Blog

For a wider audience and instant distribution most of my thoughts go straight to Facebook. But for extending those thoughts, and to reach people who understand where I'm going, those thoughts may also appear here.

Unlike every other weblog you ever saw, this one is in correct chronological order so you can read it the right way round.

DateSubject
3 Jan 2019Texas pig weighing
11 Jan 2019Gadgets
27 Jan 2019Growing through
13 Feb 2019Away day
28 Feb 2019In everybody's foot
14 Mar 2019New phone
25 Mar 2019Democracy
13 Apr 2019Keeping fit
24 Apr 2019Avin a larf
10 May 2019While home burns
22 May 2019Euro election
10 Jun 2019Wet days
24 Jun 2019Tachycardia
4 Jul 2019Damned Dreadnought
15 Jul 2019Bright spark
30 Jul 2019Summer weather
2 Aug 2019Where was I?
10 Aug 2019Thunderbugs
19 Aug 2019Wistow Maze
31 Aug 2019Warm spot
2 Sep 2019Chocolate biscuits
16 Sep 2019New meaning
25 Sep 2019Skype tripe
2 Oct 2019Smelling pistakes
9 Oct 2019Amazing primer
16 Oct 2019Bear with me
4 Nov 2019Contract for the Web
28 Nov 2019Somewhere safe
11 Dec 2019Bad advice
28 Dec 2019Give over

Texas pig weighing

Can't recall when I first heard this explained but it stuck with me and I marvel at how often the system is used.

This is how it works: First you find a strong plank and a fallen log that you can balance it across. You put your pig on one end of the plank. Then you find a big stone to put on the other end that balances the pig.

Now you guess how much the stone weighs.

There is some sense in this. It's easier to make a guess at the stone than it is to get a grip of something as slippery as a squirming pig.

Over the years I've seen this technique used in all kinds of circumstances, some of them claiming to be 'scientific'.

Next time someone quotes a fact or figure, check how far back up the research you need to go to reach the plank and log stage and find out what they are really guessing the weight of.

Gadgets

I've always considered myself as a technophile and an early adopter of new technology. However I'm totally baffled by the gizmos and gadgets that Facebook keeps suggesting I can't live without. Are they parts for a car, something to improve high fidelity music or the latest smartphone peripheral?

Do they shove these things at me in the expectation that curiosity will drive me to click through? It's tempting but they are just the tech equivalent of "you will never guess what happened next...".

Correct! I never guess and I never click.

Growing through

It's good to cycle on crisp, sunny winter days but my muffler causes a few comments from folk who say I'm growing through it.

I shall scour charity shops for a silver fox boa that will hide my bristles.

Away day

It's fifty years since the first moon landing so there are plenty of programmes and films celebrating the anniversary. I'm not taking much interest. Well, no more than usual. Endeavours at the frontiers of science and exploration have excited me since IGY and Sputnik. That's why I already have my ticket for the next big leap for mankind.

I'm not really bothered if it's a one way ticket. At my age I'm more concerned that I have a seat and don't have to stand up all the way there.

In everybody's foot

Far to many old folk (and that means most politicians!) have the attitude "It won't bother me, I'll be long gone."

Apart from the complacent immorality of such an outlook, they could be wrong. Tipping points such as Arctic fires, Gulf Stream deflection, Antarctic ice sheet disintegration and Amazon deforestation could bring catastrophe within months rather than decades. Old folk will be least able to cope. To some extent it's because they won't change their ways.

We aren't just shooting ourselves in the foot - we are shooting everyone in the foot!

New phone

I've had a dinky little smartphone for a few years and its life has been extended beyond reasonable expectations by replacing the battery. This is simply done by slipping off the back case and slotting in a replacement.

Modern phones are built to be waterproof. For the average house and car bound user the only soaking the phone is likely to receive is being dropped into the loo. So the battery is sealed in. Battery fails and you shell out for a new phone.

For that reason, now that my old faithful smartphone has become too slow and unable to run the latest apps, I've chosen a phone that has an extra large battery - Motorola G7 Power.

The main disadvantage is that it is HUGE !

When you get your first smart phone it's ...

MY PRECIOUS

...then you get your new BIG one & it's ...

MY   BURDEN

Friends pull my leg that it is bigger than their TV. I need a phone case with a carrying handle. But with the kind of use I put it to, it will run two or three days between charges.

I'm a bit paranoid about keeping the non-replaceable battery in good condition. I don't use the "quick" charger. I recharge from 15% to 80% (about 2½ hours) and certainly won't leave it to cook overnight!

Democracy

Start of quotation The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. End of quotation

- Winston S Churchill

I'm just glad I've not been invited to any party that MPs organise at a brewery.

Keeping fit

Warming up before a spring cycle ride from Lutterworth Sports Ground.

Considering the membership costs at Fitness Centres I'm surprised there isn't a queue to use this free equipment.

But I suppose driving to a fitness centre is not about fitness.

Avin a larf

Start of quotation Shut up and calculate. End of quotation

- David Mermin

While home burns

Euro election

Wet days

Tachycardia

thought I was having a

HEART ATTACK

then I realised it was a

BOOMBOX

in the car I was passing

Damned Dreadnought

Is there such a thing as age related dyslexia? I often misread things and, with hearing deteriorating, mishear things as well.

Bright spark

My 1959 heavyweight Matchless 350 had an alternator running at 12 volts purely to charge the battery and run the lights. It had the above gentleman providing the vital spark. Bulletproof!

Summer weather

This map was from Wundermap at 6pm today. It is a useful resource for seeing what the prevailing wind is blowing your way. In this case plenty more rain.

Where was I?

The Rally Listing provided by Hans Veenendaal is a terrific resource that is justifiably the most used and best regarded item on LPMCC.net. Therefore we try to add value by making it easy to find and use. Until now it has only been possible to filter Hans' list by country and month. Now we have added a method of finding the closest rallies to a location that you give and for a date range.

When developing this new page it seemed sensible to allow the search centre to be the current location of the user. Research showed that the necessary method was easily accessible. The feature was therefore included, successfully tested on the local server and the new page posted.

... but it didn't work ...

It transpires that geolocating a user is only permitted over a secure (https://) connection. LPMCC.net doesn't pass data to the server so it remains plain old http. That useful feature had to be deleted.

Too many hours wasted that I could have been spending eating cake.

Thunderbugs

When the summer weather improves we have the delight of thunderbugs or thrips. Very annoying when they crawl up the inside of spectacles, goggles and visors. You suddenly become aware of one out of the corner of your eye and swerve to avoid it.

We have found that they are less attracted to fluorescent orange than our usual saffron visibility jackets. Looking like a patch of buttercups invites infestation.

Wistow Maze

A visit to Wistow Maze remains a family tradition. These years I have to be guided through the car park, never mind the labyrinth!

When I asked for tickets for "three big kids" I was told that most of the visitors are adults. A good place to lose and find yourself.

Warm spot

For the life of me I can't understand the need for these. Even on winter days this is one part that doesn't need heating.

Any-road-up, I have gas fired central heating in that department.

Chocolate biscuits

New meaning

George Orwell wrote about Newspeak.
This is a 21st century example.

No-one seems to have the responsibility for taking these signs down. They remain in place for years and add to sign clutter. The one outside my house has been turned to face the wrong way.

Skype tripe

Still struggling with the constant deterioration of what was once an excellent program.

On Skype Night (last Wednesday of every month* at 8pm**), there is a BIG BUTTON at the top of our Skype page that is a link for anyone*** to join our chat. I get the link from Skype. So they tell me. Take a look at the screen shot below. If your mouse pointer is over it the contrast is enhanced from Skype's pallid tone.

The paragraph above the "Invite More People" button says "Go to Group Settings to get the link".
OK, where is Group Settings?

Not very intuitive but the big button brings up the required information.

Microsoft have spoilt what was once an essential program. The development team must all be adventure game fans because they hide features in the most obscure places. Why drop the convention of putting the close X on the top right? Why does the left panel revert to Chats every time the screen changes?

*Maybe not Christmas Day
**20.00hours Blighty Time
***No need to install Skype if using Chrome or Edge browser

Smelling pistakes

Ron Bryan, my boss at RoSPA, insisted that all written material must be rigorously checked for spelling errors. Such mistakes could indicate lack of education or slovenly work. But Ron was most concerned that bad spelling distracted the reader's attention from the message.

Spell checking content on LPMCC.net is pretty easy these days. Most word processing software has a spell checker. I take an even easier route by pasting the text into a Thunderbird email message and look for the wiggly red undermines.

Spell checkers are not fool proof. I'm the fool who proves that.

They miss words that are spelled correctly but are not the word that is appropriate for the context. Their They're There are usually a few of those that slip through the process.

There are also a lot of false flags for names and places. These are generally useful as they cause a double-take and second look.

The tricky ones are the comical errors that reverse the meaning. How often have I put fiends instead of friends and recently torment instead of treatment.

When I do a random sampling of web pages there is often an error that grabs attention as Ron Bryan predicted. In last week's News update I confessed to an anonymous word that has dogged me for years.

It is tempting to rush exciting new reports and stories onto the site. I leave the style strictly as it is received; the punctuation may be ... er ... adjusted; spelling should get the full private dental plan.

It isn't only technical errors that I need you to report.

When you are on LPMCC.net I want the magic to last.

I mustn't break the spell.

Amazing primer

People are repeatedly caught out by the unfair practice that Amazon uses to trick them into taking on a Prime subscription. Are Amazon blatently turning web convention against users to encourage them to click a button that starts their membership?

Web users expect a button to look a bit like a button and a link to look like a link. When you are ready to pay for your purchases you get the following page. What do you press?

Choices appear to be ...

  1. Order Now with Prime
  2. Continue with Prime

Maybe the choice that you want is in small print on the bottom left?

Bear with me

You may be asking why there is a Rupert page on LPMCC.net.

The short answer is that the doggerel is used to liven up reminder text messages for Embers' cycle rides.

Rupert Annuals were my favourite childhood books. Now I'm retreating into my second childhood their appeal is as strong as ever.

The layout of pages hasn't changed over the years.

  1. Clear illustrations of the subject that a child can enjoy for the content and context
  2. Description in a two line stanza of simple words that encourage early reading
  3. Full paragraphs of narrative for a parent to read

I use it as a metaphor to guide LPMCC.net construction. I suspect Facebook do as well.

  1. Pictures, wherever possible, to attract attention
  2. Short captions and descriptions
  3. Hyperlinks to full details. (It don't get no fuller than the WWW!)

It follows basic tenets of training.

  1. Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS)
  2. Lead from the known to the unknown
  3. Break it into small parts then put it together

Rupert has one other training trick up the sleeve of his red jumper...

  1. Tell 'em what you are going to tell 'em,
    Tell them,
    Tell 'em what you told them!

Keep watching LPMCC.net and we may have puzzles and origami next.

Contract for the Web

The web was designed to bring people together and make knowledge freely available. Everyone has a role to play to ensure the web serves humanity. By committing to the following principles, governments, companies and citizens around the world can help protect the open web as a public good and a basic right for everyone.

Governments will

Ensure everyone can connect to the internet
so that anyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can participate actively online.

Keep all of the internet available, all of the time
so that no one is denied their right to full internet access.

Respect people's fundamental right to privacy
so everyone can use the internet freely, safely and without fear.

Companies will

Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone
so that no one is excluded from using and shaping the web.

Respect consumers' privacy and personal data
so people are in control of their lives online.

Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst
so the web really is a public good that puts people first.

Citizens will

Be creators and collaborators on the web
so the web has rich and relevant content for everyone.

Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity
so that everyone feels safe and welcome online.

Fight for the web
so the web remains open and a global public resource for people everywhere, now and in the future.

We commit to uphold these principles and to engage in a deliberative process to build a full "Contract for the Web", which will set out the roles and responsibilities of governments, companies and citizens. The challenges facing the web today are daunting and affect us in all our lives, not just when we are online. But if we work together and each of us takes responsibility for our actions, we can protect a web that truly is for everyone.


The above nine principles resonate with LPMCC.net. We are therefore a signatory to the World Wide Web Foundation.

LPMCC.net will adhere to and promote the ideals appropriate to "companies" by continuing to make our content free and available to everyone, minimising personal data and keeping it secure, learning and deploying technology that emphasises the positive aspects of our field.

We are delighted to have the support of creators and collaborators who provide rich and relevant content, building a strong community that welcomes everyone.

It is up to each of us to appreciate what we have and not allow it to be monopolised by corporations and censored by bureaucrats.

Somewhere safe

Finished using it, putting it down HERE so you can remember where it is and find it quickly next time. Somewhere easy to remember, somewhere safe.
WRONG!

Been there, done that and, by golly, you're gonna do it again!

Then you go through the same familiar mental process to trace it.

  1. Where is it supposed to be and where did you last see it?
  2. What does it look like?
  3. When did you last use it?
  4. What was you doing at the time?

Rewind your memory and retrace your steps. Did you break off to make a cuppa and it moved from the garage to the kitchen with you? Did you change out of your overalls? Is it with your keys? (wherever the hell they are)

I spend more time looking for my tools than using them, more time rewriting things than the original research.

And then there are computers. If it's easy to lose stuff in the real world, in computers it is virtually compulsory.

Thankfully there are solutions. Just like in the real world where you ransack the house, on my computer I can ransack the storage drives and disks in search of that elusive file. The program that I use is appropriately called Agent Ransack from Mythicsoft.

It just requires the same systematic approach as real life.

  1. Start with a reasonable guess of where is it supposed to be.
  2. What type of file is it? A .xls spreadsheet or a .jpg photograph?
  3. When did you last write in the document or when was the photo taken or downloaded?
  4. Are there any clues to the filename or content in the subject?

Armed with some clues you can choose where to begin searching in your computer folders, set the file type, limit the date range and add any unique or rare words in the document that will speed the search and be selective with results.

When all else fails (as it so often does) move up the directory structure until you are eventually ransacking your whole C:\ drive for files of any date that look remotely like the one you have lost. Sort the thousands of results by filename, then location, then date and scroll through them until you find that lost item.

Guaranteed that, when you do trace it, you will exclaim...

"Ah! I remember putting it there now."

Bad advice

I'm no stranger to giving advice on subjects I know sweet Fanny Adams about. I've never been one to draw back from talking through my backside and spreading alternative facts. Maybe I should stand for parliament?

In the meantime, here is summat else I know nowt about. Dietary advice during the festive season when you are giving in to over-indulgence . Put your favourite food or drink in the box then press the button below it for words of wisdom that are completely and utterly devoid of truth or polyunsaturated value.

Your dietary advice will be delivered here.

Please note: This advice must be taken with a pinch of salt.

A very small pinch, mind you.

Give over

Drivers never learn the Highway Code and therefore struggle with the meanings of many roadsign glyphs. They can cope with a and a hamburger on their phones but are challenged by street furniture.

Here is an example from Leicester. Do you know what it means?

 

What do you think is on the plaque beneath this sign?

Little wonder that drivers become confused when they meet the sign in its proper form. This location requires a blue rectangular information sign , not a red-bordered circular mandatory sign upside-down. Here is the sign as it is supposed to be used.

Can you tell me where the (incorrect) sign is?

- Ben Crossley