Monday, February 4, 2013

Flippin’ computers…..

Saturday, 2nd Feburary 2013: Well my computer only crashed once overnight after running some backups. I have found that the backup program I use (Acronis) creates loads of errors in the Events log, so I don’t start the underlying server service unless I need it. The trouble is I went to bed before the backup had finished and the computer had rebooted by the morning.

I flip between thinking it is a software problem to it being a hardware problem. I still think it is software and that I will either have to do a clean restore or I might get away with an upgrade in place – which doesn’t actually upgrade the machine but instead reloads the OS.

It is making me think that I might build my own PC sooner rather than later. I will probably also build something relatively straightforward. I was going to build a machine with a Flash drive for the OS and a raid drive for the data – now I am not so sure about the RAID side of things. It will have USB3 and SATA6 so I might go for something with a single large drive and resort to backups.

Well here it is day 2 of the Boycott Cambridge News! Campaign suggested by the Cottenham Cyclist. It is quite hard, quite a few of the local Tweeter I follow will use short urls to link to CN articles. I also forgot that my Internet Explorer, which I rarely use opens the CN website as one of the homepages. It is only for February, and is to draw attention to the manner and style by which some cycling news stories are reported.  I agree with the Cottenham Cyclist that their  cycling reporting could do a lot more to provide a balanced view. I find the CN a timely source of local news and often link to their stories. (Although not for this month).

It was the tragic accident of a Times Reporter, Mary Bowers, in 2011 that set The Times on their “Cities fit for Cycling” campaign. I certainly feel that The Times has done a good job of raising the level of awareness of cycling and the poor and in some case dangerous provision there is for cyclists to get around.  She graduated from Cambridge University and indeed did work experience at the Cambridge News (don’t follow the CN link on the page I link to though). It is therefore surprising that the CN has not been a bit more enthusiastic and supportive of cycling. I seem to remember they did sign up to the notion of Cities fit for Cycling.

Meanwhile the Times is still producing interesting articles such as this one Builders' lorries ‘must put cycle safety first’. Of the 16 cyclists who dies in London 2011 7 were killed by lorries and yet lorries only represent 5% of the traffic on the roads.

There is also this article interviewing the guy who runs the AA, who amongst other things criticises the piecemeal provision of cycle faculties.

By the way it is now Monday, the delay in getting this post out was due to my computer playing up again. It is very frustrating, I feel that I can certainly move towards fixing my computer, but just as I get there it seems to blow up again. I have been running temperature monitors to see if there is anything untoward – but no. The issues seem to be to do with even logging, McAfee and Readyboot (or my RAID disk). I decided that I was going to do a Windows 7 repair install. Just before starting with a system backup which failed (BSOD)  I am currently running without McAfee AVS – which seems to be stable-ish.

(Another idea is to take a spare drive and load the operating system onto that.)

So back to cycling – and #boycottCN – I am stilling following their Twitter feed – and was almost tempted to look at a link this morning, but avoided the temptation. Instead check whether the Cottenham Cyclist has covered the issue with an alternate feed. Interestingly by going to a more direct source for the information you do hear what was said – but perhaps miss the critical voice testing the Press Release.  I have written a good few press releases in my time and it is easy to go a bit “corporate”.

Mind you the analysis of the 2011 Census seems to support Cambridge as a cycling capital, with 32% of those in employment cycling to work. (The next highest is 18%).  The key fact is that here is cycling used as a means of transport. The Press Release then lapses into self-congratulation with comments about the Tour de France stage being held. The Tour de France has as much to do with my cycling as Formula 1 has with me driving to the supermarket. (Nothing in case you were unsure.)

So if 32% cycle then it would appear that we are getting an incredibly bad deal when it comes to the design and implementation of the transport infrastructure here in Cambridge. Although apparently more people in Hackney cycle to work than drive. According to this take on the figures then Cambridgeshire does quite well with 10%. Mind you I think that it should be higher the trouble is that the necklace villages aren’t always that well served for cyclists. We still have a large number of speeders though – this is just the ones who were caught.

Apparently the Cambridge PCC has been interviewed justifying the crackdown on cyclists   - not a very good job in my opinion.  I can’t help feel that it is about quantity not quality.  There are still loads of motorists who don’t buckle up. Although this Tweet suggests they are on the list.

I wonder if the PCC is going for low-hanging fruit.

I think one of my concerns is that the legal system seems to kick in with fines as the first level of punishment. I reckon that this leads to the wrong behaviour sometimes on terms of the people and processes used to catch the wrong-doers. Such as this example of squads employed to fine litter droppers. Personally I reckon that fly-tipping and litter dropping is pretty appalling – but I also reckon we could be more imaginative when it came to the methods of control which might also act as a deterrent.

And finally, I hate Captcha – as a mechanism to distinguish robots from humans then I fail. So I am glad to see that it has competition.

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