Commentary

Website by Andy Preece

This is an occasional commentary on cycling and unrelated issues - 'blog' if you must - and will be updated from time to time.


Posted 16 December 2009:
Do you ever get frustrated with the spurious street names on Googlemaps? There's a way to report them at Google's map supplier Tele Atlas. Let's see if my report of Queich Place (in reality Glen Dewar Place) actually gets changed!


Posted 3 November 2009:
What is the point in one or two day postal strikes? If people want to contact someone urgently they use the telephone or email these days. Anything else can wait a day or two longer without undue worry. If they really mean business then it should be an all-out strike, like we used to get in the seventies and eighties.


Posted 10 October 2009:
Will someone tell motorists that a green light does not mean "go as far as you can"? If there is traffic queuing on the other side of the pedestrian crossing, you must stop and not go onto the crossing. Actually, I was reading a report the other day that said that a motorist, when questioned, didn't think that flashing red lights meant stop! He said that he thought there had to be a steady red light to require him to stop!

I still find shops where the assistants assume you want a bag, even for one item, and are seemingly genuinely startled that I don't! Even if I'm carrying a half-empty bag already.


Posted 7 September 2009:
Why do some cyclists wear high visibility reflective vests, then put black rucksacks on their backs, covering up the hi-viz? Completely pointless!


Posted 20 August 2009:
Another reason not to go with DAB is you can't trust the station your radio alarm clock is on to still be there there next morning! When a DAB station goes off air, you don't get hiss (static) like on FM, but just silence. Silence doesn't make a good alarm. Although I notice that the station concerned is back on this evening, so maybe it hasn't gone the same way as several DAB stations before it. On checking the internet, and specifically the Digitalspy forum, it seems this going off air for a few days thing is a regular occurrence.


Posted 16 June 2009:
The government has published what it thinks the future of all things digital should be, and while most of the media attention has been on the provision of broadband to rural areas and syphoning off money from the TV licence fee to fund various programmes on commercial television, there is contained within the report a proposal to switch off all AM and FM radio stations by 2015. You what? DAB is to be the broadcast medium of choice, if this gets the go-ahead, so the government will be with one hand giving rural areas broadband and with the other hand taking away their radio. Getting an FM signal is impossible in many areas of Scotland, so there is little chance that DAB coverage will be any better. With the withdrawal of many radio stations from the AM bands, which use a few high-power transmitters to cover large areas, in favour of FM where transmitters can only cover on "line of sight" so require lots of transmitters scattered across the country, has meant that listening choice has become somewhat restricted in rural areas in recent years. I went to the Western Isles once and with virtually no FM reception in the place I was staying, spent much of the time listening to Ireland's 2FM, which was still on Medium Wave at that time.

On top of that, DAB radios require more power to run, making battery-powered radios impractical, are more expensive, and usually do not come with the additional features of ordinary radio sets, e.g. tape recorder (or modern equivalent), CD player, etc. It is no surprise, therefore, to see that DAB radios are not exactly flying off the shelves of shops, but are quite literally gathering dust. DAB appears to be the mini-disc of radio (and DRM the equivalent of digital compact cassette), bought by a few people who like to buy the latest new gadget, but not bought by the majority, who are happy with the radios they already own. By all means keep DAB for the specialist stations (notably from the BBC, the commercial sector's contribution isn't exactly anything to write home about) until internet radio is better developed, but FM is still going to be the main means of radio delivery for the majority (in urban areas) with AM filling the gaps elsewhere. In case you are wondering, I do have a DAB radio, but I have to put it on the windowsill to get a signal, and I live in a city!


Posted 9 June 2009:
At the weekend I noticed that the local supermarket has at long last reintroduced the practice of leaving out used cardboard boxes for customers to put their shopping into. Since many customers are loading their shopping into the backs of their cars anyway, it doesn't really need to go into lots of pesky plastic carrier bags, and a cardboard box will do fine. However, the customer in front of me didn't grasp this concept very well and loaded her plastic bags of shopping into a cardboard box!


Posted 4 June 2009:
At the weekend I happened to tune into a local 'format' radio station. It became apparent that the DJ was announcing each of the songs one out of sync from the order in which they were played. Does this mean that some DJs no longer actually stay for the duration of their shows, and pre-record all the links in advance, without actually playing any of the records, and putting everything onto the computer to be played out automatically? Well, they got it wrong this time.

Some people seem to think radio in this country is just there to make money out of advertisers, and the present system of licencing, which guarantees that radio can only be done as big business, only reinforces that. Look how many local licences are now owned by 'chain' radio stations that have an outlet in each major city and have locally-made programming only for a few hours per day. Fair enough that radio stations club together for their overnight 'sustaining' services (not every station can manage to put on interesting output like BBC Radio 1 does every night), but the above incident took place in the late afternoon.


Posted 16 May 2009:
Why is it when politicians resign after some scandle, they rarely resign as a Member of Parliament? It is all very well resigning as a minister or special advisor but they will still be an MP and still receiving their MP's salary and expenses, hoping that their electorate will have forgotten all about the scandle by the time of the next election or just blindly vote for the same party no matter what. General Election now!


Posted 5 May 2009:
Invention ideas:
1. A remote control that works off of the kinetic energy used in pressing the buttons.
2. A mobile phone charger consisting of a magnet and coil attached to your legs, that charges your phone as you walk.


Posted 2 May 2009:
The other day I heard an ice-cream van playing "Singing In The Rain" on its chimes. How inappropriate! It wasn't even raining.


Posted 24 April 2009:
Since when has "Keep your belongings with you" been a special notice? This is a mundate notice or a routine notice. There's nothing special about it! Stop pretending it is special or people will not bother reading it when you do have a special notice.


Posted 8 March 2009:
Why is it that when someone accepts a ridiculously large pay rise or pension it is the recipient that gets the flack? Surely the people that should receive the blame are those that offered the money, which in the case of the latest scandle includes a government minister. But the government minister has good PR people who turn the story around so it appears that they are blameless, rather than party to the decision and possibly incompetent for not checking what it is that they were agreeing to. Of course, if newspapers were actually independent and not run by people with agendas backing particular parties, then we might get to the truth of the matter sooner.


Posted 25 February 2009:
Why do transport companies think that it would be a good idea to put a "What's Changed" box onto timetables, then fill it with something as bland as "Revised timetable"? Do they expect all their customers to search through the timetable to find the actual changes themselves? Surely this box is there to say what the changes to the timetable actually are, since it would not have been reissued with a new date on the front if it had not changed.


Posted 17 February 2009:
I saw a brunette on the train today sporting a Yulia Tymoshenko hairstyle!

At lunchtime I saw a motorist on her mobile phone whilst driving. However, the road she turned right into had a Police van sitting at the traffic lights. Although the officers saw her on her phone, they didn't turn round to persue this law-breaker. When I got home, the news was reporting the trial of a motorist convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst being on his phone whilst driving. Do motorists actually have to kill someone before being charged?


Website by Andy Preece