Saturday 29 March, 2014
#First ice cream van of the year ...

... gave a brief chime yesterday, Friday 28 March, at 16:25. I have seen the odd ice cream van out and about, including one back in February, but yesterday was the first time a van showed up in our street, and that's what I'm logging. Records show this year is late, but not record breaking.

Previous years:


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Wednesday 05 March, 2014
#The Forest Road Reader, 124 : Thud, thud, thud

» It wasn't a Chicago crowd coming together to organically share their frustrations ... it was a guy with a Twitter account who got 10,000 followers, then got as many of them as he could to print out a sheet explaining "how" to cheer ... It's a purposeful corruption of the thing I love most about wrestling.

» "Fans are slans"

» Legoland closes resort hotel following threats

Ok, I think I've hammered this one to death now.

» My girls meet Peter Capaldi - and he sounds like a lovely man.


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Tuesday 04 March, 2014
#The Forest Road Reader, 123 : We've initiated the transfer

Got paid to today - or at least notification that they've initiated the bank transfer which may take up to three days to arrive. It's my experience that the smaller a company is, the more quickly they will pay. Recently, one of my clients - a non-profit outfit with a total staff of 2 - paid my invoice only two days after I'd submitted it and was apologetic about taking so long. The 'transfer is in the ether' notification I've just had is from a multi-national with a turnover in the billions, is more than two weeks overdue, finally arrives after a 'dog ate your invoice' incident, and seems to be proceeding through an extra slow banking process unavailable to us mere mortals. To reassure me, though, the company name includes the parenthetical "(Professional)" just in case I'd got the idea they were a bunch of amateurs.

A Twitter correspondent tells me he was emailed by a 'big, big company' saying they would be paying no more invoices until June. He replied that if their bills went unpaid they could kiss his hairy arse for service (I assume he was paraphrasing, but you never know), and oddly enough they 'made an exception'. He reports that the isn't the first time he's been in that situation and it appears to be a normal business practice in the US. Perhaps that also explains my current situation.

» Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards: why was he forced out by science fiction's self-appointed gatekeepers? : The Hugo awards: have you heard of them? Until Saturday morning, if you didn't have "SFF geek" or "SFF author" in your Twitter bio then it was probably a no ... On Saturday morning it was announced that Jonathan Ross would host this year's ceremony at Loncon 3. By Saturday afternoon you might have heard of the Hugos, but not for the reasons that would have led you to finding new books, new authors, and new ideas. - Ah, fandom.

» Why The 1996 TV Movie Saved Doctor Who - As a "bloke-who-watched-it-on-the-telly" Doctor Who fan I thought the movie was fun, and that McGann would have been a decent Doctor if he'd been given the chance. Matt C, the 'fanatic' I mentioned a couple of days back, whippersnapper that he is said that the 1996 movie made him into a Doctor Who in the first place, which struck me at the time as actually slightly absurd. This article puts the film into a 'fan context' that I was entirely unaware of. Ah, fandom.

Everything is Awesome! - Yes, yes it is.

anonymous said I'll leave this anonymously for a change...

I would agree that bigger companies pay more slowly in general. last year one particularly big American company was a right pain. took months and two involves to get payment.

So it was a surprise when they paid three include again a few months later. Normally when complements over pay I return the cash but since they were difficult to work with in waiting for them to ask. 3 months so far.

[added 5th Mar 2014]

anonymous said this text prediction stuff sometimes goes wrong... what I meant to say was...

So it was a surprise when they paid the invoice again a few months later. Normally when companies over pay I return the money but since they were difficult to work with I'm waiting for them to ask. 3 months so far [added 5th Mar 2014]


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Monday 03 March, 2014
#The Forest Road Reader, 122 : Urg

Bloody hell, migraines are really sodding uncomfortable.


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Sunday 02 March, 2014
#The Forest Road Reader, 121 : Find the lady

It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window.

The BBC are repeating their series of Philip Marlowe adaptations on Radio 4's Saturday Drama slot at the moment. This week it's Farewell, My Lovely. If you have 88 minutes available for a really good chunk of audio drama, do yourself a favour kid and listen.

» I said yesterday I'd read 'the odd Doctor Who comic'. After seeing this announcement, I might be reading the odd few more in the future.


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#The Forest Road Reader, 120 : HAVOC!

My friend Matt and his friend Matt have started recording a Doctor Who podcast. I've never really been much of a one for podcasts - never quite had the time to listen and concentrate - but assisted by a change to the dogwalking logistics, I made a bit of an effort. I'm glad I have, because I've really enjoyed listening. Doctor Who is an intriguing cultural artifact. Like millions of other people, I've watched Doctor Who my entire life and some of my earliest and clearest memories of television are of the programme. As a child I read a few Doctor Who novels, and I've read some more over recent years. I've even read the odd Doctor Who comic. To my surprise, while listening to the podcast I've discovered I have opinions about Doctor Who. But am I 'a fan'?

Matt and Matt are self-declared 'Doctor Who fans', although they agree that there's a difference in degree between them. Curiously, in the two episodes so far, the 'fan' has out-Who'd the 'fanatic' on at least three occasions. I'm also entirely tickled that the second Matt, Matt C, is the 'fanatic' but is, to my mind, far too young to claim such a title. Under the guise of talking about Doctor Who, Matt and Matt have been exploring the idea of fan and fandom and I hope that they'll pursue it some more.

» What is Birmingham's worst road for parking tickets? - Our high street brushes the top 10, which would seem to give the lie to the idea that what local shopping streets need is to let people park where ever the hell they like. There's a car park at the end of the high street that is almost never full and yet people, lots and lots of people, routinely risk a parking fine rather than pay 50p and walk less than 200 yards back up to the Co-op. Twits.

» Parking offence fines in England could be cut : In a recent report, the Commons Transport Committee said it was "hard to justify parking fines that are substantially more than the fines for more serious offences like speeding", for which the minimum penalty is 100 and three penalty points added to the offender's licence. - On the other hand, perhaps we should take the parking fine as a base line and consider 100 for a speeding fine far too lenient. In practice in many places, the minimum penalty for speeding offense is attending a speed awareness course, which will cost you less than 100, doesn't count as a conviction, won't put points on your license, and probably won't have to be declared to your car insurance provider.

» London rolls out smart parking sensors : Westminster council will begin installing smart parking sensors across its entire road network. The sensors will detect whether a bay is vacant or not. Combined with an app that allows drivers to view a real-time map of parking spaces it will direct them to an empty space. Although presumably looking at the app while driving is an offense, so you'd need to park up before you could get your phone out and find a place. Wait, what? On average, drivers spend 15 minutes looking for a parking space in the area, the council said. And that's before you factor in all the time and money you pissed away actually driving into Westminster and the congestion charging zone in the first place.

I do have a car. I try not to be a massive cock about it.

Please enjoy this devastating and beautiful song.


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Monday 06 January, 2014
#The Forest Road Reader, No 119

Because sometimes it's useful to be reminded.


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Friday 03 January, 2014
#The Forest Road Reader, No 118

Mum on the phone. Daniel's on the train home and she hopes he'll be ok. I'd almost forgotten he was coming.

Birmingham plans to triple number of city cyclists by using canal towpath network: Birmingham's cycle revolution may soon hit top gear. How so? Please tell us! Nearly 19 miles of towpaths are set to be upgraded offering a smoother, all-weather surface, improved lighting, new access points and better signage. Well, blimey, that'll certainly help because the existing gravelly-muddy-grassy path can get a bit slithery in the wet. Mind you, so can some of the brick paved towpaths too, especially when they're laid on a bit of a camber. Still, it'll probably help for the bits of the city around the canals, for people travelling to places served by the canals. Probably also increase the number people walking too, which is also good. But "cycle revolution [hitting] top gear"? Pull the other one.

Mum on the phone again. Has he made the change at Ely ok? I have no idea, but I assume that if not we'd have heard something. Ely's not a large station, and he's been well briefed. I promise to let her know when he's arrived.

Found out my builder supported Martha Reeves before Christmas. With his band, not with an RSJ or underpinning or anything like that.

Natalie goes to pick him up from new New Street at the appointed time. I forget to text my Mum for two hours.

The canal runs near to this part of Edgbaston. Maybe a bit more cycling along it will mean who did this can put away their marker pen and calm down a bit.

When I was not that much older than Daniel is now, some school friends and I arranged a trip to London. I stayed the night with one of them, then we all set off to get the coach in the morning. We missed it, but decided to jump on the train instead. We spent the day roving around London, eventually arriving back in Norwich at about ten in the evening. I lived 15 miles away, and my friends another 15 beyond that. I rang my Mum from a call box to come and get us, and someone else rang their Dad to pick them up from my house. From the time we were dropped off by whoever's Mum it was for the coach we didn't get, to the time I rang my Mum nobody had a clue where the hell any of us were.


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Tuesday 31 December, 2013
#The Forest Road Reader, No 117
You are lost in a dungeon. An ogre smashes through the wall in front of you. What do you do?

Martin Barre's New Day play Thick As A Brick at Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2013. I'd been unsure about this but I should have trusted him - New Day were fab and I really enjoyed this arrangement. (Side note: I assume this was recorded on a phone, and blimey both the sound and video quality are terrifically good.)

Obituary for software patents. Fingers crossed, eh?

JavaScript Spessore, an in progress follow-up to the splendid JavaScript Allonge.

Want eldritch horror during your commute? A reminder of the futility of your existence at work? This collection could be for you.

This spidery spacecraft will be the first to soft-land on a comet. Many of my old colleagues at the Open University worked on Rosetta, and will no doubt be looking forward to an exciting new year.

The creation of the calculus gave ways to form the language, though paused for Turing.

There's nothing you can do. The ogre rolls right over you, crushing you like a bug.

Happy New Year. May you make all your saving throws.


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Wednesday 11 December, 2013
#The Forest Road Reader, No 116

I got redditted. I didn't notice. That's a shame actually, because some of the discussion it provoked (an astonishing 145 comments on reddit, a mighty one on my own site) was interesting and I'd like to have joined in. More excitingly, nobody said I was an idiot. FTW!

I'm much rather write this document in Emacs.

When I see FTW, I always think of this first rather than this.

~~Googles emacs docx mode~~ No, I thought not.

I've been sent a list of requirements. It's in a spreadsheet. Of course.

In the time I've lived in Birmingham, I've barely ever had to venture out in the car during rush hour. When we were over in Bearwood, I used to sit eating my breakfast watching cars inching past my window and, well, rush commuting never really appealed after that. However, I didn't realise just how ridiculously ridiculous things were until I watched my internet-cycling-chum Black Country Steve's video of a trip from the end of my road to the edge of the city centre.


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