Sunday, January 17, 2010

We hope its' chips!

Fire station plaque

Ian and I are considering doing some work to trace Erith's hidden history, following my recent mention of the Appold Street pumping station, which many had not even heard of. We want to trace the history of the industrial architecture, and the stuff that goes ignored and unheeded in the local area; an example of this is the plaque pictured above. It is mounted on the exterior of an out building adjacent to Erith Town Hall, but I doubt many local people are aware of its' existence. Once we get this under way it will be recorded it in a new and separate blog. Details to follow shortly.

Fellow local Blogger Darryl Chamberlain has been raising some awkward but welcome questions regarding the woeful performance of SouthEast Trains during the last couple of weeks; his investigations  have reached the ears of London Mayor Boris Johnson and Minister for Transport Lord Adonis (who sounds like a minor character from "He Man and the Masters of the Universe", but I digress). You can read all about it here.

Anyone who uses shortwave radio for communication should be aware of the following message from the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) and the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) in regard of the horrendous earthquake in Haiti:

Keep earthquake net frequencies clear
Following the earthquake in Haiti on 13 January, all radio amateurs are requested to keep the frequencies 3.720, 7.045, 14.265 and 14.300MHz clear for emergency traffic. EchoLink node 278173 is also in use by the International Radio Emergency Support Coalition. As of Thursday 14 January amateur activity was starting to appear in Haiti. Amateurs are requested to give priority to emergency traffic and QSY away from emergency centres of activity.

I am not one to normally get onto a soap box (OK, maybe every so often, but this time is special). The damage caused by the Haiti earthquake is very similar to that which would have resulted in the detonation of a high - yield thermonuclear weapon. If you wish to make a donation to aid the affected people in their hour of need, one of the best methods is to go to the Disasters Emergency Committee website here. Don't forget to click on the gift aid button - that way the government will contribute an amount equivalent to any tax you would have paid on the amount you donate.

Radio is one of the only methods of communication available in areas hit by disasters, both natural and otherwise. When phone systems are down, satellites unavailable and data networks disrupted, the humble wireless set can still get through - point enough to those who regard amateur radio as a hobby of the past; a real shame it take such tragic circumstances to bring this to light. The fact remains, for far less energy than is required to power a single light bulb, one can have (fairly) reliable two way communications to anywhere in the world by H.F radio.

I have just realised that it is now twelve years since I first installed Linux on one of my computers - then the fairly primitive and non user friendly Red Hat 5.1 (screenshot above - click for a larger version). Things have come an amazingly long way since; back in 1998 Linux was definitely the preserve of hard core tech heads and hackers; it was poorly documented and very much driven by the command line. Nowadays it is slick, easy to use, virus and hacker resistant, and much more flexible and intuitive than Windows 7. Oh - and it is completely free to download and use. No licence fees or Digital Rights Management software, restricting what you do with files on your computer either. If you look at the screen shots of above and below, you will see the evolution of the World's premier open source operating system.

You can download completely for free the best version of desktop Linux for new users - click here to take you to the Ubuntu Linux website.

Rant. I detest "Gastro Pubs" - you know - the kind of place that waxes lyrical about the provenance of their local ingredients; they drone on about their wine list and the ambience of their dining room. Not once is a mention made of their beer or cider - they are not a pub at all - they are a restaurant that has taken residence in a pub building. Proper pub food has little, if anything to do with an establishment that uses "drizzles of Jus". A real pub has proper meat gravy, not some poncy reduction thought up by a chef who wishes he was in Kensington & Chelsea, rather than stuck in some provincial backwater.

I see that the producers of the redoubtable Chav and tramp juice, Stella Artois, are having problems with strikers in their work force. I find it difficult to mobilise any form of sympathy for them. You can read more about the ongoing dispute here. The sooner the vile liquid meets its' end the better.

I see that yet another serious security hole has been found in Microsoft Internet Explorer. You can read all about the gory details here.  Personally, I would recommend that you use another web browser such as Firefox, Opera, Safari or Chrome - anything but something cobbled together by the bunch of Muppets at Redmond.

Every so often I encounter a situation where I find myself unable to let matters pass.  Earlier this week, Mum and I were on the bus from Plumstead after visiting Dad in his nursing home. We were sitting on the back seats on the right side of the 99 bus. A couple of stops later a scruffy  and unpleasant smelling kid of about 15 got on and sat on the left side, putting his filthy trainer encased feet on the seat in front of him. Mum (being the former dinner lady with a reputation for a bellow worthy of a regimental sergeant major) pointedly looked over and asked him to remove his feet, which he grudgingly did. Later, when Mum got off the bus by the Cairngall Medical Centre in Upper Belvedere, the kid put his feet back on the seat. Discreetly, I got out my travel card wallet, and stuck one of my very official, and somewhat impressive looking work office access passes into it. As I got off the bus in Erith, I flashed the "ID" in his unsuspecting face, and told him that if I saw him put his feet on the seats again, there would truly be hell to pay, and that his actions were being recorded on CCTV for potential use in court. He looked genuinely horrified, and grovellingly apologised, then promised not to do it again. I think my point got through rather effectively.  On top of that, I had difficulty keeping a straight face! There is nothing like a small victory in life.

I have strong suspicions that the BBC News website is keeping close tabs on the Maggot Sandwich; how else could they have copied the story that I broke last week, regarding power from poo. Read their take on the issue here.

On top of this, I have found a website that has taken my own first computer, (see photo above) and using modern technology, turned it into a laptop. You can view the Atari 800 laptop project here.You can read all about the origins of the Atari 800 here.

This weeks' video clip is a bit of a blast from the past; a TV advert that may be little recalled now, but that should bring back some fond, early eighties memories. We hope it is chips...

No comments:

Post a Comment