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Sunday, July 31
All going well, America here I come!

Leaving the house at 6am tomorrow, heading off to the airport and hopping on a quick flight (heh) to San Francisco, spending the first week there then mishing it over to Yosemite National Park for the second week.

In short: it's going to be awesome (talk about how to set the benchmark with your first trip to America!).

Might blog while I'm there if I can get access (hey, why not) - a full swathe of photos coming after I return in two weeks. This is going to be excellently fun! (Yes, making up adjectives, I know.) Those wishing to leave me messages can either do so via my Skype account (christopherwoods), or email me (click Contact from the menu at the top of every page).

Oh, the irony... Currently playing: Foo Fighters - Over And Out.


Laters, guys. :)



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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/31/2005 02:12:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112277497984622238
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Friday, July 29
Clarification of my personal opinion on the Tube shooting

Ok, it's come to my attention that some people may not have interpreted what I was trying to say exactly when I blogged about the shooting on the Tube. When I posted that blog up, only very sketchy information was available, nothing like what's available now - however, I stand by my opinion.

Somebody commented,

"If he had only applied for a work visa, this may well have never happened." >> WTF!!!!

"Wrong place at the wrong time" >> it could be you, or a member of your family. Jesus!
Are you really a nutter, or just trying to provoke your readers???

This man was shot 8 times!!
Wake up! Wise Up!


Given the light of the new information my response remains:

The fact remains that the (now-dead) man entered the country on a STUDENT VISA, which was valid until the end of 2003. He then had his passport stamped with a FAKE work permit, so in fact after 2003 he was an illegal immigrant. Disregarding the moral and ethical issues about him being shot (because we'll just go round in circles forever and a day discussing those), the clear logical conclusion is as thus:

ONE: He cheated the system by faking his work permit. He therefore had something to hide. TWO: While he was unfortunate enough to be coming out of the same block of flats police were watching, when he was being followed, he refused to obey any of the commands issued by the police (which included "POLICE - STOP", which is an order, "POLICE - STOP OR WE WILL SHOOT YOU", another order, "POLICE - STOP THIS IS AN ORDER". All three of those things they are required to say before taking any action, and witnesses have them down as saying that. THREE: The man continued to run (fight or flight I guess, but he really should've thought about it and stopped, especially given the circumstances. FOUR: He ran INTO A TUBE STATION, jumping the barrier (!!) and onto a Tube train. By now, if I were one of the SO19 anti-terrorist officers chasing this guy, I would have to think, 'what are his intentions?', and given the same choice, I probably would have followed orders and probably shot the man, because if you aren't 100% sure about someone's intentions and there's the possibility that they are carrying a destructive device with them, you have to take action - that's the police's shoot-to-kill-to-protect ORDER.

I regret the wrong person was shot, however his actions in this were a major contributor to his expiration, if you look at it objectively and logically.

Also, when you do shoot someone, and you're shooting to disable, you have to make sure that they are properly disabled and don't have a chance of activating any devices they carry on them. If someone's suspected of carrying a bomb, you don't shoot round the abdomen as there's a chance you hit the trigger. So, you aim for the head. The man was shot by a policeman carrying a semi-automatic handgun - the fact he was shot 8 times just shows the policeman fired his weapon and made sure he was disabled, because all you have to do is squeeze the trigger and it reloads automatically, bangbangbangbangbangbangbangbang as fast as that.


The policemen were following orders, the man refused to obey orders, if I was a policeman in the same situation I wouldn't have time to sit and moot the possible future ethical problems that could arise from me shooting this SUSPICIOUSLY-BEHAVING SUSPECT, I would most probably act from the specialised training I'd received, neutralise the suspect following orders. I still have the utmost admiration for my country's police force, they're doing one of the hardest jobs they've ever had to do under extremely tense circumstances, and people making out they're the big bad wolf in all of this isn't helping at all.

As the person comments, "it could be you or your family" - yes, I could get blown up on my next trip into London when I'm travelling on the Tube, and I would imagine that if I was a suspiciously-acting character around the area of intense police scrutiny shortly after a failed bomb attack on my capital's public transport system, and I fitted the behaviour profile for someone they were looking for - yes, I might get shot if I refused to obey very clear orders from police chasing me (the Brazilian guy ran through a fair bit of London before he even reached the Tube)! He had many opportunities to stop, the police would've interrogated hm and probably deported him, but if you cheat our immigration system, what do you expect? If I was someone from overseas living illegaly in this country, I would expect nothing less than deportation if I was caught. That is probably why he was scared, but if you trace it all the way back to his initial actions here, if he had applied for a real, official work permit instead of living on a falsehood, then he would have most probably never found himself in the same situation - at the very least, he would've had nothing to hide had he stopped and given himself up to the authorities (there were other people detained that day and the day before by the police, one man outside Downing Street for example was made to take off his clothing above the waist and was then frogmarched off, all caught on cameras, but was later released - he wasn't shot because he complied with the police!

Make your own mind up on this at the end of the day I suppose, however my personal opinion remains that the circumstances leading up to his shooting were mostly of his own making, he decided to get a false visa, he decided to run from armed special ops police (not clever, in any circumstances), therefore fault lies with him as much as the officer who shot him. If the man had turned out to be a suicide bomber, made it onto the Tube and detonated his device before the chasing police officer had a chance to shoot him to neutralise him and prevent his explosive device killing many surrounding civilians because he was busy weighing up the moral and ethical issues, what would you say then?




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/29/2005 09:57:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112262841760357363
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Wednesday, July 27
File swappers spend the most on legal music purchases

BBC NEWS | Technology | Downloading 'myths' challenged!

"People who illegally share music files online are also big spenders on legal music downloads, research suggests.
Digital music research firm The Leading Question found that they spent four and a half times more on paid-for music downloads than average fans."


Love it. And, I know that it's true, too (I've spent a lot more on the music I want to buy since I've had a chance to check it out at my leisure before buying it in a shop / online).




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/27/2005 07:09:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112248776646700161
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Stupid animals.


My cat's really stupid...


... This doesn't even deserve a Technorati tag. :D


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/27/2005 09:53:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112245440077570880
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Official: The Space Shuttle Uses Windows 98

I kid you not on this one. I was just listening to the live stream from NASA CAPCOM, and they were talking to the Shuttle.. Normally they uplink any changes to the day's schedule and flight plan to the Shuttle, and the crew in the Shuttle then print them off. However, due to the flight plan being such a large file (they don't have the high data-rate antenna up yet, so they're having to use S-Band for all their communications) they didn't send any of the cover pages... One of the shuttle members then said (slightly paraphrased),

"I've been having problems printing off the schedule on the printer up top - it ran fine on the machine when I was using Windows NT, but when I tried to run it off on the laptop using Windows 98 and [what sounded like something called FX or similar] software, I've not been able to."

CAPCOM responds,

"Yeah, you'll have this problem due to the 98 laptop not being on the same network as the Windows NT machine, I'll see what I can do about it down here and get back to you."


... Anybody else slightly unnerved by the fact that the PCs on the shuttle USE WINDOWS! AND SOME USE WINDOWS 98! Oh dear. (I'm absolutely telling the truth about this, too). Ah well... So long as they didn't pay for their copies, that's ok I suppose... (Does anybody actually pay for Windows?)

If you want to catch any more good little nuggets, then the NASA Multimedia page has some good stuff (including, at this time, the WB57 chase plane video of the Shuttle takeoff). Also, you can watch STS-114's progress 24/7 on NASA TV. If you're living in America, you can pick it up on satellite, or you can watch over the web (as I'm doing)... I had problems with the RealPlayer stream earlier in the day around the time of the launch, so I've been tuned into the Windows Media feed for (at this precise moment) 14hrs, 33mins and 42secs.

Click to view the STS-114 TV schedule, and click here to watch NASA TV with:

RealPlayer
RealPlayer (closed-captioned)
RealAudio feed (audio only)
Windows Media Player.

The Real feeds are streamed by Akamai, and the WMP feed is by Yahoo.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/27/2005 06:23:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112244180814773362
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Tuesday, July 26
Fancy watching the Shuttle launch? Live?

Well, you can, just head off to NASA TV before 12:30pm UK time (GMT+1) today, and take a slot on one of the streams. You can either do RealPlayer with video, just the audio (for the slowpokes) or Windows Media Video courtesy of Yahoo (oh aren't they nice). I've been watching from about -3hrs, and I keep on hearing useful little niggles of information - for instance, I just literally heard that there's "no launch collision coefficients today", which apparently means there's no plans for having to avoid anything utilising airspace anywhere around the Shuttle's flightpath. I also learnt that this Shuttle has carried many interesting payloads, including a global communications satellite (XCOM, sounds Army-related heh) and the Hubble Space Telescope. Very cool. I also learnt that the Shuttles share names with famous boats which have discovered countries and/or places throughout history. Oh, and that it takes roughly 20 minutes for the astronauts to get from the control centre to the launchpad.

From the NASA press release detailing more specifics about the webcast:

"We're very excited to be able to offer this expanded coverage to the public," said NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Operations, William Readdy. "Internet users will be able to follow every event from launch through landing, including the spacewalks. Thanks to this agreement, they'll be able to do so at no additional cost to the taxpayers."

With a 12-day mission that includes three spacewalks, NASA expects to deliver more data to users than it has for anything but the Mars Exploration Rovers, which are still going strong after 18 months on the mysterious red planet.


and (and this is the :O bit, if that previous snippet hasn't already stirred your inner geek):

Video for both sites will be streamed through Yahoo!'s servers and the company has secured more than 50 gigabits per second of available bandwidth for the event. Additionally, the video of the Shuttle mission will be promoted throughout Yahoo!'s network, including the Yahoo! front page, the most trafficked Web page in the world.


And that's just on Yahoo's side! With the Akamai Real-format streaming, they have at least 30x more bandwidth than they've ever had before.

Nifty, huh? One of the more interesting things about the web, that NASA site. Can't beat free for useful.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/26/2005 12:01:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112237566195803636
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How quality is this!

Aka: where I'm staying for the first week of my holiday (in relation to SF centre)

This link will take you to the Google Maps page, with the directions for how to get from where I'm staying (in San Rafael, near San Francisco centre) to the centre of SF, for the first week of my holiday. The second week I'm spending atop the world's largest active volcano, also known as Yosemite National Park (and it's about 60 years overdue eruption. Lovely).

The ability to be able to zoom right in to where I'm staying, in both Google Maps AND Google Earth, is just mindboggling. All this for free? Hmm. What's the catch? Nothing?


Awesome.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/26/2005 04:19:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112234794021073418
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Monday, July 25
As the truth of the shooting emerges

We now know that the man shot on the Tube was in fact a Brazilian man, in his mid 20s, who (from reports) had overstayed his student visa and was working illegally (as an electrician, I believe). While it's a great shame that this man died unnecessarily, I don't believe that it is the fault of the police officers in question involved in the chase - the man was acting suspiciously, he was running away from police officers (!), he refused to stop or heed the warnings of the officers to stop and he was working illegally, having avoided deportation and therefore having no legal right to stay in this country. While I am not against immigrants per se, I do believe that it is the man's fault for making the choices he did, culminating in his illegal status in this country and the turn of events which led to him believing the police were after him. If he had only applied for a work visa, this may well have never happened.

The police must NOT stop taking their hardline stance towards suspected terrorist individuals, as this would undermine their ability to police this country and result in a grossly-inadequate state of security in this country. While people say they are outraged at the shooting and the unfortunate death of this individual, somewhere or other the line has to be drawn and the police given the power to take more proactive steps towards policing, such as the shoot-to-kill-to-protect orders, especially still with the 4 (possibly 5, after the bomb was found in the London park close to one of the Tube stations) bombers at large. Don't think me unsympathetic, but the Brazilian guy did bring it on himself for a large part. Wrong place at the wrong time, yes, but if he was a legal resident in this country and had nothing to hide, he would've had nothing to fear. It's his fault.

In other news, police are now surmising that the batch of explosives mixed in the Aylesbury bathtub (which isn't too far from where I live, my Dad works in Aylesbury) went off because, due to its volatile nature, the mixture was left too long after being mixed together - and due to it going off (off as in out of date), when the detonators were triggered, the triacetone mixture wasn't volatile enough to explode.

Now that's what you call a lucky escape due to inept bomb-making abilities.


... Oh, I also finished reading Harry Potter ('Episode 6', heh) today. It's formulaic, Harry-centric and drags a little at times, but what disappointed me most was the weak ending. I don't know if it was a carefully-constructed anticlimax by Joanne Rowling to make us want to read the final book more (and hell, I want to), but after all the action and excitement of the previous chapters, she could've finished it off with a little more flourish... But oh well, seventh book'll be along in two years' time and then we can find out what happens...


...And, as a final PS for now, hurrah - five days before I go on holiday, my PC decides to start completely stuffing up and disappearing up its own backside and stop recognising anything plugged into some of its USB ports....... And my graphics card is playing up as well. Bloody hell... That means more money to spend to upgrade it (so that it works) as SOON as I get back from America! Great.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/25/2005 08:13:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112231882557055137
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Friday, July 22
Man shot by police on Tube (BBC News reports)

So... I just read the BBC News article that a man was shot by armed police officers on the Tube...

"A man has been shot at Stockwell Tube station by armed police officers. Passenger Mark Whitby told BBC News he had seen an Asian man shot five times by "plain-clothes police officers" with a handgun.

Passengers were evacuated from the Northern Line station in south London. Ambulances including an air ambulance have been sent to the scene. Police have cordoned off surrounding streets."



... If this turns out to be true and substantiated by an official press release, in a way I'm really quite surprised. I always thought that our police force's mantra was not shoot to kill and ask questions later, shoot to disable and detain at the most extreme, I've always considered our police force's bearing of arms as a preventative deterrent more than anything else. Looks like times are a-changing and I'm getting left behind... I can't wait to see what kind of backlash we'll be hearing from the civil liberties and human rights organisations (and the ethnic communities to boot, especially if it transpires the man was actually innocent but just running scared, or wanted for something else but was scared and bolted)... Oh well, I still have unerring faith in my country's police force, when push comes to shove.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/22/2005 11:30:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112202820756297098
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Thursday, July 21
Video of Tony Blair & John Howard Press Conference (from earlier today, 21st of July 2005)

Sorry this took so long, my PC's been crawling along speed-wise today. Anyway, Here's the encode of the press conference from earlier this evening when Tony Blair addressed questions regarding the second spate of bomb attacks in London this morning. As before, it's fully Windows Media 9, so the usual tools will play it.

To watch the video, click here. (24mins 39secs, 56.4Mb)

At the beginning of the press conference, when John Howard is expressing his country's support for us, blah blah, the usual diplomatic garble, Sky brings up a picture-in-picture and updates us on what's happened so far, shows us some VT of events-just-happened, and then comes back to the press conference when the good bits start. There's also a small amount of of commentary and reporting after the press conference finishes (about 5 minutes' worth at the most if memory serves). Hope you find it useful.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/21/2005 08:55:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112197575883486768
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University Hospital (London) effectively locked down as armed police move in

Affected Tube stations (courtesy Sky News)

According to Sky News, an internal memo has been passed around University Hospital advising them to be on the lookout for a "black man, possibly Asian, ... wearing a blue top with a hole in the back, and wires protruding from them" - armed police response units were seen moving into the Hospital before it was locked down, so it looks like one of the suspects may well be being detained as we speak.


One injury has been reported at Warren Street station by the police, and there's no trace of chemical agents or anything like that - so it looks like another attempted, coordinated bomb detonation which has seriously backfired (thankfully). Roads are opening again, including some fairly major thoroughfares, so traffic is flowing again, the incidents don't appear to be as serious as July the 7th. There's no serious incident emergency response unit or mobile triage setup anywhere (at least nowhere cameras can see), and injuries are minimal, so this is either a seriously botched attempt at another attack, or a rather more sketchy attempt by (quite possibly suicidally-intent) bombers. One bomber is apparently on the run, without a detonator, but with his bomb, and police are after him... The consequence of that though is that police are making sure people aren't using their mobile phones to negate the possibility of RF setting off any more bombs or detonators. There don't appear to be any ambulance personnel or paramedics on the scene at present, which is definitely a good sign.

Watching Sky News at the moment, I see many police, some with sniffer dogs, and clusters of firemen, but none seem to be doing an exceeding amount of work - there are definitely plenty around, but it seems that a fair few are either waiting for further orders, or performing sideline tasks such as taking eyewitness statements. A statement from Tony Blair is expected any moment, I'll encode it and upload it.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/21/2005 03:15:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112195530389868432
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More incidents in London?

I just heard on the radio that police are responding to "several incidents" in three London stations - Shepherd's Bush, Warren and The Oval, and "an incident on a bus" - the Number 27, I believe (if memory serves, BBC Oxford just reported that". Apparently Tony Blair's gearing up for another press conference at around 2:15pm BST (1:15GMT/UTC), so I'll cover any news on that as it happens if it's of any consequence.

Sky News is reporting "nail bomb explodes at Warren St.", with live CCTV feeds from Hackney. Euston Rd / Eversholt St. is showing a taped-off area, with much of the traffic being diverted down Tottenham Court Road. London Ambulance Service: "The Oval station, 12:38pm report, Warren St. at 12:45 and then Shepherd's Bush." None of these latter reports are officially confirmed, however London Ambulance reports no casualties thus far.


More information as I get it.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/21/2005 01:45:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112194991111678147
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James Doohan (Scottie) obituary

James Doohan, who played chief engineer Montgomery Scott in the Star Trek television series, has died at the age of 85.
The Canadian-born actor had been suffering from pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease.

From BBC News online:
As the chief engineer on the fictional Star Trek spaceship USS Enterprise, Montgomery "Scotty" Scott cut an often flustered figure. He dealt, on a seemingly weekly basis, with the ship's overloaded reactors and damaged warp drives. His plaintive, if somewhat unauthentic, Scottish cry - "I dannae if she can take any more, Captain!" - rang through the outer edges of the cosmos as Captain James T Kirk urged even more power out of the craft.


Click here to watch the BBC obituary (requires RealPlayer or RealAlternative), and click here to read the BBC News article.

A sad day for all Trekkies. :(




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/21/2005 05:48:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112192129012301649
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Wednesday, July 20
Firefox, I hate you.

I designed this site, it looked perfect in IE, I was too lazy to check out Firefox, but I knew it would probably muck up the rendering. Lo and behold: it messed it about totally. I hate the way it handles layers, it's one of the things IE does better (imho). For all intents and purposes, I might as well be using two equally-inadequate browsers here; it's the scourge of every web designer: cross-compatibility. Hate it hate it hate it hate it hate it. Someone needs to get the IE rendering engine and the Mozilla rendering engine and make them have babies, and then use one of the progeny as the worldwide standard, then at least the same problems would be everywhere.

Anyways, rant short, the site now works absolutely fine in Firefox. Finally.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/20/2005 01:21:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112181887004776500
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Tuesday, July 19
Snapshots of Dutch daily life

This is a fantastic collection of photographs cataloguing the life and times of the Dutch people from 1945-1969, all with explanatory information, archived by the International Institute of Social History. The archive I've been looking through is called Algemeen Hollands Fotopersbureau and Ben van Meerendonk, though there's also a general historical image database on the Dutch, oral interviews, video archives... It's another reason why the web is so great: randomly find a quality piece of historical archiving such as this, browse it at length, for free, and at your leisure... Beats a museum.

There's also many other collections and links to other archives and databases, all from the IISH Collections page, and an entire archives page (alphabetised). Go have a look! I dare you.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/19/2005 05:10:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112178942506934647
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Got the name, now I've got the domain

Hurrah, looks like this name'll be sticking with me for a while as I just bought kerblam.co.uk to go with it. No more blog.infinitus.co.uk! :D Now I've gotta update the templates (zzz). Linkers: please update your bookmarks ;)




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/19/2005 07:31:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112175467530572002
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New initiative to solve problem of contacting next-of-kin for emergency services gains momentum

I like this idea, and I've already altered the appropriate entries on my phone. Here's a snippet from the WP site:

To its owner, the cell phone is an indispensable lifeline at times of crisis, reuniting loved ones separated by unforeseen events at the touch of a button. But for members of the emergency services making life-and-death decisions, the cell poses a conundrum: Which of the numbers stored in its electronic address book should they call to reach a casualty's next of kin?

Now a simple initiative, conceived by a paramedic in Britain, has gained momentum on both sides of the Atlantic to try to solve this problem. Cell users are being urged to put the acronym ICE -- "in case of emergency" -- before the names of the people they want to designate as next of kin in their cell address book, creating entries such as "ICE -- Dad" or "ICE -- Alison."


Click to read the full article about the ICE mobile plan.




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/19/2005 12:32:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112172956772892624
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"There are things we don’t do at all."...

..."There are things we are very good at. And there are things that make us second to none."

That's the tagline of the Art. Lebedev Studio site, and having looked at the Art. Lebedev portfolio, I'm incredibly impressed. If you're into quality design of both online, real-world products and conceptual items alike, then you're in for a real treat.


Sorry I've been quiet on the blogging front recently, I've been very busy with projects that I'm trying to get finished before I head off to America on the first of August. :)




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/19/2005 12:17:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112172864924983714
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Wednesday, July 13
Wow, how prophetic was this!

Back in June 2004, Panorama made a programme which was basically a mock-up of what might happen if terrorists attacked London. Their scenario was... Three tube bombs and a petrol tanker filled with killer contents (e.g. cyanide) exploding. Who could've guessed that they would be so accurate - and to think that at the time the Home Office accused the programme of scaremongering!

My memory of this programme was jolted back by finding this old blog post, Panorama Scaremongering?... Make what you will of that.

Apparently deaths are now above 52 from the bombings, with the police suddenly announcing that the 4 bombers were from Yorkshire, with one only 19 years old and another 22 (but another was 30, so we're talking young men, not 'boy bombers' as the Sun sensationally (as usual) wrote on their full-page headline).





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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/13/2005 03:23:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112122141949825588
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Monday, July 11
Panorama Special: London Under Attack (video)

I've just encoded and uploaded a programme from last night's TV that people (especially non-UK people) might find quite interesting. The programme in question is a Panorama show, made throughout the past year, studying how Al Qaeda has adapted and evolved - after the London bombs, the programme was quickly revised to include this event and factor in and contextualise this.

The official programme description reads, "After a year long BBC investigation, Peter Taylor reports on how al Qaeda has evolved since 9/11, why the terrorists can elude detection and the threat to the United Kingdom."

To download this video, click here: Panorama Special - London Under Attack (46mins 08secs, 180Mb)


Notes on the video

I decided to encode this at a higher quality than my previous 7/7-related videos, as this is more than a short clip and has more detail in it - you won't be able to stream it without pauses unless you have a connection that's faster than 512kbps (1Mb recommended, as it peaks at more than 600kbps in parts; peak points of complexity have a higher bitrate than the rest of the file).

Due to its size, and (expected) popularity, I'll try and keep this video online for as long as I can, but I might have to encode it at a [much] lower bitrate (it's already half the resolution it was broadcast at, in an effort to keep the per-pixel quality up), so grab it while it's hot. It's in Windows Media 9 format, so all you need is a copy of Windows Media Player (if your system doesn't have the codecs, WMP will download them for you). I would publish this video in xvid/huffyuv or MP4, but the filesize would be prohibitively big (that's the one thing that WM9 does moderately well, small filesizes on lower bitrates), and MP4 isn't supported widely enough yet. In short: larger audience guaranteed compatibility with WM9. Sorry anti-Microsofties, I'm not too hot on this decision myself, but it's For The People. :)




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/11/2005 07:05:00 AM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112106195468027660
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Sunday, July 10
Tea Against Terror

Have to love us for thinking this one up.

Tea Against Terror... Stealing these icons! :D




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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/10/2005 04:27:00 PM. Roughly.
Blog ID: 112100923153631877
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Personal thoughts on recent events

Well, it's bandwagon time for me. This is the first (new) post of many that'll be indexed on Technorati, for easier searching and comparison with others.
I hope that the entries in my blog over the course of the days during and after the London bombs will help to remind people that although this world is possibly safer than ever before, the fight that our armed forces have taken to places far overseas - be it 'legal', justified or otherwise, is a dangerous and life-threatening task to be undertaking in the name of freedom of choice and expression, and I have immense pride for those who undertake their roles as part of a greater whole, the Army, the Navy, the RAF, helping other countries towards a goal which at the moment still seems a long way away. They do their role, sometimes with doubt but never stepping down from the challenge, and they work as a whole and help each other. I'm not saying that what they're doing is either right or wrong on a moral or legal level, but we shouldn't forget that these guys are risking their lives daily in conditions far worse than those experienced in London recently.

I'm also going to try and keep the videos I've published on the web there for as long as possible, several people have already told me they found them very interesting and a timely snapshot of the events that occurred, so for the benefit of others they'll stay there. See the previous posts (down the page) for links to videos (I might compile them into one post, and add some more too, in a while).



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Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/10/2005 04:02:00 PM. Roughly.
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Saturday, July 9
Well, I've had a busy day.

Work and all sorts has kept me away from the news, but I understand that the current death toll stands at 52 in total. Personally, I believe it'll rise a few more (sadly), as sometimes critically ill people can take a while to succumb to their injuries. I feel immensely sad for the people whose lives were so callously taken, but at the same time I'm immensely proud of both the reaction by the people both in London and around the country, and of our awesome emergency services, who swung almost effortlessly into action and executed their disaster control plans to the letter so efficiently and calmly. We really do have a strange kind of aplomb sometimes when it comes to tragedies or major disasters, we just shoulder it and carry on, and I find that both comforting and remarkable in a way.

Only in Britain I suppose. (I don't think I'll ever hear the last of this when I'm in the US come August)...


Another video for you now (as promised): it's that ABC World News Tonight: Special Report I was on about yesterday (first aired 07/07/2005 in the US and then repeated on BBC News 24 on the 08/07/2005 - and yes it's the day THEN the month for our pals on the left-hand-side of the Pond). (21mins (exactly!), 47.8Mb)


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Friday, July 8
And now, some light relief

BBC Parliament internal email: NEWSFLASH:There has been a widespread outbreak of grumbling and tutting today in London, along with a large number of people going home instead of to work, with a certain amount of guilty pleasure.Sorry, bad guys. We've been bombed before, and we just adjust our day to account for it. This is London calling.


(pinched from http://www.livejournal.com/users/tyrell/154027.html)

I do love the fact that the BBC broke off coverage to 1) do the weather (which looks like it's going to improve) and 2) to show Eastenders. Classic.

Some other quotes:

From the BBC website: statement from Al Qaeda:"Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters". Erm really... where? I think you will find that's a reaction to the winning the Olympics bid or perhaps just the effect Bush has on us when he visits?!

During the second statement by Blair, he was surrounded by the various heads of state and representatives to the G-8 gathering. And there stood ol' W, with the usual confused look on this face - likely wondering who had his copy of "My Pet Goat".


THERE'S ALWAYS TIME FOR ANTI-BUSHISHM! yay

That ABC News article I told you about from last night is coming your way soon, too... Gotta do the encode 'n upload first, though. Time for a cuppa.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/08/2005 12:13:00 PM. Roughly.
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Ok, some more videos up.

The Wikipedia article on yesterday's events has an interesting paragraph. The paragraph begins with the full translation of the message posted to Qal3ah (an extremist Islamic forum widely believed to be a cover for jihadi discussion... Nice to know they hate us but are still willing to use our technology). Anyway, after the translation of the article, and some quick discussion on its finer points (phrasing, semantics etc), it reads...

One translator from US network MSNBC expressed scepticism at the legitimacy of this claim, claiming there is a "mistake" in the quoted verse from the Qur'an. [22] The verse, as quoted in the letter, is missing the beginning of the original Qur'anic verse, which begins with "Ya ayyuhal Lathee (O you who believe!) ..." That is to say, the verse is quoted only partially, which may or may not be a mistake.

The second paragraph of this statement provides a hint that something went wrong in al Qaeda's plot. The author claims that "Britain is burning with fear... in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters." However, when seen on a map, it becomes clear that two explosions occured in the north, while none occured in the south. Also, while eyewitnesses claim to have "seen a man explode" on the bus which was attacked, no evidence of suicide attacks has appeared on the tube explosions. All this suggests the possibility that the bomber on the bus was in the act of transporting his bomb to a southern tube station, where it could have inflicted more damage. However, it detonated before he could arrive at his target. This scenario explains the discrepancies between the online statement and the actual events, as well as showing that the attack was not as perfectly coordinated as previously believed.


So, it looks like we might've gotten off more lightly than we thought.

On now to the videos... There's a video with some of the raw camera phone footage following one of the tube blasts, the new encode of Tony Blair's G8 statement, and some footage from earlier today (around rush hour) when the M4 outbound (and inbound!) was 'chokka block' with traffic (footage from helicopter), and some brief accounts from a couple of people trying to make their way home, telling the reporter about the mood on the street, what the general atmosphere was like at that point in time: M4 footage and personal accounts.

More videos in due course - apologies for the unintended plug for Sky News, however they were delivering the news faster than BBC News 24 at that point in time (the BBC recently adopted a new policy of 'soft-censorship', where they release new/dramatic footage and information more slowly in an attempt to allay public anxiety... I've always found the BBC to be slightly more laid-back in its approach to breaking news stories, that said).


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/08/2005 05:59:00 AM. Roughly.
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You can rely on the nerds...

A Wikipedia entry for the 7 July 2005 London Bombings has already popped into existence, with a lot of useful information, screenshots of the web site purporting to claim responsibility for the attack, links to other associated resources... Another great (ongoing) resource. It's being added to as new information is obtained, much like this blog.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Emergency Services News Conference (07/07/2005) now online

Here's the fresh encode of the initial news conference held after the London bombs by the Greater London Authority. It's fully Windows Media 9 format, and it's 300kbps, so it should stream fine directly from the site on any decent broadband connection.

Click here to download/watch: Greater London Authority News Conference (07/07/2005) (Windows Media 9 format). (41mins, 93.2Mb)

More videos coming soon...


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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In others news

I watched an ABC news programme (rebroadcast on BBC News 24, the BBC has links with ABC in America)... Had some interesting articles, and an also-interesting point of view - an American standpoint - on the day's events, plus an article on how easy it was for a reporter to plant a backpack on a US train (the usual scaremongering), and as well as that, some other bits and pieces... It's only 20 minutes long; I'll post it up on the web after the encode of the emergency services news conference is done (it's scheduled to finish around 5am now, at least that's what my encoder software's saying... zzz).

Good night everyone. Sleep well.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Map showing affected areas in London


Map showing the affected areas in London (courtesy of BBC News 24)


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/08/2005 01:36:00 AM. Roughly.
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I had posted a big summary of this evening's events...

... And my computer crashed, so here it is again (with added extras).

The Government has just released details on how to obtain the travel information - it can be found on the Transport for London site @ http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tube/travelinfo, or you can telephone 020 7222 1243.

As the rhetorical dust settles on today's events, it's clear that there were 4 distinct explosions - 3 on tube trains, and then half an hour after the last of those, the explosion on the bus in Russell Square. 37 people are confirmed dead by the Metropolitan Police so far, with the Royal Hospital reporting that over 208 people have been treated, with 7 or so people still in intensive care overnight, and one person sadly dying earlier.

All main railway stations (outside of London) are now open, inside London all stations apart from King's Cross are now fully open - Waterloo station is dealing with the majority of commuters attempting to make their way out of London. Many walked across London to get to the East of the City, and the station at times was packed solid. Most passengers are 'phlegmatic' in their approach (Sky News) - expressing worry about public transport and the levels of people here, but at the same time fully backing Prime Minister Tony Blair's stance.

All West End shows have been cancelled, and many artists have cancelled tour dates. Some London schools are staying closed until Monday. In terms of the tubes, Picadilly and Circle lines running a restricted service, but there will be no trains on the Hammersmith and City lines (as they are currently crime scenes). The London Congestion Charge has been suspended until Monday, however traffic is expected to be extremely heavy. For more information, see UK News Agencies' web sites and interactive features.

Coming soon: a better encode (fully Windows Media 9 format this time, as I used Sony Vegas 6) of the Emergency Services News Conference. An updated version of Tony Blair's second statement will also be available soon - check this blog for the links.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Thursday, July 7
Other periphery stations & services closed

After the initial scares, the following stations were shut earlier (mainly due to discovery of suspect packages):

Brighton
Poole
Bournemouth
Swindon
Basingstoke
Portsmouth Harbour had to shut because of the closure Waterloo.

Some stations are now open... The Wightlink & Gosport ferry services were also suspended, but intentions are to reopen as many stations as soon as possible. Police have searched all the main bus and railway stations in the South, and have discovered a number of suspect packages; bomb disposal teams were brought in earlier today to investigate.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/07/2005 07:09:00 PM. Roughly.
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Transport for London helpline

If you need to seek advice on travel and transport inside London tonight, tomorrow and after, then you can ring the Transport for London helpline on 0207 222 1234. The lines may be extremely busy though, so be patient.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Bus fatalities confirmed

At least 2 people died in this morning's Russell Square bus bomb, the Associated Press reports.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Victoria Station now under alert

Just announced: people are being told to move away from Victoria Station, with police telling people to "run as fast as they can". Police are emptying buses around the location too... The police have discovered a 'package in a corner' which they are very suspicious about, and are therefore closing off the scene to investigate further.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Fatalities: 33 as of 5pm

According to Sky news, 33 dead as of 5pm, 4 blasts confirmed, with 1000s injured.

Video of the news conference coming soon (the video will be ~40 minutes).

Rough stats...

8:51am: First explosion leaves 7 dead at Liverpool St. station.
8:56am: second explosion, killing 21 people (between Russell Square and King's Cross).
9:17am: 5 dead on a train heading into Edgware Road. Bomb also damaged two other nearby trains.
9:47am: explosion in the back of double decker bus, deaths still unknown.

Although more explosions have been reported, the Home Secretary has only confirmed these four explosions as of the present time.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Video of Tony Blair's second G8 statement (from Sky News)

Small update to the original URL (technical reasons).

The video of Tony Blair's second G8 statement is now up online on my server: Tony Blair's Second G8 Statement(video is 2mins 37secs long, 3.5Mb).

The video will play fine in Windows Media Player provided that you have the Windows Media Video V9 codec installed (WMP will attempt to download it automatically if you don't) - the audio is MP3 audio, so it should play fine in any media player newer than Windows Media Player 8.

If it won't play in Windows Media Player, then try either Media Player Classic (Windows 2000/XP version | Windows 98/ME version) or the excellent VideoLAN Project's VLC player (click Download on the front page).


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/07/2005 03:39:00 PM. Roughly.
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Casualty Bureau Hotline announced

The emergency hotline telephone number:
0870 1566 344

Anti-Terrorist hotline number (if you have seen anything suspicious)
0800 789 321


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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According to the Metropolitan Police (as of 14:44 UK time)

8:49am: explosion in tube between Liverpool St. Aldgate (East of the Financial district). Emergency services called 1 minute later.
9:33am: second explosion, Edgware road.
9:40am: incident reported on train between King's Cross and Russell Square.
9:50am: explosion in back of double decker bus at Tavistock Square.

Mainline stations:

Parts of King's Cross and St. Pancrass are closed, trains heading there are being turned back.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Clipper Riverboat services free today

The Clipper riverboat services are being rendered free of charge today, to help alleviate the stress on the disabled public transport system, and help people move about - emergency services advise that people use these services to travel through the city.

Latest update (14:26) shows at least 45 people dead, with several in intensive care at Aldgate Hospital. For the first time in living memory, all trials at the Old Bailey have been suspended. The Queen has issued a statement saying she is "deeply shocked" by the events.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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BBC News page containing details of locations and statements from eyewitnesses


  • 08:49 police called to Liverpool Street station after reports of bang

  • Blasts also reported at Aldgate East, Edgware Rd, Kings Cross, Moorgate, Russell Square tube stations

  • 10:14 Reports of blast on bus at Tavistock Square


To read the full article ("Two die in London terror blasts"), click here.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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BBC.co.uk reports:

The Metropolitan Police advise people to stay where they are and not to call the emergency services except in life-threatening situations.
An emergency hotline number is expected shortly.


You can hear rolling updates on Radio 5 Live (requires Real Player or Real Alternative to listen): 5 Live stream. You can also watch video coverage of the London Transport blasts from BBC News 24 on the web site via the BBC Console (note: as the site is VERY busy, it will perform quite slowly at the moment. It's taken me a couple of minutes to load just a couple of pages).

Two killed in London explosions
Two people are killed and many more injured as six blasts paralyse London's transport network.



Charles Clarke is currently informing the Commons...
"I am not in a position at this time to give precise details, but I can confirm that four explosions have been confirmed. As yet, we do not know who or which organisation is responsible for these attacks. The Met are in command using well-established routines. Transport is closed and will be for some time, at least until the end of the day. Transport for London will decide when to resume service. Overground services are subject to extensive delays. Airports are operating normally. People are strongly advised not to travel into London, to provide the emergency services with the priority they require. I will continue to keep the House informed."


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Group linked to Al Qaeda claims attacks (SkyNews.co.uk)

GROUP CLAIMS ATTACKS

A terror group linked to al Qaeda has claimed it carried out a series of terror attacks on London that have left a number of people dead and hundreds injured. Full Story: http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1188265,00.html Blast Scenes Eyewitness Accounts Your Accounts

Also, a timeline of how the events unfolded (Sky News web site).


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Other news sources you might find useful

This Is London: "Terror Attacks Rock London" - here
Washington Post: here
Charles Clarke: Initial statement on London explosions: here (1 hour ago).
Guardian Unlimited article: 6 Blasts Rock London, Killing at Least Two - here (22 minutes ago).

More UK-oriented news reports on the Google News page: http://news.google.co.uk/?ned=uk&topic=n


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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ITV map shows locations of targets

Before 9am: series of explosions reported around the Northern area of Central London, specifically at

Edgware Road
King's Cross
Russell Square
Moorgate
Aldgate East
Liverpool Street
Old Street

Bus then exploded in Russell Square, second blast heard close by in Tavistock Square, full of people who were already unable to travel by tube due to the earlier incidents. Eyewitnesses report two other explosions in other parts of Central London.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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ITV News reports:

100 casualties taken to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel on three London buses. 10 are critical, 7 fatalities so far.

Network Rail are stopping most trains coming into London miles away from the stations, and turning them back. Services into Euston, Liverpool St, St. Pancrass and Kings Cross are closed. They will try to reopen the closed stations later so people can return home.


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Paul Woodrow Press Statement on behalf of OAS

Ambulance Incident Officer at Russell Square for the Emergency Services in London.

"Emergency services are responding to a number of emergencies. I can confirm that they've been called to:

Kings Cross
Aldgate
Russell Square
Moregate
Edgeware Road
Liverpoool Street
Leicester Square (tube).

Bus explosion at Tavistock Square.

Kings Cross station currently undertaking underground rescue. We are dealing with large number of casualties, and we believe there are a number of fatalities. All underground lines are closed, and all inbound London lines are closed. If you need to use the LAS, only do so if you entirely feel the need as we are all very stretched."


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/07/2005 12:12:00 PM. Roughly.
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Areas affected & Tony Blair statement

Areas affected:
Liverpool St (tube)
Moregate (tube)
Edgeware Road (tube)
Kings Cross (tube)
Russell Square (tube)
Tavistock Square East (bus)


This is what Tony Blair has just said in a short press conference (I typed as he spoke, so there's very minor abbreviations):

"We're still trying to presently construct what has happened. It's reasonably clear that there've been a series of terrorist attacks in London, obviously casualties - both people who have died and who are seriously injured, and our thoughts and prayers are with them. It's my intention to leave the G8 within the next couple of hours and go to London, get reports from the emergency services, the police and and the ministers, and then return later this evening. It is the will of all the leaders of the G8 however that the meeting should continue in my absence, to discuss the issues, and reach the conclusions we were going to reach. Each of the countries round the table has some experience of terrorism and its effects, and all share our complete resolution to defeat this terrorrism. It's particularly barbaric that this has happened, on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa, the problems of climate change worldwide... Just as it's reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks, designed and aimed to coincide with the G8 opening. There'll be time to talk later about this, it's important however that those engaged in terrorrism realise that our determination to defend our values and way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this civilised nation, and throughout the world."


That was at midday.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Sky News reports...

Royal London Hospital: at least 10 people seriously ill and at least one fatality, with a total of 95 casualties in addition to those coming in at the moment. (Sky News)


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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After such a day of elation...

London is bombed. Most probably in reaction to the G8 meeting. Early indications after a couple of hours show that bombs were coordinated to detonate in a ring around the area of Russell Square, King's Cross (both on the Picadilly Line) etc... "At least six blasts in central London" (Metropolitan Police Chief) have detonated, including a bomb on a double-decker bus by Russell Square tube station as people were being evacuated from the same station.

11:54am:
Met Police Chief: concerned blasts were coordinated (Sky News). No indication of warnings before attacks. (Sky News). Suvivors and interviewees alluding to mortalities - "straddling the whole of the centre" - John O'Connor (ex-Flying Squad, interviewed on Sky News)

11:57am:
Two deaths after blast at Aldgate Station.

I'll update this blog with any more information as it arrives.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Wednesday, July 6
The 2012 Olympics are heading our way!

Excellent news... I heard on Radio 2 earlier, during the news, the presenter said, "crowds gathered in Paris to celebrate the winning of the bid - when the results were announced however, the crowds quietly dissipated and less than an hour later nobody was left.

"And then it started to rain."


At which point I burst out laughing - I love France, but this makes up for a few sly puns at our expense (for instance, the French President saying that he thought traditional English food wasn't very good) :D


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/06/2005 05:54:00 PM. Roughly.
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Ahahahah...



Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Tuesday, July 5
Woot!

New design finally in place. Yay for me. :D


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
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Sunday, July 3
Leftie blog entry of the day :)

Widescreen wallpapers!

Nootropic, I love them for doing this... They've put together a wicked little gallery of DRM-Related Antipixel Buttons and Badges, very useful for showing your support for the free data movement thing. :D



Oh, and this lovely little programme (Nix / Mac OS X only) will record your screen actions via a VNC connection, and save it as an swf file. Curse me for being win32. ;) vnc2swf

And while we're on yet another web trawl, here's a site with Anti-Japanese Propaganda War Posters site, replete with full-colour images and background information on each. A useful resource for WWII studiers, and a jog to the memory (I watched Days That Shook The World today too, and that particular episode was a recreation of the events that led up to Pearl Harbor. Makes you think).


I've decided to talk the MINIMUM about Live8, because everybody else has probably already discussed it at length on their own blogs. The only thing I'll say is that when they showed the video made in 1985 for the original Live Aid, which showed all the starving kids, and then brought out the girl - pictured last in the film, half-dead and half-conscious - whom the campaign managed to save... I was moved to tears by the whole thing, the video, and the overwhelming feeling of seeing this person fit and well who was given the ability to have her life back by something that others had done. Doesn't happen often, and it's spurred me on to seriously giving more sensible thought about the problems, even moreso than before. I'll donate money to the cause, but I still won't buy one of those stupid fad wristbands though.


Dragged out of Christopher's memory and pasted
into his blog at 7/03/2005 10:05:00 PM. Roughly.
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