Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Cyber Khazi.

Erith has now got a brand new landmark in the Riverside Shopping Centre, on Pier Road, directly opposite the Health Centre - an automated super public toilet, that I am naming the Cyber Khazi. Quite what the authorities were thinking of when they commissioned the beast is entirely beyond me. We have public toilets literally around the corner from the new loo (albeit they are semi permanently locked to prevent local smack heads using them for a doze, after they have picked up their methadone from the nearby Payden's Pharmacy). Who, I wonder is going to spend their money to have a wee or drop their guts? In extremis, I certainly would, but I get the feeling I am very much in the minority. Bearing in mind, as I have recently reported, "street drinkers" have been seen pooing in kerb side waste bins locally, and there are a number of strategically placed dark corners and dense bushes in the vicinity. One is not filled with confidence that the Cyber Khazi will actually get used for the purpose intended. I predict it will be a burned out shell within a month.

OK, so we have the snow, and it is only a week before Christmas, but personally it does not feel at all Christmassy this year; I can't put my finger quite why, but I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. I think many people are planning a low key festive period this year, after a painful year with the credit crunch and the (supposed) global warming doom and gloom. It does seem that this country falls apart at the merest hint of snow.

I have to give an honourable mention to the woman selling The Big Issue by the pedestrian crossing between the Erith Riverside Centre and Morrison's car park. She was out in the driving snow and icy wind all day on Friday. I think Erith must be an exceptionally hard gig for Big Issue sellers – very few locals have much in the way of spare change – I doubt she got many customers; a hard and uncomfortable way to earn a crust.

On a related note, The Royal Alfred pub on the corner of Manor Road and Appold Street closed down quite a while back. It was sold to the family the own the Londis corner store on the opposite corner, and I gather that in due course they plan turning the pub into a small supermarket. In the meantime they let the upstairs rooms to a number of Eastern Europeans. I have noticed that they leave all of the upper windows open, even in the recent sub zero temperatures; I cannot for the life of me think why. It must be utterly freezing inside.

Google have been quite uncharacteristic in their recent publicity campaign for their Chrome web browser. There are road side billboard adverts, posters on the tube and they even took the whole front and back covers of the Metro free newspaper this week. I cannot make my mind up about Chrome – although it has been out for nearly a year on Windows, it only got released for Apple OS X and Linux a week ago. I don't particularly like the way it handles bookmarks, and the settings import wizard is a bit of a mess; overall though, it is nice to see the web browser market get a boost. I also use Firefox and Opera (though Opera does not render the Maggot Sandwich correctly – my little JavaScript clock looks all wonky). Anything that puts a serious dent in the previous dominance of Internet Explorer has to be a good thing.

A small snippet of information gleaned from the CAMRA magazine “The London Drinker” is that the One Bell pub in Crayford has been purchased from Punch Taverns by former Hull City and Fulham footballer Jimmy Bullard. The pub will be refurbished and then run by Mr. Bullard's father, Jimmy Senior. Nice to see something positive happening when one hears of so many pubs closing down for good. Recently both the Stile and Winch, and the Harrow pub on North End Road have closed and are either going to be demolished, or converted into social housing. I will have to visit the One Bell once it re-opens and report back.

I am not the world's greatest champion of Web 2.0. I don't use FaceBook or MySpace, and quite frankly I completely fail to see the point of Twitter. One thing I do use and greatly appreciate is Flickr, the online photo application. It is powerful, easy to use and somewhat unsung in comparison to its' better known siblings. I store and share over 3,000 of my photos on Flickr, and have met some interesting people through the service. You can view my photos online here.

There has been much copy written online about the (dreadfully named) car scrappage scheme. I won't vent my spleen on the anonymous knuckle dragging Visigoth who coined the grammar mangling phrase, but suffice to say I sincerely hope a special ring of Hell is reserved for them. I digress; something far more relevant and important than a minor subsidy on a new car purchase has been announced to very little fanfare or public awareness. The government have announced a scheme to provide a substantial cash subsidy for householders who replace their old and energy inefficient central heating boilers with a new, greener replacement. I will most definitely be interested in this; my own ancient combination boiler sits in the corner of the bathroom, clicking and hissing malevolently. Every so often it launches into life, sounding like a Mig 21 afterburner on full chat. It has a nasty habit of blasting RF (radio frequency) energy through my study, wiping out whatever broadcast I am listening to on my trusty JRC NRD 345 H.F communications receiver (photo below). If money were no object, I would add a Ten - Tec RX340 to my shack - but I don't have a spare £3,500 for another receiver right now.

My H.F Receiver and ancillaries

The beast that is my old boiler seems permanently on the verge of exploding and burning down Pewty Acres - or so it seems to want me to think; I reckon it is just keen on keeping me on my toes. If a bunch of feckless and misguided politicians can just for once get their act together and do something worthwhile, I am not going to be one to discourage them.

After my recent complimentary missives about Bristol Cars, I found a very enlightening article online from the English language "Arab News" newspaper "the Middle East's premium English language news" - you can read the piece by clicking here.

Back in the early years of this decade, I was a keen supporter of what was then the very first distributed computing initiative - this is where the power of thousands, or indeed hundreds of thousands of personal computers are harnessed together to run complex calculations that would normally require an expensive supercomputer to run. In essence you download a screensaver that runs when you are not using your computer - it takes a chunk of data, quietly processes it in the background, then spits the results back at the master computer. There are a number of projects organised by the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing - part of Berkeley University. These included molecular analysis of potential anti cancer drugs, mapping the human genome, and best known of all, the SETI at home project. This is part of the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), which is searching the skies with the world's largest radio telescope in Arecebo, Puerto Rico, looking for signals from alien civilisations. I recently downloaded their latest screensaver / signal analysis software for my Apple Mac, as I thought I would give the whole thing another crack of the whip. You can see a screen shot of it in operation below.

Seti at Home screensaver  857

As I have been typing this, I have been listening to Weekend Music Radio from Scotland. They used to be a regular shortwave pirate radio station, but have been off air for a couple of years due to the lack of sunspot activity, and consequent poor signal propagation conditions. They are back on 6.400 kHz short wave. You can see their website by clicking here.

One other thing - since it is that time of the year once again: Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion, as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all. Additionally; a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions have helped make our society great, without regard to the race, creed, colour, religious, or sexual preferences of the wishes. (Disclaimer: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her / himself or others, and no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring to those not caught up in the holiday spirit).  That has got that out of the way for another 51 weeks!

You may have seen a story in the popular press over the last week discussing a independent movie maker from Uruguay, who, after posting his latest amateur short film onto YouTube, has subsequently been offered a $30 million movie deal under the tutelage of cult film director Sam Raimi. You can read more about the story behind this unusual approach to getting a film directors' job in this article from the Los Angeles Times. Suffice to say the short film is called "Panic Attack" and shows the invasion of the city of Montevideo in Uruguay by a army of giant killer robots - watch it below and feel free to leave a comment.

1 comment:

  1. have heard that George Micheal has been invited to open the new Cyber khasbar? Bexley council has decided to open a similar site in Crayford, The Crayford Cottage is the working tital for the project, have my shinny new penny at the ready, what,,