Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fix the problem not the symptoms

Thursday, 8th November 2012: I have been through a patch of computer problems just recently. For some reason Picasa started having problems showing picture thumbnails. The number of pictures it couldn't show got worse and worse. When I restarted Picasa it reported database problems and that it would have to rebuild them.

Fortunately much of the data is stored in the directories alongside the pictures so apart from it taking a long, long time it once again was able to show the thumbnails and larger pictures and none of the local edits were lost – phew.

However before rebuilding the databases I did try to re-boot my computer – it failed to turn off and I had to force a re-start – this meant that it had to check the RAID disks (2 x 2Tb) which takes around 8 hours. For some reason it found loads of errors and then ran again and again, before deciding all was well.

The last thing that Picasa needed to do was rescan all my pictures to get the faces. This was the thing that annoyed me. I would have to put in all the name data again. Now I have around 500Gb  (500,000Mb) of pictures in a little over 100,000 pictures. Now many of them are from multiple exposure shots – with around 150 people, some feature in several thousand pictures, whilst others only appear in one or two.

So I was pleasantly surprised that Picasa rebuilt the face database without a hitch and retained the name associations.

I have been thinking about getting Windows 8 as it has a smaller footprint and might help my ageing computer go a bit faster. There are one or two compatibility issues, although most seem to be with having to pay for upgrades to some of the free CD burner software that came with the machine.  What it did highlight was that some drivers were out of date including my RAID disk drivers. The new driver has a facility to schedule scans and fixes so I am hoping that it will mean less down time.

Before a quick post on my day some old web links that have been knocking around and that I have been meaning to mention.  I was very disappointed when the dam burst on Lance Armstrong’s career. I was hoping that he was clean – but I no longer believe that he was and indeed feel that his behaviour has damaged cycling. I am also not a believer in the ends justifies the means so whilst his cancer fighting charity has been a good force it did not make up for the bad.  So it is not surprising that the Lance Armstrong foundation has dropped his name.

I have also picked up a few “stories” on how motorists, albeit a minority, do things that create the perception of danger, and of course in some cases real danger.  With an item about two drivers in a 70mph ‘road duel’ which paralysed a motorcyclist in a crash. Or this item about a road rage driver attacking a blind man, taking too long to cross the road (in Australia). Or this one about a Partially sighted 87-year-old jailed for killing pensioner in horror crash. Or this about a Man’s bid to avoid a speeding fine by naming a false driver. Or a road rage driver who killed teenage best friend in high-speed crash after tailgating another motorist for two miles. Finally – Cambridgeshire barrier crash man jailed…

Now I accept that this is not evidence, in terms of how dangerous the roads actually are, but if we are to get more cyclists out and about then those that read the Daily Mail are not likely to be volunteering.

One of my pet hates is the way in which pedestrian crossings (and pelican and Toucan…) seem to favour the motorists and not the vulnerable road users. Try crossing a road with an OAP sometime and you will see what I mean.  The trouble is our roads have become busier and I reckon the motorists pay less attention to vulnerable road users and road planners don’t realise that bad roads scare off vulnerable road users. I am glad the Coroner was reported to be furious over the death of an 87-year old trying to cross a road at a set of lights that gave around 4.4 seconds to cross the road.  Apparently there was no pedestrian crossing, but the kerbs had been lowered.

We need to understand that traffic scares vulnerable road users off and it seems to me that roads are planned to do that deliberately.

I can’t see motorists suddenly becoming more respectful to the vulnerable road users, so it is time that some amounts of money that was planned for roads is diverted into improving the environment for all those who can’t or don’t want to drive.  Time will tell whether Boris is as good as his word and his plan to spend almost £1bn over the next decade on cycle infrastructure in London is really a genuine attempt to create a cycling revolution.

It sounds a lot, but could easily be squandered, that is about £100m a year and splashing blue paint on the road has cost around £2-4m per mile – the infamous Cycling Super highways.  I still can’t understand how it did cost so much – but if there is to really by a cycling revolution and more people are to be enticed into cycling then there needs to be proper segregated cycling infrastructure with priority over the motorists. Otherwise the hard-core cyclists , like what I am (ish) might well enjoy it – but the grannies and families aren’t going to benefit.

The trouble is each time we end up with road rage whilst society might feel that punishment is an important part of justice it also has a real cost to society both in terms of the tragedies that result and the cost of imprisonment and the loss of that person’s gainful contribution to society.

We need to get ahead of the curve and stop the transgressors before they do the damage. We are going to have a crackdown on drink-drivers in Cambridgeshire and the rules tightened on drink-drivers trying to delay testing by asking for a blood test when stopped. Motorists speeding at 100mph also face being banned for longer and ordered to take extended driving tests as a crack down on dangerous driving. I can’t help feeling that this is treating the symptoms and not the cause or the disease.

The slightly tenuous link with the days cycling was I was going to London and so cycling to Cambridge Railway Station and the stresses of trying to find a place to park my bike before the train goes without me,

This time around I managed to find a space for Maisie along the area where the Guided Busway starts. There was a proper space on one of the racks. The reason was that in order to get your bike there it ha to be lifted and carried. There is a muddy Maisie this side of the orange bike. I managed to get her over without getting too dirty. Isn’t it great being treated to the transport crumbs.

Crap Cycle Parking – Cambridge Railway station

This was yet another meeting in a place I had not been to before. I really must get my act together and start planning routes and putting them on my GPS. For many of the places I visit it would be quicker to cycle to them than to catch the Tube. Partly because the the distance between the over ground trains and the underground trains is quite long at King’s Cross and partly because whilst the Tube does go all over the place the stations somehow always seem to require a 10 minute walk to my ultimate destination.

In this case my walk took me through Covent Garden. November and the Christmas Decorations are up already.

November Christmas Decorations – Covent Garden

Another thing I really must try is a Boris bike – I didn’t deliberately blur this picture – I just wasn’t quick enough with my camera.

Boris Bike – London

When i got back to Cambridge the ride home was really most pleasant and invigorating. Or is it the global warming – “Polar ice sheets ‘melting three times faster than they were just two decades ago’”.

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