Thursday, 31 December 2009

Barney takes us on holiday

It was our wedding anniversary just before Christmas, so we decided to have a short break away.

Some searching of the internet identified a pub in West Lulworth, Dorset. We are both familiar with the surrounding places such as Durdle door, Lulworth Cove and Corfe Castle. The pub had the added attractions of being dog friendly and a range of about a dozen different ciders. I sold Diane of the place by telling here about the seaside, and the long walks with us and Barney the Rough Collie. I told her about the best attraction once we had agreed, and booked it.

The Castle Inn very obliging sent us a brochure, and a good bit of tourist authority bumf about the area. The best bit was the stuff about the range of Cider, and Perry. This can be found on the website of the pub.

We did have a good time there, with plenty of walking of the dog, good food, and drink. We had a visit to Wareham, where I bought a great new jacket, and cap in what must be one of the few proper “men’s’” shops left. They have a website that tells just a little bit about them HERE.

While we were away, it turns out that there was so much weather, that the Rugby game against Old Albanians was canc
elled. That means that we can now see it. Let’s just hope for a good win for Bracknell!

I made some notes about the Cider we sampled while away, I must get them down in print soon.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Priestwood's Jewel

I was very pleased that the Koh-I-Noor finally got permission to expand into the vacant unit next door. The restaurant is a great asset to Priestwood, and has won awards for the appearance of the frontage. It is a shame to see any of the local centres with vacant premises. Many people, have asked me, as a councillor, what the hold up was with the gaining of permission. The place is popular with both residents, and people from further afield.

I am doubly pleased, being a curry addict, that it ensures that the restaurant does not have to move elsewhere. It is in easy walking distance for me, and there are two pubs to visit on route if I so wish. The food and service is excellent.

Report from the Bracknell Standard HERE.
Review HERE.

Sunday, 29 November 2009


It was good to see that Bracknell (Website - Facebook ) managed an away win at Sutton and Epson. The season started in good form with Bracknell beating Jersey who are the current leaders at 55 points ahead of Old Albanians at 46, and Bracknell at 44. In previous years I have travelled to the away matches with Diane, sometimes staying overnight in some interesting places. We have even had two trips to Launceston. It has been annoying not being able to make it to any away games this year.

It is also very frustrating not being able to get to either of the home matches in December. Other commitments have to be fulfilled. Bracknell are playing North Walsham on the 5th, and Old Albanians on the 19th. Old Albanians beat Bracknell 10 - 6 at the away game, so we should look forward to a good home win. Having a reasonably successful first team is a great spur to the junior teams. In fact the Junior and Mini teams, at their level might sometimes even be out performing the Seniors.

I am sure that there will be a very convivial atmosphere at the Christmas lunch with Old Albanians. We will wish them well, and hope that we win.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Bracknell Standard

Very good of them to write about me.
It amused a few friends.
I did a question and answer session for the Bracknell Standard -

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Computer and data recovery

In a way this is a bit of a follow on from a previous post. There I was looking at how Police BlackBerry smartphone, if lost, can be wiped and disabled by a central administrator instantly.

I read an article about four laptops stolen from ITN staff: One of the thefts occurred at an employee’s house in Bracknell. Returning home, they found their house had been burgled and the company laptop had been stolen. But as soon as the unauthorised user connected to the Internet, Computrace sent an alert to the Absolute Monitoring Centre, allowing the device to be tracked and located. The laptop was found in Bracknell and returned to the organisation.

This reminded me of the system put in place by our local council. It also uses Computrace software that is embedded in the BIOS firmware of a range of computers. Bracknell Forest Borough Council have made use of the software’s remote delete functionality and Absolute’s recovery process. It has been able to deactivate and remove data from three decommissioned laptops as well as recover a stolen laptop.

Not so much a case of big brother watching you, but watching out for you. It is good that people can rest assured that any data that the council holds is held securely.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Feathered Plucker

There I was happily tapping away at the computer with Barney the dog beside me. Barney leapt up, and set his body into a pointing position. Even his eyes seemed to be bulging forward.

Pigeon, I thought, but there was no whining or yapping from Barney. I peered around the curtain, to be greeted by, yes, a pigeon; but with its heart ripped out. Was this some omen I wondered.

I stepped out into the garden, followed by Barney. He was not the least bit interested in the Pigeon now, as dead things are not fun to chase. Pigeons are about the only thing that Barney will chase. Small birds are of no interest, and big birds like Magpies, Crows, and Jays, might just bite back. Ducks Geese, and sometimes big Tom Cats also scare him. His favorite is a rubber chicken, which we have to throw for him to chase, and worry at.

I sat down and continued with whatever it was. I thought I would monitor the situation, and see if the heart specialist returned.
A little later Barney started to taking a lazy interest in something again. I took a stealthy peak around the curtain., to be greeted by a female Sparrowhawk pulling its prey to a safe eating place.
Barney and I watched fascinated, as the Sparrowhawk plucked off the feathers and dug into the meat below. The bird had very quick movements, as it tried to keep its head up to watch for danger, but also carry on plucking and eating.

It was an interesting diversion to the work of the day.
The body disappeared overnight, presumably claimed by a hungry fox.

The pictures were taken through the window, and are unfortunately a bit blurry.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The other peace prize

Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.


Beer bottles are often used in physical disputes. If the bottles break, they may give rise to sharp trauma. However, if the bottles remain intact, they may cause blunt injuries. In order to investigate whether full or empty standard half-litre beer bottles are sturdier and if the necessary breaking energy surpasses the minimum fracture-threshold of the human skull, we tested the fracture properties of such beer bottles in a drop-tower.

Full bottles broke at 30 J impact energy, empty bottles at 40 J. These breaking energies surpass the minimum fracture-threshold of the human neurocranium. Beer bottles may therefore fracture the human skull and therefore serve as dangerous instruments in a physical dispute.

Keywords: Breaking energy threshold; Beer bottles; Blunt head trauma

Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine

Also answers to:
  • Why don't pregnant women topple over?
  • Do cows notice kindness?
  • Does cracking your knuckles bring on arthritis?
  • Is there more than one use for a bra?

The Ig Nobels by the Annals of Improbable Research.
Best of the Ig Nobel prizes 2009 - See New Scientist

I think, that better the full bottle in front of me than a full frontal lobotomy.

But the further research into the dropping properties of toast is very instructive.

Complete Ruckers and Freedom of speech


Carter-Ruck boasts that it is among the most aggressive firms of lawyers that can be hired.
Carter-Ruck promises that it can often "nip in the bud" the prospect of adverse media coverage by going over the heads of reporters to newspaper lawyers and making threats. It boasts of being able to obtain injunctions prohibiting publication of information "often in a matter of hours".

The Bill of Rights, passed 320 years ago, is clear: "Freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament".

Media organisations have recently been unable to report a parliamentary question due to a "super-injunction" obtained by the notorious law firm mentioned above.
It is quite amazing that British judges have been handing down secret injunctions.

Lawyers in this case clearly reckoned without the "blogosphere". In the anarchic, anything-goes world of the internet, where free speech is a frequently-heard rallying cry, injunctions banning publication of anything are unpopular. This one seems to have acted like a red rag to a bull.
The social networking site Twitter was soon awash with posts deploring a threat to media freedom and the reporting of Parliament.

The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

This would appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.

Bloggers and Twitterers helping to stand up for our parliamentary freedom and freedom of speech?

Thursday, 8 October 2009

The demise of the Law Lords

What was the pressing need to dispense with the Law Lords?

There was no obvious failure in the system that justified what has turned into a very expensive "modernisation", with nearly £60 million spent adapting the Middlesex Guildhall to the requirements of the court. And there are deeper concerns about this reform, which go to the heart of Labour's disdain for our country's constitution

Telegraph View - Oct 2009

As usual with this Governments badly thought though laws and reforms, this move may prove to have the opposite effect of that intended. A Supreme Court is likely to be emboldened to go much further than its predecessor in making rulings beyond what Parliament intended. The Law Lords were woven into the warp and weft of our constitutional settlement. We are unpicking it at our peril.

I think that before we do any more meddling with our system that those that propose to do the meddling read Walter Bagehot’s book “The English Constitution”. In the modern versions it is also worth reading the prefaces, which set the scene, and translate what Bagehot analysed into modern terms.

Walter Bagehot's The English Constitution (1867) is the best account of the history and working of the British political system ever written. As arguments raged in mid-Victorian Britain about giving the working man the vote, and democracies overseas were pitched into despotism and civil war, Bagehot took a long, cool look at the 'dignified' and 'efficient' elements which made the English system the envy of the world.

I give you an extract from Wikipedia:
While Bagehot's references to parliament have become dated, his observations on the monarchy are seen as central to the understanding of the principles of constitutional monarchy. He defined the rights and role of a monarch vis-à-vis a government as three-fold:
  • The right to be consulted;
  • The right to advise;
  • The right to warn.
Generations of British monarchs and heirs apparent and presumptive have studied Bagehot's analysis.

He also divided the constitution into two components: the Dignified (that part which is symbolic) and the Efficient (the way things actually work and get done).
Walter Bagehot also praised what we now refer to as a "parliamentary system" (which he termed "cabinet government"). At the same time, he mocked the American system for numerous flaws and absurdities he perceived, and its comparative lack of flexibility and accountability. In his words, "a parliamentary system educates the public, while a presidential system corrupts it."

You can but it at Amazon etc.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Andrew Peach has been doing his bit this week, interviewing the would be Bracknell MPs.
He kicked off midweek with Iain Dale. The following day he tracked down Julia Manning, Phillip Lee, and Rory Stewart. Friday he moved on to Margaret Doyle, Katy Lindsay, and Ryan Robson.

You can catch up on this at .
Andrew Peach concentrated on Bracknell on Thursday.

There are also some edited excerpts.


Picking Blackberrys and dim burgulars

The Bracknell News tell us that burglars in Bracknell are not as good as the ones coming in from other towns!
This was from Acting Chief Inspector Mark Harling of Bracknell police.
Apparently "Bracknell’s location and easy access from the M4 and A329 made it simple for criminals to drive in, break into '10 or 15' homes a week and then scarper."

Perhaps this is where ANPR will come in. Instead of passively catching motorists doing a bit above the speed limit, it provides information on suspect cars entering and leaving Bracknell. There are of course privacy fears over the government tracking our every movement.
West Yorkshire have set up a rapid reaction police squad to intercept criminals' vehicles, flagged-up by automatic number plate recognition cameras.

At the above meeting the police also talked of the introduction of BlackBerry solutions. Officers with mobile devices are able to reduce time in the station and increase time spent servicing their community. BlackBerry smartphones will also help to maintain already high levels of security within the force. For certain tasks officers have to carry paper records such as photographs of suspects and briefing notes which can be lost or misplaced, presenting a security risk. On BlackBerry smartphones this information can be accessed securely and, if lost, the BlackBerry smartphone can be wiped and disabled by a central administrator instantly.
A good example of the BlackBerry use is in West Yorkshire where it is helping police officers to outwit wanted suspects who try to bluff their way out of being arrested when stopped on the streets.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Things that I wish were good for me

I read some time back that Cider is good for you:

Researcher Dr Serena Marks said: "Unit for unit, the cider with the most phenolics had levels comparable to red wine."

Type of apple, exposure to light, soil composition and storage conditions all affect phenolic concentration.

Presenting her findings at the Cheltenham Science Festival last night, Dr Marks said it could have important implications for health ? and for the cider industry.

The Glasgow University scientist said: "Previous research suggests there may be an association between phenolics and protection against some serious diseases.

Read more:

A spokesman for the National Association of Cider Makers, which part-funded the study, said: "An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away. But a glass of cider could be an even more pleasurable way to take care of yourself."

Dr Caroline Walker of Brewing Research International, said: "A diet rich in antioxidants may help to protect against disease, and our research confirms cider has the same levels of antioxidants as red wine.

"It is clear that cider has a good dose of antioxidants, and as nutritionists recommend a healthy diet should include plenty of antioxidants, it could well be claimed that a glass of cider a day will keep the doctor away."

She continued: "For those who enjoy a glass of cider it is reassuring to know it may be healthy, too. But it is important that no-one drinks more than the recommended daily intake of alcohol, which for women is two to three units per day and three to four units for men. An average-strength cider has about 2.5 units per pint."

A shame about the daily limit.

I was also quite intrigued by a posting in Facebook about beer and its slimming effects.

The Youtube video tells all!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

There have been all sorts or rumors flying about about the selection of the replacement for Andrew MacKay MP.
One wonders where some of them come from
The short list of seven has now been finalised.

I see that blogger Norfolk Blogger has been getting excited over this for some time.

Richard Willis's Blog has a good deal of interesting stuff...

"I am told that Bracknell Conservatives have selected their short-list of seven to replace sitting MP Andrew MacKay who is standing down. I am seeking final confirmation but I believe that they are:

Iain Dale – top Conservative blogger, author and publisher. Iain stood in Norfolk North at the last election.

Rory Stewart – author and former Army officer. I worked with Rory in the Foreign Office after the Iraq invasion. He was appointed Governor of Di Qar province in Iraq and is also famous for walking across Afghanistan in 2002

Kate Lindsay – was previously shortlisted for Hampshire East

Julia Manning – stood in Bristol East at the 2005 General Election

Philip Lee – a Doctor and project director of Conservative Friends of Bangladesh

Ryan Robson – an investment banker and Chairman of the Centre for Social Justice’s Looked After Children Working Group.

Margaret Doyle – a Westminster Councillor"

I include the quote because there are some handy links in there.
I have collected some of my own, but please "Google" for more. All of these people have impressive backgrounds. We have yet to see who will impress the average Bracknell voter the most. I wonder if Norfolk blogger will be right in his analysis? Googling is not the "be all and end all" of people of course. We have yet to learn more about what these people have done, and how they could benefit Bracknell and the country.

Iain Dale

Rory Stewart

Kate Lindsay

Julia Manning

Philip Lee

Ryan Robson

Margaret Doyle

Remember to book your place to listen to these people and decide on who is best for Bracknell.

UPDATE - The official list is now available - HERE

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

More from Daniel Hannan.

Unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy...

More High Jinks.

Build your own mobile phone?

Well not quite build, but at least load your own software. Open Source in mobile phones and devices are becoming increasingly attractive, but shunned by Microsoft it seems, as apart from Windows Mobile, all software stacks being used in Smartphones are open sources.

The IET magazine contains an interesting article about Open Source in Mobile phones. One big problem appears to be with getting open hardware to go with the open source. Or at least getting hardware/firmware that is not stitched up by IP agreements, and wonky APIs

According to Sean Moss-Pultz, CEO of Openmoko, the range of companies that want to use handsets built on open source principles is expanding. “There are many unexpected markets that we have come into contact with,” he claimed in his keynote at the OpenExpo conference in Switzerland earlier this year, pointing to the example of Oxford Archaeology, a private company that offers archaeological services, which is bringing handset technology to the world of site excavations.

There is more stuff on a Cicso blog, and at Openmoko.

One might want to add on anti spam for text messages, an RFID scanner, or enhanced Bluetooth and USB functions.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Bracknell's new MP?

See where more details will be available soon.

The Primary method of selection was piloted in the 2001 - 2005
Parliament. Constituencies that selected using the Primary method
include Reading East and Warrington South.

As I understand it, voting at the event will be by secret ballot, and it will be necessary for the successful applicant to achieve over 50% of the votes cast, excluding abstentions. Therefore, if this is not achieved in the first round the applicant with the fewest votes would be eliminated and the meeting would proceed to a further ballot until an overall majority for one applicant is achieved.

You do not have to be a member of the Conservative Party. To be eligible to attend and vote at this meeting you just need to pre-register. Full details will be available on the Bracknell Conservatives Website.

Friday, 4 September 2009

The voters of Bracknell will soon get the chance to select their next MP.

The Conservative Party in Bracknell is to hold an “Open Primary” similar to the one recently held in Totnes.

It is thought that Primaries force parties to choose candidates with a broader appeal. If there has been non-party member involvement in the process, voters may feel more inclined to support the winner at the general election. Daniel Hannan, who admits to being somewhat of a bore where Open Primaries are concerned, says “Elected representatives are seen, not as local champions, but as members of a separate caste. Voters regard their MPs as spokesmen for their parties in the constituency rather than the other way around. How better to address this disenchantment than by allowing everyone in the constituency a say in whom the parties should nominate?”

I rather like a lot of Daniel Hannan’s stuff, but we had better not talk about the NHS just now. Let’s just say that everyone is entitled to their own opinion no matter what party they belong to.

There has been a lot of speculation in the local press about who will apply to take on the position, and who might get selected. Now that the date for applications is past I suspect that there will be a lot of hard work going on with people reading though hundreds of CV’s. The interesting bit will be who actually makes it though to the primary stage. With the great public interest shown in the selection it will probably be very hard to select from the remaining candidates.

The Bracknell Conservative Association will whittle down the number of applications to produce a shortlist of six, who will attend a weekend selection event in mid-October. The entire Bracknell Constituency electorate will then be able to apply for places at an event and a final candidate will be selected by them.

I am sure that we will get much confusion over who is in a Bracknell Constituency voter and who is a Bracknell Forest Council voter, especially as the boundaries have changed, and the northern parishes have moved to Windsor.

Polling District and location nameCurrent Parliamentary ConstituencyParliamentary constituency at the next General Election
BA - BinfieldBracknellWindsor
BB - Farley WoodBracknellWindsor
WG - WhitegroveBracknellWindsor
WM - St Michael’sBracknellWindsor
WN - Warfield Park NorthBracknellWindsor
WP - Warfield ParkBracknellWindsor
WQ - Quelm BracknellWindsor
WV - Martins Heron and WarrenWindsorBracknell
WW - Forest ParkWindsorBracknell

Perhaps something to liven up dull autumn/winter days?

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Broken stuff and shoestrings

I was reading Conservative Home earlier, and came across the blog of Matthew Parris, who has a column in the Sunday Times. He has written a piece about the Conservative year of opposition.

"For them it’s about the future now: no time to linger over might-have-beens, no point in post mortems on opposition. But the rest of us are entitled to sneak a backwards glance."

He goes on to make several observations - You can read more here

His last point is that:
"We became a party of social justice. I'm biased (I count Iain Duncan Smith as a very close friend) but I'm proudest of this achievement. Iain was a rejected leader but by continuing work he began from 2001 until 2003 he has become one of the very biggest beasts in the Conservative jungle. More important than that - through his Centre for Social Justice - he has helped developed a policy agenda that can reverse the increase in deep poverty that has characterised the Brown-Blair years. It's going to be hard given the state of the public finances but there are things we can do without spending much money. "

I trawled through various links above, and came across a Telegraph article:

"In many voters' eyes, family breakdown is directly related to the rise in thuggery, drug abuse and street violence. The number of young people stabbed to death in the past three years suggests a street life reminiscent of William Golding's Lord of the Flies. The casual intimidation and vandalism by groups of teenagers roaming around neighbourhoods terrifies residents up and down the country.

According to Conservative leader David Cameron, these are symptoms of a society that is broken; in which stable two-parent families are becoming the exception; where individual rights have blunted our sense of duty and responsibility; and where successive generations of children face a life devoid of hope or dignity."

- Broken Britain – can we fix it?

I think a answer is that there are a lot of things that can be fixed without spending lots of money.

Monday, 17 August 2009

How maths lessons have changed over the years

I found this on a Proboards forum
I just had to record it.

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100. His cost of production is 80% of the price. What is his profit?

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100. His cost of production is £80. How much was his profit?

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100. His cost of production is £80 and his profit is £20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. Your assignment: Discuss how the birds and squirrels might feel as the logger cut down their homes just for a measly profit of £20.

A logger is arrested for trying to cut down a tree in case it may be offensive to Muslims or other religious groups not consulted in the felling license. He is also fined a £100 as his chainsaw is in breach of Health and Safety legislation as it deemed too dangerous and could cut something. He has used the chainsaw for over 20 years without incident however he does not have the correct certificate of competence and is therefore considered to be a recidivist and habitual criminal. His DNA is sampled and his details circulated throughout all government agencies. He protests and is taken to court and fined another £100 because he is such an easy target. When he is released he returns to find Gypsies have cut down half his wood to build a camp on his land. He tries to throw them off but is arrested, prosecuted for harassing an ethnic minority, imprisoned and fined a further £100. While he is in jail the Gypsies cut down the rest of his wood and sell it on the black market for £100 cash. They also have a leaving barbeque of squirrel and pheasant and depart leaving behind several tonnes of rubbish and asbestos sheeting. The forester on release is warned that failure to clear the fly tipped rubbish immediately at his own cost is an offence. He complains and is arrested for environmental pollution, breach of the peace and invoiced £12,000 plus VAT for safe disposal costs by a regulated government contractor.
Your assignment: How many times is the logger going to have to be arrested and fined before he realises that he is never going to make £20 profit by hard work, give up, sign onto the dole and live off the state for the rest of his life?

A logger doesn't sell a lorry load of timber because he can't get a loan to buy a new lorry because his bank has spent all his and their money on a derivative of securitised debt related to sub-prime mortgages in Iceland and lost the lot with only some government money left to pay a few million pound bonuses to their senior directors and the traders who made the biggest losses. The logger struggles to pay the £1,200 road tax on his old lorry however, as it was built in the 1970s it no longer meets the emissions regulations and he is forced to scrap it. Some Bulgarian loggers buy the lorry from the scrap merchant and put it back on the road. They undercut everyone on price for haulage and send their cash back home, while claiming unemployment for themselves and their relatives. If questioned they speak no English and it is easier to deport them at the governments expense. Following their holiday back home they return to the UK with different names and fresh girls and start again. The logger protests, is accused of being a bigoted racist and as his name is on the side of his old lorry he is forced to pay £1,500 registration fees as a gang master. The Government borrows more money to pay more to the bankers as bonuses are not cheap. The parliamentarians feel they are missing out and claim the difference on expenses and allowances.
Your assignment: You do the maths.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

It is good to see that there will be more improvements at Bracknell Railway station.

The new footbridge is already an excellent addition to the station. The new sighting has caught me/us out several times, though, and when retuning to Bracknell by train I used to know where to sit to be next to the bridge when the train arrived at Bracknell. I am having to re-learn where to get on the train. We had a minor panic the other day, running the wrong way down the platform to cross over to the reading side, when we suddenly realised that the old bridge was no longer there.

Bracknell Forest Council, is in a partnership with South West Trains and Network Rail in this project, and the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership has also donated a segment of land to enable landscaping of the site.

This will transform Bracknell station and forms part of the regeneration work taking place in Bracknell town centre.

More at BBC news. More at the Bracknell Forest Council planning online documents

Monday, 10 August 2009

Khazi Tardis - Toilet Humour?

There I was was walking the dog.
I must have walked past thses thing several times without really taking any notice.

This time I noticed the name on the Tardis box.

It took me a while to find the OED spelling KAHZI.

It seems the the name come from the Italian for "house".
A brick one?
It would be handy walking the dog back from the pub, but being wild creatures they have to be kept in a cage.
Just a bit of toilet humor?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Healthspace Bracknell

Bracknell’s Healthspace seems to be finally coming together. Bracknell was promised a hospital years ago, and local Conservatives have continuously campaigned for one. At least the Healthspace will address some of our needs. I have spent quite some time crawling through traffic to take friends and relatives to Wexham Park, and other treatment centres. An hour’s appointment can take up most of the day for the people involved.

The plans for a Bracknell HealthSpace complex were announced last year following NHS Berkshire East’s Right Care Right Place consultation.
More recently Bracknell Local Involvement Network (LINk) heard presentations from representatives of Berkshire East Primary Care Trust (PCT) and developer Ashley House on the latest ideas for the Bracknell Healthspace.
The space will cater for urgent care, GP services, and physiotherapy and specialist appointments with visiting hospital consultants. A whole range of scans and other diagnostic tests will be available.

It can’t come soon enough.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Bracknell Authors

Another budding author in Bracknell has just published a book.

In The Wool Cycle or The World Well Washed, Dominica Roberts takes a surreal look at the magical world we know as Bracknell.

The World Well Washed is set in and around Bracknell.

It takes in the Bracknell site used as the location of Harry Potter's muggle relations. This book has flying sheep, discussions on the exact type of chocolate that makes up the missing dark matter in the universe, recipes, footnotes and some truly horrible puns.

Readers especially recommended it if you like Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde or just giggling inanely at silly jokes.

In the Bracknell News, Mrs Robers is quoted as saying "I've been telling people silly stories about Bracknell for ages, things like the Warfield ghost bus, the way they're always digging the roads up 'for buried treasure' and a whole lot of silly stuff about the underworld under Bracknell.".

It s available from Amazon for £5.99, or it can be purchased from the author for £5 by calling 01344 422902

Don't forget that you can also buy my book (hint hint) from Amazon, and bookshops. See my website at

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


The Bracknell Standard says that Priestwood has emerged as Bracknell’s best-loved area to live in.
I presume that means the whole area of Priestwod and Garth, or as it was Priestwood One and Two.

It is nice to know that we are in a good place!

The monks of Hurley Priory who were Lords of the Manor of Warfield (3rd place) in medieval times. would be pleased of the heritage they left. Perhaps we should thank the New Towns Commision for creating the open spaces that we have? Bracknell was designated as a New Town on 17 June in 1949. The first 50 houses in the New Town were completed here in 1950.

The original New Town was planned for 25,000 people; it was intended to occupy over 1,000 hectares of land on and around 'Old Bracknell' in the area now covered by Priestwood, Easthampstead, Bullbrook and Harman's Water.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Ancient eyesore

It dominatates Bracknell.
It dominates Priestwood and Garth.
The toothless hag of Winchester House.

More and more often now when I am out walking the dog I will see people standing staring, and somtimes what looks like pouting. They are looking at the skanky skyline.

BBC Berkshire says "It's awful, horrible, an eyesore and a mess. That is the verdict of Bracknell residents on the state of Winchester House building in Bracknell. Now Milton Land, owners of the former 3M building, have been ordered by the council to clean it up."

Residents questioned by BBC Berkshire reporter Sabi Phagura said they would prefer to see the building pulled down, blown up or turned it into a hospital.

Bracknell Forest Council say that:

The section 215 notice served on Miltonland Ltd, the owner of Winchester House, means that the building, which has been repeatedly vandalised and damaged by fire, will be made safe and brought up to a decent safe and presentable condition.

The owners of the building now have four months to carry out the improvements, which include:

*The removal of all broken glass;

*The boarding up of all broken windows with clean wood;

*The closure of all glazed openings for two storeys above the market;

*Repainting of fire damaged panels;

*Removal and painting over of graffiti from the exterior of the building;

*Blocking up of access where it has been vandalised on the ground floor;

*To finish the external face of the building.

We can only hope.
But maybe blowing it up would be much more satisfying?

A bit of Googling brings up BBC Bristol and Westmorland House.

Sounds familliar!

Comer Homes bought the plot in 1989 but has not been able to agree plans for its development with the city council.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Tracking the Hacking

The defence of human liberty can affect us all. The Extradition Act of 2003 was passed into law to fight the “war on terror” post 9/11. But one wonders how Gary McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome (a form of autism), can be described as a terrorist.

Lord Jones of Birmingham, a former Government minister has attacked Britain’s "lopsided" extradition arrangements with the United States. He has called on the Government to change the rules "the lopsided, biased extradition arrangements between the USA and the UK".

The Extradition Act 2003 requires the US only to show "reasonable suspicion" that the intended subject committed a crime before they can be removed from Britain, a lower threshold than British authorities must show in order to bring an American to trial.
The High Court is expected to rule on whether to grant judicial reviews of aspects of the Government's decision to extradite Gary McKinnon. The courts have seen details of numerous embarrassing intrusions by hackers into some of the US military's most sensitive systems.

A list of violated military agencies is detailed in a document published by Computer Weekly. The document demonstrates how vulnerable US military computer systems were to attack before and after 11 September 2001.

Mckinnon's lawyers used the CPS' 'Review Note 3' to support their argument in the High Court that US evidence against McKinnon is too weak to secure a prosecution in this country and unlikely even to uphold allegations against McKinnon in the US.

Mckinnon has Asperger's syndrome – a type of autism that makes him shy and prone to obsessive behaviour – his supporters are concerned that his condition would probably deteriorate were he to be taken away from his family. His condition means he would sometimes combines a compulsive need to follow any mission to its conclusion with an almost complete inability to envisage any negative outcome.

Leah Hardy writing in the Daily Mail says "As a mother and a voter, I feel nothing but loathing and contempt for those cowardly, two-faced Labour MPs who signed up to this newspaper's campaign for Gary McKinnon, then, faced with pressure from their own party, caved in and voted to sacrifice him - and any other UK citizen the U.S. happens to take a dislike to - for their own craven ambitions."

I was fascinated by the book "Born On A Blue Day". It gave an insight into the mind of a person with Asperger's.

It is very distressing to read how Gary McKinnon has been abandoned by his own country. Here we have yet another wrong decision by our current government.
I is also very interesting to read how relatively easy it has been to break into these supposed secure systems, which is perhaps another lesson that our government should pay attention to.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Wrapping up RSS and smashing atoms

This was an interesting exercise. I had to do several things that I had done before, but it was a bit like relearning some of it. Seems like the things I learnt 30 years ago stay in my memory better that thing from 30 days ago.

The thing is now created though, and I have a wrapper around the Blogger blog stuff. The wrapper picks up the things from blogger using RSS. I am using php rather than a script (must remember to call the files php not htm or html) to include the RSS stream. This meant remembering how the Wamp server worked, and where to put stuff in directories. All easy really one I remembered where I put it all.

WAMP includes Apache 2, MySQL, and PHP 5. Once installed, it just works. There was a fiddly bit with the RSS and rssinclude. I had not used that site before, but it did make it easy. I should probably now revist and tweak that a bit. The RSS part there is a bit clunky.

It was interesting picking up a website template off the web. A lot of the positioning of stuff is done through Cascading Style Sheets CSS. I thing that I really should pay more attention to. It can make things look quite pretty, but is not always obvious in use. I always fell much happier handcoding HTML. I suppose it is the sort of way I feel better using Assembler to produce code instead of somthing like C++ as one can see exactly what the computer is doing, and where one is heading.
Thinking of Assembler, I must get around to visiting the National Computer Musem at Bletchley Park. They have a Elliott 905 computer there that it would be nice to see again.
The 920 was a millitary version.

Oh dear. A lot of techy type stuff here.

Monday, 20 July 2009

What a waste

Following on from an earlier post about Tracking Trash, and Watching Waste it was interesting to see the front page of the Times on Saturday.

Two British companies are being investigated over the discovery of 1,400 tonnes of hazardous waste from Britain at Brazilian ports.

The Times now says that Britain is preparing to take back more than 1,400 tonnes of toxic waste said to have been exported illegally to Brazil for recycling.

It make you wonder if recycling targets are real or not.
We just have to put our trust in contractors, and government schemes.

We learnt, earlier in the month, again from The Times that More than 2,800 tons of paper left out by householders for recycling is being dumped in landfill sites every year. Paper collected in the same containers as plastic bottles and metal cans is being contaminated by food and liquid waste, making it unusable for recycling.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Bee on my Bonnet

We have loads of Bumble Bees going in and out of the garage.
They decided to live in there somewhere quite some time back.

We have to make sure that the back door is opened when we get up, so that the bees can get out easily. They could get out through the up-and-over door, but it's a bit more complicated.
I forgot the other morning, and a lone bee came in the house, presumably to get me to open the door. The door glass was covered in bees, all waiting to get out.

How, I wonder, are we to persuade them to live somewhere else next year?

According to Defra, up to £10 million is to be invested to help to identify the main threats to bees and other insect pollinators. Maybe it's because they get themselves locked in a garage all day?

Palaver, Poppycock, and Poppy Crop

I see that a Priestwood soldier who served in Afghanistan has backed the Government’s decision to keep troops there after 15 men died in 10 days.
TA soldier David McMullan said “There are a number of reasons we’re out there. “Afghanistan produces more than 90 per cent of the heroin in the UK and if you look at the impact that has on crime in the UK - that’s something worth fighting for.
"I don’t think anyone should have to live under a rule like the Taliban [Muslim fundamentalists and former ruling party of Afghanistan]. Having spent some time out there, and having seen the difference in the Afghan nationals when they see changes working for them, I think it is a fight worth fighting."

It was interesting to read this following Boris Johnson's column in the Telegraph.

He says that at direct UK government urgings, there are large tracts of land that are given over to the cultivation of the palaver somniferum (Opium Poppy) , for the very good reason that the opium is essential for the NHS. Why are we paying our farmers to grow poppies in Oxfordshire, and paying our soldiers to destroy them in Afghanistan? Be in no doubt that what British troops are doing in Helmand is heroic, and it is very far from futile. If Nato forces pulled out, the Taliban would probably overrun Kabul in three weeks, with catastrophic consequences for Pakistan and for global stability
Why not Let us help the Afghans to obtain what legal value they can from their poppies?
As long as heroin is illegal in most jurisdictions (for the foreseeable future, that is), the price of illegal opium will probably be higher than the legal crop, and the drugs barons will not be entirely undermined. But we should at least try an option that offers the world cheaper pain relief.

Boris also says that we could dwell on how poppies have symbolised the sacrifice of soldiers.

Fat Pig - Moi? Flab and Flu

As if people struggling with obesity did not have enough to worry about, they now face a new health hazard.
According to statistics from the US, overweight people appear more likely to die of swine flu.

In the US, 45 who died per cent were obese. As only 26 per cent of US adults are obese, this suggests that obesity doubles the risk.

Overfed, obese mice are nearly seven times as likely to die of ordinary flu as genetically identical lean mice. HWCIT

We don't know if the same series of events happen in obese people with swine flu, Beck warns. But it is possible that, as in mice, obesity dampens our ability to fight flu by disrupting the immune response.

David Fedson, a former flu researcher at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, has long proposed using drugs that damp down inflammation, such as statins, fibrates and glitazones, as an additional way of cutting deaths from flu. These drugs are normally prescribed for obesity-related disorders such as high cholesterol and insulin insensitivity - figures on obesity and swine flu strengthen the case for stockpiling the drugs.

Well at least I am on Statins and Fibrates. The tummy needs some working on though - but the doctor has already told me that.


Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Watch the Birdie

Numbers of a threatened species of bird native to some of Bracknell Forest’s nature reserves have dropped following heavy snowfalls in the winter. Conservationists are warning that numbers of Dartford warblers could have fallen by 80 or 90 per cent.
Bracknell Standard

It is worrying that things are being done to protect birds, but that they continue to decline.

The Council has produced Open Space Management Plans in consultation with Natural England. These set out the precise works to areas of open space and the priority order for these enhancements. Four of these plans have now been finalised, Horseshoe Lakes, Englemere Pond, The Cut Countryside Corridor and Longhill Park cluster, and the remaining four will be produced.
Thames Basin.

The birds in our garden, and the woodland behind appear to have done well with breeding this year.
At one stage I could count 7 baby Blue Tits in the bird bath together. The were like a bunch of small boys at the seaside splashing about.

On a more somber note, there is a "smell" in the attic. The Starlings did appear to breed OK, but I suspect that one did not make it. Diane wants me to go up now and sort it out. I wonder if I wait whether "it" will dry out and cease to be a problem.

There used to be a lot of Starlings about when I moved in 12 years ago. There was constant whistling and chatting. I miss all that background noise.

We did the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. As always it was interesting watching all the birds come and go.
I must remember to keep an eye out for a suitable webcam to capture the garden and wildlife.