Archive for the 'Blogroll' Category

To quote the laughable hyperbole of the Saudi Arabian Washington Embassy website – http://bit.ly/1Qhr1oS

“Since King Abdulaziz Al-Saud established the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, its transformation has been astonishing.

“In a few short decades, the Kingdom has turned itself from a desert nation to a modern, sophisticated state and a major player on the international stage.”

They forgot to add “thanks entirely the sale of oil, and precious little else intellectually or culturally.”

This brutal monarchy with its appalling human rights record born of intolerance and suppression of any non-(Sunni)-Islamic views, is now branding anyone not believing in the God delusion (ie “fairies at the bottom of the sand dune”) as “terrorists”, at least according to this pompous supremacist of an ambassador.

 

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Salman Rushdie nails it

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Nothing to add to this one minute of clarity from author Salman Rushdie . I’ve played it over and over hoping it will sink in.

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Dangerous overtakers

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UK-Highway-Code-OvertakingRule 163 of the Highway Code in the UK states: “Give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.” To me that’s ambiguous, as most drivers overtaking another car don’t leave very much room at all, and often they don’t need it as “a miss is as good as a mile.” What I think the Highway Code means is “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders a car width’s clearance when overtaking them”

(To be fair, no one can be left in doubt as to the meaning of the rule as a photo clearly illustrates what they mean.)

In Queensland Australia a law has been enacted which states that a car travelling in a zone with a speed limit of less than 60kph (45mph) must leave 1 metre (3ft 3in) clearance between their vehicle and a cyclist. Vehicles travelling in zones where the limit is over  60kph must leave 1.5 metres (4ft 6in) clearance.

A vehicle passing too close at the very least causes a pulse of air and noise which is both alarming and destabilizing for a cyclist. As there is no unique sound made by a vehicle approaching from behind which is intending to overtake too close, a cyclist maybe in the middle of a quick manoeuvre to avoid a pothole or a recessed drain at that moment, the driver could end up with the cyclist under his/her wheels or at least knocking the cyclist off with their wing mirror. Overtaking too close is lazy, thoughtless and dangerous.

I go out on my bike most days on the roads of west Wales and now have a Fly6 rear camera to help identify people who just can’t be bothered to steer safely around me. Click a photo for a larger version.

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fly6-bum-camBeen testing my new Fly6 backlight/HD camera. It was invented a year ago by two Australians and is now sold from the USA. It’s intended to both warn drivers their behaviour is being recorded and provide evidence if a cyclist is hit from behind.

The Fly6 records hours of video (depending on the size of the micro SD card used) in 15 minute blocks for easy viewing later. Freezing the film allows number plates to be easily read. (The YouTube video is far less clear then the source HD video from the Fly6). More information on the Fly6 website.

The Highway Code Rule 163 explains how overtaking cyclists should be done. On my daily rides I find that a minority of drivers have the patience and empathy with the cyclist to  do overtaking properly. The majority overtake too close and a small percentage overtake cyclists as if they were a minor static road hazard. Their approach seems to be that, providing you don’t actually hit the object, then that’s OK.  I’ve also instances of big 4×4’s trying to “squeeze past” on single track stretches of road, rather than wait 30 seconds for a passing place.

UK-Highway-Code-Overtaking

 

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5 reasons I finally left BT

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BT Logo

Three days ago my long relationship with BT came to an end. I’ve ditched my business line entirely and now use another ISP for my home broadband. After 17 years running a website design business from rural west Wales, I waited for my current business contract to expire and then told BT the lie that I was retiring and shutting down. I’m not doing either, but this is the only way to stop BT passing you to the “don’t lose a customer at any cost” department who will hassle and interrogate you endlessly in order to wear you down into staying with them.

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I started preparing for this a year ago when I changed my phone number from BT to a third party VOIP service Vonage. A couple of months ago I changed my domestic BT broadband service (my office is attached to my home) from BT to Andrews and Arnold and we now manage very well for home and business on just half of the AA 100 Gb monthly allowance. The Andrews and Arnold connection isn’t faster than BT (although I could double up the line which would give me 3Mbits/sec instead of the current 1.5Mbits/sec) but it seems more responsive, more reliable and AA treat me like an adult.

So why have I decided to abandon BT? Here are the five reasons put as succinctly and rant-free as I can manage them.

1. I object to paying the same for a 1.5Mbit Broadband connection as someone in town who gets a 4 or 8Mbit connection. BT own the line and the exchange and I’ve waited 10 years for this connection to improve and BT still hasn’t done it.

2. I object to being charged for (ie helping BT pay for) a BT Sports service which is free to other users, but which I cannot access due to my low bandwidth.

3. I object to BT censoring my broadband in accordance with UK Government edicts. Site blocking cannot stop people who wish to access these sites through the use of VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks) and site such as Unblockthenet.com. Not only does blocking perpetuate the lie that it works, it is a perfect “thin end of the wedge”. Once blocking is accepted as “normal practice” it can be expanded to include any site the Government doesn’t happen to think we should be allowed to visit, just as authoritarian regimes are doing around the world.

4. I object to the extortionate rates BT now charges for phone calls not included in its free packages. This is clearly intended to force people away from a “pay for what you use” model to “pay whatever you use”, which, given that phone calls cost BT microscopically trivial amounts, punishes low volume users intentionally and disproportionately.

Example 1st September 2014:
Landline to landline call 9p /min (rising to 9.58p on 01/12/04) PLUS a 15p call set-up fee  (rising to 15.97p on 01/12/2014), meaning that a 2 minute call will cost 33 pence

For simplicity, I’m currently moving my business phone number to Andrews and Arnold VOIP from Vonage and will be doing the same for the domestic number if all goes well, as I’m sure it will. A&A call rates are tiny compared to BT.

5. Finally, I object to large corporation behemoth’s controlling our lives. I prefer to use small independent businesses where I can. BT invariably gives worse customer service  and con us into thinking otherwise through their huge advertising budgets and annoying sales calls peppered with half truths and short term bargain deals.

Thanks for reading. I’m glad to have got that off my chest,

 

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