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People have been asking me what I think about this.  I think it's rubbish, and here is why:

The death rate is so vanishingly low that a law specializing in death by dangerous trousers is more urgently needed.  Seriously, we have an accident category for them in A&E and everything.  

The crime is already covered by manslaughter. Only a petrolhead would fail to spot that, because they have special super-lax and weakly applied laws to make them feel better about screwing up.  Or maybe they have spotted it and are keeping stum in case they feel "the full force of the law" themselves.  Imagine how people would drive if they expected a manslaughter charge for killing people? 

It's a tribal sop to Clarkson Man, who feels aggrieved by fuel prices and such, and who likes to see those naughty cyclists kicked.  This fits in with the current Hammond transport vibe, which is so petrolheaded that it looks like he wants to replace Hamster Hammond.  That would make Cameron into Captain Slow, which is a pity because I like Captain Slow, but he is posh and they are all mates.  Yes, your transport policy is being run by Top Gear. 

Note that every discussion you have with anyone about this proposed law changes within a couple of sentences from death to red lights and chavs on the pavement. It's nothing to do with the issue. It's pure vacuous politics and it stinketh.
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I've had Land's End - John O'Groats on my list since I was about fourteen and first heard of it.  Forty is a good time to do a bucket-list ride, and this three-week trip (some camping, some hostelling, some couch-surfing) is how I'm hoping to do it.  Days are around 60 miles, with nothing centuriffic and a few shorties.  There are rest days in there too, though "rest" and "beer" may be cognate in this context.  The deviations from the CTC's standard route make for a total of about a thousand miles.
  1. Land's End - Wadebridge (up the north coast - gorgeous but tough - with chuffy, baggy and cider)
  2. Wadebridge - Crediton (coastal to Bude, then pause via home)
  3. Crediton - Glastonbury (you can't keep a good hippy down; the chuffbag sabot is fired off home now)
  4. Glastonbury - Bristol (a short day, and hopefully a hookup and some ales)
  5. Bristol - Cinderford (I've always wanted to ride the Severn Bridge; hope to avoid Monmouth)
  6. Cinderford - Clun (if I can get away from being Mum-fed)
  7. Clun - Chester (possibly with forum rider types)
  8. Chester - Preston (goin' north)
  9. Preston - Kendal (lumps!)
  10. Kendal - Keswick (short detour to the Lakes; rest day and a paddle)
  11. Keswick - Kielder Water (water is a theme, isn't it?)
  12. Kielder Water - Edinburgh (this and yesterday could be quite the hack; pick up [ profile] ravenbait , frood and ales)
  13. Edinburgh - Crainlairach (picking up the CTC bikepacker route)
  14. Crainlarach - Glencoe (Scotland is big. Really big. )
  15. Glencoe - Loch Ness (More lakeside camping, plus monster. ME!   )
  16. Loch Ness - Carbisdale Castle (they'll probably repel the English)
  17. Carbisdale Castle - Tongue (made up name, surely?)
  18. Tongue - John O'Groats (groaty john got groats on his head!)
I'm fizzing with apprehension and excitement in equal proportion, which is probably about right. 
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I'm a gadget queen so I had to work out something to keep my kit going during my upcoming extended cycle tour.  Now, there's a lot of dynohub-and-battery-charger arrangements coming to market, but I lack the dynohub and don't want to tie stuff to one bike (or any bike).  Solar is the obvious candidate, and most of the commercial "backpacking solar" is expensive and rather underpowered.  Here's what I settled on:

Where does he get those wonderful toys? )
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My big ride takes me past the Bristol massive.  Tuesday 3rd May I'm coming from Glastonbury to Bristol; Wednesday 4th I'm going over the Bridge to the folks in the Forest of Dean.  If anyone fancies riding along with, gimme a shout (or maybe an evening roll up the Bath Path? or other random pub-related locations?).  My speed at all times will be... sedate
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Famously, Sturgeon's Law says that 90% of everything is crap.  It's pretty much true.  It too is crap: not because it is wrong, but because it is irrelevant.

Sturgeon extrapolated from his personal experience as a sci-fi author back in the days of paper books, and yes, there's a lot of really crap pulp in that field.  It doesn't take much cynicism to extrapolate it to the rest of the world: most gadgets are crap, most food is crap, most politics is crap, and so on. 

But that only applies in a resource-scarce environment.  Now behold the Infinite, my cynical reader.  It's not got better (90% of twitpics are photos of your lunch), but it's got so impossibly massive that whatever you think is great, there's more of it than you can possibly consume.  An infinite library has infinite awesomeness: it just needs to be tapped.  Of course, 90% of tapping methods are crap, but personal recommendations are usually weighted pretty well, which is why I'll read a retweeted webcomic and usually like it and catass my weekend away reading all the catch-up. 

The infinite monkeys win, because any percentage of infinite is infinite, and I only need a hundred years of good stuff before I die.

(Yes, this post is an excuse for doing nothing on a lovely day, thinly veiled as singularitarian Better Than Life propaganda.  But you should read Jesus Christ: In The Name Of The Gun.  There are far too many HFS needle-peggers for me to spoil it.  Go.  Read.  See?  Told you.)

As a postscript, I have real trouble mourning libraries when they are so obviously obsolete.  There, I've said it.  I loved libraries too.  I have a penny farthing bike.  It's a lousy ride. 
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So, Westminster and this AV lark.  I'm all for it.  I'd be more for full-on PR, but AV will do for now. 

Cut for, well, politics )

So I'm for AV.  Here endeth the pol-blog.
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I want to print bones of animals that never existed!” - et voila, bonemeal and binder and that's the sort of thing artists do.  Expect weird beauty over the coming months: fingery ribcages cradling pseudo-ossified impossible hearts and teratological ocarinas.

Now add the food printing from a couple of weeks ago, and load it with doner meat.  They haven't done meat yet, but that's only because they have taste and decency.  

Now, at last, I can realize the bar-fight scene from a uni Shadowrun game: an underground bierkeller full of orks and trolls, weird meat on the bone, vile beers, and bones hurled at the band (and the player-party) before breaking into a brawl.  Future: You are mine!
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There's nothing worse than one of these, except for "my bicycle is making a noise", but this itch has been tickling the inside of my skull for months now. 

There's a novel.  I think it's hard SF -- I'd have read it back as a kid in the 80s, along with my steady diet of Clarke and Asimov (travelling library, you rocked!).  Anyway, this novel has an antagonist who is a bit of a Kingpin character, and he's a card-carrying archetypal Huge Black Guy.  Over the course of the story it turns out that every one of his physical traits is ... shall we say chemically enhanced: his physique, his voice, even his skin colour (he is both biggest and blackest, all part of his mystique) is all injectable, and as the SHTF (in space? LEO? Rama?) and he's denied it, he comes apart like an orchid out of the hothouse.  

Damned if I can remember the story or the character, but it's been nagging at me.  Any ideas, O nerds of the Internet?
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Musing about toolchains here.  For those of you with lives, a toolchain is, er, a chain of tools that run sequentially to perform what looks like an awesome task.  So for example the chain that builds my Garmin map starts with a download of OSM stuff, then decompresses it, splits it into bite-size chunks, turns those chunks into Garmin-formatted chunks, applies a style, adds some other Garmin material that doesn't come from OSM, compresses it, sends it up to the cloud and tweets about it.  The only creative thing I've done is the style; the rest is all just working out (from wikis and forms and chat) what tools are needed to do what, and getting them to do it. 

I did the Garmin map because I wanted a pretty all-purpose map that showed my edits quickly, and doing it myself was the best way to get that.  A lazy nerd with a clear goal is a good starting point for a toolchain.  ^_^

Now I want to quaff wine from a cup made from my own skull.  Byronic inscription optional.  Clearly my actual skull is busy keeping my tasty tasty brains from getting out (it scrabbles at the fontanel sometimes, like a little think-pudding shoggoth, but I digress).  So, to SCIENCE!  Medical scanners can do what's needed.  The scanners will have their own file formats; I'll either need to export in a standard, or get a converter (over on Thingiverse, there's a skull that passed through Google Sketchup format).  Once it's in a format regular 3D peeps can use, it will need cleanup to remove any scanner artifacts (slices and shadows) and false information (not-bone).  It may need resolution change, much like a high-detail image needs resolution change for desktop printing.  And then it needs to get into a 3D print format, fed to Shapeways and turned out in quaffingstuff.

I know absolutely nothing about 3D modelling, so this could be an adventure!  I should hit this guy up. If any of you have skillz, do let me know!
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Okay chaps, time for your kit brains to spool up.  This LEJOG is an excuse for a kit refresh, and one thing I still don't have are some Heroic Adventure Trousers.  Combats are all well good but are heavy, bulky and slow-drying.  The cargo hotpants I got in Tignes aren't safe outside France!  Time for some small-packing quick-drying hardwearing versatile off-bike trousers.  Are Rohan worth the wedge?  How about the other name brands, Craghopper and the like?  What about high-street stuff?  Your wisdom is needed, as my trewcunning is close to nil. 
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The intertubes are abuzz with the US Department of Justice's subpoena of a bunch of Twitter account details (signup stuff and DMs for a range of folks including non-Americans).  It's time for Twitter to stop being a service and grow up into a protocol.

Twitter's run in the US, and so is subject to US legal and political shenanigans.  They're generally good folks (which is how come the story broke: they told their users) but they are still subject to US interference.  If they were elsewhere, all sorts of international jurisdiction issues would apply, and we would have a situation where intensely privacy-friendly jurisdictions (traditionally Sweden, say) would be more attractive as Twitter hosts.  Plus, with more than one corporate player, our precious ability to tell each other about our cats and workouts and Justin Bieber are much more robust too.  If AOL buys Twitter, we can see the fail coming and move to EuroTweet or TweetRu or wherever. 

This incident serves as a high-profile poke to the deep geeks: Get your RFC hats on, and build the cross-server interaction rules that allow tweeting (that'd be short-form stateless real-time text messaging with user identifier and other metadata) between orgs.  The world will be a better place for it.


Jan. 4th, 2011 01:43 pm
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This is pretty neat.  It's a public location badge, fed by Google Latitude, and it can be set to vague or precise locale (ie, cell or GPS).  Might use this for the LEJOG just for the lulz.  If you see me doing 70 on the M5, you know I'm cheating!

(if it's working, that is... taptaptap, is this thing on?)
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A test post using an lj client called LJBeetle for the little droid. Text is okay... Formatting isn't bad either, and it supports lj cuts for waffling on...

Waffle )

How about a picture?

And a user tag? [ profile] andygates

Not bad, not bad at all.

Posted via LjBeetle
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I'm seeing a pattern in exposure, and it's this: Stone lifted, the entity underneath kicks and squeals while it works out what to do with all this damn light.  Onlookers take the kicking and squealing -- which is the reflexive response of suits, wonks and fans -- as evidence of wrongdoing; the organism/organisation responds to the light as an intolerable stimulus with which it just cannot work.  After a time, the entity gets used to the light and kicks and squeals less.  Its instinctive reaction was just that; its defenders mostly as irrelevant as an onlooker who says, "let that hung-over drunk sleep, the light is hurting his eyes."

Meta wittering )
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An interesting study has been going the rounds (Ars has the clearest writeup) and its got me thinking.  Not about M&Ms -- well, mmm, now you mention it -- not about M&Ms but about thinking and doing, and why I'm so very good at adhockery and starting projects and so very bad at follow-through and finishing things.

I'm very, very good at task visualisation.  I know exactly how the finished bathroom will look: I've gone over all the details of every job but I just can't find the gumption to make it physical.  I know exactly what that training session will be like but, meh, maybe I'll just surf for a bit (million-tab baby, baby: if I could I'd twinscreen each eye separately).  And yeah, I know exactly what healthy food I'll do tonight but meh, I've already thunk that, let's have dirty pizza instead.  I've turned into Grampa from the Lost Boys: read the TV guide, don't need the TV.

Let's assume for a moment that this article provides a working hypothesis: if I think about things less, I'll do more.  I may even fall into fewer gumption traps (the most obvious ones are Lane Rage and For Want Of A Bolt) as my planned-stuff is less rigid, so less derailed by unplanned stuff.

How in the seven hells does that actually turn into a thing to do?  All I can think to do is make a bunch of to-do lists and spin the bottle, but that's a project and I'll get bored of it after I've worked out the list parameters and upgraded the bottle for some custom dice or maybe made an app for it.  

You lot are different think-meats in different heads; barring the solipsistic horror of the entire Universe being my imaginings, you must think in different ways.  Do you hypervisualise and then get bored?  If you don't... what do you do?  Are you always surprised when things work out as expected, because "as expected" is a null set?  How do you do anything without the mental map beforehand? 
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Bike Snob sounds off on the slippery puke that is Martin Erzinger, mister "too rich to punish" hit-and-run, and his "new car smell" drivel.

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that if you were addicted to humanity's shortcomings, and in order to feed your addiction you were to to take 21st century America and freebase it so that only its worst elements were left, you'd wind up with the quivering little gooey blob that is Martin Erzinger, which you'd then proceed to smoke and inhale. In any case, the patent absurdity of the "new-car defense" aside, I must say I'm tremendously disappointed in the current state of our rich people. At least "back in the day" they were ruthless in an above-board way, like robber barons, Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons," and the people in "Boardwalk Empire." Now they're just a bunch of cowardly whiners who can't handle the smells of their own luxury cars. Frankly, I think that when a human has devolved to the point where even the richly-appointed interior of his new Mercedes is too much for him, he's really not qualified for life in the outside world and should spend the rest of his life in a small enclosed area like the milk-fed veal calf that he is.

That, my friends, is a thing of beauty.


Dec. 16th, 2010 10:55 am
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A Snow & Rock has opened in town.  One of the fancy ones with running and cycling stuff too.  And it's next to the Toy's R Us.

Nobody's getting anything for Chrimbo* because I need to get a NERF minigun and some Inov8 SludgeFangs.

*You weren't anyway :P
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I'm kicked back into tri-thinking by these guys: Freak Events are new, and South West, and their proposed May 15th race at Roadford Lake, Okehampton looks tasty as a battered haggis pizza.  Roadford's a reservoir that doesn't get enough swim action, and the surrounding course will be lumpsome and bumply (moi luvly).  Sprint and Oly.  Spendy, but with awesomeness potential.  And it doesn't clash with our Club race, the week before. 

Now where did I put those running shorts?
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Against the backdrop of another top-five-ish* hottest year ever, with a heaving Atlantic hurricane season (intense and also weird), polar ice continuing on its death spiral and everything going exactly to hell just as the boffins (not the cranks) predict -- I'm being gnawed by good solid green guilt over driving up to Scotland.

Not the trip**, just the mode.  It would have been greener and cheaper and less hard work to do it any other way than driving up solo. Lots of fuel.  Lots of CO2.  Lots of pterodactyls fermented down to slurry and simmered for a gajillion years for my pleasure.  Lesson learned, and unless necessity tips my hand (in its many guises, mostly the "sudden dash" and "shed full of gear" variety), I'll stick to the train for the long haul from now on. 

Next time I head up there, it could be en route to John O'Groats, after all.  That one will be on a bike.

* It's not quite done yet and different groups have different methods of calculating it.  If you had a cold summer, remember that Russia didn't. If you think this current snow disproves global warming, roll your copy of the Express up tightly and jam it up your arse, you cretin. Words are wasted on you.

** Whee! Vibram footprints in the snow! And beer and jelly and rabbids and oh yeah, good peeps.  :)
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I'm calling it: the TSA nudie scanner flap has metastasised into a full-blown moral panic, and, like unto other moral panics, will now deliver drama and hilarity in equal measure all the while unconnected to what may actually be going on or any utility or offense offered.  The tip-off?  Not the tales of bad incidents, or the questionable functionality of the devices or even the fitness for purpose of the organisation, staff and protocols.  No, the clue was the eerie, unearthly laying down of lion with lamb: it's an American political issue that really is grassroots and bipartisan! That ought to raise suspicion: it's like calorie-free beer and unicorn bacon.  The evidence to back up the clue is the reams of shrill hypotheticals in every medium fit to publish, feedbacking to a quivering pitch of don't touch my junk you'll give my false penis pedocancer! and more than a few kilts being worn to check-in.

Concern? Well, sure. Hostility? You betcha. Consensus? That's the unicorn bacon. Disproportionality? Ya reckon? Volatility? Wait and see, it's come to a quick boil though. 

Moral panics are a funny old phenomenon.  My suggestion: get some marshmallows and enjoy the show.  


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