Archive for January, 2006

Chewbacca has a blog

January 31, 2006

And it’s pretty funny. My question is, does he also have a posse?


Simple Things to Make Helensburgh Better

January 26, 2006

A random selection of things I thought of that would make Helensburgh a better place. I make no claims for their practicality. But I’m trying to keep them reasonably simple and cheap. Except when they’re not.

  1. A local weather station. Well, why not? The reason I thought of this one was because I’m trying out a new application, Seasonality (Spotted by Gus Mueller). The app lets you see weather forecasts and other geegaws climatic in a rather nice (but space inefficient) window. The nearest stations I could get to Helensburgh were Prestwick, and er Kilmory. Not very near. Plus it would be kind of neat.

  2. Bus Stops Up Sinclair Street. Actually, quite a few buses now run up Sinclair Street. There’s those ones to Alexandria for instance. They’re very lightly loaded, but getting better. It would be cool to have a few specific bus stops on Sinclair Street for them. I suggest;

    • By Hermitage Park
    • At Helensburgh Upper Station
    • At the road end for the Hill House
    • At the road end for Glen Fruin and the Old Luss Road

    Later on we could even have a few extra buses running to places north, like Luss and Arrochar, providing a regular interval service into the National Park… but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

  3. While we’re on the subject, Park and Ride at Helensburgh Upper Station. There’s a “commuter train” that leaves Helensburgh Upper at 0742. It starts from Arrochar and Tarbet. I have no idea how popular it is. The lack of an upper line return before the 1820 from Glasgow can’t help, I suspect.

    Apparently, about half of the working population of the town commute to Glasgow, or at least away from Helensburgh. A lot of people live in Upper Helensburgh. The morning peak trains from Helensburgh Central are essentially full. An awful lot of people still drive to work from Helensburgh. A lot of people choke up the parking around Helensburgh Central by parking there all day. Why not provide them with an alternative closer to home?

    However. If you go up to Rossdhu Drive, which runs along the south side of the railway cutting, you’ll notice a particularly wide and resplendent grass verge. Plenty wide enough to cut quite a few parking spaces into. For things to take off would probably need at least a decently timed return working (1730 or so?), but the initial experiment would be cheap enough. And the potential benefits, in terms of public transport and town centre car-congestion, could be huge.

  4. A side trail to the West Highland Way starting at the Upland Walk behind the Hill House.

    I’ve long thought this would be a good idea. Lets face it, we’ve reached Rhu already. It would help promote Helensburgh as a secondary centre for exploring the National Park from. Which would be a Good Idea. Can you say “green tourism”? And it would be a pretty nice walk too…

    All right, it would be pretty expensive. But creating an outline plan needn’t be…

  5. Better Organised Helensburgh-on-the-Internet. Helensburgh doesn’t have much of an Internet presence. It would be nice if it did. For instance, there appear to be two competing local portal/directory sites, and Frankly neither of them have much content, look very nice, or are particularly easy to use. Or are particularly up to date.

    Oh, actually there’s three. There’s also Talk about balkanised.

    Then there’s my zombie Helensburgh Community Council site. Not my responsibility any more, but it certainly doesn’t make a good impression. Actually, there’s a new site, I’m told. Can’t find it on Google though. (Update, 24/3/2006; it’s there now, at

    What I’d like to see–and I know this would be difficult to achieve and a lot of work to maintain, after all, I’ve had to update this post three times to correct HTML mistakes in the last five minutes…–is a single, good, well designed (i.e. looks good in Safari!) Helensburgh site, up to date, with a good, inclusive community. That would be cool.

  6. Lights along the promenade and in Kidston Park. Let’s face it, it’s basically dark half the year. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to use the Front and Kidston Park during that half of the year? Combine that with a modern, architecturally interesting building at Kidston, and suddenly Helensburgh’s seafront becomes a more attractive place to be, in both halves of the year. But I have enough thoughts on that to fill at least another post. Later, later…

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The joy of simple boxes

January 21, 2006

My life appears to be ruled by small plastic boxes which take active pleasure in misbehaving.

For instance, my mobile phone reacts very badly to being in a low signal strength area. Out of, I am sure, pure spite, in these circumstances it shows the strength of the incoming signal, which can be good, but fails to mention whether the network can hear it. It went totally wrong after I came home from Norway and swapped my UK SIM card back into it, I had to hard reset it. And finally, perversely, it can receive and display Cyrillic letters in SMS, but I have no way of actually writing them!

Then last week my Freeview box started acting up, firstly by having very bad reception, then claiming there was no service at all. I fixed this, but only by unplugging the damn thing for an hour. That really isn’t acceptable.

Then today my ADSL modem-router thingey started dropping it’s ADSL connection at irritatingly regular intervals. On checking the line statistics, I was told I had a downstream noise margin of over 2 million decibels, which is clearly bollocks.

I think all this misbehaviour comes down to the fact that these days almost everything consumer electronic in nature is really a small computer in a box pretending to be a phone, freeview box, or adsl modem, or a whatever.

This exposes us to two problems, bad UI and bad programming.

Bad UI is a problem because it can mislead you. The phone says it has a signal, when it doesn’t have a connection. The Freeview box says it has no signal–you’re naturally inclined to believe that there is a problem with the transmitter and not the box. The router says it has an impossibly high noise margin… how exactly does that help me find out what the problem actually is?

But the real problem is bad programming. Bad programming makes it possible for a phone to lock up when you swap SIMs. Bad programming stops the simple TV receiver from working, for no apparent reason. And bad programming makes the router guess at an impossible noise level rather than saying “something is wrong here”.

These are complicated boxes pretending to be simple boxes, and it is unforgivable for them to fail when doing something simple and entirely predictable with them–whether it be roaming into a weak signal area, watching TV or being an internet connection.

BBC RSS still a bit dodgy…

January 13, 2006

Spotted this the other day:–


Not good.

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Mac Book Pro: Vauge Impressions from Apple Web Site

January 10, 2006

Yeah, fine. (& why not just call it the “Mac Laptop” if you want a new bloody name?)


Where is the estimated battery life? Even a ball park figure would do. It’s an 85W power supply (sheesh, that’s nearly a whole lightbulb!) and a 60 watt-hour battery. But it doesn’t say how much juice the ‘Book sucks! I suspect battery life may be a littly sucky.

I have to say I find the glib copy on the apple website this close to unreadable.

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MacBook Pro

January 10, 2006

…may or may not be a sweet machine, but gawd, what an awful name.

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I tried to recycle some glass today…

January 8, 2006

and was greeted with this sight:–


Lovely. This often happens at weekends. Apparently the local recycley people are too clueless to realise that maybe people will recycle most in their free time, like, you know, the weekend.

It could be considered a safety risk to have many glass missiles within walking distance of most of the pubs in Helensburgh. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Probably most depressing was that the people doing the dumping were too clueless to even get the right colours into the right bins…

Sigh. Enough.

When Packaging Goes Wrong…

January 8, 2006

For instance:–

Or even:–

Neat iPhoto Tricks

January 3, 2006
  • You can edit the data on multiple sections! All those photos the camera didn’t date properly you can fix with a single bound! If you’re not too sure of the time you took them, you can just put in the date! Assign labels easily and intuitively!
  • You can make a selection in an image and the contextual menu gives you options relevant to editing a selection, like “New from Selection…” or whatever!
  • It doesn’t slow down with lots of of pictures, thanks to the wonders of caching!
  • A judicious combination of palettes, floating windows and Cocoa drawers lets you optimise the interface to your liking, and maximise the area of the screen devoted to your pictures!
  • You can put little coloured tags on your pictures to remind you to do something to them later!
  • When you export to a CD, you get a CD with pictures in, not some dreadful hierarchical mess of an iPhoto library that takes ages to generate and just confuses the person in the photo shop, or the relative with the PC!
  • You can do worthwhile colour corrections!
  • You can… oh wait a minute, that’s my review of iPhoto, from another dimension! Admittedly I’m still using iPhoto 4, but…

In my opinion, while apple continue to produce lame, limited consumer software that doesn’t work properly and isn’t particularly easy to use, but very effectively kills the competition, there is verra little future for us. Saying it’s better than Windows just doesn’t cut it if it still isn’t very good…

New Year. Can it really make you totally incoherent?

January 3, 2006

gfgfhr grhahhdha dhkhkasdfh sdflkjlker! grgrggaggshh jifjhs ik frenetic.

So it appears the answer is yes.

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