Sunday, January 10, 2010

The hidden power of poo.

Julie's Birthday  867

I have not bothered to head this update with a photo of the snow and ice around Erith, and most of Europe to boot. I think we have all already seen enough of the stuff to last for a very long time indeed. Fellow Erith resident and photographer Justin (otherwise known as Crash Calloway) has some excellent photos of the severe weather - so if snow is still your thing, and you want to see some of his photos, then click here for a look.

The photo above shows (from left to right) Abi, Jo and birthday girl Julie on the occasion of Julie's birthday celebration last night. I make no comments regarding the lager in the shot.

One side effect of the severe cold weather was the failure of the Appold Street water pumping station, off Manor Road in Erith, owned by Thames Water. The result of this was the delivery of two giant mobile pump lorries with a number of engineers who kept the things running for two whole days and nights, until repairs could be made. What an atrocious job - the temperature was averaging minus seven Celsius for most of the time. Not something I would relish.

So - why the surreal title to this weeks' Maggot Sandwich update? I don't know if you have noticed over the cold period, that however much snow and ice lays on the pavements of the U.K, there is one area that remains permanently precipitation free. Any guesses? The cast iron manhole covers over the sewerage system. It does not seem to matter where you look, the sewerage system is frost free. The reason for this is down to some fairly complex biochemistry governing the breakdown of organic matter to release nitrogen compounds. In more base terms, poo generates heat. All clever stuff - all I need to do now is work out a way to turn it into a viable alternative energy source - one could say that it was a green alternative to conventional power generation, though to my mind calling it brown would be rather more accurate. The chaps on Top Gear created a car powered by methane released from poo some time ago; if memory serves, it was not exactly that successful. Still, as the old saying goes "Where there's muck, there's brass".

Many computer and console games have a hidden "God Mode", usually unlocked with a special password or combination of joystick moves. This allows the player to alter the number of lives the character has, to be able to walk through walls, pick up all the weapons, and generally cheat like mad. The codes for God Modes are often posted online, and can be a gift, if like me you are rubbish at these kind of things, and have difficulty getting off the first level. Anyway, the recently released Windows 7 by Microsoft turns out to have a hidden God Mode too. It would appear to have been added to earlier development builds to help the programmers whilst they worked on the operating system coding, and for whatever reason it was not removed before the operating system shipped to end users. By creating a new folder in Windows 7 and renaming it with a certain text string at the end, users are able to have a single place to do everything from changing the look of the mouse pointer to making a new hard-drive partition. The trick is also said to work in Windows Vista, although some are warning that although it works fine in 32-bit versions of Vista, it can cause 64-bit versions of that operating system to crash. To enter "GodMode," one need only create a new folder and then rename the folder to the following:


Once that is done, the folder's icon will change to resemble a control panel and will contain dozens of control options. See the photo below for a view of this. Click for a larger version.

As many of you will know, I have a long abiding interest in radio; in addition to amateur radio, I like to chase as many pirate music stations as I can; some of the most interesting tend to pop up on the short wave bands. If you have an old radio sitting around somewhere, there is a fair chance that it has short wave coverage - you could give it it try, you might well be pleasantly surprised as to what you stumble across. Whilst a dedicated desktop receiver with an external long wire antenna is the best way to listen to short wave, even a cheap portable radio can produce great results. Drop me a line if you would like more details.

Most stations can be found in specific parts of the shortwave spectrum, generally outside the areas reserved for licenced international broadcasters, aircraft, utility, data and military use.

76 metres: 3900-3945 kHz: This is popular with European pirates, especially in the evenings when skip is longer, and during the day in winter months.
52 metres: 5800-5840 kHz: European pirates can also be found here, overspill from 48 metres.
48 metres: 6200-6400 kHz: This is a prime area for the European pirates, especially at weekends.
43 metres: 6900-6950 kHz: This area tends be mostly used by North American pirates, but some European pirates are also found here.
39 metres: 7500-7700 kHz: Unreliable propagation means this band isn't widely used, but some European pirates can be heard here.

RA 17 photo 3.JPG

To see a very up to date log of shortwave pirate radio activity, you should consult the Shortwave DX Blog - a really excellent and authoritative journal of illicit radio services.

A bit of a coup in the video clip for this week; this video is meant to be viewable on YouTube only; embedding it in other web sites has been disabled at the request of Fox Studios. I have managed to get it to embed anyway, but it is entirely possible the clip may disappear at any point if the Hollywood suits find out. Why the fuss?

"Ten years ago, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground, and survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team".

This was one of my absolute all - time favourite TV shows, growing up as a kid in the 1980's; every Saturday afternoon on ITV we would see the outrageous exploits of this group of soft hearted mercenaries defending the weak and innocent against crooks and terrorists. Every week we would see them get locked in a barn by the bad guys, which was fortuitously stuffed to the gills with tools, cutting gear and a couple of old cars; the team would, in the space of about three minutes with a musical montage, turn whatever they had into a cabbage firing armoured car, or a flamethrower with which to finally rout the bad guys, to which Lt. Col. Hannibal Smith would round it off with "I love it when a plan comes together".  Contrary to popular opinion there were actually only three members of the A-Team. Howling Mad Murdoch was their pilot, but not falsely convicted of robbing the Bank of Hanoi as the other three were - he was instead incarcerated in the Veteran's Hospital as he was deemed insane. The other myth is that no - one got killed on screen in the entire run of the show - not true, the only person who could prove that the A-Team were under military orders to rob the bank, General Fullbright is killed by a rogue Vietnamese Colonel, who is in league with a group of international drug smugglers. The Colonel in turn is also killed. Still two deaths in five series is not too bad a body count. Where is all this going? Well later on in the year, a remake of the A-Team is due to hit the big screen. The trailer, starring Liam Neilson as Lt. Col. John "Hannibal" Smith is below - please feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Mmm, I bet Abi was real 'hot stuff' back in her day! Pity about the fizzy-pop she's drinking.

    Won't give my name, this time !

  2. Interesting to read your comments on pirate radio. One active place for the pirates that you didn't mention is the top end of the medim wave band anywhere between 1620khz and 1750khz. Its a popular place for pirates, particularly the Dutch ones, there are a few around in the week but the most activity, as with the shortwave pirates is at weekends.