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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Will photosynth ever be able to export point cloud to blender?


Polybore has been having a lot of fun with blender recently You can the recent animated logo efforts here.  http://www.watchblogvideos.com/2008/10/new-watchblogvideos-ident-v20.html

Polybore has also been impressed by MicroSoft LiveLabs Photosynthhttp://photosynth.net/Default.aspx Which automatically builds a 3d scene from your uploaded photos that you can navigate around. Check it out to see what I mean, it is worth a look the only draw back being that you need Internet Explorer and you have to download and install the viewer plug in for it to work.

What has me excited is that Photosynth builds a 3d point cloud like in the picture above. Now if Photosynth could export the point cloud, as vertexes, to 3D Animation software like Blender http://www.blender.org/ then wow, that would be awesome! If this were possible then when you wanted to model something all you would need to do would be to take a bunch of photos of it then get Photosyth to export the point cloud to your 3D animation software and bingo job done (after a bit of tidying up).

Now I would love to ask LiveLabs if they intend to include an export point cloud feature to Photosynth but I can't find a way of contacting them. I am hoping someone will see this post and find out for me. It would be awesome for amateur 3d animators like me and would make a very expensive technique used in the film industry available to everyone for next to nothing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How to convert and edit an animoto video using free software.





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Animoto is great and probably the best online tool polybore has ever found online. OK so you have created your awesome animoto video but for whatever reason you would like to edit it. In my case I wanted to add an ident (or logo) to the start of the video so when I shared it online I could promote my blog.

Of course you can just add your logo to the animoto video but you don't have any control over how they will turn out in the finished article. Anyway I had created a 3d animated logo using Blender and was desperate to show it off. You can see it in action here http://www.watchblogvideos.com/2008/09/i-avatar.html

When you download your completed animoto video you get it in .mp4 format. Now, I don't have a utility capable of editing .mp4 files, so I needed a way to convert it from .mp4 to another format. As usual polybore went looking for a free solution to editing his animoto videos.

UPDATE: Just tried this recently after a bit of a break. It seems Animoto have changed something about their .mp4 downloads because polybore’s original way of editing animoto videos no longer works (although it still works with animoto .mp4 files from when polybore first wrote this). Not to worry have found a new way of doing it.  You need this http://www.pazera-software.com/products/mp4-to-avi-converter/

Be careful when downloading it. don't hit the largest download button, it is an add for something else. The download button you want is smaller and blue. Be patient the download ite tries to sell you stuff, ignore all that and you will get pazera in the end. Pazera does not need to be installed just extract the zip folder then click the mp4toavi.exe file and you are in business. Use ADD FILES from the top black toolbar, select the one you want and then hit CONVERT. Thats it.


Here is what I came up with.  I downloaded MP4Cam2AVI_v2.71 from sourceforge.net . This program is designed for converting camera video files from a variety of formats (including .mp4) to .avi so is perfect for our purposes. MP4Cam2AVI is straight forward to use and fairly well documented. When you use it don't be put off by the fact the preview window will not work with MPEG4 4AC files, the conversion will still work fine. Just make sure that "audio format" is set to PCM (uncompressed).

Once converted to .avi it was a simple matter to use Windows Movie Maker to join my clip to the animoto video. Of course you could also use Movie Maker to edit the animoto video as well by spliting it into frames. Polybore is not a fan of Quicktime, I like VLC a lot but I find that .wmv provides maximum compatibility e.g. when I send the animoto video to relatives. Why should I expect them to install Quicktime or VLC?

Let me know if you have found another way of doing this.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mondeo MK3 engine warning light.

Recently polybore has been involved in a bit of car diagnostic work. The engine warning light came on the dash of his 2001 MK3 V6 Mondeo. Now having had experience of paying mechanics to track down the symptoms of an engine warning light and how much this costs I thought I would at least try and identify the problem.

The car was going to the garage to get new tyres so I asked them to plug the car into the computer to get the code from the ECU. Well it turned out that the engine was running on a fuel mix that was too lean. This was resulting in a loss of power and increased fuel consumption.

First off I replaced the fuel filter then reset the ecu by disconnecting the battery for about 20mins. The warning light went out but came back on again the following day. Then I tried replacing the air filter no joy there either. The next possible cause for this error code is a vacuum leak. Sure enough when, with the engine running, I put my head under the bonnet I could hear a hiss, can't believe I had not noticed it before.

Having identified that there was a leak somewhere it was difficult to pin point it. Crawling around on top of a hot V6 with an ear to each hose was uncomfortable to say the least and I spent a frustrating time doing this. Then I found a fantastic tip online. I would love to attribute it but it came up on the google search page but I could not find the actual item at the web site.

The trick is to use a short length of hose or tubing as a sort of stethoscope. Hold one end to an ear and probe around in the engine with the other end. It works fantastically well for isolating the hiss sound of an air leak. I found the leak almost straight away even though it was an awkward place.

I sealed the leak with some insulating tape and now the car is back to full health. Now I just need to identify the part number of the t junction rubber tube that failed and get a new one. Looks like I should be able to fit it myself.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How to use an animal's brain to control a robot.

Robot controlled by the brain of a rat embro Friendly looking little fella this robot that has a rat brain. To see the full story and a video via the BBC use this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7559150.stm

Now research work into alzheimer's is obviously commendable however despite polybore being a huge fan of technology polybore is a bit uneasy about robots with animal brains. Polybore also finds it odd that this story has not been more widly reported. You would have thought that this sort of "Frankensteinian" experimentation would have created a fuss.

Perhaps people have got used to this kind of research. If so what next? A chimp embryo brain used to control a more advanced robot or hey let's try a human brain.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Polybore goes OTT.

The polybore T-shirt
Now I am off to apply the polybore stamp to all my boy's clothes.



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How to make the perfect quiche quickly and easily.

Picture of quiche LorraineLike this recipe? Check out all the polybore recipes here.

Polybore has become a quiche convert. It wasn't until I tried making quiche that I really appreciated how quick, easy and tasty this dish is. I'm late in adopting the quiche as, prior to conversion, I have been put off by shop bought quiche which, in my experience, have always been very bland.

All you need is:

Salt.
Pepper.
1 small onion.
2 table spoons single cream.
4oz (110g) streaky bacon.
1/4 (140ml) pint of milk.
3 eggs.
4oz (110g) cheddar cheese.
Savory shortcrust pastry.
Tomatoes. (or red pepper)

First off put the oven on to preheat up to 180C. Then roll out your pastry and fit to your dish. The dish this recipe fits in (perfectly) is 12" (30cm) in diameter and about 1" deep (2.5cm). To save time I usually just buy ready made pastry.

Chop your onion as fine as you can be bothered. Cut the bacon into small pieces (I use scissors for this). Fry the bacon in olive oil or butter, then add the onion and fry until golden. Distribute the onion and bacon mix evenly on the pastry. Grate about 3/4 of the cheese and sprinkle it evenly over the onions and bacon.

Chuck the eggs, cream and milk into a bowl and mix. Add pepper and a pinch of salt. Then pour this over the cheese, bacon and onion. Grate the last of the cheese on top and decorate with sliced tomato or pepper (or anything else you think would be nice).

That is it done. Just pop into your preheated oven and cook for about 35 mins. When you take it out of the oven leave it to rest for 5 mins before serving. Of course quiche is also great cold and is a great dish that you can make in advance of summer dinner parties.

Good dish to try some alternative ingredients as well. I've started making it with goats cheese and pancetta rather than cheddar and bacon. Yum.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

White noise rip off. Don't pay for white noise get it free.


This has to be the closest thing I have ever seen to the sale of bottles of fresh air. As a recent first time Dad I know that a new parent is prepared to try anything to help their baby sleep. My wife and I did a bit of research and found that some people have found that white noise has helped babies go off to sleep.

Interesting thought I, might as well give that a go. To my astonishment I found that there are web sites out their selling CDs of white noise.

Here are a couple of examples (lots more out there).

http://www.purewhitenoise.com/whitenoisecd.html#whitenoise

http://www.pediasleep.com/sounds/white_noise_babies.html

Wow what a bargain 12hr mp3 of white noise for only $9.99! Well how about getting white noise for free, at any volume you want, for as long as you need?

If you want to try out white noise with your baby, or know friends who might be thinking about it then bear this in mind. To get white noise all you need is an FM radio, knock the tuner off station, and hey presto white noise. Please don't go giving these gits any money.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Using aniboom.com to make your own animated gif.


Update: Check out an excellent alternative to aniboom in a new Polybore post here: http://polybore.blogspot.com/2009/03/how-to-create-animated-gif-for-your-web.html

Just a bit of fun really. Above is an animated gif I made using the aniboom online tool which you can find here http://www.aniboom.com/MicroSmotion/?ref=/animachines/header/
You can embed the animation tool in your blog or social networking site. I tried this but it was adding to my already slow page load time.

Instructions: (these are slightly amended from those provided at the site but better)
1. Make sure your webcam is plugged in.
2. Select the background of your choice by clicking the arrows. Hearts, Cupids, halos etc. I used "none".
3. Create: click the red button or space bar to Capture (photograph) frames.
4. If you make a mistake select the frame by clicking on the green frame markers at the bottom of the widget then click the dustbin icon top left of widget.
5. Export your animated GIF to download, share and embed.

Also worth checking out is their online 2d animation tool. http://www.aniboom.com/ShapeshifterAnimachine.aspx
Have fun!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The danger of carrying ads on your blog.

Click on the pic for more detail.


Polybore says "If you are going to condemn homosexuality in your blog you should be more careful about the ads you carry."
For the blog in question in all it's glory http://imablogger.net/?p=32

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Small rabbit causes $6 million damage.

Polybore does not like rabbits, they are rats with good public relations. News of a small rabbit causing £3 million ($6 million) worth of damage to a drinking water system in an area of the UK helps polybore feel right in despising pesky rabbits.

Anglian Water, the water company effected, detected the bug Cryptosporidium in it's water distribution system. This bug is a parasite which infects animals and can infect humans, if a healthy person is infected, they will not be going far from the toilet for at least two weeks, because of serious diarrhoea. For someone who is already frail or ill infection can lead to very serious illness.

Give Anglian Water their due credit, they were right on the problem with 500 people working round the clock flushing pipes, disinfecting tanks, advising the public to boil water and providing alternative drinking water. In the course of the clean up they "must have" found this small rabbit bobbing about in a water purification tank.

I say "must have" because the fact there was a dead rabbit in a tank has not been reported. Initially polybore had an image of a vindictive bunny, having penetrated security, perching at the edge of a tank before depositing it's droppings over the edge then gleefully hopping off. But the fact that it has been reported as being caused by a rabbit, and that it was a small one, surely means they fished it's dead body from a tank. So the rabbit must have fallen in and drowned (sploosh). Lucky for Anglian Water it was a cutesy rabbit, imagine the uproar if it had been a rat.

Polybore says exterminate all rabbits in the UK, exterminate with extreme prejudice. They are not supposed to be here, the rotten Romans introduced them. What did the Romans do for us? Infested the place with rabbits, that is what they did. Roads and central heating, I'd give them up if it meant no more rabbits.

Link to boring news article here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lunatic stockpiles one million match heads.

You may have seen the story going round about a guy called Michael Arndt who built a full size replica F1 car out of match sticks. In fact close to a million match sticks 956,000. Well people reckon this is pretty cool. However something bothers polybore, what has he done with 956,000 match heads! Thats a lot of phosphorus sesquisulfide and potassium chlorate.

I don't know exactly how much phosphorus sesquisulfide there is in a single match head. But even a conservative guesstimate of 0.1g would mean this guy has 95.6kg (211 pounds) of explosive stashed somewhere.

Look in the photos, he is clearly cutting the heads off of live matches! Is this an elaborate plan to cover up for explosive stock piling?


Man cutting head off match
Man making car wheel out of matches

Michael Arndt in completed full size match built F1 model car
Here is where I first saw this story. http://www.myinterestingfiles.com/2008/07/car-from-956000-matchsticks.html No details on the match heads there, or anywhere else that I can find.

If anyone can put my mind to rest on what this guy did with the match heads I would be mightily relieved.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

France demonstrates her influence on World affairs.

French President Sarkozy The US and UK's world standing is in tatters and they have about the same level of influence as a gnat has when it strikes the wind shield of a jet liner. Let's be generous and say "marginal".

Meanwhile the much maligned, by certain US and UK commentators, France has pulled off three significant foreign policy successes in the past week. That is three more than George W Bush managed in his 8 year term. One more than New Labour has achieved in it's 11 years in government in the UK (credit for Kosovo and Sierra Leone).

1. The historic establishment of diplomatic ties between Syria and Lebanon mediated by France and Qatar.

2. Setting up an encouraging environment between Israel and Palestine for future peace talks.

3. The inaugural summit of the Union for the Mediterranean.

OK we have been optimistic regarding Palestine many times in the past as various US presidents have sought the foreign policy holy grail without success. Also the effectiveness of the Union for the Mediterranean has yet to be seen. The point however is that the vacuum left by the US and UK is being filled by France and this has to be good for world stability.

Until Afghanistan and Iraq are stable, safe, countries the US and UK will continue to struggle to influence anyone as exemplified by their recent failure to persuade the UN to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

A change of US President may reinvigorate US foreign policy. Unfortunately any incoming President is going be hamstrung by the legacy of Afghanistan and Iraq. It is difficult to see how the US/ UK coalition can draw a line under operations and withdraw in a timescale of anything less than 20 years. So until then it will be France who exert influence around the world. This should be applauded because the alternative is Russia and China filling the vacuum left by the US.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Marcus Brigstocke creeps up his own arse.

The corduroy King Marcus Brigstocke
Marcus Brigstocke is a comedian whose material is largely based on current events and political commentary. I have to say I am something of a fan of his but his recent slot on the Now Show (BBC Radio 4) has angered polybore.

Listening to this corduroy clad pompous ass crowing over the fact I will have to pay more car tax has touched a nerve.
You can hear him opening his mouth and letting his belly rumble here. (mp3)
Metro Man Marcus swans round London on it's public transport network, all the time smugly patting himself on the back for doing so. Well that is just great Marcus, but maybe just for a second you could remove your Big Smoke blinkers and notice that life exists beyond Watford.

I drive a second hand Ford Mondeo which was registered in May 2001. I bought a top of the range second hand Mondeo because it had the better safety features than smaller engined versions in the range. I'm going to have to pay the top rate of road tax for this car. £430 for 12 months. Well I'd love to replace it with a shiny new car but frankly I can't afford to. My car is not for the school run, it is for getting to work, or the nearest shop 20 miles away, for transporting my 10 week old baby safely, for negotating blizzards in the winter, and for towing my large trailer full of fire wood.

Marcus is making a point about rights and responsibilities targeting David Cameron. But in doing this he seems to assume that the 9 million car owners who are going to be hit by this tax are all Tory voters. It's a bad joke, a poor observation, polybore is not laughing.

Lets face it this is another tax which will hit those like myself on lower to middle incomes. The people who Marcus has in his sights, who buy high performance sports cars or large 4 wheel drives and can afford to pay £20,000+ for the privilege and will not blink at paying this tax. What is more only an idiot would think this tax will benefit the environment a jot, cars registered in 2001 are coming to the end of their lives anyway.

It seems to me that Marcus has lost the plot, I now see him as a microcosm of New Labour. Washed out and out of touch. It hurts me to say that as I have previously always preferred a Labour government.

Get a grip Marcus before you disappear up there entirely.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Eureka!

Picture of LED appliance bulb
Listen to the polybore droning this post. (mp3)

Polybore has a lot of eureka moments. Unfortunately this happens so often that the excitement of realisation is quickly tempered by the remembrance of past experience. The thing is, if you have had a good idea it is very, very likely that someone else has had the idea before you. If no one else has had the idea then it is very probable that one's idea stinks.

This happened to polybore today (again). Having retrieved juice from the fridge the idea popped into polybore's head. Why is there a 20 watt filament bulb in the fridge, getting all hot and the fridge having to cool it down, when there could be a nice LED bulb? LED bulbs use less energy and run nice and cool perfect for a fridge.

Off dashed polybore to consult the internet, mind racing, with the idea of being a fridge bulb magnate. As usual however google informed polybore that someone else had come up with the idea. Some white coated light bulb boffin no doubt.

Oh well. Until the next eureka moment...

At least polybore knows about these bulbs now and will invest in one next time the fridge bulb goes.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Now that's what I call Torture.


As part of it's "War Against Terror" the US military has tortured, or had people tortured, in various countries around the world including Afganistan, Morrocco and Iraq. Water boarding is the most notorious method of torture deployed against suspected terrorists. A less well known torture that has been extensively used, more so than water boarding, is the use of painfully loud music. Subjects of this torture by music would have deafening music played in their cell 24hrs a day, sometimes for up to 20 days, sometimes longer.

Here is some of the music that was used as a method of torture.

AC/DC - Hell's Bells
AC/DC - Shoot to Thrill
Aerosmith
Barney the Purple Dinosaur - theme tune
Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive
Britney Spears
Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA
Christina Aguilera - Dirrty
David Gray - Babylon
Deicide - Fuck Your God
Don McLean - American Pie
Dope - Die MF Die
Dope - Take Your Best Shot
Dr. Dre
Drowning Pools - Bodies
Eminem - Kim
Eminem - Slim Shady
Eminem - White America
Li'l Kim
Limp Bizkit
Matchbox Twenty - Gold
Meat Loaf
Metallica - Enter Sandman
Neil Diamond - America
Nine Inch Nails - March of the Pigs
Nine Inch Nails - Mr. Self-Destruct
Prince - Raspberry Beret
Queen - We are The Champions
Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name Of
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Saliva - Click Click Boom
Sesame Street - theme tune
Tupac - All Eyes on Me

If you are a musician whose music has been used for torture you should contact the organisation Reprieve. Reprieve believe that the US military has a case to answer under copyright law. The US military did not pay the artists concerned for public broadcast rights. Sadly their is a better chance of convicting the US Military under copyright law than there is of ever holding them to account for torture.

All musicians shocked by this situation should consider putting a clause in their contract forbidding the use of their music for the purposes of torture.

My personal view is that music is something that demonstrates culture and civilisation. For music to be twisted and used in acts of barbarity sickens me.

Further reading and links if you want to campaign against the use of music for torture.

http://www.reprieve.org.uk/Press_stop_torture_music.htm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/19/usa.guantanamo

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Easy way to make a fantastic video to promote your blog or website.



Like This? Click here for more Polybore Video Articles

ANIMOTO is a free web service that creates awesome slide shows using your uploaded images. You can add your own music, or their stock music, to the slide show and ANIMOTO will add video effects in time to the music. If you sign up for the free service via the links in this post you will get a 5% discount if you ever decide to buy the all access account which allows you to produce longer videos.

You can embed the video into your website/ blog or export direct to youtube with no messing around. I'd include instructions on how to use ANIMOTO but there is no need it is incredibly easy to use and produces amazing videos.

My first effort (above) took about 10mins and I am looking forward to sorting out some better images and producing a longer video.

Why not use ANIMOTO to make a video to promote your blog or website on youtube, or showcase your blog promotional video to other bloggers at http://vidiblogs.blogspot.com/

Next I am going to make a cool slide show of my new baby son, he is gonna love it.

New: Here is my latest version of the polybore promo vid full size at youtube. http://youtube.com/watch?v=is9LBxcf_m4

If you want to put clickable links in your video here is a link to required info. http://home-made-online-income.blogspot.com/2008/03/brand-existing-youtube-videos-with-your.html

Like This? Click here for more Polybore Video Articles

Monday, June 30, 2008

Expletive gets marks in an exam.

One of Britain's top exam markers has caused a bit of a stir by awarding 2 marks out of 27 for an exam paper in which the student had only written "f*ck off". Without the star of course.

You can see the story here. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7481715.stm

And in more detail here http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article4237491.ece

Now I tend to agree that these marks should have been given. I visited a friend of mine a while ago. He showed me a note that some kids in his block had shoved through his letter box. It read "f*ck of".

My friend is an educator and he was not upset by the sentiment, it was the incorrect spelling of "off" which got to him. It is a sad state of affairs when a kid can spell "f*ck" but not "off".

Bearing this in mind I think the examiner was right to award marks because at least the kid taking the exam managed to get the spelling right. And as the examiner says, if the student had just added an exclamation mark "!" then he could have had an extra mark.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Time to pull the plug on Big Brother


In the early hours of today following an argument amongst the contestants Dennis and Mohamed were separated. Dennis had spat in Mohameds face and has subsequently been kicked off the show.

This alleged spitting incident comes after a housemate named Alexandra was removed from the show for implied threats of gang violence against other contestants families.

Previous series of Big Brother have provided a TV platform for bullys and racists. I can't understand why any advertiser would want to be associated with this show. Virgin Mobile should withdraw it's sponsorship, I guess they were managed to get a good deal because reputable companies would not touch Big Brother with a barge pole.

What has Virgin Mobiles advertising money bought them so far. Well I now associate Virgin Mobile with exploitative cheap TV, spitting and gang violence. Now that is a piece of advertising genius Virgin Mobile, get out before it gets any worse.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Exterminate Exterminate Exterminate

Polybore is a huge fan of the long running BBC TV series Dr Who. Genuine excitement being experienced at he moment at the imminent reappearance of an old friend, the uber villain Davros, along with his evil creation, the Daleks.

How to make fantastic easy perfect lemon cheese cake.


Like this recipe? Check out all the polybore recipes here.

This cheese cake is really easy to make, tastes simply amazing and is sure to be a hit at the dinner table. It is best made the day before to allow it to set overnight. It will keep in the fridge for several days once made and seems to get better with age although I can assure you my experience is they are quickly gobbled up. If you are a bit daunted by the high calorie count of this recipe consider replacing the cheese and cream with low fat equivalents. My advice though is to make the full bodied version and have a smaller slice (if you can)

What you will need (serves 8):

For the top.

6 whole lemons
600g (21.1oz) cream cheese (eg Philadelphia)
600ml (21.1floz) double cream
gelatin or vegetarian equivalent enough to set one pint
90g (3oz) caster sugar

For the base.

300g (10.5oz) digestive biscuits (or equivalent biscuits)
100g (3.5) butter
60g (2oz) granulated sugar

It is a lot easier to turn out the cheese cake with a tin like this. A clip cake tin with removable base. Like the one pictured below. My tin is 8" in diameter and 4" high.

It is best to make the base first. Crush up the biscuits, it is fun to do this by putting them in a plastic bag then whacking it with a rolling pin. Don't get too carried away or the bag will split. If the biscuit crumbs are larger you will get a more crunchy base.

Put the crushed biscuits in a bowl. Add the granulated sugar. Melt the butter in a pan and add to the mix.For added zing add some zest from the lemons (scrape lemon skin using a zester). Mix up then place it in the cake tin. Firm the biscuit base down with a spoon, or the base of a glass. Then pop the tin in the fridge for half an hour or so in order that the base sets before you add the topping.

The topping is also really easy. Squeeze the lemons (take out the pips), and add all ingredients, except the gelatin/ vege gel into a mixing bowl. I usually use an electric whisk to do the mixing. Once the mixture is smooth prepare the gelatin or vege gel and according to the instructions on the packet and add.

Carefully pour/ scoop the mixture into the cake tin and place in the fridge to set. For best results leave in the fridge overnight or for at least 3 hours.

That's it, just turn out the cheese cake. I tend to serve it on it's own but if you want to show off decorate the top with fruit.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Junkies fund the Taliban

Photo of heroin injection equipment
According to the UN the Taliban raked in a cool $100 million in 2007 from opium production in Afghanistan last year. While the Coalition and world aid agencies pump in hundreds of millions of dollars to help Afghanistan the world's junkies pump in millions of dollars to the Afghan opium industry. The Taliban use this money to acquire armaments to kill Coalition troops and Afghan civilians.

So if you are a junkie reading this, if it is not enough that you are killing yourself with your addiction for you to stop, then have a think about the guns, violence and murder you are supporting by buying heroin.

If you are not a junkie, before you feel to smug, are you buying the records of a junkie? If so we know what the junkie musician will spend the money on, yep heroin.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Spotted Flycatcher

Photo of Spotted Flycatcher on my car aerialI've not seen one of these little chaps in my garden for years. The Spotted Flycatcher is unfortunately endangered these days. I'm so pleased that I have seen at least two of them and they have a nest hidden away somewhere in the garden. They are great wee birds with lots of character. Well I suppose you need character if you are that wee and travel from Africa to the NE of Scotland and back every year. Amazing.

Flycatcher by name, fly catcher by nature. They find a nice perch, launch themselves from it and catch flies on the wing before returning to the perch. The smart wee chap in the photo likes to perch on the aerial of my car.

I've been trying to get a decent photo of him for ages, because he is so wee and so busy it has not been easy. Am hoping to get a good one before my visitors return to Africa for the Winter.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Afghanistan Exit Strategy.


It is the fighting season once again in Afghanistan, for Afghans it has been like this, pretty much every year, for as long as anyone can remember.

Polybore has been following the events in Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion of 1979 when as a precocious 7 year old I wrote to Margaret Thatcher to suggest trade sanctions against the USSR in order to put pressure on them to withdraw.

Well Polybore did not have much influence with Thatcher, instead of trade sanctions she suggested that British athletes boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The Soviet Union remained fighting in Afghanistan for 10 years before their withdrawal in 1989.

What are the differences between the Coalition occupation and that of the USSR.

1. The USSR had a much larger force with up to 104,000 troops, currently Coalition forces are expected to reach approx 65,000 after reinforcement this year.
2. Coalition forces have a mandate to reconstruct Afghanistan and to support the Government. The USSR did not have a reconstruction mandate, per say, however they were there to support the Communist Regime that was governing Afghanistan at that time.
3. USSR troops killed by the end of the 10 year occupation numbered 14,427. During the Coalition's 7 year occupation 841 troops have been lost.

It is clear that the Coalition has had some hearts and minds success in Afghanistan when compared to the USSR occupation. With less troops they have sustained far fewer casualties and fighting has been less widespread during the Coalition occupation.

To sustain this success the Afghan people must have confidence in their Government. The danger is that the Coalition will end up propping up an unpopular Government which would alienate Afghans and result in increased support for the Taliban. Evidence of corruption and incompetence by the current Afghan Government is starting to emerge and this does not bode well for the Coalition's mission.

The truth is that there is no exit strategy. Realistically the Coalition are looking at having to be on the ground in Afghanistan for the next 30 to 50 years for there to be any chance of leaving Afghanistan in a state in which it can secure itself against the Taliban. With few countries comitting battle troops to the Coalition, and with Canada contemplating withdrawal beacause of this, the future of Operation Enduring Freedom is in doubt.

Should the people of Afghanistan begin to think that the Coalition may withdraw then the Taliban will become an increasing military threat. They will be able to move with greater support from Afghan villages looking after their future security in the event the Coalition withdraws.

Firefox's denial of service attack on itself.

Firefox logo
As far as publicity stunts go this has to be one of the stupidest I have ever seen. Firefox's record breaking attempt knocked out their promotional web site spreadfirefox.com and reduced their customer's download speed to sub dial up.

Maybe the publicity will end up in a few more downloads of Firefox, maybe even they will get into the Guinness Book of Records. One thing is for sure they have demonstrated that a denial of service attack works very effectively.

Firefox is a great product but if there is one thing Polybore hates more than promotional hype, it's slow download speeds.
Any power companies out there want to try and get a world record for peak demand of electricity? If so just get your all your customers to switch on all their domestic electrical appliences at the same time and watch those sub stations blow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weak Bridge.

Photo of road sign: Weak BridgeI drive over this bridge in order to cross a river pretty much every day. Suffice to say it does not inspire me with much confidence. Bridge and weak are not words that should go together as far as Polybore is concerned. Would you get on a plane that had a sign on it saying weak wings?

Tough School

Photo of Tough School signContinuing the series of local signs which amuse Polybore we have Tough School. Want your kids toughened up, then there is only one place to send them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

When is buying bulk more expensive? At the supermarket.

Screenshot of Tesco prices showing that a larger jar of coffee is more expensive per gram than a smaller jarThis is something that really annoys me. Why is it that, at the supermarket, it is often cheaper to buy two small containers of produce rather than one large container of an equivalent size? I'm not talking about two for one offers here.

If you enlarge the picture you will see a screen shot off of the Tesco web site. It took me about two seconds to find an example because it is very common both online and in store, not just for coffee, but all goods. In this example buying coffee in the larger jar is 5% more expensive than buying the same coffee but in smaller jars. This means that to get the best deal you end up having to buy lots of smaller jars.

This makes no sense at all because of the waste of packaging, two jars, two lids, two labels etc. When the supermarkets make claims for how environmentally friendly they are this gross waste astounds me.

What are the supermarkets playing at? Common sense would say that a larger volume purchase should be cheaper. Do they think that customers will just buy the larger jar thinking it will be better value without checking the price against the smaller jars? Is this a deliberate tactic by the Tesco, Walmart etc to trick their customers into spending more than they have to?

Makes me mad every time I visit the supermarket. I should be able to know that when I buy a larger jar/ packet/ tin or bag of produce then that means I am getting the best price by volume. I don't always have the time to work out comparative prices by unit weight for products and I shouldn't have to.

Supermarkets that make me take home twice as much packaging than is necessary are demonstrating how cynical they are when it comes to the environment and are driving me round the bend

Walmart, Tesco, Sainsburys et al use some common sense and get this sorted!

How to get (to) Lost

Picture of sign to Lost Continuing my series of photos, of the signs in my locality which amuse me, we have the sign to Lost. Local legend has it that if you follow this sign you are never seen again...

This was Scotland's most stolen sign until special anti- theft measures were deployed a couple of years ago. My neck of the woods made the news, for once, because this sign was so often stolen. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3720848.stm


Paul Robinett (renetto) blacks up on YouTube

renetto as normal and renetto blacked up
Renetto White Renetto Black.

Paul Robinett AKA renetto (wikipedia)

I'd like to show you the video of renetto blacked up (blackface) but he has taken it down from YouTube, and it does not seem to be held on any other servers, so we will have to make do with the still.

He says in his vlog that he took the video down because in it he had used copyrighted material from an audio series "This I believe" and that the copyright holders had made a complaint to YouTube. renetto reads excerpts from the email he received from the copyright holders and is at pains to say that they were very reasonable and only wanted videos which contained their material taken down. renetto also, pointedly, says that the copyright holders would be interested in him promoting their material in the future.

renetto is a smart media savvy guy who has built an online presence which makes him valuable to advertisers. In particular he a partner in YouTubes revenue sharing scheme. This scheme expressly forbids the use of copyright material without permission.
http://ca.youtube.com/partners

Because of renetto's obvious intelligence and business experience you might conclude that, just maybe, he was using the copyright material with its owners consent because to have done otherwise would be out of character and utterly stupid. renetto describes himself as an inventor. Inventors are very clued up on copyright.

Blacking up is very controversial and has offended a significant number of YouTube users and would have had the potential of offending many more people if the video had been left to stand. renetto actively courts the media and it would not have been long before his blacking up would have run as a negative story against him, this in turn would inevitably lead to advertisers dropping him.

Subsequent videos posted by renetto have critised copyright law, many YouTube users have voiced there opinion that this is diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the fact that renetto blacked up in a video.

If you watch renetto's video's you can see in his eyes that something has clearly gone wrong with his game plan. He has failed to acknowledge the offence he has caused by his blacking up, instead he has been angrily banging on about copyright law. I invite the reader to draw their own conclusions.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The most unfortunate brand name ever?

Arcelik corporate photo showing banner I first encountered this Turkish kitchen appliance brand while on holiday. I have a picture of me licking an arcelik fridge buried somewhere. Until that turns up this pic from their web site will have to do. Arcelik must be one of the most unfortunate corporate names ever. Well it is if you are from a country where people say arse rather than ass.

If you want to check them out then visit them at the even more hilariously named arcelikas.com

http://www.arcelikas.com.tr/Cultures/en-US/Kurumsal/?MENUID=1

Forget speedos wool is in this season.

Picture of wool swimming trunksClick image to see them in their full glory.

You see before you the original woolen swimming trunks. They lurk in a cupboard in the house and occasionally I threaten to wear them.

You really need those draw strings on these, that wool is going to be jolly heavy when you come out of the water.

Made by Admiralty they boast go faster stripes, cotton gusset (the chaffing would be unbearable otherwise), draw strings, and a badge of a woman riding a flying fish. Pure class. You can't beat wet wool against the skin.

Just goes to show our forefathers were much tougher than us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The energy for the future. Nuclear Power.

In a world with dwindling energy resources it is insane to ignore a proven source of energy which emits very low levels of carbon dioxide. Public perception of its safety and concerns for the storage of radioactive waste are holding back the redevelopment of nuclear power for the 21st Century.

80% of the worlds electricity comes from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel power stations just pump their waste products, millions and millions of tonnes of CO2, into the atmosphere. In comparison nuclear power waste is minute in volume and it's storage is extremely closely monitored.

In terms of safety, considering the technology the first generation reactors were built with, nuclear power has a good record. There has been one major incident at Chernobyl. Chernobyl's design has been found to be flawed and unlike nuclear power stations in the West it did not have a containment dome. This design omission allowed the discharge of radioactive material following the explosion.

New nuclear facilities are being built with the superior technology compared with previous generations of plant. They are ever safer and ever more efficient.

Nuclear power is not the solution to meeting the worlds future energy needs, but it is an essential component of the solution. Energy conservation, renewable power sources (wind, tidal etc) and nuclear are the way forward. Nuclear power fits well with renewable sources because it is as natural as they are and does not emit CO2. Consider where the Earth and all life gets it's energy, from The Sun, a gigantic nuclear power plant.

Why not to go to Glastonbury

Glastonbury tickets sold out in a few hours in 2005 and 2007. This year you can still buy tickets months after they went on sale. I can understand peoples reluctance to go. In 2005 one day of rain was enough to turn the event into a massive stinking slimy cess pit. We still enjoyed ourselves because we had pitched our tent on the hill so were not amongst the poor sods who had their tent submerged effectively losing all their gear and it was our first visit so there was some novelty value to the mud.

We went to Glasto 2007 thinking that surely the organisers have learned a lesson after 2005. They claimed to have improved the irrigation for the site. Well maybe they had, but with rain every day over the event, and 100,000+ people trudging about the site was a slurry pit from day one. The site is basically a big plug hole, all the rain water washes straight to the stages and the soil type means that very little rain is needed for it to turn to mud. The organisers are fully aware of this but in my view have not done a few common sense things to counter the mud threat.

Why oh why could they not put down walkways for pedestrians, they put down temporary roads for vehicles to get about. There is nothing worse than having to step off sound footing into deep mud to let some impatient git go past in a vehicle. Also it would be very easy to put out some kind of seating. One of the worst things about the mud is that its impossible to sit down anywhere. Even if you have a camp chair its going to sink into the mud.

How about some kind of flooring in the toilets? Falling into urine soaked mud is not fun in anyone's book.

The last straw for me was the terrible sound quality at some of the stages. I was so relieved when it was over. Sure I enjoyed seeing so many of my fav bands but this was outweighed by the miserable mud trudging.

A picturesque spot for a car crash.

The aftermath of my last car crash during which I was a passenger. That's not me in the picture, I am behind the camera. Climbing out of the drivers side window was quite fun. The actual crash happened too quickly to recall much, the car spun in snow through 180 degrees, went off the road backwards, rolled a couple of times before coming to a stop on the fence. It was a bruising experience but no major damage done. Not much was said during the crash, the driver said "Holy sh*t!". I remained stoically silent.

The only time I felt scared was when I realised I was not going to be able to get out of the door on my side and I briefly worried about the risk of fire. I suppose there was not much opportunity for fear during the crash, just after it.

I always used to think that whiplash was a made up injury to claim compensation. Well I can assure you it does exist and involves a bit of pain for a few months.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Parents of ill vegan girl may face police (timesonline).

Picture of a human skeleton I can just about tolerate vegetarians but I draw the line at veganism. Vegans have to be one of the worlds most self righteous groups, they are dietary fundamentalists whose views border on fanaticism. Here we have yet another example of vegan parents inflicting a starvation diet on their child at a time when it is crucial that their growing bodies receive a good balanced diet.

Have you ever met a vegan who has been vegan all their lives? People take up veganism as adults, these convert vegans have had the benefit of a balanced diet while growing up, yet deny this to their children. In my view vegan parents who force their diet on their children are being criminally negligent.

Mysterious evaporating diggs.

digg logoA strange phenomena I've been noticing recently is the disappearing digg. I think it must be due to people digging then undigging something I have submitted. I could understand that if they had discovered that the information I had submitted was wrong, or misleading. However a resent post of mine was a picture I had taken of, I thought, an amusing sign. How can you digg a photo of a sign, then decide you don't like it and undigg it? Maybe if it turned out to be a duplicate story I had ripped of from somewhere else, but this photo I took myself and the sign is hidden away in the highlands of Scotland so I can't imagine that many other people have photographed it.

This leaves me with three possible reasons for the diggs disappearing.

1. The people who digged it only want to be associated with very popular items. If they digg and the item does not go on to get hundreds of diggs they undigg. If this is the case then this behavour would seem to damage the idea of digg being a tool which can highlight good information from sources which don't have the clout of say, CNN or the BBC.
2. The people found something else I had dugg that they disagreed with and as a protest undugg my other submissions. If this is the case then it's against the spirit of digg and what is the point of this kind of protest if no one leaves a comment to explain why they have undugg.
3. Maybe some people just like digging stuff then undigging it?


It's not something I am going to lose sleep over, I'm just curious. I would suggest to digg that perhaps they might encourage people who undigg leave a comment to explain why. If nothing else this would help other diggers decide if they want to digg an item or look at it at all.

Anyone out there got any ideas?

Invading Iraq was completely justified.

2008 interim flag of IraqPolybore has changed one's mind about the invasion of Iraq. It is very important that the justification for this war is sorted out, in respect for those thousands who have lost their lives and those who will bear the scars for the rest of their lives.

When the war started it was pretty obvious that the weapons of mass destruction argument for invading was a false one. This has been borne out by the failure to find any significant evidence of WMD in the years following the invasion. It was also evident that the invasion would cause chaos and anarchy in Iraq, there have been plenty of lessons from history demonstrating what happens to a country after invasion.

The new reason justifying the invasion of Iraq after a bit of Orwellian rewriting of history is the removal of Saddam Hussein. This argument does not wash either, how can you justify removing one dictator when you allow others to stay in power like Mr Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

Of course the elephant in the room is Iraq's oil resources. Why can't the US and UK just come out and say this was the reason for the Iraq War? It is the one justification that will stand the test of time. Invading Iraq to secure the oil resources was a good idea, look at the oil price just now, imagine what it would be if Saddam Hussein was still in power.

How can war be justified for oil? Look at the effects high oil price are having, a world food shortage is developing that could result in the deaths of millions of people. If Saddam were still in power, with the ever present threat of war, the price of oil would be far higher.

My new favourite ad.

IRN-BRU made in Scotland from girders. Forget Coke. Forget Pepsi. Get Irn-Bru.

Their web site is awsome and videos of their ads can be found there. They make Pesi and Coke ads look like they were produced by a 4 year old. Well I guess they probably were.

Check it out at http://www.irn-bru.co.uk/adverts/favourite-ads.html

A sign impossible to ignore.


Can you believe I hired a limo off a guy who had this sign on his shed? I made sure I paid him in cash no questions asked. Got a good deal and no explosions.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

How to make a screen recording of PC desktop activity.

There are three methods that I use. Note that only Screen Recorder Gold will capture video activity but only with graphics hardware acceleration disabled. I use them for real time recording of windows activity to create tutorials.

1. Screen-cast-o-matic (completely free)
2.
Screen Recorder Gold (free trial)
3.
Adobe Captivate 3 (30 day free trial)



1- Scree-cast-o-matic works just with your browser (firefox, opera 9, IE6, IE7, and Safari are supported) and the latest Java plugin. Supported OS are XP SP2, Vista, and MAC OS X.

Main features:

Real time recording of adjustable area of desk top (max 1024 by 768)
Free hosting of screen recordings, no software install required (apart from Java if you don't already have it).
Export screen recordings in quick time format.
Allows for recording narration/ sound.
Limited annotation facility.
Is completely free.
Very easy to use.
2- Screen Recorder Gold.

Main features:

Real time recording of adjustable area of desk top or snap to window/ application.
Screen recording outputs in avi format.
Can record video from desktop provided graphics hardware acceleration is disabled.
Annotation facility.
Sound recording/ narration.
Free trial is not time limited (small water mark in top left of recordings)
OS supported: Windows versions 98/NT/2000/Me/XP. (Vista not mentioned)
Very easy to use.3- Adobe Captivate 3

Main features.

Many many features, here is a brief summary.

Real time recording of desktop, adjustable area, or snap to window/ application.Automatic annotation.

Recording is converted to slides which can be fully edited, annotated and interactive content added.

Recording is published in flash format.Sound recording/ narration.

30 Day free trial.

The new version of Captivate is much more expensive than in predecessors but has increased interactivity/ multimedia functions. I'm using version 1. If you need a spot on annotated tutorial this is the software to do it. At a price.

Friday, June 6, 2008

10 ways to increase your miles per gallon (MPG)

Picture of fuel guage at empty.
1. Moving off from stationary, stop start driving, increases fuel consumption. If you can see that the lights are red slow down as much as you can to give them time to go green so that you can avoid stopping.

2. Remove all unnecessary cargo from your vehicle e.g. do you need the entire tool kit. Reducing weight improves fuel economy.

3. Turn off the air conditioning when driving at low speeds in town and, if safe to do so, open the windows to increase ventilation. The compressor driving your air conditioning increases fuel consumption. Opening the windows at low speeds does not increase drag as much as at higher speeds.

4. At cruising speed on the highway close all the windows and if necessary turn on the air conditioning. Opening the windows at cruising speed effects the aerodynamic properties of your car by significantly increasing drag, this results in increased fuel consumption.

5. Regularly check the pressure of the tyres and make sure they are at the pressure recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle. Tyres that are under inflated greatly increase fuel consumption.

6. Make sure the vehicle is serviced according to the manufacturers schedule. A well maintained vehicle will produce better fuel economy.

7. Try and avoid traffic congestion, perhaps by leaving earlier for work. Being stuck in traffic results in stop start driving which increases fuel consumption.

8. Avoid harsh acceleration and decrease your cruising speed, reducing by as little as 5 mph can result in a 10% improvement in fuel economy.

9. In a car with manual gear shift accelerate briskly through the gears and get into top gear as soon as you can. For both automatic and manual gear shift use cruise control if available.

10. Avoid excessive idling. If you have parked turn the engine off.

I've greatly increased the mpg of my car by coasting (free wheeling) in neutral, clutch out and with the engine on, when negotiating down hill sections of road. I have not included this in the ten tips because there is a safety risk associated with this. Should your engine stall in a modern car while you are free wheeling then you will loose the full effect of the brakes and steering will become very heavy. For this reason never be tempted to turn off the engine while the vehicle is in motion.


Even though I know my car is very unlikely to stall at idle I only free wheel on straight sections of rural roads I know very well and definitely no free wheeling while in traffic.


I would never consider freewheeling in a car that does not have ABS. Cars which do not have ABS are more likely to have the wheels lock if the car is in neutral when the brakes are applied.


Freewheeling is definitely done at your own risk.

Execute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed organised the 9/11 bombings and it's safe to say he will be convicted of this crime because he admits this and is proud of what he has done.

When found guilty Mohammed will face the death sentence. Mohammed has requested the death penalty as he wishes to be a martyr.

Should the wishes of a mass murderer be granted? Would a more suitable punishment be life imprisonment where he would watch through his prison bars as Islamic Fundamentalism fades away. His death in prison, years from now, would not be as a martyr but as a murderer for a forgotten and disgraced cause.

Execution can never be a deterrent against those who are prepared to lose their lives, it can only be a punishment. In this case is execution a punishment that fits the crime?