tobyaw: (Default)
2017-06-09 03:56 pm

Hung parliaments

Why are hung parliaments greeted with the expectation that the large parties will do a deal with whatever small parties will make up their numbers? This puts undue power in the hands of fringe political movements (and associated pork-barrel politics).

Wouldn’t it make more sense for there to be an expectation that the two largest parties should do a deal, and hence find a compromise that matches the largest number of voters. We’ve had a National Government work for us before.
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-06-06 08:33 am


We use a Harmony universal remote to control the hifi and TV at home. But recently the button to turn the volume up has stopped working.

I found the amp remote, put some batteries in it, and now I can turn the volume up. But the volume down button on the amp remote has stopped working.

Currently we need to use two remotes to control the volume; one to turn it up and the other to turn it down. So much for making life easier.
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-05-10 11:03 pm

4 ✖️ 25 minutes

Watching Doctor Who last weekend, it dawned on me that the fundamental problem with modern Who is not the nonsensical stories, the feeble characterisation of the Doctor, or the emotional outpourings. The problem is the 45-minute episode length. Barely has a story started before it is ending, and there is no space for middle, for development, for subplots, or for a change of pace.

The typical length of a classic Who story was four 25-minute episodes, giving a total story time of just over 90 minutes. Which is a far more natural length for visual drama.

Having watched the first four seasons of Elementary earlier this year, I came to the same conclusion. It would have been a significantly better television programme if there were half the number of episodes, and each was double the length.

I think the same goes for most televisual drama; we are stuck in the wrong format. The 100-minute length of television films is far better for story telling than the 45-minute length of episodic television.

Of course, in the world of Doctor Who we are spoiled with Big Finish creating a steady stream audio plays, many at the optimal length of between 90 and 120 minutes.
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-04-24 09:04 am

Private delivery of NHS services

My most frequent interactions with the NHS are collecting repeat prescriptions, for me and for the rest of the family. For the last few years I’ve used the pharmacy at our local Morrisons supermarket; it is friendly, efficient, has good parking, and most importantly, is open long hours. It cannot be overstated how important it is that pharmacy services are available in weekday evenings, and seven days a week.

The existing pharmacies in town — Boots, Lloyds — seem happy to collaborate rather than compete, and still close at 5.30pm. It took a new entrant to the market to add a better level of service.

This is private-sector delivery of NHS services, free at the point of delivery, and providing a better service that anything that has gone before it.
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-04-18 09:37 pm


Friend me on Nintendo Switch! My friend code is SW-5497-5999-8077

So far I mostly have friends from the office, but I must know more Switch owners than that.
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-04-18 07:13 pm

Political evil

Two of the most poisonous political philosophies of the past hundred years are socialism and nationalism. I find it disturbing that many of our mainstream political parties can be identified, to some extent, as socialists (Labour, Green) or nationalists (SNP, UKIP).

I could never consider voting for such a party, although I’m sure that most of their politicians, members, and voters are well-meaning and don’t subscribe to the nastier side of their parties’ political heritage.

The only mainstream political parties without the taint of political evil are the Tories or the Lib Dems. Both, I suspect, will do very well in the forthcoming election.
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-04-18 05:27 pm

Television debates

Televised leaders’ debates are bad, because they focus attention on party leaders rather than local candidates.

They’re bad because different parties stand in different parts of the UK.

They’re bad because there isn’t time for policy detail, and challenging questions.

They’re bad because they’re terrible, unwatchable, television.

So I’d be happy if they don’t occur, and wouldn’t watch them if they did.
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-04-10 10:33 pm

Rogue One

Well, that was a fine film.
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-04-10 03:18 pm

Cold calls

A Birmingham number — 0121 014 2875 — just called me, and told me that they were contacting me because of my recent road accident. This happens far too often, despite my number being on do-not-call lists. And of course I haven’t had a recent accident.

As usual, I told the caller that they should be ashamed of themselves, calling a number that they shouldn’t and telling lies. I told her how upsetting it would be to be called like this if we’d had an accident. And I told her that she should be ashamed to do such a job, and should reevaluate her life.

We got rid of our house phone a while ago, when I worked out that we were making and receiving approximately zero calls on it. Now I’m wondering whether the phone functionality of my mobile is worth the bother; I receive far more junk calls than real calls. Almost all of my real communication is done through FaceTime, Skype, or Slack.
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-04-07 05:27 pm

Telegraph ads

I subscribe to the Daily Telegraph web site. I’m a long-term reader of the paper, and although I haven’t picked up a physical copy in years, and it is now a feeble shadow of its former self, I still find enough premium content for the subscription to be good value. And I think it is important to pay content creators and service providers.

But they’ve started adding pop-ups telling me to turn off my ad blocker. I find it hard to describe how annoying this is. I’m paying them money, and yet they are nagging me to let them show me adverts that I don’t want to see. There is something very wrong with the world. And with companies driven by advertising.

(On a more positive note, I’m hoping that YouTube’s changes to disallow smaller channels from joining their advertising programme will mean that many fewer of the videos I watch online will have ads.)
tobyaw: (Default)
2017-04-06 11:07 pm


Back in June 2003, I created a LiveJournal account. Since then, after peaks and long, low, troughs, I feel that I want to fight against the pervasive feeling of disappointment, and I want LiveJournal to be the special thing that it used to be. Though I blog infrequently, it still feels like it should be home.

In June 2005 I paid $300 for two permanent accounts, one for me and one for [personal profile] kateaw, and I have no regrets. I was happy to support LJ, and over the past twelve years, I’m sure we have received good value from that purchase.

A combination of the long, slow decline in LJ, together with event calamities like we’re seeing this week, will serve to drive more and more people from LJ, and perhaps into using their Dreamwidth accounts, but I fear that we won’t see much more evidence of an active online community.

But let’s be hopeful. Maybe something good will come from this.
tobyaw: (Balgove)
2017-04-03 11:14 am

LJ email notifications

“Your email address has been marked as unvalidated because we have been receiving errors messages from your mail server for at least one week. This indicates the address may no longer be functional. You can re-validate this email address or switch to a new email address to begin receiving notifications again.”

For the past week or so, I haven't been getting emails from LJ on my regular email address (an address). My email is otherwise working fine, so I assume that iCloud is currently allergic to LJ email. Is anyone else having a problem?
tobyaw: (Balgove)
2017-03-30 09:03 am

Independence vs independence

I’d like to see an independent Scotland. I was happy to vote for independence from the UK in 2014, and for independence from the EU in 2016. My decision in 2014 was made easier by it seeming clear that Scotland leaving the UK would also mean it leaving the EU. Genuine independence.

Now we are faced with the prospect of another Scottish independence referendum, and I am finding it hard to contain my fury at the SNP conflating Scottish independence with, in some manner, remaining in the EU. It is clear that they see political expediency in focusing on a half-hearted pro-European independence for Scotland. Perhaps we should call it “soft” independence.

It may leave us with a choice between independence from the UK, and indepence from the EU. Which is a choice I don’t want this country to have to make. If I have to vote to stay in the UK in order to keep us out of the EU, I will blame the SNP.
tobyaw: (Balgove)
2017-02-03 11:51 am


Is there any point to BCS (British Computer Society) membership?

I’ve been a member since forever (MBCS CITP), but the fees are high and have been increasing at a rate far ahead of inflation and wages. I’m finding it hard to see any professional or personal benefit from membership.
tobyaw: (Balgove)
2017-01-11 11:37 pm


Delighted to have tickets to see Anthrax in concert in February.

I noticed they were touring this year when Beth’s latest issue of Metal Hammer fell open at an advert for the tour. I thought about the Barrowlands date, but that is in the middle of Beth’s half-term when we are due to be down in Nottingham. It turns out they are playing Rock City in Nott’m that same week. Perfect.

When I was at school, I had classmates who regularly went to Rock City. Never been myself (most of my school-era concerts were at the Nott’m Royal Concert Hall, or at the Birmingham NEC once I was driving) — so quite amused that I’ll be matching that teenage experience at the age of forty-four.

This will be the first time I’ll be seeing Anthrax live, despite having loved their music since the 1980s. Pretty sure the first Anthrax album I heard was 1988’s State of Euphoria, although I’ve probably listened to Among the Living more than any other.

Sadly the concert is 14+, so we can’t take Beth to this one, but [ profile] kateaw should enjoy it.
tobyaw: (Balgove)
2016-11-01 01:18 pm
Entry tags:


I read almost all web pages using the “reader” mode in Safari. It would be great if pages could open automatically in reader mode if they have suitable content; it looks like Twitter are testing defaulting to reader mode in their iOS app, so perhaps we are seeing movement in that direction.

It is refreshing to read content from news sites without seeing menus, logos, adverts, sidebars, downloadable fonts, popups, comments, or, for that matter, any aspect of page design.
tobyaw: (Balgove)
2016-06-18 05:10 pm

Voting for independence

Before the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, I spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of country I wanted to live in, and how it should relate to the wider world. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t possible to make a decision based on facts, well-argued analysis, and expert predictions. Rather, I identified the issues that were most relevant to the way I thought about our governance, and made my decision based on how I felt about those issues. And I was happy to vote for independence.

Looking at the key issues that drove my decision:

  • I believe in localism (in a positive way). We ought to have smaller political units that are more closely connected to the people who live in them. A smaller country is a better country. And that power should be devolved down to the smallest practical political unit.

  • The Westminster government is distant from Scotland, and from Scottish priorities. (This is not to say that it is undemocratic, but rather that Scottish priorities are not well represented).

  • National institutions inevitably have an English focus, and Scotland is often regarded as “them” rather than “us”.

  • Immigration is seen as a major problem in much of England. It isn’t regarded in the same way in Scotland, and as a nation we would welcome more immigrants.

  • The emphasis of our tax system needs to be different. Scotland has a much smaller percentage of top-rate tax payers, and needs to be more active in adapting our tax system to encourage inward investment (perhaps by offering a different model of corporation tax).

  • Scottish industries — oil, whisky, ship building, fishing, finance, technology — need specific and active support from the government.

Thinking about those, and similar, issues in relation to Britain in Europe, I’m convinced that voting to leave Europe is the right decision on Thursday. This is not an anti-European or anti-foreigner stance, but a genuine belief that we are not served well by further European integration. A belief that Britain can prosper, and indeed push ahead of Europe with economic performance and with social issues. An escape from the pervasive belief that a larger institution always knows best. And an escape from the bureacracy, cronyism, corruption, and lack of democracy in many of the European institutions.

I can understand arguments from both sides of the referendum, and can see many different points of view on each side (and many distinct reasons why people would vote to leave or vote to remain). But I hope that everyone votes for a positive reason — because they believe in the direction they are voting for, rather than because they are afraid of the alternative.
tobyaw: (Balgove)
2016-04-11 10:10 am

Collecting platinum points in My Nintendo

There are 120 points to collect on a weekly basis. From observation, the week starts on a Monday.

30Visit the official Nintendo website while signed in to your Nintendo AccountVisit
30Collect the My Nintendo sign-in bonusVisit then click on the coin that appears next to your Mii
30Sign in to MiiverseVisit then collect the points at
30Sign in to Nintendo eShopVisit the eShop on Wii U or 3DS then collect the points at

There are 35 points to collect on a daily basis, from playing Miitomo. Once each of these has been achieved you’ll usually get a notification in Miitomo, which collects the points, but if you don’t, then the points can be collected on the Missions page.

10Get 5 comments on your answers in one day
10Get 5 hearts on your answers in one day
5Give 3 answers in one day
5Listen to your friends' answers 10 times in one day
5Change your outfit once in a day

There is another (possibly weekly) activity, “Answer the featured question”, which nets 25 points. I’m not yet sure when that changes.

Check your point earning at
tobyaw: (Balgove)
2016-03-01 11:04 pm

Big Finish

Away from home for a few days, and my entertainment of choice is catching up with some Big Finish audio plays. I only buy them when they’re on offer, but I’ve amassed quite a collection over the years, and there is satisfaction in knowing that they keep producing drama to such a consistently high standard.

And it is a pleasant escape from the mass of miserable-looking people, to be able to wander around Shoreditch of an evening, headphones on and a smile on my face.
tobyaw: (Balgove)
2016-02-29 08:11 pm


On the train to London at the moment, for a few days of work. Does anybody fancy meeting for dinner in or near Shoreditch this week? I’m around until Friday.