Busy Blogging Elsewhere

I am now a confirmed fan of WordPress. This blog introduced me to it, but I’ve recently been using it to create a new website for the Willingham Photo Club.

I’m currently one of the “gang of four” leadership team (there’s a rotating membership – all very communist) – having volunteered mainly in order to improve the club’s IT for viewing photographs on-screen at the monthly meetings.

It fell on our watch to organise our first exhibition as part of the Willingham Feast. It seemed obvious as part of the planning to have a website to send visitors to, and afterwards to continue the exhibition in the virtual world.

There are so many themes, plugins and widgets available to make a WordPress site look good, even the free ones, that it’s mostly a filtering task to choose what you need.  The results can look professional, and certainly give the impression that much more skill and hard work has been involved than is the case. (Having said that, the list of minor tweaks and edits to get it to look “just right” is getting longer.) I’m basking in that reflected glory, but it is an easy-to-please audience of non-technical people, so far.

I’ll finish by crediting  the Theme: Modularity Lite 1.2, and Plugins: The Events Calendar, NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Public Uploader, which have made it so easy to do. Check them out next time you need to make a website for a photography club.

So that’s where my evenings have gone. I’ll just point out that if anybody mentions “display boards” in my vicinity in the near future, they’d better be on guard.

John Peel Anecdote

@Glinner (Graham Linehan, writer of Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd) is a relentless twitterer and related this story as told to him by John Peel:

Listening to morning radio DJs and their deathly playlists (6music excepted) reminds me of a story John Peel told about Dave Lee Travis.
Peel was round at DLT’s house for a party, and he idly wondered where all his records were, because he couldn’t see any about.
“Are you kidding?” said DLT. “I don’t have any records. I get enough of that shit at work.”
(Admittedly he cheated and put that in three 140 character tweets, but it’s still a great story.)

Pinched by the Fuzz (except taxis)

Longstanton Road is “access only” for a small stretch where it passes the disused airfield – presumably because it was a military airfield and there were (a) secrets and (b) aeroplanes. That was many years ago.

Some of the former officer accommodation, and some rather big houses, are now privately owned and at least one or two are occupied by Councillors. They have complained to the Police that cars are using the road. The Police have acted (a little reluctantly and apologetically in the case of the nice constable I spoke with) and this morning were dishing out £30 fixed penalties. It’s the way I go to work.

It’s a fair cop. It’s been coming, I suppose, because I’ve seen an increase in traffic using it as the route to Cambridge. I never do that, it spoils it for everyone. I expect the residents of the big houses do go that way to Cambridge, too, but not this week. I’m sure the Councillors go the long, correct way.

However, given that the alternatives are (1) an extra 1½ miles via the A14 (which can take upwards of 20 minutes when there’s a queue of trucks going to Folkstone),  or (2) an extra 2 miles via Cottenham, it’s not a bad toll if it only happens every 4 years. (The nice policeman advised me that they’d be there all week, clearly implying that next week they’d be gone.)

It does gall me that taxis and invalid carriages are allowed to use this route. Taxis also get to travel up Silver Street in Cambridge where other cars must take a 1½ mile diversion through extra traffic. Why? What do they do to earn these short cuts? They are just another vehicle except that for every single journey they carry one extra person.

A Sane Voice

I awoke this morning to hear the most sensible thing I’ve heard on the Today programme for many a decade. The outgoing president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Ian Gilmore, has endorsed the argument of Stephen Rolles of Transform that drugs should be decriminalised and regulated.

It’s a shame Sir Ian didn’t feel he could stand up before he was “outgoing”. The government (and this is without political bias, all the parties have knee-jerk drugs responses) has reacted predictably, saying it does “not believe this was the right approach”. I really cannot understand why they persist in thinking that prohibition will work, after decades of proof that it just doesn’t. I blame the Daily Mail.

The BBC have given this more prominence.

Poor second-rate Sky

“The unmissable should be just that.”

It just sums up how Sky is not the BBC, when you compare their feeble effort with the rather splendid:

“Making the unmissable, unmissable.”

New Blog

Shiny and new, with its own subdomain and WordPress software, free from the tyranny of Blogger, welcome to coded v2.

Two things coincided to make this happen. First, Blogger stopped supporting FTP sites, which my old blog was. I like to fiddle with the files, so I wanted to host it on Ballandia, and this meant I couldn’t any more if I stayed with Blogger.

Second, 34SP, my website hosts, had a tasty upgrade offer which included SMTP (useful for Robyn while she’s in the USA), multiple MySQL databases (which is what was stopping me using WordPress before)  and subdomains.

Thus coded.ballandia.co.uk (update your Blogrolls and feeds) was born. Praise is due and given to Blogger and WordPress, which let me export (via a temporary blogspot domain) and import all the content, including the comments. I was impressed (especially the second time I did it (don’t ask)).

Initially spoilt for choice with themes, I’ve played with a few before stealing the one Paul uses, K2. I had to mess with it a little, of course (to make it wider, to get the Flickr and 365 galleries to be the same width, to make the menu bar visible), but I like it.

I hope you like it, too.

Radio 2 is for OLD people

To be precise, the breakfast show (lately the Mighty Wogan and currently the Ginger Evans), plays such old music that I cannot bear to listen to it. I had thought, when I was younger, that one day I would “grow into” Radio 2. Despite now being in the “50-65” age bracket which is surely the target demographic, I still find Radio 2 is for older people. Even though it does play that annoying hippity-hoppity rubbish where ludicrously overpaid young men recite their abysmal poetry over other people’s tunes, I listen to Radio 1 every day.

Having been told that Chris Evans’ music was “quite racy this morning”, I decided to check the facts. The BBC handily publish the tracklist, and Wikipedia is more than adequate as a Paul Gambaccini stand-in for music facts. Of the 25 songs played today, only 3 were current: Paulo Nutini, Amy Macdonald (who she?) and Leona Lewis (X-Factor). The average age of the tracks played was over 22 years. 60% of the tracks were over 10 years old. 10 were more than 30 years old! I rest my case.

All this and more in this handy-dandy Google spreadsheet.

Radcliffe & Maconie, on the other hand, are brilliant and play decent music. So it can be done, unfortunately when I am watching the telly or eating my tea.

The Car In Front..

.. is probably being driven by a moron. In a Guardian article about sticky Toyota accelerator pedals was this quote:

“I was driving in my Toyota Yaris at 60mph on a dual carriageway .. when my accelerator pedal failed to respond when I lifted my foot off the pedal. I applied the foot brake. It then took two and a half miles for it to be slow enough for me to drive half on to the verge, where the car stalled.”

Two and a half miles! Clutch, man, clutch.

A Little Egg on Face

I spoke to Egg, and they do appear to have thought about it a little after all.

The primary account holder has to sign up to their blame-shifting scheme first, and apparently the secondary account holder can then set up another password. I say “apparently” because this has yet to be tested. In this case the secondary account holder signed up first. In order for the primary account holder (me) to sign up first, the secondary account holder (Wen) has to first de-register, and then re-register after the primary account holder has registered.

If this works, I might then try de-registering myself and see if I can continue to get away with not signing up to their evil one-sided conditions, leaving Wen to wallow alone in implied fraudulent complicity should anyone at the bank steal anything.

And to put a ribbon on it, my NatWest Maestro cashcard is now a Visa debit card, and is afflicted by Verified by Visa as well.

Verified by SecureCode My Arse

Despite prolific online shopping, I had so far managed to avoid using the stupid and useless phishing magnet which is known as Verified By Visa or Mastercard Securecode. I’ve done this by pretending to use it and then cancelling it at the last. This has always worked.

Wen has less patience than me, so last time she used it she caved and registered.

Today I tried to buy something from Tesco, and up popped the Mastercard Securecode (or was it? who can tell as it is a separate window from another website – the very thing that we are taught never to trust when online) with the username filled in as MSWLAW. Clearly this isn’t me. I had just told Tesco that the name on the card was D Law.

This has happened because we have two cards on the same account, which have the same number. Egg clearly haven’t thought this through at all.

The terms and conditions of Mastercard Securecode are very strict. You are not allowed to write it down even though it must be 7 characters long and include at least 2 numbers. (So what will people do? Choose something obvious and easy to remember, of course.) More pertinently, you are not allowed to tell anyone. So I can not now use my credit card, because Wen has registered, and is forbidden to tell me her password. I rang Tesco: they said it was “the law” made by Mastercard and Visa and I must call my card issuer. I rang Egg, but the normal helpline shuts at 3pm on Saturday. What a surprise that I should shop online outside working hours!

I have another credit card, which is now registered in my name and Wen won’t be able to use that card online.

And yet, I have no idea why adding another password makes this in any sense “safer”. I suspect that what it does do is make it much more likely that any fraudulent use of my card will be blamed on me, because I must have told someone my password.

Gits. More on Moday when I’ve spoken to them.