Sunday, January 09, 2011

Out of dry dock.

The photo above shows Erith Town Centre after the snow and ice finally melted; it is nice to get the area back to some semblance of normality, at long last.

Pewty Acres has been undergoing some extensive building modifications and upgrades over the last week; as Ian put it, the changes are similar in extent to those undertaken on the U.S.S Enterprise in the years between the end of series three of the Star Trek (The Original Series) and the start of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. According to the story, the Enterprise went into an orbital dry dock for a full refit and systems upgrade. If you don't get the analogy, the house basically looks pretty much as before, but the details have been substantially improved. New windows, doors and a replacement mini conservatory, linking my kitchen and living room at the back of the house were the order of the day. When the old front door was removed, one of the workmen then started hacking out the old oak door frame. It was extremely tough, and it took over an hour to fully remove it. Once it was gone, he discovered a small cavity in the brick work; looking inside, he found a scrunched up newspaper. I asked him to remove it; the paper was discoloured and a bit damp. I left it on the kitchen work surface to dry out. Upon close examination it is part of a copy of the Daily Express from the 24th June 1930! This has to count as the Manor Road scrolls. my house was originally built in 1861, and during the first census of 1866, a man, his wife and six children lived in the place! A photo of the 1930 era paper is below - please click for a larger view.

I have been contacted by reporter Mark Chandler of the News Shopper about the state of Erith station main building, which is still surrounded by metal fencing, with no apparent remedial action yet having been taken to repair the disintegrating soffit, as covered on the Maggot Sandwich a couple of weeks ago. As well as exchanging Emails, I have spoken at length with him by phone about the whole episode. Mark was the journalist who made the story I raised a couple of years ago about the illegal GC's Nightclub in Fraser Road a front page issue. Hopefully something will come of the whole situation - more news as it happens.

As you may know, I listen to a lot of shortwave radio, especially the pirate radio stations that usually come on at the weekend. One station is pretty much unique in broadcasting 24 / 7 on multiple frequencies is the excellent Laser Hot Hits. You can hear them on 6.210 and 4.015 MHz, depending on reception conditions and time of day. If you have an old radio that can receive shortwave, do give them a go.

Whilst carrying out research for this weeks' entry, I came across a photo of a press article. Many moons ago I did a few shows for land based pirate station RFM (Rock FM) - which in the mid to late 1980's was the best specialist radio station in Greater London. Kiss FM and Radio Jackie had more publicity and were slightly better known, but RFM were technically and content wise streets ahead of them in my opinion. Several RFM staff did stints on Radio Caroline, but I think I was the only (occasional) RFM person who actually took a staff job with Caroline. Anyway, below is a very early press clipping, from the time when I was but a listener to RFM.

Darryl of the excellent Charlton based 853 Blog makes a really good point about the hated, unreliable Oyster travel swipe card system. It is pretty clear that whoever designed the system had not properly thought it through. If you get to a station, swipe in, then find out the trains are  up the spout and not running, you are stuffed and may well end up getting a penalty charge for not swiping out at the other end. You can read all about the problem here. Personally I am sticking to a old fashioned monthly travel card - I can make as many journeys in zones 1 to 6 as I wish for the duration of the card; also I am not tracked as Oyster users are (did you know that TFL store all Oyster journey details for two years without telling users - a breach of the Data Protection Act?) On top of all this, the technology used within Oyster cards has been cracked - you can read all about it here.

Apple have released version 10.6.6 of their excellent OS X operating system. As well as a number of bug and security fixes, it features the OS X App Store, a similar concept to the wildly successful app store for the iPhone and iPad.  The idea of an online software store / repository is not a new thing. Linux distributions such as Fedora, Ubuntu and SuSe have had command line versions of software repositories (yum-install *package name*, or apt-get install *package name*) for over ten years, and a graphical interface (GUI) version for around six years. All the software on the Linux repositories is free and open source, so there is no question of money changing hands. Conversely the OS X App Store does have some free content, but much is proprietary and fees are charged to download.  I have found the OS X App Store to be easy and painless to use, and have recently purchased the newly published Mac version of the classic 2-D puzzle game Angry Birds. It is very challenging and whilst based on a deceptively simple concept, it is extremely addictive. I am not by nature a computer gamer nowadays (unlike my days with the Atari 2600 VCS, as recently recounted).  But since Angry Birds only cost me £2.99 to download, I think it was extremely good value.

Spitting; it has always been done by the less civilised members of society, but for some reason it seems to have become much more common in the last year or so; as well as being disgusting, it is extremely unhygienic, and is linked with the spread of Tuberculosis. For some reason it does not  get treated as the offence it actually is. The smoking ban at railway stations is similarly flouted - because it is not enforced. I cannot see the point of introducing laws if they are not going to be enforced in any way. I see people smoking at stations on a pretty much daily basis; to be honest, if the smoker is in an open air part of the platform, I cannot see the problem. It is only when someone lights up in an enclosed space that I will speak up and intervene. Fortunately that has not happened recently.

OK, here is a shot of part of the rear of Pewty Acres after the refit, taken by me earlier this afternoon. The next jobs in hand are to replace the manky garden fencing (to the left of the photograph), and to get new kitchen and bathroom flooring installed, as the current stuff is beyond knackered. I will then in the summer get the outside of the house painted both front and back, as it is starting to look somewhat tired. In case you were wondering what all the wires and cables were for, they are a mixture of feeds to a couple of amateur radio antennas I have erected; the rest form part of my external security system. Unfortunately the local constabulary took a dim view of my request to install Claymore mines in the back garden, due to the fact it is a bit difficult to place charges against a felon when what's left of him is sitting in a bucket. Instead I make sure I take other precautions - see all about them by clicking here.

The video this week is a walk through of the first five levels of the aforementioned Angry Birds; I realise I am probably coming quite late to the party, in which case you can ignore the video and go and do something else. Otherwise take a look at what has become a world wide gaming phenomenon. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

1 comment:

  1. RFM?
    I still have a couple of stickers of their's knocking about. They were an okay station but I prefered Lazer, Caroline or Lumberjack. In fact I still have my first ever CD/cassette player knocking about and that has some "My Radio has a Rock n' Roll heart" stickers on it.
    I even went to a shindig of their's up at the Hippodrome in about 1988 and heard the WORST hair Metal band, no the WORST band I've ever seen.
    can't remember the name but they did a terrible version of Nutbush City Limits that sucked more than a Dyson.

    Glad to hear you've discovered Angry Birds. I'd all but finished the game when iTunes 10 (?) wiped my phone and I had to start from scratch.
    Something I saw on somebodies Facebook update the other day: "Angry Birds has taught me nothing about physics or ballistics just that Green pigs are lousy builders!"
    Made me laugh...