Saturday, September 18

Park(ing) Day

It was international Park(ing) Day on Friday, something I haven't heard of before, where by people around the world take over metered parking spaces and make them into green parks, complete with turf and plants.

Here is a video:

I'm wondering if they put money in the meter?
I assume they do.

Visit the parking day web site.

Friday, September 10

Highest Tide 2010

December last year I posted a photo article about sea levels and high tide down at Southsea. It wasn't the highest tide, but this year I managed to catch the highest tide.

I took this video near Southsea Castle and the aquarium:

You can see in the last clip of the video I had to stand on the wall to avoid getting wet. Later on whilst taking some photos at Old Portsmouth, I did get soaked by spray from a wave.
This is a nice photo showing just how high and rough it was on the day, I couldn't get to close to the fence because of the waves:

Two of the waves can be seen just reaching the top of the sea wall.
And here it is at low tide in the summer:

Why take these photos?
Well imagine adding 1 to 2 metres to that high tide, the path would have to be blocked from public use many times a year and the waves would be slopping over the higher sea walls.
1 to 2 metres is the sea level rise expected by the end of the century and into the first part of the next century.

Now instead add 6 metres - the amount sea levels would rise if the equivalent volume of ice as on  Greenland melted - then Portsmouth would be flooded in many areas.

Tuesday, September 7

Retro Computing

Some 22 years ago I bought a brand new cutting edge computer called an Amiga. I still have it and for years it has been stuck in a drawer, with all the software discs and joystick. Unfortunately when I recently took it out of the drawer and tried it for the first time for 2 or 3 years, it's floppy disc drive finally gave up the ghost. But thanks to the English Amiga Board I discovered that some PC floppy disc drives can be modified to work with an Amiga.

Not only that, I discovered that my PC had an unused floppy disc drive which was one of the models that could be modified. Here it is, opened up with the mods done (the wires):

After some measuring, sawing and filing, I got it fitted into the case. Unfortunately the drive fascia is black:

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, just stick a disk in:

Classic workbench screen with clock. Even today, you can have widgets on a modern computer, such as clocks and calculators. This one is circa 1988. Notice the 'windows', at the the end of the '80s' this was way ahead of Microsoft Windows. Most people were still using MSDOS:

Amoeba Invaders, a free game from a magazine cover disc, circa 1991:

Cyber Punks game:

Screen shot of Deluxe Paint. This was top notch graphics editing software for home computers. But by today's standards, it is incredibly limited. It's amazing what many people produced with it:

Sunday, September 5

Panorama of Waterlooville

My latest go at using Hugin. A 360 degree panorama of Waterlooville town centre. Click on the image to see a bigger version:

Thursday, September 2

Scottish Power under Ofgem investigation

This is an interesting turn of affairs. Today Ofgem stated it is investigating Scottish Power and 3 other energy companies for allegations of mis-selling their products at peoples door steps.

In March I posted a warning about this exact issue in the Waterlooville area regarding Scottish Power:

Warning about Scottish Power (March 16, 2010)

Wednesday, September 1

Climategate and the ghost train!

Wha??? You are thinking. I'll explain the train thing later.

I took the opportunity to go along to the public discussion at Highfield Campus, University of Southampton called 'The Climategate emails: controversy and consequences'. The event was part of the annual Tyndall Centre get together and most of the people attending were academics. I think there were probably just 4 members of the public in the audience, although there were quite a few academics in the audience that were not from a environmental/climate science background.

The panel was made up of Fred Pearce a popular science journalist, Professor Alan Thorpe Chief Executive of Natural Environment Research Council, Professor Mike Hulme from University of East Anglia and Nick Pigeon from University of Cardiff.

Fred Pearce writes for New Scientist, The Guardian and The Independent, he has also written a book about the Climategate issue. The discussion was chaired by Professor John Shepherd - National Oceanography Centre.

Alan Thorpe was the first to speak and generally felt that the outcomes of the climategate affair were positive with many professional bodies who advise big corporations (in the UK) wanting to be updated on the latest science. Quite the opposite reaction, I think, that some skeptics would hope for. He also raised the issue of intellectual property for code, data etc.

Next came Mike Hulme who has worked with Phil Jones, the professor whose emails were at the centre of the controversy. Mike suggested he was aware that something serious might happen before the emails were released on the internet, he had got an email from an American suggesting that CRU data might become publicly available if it didn't release the data the bloggers (McIntyre and others) wanted. Mike also pointed out that the CRU had now received a grant to handle data curation, something that was missing before the climategate issue.

Fred Pearce unfortunately didn't IMO add much to the discussion and advertised his book at the end!
To be honest, I have heard all the stuff Fred talked about before.

Nick Pigeon gave an interesting account of a survey that had been conducted, suggesting an increase in disbelief in anthropogenic climate change from 4% to 10%, but pointed out that the trend seemed to be reversing and looked like it would be going down again. One interesting thing he quoted (he quoted another academic whose name I don't remember) was the idea of limits to the number of things a person could worry about at the same time, termed 'A finite pool of worry'!

The best bit was when the audience asked questions. There was a lot of discussion about freedom of information and it's relation to the field of science. One person in the audience was from the medical/pharmaceutical area of academia and pointed out that climate science could learn a lot from their way of handling FOI requests. The medical science sector appears to have been dealing with FOI requests for a long time and have systems in place to deal with it.

One oceanographer in the audience pointed out that the vast majority of funding was for basic climate science intending to improve knowledge and wasn't directly related to climate change, this was confirmed by Alan Thorpe (I think) and Fred Pearce seemed to be surprised by this revelation, despite apparently being a journalist with expertise in the subject. The point made was that the research didn't have a goal to prove climate change was happening, the main goal was to improve the science and fill the gaps in our knowledge.

A retired statistician in the audience suggested climate scientists might gain from working with statisticians, this was generally accepted.

But what about the ghost train??

Well after the discussion I took the university bus back to Southampton Central station and while I was waiting for my train home, I heard a public announcement which sounded like "stim Dorset shttle passing thru... London , mind platform" or words to that effect. I thought, 'did she say steam'??

Nah, that would be ridiculous.

Then I looked along the rails and in the distance this steam passenger train was coming full pelt towards the station. It was a weekly steam engined passenger service running from Dorset to London called the Dorset Coast Express.
It shot through the station and I have to say I was gob smacked. Not sure what engine was at the front but it was streamlined, I think it was one of those that set a speed record in the 1930s or 1940s.
It was quite strange standing on a modern train station, then for a few seconds, momentarily transported back to the 1950s and the end of the steam era (in the UK). When it had passed, everyone on the station was returned to 2010.