Musings and a place to store stuff

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European Housemates

You live in a house with 10 other people. For years you squabble and bicker. You make and break allegiances, you take over control of different parts of the house and steal each other’s things. You Tommy are good at it – and eventually you also commandeered the garden, and the shed for your own purposes. You also steal the next-door neighbours garden, their green house and an allotment. One of your house mates Hans is stuck in an upstairs room – he has no access to the gardens and gets frustrated. He eventually breaks out from upstairs and makes a move on everyone else’s stuff. A huge house fight breaks out which everyone gets dragged into. Ivan who lives in the attic takes the brunt of it – but no one thanks him because everyone’s scared of spiders. Everyone has lost though – so while Ivan lost two legs and an arm, Tommy lost a finger, Hans lost a foot and a hand.

Once everything calms down – everyone gets together at a house meeting and decides it has to stop. The bickering, the stealing stuff. Everyone agrees that they’ll instead of being selfish will work together.

It works – and for 70 years nothing gets broken, nothing gets stolen. Of course, people still won’t go in the attic because of the spiders, and everyone still grumbles that Hans talks too loud, and François has monopolised the fridge, but it works. They all just have to agree to be a little less selfish and get along. They begin to plan big things together – they’re building a new garden shed and a bird bath, they have plans to put a gate in the fence but are not sure how high to make it – they still argue a little, but they don’t fight.

Tommy one day though decides that he’s fed up with the fridge situation, with the communal living, with sharing everything. He has a pang for his glory days of the past when he controlled everything past the clothes lines and beyond. He calls a house meeting and tells all the house mates they can shove it. He reminds them that he lost a finger for them (Ivan scoffs at this) – Tommy says he’s going to his room and he doesn’t want anyone else to come in. There’s a few confused looks – Patrick reminds Tommy that they have an adjoining bathroom – so locking that door might be a problem. François reminds Tommy that locking the door of his room will also prevent Tommy getting out – but Tommy is fixed on it.  

Everyone tells Tommy that’s a sad choice but it’s up to him – they remind him that he did make a commitment to help finish the bird bath just last week, so ask that he honour his commitments.

Tommy refuses and starts going through the fridge looking for anything of his he can take back to his room.

As he slams his door Tommy bemoans how little ‘respect’ he’s had from everyone.

I wrote this in response to this telegraph article:


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Uranium One – The Horror Show that is American Politics

Anyone familiar with the Hillary Clinton Uranium story, will hopefully recognise it as a frightening horror show – and a lesson in how Facebook / Twitter and misinformation can now muddy elections and perceptions and make facts irrelevant.

Trump won the election almost exclusively because innuendo propagated through social media is a thousand times more effective than boring fact bound media news organizations.

A reminder – the accusation leveled at Clinton include

  • that she took bribes to sell American uranium to the Russians
  • that she had people murdered to silence them
  • that she is responsible for Americans being killed in Benghazi
  • that she kept an illegal private email server for all of her nefarious double dealing

These are all blatantly nonsense, and in a normal healthy political climate would be ignored – but republican desperation to return America to the right wing has caused a serious sea change that has all but shattered the democratic system.

So instead of Benghazi and the Email server getting ignored as it should of been it resulted in 8 republican initiated investigations. While all of them failed to find any wrong doing,  rather than accept the results, republicans immediately blamed Clintons sneakiness for their inability to find anything incriminating  (by murdering witnesses for example).

Donald Trump and the cable Fox news network ran the presidential campaign almost exclusively on this crooked Hillary rhetoric – in the two weeks before the vote, the Republican party was playing TV adverts and Trump was stating categorically that he knew Clinton was just days away from being arrested by the FBI for her crimes.


That is horrific behaviour and something you’d only expect to see in nightmare authoritarian dictatorships. However Trump won – and America went back to sleep being told that the media lies.

The Uranium story is fascinating because its another horror show and one which is playing out right now. If you look on the internet you will find tens of thousands of memes along the lines of ‘So Hillary – if Russia is such a threat, why did you sell them 20% of our uranium. Liar, or a traitor or both‘ or ‘Russia takes control of 20% of US Uranium on Clintons watch, with donations to the Clinton foundation – but main stream media remains silent‘.

This is not simple fringe extremism or conspiracy theory rhetoric – this is mainstream republican leading news. Fox News (Americas largest cable news network) covers this story daily and in just the last 3 days has spent 12 hours on the story – Trump has tweeted that Clinton should be arrested and the uranium deal investigated more than any other subject. Things like

Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!“.

One in the last week was

There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring our. DO SOMETHING“.

Trumps Attorney General yesterday has directed federal prosecutors to investigate whether a special counsel is needed to dig into the uranium deal.

Its currently a feeding frenzy of misdirection.

The problem is, very few people in America look past the headline – and the news media, especially on the right have very little reason to have something as irritating as facts kill a good story.

So what are the actual facts.

Well the facts are irritatingly boring.

Firstly what is the implication. The implication is that uranium, that scary stuff which we know about from bombs was sold to Russians – by Clinton and she took bribes to do it.

Mmm Ok

  1. Is the uranium in question, weapons grade uranium? The answer is no – this is uranium for power stations.
  2. Is there something special about American uranium? No in fact Russia has three times more uranium than America – and America actually imports uranium from Russia and elsewhere.
  3. Was uranium sold to Russia? No a Russian energy company purchased a Canadian company that owns some mineral rights in America that includes land which contains uranium.
  4. Is the uranium leaving the US? No – even though the US government approved the sale of the company, uranium has not been mined and is not allowed to leave the country without approvals.

So then the uranium which isn’t for weapons, which isn’t unique to America, which Russia has three times more of, which the US actually imports from Russia is still in the ground and cannot be sold outside of the US! While the Canadian company who owns the land is now 51% owned by a Russian energy company, so nothing actually illegal or questionable took place then!!


So taking aside why would anyone need to bribe Clinton in order to do something which is entirely legal lets look at her involvement.

  1. Did Clinton have anything to do with approving the purchase? A committee for foreign investment with 9 members from various departments approves deals of this type. They can’t stop deals only approve them. The president is the only one who can object to the deal and stop it – So Obama. There is nothing to suggest that Hillary Clinton was involved in any way.
  2. Was there anything nefarious about the approval? No all 9 departments say they would still approve the deal if it came in front of them today.
  3. Was Clinton involved at all in the fact that this is nuclear material? No – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has to approve all transfers and according to the rules: “No uranium produced at the facility may be exported”.

So nothing questionable happened, Clinton wasn’t involved in any way, and it would still go ahead today and yet despite this:

  • Trump is tweeting about this daily
  • Fox News – The largest cable news provider in America has been running this story daily since 2015, and there’s been 12 hours of coverage in just the last 3 days.
  • Hannity Americas highest paid TV host  (paid $30 million a year by Fox News) had an entire program last night entitled “Crooked Hillary Clintons web of Corruption” (his show regularly gets 3.5 million viewers). He is also a close friend of Trumps, and appears in Trumps promotional videos.

This is blatant malicious propaganda.

The FoxNews clips above show how despite all of the fact checking sites debunking this story – they insist on running with the innuendo rather than kill the story with facts.

The same day, one Fox News reporter Shep Smith seems to have gone off the reservation by actually reporting the facts for a change (see below). So this is on the same channel that ran Crooked Hillary Clintons Web of Corruption five and a half hours later to 3.5 million viewers. Shep Smith concluded with this:

There’s never been any evidence that Clinton acted inappropriately and the Clinton State Department had no power to approve or veto that transaction. It could do neither.” Indeed, the State Department was just one of nine agencies that signed off on the deal and Clinton herself wasn’t even on the committee.

This is just one story – but similar frenzied republican attacks exist for the pro-gun lobby, the Mueller enquiry, Benghazi, Russian interference in the election, WikiLeaks relationship with Donal Trump Junior.

There is a history in Western democratic societies of begrudgingly succeeding to your opponent when you lose the election, and respectfully standing to one side and argue the opposition points until your next chance at re-election. However in Trump and Fox News – we have a party which went into the election calling Clinton a murderer, a nasty woman, crooked, a traitor and not once did actual political differences become part of the story.

Here we are a year later – and still Clinton remains a hot button topic amongst republicans, Trump and the propaganda wing of Fox News. At Trump rallies supporters still chant ‘Lock her up’, Republican Senators demand the FBI leadership resign because they’ve not found evidence yet to arrest Clinton. Trump on his flight back from Asia spoke more about his desire to see Clinton arrested than he did about the mass shootings at a school that took place that morning. A fact he tried to later rectify but mistakenly tweeted about the wrong mass shooting.

He tweeted 

“May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

“The FBI and Law Enforcement has arrived.”

The current shooting is in California – A mistake Trump made because he cut and pasted from the mass shooting two weeks ago and forgot to change the location.


This is Trump cutting and pasting about a previous mass shooting.

None of this can last. Unfortunately the lies have been set so permanently into the minds of republicans that cognitive dissonance will ensure they blame, the lying media, fake newsdeep state or the undrained Washington swamp before admitting to any actual facts.

I think this is scary to even the republican traditional leadership – who are starting to realise that they’ve used propaganda to whip up a frenzy to get a narcissist television host into the White house. They’ve been trained to scream for blood, and its hard to see how they’re going to be de-programmed. They’ve even started turning on republicans that question them – with twitter attacks being launched by Republicans on Sessions, Bush and others if they don’t stay on message.

All very frightening.



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How to have a damn and blast whilst in Swindon

Swindon often struggles to be represented in a good light – but I had to laugh at the article yesterday from Swindons premier free paper SwindonLink.

The article entitled: How to have a blast whilst in Swindon (SwindonLink 1/2/2017 is a veritable rollercoaster ride through things that aren’t in Swindon, aren’t open or strange irrelevancies.

I’d assumed it was written by a volunteer contributor or student but we have the creator of the Ocelot and ex-Daily Mail, ex-Evening Advertiser reporter Jamie Hill to thank for this gem. I assume Jamie is paid by the word and also that he was having an off day.

The opening paragraph promises that visitors to Swindon will be ‘in for a treat’ and that anyone in a travel party will feel happy and entertained. Sounds great – what follows is a handy guide to the area, as Jamie puts it ‘to have a good ol’ blast’.

First up Shopping – we are advised that there are shops, and are given the helpful tip that in order to fully enjoy shopping it may be worth visiting ‘after payday’.

Here, you can expect to find almost every well-known national and international retailer so it may be worth visiting after payday to fully enjoy spending your days here!

Next up – we are into the section on Casinos. Swindon doesn’t have any casinos, but this doesn’t deter SwindonLink from making it number two on the handy Swindon visitors guide. We are told that the ‘Casino Lover’ amongst us, during the visit to Swindon may like to drive a further 50 minutes to Reading.

If you’re not inclined to drive a quarter of the way across the country to feed your gambling habit, we’re advised that we can gamble online and a link is provided to online casinos. Strangely the only link provided in the entire article.

 If you’re a casino lover looking for a little gambling action while visiting Swindon, then maybe pop in on your drive up here or alternatively curb your cravings by visiting the numerous UK online casinos ( available.

We’re then on to safer ground – with the famous Great Western Railway Museum. That’s a fantastic place and should arguably have come above gambling in Reading or the existence of shops in Swindon – it may also have benefited from a web link.

Next up we seem to be needing the use of a car again. This time Jamie advises us to go visit ‘Go Ape’ in Swindon forest. Now the closest ‘Go Ape‘ facility to Swindon I could find is certainly in a forest – but its the Forest of Dean over 50 miles away in Gloucestershire. Sadly in the opposite direction from the casino.

With the next item I thought for a second that Jamie had got us back on track with advice to visit the Maize Maze.

The Maize Maze is a great day out for all the family as it allows you to take the time to become one with nature and walk around the amazing maze! There is a picnic area and a shop that offers great cakes and snacks too.

That sounds great…… unfortunately… as the ‘Maize Maze’ website explains (he didn’t include a link), the maize this year only managed to grow to a height of 6 inches in places. Far from ‘becoming one with nature and walking around the amazing maze’ – it seems you would be able to step over it, which is why it is closed apparently until next year.

Finally the handy guide, closes as it began with another vague title. This time simply Parks. It doesn’t bother to list any, other than to say that they are on the land, and that Swindon is full of them (they certainly outnumber casinos).

One of the great things about Swindon is that it is a land enriched with Victorian parks and gardens. Swindon is full or areas that offer extended woodland and centres of cultural heritage so you will never be short of things to do

Swindon is a fantastic place with lots to see and do – and I can only assume that SwindonLink were having an off day but as a Wiltshireman might say ‘ It did make I chuckle’.


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The Magic Traffic Lights (23 traffic lights for one junction)

I’ve always thought the number of traffic lights on the Great Western Hospital entrance on Marlborough Road Swindon were excessive. Today though I just thought I’d count them and post them online.

The picture below shows the view coming from East to West (Top) from West to East (Lower left) and from the hospital (Lower right).

In total then (and I have no doubt I’ve missed some) I counted 23 separate traffic lights. This is a junction which you can only approach from 3 directions! It’s essentially a T-junction with 23 traffic lights?

Is the road planner trying to one-up the Magic roundabout which is only 3 miles from here, by designing something equally magical?



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Fox News Trying to Sell Boeing P-8 Poseidon on missing flight MH370

Watching the BBC news last night I saw that the Malaysian Prime minister had gone on TV to report that the UKs AAIB (Air accident investigation branch) in conjunction with British satellite Inmarsat had provided some new data based on calculations they’d performed. The data puts the missing aircraft MH370 in the middle of the Indian ocean, too far from land to have done anything but crashed into the sea.
This news was reported widely and was included in the prime ministers speech below:

“This evening I was briefed by representatives from the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch, or AAIB. They informed me that Inmarsat, the U.K. company that provided the satellite data which indicated the northern and southern corridors, has been performing further calculations on the data. Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370’s flight path.
“Based on the new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth. This is a remote location far from any possible landing sites.

I was curious as to how Fox News decided to report this, and was a little surprised to see ‘Bill O’Reilly’ on the ‘O’Reilly Factor’ play back the video from the prime minister, with the front chopped off so that it just left his statement that the plane was in the ocean without any evidence. Fox then went on to attack the Malaysian prime minister and Malaysia using words like unreliable, botched, premature, conflicting, lack credibility, incompetent, slow on analysis, conjecture and ‘obscure facts’.

Later in the day on the Sean Hannity show on Fox – the same thing, they had cropped it even more this time – and then ripped into the Malaysians, and mentioned that a Boeing P-8 Poseidon was on its way out. Strange I thought, why mention that aircraft that’s not even there. Next thing they’ve got an aircraft expert up and put three different planes up behind him and he mentions the superb Boeing P-8. Later on a question to him from Hannity, “Which of these 3 planes do you think will be best used in this case”!!!!!!!! WTF.
Alarm bells are ringing and I’m wondering – why on earth is a Boeing P-8 being mentioned more than the Inmarsat and British Air accident investigation board which has just been pushed down in the conversation. The British expert gets very close to saying the Chinese aircraft is better and gets shut down by Hannity.

Has Fox got shares in Boeing I wonder – do a quick google and no, so what about if I google ‘Rupert Murdoch’ and Boeing. BINGO. Twice.

Two weeks ago apparently Murdoch got into trouble for claiming that it was probably terrorists that took out the plane. Here’s some of his tweets:
“777crash confirms jihadists turning to make trouble for China. Chance for US to make common cause, befriend China while Russia bullies”
“World seems transfixed by 777 disappearance. Maybe no crash but stolen, effectively hidden, perhaps in Northern Pakistan, like Bin Laden.”
“777. Still think this a reminder that US and China should be working more closely on Muslim extremist threat.”

Then I discover that Rupert Murdoch is close friends with the CEO of Boeing and run an organization together with 6 other capitalists called the ‘Partnership for a New American Economy’. Can it be that Murdochs and Foxes desperate attempts to make sure this is terrorists on no evidence, and preferring to talk about the Boeing rescue aircraft in a good light rather than the satellite data that’s just determined the aircrafts probable location – has anything to do with this?

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Bing is Cheating, Copying from Google

Google are claiming that a honey trap sting operation they conducted proves that Bing steals search results from Google.

They randomly generated 100 meaningless strings of characters and pointed them at 100 random websites. This means that should you search on google for one of these random strings (extremely unlikely unless you knew what they were) then you would get back the one dummy search result. This basically means that there should be no way that any other search engine could give the same results (the random strings are not anywhere on the internet so impossible to discover by crawling or indexing). Then google gave 20 new computers to employees, running IE8 and Bing search bar and had them search for the strings on google. A few days later the same results start showing up on Bing.

“Foul” shouts google, Bing is ‘cheating’

To clarify  though what’s actually happening is IE8/Bing toolbar are monitoring what the users doing (IF YOU ALLOW IT TO IMPROVE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE). So Microsoft are not mining google in any way, they are learning about the relationship between the random strings and the website that was subsequently visited by the 20 google employees, through the Bing toolbar, they’re not simply passing a search across to google and returning the results.

I like the comments in the thread below – which points out how hypocritical it is of google to complain about this – after all the nature of the search engine is to collect and index everything that isn’t yours. Google have got into several hissy fits where they’ve screamed ‘free data’ while gathering other people’s legitimate content (against their will) and then past it on as if it were their own making money in the process (online museums, online art galleries, books and newspapers).

They’ve got into trouble for photographing your house and capturing wi-fi data in your street (just in case), they suck up every bit of info like a sponge – so why shouldn’t Microsoft try to improve its search engine by monitoring the relevancy of your browser searches and acting on them, as Microsoft have stated this is one piece of info in about a thousand considerations that normally impact search results. Google have just been fairly sneaky in deliberately removing all other factors to make this one seem more important.


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Subject: Thermal Goggles

A woman at work has just sent an email out to all employees on the bulletin board system which read:

Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:50:48 AM
Subject: Thermal Goggles

Auto forwarded by a Rule

Does anyone own a pair of thermal goggles
(heat sensing) that I could borrow or rent for a day?
I need to find my cat.

– poppy


I thought this was funny, until it turns out that she’s serious. Her cat apparently has been missing for a few days and she lives near a wood. I’ve just heard that she set-up some tuna and a webcam on an internet feed outside the front of her house, and has just spotted the cat via the webcam. So tech.

Sounds like something David Thorne would suggest in the ‘Missing Missy’ thread



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The Expendables

Pearl and I watched this film the other night, and I have to blog on how bad it is.  captured_Image.pngIt is frighteningly awful. It’s cast read like a ‘who’s who’ of action movies including Sylvesta Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lungren, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Arnie.

But watching it, it just makes no sense whatsoever. It seems while you’re watching it, as though all of the big actors have decided that the writers are holding them back, and have deludedly come up with the decision that they don’t need writers and can just make stuff up (Sylvesta Stallone did write it.)

It’s as though the Mona Lisa had decided that as her pictures so popular she can probably knock up a few self portraits herself, and do without the stroppy painter.

We started to get suspicious after the leading men are variously seen on various expensive looking motor cycles and parking them in a cool looking sort of macho man hang out complete with neon signs and pool tables, where they sit and sharpen knives, and give words of wisdom to each other (like the building that Wesley Snipes hangs out in with Kris Kristofferson).

Then suddenly they’re whisked off to some representation of a tin-pot country somewhere, where generic looking bad guy soldiers rough up the populace, except they’re not all whisked off they seem to have suddenly found a sea-plane and can all fly – oh and it has a huge machine gun in the nose and drops kerosene bombs. Then there’s suddenly a love interest who needs saving which a 70 year old Sly looks really creepy chasing after. Then CIA involvement and then we had to turn it off because we couldn’t watch any more. It was just the most awful film ever made.

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The Top Ten Daily Consequences of Having Evolved

The Smithsonian institute have posted captured_Image.pngan interesting article that lists ten draw back to having evolved rather than being created. These run from hiccups to back aches and hernias.

Read the full article here

Hiccups for example:

The first air-breathing fish and amphibians extracted oxygen using gills when in the water and primitive lungs when on land—and to do so, they had to be able to close the glottis, or entryway to the lungs, when underwater. Importantly, the entryway (or glottis) to the lungs could be closed. When underwater, the animals pushed water past their gills while simultaneously pushing the glottis down. We descendants of these animals were left with vestiges of their history, including the hiccup. In hiccupping, we use ancient muscles to quickly close the glottis while sucking in (albeit air, not water). Hiccups no longer serve a function, but they persist without causing us harm—aside from frustration and occasional embarrassment. One of the reasons it is so difficult to stop hiccupping is that the entire process is controlled by a part of our brain that evolved long before consciousness, and so try as you might, you cannot think hiccups away.

I have also read somewhere that one of the reasons that we frequently wake up suddenly with the sensation of falling, is that this is an ancient protective mechanism caused by the downsides of sleeping in trees (the falling sensation alerting us to grab on to a branch).

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Be It Resolved That Religion is a Force for Good In the World


There was a debate this week on the question of whether religion is a force for good in the world with the 2 principle debaters being Tony Blair (Pro) and Christopher Hitchens (Con).

You can watch it online here for a few dollars.

Christopher Hitchens was excellent as ever. The audience voted before and after with the results below. At the start 57% were already against the motion and this increased to 68% afterwards but those for the motion also increased from 22% to 32% so I think it just proves that both Blair and Hitchens were persuasive.

I wish they’d talked a little bit more about existentialism and the transcendent which they only touched on at the end. So the start was Hitchens listing all the bad things in the name of religion – how we should of abandoned the old testament. Blair responded by listing good things done in the name of religion and unfortunately gave the working out of the peace process in Northern Ireland as an example, which Hitchens rightly leapt on – 400 years of religious stupidity. Blair responded that it was normally more about politics and less about religion.

Hitchens brings up that Rwanda genocide capital of the world is the most Christian African country and Blair again responds that it’s not about religion.

An audience member asks why America one of the most free and most democratic countries can also have the largest and most mixed religious groups. Hitchens responds that the separation of Church and State has left people to not only do what they want and not be persecuted but has also prevented them from being allowed to subjugate each other (saying those religious groups would seem less ‘furry’ if they were in power).

One of his comments being “I don’t care what you do, but don’t bring religion into my school or try to convert my kids with your nonsense” but that religions can’t do this because their books tell them to push it into everyone’s faces.

Blair agrees with this but again talks about how religion can bring differing sides together.

Blair brings up the wonderful things done in the name of religion, and so Hitchens brings up the wonderful things done in the name of communism, but points out many of those people ultimately abandoned communism realizing that it was authoritarian and that they should stand up and be free, and this was the same with the church. Hitchens points out that if it were just about following Jesus he would have less problems with it, but you can’t and have to follow the self proclaimed vicar here on earth the pope. Nice line about not wanting to be part of the flock (or any kind of sheep).

Blair and Hitchens then both talk about the transcendent and the possibility of a power outside of human existence –  which Hitchens says is OK but you don’t need a religious leader or ancient book or cave for – and points out that these religious books make claims about land and cutting the genitalia off of new born boys with sharp stones which some people take seriously. Sam Harris said recently “it’s not the religious fundamentalists that are the problem, it’s the fundamentals of religion”.

Blair then explained that he doesn’t really take the bible literally in that sense and that it was written from the view point of that century – but that it’s the central message of loving others that he takes from it and that it inspires others and is not felt by him as servitude to a higher power. It would be great if that was a 10 commandment (Hitchens line was “Take 10 commands a day in tablet form”). “Do unto other…” is in the Bible but even that was written pre-bible and was around in Ancient Greece and Egypt.

Blair was ever the politician and never sounded like he was arguing, he was very relaxed, more so in the second half. Hitchens is looking very pale (poor bloke) – he was very good to do the debate considering he’s got terminal cancer of the esophagus.

Some bloggers have unkindly suggested that his cancer is some sort of divine punishment – Hitchens response was that how unimaginative a god to give him exactly the type of disease that someone of his age and a habitual smoker would be prone to get. He wonders “Why not a thunderbolt”.

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New Phone–Samsung Windows Phone 7

I should be getting my new phone shortly.  Microsoft have released Windows 7 Phone their new phone OS in the last few weeks and it’s a complete departure from any other phone operating system out there.

Utilizing an OS style called metro Microsoft have done away with trying to shrink Windows down to hand-held size (I always hated scroll bars on a phone) and have completely abandoned their old Windows operating system which while feature rich was clumsy, prone to slow downs and almost unusable as a phone.

The new Windows 7 phone relies on a couple of key new features.

  • Tiles – The home page displays rectangular tiles, each of which represent a window into the underlying feature that the tile has been assigned to. These are not static pictures or icons, but live animated windows which developers can use to provide the most important content into the home page. The facebook tile for example will rotate around the updates of friends and family, the email tile will display the number of unread messages – and so on.
  • Hubs – One of the criticisms aimed fairly at the iPhone, is that it’s like being in a hallway, and as you start an application it’s the same as stepping into a room. You use the application, and then leave the room to go back into the hallway before stepping into the next app. With people having mixed content all over the place this becomes problematic when you may find that you have contacts in google, facebook, exchange and on your phone, and pictures on flickr, facebook and your home PC. Hubs are Microsofts solution to this, by creating areas of common content that can represent data from various sources. Go to your contacts and you’ll see contacts that originated from a variety of sources.
  • Standard Equipment – Microsoft have required that the phone manufacturers using Windows phone 7 meet some pretty hefty hardware requirements. This should prevent too much variety creeping into the mix which always seems to be the nail in the coffin for Microsoft. With the previous Windows phone OS phone manufacturers were coming out with all sorts of different screen resolutions making it impossible to develop for.

There’s a chance that this phone will really make a dent in the iPhone and Android market but we will have to wait and see. The Android is infinitely customizable which is a strength and a weakness – there are so many thousands of different elements out there now but it males it impossible to reach any consensus. Apple are completely locked down which provides a robust consistent interface but one which is expensive, hard to develop for and is getting a bit old now. So maybe Microsoft can do something here.

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Lightzone Photo Editing

One of the most common problems when taking photographs is that a picture can be both underexposed and overexposed in places. In the picture below Pearl was too dark in the foreground and the background were totally bleached out (look at the sky and sign).


Modern SLR cameras that can take photos in RAW format hold an unprocessed copy of the image which is normally lost the second you convert the picture into a viewable/printable format such as JPG/GIF. RAW editors are normally supplied with SLR cameras that allow broad brush adjustment of the picture, but this is normally little more than the ability to undo/redo some of the settings that you made when you took the picture (such as white balance) and a contrast adjustment.

An add-on to photoshop provides some better tools for editing the RAW picture before it gets added into photoshop but this suffers from being destructive and a one way process.

Lightzone a $99 photo editing tool allows you to apply changes to the picture which are completely none destructive (the original picture is untouched) and all changes are made on the fly and can be undone/modified.

You can selectively pick portions of the picture to apply edits to and this can be based on regions or colour ranges or combinations of the both. For example I was able to fence Pearl and adjust the underexposed areas, and select the rest of the picture and adjust the overexposed areas. I was then also able to pick the blue of the sky and selectively adjust the sky contrast and hue without affecting blues elsewhere in the picture.



More lightzone info can be found here

A Flickr Pool for Lightzone users here