Sunday, April 24, 2011

iPhone iSpy.

The photo above shows a recent view of The Running Horses pub and the Erith Riverside Gardens to the right of the picture. If Bexley Council have their way, this scene will be gone forever in a very short time, to be replaced with concrete and brick flats, blocking off the view of the River Thames for decades at the least. You can join the fight to preserve this vital part of the town by joining FORGE (Friends Of Riverside Gardens Erith). You can read more about the group on the News Shopper website here.

A sweltering Easter weekend, for a change. Last year I recall that St. George's day was bright and sunny in the daytime, but it rapidly became perishingly cold once the sun went in. I clearly recall this, as Ian and I took his girls to watch the Morris Dancers outside of the packed Robin Hood & Little John pub in Bexleyheath. We ended up having to leave relatively early, as it was so bitterly cold. I doubt the same thing will be said of this year.

The discount furniture store in Erith Riverside Shopping Centre is in its' death throes. As happened to Wise Furniture before it, the shop is having a closing down sale. So desperate to make a few quid before they go, that the owners have individually mail shotted local Erith residents with personalised letters, pleading with them to spend some of their money in the place before it finally goes. Somehow I doubt this will be a particularly successful marketing technique, but we shall have to wait and see. A publicity banner for the Nemesis Thai Boxing gym still hangs over the shop frontage, so whether they do actually take on the place will be something to look out for in the coming months. Another shop that recently took a unit in the shopping centre is The Money Shop – part of a nationwide chain pawnbroker’s chain – I have to admit until it opened, I had never heard of them. They seem to be offering a slightly keener deal on the price of scrap gold than the chap who sits in the glass atria part of the shopping centre, behind what appears to be a barried up wallpaper table, exhorting passers by to part with their gold for a few quid. Once he even called out to me as I passed by on my way home from the station. I studiously ignored him and walked on.

Erith resident, web entrepreneur, occasional pipe smoker and all round good egg Alan (photographed below) took part in his first ever London Marathon last week, and managed to finish the course in a creditable time, especially considering the unseasonably warm weather. He's raised nearly £2,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support, the Alzheimer's Society and the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice. He said afterwards   "Now that I've had a few days to reflect (and rest my sore legs), it was definitely an incredible experience. The time commitment is significant, but I'd definitely recommend anyone to do it as it really gives you a great sense of achievement. A funky picture of me with my finishers medal is attached – it has the watermark on it, but thought you might like the actual proof I did it! No Photoshop, I promise!"  You still have time to make a donation via Alan's Virgin Money giving web page here. I hope that if he decides to take part in next years' event, he will run the course accompanied by a decent briar pipe...

As recently covered, the Caribbean Kitchen in Bexleyheath Broadway was due to open on Saturday. The place is still empty and unfinished, and the opening day poster has been taken down from the double glass front doors. I think, with Nandos rapidly nearing completion directly opposite, it is pretty fair to say that this venture is now dead in the water. I am a keen proponent of independent local businesses, but in this case I think it very unlikely it would ever have succeeded in a Broadway location. Bexleyheath's premier venue for wannabe gangters and no-marks is the unsuitably monickered Ivory Lounge – the venue for a number of high profile drug busts, and at least a couple of stabbings. It is having a “Relaunch” party next weekend, and according to the posters I have seen, there will be guest appearances from both Kele Le Roc and Shola Ama next Saturday evening. What is ironic is that the target audience of the Ivory Lounge (15 - 24 year olds) will have little or no idea who these two singers are, as they would have been babies, or small children when the singers were last in the charts.

At the other, upper end of the Bexleyheath hostelry scene is the multi award winning Robin Hood & Little John pub in Lion Road; to celebrate St. George's Day yesterday they hosted the West Hill Morris group who performed some traditional Morris dances, and raised money for the British Heart Foundation. You can see a couple of photos taken by friend Sandra below - click on either for a larger version.

If you ever watch videos on YouTube, you may not be aware that the entire background infrastructure of the website has just changed. Uploaded videos used to be converted into Adobe Flash files for viewing. Flash is a closed and proprietary file format that uses up large amounts of your computers' resources and can cause system instability in some cases, especially in non Microsoft operating systems such as BSD Unix, Linux and Apple OS X. This is one reason why Apple don't enable Flash video on their iPhone (more on the iPhone later) and iPad portable devices. Google, owners of YouTube have taken the logistically gargantuan leap of converting all their uploaded content to the free, open source WebM video codec. End users should not notice any difference to performance or video quality, but they should notice that their computers hang up and crash less often than previously. Google's own Chrome web browser is especially vulnerable to encountering issues with Flash video, especially in the version ported to the Apple Mac. WebM video is more robust and open to development by third parties. You can read more about YouTube and WebM video here. Did you know that YouTube gets 35 hours of video content uploaded every single minute, 24 hours per day? You can read about how they save and process this incredible amount of data by clicking here for an explanation.

I am not particularly bothered about the forthcoming Royal wedding one way or another. What the couple do is entirely up to them. What does concern me is the current Hollywood movie version of their romance - William and Kate: The Movie. It is knuckle gnawingly, teeth grindingly awful. Filmed entirely in and around Hollywood, with a cast of (deservedly) unknowns, it employs every romantic movie cliche, and goes out of its' way to not let facts get in the way of a good story. I have embedded the trailer below, as less entertainment, and more of a warning to avoid it at all costs. I have had to suffer watching the trailer a number of times as I hand fettled the HTML to suitably fit the page. I was in great danger of my major intestine throttling my brain to avoid further exposure to the worst tosh I have had to suffer in many years. This movie is to the art of cinema what Vogons are to poetry. If the trailer is so awful, the main movie must be a disaster of Plan 9 From Outer Space dimensions. Avoid.

On a happier note, this Easter weekend marks the 47th birthday of Radio Caroline. As is now the normal case, they are broadcasting from the Ross Revenge, moored in Tilbury. You can tune into the station on 531KHz at the bottom end of the Medium Wave dial, and you can visit them online by clicking here.

The old Andrew Carnegie gifted Erith Library can be seen in the photo below. The building is currently laying virtually unused, since the opening of the horrendous new library building a couple of years ago. I have hopes that if the new Bexley College site is built on the old tram shed location directly opposite, that the library may gain a new lease of life as a study centre. Knowing Bexley council though, they will probably want to demolish it to be replaced with flats - as seems to be their blanket planning policy for anything in respect of the local area.

I don't know about you, but I am of the opinion that there's not much point in the Government enacting a law if it is subsequently not interested in enforcing it; to me the whole thing becomes an excursion into futility. I am prompted recalling the publicity and hoo – ha that surrounded the ban on smoking in pubs and public places. Now it is so widely ignored as to be unenforceable. The aforementioned Erith Riverside Shopping Centre has large and lurid “No Smoking” signs, and smokers stand blithely next to the signs, puffing away without a care in the world. The same thing is true at railway stations – the platform areas, even when in the open air, are covered by the ban, yet I daily see people smoking on them, seemingly immune to the stares of others. The same thing is true of drinking alcohol on public transport – after the initial run of publicity, led in London mainly by Boris Johnson, the alcohol ban is so widely and openly flouted as to be completely immaterial. I just wish there was some clarity and uniformity - the whole thing seems to have become an unenforceable embarrassment to the Government.

I was gob smacked to hear of the untimely death from Cancer of Lis Sladen in the week; she was in my mind by far the finest of the Doctors' companions, and the only one to get her own, very successful spin off series. I met her once, many years ago at Pages Bar in Westminster. On what turned out to be Jon Pertwee's final public appearance in the U.K (he died some two weeks later in America from a heart attack). She was secretly led into the crowd of onlookers during a question and answer session. Pub landlord Bob handed her the radio mike that was being used by fans to ask the former Doctor questions. She then piped up with "Who was your favourite assistant?" To Jon's consternation and surprise - she was then ushered happily onto the stage to join him. Later in the evening I got a chance for a quick chat with her, and she was both witty and gracious - she even signed the photo you can see below. You can read tributes to her here and here. In the U.K you can watch the CBBC tribute to her on the BBC iPlayer here.

I was on the 99 bus, heading towards Bexleyheath last Saturday morning; as the bus got to Slade Green railway station I noticed a large crowd of people, many dressed in WWII uniforms. Mystified, I watched the scene for a minute or so, until the bus moved on. I later discovered that the crowd were there in order to witness the unveiling of a commemorative plaque, dedicated to a group of volunteers who saved the area from devastation by fire, following a German air raid on April 16th 1941. You can read the full story on the News Shopper website here.

There has been a huge amount of hot air in the press over the last few days about the fact that the Apple iPhone stores location specific data on your position and records details of all of your movements on a database. The story was featured heavily in the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Register. To be honest, I have been aware of this for some time - as have most people involved in the technology industry. All mobile phones are fully trackable; the London Tube Bombers' movements were traced via their mobile phone signatures - the base station databases contained full details of where and when they travelled - all it needed was for Special Branch / MI5 to get a court order for the information to be released. If you have a mobile phone "they" can track you. Get used to it, or do as I do, and don't have a mobile phone. It is not as hard as you might think, and you will live with the added bonus of not being zapped by  microwaves whenever you make or receive a call.

There are rumours that former Welling resident, singer Kate Bush, is to tour for the first time in 30 years; I don't know if this will actually happen, as every few years this kind of story surfaces, only to disappear as suddenly as it appeared. I have seen her a couple of times in the street, probably when visiting her parents house in Wickham Street, Welling. I have also heard that she bought an apartment in the Royal Arsenal Development in Woolwich a year or so ago, though I am unaware of any hard evidence to support this.

The main movie clip this week is a bit of a boy's own adventure. Once again starring Sean Bean (he does seem to get around right now). The movie "Age of Heroes" is the story of 30 Commando Brigade, a prototype special forces unit created by Ian Fleming, who later went on to write the James Bond novels. The film is meant to be the first of a trilogy of WWII thrillers, loosely based on historical fact. Watch the trailer below, and leave comments accordingly.

No comments:

Post a Comment