Walking is fun. It gets you from A to B, and you don’t have to pay increased fuel duty.

Last Sunday I got to have extra fun walking thanks to the City of Bradford Metropoliton District Council – specifically, the Countryside division thereof – which organises guided walks around Bradford’s greener bits.

Described as the “Thornton Viaduct” walk, I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t going via the viaduct – it was closed for repairs – but it was a wonderful trip nonetheless.  Lovely sunshine, and the second half of the six-and-a-bit mile walk was via an alpaca and ostrich farm.  Geotagged images are available on Panoramio.

Walk details follow:

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Sky BlueHaving been disappointed at missing out on buying the major Korean animated film Sky Blue – the chap in CEX was unable to find where they’d put the discs – I treated myself to a copy on Amazon.

When it arrived, I was thrilled to see that the two-disc collectors’ edition comes with a “limited edition film cell.”  Eager to see what snippet of this pretty impressive bit of animation – which combines miniature work with CG backdrops and hand-drawn 2D character animations – I had received, I opened the box and got out the card.

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It seems that Microsoft is scoring a bit win in the netbook sector, with claims doing the rounds that Windows XP has gone from a mere 10% of the market in February last year to 96% now.

As someone who uses – and likes – Ubuntu on most of his hardware, this is a surprise.  Sadly, it’s not that surprising – most people will always vote for the status quo.

I did write an article for Bit-Tech on the matter, but a real journalist did the same.  Accordingly, here’s the article that never made it:

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Powered by Ubuntu stickerMy laptop is now officially Powered by Ubuntu, thanks to System 76 and the Linux Emporium.

To snag yourself some free Ubuntu stickers, simply pop a self addressed envelope across to:

The Linux Emporium
Bridge House
17a Maybrook Road
Sutton Coldfield
B76 1AL UK

They’ll drop a pack of four by return of post.  I think you’ll agree that it looks much nicer than the old “Designed for Windows Vista” sticker it replaces.

I’ve been fighting my new WordPress theme this morning in order to get the darn thing to validate as XHTML 1.0 Transitional – I didn’t aim for Strict as I use the “target=_new” functionality in a lot of existing links which would need to be updated. After fixing a bunch of problems around the place, I finally tracked the last few down to the Twitter widget you can see to the right.
It appears that Twitter’s default coding for the HTML-based widget is a trifle skwiffy. The code offered to me by the site is:

<div id=”twitter_div”&rt;
<h2 class=”sidebar-title”&rt;Twitter Updates</h2&rt;
<a id=”twitter-link” style=”display: block; text-align: right;” href=”http://twitter.com/ghalfacree”&rt;follow me on Twitter</a&rt;


which refuses to validate, showing five errors mostly related to things being in the wrong order. A quick hack-job gave me the following:
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Apostrophe Abuse 3: WickesJust a quick update to reassure people that not only am I not dead, I still haven’t given up on a life of pedantry.

The latest entry in the Hall of Apostrophe Abuse comes courtesy of Wickes in Bradford, which managed to forbid a trolley from taking something past the nicely laminated sign – although I’m at a loss as to what.  Presumably a trolley bereft of belongings is welcome to proceed as far as it cares.

Hopefully I’ll have time for a more loquacious update this weekend.

I’ve just received a couple of e-mails from Jayne at Roofing Group UK.  It seems that she’s finally noticed that my website ranks rather highly on a search for “Roofing Group UK” and isn’t best pleased about the rather scathing comments I made regarding the company’s customer service.

In her e-mails, she states that it is “unfair”  that I haven’t posted to say that my roof has been repaired, and that it would be nice if I were to “rectify the situation by telling everyone that [my] problem has been sorted.

Well, I’m not a vindictive man.  It’s true, that – eventually – someone from Roofing Group UK did come to patch the leak in my roof.  Well, I assume so, anyway: while the leak has gone, whoever repaired it visited during the day while no-one was here and left no sign of his attendance beyond not having closed the gates when he left.  No note through the door, no apology for the wait, no explanation of exactly why a brand-new roof had started leaking – nothing.  Nor was there any mention of recompense for the damage done to the room and its contents.

So, yes: Roofing Group UK did carry out the bare minimum required by law to put things right, and for that I give thanks.

Incidentally, Jayne would like it known that Roofing Group UK now trades under the name Roofing UK – despite having the same domain name as before, which still shows the same “monthly special offer” of a free Velux window with every re-roof that it showed back when I first found the site – and that the person who owned the company when my faulty roof was fitted, Barry Clay, is no longer in charge and has been replaced by the “original owner” Shaun Walsh.

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Google LatitudeGoogle has unveiled a new addition to the Google Maps for Mobile fold: Latitude.  Basically, it’s a service which tracks your location – or, technically, the location of your ‘phone – and tells your friends where you are.  Obviously, you can see your friends’ locations too.

It’s pretty snazzy, and integrates well with the Google Maps interface.  You’ve also got the option of running it as a background task in order to keep your location completely up to date: although this functionality only triggers every few minutes and doesn’t keep a packet data connection open it slaughters the battery – I’m down to half charge on my N95 8GB after a single day’s use, although to be fair I’ve been fiddling with Google Maps in general a lot too.

There are slightly creepy, Orwellian overtones to the whole thing – and anyone who thinks Google is probably an NSA shadow op will be putting their tinfoil hats on as we speak – but it’s also bloody good fun.  I’ve got a bunch of friends from work added already, and when the iPhone version comes out I’ll be adding some more.

Whether it’ll end up being anything other than a brief novelty – and how long I keep sacrificing battery life for the ability to tell people where I am at any given moment – remains to be seen.

Bob the Frog - giant edition!If anyone visited the Frog stand at BETT this year, you may have noticed Bob the Frog glowing with the light of a thousand suns.  Well, he’s still glowing – only now he’s glowing at the front of the office, blinding visitors with his incandescent – well, fluorescent, to be precise – glory.

I’m not sure what the marketing advantage of having visitors blinded is, but there must be one…

Coin Shield PuzzleWith a little help from my friend Mr. Steve, I’ve finally been able to assemble all the coins required to build the shield without ‘accidentally’ spending any in the vending machine at work.

No, there’s no point to assembling the ‘puzzle’ – except that someone has gone to a not inconsiderable effort to design the thing to be put together, so it would be rude of me to not.