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Archive for September, 2010

There’s Tuna – then there’s Tuna?

Asda Tuna ChunksI was doing the maths this morning… 56 years old, at least one tin of tuna fish a week… I must’ve started eating Tuna sandwiches around, lets say to make life easy, 6 years old. That’s 50*52 as a minimum – 2,600 tins of tuna… Goodness!

Anyway, that’s the background. I’ve never been one for Sunday lunches and so for as far back as I can remember, I’ve settled for tuna fish sandwiches on a Sunday. Over the last few years Maureen’s been buying “Chicken of the Sea” from Costco – a light coloured and rather pleasant tuna in spring water. They’ve been out of stock for a few weeks and so I’ve been experimenting. Over in Spain I discovered I like the tuna in jars in Sunflower oil and sure enough when we came back to the UK I tried it here – not as nice as the stuff over there but then the weather might be having an impact on that. Somehow sitting eating a sandwich in cold, rainy Britain isn’t the same as sitting up in the mountains with the sun blasting on you.

Anyway we just happened to pop into ASDA looking for a cheap video player and I headed off to the food section in search of Tuna. I’ve NO idea of pricing on this stuff but what caught my eye this weekend were the price DIFFERENCES.  Asda Tuna Chunks in Sunflower oil – 49p  and at the other extreme, John West Tuna Steak in Sunflower oil, a whopping £1.69

I decided to put them to a side-by-side test:

The John West tin was in fact SMALLER by some way than the Asda version – but on opening there was very little spare oil in the former… so I squeezed out what little was there – and put the tuna in a bowl. The Asda tin on the other hand had lots of oil in it and by the time it was squeezed out there was no more tuna in the tin than in the John West variety despite the bigger can size.

With two bowls in front of me the differences were subtle – the two had exactly the same look once bashed slightly with a fork but the John West product was ever so slightly darker.  On tasting I felt the two were similar but the John West product had a SLIGHTLY stronger flavour – I could have been influenced by the colour.

So I passed the two bowls to my only other resident expert…. her response was immediate – she knew which one she preferred… to be honest I thought the difference was so slight as to be irrelevant but then I’ve been eating the stuff for so long now my tuna taste buds are probably shot.

So which one did Maureen pick as the better product? The £1.69 John West product? No – the Asda 49p Tuna!

Sparkly New Car?

Peter Scargill's sparkly new paint job

Smashing new paint job on the car.. it’s almost like getting a brand new car. I’ve been staring at a rather awful scratch on the car for months now having managed to get too near to the stone wall at the cottage earlier this year… well, it’s gone. I’m overjoyed to say, the Merc looks like new! Hexham Motor Company did the job and they even cleaned up the wheels in the process – smashing job.

Strange Caterpillar

strange caterpillar

I’ve seen some strange creatures in my time but nothing like this caterpillar, which I just happened to notice while wandering into the house for a cup of coffee this afternoon.  Around 50mm long, he looks for all the world like a truncated snake – certainly the head and “false” eyes give that impression. 

And that’s in sunny WARK, not some strange country! According to Melanie-Jane at our office – this is an ELEPHANT HAWK MOTH CATERPILLAR – looks about right from the photos on Google!

closeup caterpillar

Deed a holiday in Northumberland – then check out Hollyberry Cottage Holiday rental in Bellingham

TORN

If you’ve not seen this it is BRILLIANT – TORN for the DEAF…

Holiday Rental in Bellingham

Holiday Rental in Bellingham - Hollyberry CottageAfter MANY months of hard graft, our new holiday rental in Bellingham – Hollyberry Cottage – will be open for business from the beginning of October. Apologies to friends who might already know this but getting hooks into Google on a new site is MUCH harder than with existing sites- so I figured I’d give us a head start here.

Hollyberry has been a labour of love and we’re all ready to go, with private car parking, WIFI, UK phone calls and a whole range of facilities all included. For more information go to the Hollyberry Cottage website.

 

Lost and Found – Me Ears are Alight advert

I’ve been hunting this down for ages – those of you who are old enough will remember the age of the cassette tape… this is brilliant…

Funny though how your memory changes over the years… I was convinced it was part of the Memorex “is it live or is it Memorex” campaign – according to this – it’s Maxell. I also thought it was “get up in the morning, same thing for breakfast”…. ah, well

Panoramas and How It’s Done!

Not as simple as it might seem, creating Panoramas and embedding them in a website – but I think I’ve cracked it.. been playing with this idea for years and finally have a working solution.

Firstly – you need something to make panoramas with.
On the iPhone there is 360 Panorama which is very good and so far, the best of the lot – but beware it’s not that clever in poor lighting. An alternative is to take several overlapping photos preferably with a decent camera and “stitch” them together. The problem with that is that there’s lots of software out there to do this but most of it is absolute rubbish, utterly failing to match light levels between pictures. An exception would be Serif’s PanoramaPlus – which is superb. I user version 3 but I see they’ve just brought out a new version. It works in Windows 7 and below, it works exceptionally well and it’s cheap. It really is very, very good. Sadly when it comes to playback – they only support Quicktime – which is hardly universal – but read on.

Secondly – you need to display the panorama
Ok, so you now have your panorama… what are you going to do with it – much of the software out there is jerky or otherwise rubbishy – other stuff costs a lot of money just to put a panorama on your website. Flickr and Google Web Albums are a godsend for images – and so CLEVR seems to be the same for panoramas. Simply upload your spiffy new panorama to the CLEVR site – embed the code in your website – and BOBS YOUR UNCLE!

Pompous Papal

Pompous Papal adviser Cardinal Walter Kasper thinks landing at Heathrow Airport is like “landing in a third world” country. Well compared to the Vatican’s money, most places are “third world”, really. Well, don’t worry Mr Kasper, I doubt you’ll ever be invited again and if you do – I hope and trust we taxpayers won’t have to cough up a SINGLE PENNY towards it.

Just to make matters worse, he then apparently told a German magazine that the UK was market by a “new and aggressive Atheism”.  YOU BET. We’ve now had at least 2 generations who’s daily TV for those who can see past Coronation Street has included the likes of David Attenborough and other real luminaries showing us how the world REALLY works and how life REALLY came about instead of peddling a bunch of lies to those who don’t know any better. Many of us in the UK have moved well beyond the Vatican and their imaginary world and we’re all the better for it.

We’re paying (apparently $18 dollars – why Sky quoted dollars I’ll never know) for the Pope’s visit and yet less than on in 10 of UK citizens are catholic despite the popes views on contraception – shows how much notice people take of him – but think about it – are you religious just because you’re a Catholic? No of course not – British Catholics have had the same TV as the rest of us and I’d put good money on less than 1 in 20 of them actually being religious… so WHY ARE WE TAXPAYERS PAYING FOR THIS TRIP – I won’t WANT my money going on rubbish like this.

A word to the wise in the Vatican…. If you don’t like Britain and it’s ways – DON’T COME HERE – and as for the Vatican saying Kasper didn’t mean “any slight” – PULL THE OTHER ONE.

Another Productive Weekend and Poo

AgrivertIt’s been a productive weekend up to now… my article in Computing Magazine went through, which was nice of them and I spent the day working quietly on the FSB’s mass emailing system, having finally figured out how to track links. I wasted half the morning trying to find a decent article on cross-browser rounded corners to tidy the visuals up a bit – but even that works now.

We then went out last night with friends to a local restaurant just off the military road (see photo – experimenting with my new HDR camera software, this was taken just before sunset amazingly) and had a very nice time indeed. Today, having promised we’ll open up Hollyberry Cottage for business at the start of October, we’re off to do some grafting. BT are delivering the broadband line next week so I’ll finally get a change to sign up to the FON network and give that a go – I’ve an APP on the iPhone to tell me where the hotspots are and apparently there are several in the village of Wark! In case you have BT Total Broadband and are not benefitting from this amazing free service, here’s the link, not that I’m pushing BT by any means – I used them because in the back end of Bellingham there are not that many alternatives.

Do you live near or pass by Nunwick, Simonburn? Have you been travelling to and from Hexham and noticed that HORRENDOUS STINK? Have you complained to Tynedale Council about it yet? If not, why not? The stuff is called AGRIVERT. If you look it up on the web the company have been clever enough to ensure they have all the initial entries – however it IS recycled human waste and it absolutely HONKS. If anything is guaranteed to make you want to PUKE rather than enjoy the countryside – this is it. Complain to Tynedale council at 01434-652121. The British countryside should be preserved for all, not poisoned with this stuff. I’ll be onto them first thing in the morning…

Never heard of it? Check out these links.. you’ll be horrified.

http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/Stench-incurs-villagers39-wrath.6102941.jp

http://www.alanbeith.org.uk/news/000593/residents_raise_agrivert_concerns_at_embleton_meeting.html

http://www.hexham-courant.co.uk/sport/rugby/1.409321

http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/northern-echo/mi_8047/is_20061110/residents-kick-stink-field-human/ai_n48553685/

Peter Scargill

MORE Excuses for Crappy Public Transport

Another trip to London and more travel misery. It’s be coming a habit. I arrived at Newcastle station to find Starbucks closed, part of the car-park out of commission for no apparent reason, the ticket machines displaying their guts as workmen looked inside and other services out of order. There’s always SOMETHING bust at that station. Alighting the train we started the usual barrage of reasons why the service was late, ending up leaving Peterborough a full half hour late.

Of course there is more to come as the London underground is in turmoil, not that you’d get me inside that terrorist target without a fight but that means less availability of taxis!

The ONLY reason I don’t take the car is the length of journey… 3 hours or so tends to be my limit before feeling the urge to doze off. Even taking a plane would not entirely solve the problem as you still need taxi/train at the other end.

It’s back to rain in the Northeast, down here past Peterborough it’s still sunny… maybe a couple of says more sun before we descend into winter. 5 weeks and counting to clear off again. Quite looking forward to my day in London tomorrow – myself and a small group of volunteers are going to learn about legal aspects of running forums.

Oh, “Have I got news for you” – Episode 28 Series 6 according to the iPlayer – if you’ve not seen it – it’s a must – funniest thing I’ve watched for months. they have the non-too-sharp-looking leader of the transport workers union on and Ian Heslop walks all over him – very funny.