects will have survived in the parts of the pool that haven't been dredged."




Smartphone Apps for Boaters (29)

No matter which genre of smartphone you own or are thinking to buy. The apps that are available will have an influence on how happy you are with the phone. There are plenty of top quality apps that you can download. However for me There's always a remarkable sub-selection of apps that are totally free. 

The wonderfully named 'Android' phone seems to have cornered the market in the same way that VHS did with tape systems. Android's open source strategy is the main factor for its success. Being a free platform has expanded the Android device install base, which in turn has driven growth in the number of third party multi-platform and mobile operator apps available.

If you are reading this posting the chances are that you do a bit of blog reading/creating and have a smartphone. I use a laptop on the boat, I use a PC when we are at home and now I have started to use a Blogger app for the smartphone everywhere else.

Your mobile phone has several different security applications in place depending on the version of phone in use. 2G, 3G and now 4G have sequentially upped the strength in the type of security employed. 

However, there is a constant weak link in the chain and that is you!

Currently several journalists in England are on trial for hacking the voicemail messages of  politicians to murdered schoolchildren. I'm not going to get into the morality or legality of such actions. That will be for the courts to decide and I don't intend to second guess the motives for the need to hack phones.
However, there are serious lessons to be learned from what has taken place. The phone hacking methods employed were low tech but they worked. It was achieved by smooth-talking employees of mobile-phone companies. Convincing the employees into handing over the four digit pass codes that protect their customers' voice mail accounts. 
But more worryingly, the hackers simply guessed them. By betting that the phone owners either hadn't changed them from default settings or if they had, they then chose easy to remember numbers such as 1,2,3,4.
It highly unlikely that your phone is going to be hacked any-time soon. But what if you lost your phone or had it stolen. Then any personal data stored in your phone could be compromised. If you haven't done so already - change your pass code number - and do it now!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Blogger Beware

Feedly is known as the leading replacement for the now deceased Google Reader but they are also beginning to get a reputation for making absolutely bone-headed decisions. Recently Feedly had the bright idea of forcing all their users to have a Google+ account in order to use Feedly, and today Feedly has found a way to piss off bloggers everywhere.

Last week, Feedly rolled out a controversial new “feature” that was hijacking feed links to steal traffic from millions of bloggers. Redirecting shared links with Feedly to Feedly’s own view of the article instead of the article itself on the original site is a concern for original content creators on many blogs.  It not only results in loss of traffic, but is also deceptive for those who follow a particular blog.

Credit due: The Digital Reader was the original source for this news.

Bah Humbug!

In modern usage, the word 'puritan' describes someone who is a bit dour. It is sometimes used to describe someone who adheres to strict moral or religious principles. Who were the Puritans? Well the fervour has died down a bit, but puritans became a major political force in England. Eventually coming to power as a result of the First English Civil War. 

A group of Christian fundamentalists who had given up on crusading and now were driven to reform the English church. Their leader was Oliver Cromwell. The war was brought around because Puritans zealots were blocked from changing the established church from within. Their activities until then were severely restricted in England by laws controlling the practice of religion. As he was the head of the church, the king had to go!
In one of his more lucid moments, the Puritan fundamentalist leader Oliver Cromwell, passed a law that made Christmas illegal. Oliver was a bit of a serious dude who considered enjoyment through feasting and revelry was bad for the soul and totally immoral.
If Olly thought it was bad then -  I wonder what he would some 366 years later think about Christmas now! Olly despite all his short comings was a very devout protestant.  He considered that having a good time on a holy day to be immoral and banned the Christmas festivities. I guess he was a typical 'grumpy old curmudgeon' of his times. With his army of followers he was able to make a few changes around the place.

Each year retailers start ‘the season’ earlier than the year before. The now heavily commercialised Christmas attempts to recruit us all into the shopping feeding frenzy. Until recently all 'gift' products had a price and anything that was left over was sold off in the new year sales.  Now we have 'Frenzied Fridays' where people out for a bit of a quiet shop at their local supermarket get trampled underfoot in the stampede of humanity that has seemingly lost the plot. 

Not only that,  its also having to get up at dawn on Christmas Day to start the preparations for the family meal. Then there is the thought police and the mumbo jumbo of political correctness. I seems that now, you can't say Merry Christmas, because that might offend somebody who is not of the Christian persuasion. It's time we passed a new law that makes the commercialisation of Christmas illegal. Following the latest trend of naming the new law after someone or other. We could call it Oliver's Law.

Bah humbug has a lot going for it.

Later....



Zooniverse Update

Hi Everyone,

It is with glee that we announce the brand new Milky Way Project! It’s got more data, more objects to find, and it’s even more gorgeous. The original Milky Way Project launched three years ago and since then more than 50,000 individuals have contributed millions of drawings of objects in our galaxy. The new MWP is being launched to map data from different regions of the galaxy in a new infrared wavelength combination. It’s very exciting! There are tens of thousands of images from the Spitzer Space Telescope to look through. By telling us what you see in this infrared data, we can better understand how stars form.

Join in now at www.milkywayproject.org

In other awesome news: 
The Zooniverse has been named as one of six Google Global Impact Awardees for 2013. This award will allow us to build a platform that can support hundreds or maybe even thousands of new and exciting citizen science projects. We’re in good company too: a list of the awardees can be seen at the Google Global Impact Award site Click Here  and you can read the Zooniverse blog Click Here  It means a lot to us at the Zooniverse to have been given this award and we could not have managed it without you, our volunteers.

So thanks to you, and thanks to Google!


The Zooniverse Team

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

The 12 Gifts of Christmas (12)

The 12 Gifts of Christmas are the Rose of Arden recommends of useful and practical gift items for the boater in your life. For the last three years the crew of Rose of Arden have scoured the world to bring Christmas gift ideas to the boating community. This year we bring a further selection of gift ideas which can be purchased through several corporate tax avoiding multinational companies.

Number twelve in our top dozen of scintillating gifts for Christmas 2013 - Is the Rose of Arden pick of the crop 'First Mate Guide' to emergency stoppages. Because the canal and river infrastructure has been under funded for years. Our canal guide shows that emergency stoppages can occur anywhere on any section of any canal and river. 

More than that, all the more regular 'unusual happenings' are displaying the likelihood that it is more likely to  happen than not.

Help CaRT to find the long lost inland waterway culverts. Discover collapsed drains and overgrown and blocked by wash. Marvel at the wide variety of  locks with sagging sides and leaking gates. Report them several times a day on the CaRT emergency Helpline. You will soon be on first name terms with the operators.

Now like thousands who went before, even you can enjoy taking the gamble of planing a canal trip without any certainty of return. Pick your lottery numbers now because the chance is that your numbers will come up before you complete your trip.

Muddled Christmas sorted

Muddled Christmas Sorted


T'was Christmas night in the morning;
and everything was left on the right;
with a warming blast of frozen air;
and footprints of a snowmen in flight.

Santa arrived in a widebeam narrowboat;
he looked sad in a happy sort of way;
the first of the last lot of presents;
keeping very quiet he had much to say.

Speeding along at a snails pace;
as sunshine lit up the dark night;
Santa had forgotten to remember;
he was wrong to think the total was right.

The naughty boater was being very good;
a merry Christmas is such a sad time;
so he delivered the choice of one present;
shouting hello as he waved the boater goodbye!


'Merry Christmas' and a very 'Happy New Year' to my reader. 
I hope the Santa has brought some cheer to you all. 
 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Old Waterway Photograph (7)

Collecting postcards, or Deltiology as it is known, is a fascinating hobby. Our recent history has to a point been documented by postcards. It's curious in a way even with all the wonderful advances in technology. It's hard to believe that the good old picture postcard is still with us and still going strong. I did a posting on collecting old photographic postcards. Which gives some simple background information about what is an interesting hobby. Click Here


 
This is the seventh in a series of old waterways postcards or photographs. This postcard is identified as Burslem on the Trent and Mersey. There was a spur or branch off the main canal into Burslem. The canal branch opened in 1805 and was closed by a major breach in 1961. However, a waterways restoration group are trying to reopen the branch for navigation. The Burslem Port Trust's Mission is to seek to reopen the old Burslem Branch Canal, creating new waterside facilities to deliver sustainable leisure, tourism and thus employment.



However, I think the two photographs are of the Trent and Mersey canal. The T and M is a 93 mile long canal in the East Midlands, West Midlands, and north-west of England. It is a "narrow canal" for the vast majority of its length, but at the extremities to the east of Burton upon Trent and west of Middlewich, it is a wide canal.

The 12 Gifts of Christmas (11)

The 12 Gifts of Christmas are the Rose of Arden recommends of useful and practical gift items for boater in your life. For the last three years the crew of Rose of Arden have scoured the world to bring Christmas gift ideas to the boating community. This year we bring a further selection of gift ideas which can be purchased through several corporate tax avoiding multinational companies.

Number eleven in our top dozen of ideas for those special gifts for Christmas 2013 - Is the Rose of Arden - CaRT inspired Cart Desk Tidy. 

A gift idea that was sparked by all the carefully selected and sited supermarket trolley that have been used to adorn the inland waterways.

Following on from last years CaRT inspired floating boat anchor. The CaRT CART brings us all a constant and memorable reminder of our inland waterways.