What I did on my holidays

What with one thing and another (all mostly work related, which is another post entirely), it felt like time for a break. Given the time of year, what better way to spend the time standing around in woods for three days, followed by another two in a field? It was of course not quite that simple (cut for many pictures, one including tit) Collapse )


Just in case anyone was listening to PM just now, the comment from me was missing the word "statistically", as in the number of deaths in Cumbria, or indeed the number of killings using legally held firearms at all is statistically "very tiny" on an annual basis compared to, well, most causes of death by something other than natural causes. My omission in haste, not theirs, I'm sure.

I should point out that I do have a general sympathy with those associated with the people who were killed. Untimely death, especially through violence is almost always a sad waste.

By all means consider if there's anything which can be learned and changes which could be carried out which would be proportionate to the circumstances. Knee jerk, unconsidered, suggestions about, e.g. keeping weapons locked up in central armouries are exactly the sort of thing we need less of, thanks very much.
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Palm Pre

There are plenty of proper reviews of the Pre if anyone is actually interested, here's just my take after a day. Skip if you're not in to gadgets.

Quick Summary: It's lovely

Slightly less Quick: It's lovely but has hints that it's a version 1.0 product.

But only really hints, I feel and it's all stuff that should be fixable in software (or are down to carrier coverage). With the standard back it feels very light, the Touchstone back feels like it adds more heft than you'd think weighing the bits separately. Being able to just put the thing down and have it charge without fiddling with cables is great. In use it fits in the hand nicely, especially with the Touchstone back which adds a bit of texture.

You can't be too throwaway with your gestures, you do need to be fairly deliberate about the various swipes that are used. On the other hand, it does mean that just touching it doesn't make stuff start happening randomly.

My main terms of reference here are the Treo 600 I've had for ages, plus a HTC Touch Pro work have inflicted on me. I've also had my paws on several models of Blackberry. The keyboard is small. There's just not the physical space for it to be as good as the Treo or a Blackberry. That doesn't mean for a moment that it's unusable though, in fact it's actually pretty good and takes very little time to get used to. You can type one handed/thumbed but it's a bit happier with two, just like most others. I've not worked out how to navigate around within text whilst editing it though.

Quick, check the help! You will need to use the help a bit since the supplied documentation is minimal as with most things these day but if you've used another device of some sort and you're willing to put a couple of brain cells to the task, it's not going to be that hard to pick up. How to move the cursor around is covered in there, so that's no longer a problem. (Hold down the Orange key!)

The screen is very sharp and easy to read although I'm not entirely convinced about the digitiser, it feels as if it needs the ability to re-calibrate it to my not terribly sharp and pointy fingers. Some of it is down to not being clear with gestures though, just like getting the hang of writing with Graffiti on the early Palm models.

Call quality seems fine on the couple of calls I've had, as does music playback either through the built in speaker (not amazing but OK, especially since you can stick it on the Touchstone and just let it get on
with it) and being able to plug in a standard 3.5mm set of ear buds or headphones is what everybody should be doing.

I can't really comment as much as I'd like on the data handling. I have it sync'd to Exchange, Facebook and GMail for mail, chat, contacts and calendars. Initially it didn't want to sync the GMail calendar which appears to be a not uncommon problem, so you have to spend a few seconds removing the account, then adding it back in again. Multiple GMail calendars aren't a problem if you share. They do provide details on performing a one way transfer of data from Palm Desktop (or Outlook) in to the Pre. If you want two-way local sync you'll need a third party application (which are around). Having done the traditional Palm thing of sync old device, plug in new one, sync, done for the previous 5 Palm devices over I hate to think how many years, I've decided that this time I'm going to do a proper data cleansing exercise and get rid of all the old rubbish. Of course I may just end up running Classic to have all the old apps as well and carry both old
and new data around the whole time...

Although it can act as a normal drive when plugged in via USB, the USB port cover feels really fragile so hopefully some kind of easy wireless transfer will be along at some stage. Even once you've got files over, the video player seems to be a bit picky about what formats it will support. Haven't got to the bottom of that one yet.

I've not had any problems (apart from the Google sync thing) with the supplied apps but I think a 3rd party one was causing some issues (not helped by O2 coverage, I think it was network timeouts). There may be an issue with it not spotting when headphones are unplugged but I've not done enough testing, or tried it again since I deleted that 3rd party app.

Get an email, text message, missed call or something else the device needs to tell you about while you're busy doing something more interesting and you'll get a notification. These are described in other reviews and I
really like how they work. Although they're taking up a bit of screen they're not obtrusive and because of the way the rest of the screen resizes to accommodate them, they don't get in the way. This kind of thing is what makes the difference for me - I get really annoyed by things popping up and getting in the way when I'm trying to do something else.

The iPhone is too big, I've never met a Windows Mobile-based device I didn't want to smash to bits within minutes and Blackberry range just feel too corporate. Until now I'd not found anything that was really a compelling upgrade from my aged Treo but I think this will do the job nicely.
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    cheerful cheerful

"Schools are 'employing bouncers' "


Or, alternative headlines: "Recruitment Agencies and the media employ liberal arts graduate wankers who can do nothing but perpetuate stereotypes". Or, "Breakdown in education system means there aren't enough teachers and the those responsible for employing them aren't doing their jobs in getting the right people". No, sadly not snappy enough.

OK, so I most probably associate with the more professional, literate, qualified and experienced end of the door supervisor scale, rather than the jacket fillers but the above article really does make me cross. I think I'm mostly cross though that the schools are failing their pupils so very badly by not providing appropriate cover when required. And yes, I do remember how much of a hard time supply teachers got given at school but that was because they were mostly useless.

Teachers in schools, with the requisite wide range of skills in teaching, development, discipline, care and encouragement, they are what's needed.

{Additional frothing deleted for, well, frothing rantyness}
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Metro Headlines

One of the sometime hilarious, sometimes worrying things about only reading the front page headlines of Metro from a distance is that you can't see if the main picture and headline are related. Most often I think they're not but this morning we have "Experts still try 'cures' for gays" juxtaposed with a picture of a happy, smiling Simon Cowell looking in the direction of the headline.

As I understand it, there are a lot of things people would like to cure about him before getting anywhere near his sexuality, whatever that may currently or previously have been, or his views on the 'curing' of homosexuality.

Also this morning, spotted an in-carriage advert for the island of Aruba (it has an oooh factor, apparently) on which someone had scribbled "Scottish holidays create employment". Perhaps in a nice motorhome, one of which I shall just happen to have for sale in the hopefully not too distant future.

And (it seems to have been a morning for it), opposite the above there was an advert for Lufthansa with a handsome young chap coming out of the plane door and lifting up his sunglasses "all for this one moment" they say. Perhaps if he didn't wear his sunnies indoors, the outside world would be less of a shock.
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