Friday, September 2, 2011

Don’t read this - get out and cycle!

Where to start? I am a bit behind on my Posting and a bit behind on my cycling. I blame the weather, but it was so nice that yesterday I bunked of for the afternoon and had a delightful ride around Cambridge.  However there is another ride (with pictures) to blog about before that. The real challenge is that there are nearly 40 browser Tabs with news snippets that I have found interesting enough to hang on to. Unfortunately they are now clogging up my Computer.  I use Chrome as my browser of choice and the top four memory hogs are Chrome Browser Tabs. Although they don’t use up too much CPU power, they do use lots of physical memory space (RAM) so that stuff keeps getting shuttled on and of disk to make space in the RAM.

(Think of the Disk Drive as a library and the RAM as your table.  You can only spread so many books out on the table and before you can get a new book you have to return one.  It takes time then to go to the library – well the books are a bit like programs.)

Where to start – well backwards with one of the last news items first, the CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) legal battle is about to start – “£55 million guided bus court battle launched”.  Apparently the original cost was meant to be £84 million but has reached more than £150 million – by my maths that still leaves around £10 million, assuming that the Council win the full amount. According to the report in the Council is also suing Zurich insurance for £7.5 million because of a guarantee bond taken out in 2009.  That is a fair amount of money.

Whilst on the matter of the CGB under a Freedom of Information request the  Operations handbook for the CGB has been released (here as html). The line speed is 56mph and drivers are asked to operate at line speed where possible. Buses should also leave 500m between buses (headway) and drivers are reminded that they can’t swerve to avoid problems.

The system also monitors for flooding along the section between St Ives and Swavesey, although the first bit to close will be the Maintenance track. If the water gets within 3m of the guideway running surface then it will be closed and will require inspection by the Council before resuming operation.

Although I am no expert the CGB Manual does not read too badly in terms of the balance of rules and practicality.  I was amused to see that the HSE has published a list citing examples of where its rules have been wrongfully used reasons for banning particular activities. Although on closer reading it seems that it might either be because the issues we about safety rather than “health and safety”. Or maybe because the issues with about health and safety rather then the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).

Many activities entail some level of risk, however that doesn’t stop most people from taking risks because there are benefits. I have mentioned before how it seems that stairs seem to cause quite a lot of accidents, yet that doesn’t stop us form using stairs.  In our everyday lives we balance risk against the “reward” although that balance will vary from person to person and where that risk impacts on someone else then generally there are laws to prevent selfish risk taking.

Talking about selfish risk-taking here is one example “Inches from disaster” in which a gardener overtook stationary vehicles and nipped across a level crossing as “he though he was being chased by rogue TV salesman”. We seem to hear about driver who accumulate penalty points but are not banned from driving for “hardship” reasons. In this case the driver had already gotten 9 points and relied upon being able to drive his van but was still banned from driving for 6 months. It makes me wonder whether rather than a ban perhaps an approach could be to put a driving monitor in the vehicle and restrictions on how and when the vehicle gets driven. That might help to avoid putting someone out of a job.

And finally – cycling is a safe activity and doesn’t need heavy protective clothing  and here are two examples: Annalynne McCord and Pixie Lott on a Boris Bike. Although don’t worry I am not going to start riding in a bikini or short dress anytime soon.

Now I don’t have a lot of pictures of cyclists let alone young ladies in high heels – but here is a website that does. – Copenhagen Cycle Chic



  1. Hello!

    I have just been reading your great blog. And I was particularly struck by your pictures. Are they HDR? Also I was struck by the fact that some of your pictures seem to be of moving have you done this? in my limited experimentation with HDR I took three separate pictures manually changing EV settings on each of them.

    I would be really interested and grateful to find out how you take the pictures and manipulate them afterwards.

    Many Thanks


  2. Hi Laurence, thank you for your kind words.

    I have well and truly got the HDR bug:-) I use Photomatix software and usually take 7 exposures. ( I mostly use a Lumix GH1, which can be set up to take all of the exposures one after the other (by holding the shutter button down). Sometimes depending on how light it is I set the camera to automatic and it takes 3 exposures. I was surprised that my small Sony pocket Camera, could also be set to take multiple exposures, it takes three - DSC W200).

    As you have noticed, particularly if it is windy then re-combining the multiple exposures can cause some odd results. The Photomatix software will transform a single exposure, which is how the picture of the bus on this post was created.

    There are times when I produce both a single and a multi-exposure picture and compare them. I often end up using the single exposure because of the greyness behind moving tree branches on the multi-exposure.

    (I hope that helps.


  3. Thanks for your swift reply. I have noticed the problem with taking HDR of trees as well! It can be very frustrating!

    Your blog has inspired me to hack my camera (Samsung wb550) to take RAW pictures and I have just begun to use photomatix and experiment with the settings.

    I have a way to go before they look like yours, but thanks again for inspiring me!



  4. I used to take RAW/jpegs which used up loads of memory and disk, but read somewhere that when shooting for HDR it wasn't needed, because the different images made up for the stuff lost in the jpeg compression. Thinking about it though using RAW you could shoot fewer bracketed exposures and wider apart - which sounds like a good thing. I must give it a try.

    I see that you can use AEB on your camera - (Auto Exposure Bracketing.

    Have fun.