Friday 31 May 2013

What are your rights (3)

Continuing on from my initial thoughts in the previous two posting titles "what are your rights (1 and 2)" Which was about, what are the rights of photographers taking photographs of the inland waterways and what are your rights as a boat owner.

The TV watching public has this love, hate relationship with cameras. On television we are entertained by the use of accidental video clips at £250 a pop. Usually involving someone suffering from an embarrassing loss of dignity. 

Then there are television series such as "Big Brother" that feeds the voyeur appetite for those people who want to spy on someone else. IWA members certainly come to mind! The whole program is presented as some sort of a weird competition.  That is populated by exhibitionists who in turn are feeding their dogging appetite by being watched.

Idea 1
Now closed circuit television is coming to a canal near you courtesy of CaRT. Not even in the form of marinised roadside cameras to catch those speeding along in their boats who cause so much damage to soft banks. No its coming in the form of a complete lack of understanding and awareness of the real issues. 

According to the Canal and River Trust national moorings manager, CaRT are about to invest in installing closed circuit television into their marinas. Now call me old and cynical but investing their "friends donations" into installing CCTV may not be what the public had in mind for their charitable donations. 

Idea 2
One of the more interesting points discovered from research is the so called "placebo effect" of the use of surveillance camera signage. It seems that CCTV signage alone is much more effective that the visible CCTV cameras themselves. Where there are signs displayed but no actual cameras. This is apparently more effective because criminals can't establish the locations of the "hidden" cameras. 

So like fake burglar alarms are deterrents placed on buildings. Fake CCTV signage might be much more appropriate deterrent. Here are a couple of ideas I have. Which is based on a recent change in the law. Where people are allowed to protect themselves and their families (using reasonable force) from intruders. Plus it would leave some of the friends of the canals donations money to go into topping up the depleted maintenance fund. 


Any valuables on your boat?

We all have bits and pieces of personal items stored away on our boats that we would not want to lose. It might be a mobile phone, laptop, television or camera. However, after the event there is possibly little that you can do, other than hope that your items are somehow recovered.

Or is there?

Well you could make an inventory of the item identity numbers, model numbers or serial numbers . But then how can you make the inventory of numbers available to anyone who recovers a lost or stolen item.

Well, first of all there is the Immobilise system. Immobilise is the world's largest totally free register of possession ownership details and together with its sister sites the Police's NMPR system and  CheckMEND, together they form a very effective tool in helping to reduce crime and repatriate recovered personal property to its rightful owners. Immobilise can be used by members of the public and businesses to register their valued possessions or company assets, and exclusive to Immobilise all account holders registered items and ownership details are viewable on the Police national property database the NMPR.
The immobilise online checking service is used by all UK Police forces to trace owners of lost and stolen property. In addition Immobilise is checked daily by a huge range of recovery agencies and lost property offices. As a direct result of Immobilise there are over 250 cases a week where property is returned or information collected that assists the Police in investigating criminal activity involving stolen goods. Immobilise is also the only ownership registration service supported by all UK Police forces, the Greater London Authority, and the Mobile Phone Industry.

Have you ever purchased a secondhand item on ebay? 

Did the item belong to the person selling it? 
Is someone trying to rip you off?
Is it possibly stolen? 

CheckMEND is the world's largest database of over 150 billion records of property providing relevant information to purchasers of used goods. The information that CheckMEND searches against is updated in real-time every few minutes by law enforcement, insurers, industry bodies and the public in over 40 countries. It is the system used by the UK's phone recycling industry to help protect them from accepting or handling stolen goods, and helps achieve compliance with the Recycler Code of Practice. CheckMEND, is recommended by eBay and can be used by consumers globally who wish to check that goods like satnavs, mobile phones, iPods and computers, etc. are not stolen, counterfeit or blocked. CheckMEND can also help in the sale of an item as each check comes with an official CheckMEND report that can be provided to any potential buyer as proof that the item is legitimate and in many cases, achieve a superior price for the item.

For the Police, the free Immobilise property registration service is a very powerful tool in the fight against crime. Immobilise along with many other information sources is linked directly to the Police NMPR "National Mobile Property Register." The NMPR allows officers to search the serial numbers of recovered goods or suspected stolen property and then take action accordingly.

So lets say you start by creating an account on Immobilise and then adding your mobile phone. You will need your phone's IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number, which you can find by simply typing *#06# into your mobile phone. Plus make a note of the make and model. Then add a description, which could be the colour of the phone and colour of the case. Any distinguishing marks like scratches. I always scratch my door number and postcode on the inside of the battery cover. Its as easy as that. Plus, you might not have noticed that an item is already missing. By making an immobilise list, it could be a good reminder to check where things are stored. 


Thursday 30 May 2013

What are your rights. (2)

Following on from my initial thoughts in the previous posting titles "what are your rights (1)" about "What are the rights of photographers taking photographs of the inland waterways and what are your rights as a boat owner?" 

Going about our everyday life, in towns and cities we are all subjected to covert surveillance by being photographed and monitored. The use of closed circuit television to monitor everyone has increased enormously. There are video cameras in shops, on the high street. Every person with a mobile telephone has the potential to be a photographer.

Ben Heine
There is a belief held by the public that the use of closed circuit television will actually prevent crime. Instances of people committing crime are seen in various fly on the wall television programs.

Cameras have never been proven to deter criminal activity. There has been large amounts of research carried out. but the answer remains the same, there is no proof that cameras deter crimes. But the camera numbers have proliferated in the mistaken belief that they do. 

Its the same with speed cameras which until recently were all the rage. They also do absolutely nothing to deter speeding motorists. They may catch the odd motorist, but they did not deter the motorist caught from speeding. 

They may even bring about the downfall of criminals such as ex MP Chris Huhne. But even he committed the crime of - perverting the course of justice - after the event. In fact in this case in a perverted sort of way, Huhne's crime was committed because of the presence of a roadside speed camera.

Remember, every time you watch such a video clip, the camera recorded a crime being committed. A crime that was not deterred in any way by the presence of the camera. 

The public have a very blinkered approach to the use of video cameras. How often do you hear it said "if you are doing nothing wrong, what do you have to worry about." My answer to this question is "if I'm doing nothing wrong why are you subjecting me to an invasion of my privacy by videoing me."

In fact the use of the camera has now gone full circle and it has become a standard tool of war. Terrorist make video recordings prior to the "martyrdom" as suicide bombers. This is not a new phenomena. Recordings were made by the Japanese suicide bombers during WWII. Later war photographers in Vietnam noticed that more executions of prisoners were being carried out because of the presence of their camera. Take the recent event on our street where a young soldier is hacked to death in the street. Recorded actions of the perpetrators now to be used as some sort of clarion call to their followers. An event now carried out on camera as a whole new form of demonstration. Providing propaganda that is intended to add some weight and gravity to the barbaric act. 

Wednesday 29 May 2013

What are your rights (1)

What are the rights of photographers taking photographs of the inland waterways and what are your rights as a boat owner? I have been asked by various people taking photographs if I minded them taking photographs of our boat or even our dogs. Even the Gruffalo has been known to request being given time to brush her hair. Prior to consenting to be photographed on the boat. To be honest, most people, don't ask and just seem to take snaps and we try to act as nonchalant and normal as possible.

This started me out thinking about what permissions might be needed if I was photographing or videoing parts of our publicly owned and charitably funded canal system. Does the fact that the public own the canals make any difference. CaRT it seems have conditions in place for anyone wanting to use the canals for photography or filming. CaRT's website says "For enquiries about filming or photography on a Canal and River Trust property, Please contact Claire Risino or Sarah Rudy."

Whilst browsing on the CaRT website, I found a short note saying that "The Sheffield and Tinsley Canal achieved fame in 1997 by starring in the opening scenes of the comedy film The Full Monty.
Most people can remember Gaz, (stuck with Dave on a car roof in the middle of the Tinsley canal) saying "Ey up, Dave someone's coming." Passer-By "All right?" Gaz "Aye, not so bad." Dave, [after the Passer-by leaves] "Not so bad, Not so bad? That's not much of a chuffing SOS is it?"
That was pretty much the end of the canal in the film. Short, sweet and funny. However, The Sheffield and Tinsley Canal had already achieved great fame in the Television series "I didn't know you cared." When four complete series (which were broadcast between 1975 and 1979) frequently used the canal as a backdrop. There were even scenes filmed on a narrowboat in the Sheffield Canal basin. The Tinsley deep lock featured more than once.

I Didn't Know You Cared was a BBC television comedy set in a working class household in South Yorkshire. Written by the late Peter Tinniswood. The main characters are Carter Brandon played by Stephen Rea, Uncle Mort played by the wonderful character actor Robin Bailey, his mother, Annie played by Liz Smith, his father, Les played by John Comer who went on to star in Last of the Summer Wine. Carter's girlfriend Pat Partington was played by the gorgeous Anita Carey and the local slapper Linda Preston was played by Deirdre Costello who also played the tart clippie in "On the Buses." 

Many of the scenes in the series feature the canal between Tinsley and the Sheffield canal basin. Some of the scenes were filmed only a stones throw away from our mooring. Needless to say I have the whole series on DVD.


Tuesday 28 May 2013

NHS again!

This could be very serious. The Conservatives are floating plans to cap the number of times we are allowed to visit our GP.  If we run out of visits – because we've got a sickly child or long-term health condition, for example – we could be forced to pay to go elsewhere.

At the moment it's just a proposal. But if the Conservatives don't see a big public backlash, it could soon be a grim reality. So let's raise an outcry as quickly as possible and push them to drop the idea immediately. Please sign the urgent petition now: tell health minister Jeremy Hunt to rule out limiting our access to NHS GPs:

Jeremy Hunt will be watching the public's reaction carefully. He is an ambitious politician with an eye on his own popularity. If he sees a huge petition growing fast, he'll realise this is damaging his ratings. So if enough of us sign, we could play a key role in getting this idea dropped.

Being able to visit the family doctor when we need it is a bedrock of a decent health system. GPs are often our first port of call when we're ill.  Limiting access to GPs could mean a dangerous illness is left undetected until it's too late – unless of course you've got private medical insurance…

But this isn't just about GPs. This is about a principle at the heart of our battle to protect the NHS. Since the NHS was created, everyone in Britain has been able to rely on visiting a doctor as often as we need to. Limiting access would undermine the NHS at its very foundations. So let's send the Conservatives a strong message: drop this terrible idea.


Monday 27 May 2013

Winter Stoppage List.

The list of planned stoppage work and provisional dates for 2013/14 has been published on the CaRT website.

Quote: The consultation will comprise of two phases and we're now in phase one. We'd like to find out what you think of our stoppage plans. Please submit any feedback via the online forms, which can be found on each individual stoppage notice. We'll then review your comments and publish a revised plan. You will have one further opportunity to comment on our plans before they are finalised by our works planners.

Click Here to view the list.

Sunday 26 May 2013

What is Canal Heritage?

What is canal heritage?

Wiki saysHeritage refers to something inherited from the past. The word has several different senses, including: Natural heritage, an inheritance of fauna and flora, geology, landscape and landforms, and other natural resources. Cultural heritage: the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society or man-made heritage. Industrial heritage: monuments from our industrial culture.

Inland Waterways International IWI brings together people and organisations who support the conservation, use, development and proper management of inland waterways worldwide. It aims to raise public awareness of the benefits of using waterways for a wide range of activities, from inland water transport to cruising, towpath walking and other recreational uses, as well as appreciating their architectural and landscape values as important heritage. It also promotes restoration, where appropriate, of waterways which have become derelict. Its membership includes leading navigation authorities, as well as voluntary bodies, museums and commercial companies.  The Canal and River Trust is a corporate member of the IWI . Individual members include both users and experts in the various disciplines. All have a keen interest in both the history and the modern significance of inland waterways for commercial carrying and recreational use.

The IWI has a large list of canal books from around the world many of which address the issue of heritage and history. Click Here for the list. The Worlds Canal Conference will take place in 2013 in Toulouse, France, mother city of the Canal du Midi. 16-19th September 2013 Web site :

The Groningen Declaration.

The Groningen Declaration, seeks to establish a set of  guidelines for integrated care for canals that have lost their prime function or maybe never provided an economically viable means of transporting goods and people. Care for these canals has often been transferred to new custodians whose interest is confined to a limited perspective, such as recreational use, water storage and water quality, or water management. A wide variety of players are involved in and around canals, who all invest time, effort and money.

The Groningen Declaration aims to stimulate parties within these fragmented interests to coordinate their efforts towards the integrated development of canals and inland waterways. The objective is to protect and reinforce the spatial quality of waterways, to fight neglect and deterioration, and to enhance their qualities.
The quality of the resources deals with the integrity of the actual canal and its associated facilities, its use, maintenance and preservation, including values, buildings, skills and objects of historic, cultural and spatial significance.
New developments on canals should be in harmony with historic values and should not lead to fragmentation of banks or towpaths, or disturb significant sightlines related to canals and connected infrastructure.
A heritage impact assessment should be required for new developments that may have an impact on the significance of canals and their setting. 
Historically relevant objects related to canals or other infrastructure connected to the function and use of waterways should be preserved.
Ongoing monitoring should be set up to prevent decay, loss of significance or trivialization of canals and to ensure improvement in preservation, management and interpretation practices. 
The versatility and diversity of the entire landscape related to the waterways should be safeguarded.
Historical waterways should be reconnected with each other where possible in order to increase the scale of the recreational use of the water network, which will provide better incentives for its maintenance. 
Historical qualities of canals should be treated with more care in the spatial planning process, because they can be a source of inspiration for future spatial development.

The quality of the experience encompasses the way in which visitors and users experience the canal, from the water and from the bank. We aim to satisfy the needs and exceed the expectations of users and visitors, and continuously improve our services to enhance the experience.
Panoramic views from waterways and on waterways should receive a protected status. Visibility of the water-related infrastructure has a positive impact on the visitor experience and  helps to raise public awareness of the historic values of waterways and their environment. Canal management has to guarantee open vistas from waterways onto the land and vice versa.  
The banks of historic waterways should be retained in the public domain, so that they can also be utilized by hikers and bikers, as well as anglers and horse-riders where feasible. Special attention should be paid to the landscaping alongside canals, preferably in harmony with the cultural and natural setting of the canal.

Custodians of canals should provide information on the canals and community resources available at easily accessible locations, and also make information on historic waterways available digitally, through their websites (or through the associated web sites of related canal associations and societies).
The quality of use addresses the way in which canals are maintained in order to preserve their original purpose and usefulness.
Rehabilitation of canals should be executed within a wider social and economic perspective. Rehabilitation is not only the conservation of what has been, but also the creation of an asset that can be used. 
The original design draught should be provided wherever possible, to preserve the possibility of use for commercial carrying or for moving urban waste or materials to recycling plants. 
An integrated approach should be applied to the rehabilitation of canals. Only by combining knowledge, resources and  efforts will it be possible to revitalize canals as a vital aspect of society, sustained by the community.

The quality of life aspect is the sustainable and economically viable development of communities alongside the canal.
Any initiative aimed at the revitalization of canals should consider the local community as a major stakeholder.  
An assessment should be made of the long-term economic viability of any project, and the social impact of the intended development.  
The local population should be able to gain economic benefit from the development in terms of jobs and spending capacity.  
Interdisciplinary involvement should be standard practice in conservation and management settings.  
Professional training, interpretation, community education and public awareness should be encouraged to support the sharing of knowledge, as well as to promote conservation goals and improve the efficiency of the protection tools, the management plans and other instruments.

Use it why lose it.

Looking at our UK inland waterways, their heritage plays an enormous part in the attraction for people to come on or near a canal. The Industrial Revolution, the amazing accomplishments of the large groups of Navvies and the canal engineers who are now household names. 

Its hard to define a time when heritage begins. Typical of this might be the new CaRT logo which replaced the "old" BW logo which first came into use in 1981. There being 30 plus years of use. An attractive logo that was instantly recognised by many people. A logo that I certainly preferred to the "Angry Swan" logo now being deployed at great expense.

Placed side by side, the iconic reed mace and the characteristic hump backed bridge say volumes about what the logo represents. Compared with the outline of a swan displaying an angry "wings arched" stance, conveys absolutely nothing. I thought it at the time and I still maintain it now - it was a retrograde step to throw away an icon of our recent heritage. One that was well worth preserving.

Watering down the past.

There are many things that also carry the look and feel for the heritage of the canals. One of them is the Cast Iron waterpoint standpipe. Somehow the sculpted look captured an image in keeping with the Victorian cast iron culture. Now it seems these are being removed and replaced by a stainless steel monstrosity that has as much to do with our canal heritage as an android phone. Take any heritage listed building on any street in the UK. Then add a stainless steel box on the wall and you would create a huge backlash of condemnation about tasteless vandalism! 

CaRT says "We’re also currently undergoing a programme to standardise the water points on our network and installing new vandal free taps, which will cut down on the cost of maintenance. New water regulations mean that over the next two years we will have to review the design of our water points. It means that flexible hoses can no longer be permanently fixed to taps, and we will have to make some changes to taps and valves to make sure they are compliant."

I am sure that there is a trustee charged with overseeing/protecting the canal heritage. Can someone give them a nudge and let them know what's happening on their watch. Did anyone involved in the change take the most brief glimpse of the heritage rich cast iron standpipe. Did anyone contemplate designing a replacement that encompases the cast in iron look? Did anyone notice that the black and white painted cast iron look blends in with many of the cast iron bridges?

This whole process should be halted now. Whoever came up with the idea of replacing the traditional cast iron stand pipe and replacing them with a shiny stainless steel pillar and box should be sent to the naughty step. The cast iron standpipes are as much part of our canal heritage as the post office pillar box on the high street. Where possible, replace with a tasteful design that mimics the traditional cast iron look using materials that will comply with any appropriate regulations in force at the time. 

Dredging up the past.

The Ridgacre Branch is a canal branch off the Wednesbury Old Canal, part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. It opened in 1828, to serve collieries and iron works, and was disused by the 1960s. Except for its branches and a small section at the eastern end, which have been filled in, most of it is still in water, but it is not navigable as a low-level bridge carrying the Black Country New Road spans the entrance.

In a recent comment, John one of my readers reported the following. He wrote: "Last month I reported a blocked bridge hole (two fallen Silver Birch trees) and a weed covered section (about 100 Yds long) blocking the Ridgacre branch canal. 

The [CaRT]  response included this line. "We can confirm that we are very committed to keep all of our canals and there is definitely no intention of us closing and losing this section."

Very good, but the email then went on to state. 
"We have previously investigated the option to dredge it but given the level of contamination and the cost to dispose of these dredging's it is currently unrealistic for us to do so, especially when you consider that we are not always able to dredge the frequently used canals as much as we would like."

Not so good, the longer it is left the worse it will get and the more expensive it will be to clear, the email then stated that. 
"We are aware of this issue being raised on local boaters forums recently so we have addressed it with the local BCNS and told them of our plans and asked for their advice. They agree with our thoughts and have stated that they will not promote its use as part of any rallies."

So there is now a part of the canal system, admittedly not frequently used, for which the official policy (supported by the local canal society) is not to promote its use. 
At the moment it possible to cruise the first 200 or so yards of the Ridgacre Branch, before being blocked by the weed growth. With an attitude of not promoting its use, how long will it be before the whole branch is lost?

In my part of the world, whenever there is trouble with the bottom being a bit close to the top. A CaRT workboat is used to plough then blast with the prop a clear channel through the middle of the blockage. The passage of other boats then also helps to plough the channel clear. I love the BCN we spent three months last year around the area. To me, letting the canal deteriorate to the point where it might as well be abandoned speaks volumes about commitment. Restoration and maintenance are paramount and we should never suggest that any part of our industrial heritage as not worth the effort.


Zip up your do dah!

I have a pair of jeans that need a replacement zip. There is a small tag that lodges into the zip to stop the fastener from sliding down. Mine has broken off and at odd times, I have found myself flying low so to speak. 

A zipper costs relatively little, but if it fails, the garment may be unusable until the zipper is repaired or replaced, which can be quite expensive. Problems often lie with the zipper slider; when it becomes worn, it can either jam or partially break off.

Then I came across a solution on the Internet. This quick fix proves that mans ingenuity knows no limit. All that is needed is one of those circular clips that are frequently used to fasten keys together. In size its about an inch across. Feed the clip onto the end of the zip puller.

To use, clip the ring over the waistband button and then button through the hole. This hides the ring and ensures that your modesty is protected at all times. I have used the circular clips in the past to replace broken zipper tags. By passing the ring through the zip slider.

On the same site, I came across a use for those nasty cheap plastic trouser hangers. I have found that the cheap plastic trouser hangers are pretty useless for hanging trousers. But now, they are good for holding a magazine when preparing a menu in the kitchen.

Even women's ingenuity is pretty good as well.


Saturday 25 May 2013

Rip Off Railways

The Gruffalo wanted to go from Sheffield to Birmingham to visit number one daughter, Dr Steph. Her normal mode of transport is by National Express. The cost of the journey from Sheffield to Birmingham with National Express was £15.50. So as an alternative, we decided to look at the cost of travel from Sheffield to Birmingham by train. 

10:57 Sheffield
11:51 Derby
12:33 Birmingham New Street

Single from Sheffield to Birmingham cost £29.00. However, a cheap Standard Single from Sheffield to Derby cost £8.00. A cheap Standard Single from Derby to Birmingham cost £7.00. Total £15.00 

This is erxactly the same train, so there is no need to alight or to change at Derby. Yet if we book through travel from Sheffield to Birmingham its £29.00 Split the journey into two tickets Sheffield to Derby and Derby to Birmingham the cost is only £15.00. Which compares well with the coach.

And the trains were privatised by Thatcher to create competition, force down prices and increase efficiency.... Yea Right!


Friday 24 May 2013

IDS aka In Deep Sh*t

Today we have a heartwarming story about Ian Duncan Smith. Also known to many swivel eyed loonie conservatives as "IDS" Which is by pure coincidence is txt speak for "In Deep Shit." IDS has lived upto his text name and is to be held to account for his misuse of Government Statistics. Only last month IDS told journalists that one million people are claiming benefits yet able to work. The problem was - it wasn't strictly true. With a nose as long as Pinocchio IDS told a big fat fib, a porkie pie and a right load of shit!

That's why 96,666 people have so far signed Jayne and Debbie's Petition to demand the Work and Pensions Committee to hold IDS to account for his crass and calculated use of misleading government statistics on welfare. This week the Committee announced they would do just that. Iain Duncan Smith will face questions by the Committee over his department's use of the statistics. The New Statesman reported the story. However, the DWP have slipped the news out quietly.
We are really proud that we started this petition. It's often feels like politicians get away with saying whatever they like and as two disabled people affected by the benefit changes, we're fed up with the spin. By starting this petition we've shown that everyone has the tools to call politicians out if they start spinning statistics. 
The inquiry is set to happen in June so we'll keep the petition open until then. We both hope to attend the session and see Iain Duncan Smith face some tough questions. We'll let you know how it goes. 
In the meantime - a big thank you for all your support! Jayne Linney & Debbie Sayers.

Deadly Facts

Understanding statistical research methodologies is sometimes a bit difficult for the lay person. Here are some research facts about water. We all know that water is one of the most dangerous substances known to mankind.

Now, if you needed further proof, in my local supermarket I had the awkward moment. Its a bit like the Galaxy chocolate moment. But with a much better tasting outcome.

Water is also proving to be bad for us in evolutionary terms. There was a time when is was good for developing a good posture and balance coordination. As technology moved on we were able to move more water and at the same time, preserve the improved posture. Nowadays water is particularly bad for the posture.


Thursday 23 May 2013

Cameron Cosy with the Press.


I have just sent an email to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. I am calling on them to reject the press barons "Royal Charter." It only took a minute using a model letter - please take the time to do the same. All you have to do is visit this link and put in your postcode - easy as that.  Click Here

If you need a reason to sign - then read this:

A key adviser to the Leveson report and civil rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti, has hit out against politicians and newspaper barons, accusing them of letting down the public over promises to set up a new press watchdog. One of six assessors on the Leveson inquiry and the director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti branded plans to launch a watchdog backed by a royal charter as "bizarre" and said that all politicians and the newspaper industry has done is to create "confusion and resentment" by putting forward rival proposals.
"A royal charter is constitutionally inappropriate, undemocratic, opaque and in no way fit for this purpose," Liberty said in a submission to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Shami Chakrabarti called on politicians and the press to stop prevaricating but warned that neither charter would work. "Six months on and still no sign of any real progress – and current squabbling over bizarre royal charters has achieved nothing but confusion and resentment. The Leveson report contained an effective blueprint for a decent self-regulator so why hasn't it been set up?
She was making her comments ahead of Tomorrows deadline for responses to the government on the industry's proposal to launch an independent self-regulator backed by its its own royal charter, instead of the version agreed between the three main political parties and Hacked Off in a late night deal in March.
Shami Chakrabarti said that the victims of the press and ethical journalists "need protection" and that the public needs confidence restored. Everyday politicians and press barons prevaricate is another letting everyone down."
Liberty said it had fundamental issues with the concept of a royal charter, which was first hatched by David Cameron's policy tsar Oliver Letwin as a means to set up a regulator that was not backed by statute but had more checks in place than the current Press Complaints Commission.
In a statement, Liberty said: "The limitations inherent to a royal charter make it difficult to achieve a truly independent recognition body. As is obvious from both charters, it creates an overly complex and bureaucratic system – which reflects the interests of the creator. For example, the press model would have the body funded by the press, whereas the politicians' version would be funded from the exchequer."
In its a submission to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Liberty said the two competing royal charters also appear to be in breach of the privy council's own criteria for assessing whether such a document should be granted.
Liberty also has issues with the proposed recognition panel, which would audit the watchdog's performance, and with plans for punitive fines being imposed on publishers who chose not to sign up to the press regulator.
It says the role of recognition should be performed by the judiciary "to ensure independence from press and politicians". The involvement of the courts would eliminate the need for a bureacratic appointments panel as currently envisaged by the government and the press, according to Liberty.
Liberty supports punitive damages being awarded in the high court for breaches of confidence or breaches of privacy but says "failure to join an effective regulatory body not lead automatically to an award of exemplary damages".
Exemplary damages were proposed in the Leveson report as part of the "carrot and stick" approach to self-regulation. Lord Justice Leveson believed the threat of huge fines in the high court would be an incentive to join the regulator but this has been challenged by the press and by several peers, including Lord Lester, who believes it would be a breach of European law.
Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers has also said it is implacably opposed to exemplary damages and has considered boycotting a regulation system that included. Other newspapers including the Guardian have also expressed opposition to punitive damages.
David Cameron has promised to consider the industry's royal charter proposal which emerged as a surprise development last month. Hacked Off has called on Cameron to stick with the original royal charter plan, but behind the scenes every effort is being made to find a solution that will win the pressure group's support and that of newspapers including the Guardian and the Financial Times, which have some reservations about the industry's royal charter.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Is your PC freezing?

It may seem a strange symptom description, but if your laptop or desktop PC crashes or hangs up, its often referred to as freezing. The most common cause of freezing can be because your device is actually overheating!  Any unexpected hang up and shutdowns are often due to heat rather than any other cause.

My Desktop PC has been acting a bit strange of late. It has one of those variable speed cooling fans. Intended to keep the PC as quiet as possible. (Have you noticed how noisy PC fans can be?) I noticed that the fan was changing speed on a more regular pattern. So I thought I would check out the main culprit for overheating. Which is what I would describe as belly button fluff. 

After turning off the power, I had a quick visual check inside the box. I could see that there was a thin coat of belly button fluff and dust everywhere. Getting out the Dyson, I plugged in the hand tool and proceeded to suck out the dust and fluff. Afterwards the computer was back to normal operation and the fans ran much quieter afterwards.

Have you ever noticed that the belly button fluff you find in a computer or in your vacuum cleaner is always a uniform gray/pale blue colour?

However, it's easy to monitor your system's temperature and to correct the most common causes of overheating. I am comfortable taking the lid off a computer and working on the internals. As long as you don't disconnect anything then you can do the same. When it comes to a laptop, its not so easy to take them apart and unless you know what you are doing. It's best left to someone who does. However, some modern laptops have a small user removable filter in line with the fan that can be removed, cleaned and replaced.

Heat is a byproduct of all electronic devices and is to be avoided where possible. A PC that's running too hot can display erratic behaviour, including data errors, spontaneous reboots, and other intermittent and often mind numbing problems. Most computers have temperature sensors built in and at the same time most operating systems ignore these sensors. But with the right software, you can tap into your PC's built-in sensors to tell exactly how hot it is inside the case.

A good temperature-related tool is SpeedFan, a free, multipurpose program that can monitor your system's temperatures, fan speeds, and internal voltages. SpeedFan can in certain cases also show you your hard-drive temperatures. SpeedFan can also let you control your system's fans, adjust the CPU clock speed. These are expert-level features that should be left alone. But the basic temperature readings require no special configuration and are safe for anyone novice to expert. SpeedFan works with Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, 2003, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. SpeedFan works under Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012 too. SpeedFan works fine on 64 bit too. And this all costs you absolutely nothing!

Click Here to download.

SpeedFan's download-initiating link is buried in the phrase SpeedFan 4.49.

This is what SpeedFan looks like on my laptop.

HD0 is the hard disk drive and is running at 39C which is OK. The blue down arrow means that the temperature is falling. A red up arrow means that the temperature is increasing. SpeedFan will try to identify your system type so it can accurately interpret the temperatures but it is an approximate approach.

CPU Usage monitors the work being done by each CPU - There are 4 CPU's in the case of my laptop. Green means that they are working just fine.

Temp1 and Temp2 are additional sensors one on the chipset and one inside the case.

Core 0 and Core 1 are the two CPU temperature sensors. The maximum working temperature according to the intel website is 79C. So 41C is well within the limits. However, the CPU are only working at 11.5% of their capability. The harder a cpu works the hotter it will become. I ran a stress test on the PC after cleaning out the belly button fluff. The core temperature never went above 65C. You should only need to monitor your PC if it starts to display problems. However, you can also test the system by giving your PC a good workout. In a healthy system, the temperatures will climb for a few minutes, level off and then stay below the allowable maximum temperature.