Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Computer Modifications

This week I've been trying out some alternative browsers on my computer. A while back there was a "Browser Choice" message that came from the European Union, which listed a range of different browsers, with the idea I think of creating a more level playing field for them to compete with Internet Explorer provided by Microsoft with Windows. Since IE has increasingly been incapable of showing some video connections, and there are threats to update it to a form that will not work with XP, I decided to try a change.

A few years ago I tried 'Firefox' but wasn't keen on it, though perhaps I didn't find the right settings to suit me. This time I tried 'Opera', but found I could only reconstitute my list of favourites from IE by transferring them one at a time. Also the 'circle dial' thing on it was a bit puzzling, and included advertising. The second one I have tried is 'Safari'. This turned out to have a button in the Bookmarks section which allowed all the favourites to be transferred automatically. It also seems to be nice and simple, which is what appeals to me.

Earlier to day I also got an instruction from Virgin Media to install their new Security 9 system to replace PC Guard. This I was glad to do since I have the impression that it is PC Guard that has been slowing everything down. The installation went reasonably straightforwardly. However I did get a message that something called "rpcapd" was trying to get through the firewall. Not having any indication of what this is I blocked it.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Wolfe, Water and Wine

This is a closer up photo of the statue of General Wolfe in Greenwich Park. He stands on the brink of the hill looking down towards the Queen's House and the National Maritime Museum, with the Royal Naval College buildings beyond them, and the Millennium Dome to the right, and across the river to the skyscrapers at Canary Wharf. That is the view all the sightseers around the plinth of the statue are looking towards.

On Tuesday this week I woke about six and went for an early morning swim again at the baths, as well as disposing of my accumulated glass waste, and some left by other tenants, at the bottle bank. Immediately after I returned at 8:30 the "parcelforce" man came with a box which contained six bottles of wine that I'd won for writing a letter that was featured in the New Humanist magazine. Since I'm not much of a drinker of alcohol I will have to find someone else to drink most of it, or else it will last me six years or so.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Greenwich Park

This is another photo from my trip down the river on Thursday 6th May. It is a view from the Queen's House in Greenwich Park, looking up towards the statue of General Wolfe on the left and Flamsteed's old Royal Observatory on the right. This is one of my favourite places in London. There happens to be the very faint image of a monoplane coming out of the cloud at the top right. (Click on the photo and use the magnifier!) I wasn't able to take a tour round the observatory since it was already packed out with visitors.

I did look in the National Maritime Museum and the Queen's House for a while, but the art exhibitions are in such dim lighting now, and I couldn't find the famous portrait of Stoker Martin that I remember seeing there. EDIT: I've added in a link to an article in Life magazine from 1948 which includes a copy of the portrait.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Canary Wharf

There really is a Canary Wharf where the river buses dock as this photo I took on my trip last Thursday shows. The buildings above are of course the place where the power of the money markets now resides. Are they now our real masters? It's not my pun but it nicely sums up the results of the election and I can't resist quoting it: We are all Con-Dem'd!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

On the River

This is a photo I took on Thursday as the Thames river-bus was about to pass under Tower Bridge on the way down to Greenwich. I was surprised to find that I had taken 50 photos in all when I came to transfer them to the computer. Of course, most of them were not very good. I must get round to putting the best of them onto my Flickr page, which I've been neglecting for some time. I also got quite a good one when the boat stopped at Canary Wharf en route.

Perhaps I should add the results of the election. The sitting Labour MP, Michael Foster was defeated by the Conservative candidate Amber Rudd. On the other hand the Labour Councillor Jeremy Birch won, and in fact Labour took control of the Council.
Here is a report from the Hastings Observer website.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Visiting My Old School

I'm rather stiff and tired after a long and busy day in London yesterday. It began at 7:30 when I went to the polling station to vote. In the end I decided to stick to voting for the people I know, which happen to be the Labour candidates, Michael Foster for MP and Jeremy Birch for Councillor. The trouble with a PR system it seems to me would be getting to know all the other candidates so that one could make a considered choice, rather than making a vote purely on the party line, not knowing what the individual candidates were like, never having met them.

The main reason for going to London was for the chance to look round the bulding that used to be St Olaves Grammar School which I attended from 1951 to 58. It proved to be somewhat dispiriting to see it in it's current condition. It is now owned by a property company, Berkley Homes, and there are plans to convert it into a hotel. The playground at the back has been dug up, the exit to that area having been bricked up, and a wing where the art classes were held has been demolished. All the rooms were empty of furniture and decorations, so it was really rather sad to see. The photo is of the assembly hall. The white spots are probably reflections of the flash from specks of dust in the air.

Some parties of boys from the new school in Orpington also came to see the building, but they seem to have had very little time to see anything, and I doubt if they learnt much from the experience. Some of the Old Olavians who were taking them round seemed to me to be spinning them tall tales, and reliving their childhood conflicts with the headmaster, Dr Carrington, rather than explaining anything of genuine historical interest.

There was to be a Commemoration Service in Southwark Cathedral from 2pm, but since it was such a lovely sunny day I couldn't face the dark interior of another building and instead took a trip on the river-bus down to Greenwich, which like to visit at least once a year. More on that perhaps in a separate diary entry.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Waste Disposal Woes

All this morning I spent tidying up the mess left by the bin-men. The photo shows bits of rubbish lying all over the place, and the bins left open. (This was before the second collection where they take the pink recycling bags.) This is not entirely their fault as the black bag left on the ground contained empty glass bottles, which are not supposed to be put in the bins, but they could have taken the rest.

We had a circular a few days ago, resulting from my enquiries, which makes clear that the Council now requires all rubbish placed in bins to be in black bags, not loose. Instead of emptying the bins they now take out the black bags, put them in another bin, and empty that bin into the dust-cart!

I emptied out the bins and put the uncollected rubbish from several weeks into new black bags for collection next week. There was also a number of items that should not have been in the bins, such as two heavy bags of builders rubble! Some of the rubbish included cat-litter - should this be disposed of in this way? One of the bags at the bottom was full of maggots. These I swept onto the garden in the expectation that nature will deal with them.

The white object on the right is a sofa which has been left there for several weeks. No-one in the flats claims responsibility for it. I suppose it will be up to me to arrange for it, and the other unbinnable waste to be disposed of.

It was nice to see a new winner of the World Snooker Championship last night, and an overseas player, Neil Robertson from Australia. My viewing was interrupted by the fire alarm going off just before midnight, a result of the tenant in Flat 3 trying to cook himself a late snack. This afternoon his overflow was running, and still is, though I pointed it out to him.

Saturday, 1 May 2010


I had another nosebleed on Friday, this time it occurred at an awkward moment as I was checking out at a small supermarket. Holding my nose and putting things in my bags at the same time was a bit awkward. A few drops fell onto my newly washed nylon bag, so it's going to need another wash! When I saw the doctor last year they concluded it was due to a weak vessel in my nose, but why it should recur at this time I don't know.

This morning I took another longish walk, this time up to the West Hill where the Castle is, and back through the Old Town via Croft Road. This will be the new route for the Jack-in-the-Green ceremony on Monday, so I thought I'd check it out since I missed it last year. There was a group of male-voice folk-singers outside the Jenny Lind pub, and a group of Morris Dancers at the entrance to Rock-a-Nore Road, but I couldn't see much since they were surrounded by a crowd. I ended with a walk along the beach. There was quite a strong wind coming off the sea.

During the week I've spent a lot of time typing up a collection of Exact Echo chess problems that I made about 25 years ago, with the help of various correspondents. It was intended to publish a booklet of them as a follow-up to the Exact Echoes tourney that I held in my little magazine Chessics. It was abandoned at the time because of competition from Eugene Albert's Encyclopedia of Ideal Mate Chess Problems, that would have contained many problems of this type. I presume that appeared, though I never followed it up, my interests having moved elsewhere.