Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Tragedy at Belgian cycle race

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2016 by bytor

There was a tragic accident at the Belgian bike race Gent-Wevelgem yesterday, where young rider Antoine Demoitié of Team Wanty-Gobert (@TeamWantyGobert) died after apparently being hit by a motorcycle after a crash in the peloton. Cycling is a dangerous sport, maybe more so than casual observers realise. Not on the level of some like F1 perhaps, but more than most. Riders are travelling at 60kmph or more on hard mountain roads, with dangerous ditches or drops, or urban courses with hazards like street furniture or even dogs and people. The peloton consists of 30, 40 or more men or women riding hard and aggressively elbow to elbow. Accidents and crashes can and do happen, frequently.

Bruises and abrasions (road rash) are just accepted as par for the course and “part of the job”. Broken collarbones are fairly common, a classic cycling racing injury, but professional cyclists bounce back from these injuries… eventually.

Luckily more serious injuries are less common, but a death in the peloton is fortunately vanishingly rare. But it should never happen. To hear that it has occurred and that perhaps (and I accept I am speculating on little factual knowledge of events here) it was not the crash itself but impact with one of the many motorbikes that accompany the peloton, is distressing and part of a worrying trend fans of the sport have started to recognize over recent times. Often it seems we are hearing of riders being taken down after being clipped by motos.

We know motorcycles (and team and race official cars) are a necessary part of professional cycling. In fact the sport would not be able to exist in its modern form without it. No images, no TV, no commentary, no data, no interest, sport ceases to exist. But maybe things have got of of hand. Maybe there are too many, or they are not trained well enough, or not regulated enough, or not penalised enough when things go wrong.

(some examples of riders being brought down by cars/motos – credit @cyclinghubTV)

We mustn’t speculate about what exactly happened, but we must find out what exactly happened, and what, if anything, can be done in future to prevent similar accidents. In my line of work, like some others, when things go wrong they need to be fully investigated. The tool used is called Root Cause Analysis (RCA). This technique arose in the space and aviation industry where errors and faults have mission critical consequences, but has been widely applied since e.g. in healthcare. It’s a pain in the backside too carry out as well, as it involves a detailed and systematic look at all the events and the whole situation which led to the untoward event, seeking out the “root cause”, but perhaps more importantly looking at ALL the other potential contributory factors. Often it uncovers unpalatable factors for the people involved that have hitherto been consciously or unconsciously ignored. A series of recommendations are made where possible to design systems and change behaviour (in the case of human factors) to reduce chances of similar events being repeated. The aims of RCA are not to find blame for individuals but to find out what happened and why and prevent it happening again.

I’m not going to speculate here about what factors need to be looked at, but I implore Brian Cookson (@briancooksonUCI), President of the UCI (@UCI_cycling, the governing body of the sport) to announce such an inquiry and investigation. It’s easy for me to say, but I’ll say it it anyway: “something must be done”. #EnoughIsEnough

Rest in peace young Belgian professional cyclist Antoine Demoitié (1990-2016).

 

Non traditional Christmas Music

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2014 by bytor

Christmas treeYes I like carols and Bing Crosby singing White Christmas as much as the next guy. Not so keen on Band Aid, Slade, Wizzard and Cliff Richard, though. So are there any good seasonal but slightly off beat songs/albums out there? Over the past few years I have come across a few which I shall post here. I would be delighted to hear your suggestions. If you can do a Spotify playlist even better.

Jethro Tull – The Christmas Album

Thea Gilmore – Strange Communion

Aimee Mann – One More Drifter In The Snow

Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick – One Christmas At A Time

Low – Christmas

Queen – Thank God It’s Christmas (single)

Jonathan Coulton – Chiron Beta Prime (single)

Eels – Everything’s Gonna be Cool This Christmas

El Vez – Feliz Navidad

(check back as I will add more if I can think of any more…)

Fun for obsessives! – Organizing your media with PlexApp

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by bytor

I would like to tell you about PlexApp, a fantastic service that helps with all your digital media needs.

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Basically it is a media server that runs on MacOSX, Windows and linux, and has a multitude of clients (some third party) e.g. mobile devices (iOS, Android) and hardware set-top boxes like Roku, but importantly for me there is a native app for my Samsung D6530 TV.

There are two things that PlexApp does really well, better than any other similar service I have tried. First, it actually works as a server over wifi. I have tried a few: AllShare, Serviio, Windows Media Player, Twonky, but none of them seemed reliable. Either they wouldn’t always connect, or the PS3 would see them but the TV wouldn’t, or vice-versa or they could be seen, but the video wouldn’t play correctly or some other hassle.

PlexApp (so far) has worked every time. There is a great looking and surprisingly fast and slick app which is downloadable to the TV, and it has a great interface. It always connects with the server (my Windows laptop) and lets me stream HD video easily.

This is what it looks like on the Samsung TV:

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The second thing PlexApp does really well is something that all obsessives like me will love. It organizes you meta data and thus organizes your media in a logical and standardized way, and does this almost automagically. I have a Freesat PVR (discontinued model) but unfortunately its hard disk (500GB) is bulging to bursting point and I am constantly fighting to delete stuff. I have a bunch of video stored on a large 2TB external HDD which is attached to my laptop. The sources of the video are varied: downloaded from the internet, some ripped off DVD, BBC iPlayer (you must get Get_iPlayer it is a godsend), and now I have discovered that I can export the recorded video from my Freesat PVR. There is a USB connection on the machine and you can connect a flash stick or portable HDD and export files fairly easily. Transfer is a bit slow, and the native export format is not compressed very much (=large files) but the important thing is you can do it.

I export files from the PVR and then re-encode them to a more compact MP4 file using Handbrake. Once you have decided your preferred settings, it is a simple drag and drop process although the actually re-encoding can take some time so best left as an overnight task.

Now the PlexApp magic can begin! You are forced to adhere to a strict folder and naming structure (great for us obsessive compulsives ), but if you comply, PlexApp has “agents”, software pixies that go out onto the internet and pull down the relevant metadata for your movies and TV shows. This includes cover/poster art, titles, info about actors, directors etc. and even theme music for TV series. It gets this right most of the time, although you may have to occasionally “nudge” it with a manual correction.

What you are left with is a beautifully organized and annotated collection, which is on your external hard disk, but which can be easily and reliably streamed to you big screen TV over your home wifi network. You can search by genre, title, actor, director and many other ways. Just beautiful.

If you haven’t got an LG TV (which apparently have PlexApp built in) or a Samsung like me, you can use your PS3 or XBox 360 as a client box which then can throw the video at your TV.

 

Follow @PlexApp on twitter

100 Great Guitar Riffs

Posted in Uncategorized on July 8, 2012 by bytor

OK thanks to Laughing Squid, I found a great YouTube video of this guy playing 100 great guitar riffs in one long take. It’s pretty good, and he does it in chronological order to try and do a “history of rock” if you will…

There are captions on the bottom right to tell you which songs he is quoting from, but I thought it would be fun to see how many I could recognize. So, if you want to do the same stick a piece of paper on your screen to cover the captions, and have a listen, and then scroll down to see how you compared to me.

(I think I did OK in the 70-90s but otherwise a bit blank!)

scroll down for my guesses

—-

—-

?
?
?
Chuck berry ?
?
?
?
?
?
Ticket to Ride – The Beatles
?
Satisfaction – Rolling Stones??
Purple Haze – Hendrix
? Since I Been Loving You – Led Zeppelin
?
?
some blues thing
Crossroads – Cream
Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin
Paranoid – Black Sabbath
?
?
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
?
Layla – Derek & The Dominoes
?
Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
Money – Pink Floyd
(forget name ?Jessica) – Allman Brothers Band (theme for Top Gear)
La Grange – ZZ Top
21st Century Boy – T Rex
?
Sweet home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Walk This Way – Aerosmith
? (should know this one..)
?
The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
?
punk
?
?
Sultans Of Swing – Dire Straits
Message In A Bottle – The Police
?
Back In Black – AC/DC
Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne
Spirit Of Radio – Rush
?
Owner Of A Lonely Heart – Yes
(some heavy metal I really should know…)
?
Eruption – Van Halen
?
?
Money For Nothing – Dire Straits
You Give Love A Bad Name – Bon Jovi
?
Where The Streets Have No Name (or any other U2 song)
Welcome To The Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
?
Cult Of Personality – Living Colour
?
Running Down A Dream – Tom Petty
(something else I recognize)
Thunderstruck – AC/DC
(aargh I know this)
?
Enter Sandman – Metallica
?
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
?
Even Flow – Pearl Jam
?
?
?
(something else that sounds very familiar)
?
?
?
?
()
?
?
Under The Bridge – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
?
?
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
something by Muse
?>
?
?
?
?
?
?
Scooby Snacks?? – Fun Lovin Criminals
?
?
?

So, how did you do?

Tweet me @by_tor to let me know!!!

Response to Outcasts on BBC1

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2011 by bytor

When I see them I want to hit them….

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2010 by bytor

An occasional series. Will be added to as and when I have a fit of rage.

Andy Coulson, ex News of the World editor, now Conservative Chief Spin Doctor.

Irritating TV "personality"; host of The Weakest Link

Liam Fox, Defence minister, ex-GP

George Osborne, chancellor

Russell Brand "comedian" and general all round w**ker

How to beat the volcano ash cloud

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 18, 2010 by bytor

Flights above Britain (and other European countries) have been disrupted again this week, although not as dramatically as last month when airspace was shut down for about a week. The airlines have been screaming blue murder about how the restrictions placed by the Civil Aviation Authority were too cautious and were costing them millions of pounds each day they were in place.

I’m a cautious type of person, and I usually subscribe to the “better safe than sorry” point of view, although I recognize that as well as the financial penalties incurred by the airlines, lots of travellers have been inconvenienced.

I have a solution. The CAA could loosen their restrictions. There could be levels of volcano ash which the CAA does not feel to be completely safe, but where the risk is perceived to be low enough that the airlines wish to start earning money again. In these conditions the airlines could be allowed to fly, with the following conditions:

  • airlines bosses agree to plead guilty to manslaughter if a plane goes down.
  • airline staff are not forced to work on these flights, and will not be discriminated against or punished if they choose not to work on these flights. (They may have a risk averse attitude like me). Airlines would be free to offer incentives (financial or otherwise) to tempt employees to work on these flights.
  • In the interests of full transparency passengers are made aware when their flights are operating under these “possible risk of crashing to certain death” conditions, and are also given the option of waiting for a fully safe flight.  Reasonable accomodation and subsistance expenses will be met by the airlines if the passengers choose to wait for a safer flight.

That should keep everyone happy.