Closing the Roads

Talking to some friends from Church this week, we got a slightly odd request. They asked that we write to the local council to tell them that we used the road outside their house in a car when we visited them…

The reason is actually quite serious. As you may know, Finchampstead includes the Finchampstead Ridges, much of which is owned by the National Trust. However the land is also criss-crossed with a number of ancient rights of way. Whilst many of these ancient routes have been brought up to modern standards, quite a few, especially in and around the ridges, are just tracks. However, as ancient rights of way, legally anybody can use them, and with the rise in 4×4 vehicles, this is becoming a problem. As this article last year said, the government is tightening up the laws.

However this has had an unfortunate side effect for our friends, as their house is along one of these ancient rights of way that has not been adopted by the council. The council appear to be just applying the new restrictions in a blanket manner, offering the possibility of it being illegal for our friends to drive their car to their house, rather than adopting the relevant bits of road to allow the residents access. Typically this is getting down to political mud slinging. The Conservative run council line seems to be that they are only following government instructions, so it isn’t their fault. However having been on the recieving end of the council refusing to adopt our road until the street lights were sorted to “save money for our taxpayers”, and the whole fishing expedition with the trees last year (note that neither the developer, or the council has cut them back – it should have been done within 14 days of the notice being issued), I suspect money may be coming in to play here – as if the council were to adopt all the local roads they would need to, it again would cost a lot to do.

Of course whether you blame the government for a poorly constructed law, or the council for screwing their residents to save cash, that still leaves people like our friends with the prospect of having a house that they can’t get to…

Blogging, Commenting and Free Speech

I had an interesting decision over free speech last night. Basically, I got a comment against a posting I wrote several months ago about a new housing development in Finchampstead called Foxwood. As you’ll see if you have a read, my point was over the fact that they were being sold as being in a semi-rural area – which in my opinion they aren’t.

The commenter fairly obviously didn’t agree, and particularly didn’t like my comment about the brochure highlighting Waitrose rather than Tesco (rather indignantly saying that they shopped at Tesco – worth saying that so do we). My assumption is that they were possibly someone who had bought, or were considering buying one of the houses, however I couldn’t actually enquire further, as when I tried to e-mail them to apologise for offending them, the e-mail bounced and I found that they had put a phoney e-mail address on the comment.

The big issue from my point of view was that the general target of the comment was me personally, rather than any attempt to counter-argue the main point – that the developer was justified in describing Nine Mile Ride as semi-rural. On top of that, looking at the logs they had pretty well come straight in to the posting (putting “Foxwood Finchampstead” into Google brings up the posting as it’s second result), and not read anything much else before commenting.

Having let a couple of other people read the comment, who agreed that it was attacking me and not the arguments, and especially in light of the fake e-mail address, the comment was removed. This was despite the fact that the people who read the comment said that they would have commented themselves saying that it wasn’t addressing my point as well. Essentially I didn’t want the discussion to go down some sort of mud-slinging path.

Before I now get flamed with people saying that I’m blocking free speech, I’ll refer you to a posting that Robert Scoble made on the subject. I’m quite happy to take comments from people who don’t agree with what I say, but if they are attacking me, rather than countering the opinions, and especially if they are hiding behind a phoney e-mail address, they’ll get deleted. As Scoble says:

Because it’s on my blog I’m responsible for it. It has my name associated with it. So, no, you TOTALLY don’t get what free speech is if you think you should have free and unfettered speech in everyone’s comment area. Get a clue about what free speech is.

Want free speech? Get a blog of your own. That way only you are responsible for your words. If you’re writing on someone’s comment area, though, the standards are (and should be) different.

If Howard Doesn’t Answer His Phone…

I got a laugh from Howards posting today. Apparently he so likes his ringtone, that he’ll listen to it all the way through rather than answer the phone!

Now some university somewhere must have done a research project into the psychology of ringtones. On our floor we have a couple with the notorious Nokia default, that Dom Jolly uses. However we also have a polyphonic rendition of the Imperial March from Star Wars, assorted dance tunes, plus Waltzing Matilda from somewhere else… We even have a little bit of patriotism with someone who used to have Land of Hope and Glory, and has switched to Jerusalem after the cricket!

Having said that, my phone is on vibrate most of the time, not sure what the message is in that!

New Mac

After the disaster with the eMac this morning we discussed the options and decided that since the Mac runs all our important IT stuff like the e-mail, we couldn’t go very long without having it replaced. Whilst it is annoying that it happened when it did, that is what the emergency fund is for!

Anyway, our last Mac had been bought in a sale at PC World. However PC World usually has a pretty limited range, and although they do have some staff who know Macs, most don’t. However, taking a look at the Apple site, I found that they had recently opened a third UK Apple Store, located in Bluewater. Whilst it is further away as the crow flies than the big store in London, Bluewater is easily accessible from the M25, and so is a lot easier, and cheaper to get to. Beth did suggest that maybe she should come along in her hooded top, but decided maybe not

So, I set off towards the M25. Thankfully all the jams were going in the other direction, so it took only about 90 minutes to get there. I hadn’t ever been to Bluewater, so it was rather a surprise when I got there. The shopping centre is basically built at the bottom of a great big hole in the ground (a former quarry), and consists of buildings in the centre surrounded by car parks. Inside it is much the same as any shopping mall, just big!

Anyway, I knew the store was on the Upper Mall, so walked around until I found an escalator, and went up. I then ended up doing almost a full circuit of the Upper Mall, as for some reason the Apple Store wasn’t listed on the mall directory. Typically, it turned out that the Apple Store was almost level with the place I came in, and unlike the London store didn’t have a board hung outside, only a large Apple logo above the door.

The store is a lot smaller than the London store, but still has the same range crammed in, and also still is massively popular. Eventually I found an assistant, and decided on my new Mac.

Having discussed it with Beth, we had decided not to get a new eMac, but instead to go for the G5 equiped iMac, which as long term readers of the blog will know I’ve been coveting for a year or so. Anyway, I put my money down for the middle of the range, 17 inch screen iMac with SuperDrive, which unlike Evesham two weeks ago, I could take home on the spot.

Once home, I then took advantage of one of the other nice things about a Mac, the migration wizard that I mentioned when I did the Tiger upgrade. If you’ve ever bought a new PC, you’ll know what a hassle it is moving over – whilst there is a files and settings wizard, you’re having to reinstall all the applications. Microsoft seriously need to take lessons from Apple over this – all I had to do was plug a firewire cable between the two computers, boot the old Mac into a special mode, and turn on the new Mac. It then comes up with a list of everything on the old Mac, and transfers it to the new in about an hour. All my apps, complete with settings and registration details were transferred, with only a hiccup with Missing Sync, and not having a printer driver for our laser printer on the new machine.

Bear in mind that I am still steadily installing stuff on the new laptop I got last week, and yet the Mac is up and running.

New iMac

The new box is much slimmer and lighter than the eMac, and is basically like a slightly chunky flat screen monitor. Very nice looking, and a fabulous screen. Speed wise the G5 streaks along compared to the old G4 in the eMac, making some of the newer games with which the eMac struggled a lot better. Noise wise it is quieter than the eMac, which due to the CRT needed a massive fan to keep it cool. The iMac fans change speed depending on what the machine is doing, which is slightly unnerving at first. All in all, whilst it’s nowhere near the spec of Howard’s monster Mac, it’s definitely a nice machine.



So after the washing machine last week, I woke the eMac from sleep, and it looks like the CRT has gone, and the screen is now hourglass shaped. Since the CRT is built in, cue expensive repairs to pull the machine to bits and replace the screen.

On that basis, and with a new eMac costing £600 we’re tempted just to replace it, and try and get rid of the broken eMac on eBay.

Never rains but it pours. Maybe we’re due some better luck – best buy a lottery ticket!