Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Not to fall into the national stereotype or anything at this time of national crisis (well, minor snowfall I’ll grant you), but I quite like weather stuff. I find it interesting, just as well really as I have worked as a weatherman. (An awesome one naturally)

So in a break from the traditional moaning, I though I would share some stuff on the net that may interest you

First up. Weather charts. Not the stuff you get on the TV but proper ones, The UK Met Office charts are best, but curiously the best place to see them is not on their site! MetBrief has a full set, regularly updated.

If you fancy watching an animation of the current precipitation then the last couple of hours of radar imagery can be viewed here

Mucking about on the water? Then the inshore waters FX (forecast!) is here

Fantastic satellite imagery is available via Dundee Uni receiving station (needs free registration) – hint: you want the latest images from the Meteosat SEVIRI Also worth looking at the gallery of spectacular images

Want to know what it’s going to do and when? Probably the most accurate FX are the terminal airfield forecasts (TAFs) for aviation. You can look up your local one here and then once you’ve confused yourself, figure out the codes here

Some good detailed forecasts can be found at the Met Office and BBC as expected, but another good source is here at the weather underground

Or maybe we should bring back the Live TV version…

Whatever you end up doing, have fun and stay safe!

Back online. Sorry for the hiccup, wordpress update managed to wreck some structure and in my heavy handed fashion I deleted/moved/swore at files for a bit until it worked. Anyway seems to be working again so here we are!

Anyway, as a result of digging around and testing stuff I checked some of the spam comments my filters have caught so far… I haven’t laughed so hard in a long while! Some even make sense until you check the email addresses and websites for the user. If anyone really wants links for shares/dresses/bondage/apple apps/cheap cigarettes/perfume/yeast infections/mattresses and our old friend viagra then please just let me know and I’ll forward the links… although I would suggest putting your virus protection to Armageddon setting first..

However, a couple did make sense but I don’t trust either the email/web address attached so they’re not going on. But to answer a couple of questions.

Feel free to use anything you find here on your own blog/website/bedroom wall/hamster bedding provided that a)you attribute either myself or if I’ve reposted the original author and b) you cannot use for anything remotely commercial without my express consent – and I’ll want a slice of the action! Further info here

Lastly, to the many and various that start “your blog/website/posts are great, I have learnt/enjoyed a lot”… nobody likes a kiss-arse. I know I’m great already thanks.

Now then. Something about a wedding and some elections?……

The world is paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of Yuro Gagarins epic voyage into the unknown. His flight on the 12 April, 1961 began with his shout “Poyekhali! (Let’s go!)”. This video beautifully combines archive footage, radio communcations and video shot from the International Space Station to relive the view he would have had, in real time, of his pioneering flight.

What struck me is what an exciting time the 50’s and 60’s were. We had leapt from the first flights in 1903 to landing on the moon 65 years later. By comparison what have we acheived since? I know that many of these developments were driven by wars both hot and cold, and manned exploration is expotentially more difficult as we reach further into the universe. But take a look at a few of these significant firsts…

First successful heavier-than-air machine flight.

First cross-Channel flight

First transatlantic flight.

First piloted supersonic flight in an airplane

1957 A busy year!
First round-the-world nonstop jet plane flight.

Soviet Union launches Sputnik I.

Sputnik II launches, with ill-fated Laika the dog on board.

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to enter space and return safely.

Astronauts Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong become the first men to walk on the moon.

1972 Launch of unmanned Pioneer 10: Earth’s first space probe to an outer planet, Pioneer 10 sent its last communication back to Earth on January 22, 2003, while 7.6 billion miles from home

1973 United States launches the first experimental space station, the Skylab.

First regularly scheduled commercial supersonic transport (SST) flights begin.

Aboard the space shuttle Columbia, Robert L. Crippen and John W. Young make the first mission in NASA’s space shuttle program.

Mir space station launches.

The crew of Expedition One, astronaut Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, dock at the International Space Station. They are the first people to take up residence at the ISS, staying there for several months.

Spirit and Opportunity arrive on the Martian surface. They continue to explore the Red Planet today.

SpaceShipOne becomes the first privately built craft to reach outer space.

What is striking is the slow down in exploration. What achievements have been made in the last 5 years for instance? We are still riveted by the Mars explorers which are still producing new data despite being designed for a 3 month mission. NASA is retiring the shuttles and the workhorses of Russia and the ESA seem dedicated to servicing the ISS, which although a magnificent acheiviement is still in a low earth orbit that we bettered decades ago.

I want to be excited about exploration. But as a species we seem to only have resources for parochial political gambits and as a population we seem more interested in whatever phone vote is on Saturday night.

Perhaps Yuri was better off not seeing what we became. His thirst for knowledge and experience was summed up in a note he left to be sent in the event of his death (which was estimated as 50/50 at best!)

“I trust the hardware completely. It will not fail. But it can happen that a man trips at ground level and breaks his neck. Some accident may happen. If it does, do not waste yourself with grief. Life is life, and nobody is safe from being run over by a car.”

Bravo Zulu Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, 9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968

Well, not quite. But heartening to see a few nearly fell for it on April Fools Day (1st Avril d’ya geddit?!)…

I thought there were enough clues besides the fact that my mental faculties have not given up the fight just yet. So kind readers, you can expect more of the usual ascerbic comments you are used to!

On a housekeeping note, the bug with the comments form has been fixed, feel free to leave stuff again – and cheers to Swampy for reporting the bug.

So Wikileaks has now come under financial pressure as Uncle Sam uses political pressure to prevent private companies trading with it, such as PayPal, Visa and Mastercard.

Good to know that Mrs Clinton will be standing by her words and fighting on their behalf in the corridors of power, after all as she said…

…I’m proud that the State Department is already working in more than 40 countries to help individuals silenced by oppressive governments. We are making this issue a priority at the United Nations as well, and we’re including internet freedom as a component in the first resolution we introduced after returning to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

We are also supporting the development of new tools that enable citizens to exercise their rights of free expression by circumventing politically motivated censorship. We are providing funds to groups around the world to make sure that those tools get to the people who need them in local languages, and with the training they need to access the internet safely. The United States has been assisting in these efforts for some time, with a focus on implementing these programs as efficiently and effectively as possible. Both the American people and nations that censor the internet should understand that our government is committed to helping promote internet freedom.

We want to put these tools in the hands of people who will use them to advance democracy and human rights…
Remarks on Internet Freedom, The Nuseum, Washington DC, Jan 21, 2010.


Hat tip to Boing Boing

The Ice age continues in the North East (-11 deg C today) and has so far cost me a days holiday and a set of glow plugs, but it’s ok, I’ve forgiven the snow, it’s just too much fun to be mad at for long anyway.

But with the British pre-occupation with weather at the best of times I though I would gather some useful, interesting or just fascinating links for weather related websites together in one post.

I suppose first up should be the daddy of them all, the all knowing Met Office. Good place for forecasts, weather warnings (available as an RSS feed) and marine forecasts

Becasue they are a bit slow to update their pressure charts and it’s nice to be able to view them all in one place I can recommend Metbrief

For an alternative forecasts available to high resolution, there’s the weather underground.

For the Teessiders amongst you, there is an amateur local weather statiion online with great info on it – and fascinating to watch it change! You can also find stations in your locality by using the mesomap function on the website

For anyone interested in the forecast from the local airport allmetsat have the terminal Airfield Forecasts online – with the very useful decode in plain english!

For specific charts of all types, the aptly named weathercharts!

And finally the ever popular and stunningly pretty sometimes Satellite images courtesy of Dundee uni receiving station. free registration required – but it’s definitely worth it.

If you have any sites you use, please add them in the comments so they can be shared with everyone else.

remember, no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing….

woohoo! Unfortunately it was yet another chain email for some oh-so-worthy cause.

If you are in any way superstitious about breaking the “chain” on these pieces of rubbish, then please send them to me, my trash folder loves them.

Today’s example (apologies to my cousin, I’m really not having a pop at you and please keep emailing me!) was apparently from the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) and tells me that if I don’t sign it and send it that my…

“…selfishness knows no bounds. Signing is such a small effort to make. After you have read the poem, please add your name at the bottom. And never forget, DON’T EVER DRINK AND DRIVE , not even once, thinking that it won’t matter. IT DEFINITELY WILL MATTER!!!..”

Of course there’s the heart rending poem and the inevitable tales of woe attached, just to try and make me extra special guilty if I don’t do what they say.

Well guess what. MADD and the rest of the spam peddling faux-bleeding heart originators can take their emails, print them on sand paper, cover a brick with them and shove them up their arse.

I have no reason to feel guilty, I didn’t do anything, and I’m willing to bet a considerable amount of money that not a single person has modified their behaviour because of one of the these chain mails. Another tip is that these electronic stools you make people feel guilty with would be a lot more genuine if they weren’t just a vehicle to make you read the adverts contained within, such as this crop attached:

Find it on Need a new place to live?
Meet local singles online. Browse profiles for FREE!
Find it on Need a new place to live?

I bet they’re glad that I didn’t “…receive this petition and do nothing but delete it…”. In fact, since they seem to like spam so much I’ve set a mail rule up to forward my entire spam folder to MADD every day. I think I’ll use it for any other do-gooders that bother me…

Well. we’re off again in the sentience vs mysticism scrap!

First blow was landed by Prof Hawkins, who in a stunning reversal of his previous assertion his best seller “A brief History of Time” that given enough knowledge we might “… know the mind of God…” has now stated that “God did not create the universe”. More precisely he’s put forward a theory as to how the universe kicked off. He reasons, since we can have a working theory as to how the big bang occured there is no need to invent an omnipotent deity to whom blame can be attached for creation.

Off course the fable peddling myth mongers fought back, the Bishop of Swindon, Dr Lee Rayfield, said science “can never prove the non-existence of God, just as it can never prove the existence of God.”, going to prove that just because it is universally accepted that you cannot prove a negative, it doesn’t stop the sky pixie fan club using it as an argument!

Next into the fray was Chief Rabbi Jonathon Sacks, “But there is more to wisdom than science. It cannot tell us why we are here or how we should live. Science masquerading as religion is as unseemly as religion masquerading as science.”

Again, only a glancing blow at best since it is launched from a series of dubious assumptions. Apparently Science is proved inadequate since it cannot answer why we are here? A more than able counter is of course, why do you assume there is a reason we are here? It is somewhat egocentric of a barely evolved simian species to assume that there must be a reason for existence other than cause and effect. Bleak and uncompromising at it is, the answer may turn out to be. We are here simply because we are.

Writing in the Times, the chief rabbi said:
“…There is a difference between science and religion. Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation. The Bible simply isn’t interested in how the universe came into being….”

Where to start? Definitions are a good place. Interpretation…
in·ter·pret –verb (used with object) give or provide the meaning of; explain; explicate; elucidate: to interpret the hidden meaning of a parable. construe or understand in a particular way: to interpret a reply as favorable. bring out the meaning of (a dramatic work, music, etc.) by performance or execution. perform or render (a song, role in a play, etc.) according to one’s own understanding or sensitivity: The actor interpreted Lear as a weak, pitiful old man. translate orally.

So apparently, religion is there to provide meaning, or to construe. It makes no attempt to actually be true, which is where most atheists, agnostics (all shades of the same colour really) have an issue. Science, of any discipline ties to explain, to get to the truth of the subject.

truth –noun,pluraltruths
1.the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2.conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3.a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4.the state or character of being true.
5.actuality or actual existence. obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
7.honesty; integrity; truthfulness.
8.(often initial capital letter) ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.
9.agreement with a standard or original.
10.accuracy, as of position or adjustment.

in fact Prof Hawkins, uber-boffin that he is, has ably demonstrated why science is superior in every regard in one killer upper cut on this occassion. He has changed his mind. He has adapted his theories to take account of new and improved data. He has reasoned to a position, not wished a universe as he would like it to be.

In short he has a conclusion, which takes a piss on having a belief from a very very great height.

Quick one here… Weathermen are all mild, conscientious types right?…and when they don’t think they’re on air…

Rather than yield to my usual pessimism and cynicism I thought some pointers towards websites run by friends that I often visit. Varying subjects but all well worth browsing…So, in no particular order I give you…

First up, Timmy Conflicting Interests. An old friend (or should that be a friend I’ve known for a while?) that I’ve managed to re-connect with recently has a blog on his interests of wargaming, living history and re-enacting (battering people with a historical slant…) A varied walk into Tim’s (on the left) broad interests is a very easy read (you can tell he’s a teacher… good grammar and all that!) and is updated regularly to keep you interested!

Also from Tim is the Spirit of the Game. A hub dedicated to gaming and the various game systems they have written or use. Loads of good stuff and resources to use, or just good fun to read!

Next up is the English System Principles (ESP) Martial Arts.

Darren has been involved with English Martial Arts for longer than I certainly care to remember, progressing from student, to assistant and now instructs in the South Essex area. The website carries a wealth of information and links to the bulletin board and forum. If you ever fancy some physical history, backed up solid principles and research then well worth a visit. All round nice chaps too!

As they say…

E.S.P. is a school of martial arts based on learning and using certain universal principles and truths in order to fight effectively. Its origins are firmly rooted in the teachings and practices of medieval masters, running ‘schools of fence’ both for practical defence and fighting for ones life and country.

There are techniques deciphered from ancient historical texts and plates that have been thoroughly tested and shown to provide solid defence under pressure.

However, the real heart of the system are The Principles and the truths inherent within, coupled with truths and practicalities inherent to every fighting system, laid bare and explained – as a science, rather than a mystical art.

Lastly for this post, Milgeek, a blog of his…

obsession with things military, including my airsoft hobby, family history in World War 2, military gaming, defence news and much more.

For any of you (myself included) this is a fascinating blog of the geeks rampage through Airsoft, computer gaming (especially the shooty variety!) and military history, usually family orientated). With a extra dose of current military matters thrown in for good measure. An entertaining and informative read, and always on my favorite links list on any browser! [although his airsoft stuff needs to be backed up by some more time on the battlefield 😉 !-get better soon]

Well there you have them. All regular reads of mine, and I heartily commend them to such fine discerning readers such as yourselves… after all, you can trust me…right?

[to all the guys – hope you can forgive the blatant ripping off of your graphics and quotes!]