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wsm Entries

Talk with People who want to Discuss

Tue, 15 Apr 2008 14:58:37 +0100

I spend too much of my time trying to talk with people who don't want to discuss, yet somehow I won't stop.

I keep hoping that things like suggesting good advice on meeting scheduling will avoid them repeating old mistakes. The most extreme life-and-death example is probably trying to help with Kewstoke Toll Road, where people still speed and someone crashed off again last night (although I don't know what caused last night's crash - could have been a simple accident).

Of course, it's better to talk with people who have asked questions and want to hear the answer. I'm currently involved in several groups like that and it makes me much happier [4HWW]. I've even made a confidentiality agreement [Network Blogging article] about one group because I really like the organiser and want to help them, but I've yet to see changes happen because of it and that's probably about all I can write here, which does rather suck.

But talking of changes that make me happy, I spotted that Bristol Wireless has now gone further than TTLLP by deciding to change people away from Microsoft Windows when they find it:-

"all Windows stuff must be gone from the premises [...] no longer help do callers favours with broken Windows machines, apart from fixing them properly and permanently by installing Debian"

at their March meeting. Well done, BW!

After a request, I finally put four photos from Social Source South West (which was hosted by BW) online, which reminded me to subscribe to watfordgap's travels. Disappointingly, on my first read, it promotes the Suppliers Directory developed by Lasa. That directory is a big problem because it creates a silly barrier to entry which hinders new social enterprises and cooperatives. At a time where most non-profit software is unsustainable and needs to change, requiring three referees is a way to obstruct change. Also, persuading three people to support their work is no substitute for supplier evaluation.

Any non-profits who want to lead their sector should approach ICT suppliers directly. The article also mentions Experts Online which is even more short-sighted about computing: "both PC and Mac" indeed! What about GNU/Linux, thin clients, and other changes which are already making a big difference to some non-profits...?

But here I go again, talking to a brick wall.

I expressed these concerns when that Directory started and it didn't do any good then, so I doubt they'll change it now, near the end of its life.

So I'm going to move on. There are lots of people emailing who want to hear from me, so it's time to concentrate on talking with people who do want to listen. If you want to discuss this with me, visit my website for the comments form (click the title or look for a "view original post" link, depending what site you're reading).

4 comments.

Tags: cooperatives, debian, life, photos, software, toll road, wsm.

21 today! MJR around the web...

Thu, 17 Apr 2008 13:44:57 +0100

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Tags: cooperatives, debian, links, software, web, wsm.

Strategy on Strategies

Wed, 14 May 2008 20:39:48 +0100

[SNR Event Welcome Slide]
Anyone seen this before?

Today, I went to an event about the Sub-National Review Consultation (as a substitute for someone else AIUI).

I'd not heard about this before, but if you're in England and you've any interest in our regional planning system (which I think you should, if you have your main home here or run a business here), you have six weeks left to comment on the UK Government's suggested changes.

As I understand it, it will move the second-highest tier of planning control from democratically-accountable regional bodies to the business-led Regional Development Agencies, with some oversight by MPs and the very- indirectly-accountable council leaders. I've posted more detail on Co-opNet.

When I asked about local involvement and cooperatives, I was directed towards Local Strategic Partnerships, but I'm pessimistic about how easy it will be to influence regional planning through those: a few weeks ago, I was at the launch of the North Somerset Partnership Sustainable Community Strategy for 2008-2026.

It's a 72-page A4 glossy book which I've still not found time to read properly. I think the size says something about its sustainability. I've posted a little more detail on WsMForum.

I'll try to answer questions about either of them on this blog or those forums...

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Tags: cooperatives, life, wsm.

Met Calyx about Koha

Tue, 20 May 2008 12:22:23 +0100

I met Irma and Bob from Calyx yesterday. They're fellow Koha service providers from Sydney, Australia who are over in Europe visiting various people.

It was nice to see them (first time I've met Bob) and have a bit of a chat about where we're each going with Koha. One interesting difference is that they have several private-sector clients, while I don't think my cooperative has yet done a private-sector Koha, but there seemed to be more similarities than differences, including adding more robust project management and ticketing as we deliver Koha 3 to people.

We went for lunch at The Cliffs Tea Rooms at the other end of Kewstoke Toll Road, which has great views towards Wales, but I forgot to take any pictures. Ooops.

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Tags: cooperatives, koha, life, software, wsm.

Another Toll Road Crash

Tue, 20 May 2008 14:07:44 +0100

I'd not long written about lunching at the other end of Kewstoke Toll Road yesterday when I read this news of another Toll Road crash. I hope the three people carried from the wreckage recover.

I fear the press will have another field day about how dangerous the road is, instead of primarily blaming whatever caused the accident. (The fishmonger crashed while avoiding a loose dog, by the way.) That road is not up to modern standards and I don't believe it was designed for the volume of traffic that's been using it since they stopped collecting the toll, but there is a very low speed limit (25mph) and warning signs all over it. Neither car left the road this time, as far as I can tell from the reports.

I hope the press proves me wrong.

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Tags: life, toll road, travel, wsm.

Updates: Fishmonger re-opens, Bombing Exeter, Eurovision

Fri, 23 May 2008 10:58:07 +0100

Three quick updates to items I've posted in the past:-

Justin Rolfe has re-opened his fishmonger's shop on Alexandra Parade Weston-super-Mare less than six weeks after what Avon Fire called a "lucky escape" when his van crashed off Kewstoke toll road.

I'm glad I didn't try to go to an event in Exeter yesterday that I was invited to. I don't remember seeing that restaurant, but the BBC writes it only opened last September. A religious bombing in Devon. Whatever next?

Eurovision is tomorrow night. I'm not going to write in detail here this year (because I don't want the pain of dealing with the planet-purgers again) but I might try to guest blog somewhere else and mention it at the end of tomorrow's post.

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Tags: life, toll road, wsm.

Fuel Price Bleating and Biking

Tue, 27 May 2008 10:17:26 +0100

[Photo of Cyclists]
England swings like a pendulum do!

There's another fuel price protest and the coverage in the London press is pretty biased, with occasional balanced reports and very rare dissenting opinion.

One of the favourite whines on news-and-nutters phone-ins is "waah, I live in a village, I need my car". While that's true for some people, most villagers could switch to bicycles for many journeys without problems.

At the moment, the biggest problem with cycling to town is the number of cars on the small lanes, followed by the number of potholes. Switching to cycling or walking will have a triple benefit: fewer cars on the road will free up space for cycling, wear the roads out less and reduce fuel demand (so petrol should become cheaper for those who really need it).

Over the last few days, I've been happy to read Bike The Drive 2008 [Dirk Eddelbuettel], Mountainbike, By Joerg Jaspert and How to Start Bicycling to Work, by John Goerzen.

A couple of tweaks to that last one: in England, I don't think that a cycling helmet is necessary. I've not worn one for the last few months (it went mouldy after a rain storm) - I find I can hear traffic better and many drivers seem to give me more room on the road. I wonder if helmet-wearing "dehumanises" cyclists to drivers? The safety data seems rather confused, but it's a personal choice. If you feel safer with a helmet, wear one. I also wear ordinary business or casual clothes, relying on a good quality commuter saddle rather than cycling shorts. I suspect that drivers here are developing a sort of blindness to the "screaming yellow" hi-vis jackets, so I don't wear those - but sometimes I wear hi-vis reflective armbands if I'm wearing black in the dark. I agree completely with the comments on that page about being predictable, Cateye lights and pannier bags.

Finally, Bike Week 2008 starts on 14 June, which would be an ideal time to try a group ride - or just get a free breakfast for cycling into town.

Update: Wheelism: How To Commute By Bicycle and Drake.org.uk: The Pushbike Song - it's a veritable wave!

9 comments.

Tags: cycling, life, travel, wsm.

Kewstoke Annual Village Meeting

Wed, 28 May 2008 08:51:23 +0100

Tomorrow (Thu 29th) at 7.30pm is the Kewstoke annual village meeting. That should be my first meeting as a councillor, if I get back from London in time. (I hope I do - councillors who miss meetings get this sort of criticism but at least village councillors aren't paid that much: I think expenses for all 12 or so councillors totalled under £60 last year.)

Apart from the two reports, the agenda is a good summary of the challenges affecting the village this year: Cygnet Liaison, Sand Bay Management and the Toll Road.

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Tags: life, toll road, wsm.

Please Tell Me How To Do It

Mon, 02 Jun 2008 10:47:09 +0100

[Meeting Room]
(Guess I arrived early.)

Dear Reader,

I'd like to read any opinions on these three:-

1. when I get new information about a story I've already written about, should I make it a new blog post and/or add it to the old post or something else?

For example, I've got new links about the Yahoo's good anti-spam actions which is sort-of linked to last week's spammer registrar post.

2. what should I do with links to sites where I've commented? Should I make a new feed like my bookmarks feed, silently ignore them, or something else? Last time I did a link post, mildly irritated comments followed on one of the planets.

3. Tonight is my first full Kewstoke village council meeting. Main (non-routine) topics include Sand Road Lay-by, Crookes Lane Memorial Seat, the newsletter, replacing the gazebo on the village green, coopting more councillors, completing the Crookes Lane Footpath, the 2007-08 accounts and reviewing the Sand Bay Management Plan. Any comments on any of those?

8 comments.

Tags: life, web, wsm.

World Environment Day

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 15:04:16 +0100

Today is World Environment Day 2008 and also Recycle Week in the UK.

Locally, our poor recycling record has attracted attention. The main Somerset CC area averages 50% recycling and composting, while North Somerset only does 36%. This will cost us money, as explained under the subtly-titled local newspaper article 'REDUCE WASTE NOW OR FACE A £12M FINE' It's very annoying to read a Conservative councillor say

"The message we really have to get out to people is that this is their problem too."

We know it's a bloody problem. Have you tried to use your stupid recycling system?

Criticism of the stupid collections is strangely absent from the local Lib-Dem's Mid table place shouldn't be good enough when it comes to recycling (Mike Bell) and I can't even find recycling mentioned on local Labour sites - I think those two groups may have been in coalition when the stupid system was introduced. It's left to local residents to explain the problem.

Local waste collections have been simplified recently but it still seems bloody awkward, taking different types of waste to different places. The most recent edition of the council's North Somerset Life magazine explained that they don't collect plastic bottles from the doorstep because it would add £10 per year to our local tax. I'm damn sure it already costs me more than that to store them and ferry them into town over a year. The only people rewarded by saving that £10 seem to be those who live near the town centre collection point, drive to that Tesco anyway, or don't recycle plastics. Why reward them?

Speaking of Tesco... those national and local favourites have applied to build Two more Tesco stores for Weston [The Weston Mercury] including one directly opposite another supermarket. The application number is 08/P/1230/F if you want to respond.

The planning system seems my main chance to protect my local environment at the moment. Next Monday evening at 7.30pm, 08/P/1070/F - Erection of 5 storey building to provide 14 flats, restaurant and office with basement parking following demolition of restaurant will be considered by a Kewstoke village council planning meeting in the village hall. As I understand it, the public may make statements at the start of the meeting and 2 Kewstoke Road is currently the Castle.

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Tags: cooperatives, life, statistics, travel, wsm.

Bridgwater College Computing Advisory Panel

Sat, 7 June 2008 08:52:34 +0100

Probably due to some mistake or just an excess of randomness in the world, our webmaster cooperative has been invited to Bridgwater College's Computing Advisory Panel meeting next week and it looks like I'm going.

The interesting agenda items are:-

5. Current Curriculum offer

6. Computing and ICT Sector Developments - Education and Training - ICT Diplomas - Distance Learning - Specialist training / apprenticeships

7. Meeting Employer Needs

I've asked some nearby cooperatives and social enterprises for comments and I'll probably highlight things like Linux opens London's Oyster and Specsavers sees clear benefits in open source when arguing for more free software use and emphasising "worker needs" rather than "employer needs", but please send me any other suggestions in a comment on this blog post or an email.

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Tags: cooperatives, life, software, web, wsm.

Forthcoming (and past) Events News: LUGoG, BikeWeek, HacktionLab, SPI

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 15:05:41 +0100

LUG of Glastonbury meets at Tor Leisure in Glastonbury at 7pm tonight (Monday). It will be a general planning meeting, maybe with some GPG-key-signing and other tasks. If you want the LUG to show you something in particular, this will be a good event to attend.

This week is BikeWeek 2008 and there's a free cyclists breakfast at the Victorian Cafe on the Weston-super-Mare seafront about 8am Wednesday morning. For events in other areas, stick a partial postcode into the BikeWeek event search.

Someone from The Doon Of May was at Hacktionlab 2008 @ Highbury Farm this last weekend, as were Bristol Wireless, who were running the wifi.

I've not seen an official announcement, but SPI's board meeting will be on Wednesday at 8pm UK time (1900 UTC), according to my last meeting report.

I've heard through BBLUG that the notorious Shevek is co-organising an event called "An Adventure in Technology" at Trinity Community Arts in Bristol on 28 June 2008. It's a follow-up event to the 2003 Bristol Linux and will be an all-inclusive event where everybody is encouraged to bring something along, talk about it, swap ideas, and build things on site. It doesn't have to be Linux-based, but a lot of things will be. The event web site is http://www.techadventure.org/ and you should post there if you have an idea or want to run a session. There will also be a list for people who decide on the day that they want to give a talk.

1 comment.

Tags: cooperatives, life, spi, travel, web, wsm.

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