MJR's slef-reflection

Powered By MaBloss This section is something like a blog. You can subscribe to RSS 1.0 feeds of the entire thing, just hacking or just scheme. The scheme feed will be the base for the new SWN once ready.

To contact me, email mjr AT dsl dot pipex dot com.

ITV3 launches for some

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

The UK's Independent Television (ITV) has launched ITV3 today. This station is only available on digital terrestial (Freeview) at the moment, but may appear on the largest UK subscription satellite service (Sky). No news yet about appearing on free-to-air satellite. The core of the service seems to be repeats from ITV1 (Morse, Frost, Parkinson), US imports (Dragnet, LA Law) and movie reruns.

Update: It's FTA on Astra 2D (UK beam) 10'906 MHz Vertical 22kS/s FEC 5/6.

Update 2: Apparently, the previous occupant of the satellite slot was bought out by ITV for over £10m at 1pm today. Granada Plus went off-air in the middle of a programme and the web site looks shocked.

2004-11-01T11:13:31

In the news

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

I remarked earlier in the week about reading John Peel's death in a blog first. Today, three blogged news items caught my eye:

I think all of these are interesting commentaries. A bit different from what I would usually read in the newspapers.

2004-10-29T15:59:11

Hear, See and Read

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Ogg Vorbis streams
It seems that a few people liked me mentioning the CBC changes, so here's a list of Vorbis streams that arrived in a cc'd email. If only BBC would restart...
Fix your Mailman installation now

Mailman's default templates set white backgrounds (and a few others) without setting text colours. This is a pain on the listinfo and on the archives. You could edit every list, but why not do it at the site level?. I wrote a patch for the English templates and put it on their bug tracker. Please apply it if you're running an English Mailman 2.1 system.

I wonder if it's possible to generalise it quickly to fix all the language templates. I could try with sed, but that seems a little risky.

Optical Character Recognition
Spotted a new Ocrad release announcement. Now the scanner seems to work reliably, I should test this. Anyone got a review or an unofficial package?
2004-10-27T02:59:21

John Peel

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Bizarrely, first got the news of John Peel's death from Ross Burton on planet debian. Probably first death I've read online that's really unsettled me.

Liked this quote:

"I am also sat here just now wondering what music will get played at his funeral, and if as a homage to him they will play one of the tracks at the wrong speed ;)" from hissing

2004-10-27T02:59:21

I am currently angry over: DOAP and WCAG-2.2-ignorance

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

So now there's DOAP to add to LSM, Trove and all the blasted web directories which I'm supposed to add my projects too. Get real, please. If you lot go lock yourselves into a room, beat each other to death and the winner comes out, you might have a chance. Maybe even two winners that can convert between each other. If you appear to ignore experience like DOAP seems to, then GrrrrrrRRRRrrrr!

If you write a web page and set a background colour, set a text colour. If you set a text colour, set a background colour. It's not difficult to remember, is it? Apparently it is! Latest inconsiderate web designers are IBM for developerWorks. Didn't want to read that site anyway. Grrrrrrr.

Yes, the subject line is stolen. It's just an excuse to make you want to buy things.

2004-10-26T03:25:57

Did the London ESF fail?

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

I think Paul Kingsnorth's report contains a lot of empty agression in its later parts, but the first section or two spells out the problems with the ESF. I was there and it was a deeply schizophrenic event. By far the most interesting stuff happened in the autonomous spaces, but they were even more difficult to navigate than the official event.

There's this burning hole in the social forums, or at least all that I have seen so far: there is no model, no plan. You could turn up and get a space to work from, or you could be required to make a pitch to win rough consensus to be heard. There seems to be no telling. Often, you won't know until you get there. Give up on preparing things unless you like wasting time. Is that all these things are, a waste of time?

Another world is possible... but is another social forum possible?

2004-10-26T02:42:06

Software while I was out

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
New e-Government head
The replacement for the eEnvoy will be concentrating more on getting the government's house in order. It needs it. How many times have we heard of massive expenses paid to outside contractors for non-functioning systems?
Oracom ORC
Picked up one of these, but I seem to have problems when plugging and unplugging this, the DVCam and the usb-storage scanner in the same session. Half the time, I'm left with a hung SCSI subsystem when connecting the second device. I need another HOWTO but I can't find one.
European Social Forum
Spoke at an ESF workshop on "New Enclosures" which is a reference to the Acts of Enclosure which took away England's common lands centuries ago. I was speaking about Digital Rights Restriction Technologies (DRRT, a type of DRM) while others speakers presented software patents and Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURT). It seems a similar pattern is being followed in many fields: first, dominant players use "weak" or "leaky" legal measures like contracts or copyrights; then, they move to stronger legal measures which you can infringe without agreeing to, like patents; finally, they persuade governments to collect their payments through the tax system. Software hasn't even got to patents globally yet: are we heading down this road though?
Release early, release often
It seems there is some mathematical support for the bazaar model of development. Again, it's mislabelled here as "open source" and that makes all the other terminology become confusing :-/ If the referees are worth their salt, they'll pick that up.
2004-10-25T13:57:09

While I was out...

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
McD's profits collapse
Start of sensible eating, or passing phase? Hopefully the McLibel Two will bring some new fuel to the fire.
2004-10-25T13:57:09

online radio regression

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Jonathan Grant reports CBC moving from Ogg to Windows Media Player. Odd to see public broadcasters actively supporting monopolies, isn't it? You may want to enjoy their Ogg while you still can, and leave a comment about their backwards step.

2004-10-25T13:57:09

Annoyances of modern life

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
  • People phoning up from overseas (says the CLID) with a bad echo loop, fake "English" names and thick accents, asking inane questions. I can't even report them to the OIC, as they hang up rather than give details.
  • Lack of railway maintenance coordination (mentioned by Andrew - I don't agree with him about train quality, but I travel on the grubby-but-fast wagn instead of the oxymoronic "one anglia" mainline or "comedy central".
2004-10-25T13:57:09

Review request: FOSS primers

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Drafts of some primers are available for public comment. For those who like alphabet soup, the International Open Source Network (IOSN) is an Asia Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP) initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

These publications could be useful as introductions for new developers. Sadly, they are licensed under a mix of CC-BY versions (sometimes including the supertrademark clause) and "do not distribute" terms!

2004-10-16T01:24:19

Towards a World Intellectual Wealth Organisation (14 Oct)

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

I have signed the declaration towards a "World Intellectual Wealth Organisation". Let's move beyond WIPO and ask new questions.

2004-10-14T23:42:25

Replace Flash: SVG, SMIL or something else?

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

People on the fsfe-uk list have been discussing Flash replacements because it would be good to get away from it for online learning. The basic tactical question seems to be whether to beef up free software Flash tools, or what to replace it with. Some seem keen on animated SVG and this blogger is considering it for a degree project.

Either way, it seems like it might be a good first topic for the AFFS grants.

2004-10-14T23:42:25

Listen up you dirty free software hippies...

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

...Windows is the only software that's gonna enable me to take control of our beautiful missiles when the time comes and the damned commies in control of our government haven't got the guts to do the right thing.

Read in context...

2004-10-14T23:42:25

Cxu vi scias Legge Urbani?

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

With the whole Indymedia seizure, I've been looking at Italy a bit more for various reasons. There seems to be some very bad laws happening there. Not much info online about it, but I found this in English, which includes a summary of Legge Urbani. Headlines: mp3 downloading criminalised; taxes on CD recorders, hard disks and memory; ISPs to monitor and report p2p sharing to the police.

Is this really happening? Surely there's some higher law against this? If you know the situation and can explain it in another language, please post a short summary to the web and I will link to it if you email me (mjr at dsl.pipex.com). I don't think this is well-known yet.

2004-10-13T09:44:57

BLAG taken offline

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

In this usenet post and now this holding page, it explains that the attacks on Indymedia have also taken the BLAG distribution site offline.

The War Against Terror: Coming Soon to kill a GNU distribution made near you!

2004-10-09T20:39:50

Lessig: use GPL not CC for software

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Just been listening to Lessig at UCL, recorded on Monday. There's an interesting comment about 52 minutes in: "Creative Commons licences don't apply to software. You want to do a software licence, there are enough out there and I recommend the GPL." Maybe this explains why CC ignore most approaches from debian developers, who would like the licences to be useful for free software so we don't keep getting online manuals that debian won't include.

At least this guidance is a pretty clear message to those using CC for online manuals and similar non-program software. debian-legal has usually been suggesting the MIT X11 licence and the GPL for a while...

2004-10-09T01:44:54

Fire in Lynn

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

It seems that someone decided that the finishing touch to the new St Nicholas Park shops was a large fire. It was pretty quiet but flared quite well. The flames were easily reaching roof height and I think it was on the service road next to Bawsey drain. I took a photo:

Fire

Sorry it's so blurry, but it's the only shot I got before the fire service put it out. I wonder if it was an accident, or the shopfitters trying to dispose of material. Still, not what I expected to see when I looked out of the window.

2004-10-09T01:28:08

Allianz Group will suffer because of software patents (2004-10-04)

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Have you ever considered offering general insurance for stock brokers against the risk of losing money? As absurd as this sounds, the European Commission is seriously considering equivalent measures at the moment. (Forwarded From: FSFE News)
2004-10-04T11:47:38

Announcement: Open Standards and Libre Software in Government

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
18 November 2004, Van Gogh Hall, Netherlands Congress Centre, The Hague,=20 The Netherlands: web site (Graham Seaman told fsfe-uk)
2004-10-09T00:49:34

While you were out

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

LinuxExpo went well, as far as I can tell. Wasn't near the stand much, as accessible stand front was limited, there seemed enough people around and no-one was asking me to do anything. Figured too many cooks would ... so I wandered around and talked to lots of people. Unless I've particular reason otherwise, I'll only do one day next time.

Nice gift at the Redhat reseller breakfast. I'm a debian reseller, not a Redhat reseller, but it's good to look. ALUGger Matt Parker already helped me to get it working. It seems one bank of USB ports on my desktop system have a problem.

Redhat's guy (hrm, I have no name list) acquitted himself well enough, but I don't think their move to use resellers more will be popular with current direct customers, while their requirements are too high for small resellers already sceptical because Redhat continue direct sales.

At the other end of the scale, there was also a Mancunian (or near enough, I think) from a firm called Commode O (or near enough) that has bought Trustix. Unfortunately, he started talking happily about Commode O IP, a firm which just trolls patents as far as I could tell from his talk. Also overran badly despite a request from the host. I was probably slightly biased after the appearance of the Macunian salesmen in Tuesday's Hitchhikers.

Most specific question from expo: Can osCommerce have different stock levels for different attribute combinations, or does one have to set them up as different products?

WYorkshireLUG's next meeting has a talk titled "The Fonts don't work" which made me smile.

2004-10-09T00:49:34

Another DRM-buster

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Heard on the radio a few days ago an ad from Nervous Records, who are putting their whole catalogue up for sale as DRM-free MP3s. I think they were one of the companies who grumbled about poor terms for independent labels when Apple Computers music shop launched for the UK.

2004-10-05T19:37:23

Sony abandons copy-control

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Ben reports Sony to abandon copy control on CDs. That's one brick out of the wall. Well done Sony.

2004-10-05T18:44:14

This month, I will mostly be attending conferences.

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

In a departure from my usual style, here's advance warning of where I will be:

Wed 6-Thu 7,
I will be on/around the AFFS or debian stands at LinuxExpo, Olympia. Wed 6, I will also be at the Scheme-UK dinner, Lshift, Hoxton in the evening. Thu 7, I will also be at the Interactive Ideas breakfast, Olympia Hilton.
Sat 9,
I will probably be at the St Barbe Baker memorial lecture, Hatfield
Sun 10,
I will be at FIPR's Copyright In Europe, Cambridge (finishes lunchtime)
Sat 16,
I will be speaking at the European Social Forum, London. I will also visit the EFCR, Camden. I may visit "Creating the Commons" at the LSE

Anyone else want to meet? Email now; it's getting busy.

2004-10-05T18:41:53

Looks RC to me

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Just had a site get blown away by a php4 upgrade. Like many php4-cgi users, it does that because of vhost/rewrite configs. I think it might be Debian bug 273143. I'm a but puzzled why this is only important instead of grave, as it looks like the package is unusable in a common case from the PHP manuals.

The famous Lasdun ziggurats at UEA are going to be refurbished. I assume they mean the outside, as they did the insides again while I was there.

I used to spend all day procrastinating: now I put that off until tomorrow.

2004-09-30T14:56:08

Z

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Updated the Walks web site for Dave. Nice new design, all green. Now need to update text.

Signed off all annual accounts. Restarted failing server and put sticking plaster back on it. Must rebuild that one. Need to ship more work to people in next three days. (Walks site was test case for one.)

2004-09-30T00:09:04

Web Calendars part 2

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

I've been looking at web calendars, trying to find one which is:

  1. free software licensing
  2. OK with a php/mysql/phpnuke site, or perl DBI
  3. month, week, day, list and print event views
  4. search event
  5. online editing and editable after posting
  6. upload/attach maps, notes, files
  7. option of requiring admin approval before it appears on site
  8. XML exports for syndication (RSS?)
  9. event attendee registration support
  10. possible linking to payment gateways

Last time I identified some possibilities. I've dropped the Moodle ones, as that's going to be removed from the server. Given how hard it seems to get Moodle info, I'm not surprised, sadly.

Results (+Yes/-No/Some)

Package1234567890
Wcal +PerlS-++S---
TWIG +PHP/My+++-?---
k5n +PHP/MyS++-+S+-
MA +Perl+++S+S+-
EGroupW... +PHP/My+-+---+-
phpGroup... +PHP/My++++?S+?
phpBB TC... ?phpBBS++-?-+-
more... +PHP/MyS?+-?-+-
PHProj... +PHP/My+-+-+-+-
Krono... +PHP/My+-+-+S+-
2004-09-29T23:58:23

Bits from debian-legal between 2004-09-20 and 2004-09-26

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
  1. Date index for period starts at link
  2. There were 4 threads with more than 5 posts:
    • Open Software License v2.1, over 80 posts this week to 26 Sep, link
    • Bug#265352: grub: Debian splash images for Grub, over 50 posts this week to 26 Sep, link
    • Clarifying non-free parts of the GNU FDL, around 10 posts from 21 Sep to 25 Sep, link
    • GFDL and Debian Logo, under 10 posts on 21 Sep, link
  3. Bits author's picks:
    • Is Francesco Poli wrong about libdvdcss in the EU? link
    • Is there a problem in symlinks? link
2004-09-28T13:46:31

Weekend

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Big Walks meeting Thursday. Much to do now. Survey plan most important. Couple of installs Friday. Painted and installed 19 of 30 bath panel sections, enough to hide bare floor. Had to run to fetch car too. Saturday accounts filing panic: did not spot spaces for both sigs. Sent with one sig, which looks enough. Weekend away. Back Monday. Network failures caused server hang. Yuck. Invoicing nearly done, though. Busy week ahead.

2004-09-28T09:13:19

Bits from debian-legal between 2004-09-13 and 2004-09-19

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
  1. Date index for this period starts at link
  2. There were seven threads with more than 3 posts:
    • Open Software License v2.1, over 70 posts this week to 19 Sep, link
    • most liberal license, over 10 posts from 13 Sep to 18 Sep, link
    • MTL license, under 10 posts this week to 13 Sep, link
    • Debian Hardened project (question about use of the "Debian" trademark), under 10 posts this week to 19 Sep, link
    • Real names in a football game, under 10 posts this week to 14 Sep, link
    • GPL Compatibility of IFRIT License, under 10 posts this week to 16 Sep, link
    • FIGlet: how to file an appropriate bug report?, under 10 posts from 13 Sep to 18 Sep, link
  3. Bits author's pick: The -project patent clause thread appears on -legal for a short while: link
2004-09-28T01:16:15

New Office Suite Available In Welsh

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Press Release, 24 September 2004, Kywaith Kyfieithu

1. Kywaith Kyfieithu is pleased to announce the release of KOffice 1.3.3 in Welsh. KOffice is a full-featured office suite for the Linux desktop, and will be available for free with most Linux distributions, including the next version of Cymrux, the Linux-in-Welsh CD... [more on Cymrux via link]

2004-09-28T00:04:40

Why Radio Caroline Rocks

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

In response to Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) being refused entry to the USA, Radio Caroline plays Green Day's American Idiot. Of course, given recent posts, it's ironic that they're on Warner, peddlers of corrupt discs to American Idiots, European Idiots and the world.

2004-09-22T11:35:23

Archival methods

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

More and more data is generated here and more and more of my work involves manipulating it. Although I learnt statistics, data management was only part of that and focused on measurements far more than the diverse stuff one accumulates in the real world. One of the first problems is figuring out how to index, store and retrieve quickly.

After reading around a bit, I seem to have settled on the following system: items are divided by field of work, then by parts of that field, then by 0 or more processes, then by 0 or more actions and finally by who created the data. Bad-but-real examples are Natural Sciences: Computing: Software: GNU/Linux: LinuxPrinting and Society: Government: Borough Council KLWN. Some stuff can appear in more than one place, but it's usually not needed as I find everything is accessible within three guesses, which is quicker than I used to guess author names when everything was indexed solely by creator.

I'm not going to credit anyone for this, as the reading only gave the vaguest inspiration. Everyone seems to want to charge for filing schemes, which is probably why real data storage is still in the stone age.

Data: how do you manage yours?

2004-09-22T10:46:44

Web calendars

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

So, the search begins. I'm looking for a great web calendar. Here's the wishlist:

  1. free software licensing
  2. php+mysql :-/ might have perl DBI (need to check); PHPnuke and Moodle are already installed there and it will need to integrate with them a bit
  3. month, week, day, list and print event views
  4. search event
  5. online editing and editable after posting
  6. upload/attach maps, notes, files
  7. option of requiring admin approval before it appears on site
  8. XML exports for syndication (RSS?)
  9. event attendee registration support
  10. possible linking to payment gateways

First candidates

Just working from online material so far, trying to find candidates for further testing.

LanMod
PHP Nuke Events module designed for taking LAN game party bookings. The listed maintainers have ceased trading and I can't find this one. Same problem with the calendar listed on the PHP Nuke site. Can't see a "this is dead" link in the catalogue, though
Moodle appointment module
Changelog is inconclusive. Discussion requires registration to view. Absurd and very annoying, but I've grumbled about that before.
Moodle scheduler module
This one specifically says "one-on-one time" so I suspect it won't handle larger events.
Wcal
Perl rather than PHP, but seems well-supported. Calendar rather than event or appointment, at first glance
TWIG
Full groupware system in PHP, uses IMAP and POP email. May be a large job to integrate with existing systems
k5n WebCalendar
PHP and multiuser. Seems to have many of the features already.
MA WebCalendar
Perl/CGI multiuser. Last updated 2002.
EGroupWare
PHP, but it's hard to see much else from their site. Looks like a stand-alone multi-function system.
phpGroupware
Full groupware suite. Not much information on the web site.
phpBB Topic Calendar
A version of phpbb is part of phpnuke, so it might be possible to use a phpbb mod without too many changes. Need to check versions.
more.groupware
Another complete suite with a full-featured calendar and informative web site.
PHProjekt
Again, a complete suite which includes a calendar and has many details on its web.
Kronolith
Part of the horde2 suite (update thanks to Wouter).
2004-09-22T10:46:44

Are BMG evil?

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

It's true, music TV makes you buy more albums and lose all your money.

I'm very happy with the Beautiful Kantine Band CD I bought. They are on the Wohnzimmer indie label, which means it's a reasonably-priced and "copy control" free CD so it plays on all the kit here. Was even the same price as shop CDs, including P+P. The songs are good too, of course: if you like the early Shadows guitar sound and some really really bizarre lyrics, I heartily recommend "Rock and Roll Has Given Our Life New Meaning" (mistranslation mine).

I really like the 2raumwohnung latest single, but the CD is sold at NeuePreise which seems to be a BMG shop. Is this a real CD, or do BMG sell Corrupt Discs? Email me if you know, please. mjr at dsl.pipex.com

Update: The c't-CD-Register lists es wird morgen as an unCD, if I read it correctly. Thanks oli. I'll give that a miss and have dropped 2rw an email in my broken German.

Update 2: Ben pointed me to his blog entry about BMG's silly answer and one about Zero 7. on Warner Brothers.

2004-09-21T10:36:03

Attn: The President/CEO

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

On 6 May 2004, a foreign consultant with the Congolese Royal Family, Mr Junkkh Gmail, made a fixed term deposit for three calendar months, valued at 25 million invites in my account. A month after maturity, we sent a reminder which was returned undelivered. On further investigation, I found out that he died with no inheritor.

This sum of 25 million invites is still sitting in my account and the interest is being rolled over at the end of each month. No-one will ever come forward to claim them. Consequently, my proposal is that I would like you to assist me to export these invites by using your mailing list as an intermediary. The invites will be paid into your email for us to share in the ratio of 60% for me and 40% for you.

This transaction is guaranteed to succeed. The preparation has already been done by running a kick-a search engine which encourages a blind spot in list admin and user eyes. If you are interested, please reply immediately via the private email address.

Yes, google, I hate your spamvertising so much that you have joined the fake african money ads in my filters.

2004-09-20T01:02:17

Revision control releases

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Andrew writes against source control archives being part of final releases from government-funded projects. I think I may remember who it was that wanted the CVS trees and I agree with the decision taken then. Mainly, I agree because it was suddenly specified near the end of the project.

If it's known from day one that the archive will be published, then I think it's fine to publish it. Programmers will have to learn to be polite(r) in their comments, the same as scientists have to be polite in public data files. To be honest, a lot of log messages would benefit from knowing that someone else could read them later. A hundred file commit with a log message of "let's unscrew this pooch" or "shagging files" is bloody annoying for other developers anyway: I've seen both (not from Andrew, by the way!). They should be amended to help co-developers.

The social judgements of 3am hacking is a different question. There are two approaches: enlightened customers or fake clocks. I don't know which is easier or better.

Failed proof of concepts are easiest to deal with: just prune that branch from the published archive. If it worked, you rewrote it to be non-ugly anyway, right?

Despite all the above, I think this is probably a bit too much "nanny state" for government policy. We have enough data sloshing around anyway, with lots of "abandonware" already out there, cluttering our searches and not being quite complete enough to be useful. Sooner or later, there's going to be a cull, and these expensively-created source control archives will probably among the first to die... Reminds me of a song...

All I know is someone has to, someone has to die, to make room for you and I (Maritime, vid)

2004-09-16T09:23:40

More walks

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Wednesday
Recorded telephone interview about the Walks with local radio around 0930. Far too early, so babbled and hrmed far too much. Amazingly, reporter salvages some nice ten-second quotes from it and runs them in the following morning's bulletins. Cool. He was going to get the council to respond, but I've not heard them yet. Cooler. Did some work too.
Thursday
Speaking at KLWN Friends of the Earth tonight. Still need to write hand-outs and still don't know whether anyone is accompanying me.
2004-09-16T09:23:40

AFFS grants for free software projects

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Kevin Donnelly called for free software project grant applications, preferably with a UK link.

2004-09-15T11:05:29

TheWalks: Carnival stand has queues out of the door...

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Visitors were queueing out of the tent to see the multi-colour version of the trees plan at the Walks Action Group's stall in King's Lynn's Charter Carnival on Sunday 12 September. The group gathered over 160 responses in just four hours, compared to the original council-run survey which gathered only 97 responses in four weeks. This clearly shows a problem with the consultation that informed the entire plan for the Walks.

The comments are being analysed by volunteers and results will be available later, but the group was surprised by the strength of public opinion about the borough council's plans submitted for Heritage Lottery Fund support in July 2004. Many people expressed shock at seeing WAG's green/blue/red map of the park trees, even though some had already seen the "shades of green with black rings" official version distributed in newspapers and displayed on signs.

The high number of responses came despite the stall being placed at the opposite corner to the council Walks exhibition and frequent public address announcements directing visitors towards the council's display. The council stand did not record public responses to the plans.

About the Walks

The Walks is a large park near the town centre of King's Lynn. It consists of two distinctive long mature tree avenues (St John's Walk and Broad Walk/Broad Walk Extension), one avenue whose trees have been nearly all felled (Red Mount Walk and Seven Sisters Walk), two large fields (Red Mount Field and the Recreation Ground) and two formal gardens (Vancouver Garden and St James's Park). In the park, there are a small children's play area, a popular basketball court, some poorly maintained tennis courts, and the small closed Red Mount chapel. Small sections of the old town wall route are still visible.

Around the edge of the Walks are the library, football club, railway station, churches, schools, pubs and some government offices. The busy London Road and Tennyson Avenue run along opposite edges and the avenues form useful cycleway and footpath links between them. The Gaywood River, Millfleet and Walks Rivulet run through the park, which is an urban haven for common English wildlife, such as squirrels, bats and ducks. There are even some muntjac deer, who probably enter and exit via the railway line.

About the Walks Urban Park Restoration Project (WUPReP)

The project is a bid from the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk for around £4.5m in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Included in it is much-needed work to clear the river and rivulet so that the recreation ground can drain properly, and restoration work on the Red Mount Chapel which stands near the river.

Sadly, a small amount of the money will be used to fell all the mature trees along Broad Walk and the Extension in the first phase of the plan and the recovering trees in the St John's Walk avenue will be felled in around 15 years. The plan ignores the recommendations of the council's own tree surveyors in favour of an approach more familiar with stately homes than urban parks. The council's main consultants are Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick and Company, who also worked on the Leeds Roundhay Park project (see below).

The last original public opinion survey was carried out in November and December 1998, gathering 97 responses in four weeks (from stage 1 bid). There are unanswered questions regarding this survey. The published results seem to contain mistakes and key requests have been ignored. The request for more recreation facilities has been met by proposing removal of the popular basketball courts and the unmaintained tennis courts. Absurdly, the low use of the tennis courts (which have potholes and no nets) is used to justify their removal. WAG is carrying out its own surveys to try to establish public opinion.

About the Walks Action Group (WAG)

WAG is a group of individuals who wish to see the council's plan revised to avoid unnecessary clearance of healthy mature trees and the correct care for any trees in danger. The primary method is to demonstrate that the current plan does not have full community support (a requirement of the Heritage Lottery Fund Public Parks Initiative). Members of the group may also have other concerns which they would like the council to address before supporting the bid, and many support parts of the plan such as the Red Mount Chapel restoration and the park rangers.

Supporters can contact WAG online at www.TheWalks.co.uk. Group members will speak at a number of events over the coming months and more invitations from interested groups would be welcomed.

Supporters wishing to see other work funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and advised by Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick and Company can visit www.RoundhayTrees.org.uk to see the current state of Leeds's famous park.

2004-09-15T10:29:14

Busy

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>
Saturday
Spoke at Lincs LUG in Boston. Rushed to meet friends at UEA in Norwich (2h drive past home again).
Sunday
0930 start put up tent for WAG stand at Lynn 800 years carnival. Return home, type up notes, stick together questionnaire box, return for 1300 opening. Madness. People queue out of tent to see tree map and leave comments. Will write more on this soon.
Monday
Wake up to hear councillor on local radio praise the Walks project, including the tree clearances that WAG oppose. Quickly pop along to their outside broadcast and get their attention. Producer comes out and says Dave Cooper's interview was on before I woke up. Oh well. As I leave, police squad car is heading towards broadcast location. Was I too attention-grabbing? Visit local Healthy Living Centre Open Day via the Walks, take some pictures and head off to work.
Tuesday
Quotes from me in local newspaper. Slight misdescription of WAG which will upset some people, so I'd best write a letter to the editor. Put out press release about carnival stand's huge response. Copy to lottery fund.
2004-09-14T19:46:58

Cry for help! Free software sound files

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Question for all readers: where can I find a maintained directory of short samples that are legally usable by free software?

2004-09-10T20:32:56

In other news...

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Got a new wily bug and I've already made two errors handling it. Yippee.

Updated AFFS page to mention the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. OST is not POST, so there's another place to watch now.

2004-09-07T00:52:28

Transport, or "Park and Ride? Krap and Dire!"

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Foolishly used a Norfolk CC Park and Ride to get to the Norwich social forum, as I don't know where to park in the city any more. Got there OK, a non-stop bus from car park to city centre. Got to stops for return about 1830, before the last bus at 1851. No 1830 bus. No 1837 bus. No 1845 bus. No 1851 bus. Hrm. Gave up 1925 and got a taxi, as it's 4 or 5 miles out. Let's see if they pay up. I'll avoid Norwich's Park and Ride for a bit now.

Heard today from the Walks group that there are no trains to this Sunday's festival in the Walks. I guess they don't want too many people using the Walks now, else the lottery money won't look like it's made a big improvement. Cynical, me?

2004-09-06T20:19:28

Television

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

Andrew is planning a tv guide. Wonder if I can post it where mine appears when it's ready in time? I also like the various tvtv sites right now.

No tv coverage of tour of Britain but less than stunning performance by the natives. Well done to 12th-placed top Brit Roger Hammond, though. I guess the big guns are down at la vuelta now anyway.

2004-09-06T20:19:28

EASF report

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com>

The Norwich social forum on Sat 4 Sep was a success, seeing a reasonable number of people from diverse groups from around the region overcoming the terrible transport to meet for discussions.

A small pre-forum discussion on education, capitalism and alternatives interested some, based around the paper you can find on this site's online forum and with expert opinion from its author. At the end, the booklet "down wiv skool" was distributed.

After lunch, the main forum started with a brief introduction to the forum, schedule and history, then workshops were held on topics including: police powers and prisoner support; identity cards; Indymedia Cambridge and possibly East Anglia; and Hutchison-Wampoa's roles in East Anglian ports and Burma. In the second plenary, planning continued for future forums in Ipswich and Cambridge. Finally, the forum concluded with reports of recent past and near future activities.

Personally, I found the forum in general interesting and useful, but the workshop immensely frustrating and annoying. That was probably my own poor choice of workshop to attend, however. I think others were better, from the reports. The scheduling seemed to work pretty well, but maybe moving the reports earlier in the day may give more of the background needed to help people choose between offered workshops. Then the forum could close by planning future forums, which seems a neater conclusion.

(Also posted to EASF)

2004-09-06T20:19:28

This website is copyright 2004 MJ Ray. See fuller notice on front page.