A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Archive for July, 2010

Austerity in the canteen

Posted by Alan on July 19, 2010

A selection of austere offering's in the office canteen

Austerity in the canteen

Recently the caterers changed at work.  Those of you who know me in real life will know that I do not appreciated salad*.  So as you can imagine I was ‘well happy’ when the canteen decided to cut down on the potato fillings (the only real hot food on offer) by filling the pots with an inch of wilted greens.

I understand we’re ‘all in this recession together’. There’s a perfectly good salad bar out of shot – put the greens in there and make them opt in. If less cheese really will save the world, make the cheese pots smaller or just have an inch of air!

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Posted in Food and Drink, Rant | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Sunday Cycling Sunday

Posted by Alan on July 18, 2010

Been a very quiet weekend this weekend. Bit of shopping, bit of reading, bit of watching tele – the usual downtime activities. Once the weather brightened up this afternoon though I couldn’t stop in – so I hit the road on my bike and headed up towards Woodford, eventually reaching Buckhurst Hill (about 4¼ miles – 6.8kms) before turning back (admittedly, cheating a little by using the tube).

I hadn’t realised how much the landscape changes as you head deeper into the Epping Forest. The roads towards the north east are a constant climb – 276 feet in 3.42 miles. Only an average 1.5% grade but enough to wear me out a little.

Woodford Green - Epping Forest

Woodford Green

On the green at Woodford, there was a cricket match in progress.

Cricket on the Woodford green

Cricket on the green

Cricket on the Woodford green

Cricket on the green II

Back towards home I managed to spot the latest lot of duckings on Eagle Pond.

Ducklings and mummy duck!

Ducklings and mummy duck! (next to the pond scum)

Though the signets seemed to have disappeared… however the crown court looks even better when the sun is shining.

Snaresbrook Crown Court/Eagle Pond

Snaresbrook Crown Court/Eagle Pond

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Tracyan I love you

Posted by Alan on July 16, 2010

Tracyan I love you, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

London, being a big city seems to attract lots of tagging and graffiti of all sorts. However one place I didn’t expect to see graffiti was on the rails of tube!

I’ve forgotten where I saw this. Probably the central line as that’s where I spend my time shuttling backwards and forwards each day between home and the office.

Posted in Photography, Travelling around | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Double deck bike parking

Posted by Alan on July 15, 2010

Double deck bike parking, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

Some good cycling for a change – this is the double deck cycle racks at Waterloo station that have been put in, presumably, because of severe overcrowding on the bicycle front.

I like this idea – more please!

Posted in Cycling, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

5…4…3…2…1… run!

Posted by Alan on July 14, 2010

Countdown pedestrian signal on Southwark Bridge Road, Southwark London

Countdown pedestrian signal (Southwark)

This is one of the latest ideas to hit London and something I now use roughly twice a week. There’s been a bit of negative press about these lights – “we are giving into the motorists” and lots of comment about the benefits in £-sterling. Well, maybe.

But personally it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Being a slightly observant chap, I’ve learned the sequence of the lights of the junction outside Southwark tube. Which means that I know that provided I’ve got 5 or 6 seconds to get to the island in the middle of the road walking towards the office pictured, I can get all the way across. The sequence means that the first lot of traffic to move is from The Cut/Union St – my basic ‘risk assessment’ (ugh! Health & Safety gone mad!) says unless I can hear blues and twos it’s pretty certain I’ll be OK.

I don’t think I’m alone in ignoring the red man either… oh well another storm in a London teacup!

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Companionable Computational Agents

Posted by Alan on July 7, 2010

Blimey. Big words. If tech isn’t really your thing, look away now.

This evening I’ve been to the Lovelace Lecture, put on by the BCS each year to showcase whoever they give the Lovelace medal to. The medal is presented to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to information tech and is so called after Ada Lovelace, assistant of Charles Babbage the victorian computer engineer. Clever bods such as Tim Berners-Lee, Linus Torvalds etc have all been past recipients.

This year, the prize went to Professor Yorick Wilks who’s main field of research is within artificial intelligence and more recently researching into whether some computing device could actually be capable of being someone’s companion. The driver for the research was primarily around looking after venerable people and how to help them with every day digital tasks – from the news to remembering life histories to general conversation. The key principle was to integrate the information into a meaningful dialogue – not one that would necessarily parse easily (though I suppose if you only spoke Esperanto, well, you’d be quids in).

For me a particularly interesting concept around the life narrative was how do we avoid drowning in our own data? For example… I have 100s of photos, hours of videos etc – much of which isn’t at all catalogued in a fashion that a computer might be able to put together. The garbage in garbage out principle pretty much sums up my digital foot print – even that stuff I do tag on flickr isn’t too well tagged – the volume is just too vast and frankly I have other things to do! Maybe I need to employ a mechanical turk – another concept that came up during the lecture.

The lecture finished off with a short you tube video ‘nice to meet you’ that demonstrates how the agent builds up it’s knowledge by using your shared dialogue plus whatever information it can drag off the internet. Watch how once it knows Roberta has been to Morocco it asks a question based on wikipedia’s recommended places to visit…

Posted in Geek Streak | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Crap cycling in Waltham Forest

Posted by Alan on July 3, 2010

Since last week’s epic adventure to Hampstead, Chris pointed out a local blog campaigning for better cycling (or rather pointing out the failings of the current provision) – Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest

Not being a proper regular or militant cyclist (yet) I hadn’t really thought too much about the facilities. But this morning, doing a round trip to pick up post and shopping… it really became evident.

Cycling Hazard in Leytonstone High Road

Cycling Hazard in Leytonstone High Road

Leytonstone High Road is one of the better routes round here – cycle markings both sides. But today… the council are working on the drains, so not only do you have to cope with the car door/parking hazard but also the occasional slalom into the ‘car space’ just to keep moving forward.

Still 5 miles down today. Reckon I can get a few more in before the weekend is done…

Posted in Transport Rant | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »