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Jun. 7th, 2011

12:04 pm - Twitter discussion with local councillors on 'adult' matters...

There has been an interesting development re. 'adult' establishments in Cambridge; they are going to be much harder to open. I totally get where the councillors are coming from when they say they find things like lap dance clubs degrading to women (seems that way to me to be honest), I get their point, although I'd defend the right of anyone in such a job to argue the opposite; I used to know a girl who paid for her masters that way up in Aberdeen, and she didn't view it as degrading.

I do worry whether such should be the council policy though. I don't really want lap dance clubs springing up all over the place (how dull would that be?), but then again that simply isn't happening anyway, so I'm not worried about it. And I definitely don't want to see people forced or coerced into any kind of sexualised industry, thats entirely unacceptable. But I do want to know that those working there are being consulted; it strikes me that they may end up worse off without the protection and stability of somewhere legitimate to work. What happens to them in that scenario?

All credit to Cllr. Pogonowski, after exchanging tweets on that its clear he's taken that on board and rather than the next phase of this policy simply being anotner 'open' consultation, theyr'e going to specifically contact those working in that sector (which I think they should have done in the first round of consulting), and he's also going to talk to the leader of the council about the broader 'adult' industry in the city in general, and what can (and should) be done to help those out finding themselves involved in it (of their own choice or uncer coercion).

Result for local democracy occasionally being sensible...

Jun. 6th, 2011

02:47 pm - The joy of chickens

We have two!

Vicky, a speckledy looking bird who is probably mostly a Sussex, is a behemoth of  a hen. Soft tempered, good natured, but a little shy. And broody. What she wants to do is sit on anything that looks like an egg.

Bess is a darker Sussex, she's more outgoing but not quite so happy to be cuddled. Not that any chicken really loves being cuddled.

Eggs are great. Lawn is a mess.

Jun. 3rd, 2011

02:05 pm - Hmmmm...

Hmm... Barely used journal. I really shouldn't ignore it entirely.

Feb. 8th, 2011

03:40 pm - Stereo system conundrum

Last year bought new kit for the living room and our bedroom. Very happy with them.

On Sunday I took apart our old Kenwood system, popped the outside of each part, cleaned it, and put it back together. And once again it is working lile a charm; it'll play music quietly and sound great, or you can turn it up and it'll pin you to the back wall, without distorting the sounds at all.

So... Its working again. I've plugged a little DAB radio in to it and, crucially, its also happy to have a phone or an MP3 player plugged in and it manages just fine.

I've put it back together in the kitchen, and I've bought some new speaker cable to move the speakers out to a reasonable distance. The only trouble is that a stereo system that looked modern and tiny in 1990 (ish) now looks formidably big. Not like one of those 'space ranger' systems with flashing lights all over the place, just much larger than our new systems and the little one we had in the kitchen.

I am now more of a micr-seperates kind of chap. Dunno whether I'll get used to the old one being in the kitchen.

09:52 am - Biscuit and the bonio

Biscuit has a habit of bar chewing. I suspect that she's had the occasional chew toy, but like most hamsters just hasn't really liked them, so she's got a compulsive bad chewing habit. I also suspect that out of boredom she's kept her teeth chewed down rather further than necessary.

So last night she got her first bonio, the best chew toy a hamster can have. Its big, its tasty, its chewy, and infuriatingly (from a hamsters point of view) you can't get it down a rotastak tube. You can push it, that doesn't work. You can pull it, that does't work either. At which point you may have the brainwave that maybe pushing it will work... She spent hours on this. Great entertainment but rather distracting during last nights D&D.

Feb. 7th, 2011

02:50 pm - Biscuit the hamster

We have a rescue hamster.

By 'rescue' I mean that her children owners weren't looking after her properly, so she's come to us.

I had worried that she'd be ill, cage-bound, traumatised, all the bad things that can happen to a hamster. Might she have mild cage paralysis? Poor dentition? Wet tail?

It turns out that she's perfect. Well, not quite; her teeth are chewed down a heck of a long way, I think she's been bored in the cage she was in and has chewed too much. I think that she's also just a trifle on the skinny side. But she is otherwise in what appears to be perfect condition, and she is a complete darling; friendly, loving attention, and having a whale of a time in her new rotastak palace (only as small version thus far; the cage, the burrow, the large pod, half a space station and of course tubes to scuttle about in). She immediately identified her bed, got a little confused in the burrow before going mad in it... Everything seems good for her in what is essentially a hamster loving world.

Has a touch of the excapologist to her; she immediately found the place that the cage opens and were it not for the judicious use of florists wire she'd have got it open.

She's a pale banded tan Syrian, and I would hazard a guess that she's 9-10 months old, maybe a year.

Jan. 25th, 2011

10:52 am - Radio transmitter part II

1. It is transmitting on a harmonic frequency but you need to turn the noise down so far that even with a very high end bit of radio-power monitoring kit you can barely get it above noise; its well within reasonable limits at the first harmonic, barely detectable in fact.

2. By wrapping the aerial up and putting it in an empty coke can I can restrict the distance that the signal goes to more or less within my own home. By 'more or less' I mean that if you're on the other side of the French windows you can get it. In principle its going no further than if I were legally using it un-modified or, in fact, indoors on the windowledge.

3. Ofcom haven't replied.

4. Other than the scenario of using it upstairs, on a window ledge, with the window open, it is not conceivable that I can interfere with anyones transmission in the normal FM region or harmonics thereof unless I intentionally set it to do so and line it up to go through a neighbours window. Which would be stupid.

5. I can now therefore quite reasonably use it downstairs to stream music to both stereos at the same time. Its hard to see why I'd want to send it upstairs, because that stereo can stream from the computers hard drive or just play internet radio itself, but in principle I can also do that.

Jan. 20th, 2011

09:13 am - Scum sucking bastard county council

Old? Poor? Want to live in Cambridgeshire and not be isolated and alone? Well screw you then:

"Currently the county council subsidises 80 bus services which would not otherwise be viable, spending £2.7 million, but this will be phased out over the next four years."

Classic car-dependent wankage from a car-supremacist bunch of tory snobs who hate and despise anyone who doesn't spend 20 hours a week in a car. Short sighted morons.

Jan. 18th, 2011

09:47 am - Cab the pirate

I bought myself a little wireless FM transmitter thingy a while ago so I could play music from the computer to the kitchen, so I could listen to Spotify or whatever else while in there. And it was pants, it just didn't work very well, it had a range of about three feet.

So I then wrapped a wire round it in the hope of it working like an aerial, and that kind of worked. Not very well, but you could hear it on the radio at the other side of the living room, and it was a different kind of noise in the kitchen.

I had a brainwave and stuck the wire in the power connector of the transmitter, wrapped the other end around a central heationg pipe, and wired the aerial of the kitchen radio around a pipe in the kitchen. And I could hear music through the hiss; not good enough to listen to, but it was getting there.

I gave up for a while, until I was cycling home yesterday and found myself reasoning that there was no possible excuse for transmission being so dreadful. It had to be designed to be bad. So I whipped it apart and started contacting a long wire to different bits of circuit, and found that if you got between the batteries and a little white chip it acted as a great aerial. It transmitted to the kitchen, it transmitted upstairs, I could hear it on the wind up radio in the garden... Heck, until I walk down the street with a portable radio I won't know how far its going. It won't be that far (after all, its powered by two triple a batteries), but its plenty good enough for home use. Now I just need to do some accurate soldering and the jobs done.

The question I now find myself asking is how good a little transmitter can be before I'm breaking the law. If its transmitting to the lass next door I'm sure no one will care, but if I can pick it up three doors down? Four? How far is too far?

If you're looking for a way of streaming music through your home without paying for any expensive hardware to do it, this is great. IF I don't get arrested...

Jan. 12th, 2011

11:51 am - Christmas and New Year

Had a relaxing time for the most part. Elliphant had a cast on her arm, so we didn't choose to decorate or fiddle about with any DIY, meaning we had a quiet time. Good food and each others company.

Also presents. A good thing.

Bought a new stereo for upstairs and battled to make it communicate with the network. Was finally triumphant.

Winter dig nearly completed. Reclaimed section of garden in front of kitchen window nearly done. Best compost from compost bin ever, although in places more composting tiger-worms than compost. Its going like the clappers right now.

Broad beans in pots in cold frame.

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