Lane Hogs redux

6 06 2013

Seems another of my ideas was listened to:

although as normal not a great implementation

Just like the implementation of MP’s recall … They’re not even doing Douglas Carswell’s idea of recall ….nevermind my thoughts of voting in that we should be able to change our vote at any time and the MP would then take the seat whenever they’ve had a majority for a few months:

As normal, no inspiration and no cojones.

Phone Security

23 04 2013

I know there are devices available which you can put one in your bag and the other on the phone and if they are split then this would lock the phone.

But they are clunky and people just stick them in the same place and they get robbed together.

So another idea using NFC, why not have a ring that is used to unlock the phone so that whenever it is held in the hand it is unlocked and then locks again automatically.

The key is then that if the ring is taken off (a pressure/light switch or even skin electrical detection on the inside could be used for this) it will take another device to make it work again.
This can be a USB device so would log any attempts and can be secured via the web.

(Of course emergency calls and perhaps a fixed number can be called when it’s locked.)

This USB device could be left at home/work and so no chance of it being pick-pocketed and would even make mugging pointless.

BBC London News Drinking Game

3 04 2013

What better way to get your weekday evening underway than drinking to the local news…

Take a gulp for…

Bad music sync on the handover from national (drink double if you see a shot of sportsdesk or other region)
“Including…” [cut to VT]

The mention unnamed people as an excuse for the story or balance section…
“Residents are angry”
“But campaigners say more money is needed”
“Calls for an enquiry”
“Calls for a ban”
“The Mayor has been criticised”
“That’s the opinion of” (after reading a highly unbalanced first person opinion)

Down your drinks….

Someone moons or otherwise jeers behind the weather presenter who is out on the street for no apparent reason…. extra shot if this happens in the studio! – Double if it’s you!

Celeb on red carpet either talks nonsense, appears drunk or just uninterested and walks off… extra if they don’t realise they’re on live TV.

Boring re-occurring themes…
Olym-/Paralym-pic Legacy/2012 … Drink extra if they say “2012” as shorthand for the Olympic Games.
Lakanal house
Baby P
Council house residents complaining about dirty windows/mold.

Maybe some of these will work for your local news too if you are elsewhere.

Feel free to comment your extra suggestions below!

Switch on NFC cards

15 03 2013

oyster switch

There’s lots of cards with NFC in people’s pockets .. cards that can be read by a passing reader or the wrong card read when using it.

If the antenna in the card had 2 contacts exposed like in the pic above that required, the card wouldn’t have enough power to work until a finger was placed over to make the circuit thus both securing and ensuring the card is only read when the user wants it to be.

Shouldn’t add much to the cost I wouldn’t think.

Vegan (and other foodstyles) Labelling

1 03 2013

Being a non-religious meat-eater, I’ve been trying to cook/eat vegan for lent.
I decided to do this before the horsemeat stuff, which is a bit annoying as people (or my nectar card) will think I’m doing it ‘cos of that.

Being Vegetarian is quite easy – everything has a label but then I guess that’s because vegetarianism is quite well defined.
But I don’t see the point in it – You may not be killing the animal to eat it’s stuff but eg. what happens to all the male cows? They are all killed early as they aren’t worth keeping. So indirectly drinking milk and eating eggs is killing animals.

And I know of vegetarians who don’t care if their eggs are free range; They don’t want an animal to be killed but don’t care if it has a bad life (I think you have to believe in an afterlife to go with this one and think killing it is more traumatic to the animal)

So the next choice is vegan.

But where do you stop?
Honey is created by animals but not from them – is that OK?

Is using animal products like manure for growing vegetables OK – I suspect many vegans would prefer this to GM crops that can grow without such stuff (if they even really think about it at all)

So what I propose is a new labelling system so people of all fussynesses can see at a glance if the product is good for them.

The label would be based on a 4line grid system which could be printed quite small but can be read by a mobile phone to give a clearer indication.
Supermarkets can provide tablets at the end of aisles for customers to use (in fact they should do this anyway for people to scan barcodes to look up extra information and provenance – may need 2d barcodes on stuff for that but they can do that on own-label easy)

The idea isn’t that everyone can use it for everything but if you do have a dietary requirement then you would learn what to look for and so be able to tell at a glance.


The levels will mean different things for different columns.
This will mostly be:

0 – Contains ONLY this.
1 – Contains some of this
2 – Produced in a factory which processes this
3 – None


(descriptions optional)

There would be certain restrictions such as the British (or whichever country) produce one would refer to everything being grown/produced here and not just assembled/cooked here (there could be another column for that)

The icons can be interchangeable but has to be a black bar and the P=produce line has to have the flag of a country – or blank for produce of more than one country.
This does mean there could be multiple P columns.

The QR code is optional as the phone app should be able to read and decode without a net connection but it should preferably be unique to the batch and so the website it links to can contain all the provenance details, along with the best before dates etc.

New columns can be removed/added – there is a letter symbol as this is easier to read when small and also by a phone camera.

I’ve used darker colours so it could also be printed black/white and also avoided using “traffic light” colours as you end up with the top-trump problem where one person’s good thing is another’s bad.

Anything with spots/dashes across all columns is the equivalent of Not Applicable.

The first half is grouped in order of diet restrictiveness so a Pescitarian/Vegetarian/Vegan can just check the length of the bottom bar even when the label is displayed tiny


Another type of people are usually more bothered about where it is produced which is why that is on the other end.

If this becomes standard then for online food shopping it could be used in reverse too – Check the boxes which are acceptable to you and only see those items which match.

Grumpy Review: Nokia Lumia 920

31 01 2013

There’s plenty of reviewers who will tell you how great the Lumia 920 is (it is!) – but ain’t nobody got time for that. Here’s the downsides…

Upgrading a Nokia is always excitement, tinged with disappointment. Maybe it’s that Finnish air that even if you’re having 24hour daylight parties, you know the winter is coming.
I recently upgraded from the N8 to the Lumia 920.
Here are the things I miss, or were missing on the N8 too… most are software issues so maybe it’s just a disappointment in having to wait and hope.

  • No Traffic shown or rerouting in maps/drive app
    What’s the point in that? I might as well just use a map or signposts.
    On that subject all the speed safety camera warnings have also been removed. Have they got into the NIP/FPN printing business now?
  • Can’t set from address in email
    This was missing on the N8 too. Make it pointless for business use as who is going to do business with anyone with an address instead of one relevant to the website they’ve sent to?!
  • Lorem ipsum in calendar
    For some reason on month view, all appointment names are replaced with Lorem ipsum text – Why, I don’t know? Surely it would be harder to code this in than to show the real text. Someone having a bad day at Nokia/Microsoft and just want to piss people off with their annoying code.
  • No notification LED
    Every time I go out for a cup of tea I have to press the lock button to check for messages/calls (bad hearing means I miss the beeps) – Why can’t it just flash something at me?!
  • No wrist strap hole
    For a phone that’s meant to be great for photograph and filming stuff, a combination of no wrist strap and a glossy surface where if you accidentally touch the screen it takes a picture, I can see many of these falling down picturesque chasms and waterfalls, or just grabbed out of people hands… is this a sales/marketing ploy?
  • No ‘say caller’s name’
    It’ll read out texts and even let you reply to them from the headset – that’s great whilst cycling, but who is that who is calling? A mate,  someone important or just a sales call to ignore? Stop and fiddle in pockets to find out.
  • No video editor
    Yes, the videos the N8 produced could be tacky but if you’re going to upload direct to Youtube then you at least want to be able to crop & join.
  • can’t stop a email sync once started.
    If you set it to manual sync and then perhaps you’re out and about on your expensive data plan, you realise there’s hundreds of mails to come .. You’re getting them all. I’m not even sure it’s headers only as there’s not that option.
  • Case scratches far too easily
    Well… I’ve got a deep scratch in it already and haven’t dropped it that often
  • Flash too bright
    So it can take amazing photos in the dark which look like it’s a lot brighter but it’s not magic – sometimes you need it to give extra light but the flash seem to be imported from a HTC or something where everything goes dark because it’s compensating for a few very bright bits. Surely if it can focus it will know how far away something is and adjust the flash accordingly?
  • Hopefully they’re working on getting it to work with the Nokia PC Suite so I’ll not moan about that yet.
  • oh yeah … and No HDMI port. In a phone this size there’s really no room? I’m not sure the wireless tech is really ready yet to make it a suitable omission… why not just provide wireless connectors (like there apparently is for charging, once they eventually send the charging place) then the USB and headphone ones could be missed off too and the phone be made waterproof so you can confidently take photos of the girls in the hot tub knowing your phone isn’t ruined when they get upset and throw it in?
  • hmm I’ll stop now.

Overall… Great phone, love it… well done Nokia.

HS2 & train entry/exit pods & high speed travellators

29 01 2013

Yesterday was announced the new route for the 2nd half of HS2, the high speed rail for UK.

Now I do think they should do the northern bit first…. perhaps actually a big private company should just do it and show them how it’s done.

A big circle going Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Stoke, Crewe then back up to Liverpool…. perhaps a spur to Birmingham

This would help regenerate the north, especially when the shale gas money starts coming in.

People would then go there rather than just use it as a nice place to commute to London from… Would be a vote winner for the Conservatives too!

The lines running northwards at the moment aren’t too bad, especially west-coast.

There’s talk of capacity problems but this is where technology can come in.

With more advanced signalling and better trains they can be made to run faster and closer together… with more use of splitting trains, perhaps whilst at speed but also…

(..and we now eventally get to the idea that I was writing this blog for 🙂 )

Train Pods.

I think they should be used on the tube but would equally work on real trains.
This is where the vestibule of each carriage is detachable.
To get on the train, passengers get into a pod on the platform which is then accelerated to the same speed as the train as it passes then simply slots in to the train.
The doors on the pod then open allowing the train to carry on without stopping, saving time and energy.

Getting off is the reverse – get into the pod which is pushed out and then slows down to the platform
(on a seperate track to the side… monorail maybe Edit: or how about over the top of the train on a track on it’s roof so the current platforms can be used?)

If there isn’t enough room for everyone to get off then there should be a button so the train does have to slow/stop, but good ticket/train management could prevent this from happening often.
This would be better for disabled/elderly people too as they have the whole time between stations to get in the pod, rather than be rushed whilst the train is stopped.
Given there’s more time then tickets could also be checked in/out of these to save time at the station.

Using this system then there’s no worry about platforms not being long enough for the train, so these pods could be quite large for many people and possibly just fitting between standard carriages.

If this was used on the tube then I would envision perhaps fewer stops in the centre but with high speed walkways between.
These walkways would be like the travellator type but fully enclosed and one way.
This way, every few yards people could step onto a new platform which is going faster and faster.
LED Lights on the wall would also go faster, so people could end up travelling at high speed, but as they’ve no reference points then think they aren’t going fast at all.

Whilst I’m on the subject of rail productivity I’ve been reinventing in my head the high speed rail that will go to “Boris Island” airport …. the train that I would put the airport terminal inside so all security and baggage check is done en route to the airport.
I’m imagining double decker trains where the baggage/workers are on the top level and customers on the bottom, walking through each carriage as each section checkin/security/baggage and then waiting… waiting carriages can have screens to pre-order stuff from the shops, ready for them when they get to the departure lounge.

One day I’ll do a post not about travel in some way