Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The first decorator

im re-decorating  one of the rooms . I f i do it myself then all the stuff just gets moved from side to side as I work my way around.  Probably a bit less work than having to empty it all  to let someone come and do it all i one go. Ive been stripping off the wallpapers down to the plaster the bottom layer of wallpaper is this. I don't know enough about it to date it

and then above the door there was this
And closer inspection showed some writing in pencil

Ive had a play with GIMP to try and enhance the writing .
The top writing is "Easter Monday  April25 1886" and the bottom writing is '1892' . I've no idea if i can find out who did the writing .

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Motto : don't have your roof stripped to be fixed just before an enormous downpour

And in better times :

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Jesmond/Shepherd Towers

I've been watching with interest the planning application concerning the development of the old La Sagesse school.  There is a short video showing some of the buildings when it was  about to close as a school( 2008) , on the BBC news website.

A google search also has quite a few pictures of the house and the site

The Jesmond Action Group  website has updated information  about the  planning application to build 60 houses  and convert the building to 10 Apartments in a gated community.

The Chairman of Jesmond Action Group has written an open letter to the Councillors.
As its open and its been sent to the local paper , I m sure he wont mind it begin reproduced here

Dear Councillor

Let us imagine that I,  along with others, participated in local fund-raising, and that the money I helped to raise was used to entirely fund the successful election campaigns of a number of independent local Councillors.   Let us further imagine, that  some of those Councillors are now on the Planning Committee.  If I were to now submit a controversial (and highly profitable) planning application for an extension to my house, would those same Planning Committee Councillors have a conflict of interest?  Should they declare that interest, and decline to participate in that particular planning meeting?  I think that 99% of the population would agree that the answer to all of those questions must be a resounding, yes!

As you are aware, the Shepherd Offshore Planning application for the development of the La Sagesse site in Jesmond is due to go before the Newcastle City Planning Committee on 10th August 2012.

The Planning Committee consists of 8 Labour Councillors and 4 Liberal Democrats.  5 of those Labour Councillors received all of their funding for their 2011 or 2012 election campaigns from The Labour Party in its various guises; the majority from local Labour Party sources.  The records from earlier elections have been destroyed, so I am unable to comment upon the other 3 Labour Councillors who are on the Planning Committee. No impropriety is suggested by this; two of the Liberal Democrat Councillors on the Planning Committee had their campaigns funded by the Liberal Democrats!

However, you will be aware that it has been widely reported in the press that the Shepherd family are local Labour supporters and have had involvement in fund-raising for the Labour Party.  If funding by benefactors, even indirectly, has assisted you to win your seat, surely you should not take part in a process that could bring a financial windfall of many of millions of pounds to one of those benefactors. 

I therefore urge you to consider your own position.  The quorum for the Planning Committee is 4,  so a decision can still be made by the Committee even without your presence.  It is therefore an easy decision for you, if you feel it appropriate, to declare any prejudicial interest , and to leave the meeting at that point.  The democratic process will continue seamlessly without you, and your absence will cause no harm.  

I would be grateful to learn your intentions, and whether or not you feel that you have a prejudicial interest.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Why Im never buying Adidas trainers

There is an  article in the Sunday Guardian /Observer about a comedian who fell foul of the restrictions around the use of the protected terms -  How I was busted by the O------ Advertisement Enforcement Office.

This follows on  from the article about the Middletons company , Party Pieces, begin forced to change some of their copy because they had an image that looked a bit like an olympic torch. And then  there has been a grumbling row about athletes and shoe sponsors. Those who usually wear A.N.Other brand of running shoes arent being allowed to wear them if/when they get presented with medals . 
There was a UK version of this , but the US one has blown up recently  and is reported here.  This is in addition to LOCOG bullying and harrassing children to wear Adidas trainers  in Oxford.

And then there is Old Trafford  in Manchester  , where they've painted some seats for Adidas' benefit 

But we will all be relieved to hear that Seb isnt going to make children go barefoot through the Olympic Park(probably) 

So with friends like this , there is no way im even going to consider buying Adidas footwear in the future fior the next time I do the Great North Run

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Traffic calming part1

we have discussed traffic calming endlessly .
Most wanted humps - the more vicious the better as far as Im concerned. But a few dont want them , and those who don't are vehemently against them

So the next thought was to re-tarmac the lane so it looks like a playground. Bit the Council said no to that - something about encouraging children to play in the road 
 So we then went to greening the back lane and trying some visual cues to get drivers to slow down  - and this was the suggestion  -  planters . They couldn't put them out into the road, overhanging the kerb ,  so they are pushed back against free wall, between doors and garages, distributed  down th back lane. Residents will be responsible for their upkeep .

But go on - be honest - will that dissuade cars ? Here's the drivers view going down the lane

But never mind , we had a Street party (supported by Newcastle Neighbours - a Council initiative) , with face painting and a magicians for the kids , and the adults came along to eat and drink .

61 Adults and  19 children.

 Some pictures are on flickr

We tried to get the Council to measure Speeds before and after but they couldn't/wouldn't .  I think we will be back in a while wanting more effective traffic calming - but at least its a start

Saturday, 16 June 2012

repairing HTC Wildfire S

So I managed to break the screen. The quotes for mending it sounded a bit expensive to me - potentially more expensive than buying a new one. So with nothing to lose I fixed it myself - and fairly straightforward as well

The dis-assembly instructions are on youtube .  There are quite a few - here's the main one one that I used - HTC Wildfire S G13 Disassembly Take Apart Guide LCD & Digitizer .

I bought a replacement screen from xtechonline on ebay (prompt , and they answered a couple of questions)  -  definitley recommended .

And all fairly straightforward . You need a Storx screwdriver ( I've got a set , but one comes with the screen from xtechonline).

Re-assembling it was not quite a straightforward, so some hints and tips

  • you will need some screen cleaner (isopropyl alcohol) to remove the sticky residue from the  new screen 
  • fix the new screen back into the   frame with double sided tape down the long side of the frame. Don't stick it over the slot the digitizer cable feeds back through. With a sharp blade trim any tape/adhesive that overhangs the edge into the screen area. 
  • There are 3 cables to bring to the back of the digitizer - the small one gets trapped between the screen and the digitizer. 
  • the holes for the Torx screws will also take the motherboard Phillips screws.  So first time i re-assembled it I have a couple of screws left over - not an uncommon occurrence in my experience of fixing things
  • So check the MoBo screws are in the right hole by lining up the back of the case and checking  the holes you want to use aren't aligned with the  case holes for the Torx screws

And when  I put the Sim back in , it just started up   again !

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Precise Pangolin and GeForce4 MX 4000

My graphics card  is this

mars@twelve-M266:~$ lspci  | grep Ge
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation NV18 [GeForce4 MX 4000] (rev c1)

I upgraded the computer to precise pangolin (no problems) and then rebooted. The highest screen resolution I could get was 640 x 480 
To summarise several hours of my life that I will never get back, there are problems , other than the usual ones, with NVIDIA cards and the upgrade process.
Problems with nvidia drivers are summarised here 

to get the display working  I had to 
  • remove nvidia-current 
  • remove nvidia-common. it also says it will remove ubuntu-desktop. Keep going - there is still a desktop after the process 
  • remove /etc/X11/xorg.conf
then reboot. 
It will start a GUI.
Go to the display option, (R click on desktop-> change background -> all settings->display
Select your screen and change the resolution 
Reboot  ( not just log out of X and start again 
It is using the nouveau driver. There is no xorg.conf (no idea why not). 
It struggles to run the unity desktp but gnome-classic ( which i use) is fine  



Friday, 6 April 2012

Custom labels , part2

part one was here.

the next step was to get it into a mailmerge type of arrangement , linked to a dataabse , so editing, adding or removing entries was a simple business.
The database bit is easy - OOBase is good enough. So I set up a database of addresses ( usual stuff, firstname,lastname.address1, adress2  etc etc )
And the mailmerge works (!)  - with a bit of fiddling around - more later .

Taking the data from the Table in the database

You can add and remove names in the database viewed in the  template document   and sort entries alphabetically by the surname. but when it prints out from there , the names  are in the unsorted order.

The way to get them sorted is to add a Query  which will do the sorting

eg SELECT * FROM Addresses ORDER By "Last"  

and then get the database view to show the query - called here  inOrder

But if you do the mailmerge to the original document , the results is  blank pages.
The template for the mailmerge references the Table and field of the database table  that it was created from , not the current table/query/view even though the field names are the same .

the placeholder has the format <DB><TableName><ColumnName>

So to get it to merge from the query I had to change things from

<PDlabels><Addresses><First>  to  <PDlabels><inOrder><First>

and then copy the frame down the page 

So  the order of doing things has to be
  1.  Create and populate database
  2.  Write SQL query
  3.  Open template document
  4.  Drag column labels to the document. ( Copy/paste across as before) 
  5.  I then found that I had to tell the mailmerge where to  put the next record - otherwise it was  producing a complete page of the same name . The explanation is here .

Ctrl -f2 gets you to the correct screen

So i think I'm sorted !

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

EastCoast Wifi

I think if you can travel using the off-peak servies East Coast mainline service ( After all , its the Peoples Railway - run by a holding company of the Department of Transport since 2009) isn't actually too bad, other than the extortionate cost of peak travel.

I've used the wireless internet from time to time . Actually quite useful, as i take my netbook and its a good opportunity to do 3 hours work  . My recent trip was on  Friday 30th March. I had changed my 'Frequent flyer' points for wifi.
But it was hopeless - too slow to load anything .
Heres some monitoring of the download speeds ( and some ping times) , which  demonstrate that it was a connection that was so slow as to be unusable.

Ive also emailed it to ECML wifi support , and they have acknowledged the receipt. I wonder if I will get more response than that

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Goodbye mint

I used Linux Mint 10 when Ubuntu went to the Unity desktop and was very happy with it.
The upgrade from 10 to 12 was  disaster though.  The root of the problem is that /home is on a separate Hard Disk and all the stuff in /home is therefore preserved. Something in there in a config file doesnt work.

the Desktop it as you see it

-ERROR: ld.so: object '/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so' from LD_PRELOAD cannot be preloaded: ignored.
 recedes every command line execution  ( but skype is OK!)
-desktop shortcuts don't work
-terminal command line  stuff doesnt work
-no desktop background ( not that important)

Ive posted on the LM forums   but no suggestions /solutions so far so I need to try something  different . So ive got a different HD and with LXDE mint on it , so I'll see whta happens there. ive also got a seprate machine with gentoo installed, but id forgotten what ahassle gentoo can be to get everything set up ( Im sure its fine when its done, but i haven got the time at the moment)

Watch this space

Saturday, 3 March 2012

the things you learn......

I went to the Councils' Cycling forum. They have a webpage devoted to cycling  its been going a couple of years  or so, and actually seems to be working quite well  - they take notice of comments, you can see progress on projects.
im sure having Katya  and the Newcastle Cycling Campaign there helps.

So other than the usual stuff about cycle parking   and looking at routes , there were a couple of other things of interest,.

There is  a terms of reference document which was discussed. I timed the discussion over this Agenda item  -12 minutes. And whats missing ? - a policy about what to do about Mobile phones during the meeting . I'm in favour of staring at people  and listening to the conversation if they answer it  during a meeting but this wasnt a universally adopted.  I don't think there actually was  a decision ( rather than leave things as they are - people leave the room to answer a call if they have to) .

And at some schools  in Newcastle pupils have to show some sort of ID before they are let in the school. Pupils ?????. I can perhaps see that random adults shouldn't be wandering round schools , but pupils ? They are worried about  kids who have gone to the wrong school or who, instead of bunking off and hanging round Eldon Square , decide to go to an English lesson ?

And scratchbikes is a well used means for students to get back to Jesmond after a night out

Thursday, 26 January 2012

ibuprofen here

I went into the local Boots and  asked for 'generic Ibuprofen' . they took me to these  boxes, hidden in a corner. Price 0.37p 

This of course compares with these , on prominent display  behind the counter 

Price £1.95 

So Nurofen is over 5 times the  price of  the cheaper variety. 

Guess which I bought ?

Coast Road cycle route problems

According to the  City Council think a problem  here , because cyclists are going the wrong way down a one-way street and coming into contact with pedestrians.

Of course nothing is as straightforward as it first  seems.
The problem is actually here
The Signposted cycle route is to enter this alley.

But cars and vans ignore the No Entry sign and is you venture up this alley, as signposted , you are likely to meet a van coming the other way , round a blind corner.

So hardly surprisingly , cyclists dont do it, preferring to  vanture the wrong way down the one way street, using the pavement,as necessary  and hence coming into conflict with pedestrians.

Of course you shouldn't cycle on the pavement  - its  illegal  according to 1835 Highway Act . That also includes a legal definition of a pavement .

I wonder if the council will tackle the car and van drivers who make the official route so hazardous , or catch the cyclists. I wonder which group will be the easier target . ?