Sunday, 29 November 2015

Overheard at the Surgery

The Chairman is getting his annual flu jab at the surgery. After administering the jab, the nurse asks:

Nurse: "Do you have any problems balancing - do you fall over?"

Chairman: "No."

Nurse: "Memory problems?"

Chairman: "No."

When leaving the car park:

Hay: "Where are the car keys?"

Chairman: "How would I know?"

Hay: "Because I gave them to you not 5 minutes ago!"

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Overheard Sham

Overheard during the news:

Hay: "Is Hilary Benn still an MP? You don't hear much of him."

Chairman: "Why shouldn't he be? Just because his father was high profile, it doesn't mean to say he has to be; my old man was a nice bloke, it doesn't follow that I'm necessarily a nice bloke."

Hay: "Very true."

Apparently, last week the head of the BBC rejected calls to drop the use of the term ‘Islamic State’ in reports and using 'Daesh' instead, saying that the BBC must be fair to Isis in its coverage of the terrorist group. 

Fair? Give me strength - the BBC's policy of presenting all sides with 'fairness' has meant every crack-pot notion from the MMR scare to lemon juice cures cancer gets the air of publicity and legitimacy. What happened to common sense? There are times when bias is actually necessary, and those times are when facts are questioned.

Daesh stands for Dawlat al-Islamiyah f'al-Iraq wa al-Sham - their own name for themselves. Perhaps we should just call them Sham.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Eye of God Drone - The Verdict


Got the replacement bits for the Eye of God drone the day before yesterday and had another go at flying it. Here's my pre-Christmas verdict:

Nice to look at and a reasonable price, but some very basic design flaws; 

1. The landing skids are black and just four sticks - this means they are extremely difficult to find if they drop off (which they do at every conceivable opportunity), especially if they stick into soft ground and become detached. They should be a different colour (as should the underside of the unit) and made into two pairs with runners, rather than four individual sticks. I painted mine red after spending more time hunting for detached skids than flying the unit. 

2. If you switch off the control the rotors keep turning for at least 4 seconds, resulting in numerous fly-aways if radio contact is lost. I lost mine for 24 hours on the 2nd test flight. Managed to locate it at dusk as the LEDs were still flashing weakly. 

3. Range is reasonably good - further than my Syma X5C. 

4. Insufficient charging cables - you can only charge one battery at a time. Of the two USB cables supplied, one was faulty and didn't charge the screen and camera. Also everything that needs charging has a different connection - bad design - they should all have the same connector. Also, the two chargers supplied work in opposite ways; on one the LED lights up when the battery is charged, on the other it goes out when the battery is charged - illogical. 

5. On my  unit the FPV screen was installed upside down. Easy enough to rectify, but not what you'd expect from Quality Control. 

6. One Key Return is pretty basic, but what you'd expect when you realise the drone doesn't have GPS. If you change the orientation in flight, it won't return to you - it just flies backward from the orientation it's in. 

7. Camera is narrow lens, making FPV very difficult. Its main use is finding the damned thing after a fly-away - you at least have an idea where it is - like this from yesterday.

8. The LEDs on the unit are so bright that you can't see the on-off switches on the unit or the camera properly. They don't need to be so powerful, but I guess it's good for night flying. It could, however, be my early-stage cataracts that are diffusing the LEDs and blinding me.

9. The instruction manual is almost completely unintelligible (Chinese and English, with the English being very, very badly translated - probably by a computer). No instructions for One Key Return, or several other key features. 

10. Be careful when removing the rotors - there's a washer that falls out and you could lose it easily. Also, the rotor is held on by a grub screw in the side of the shaft (rather than through the top), which has to be seated exactly, but blind, as you can't see the hole in the shaft when the rotor goes over it and there's a lot of vertical play. Took me 10 minutes to get it back on. 

11. Be careful when removing a motor - don't take it out if you just want to inspect it, as the process needs a good tug, which is enough to part the wires. Use pliers on the body of the motor, if you can, rather than pulling on the thin wires. 

12. The motors are remarkably fragile and in just 3 days I managed to trash 2, simply by the rotor being stopped by an object (the Syma's motors are much more robust). Fitting the rotor guards is a MUST if you don't want to damage the motors on the first flight.

13. Because the charge point on the camera is so tiny, it's very easy to insert the charge connector upside down, which will kill the battery, and the battery is not removable unless you open the camera and unsolder it. 

14. Every attachment has such a flimsy connection to the main unit that the whole thing just falls apart on anything other than a perfect landing - the battery case, the skids, the rotor guards, etc. Some parts simply fall off with no encouragement.

15. Flying the beast is almost impossible. The speed in each direction is dramatically different and losing control is very simple. Same goes for up and down - up is bloody fast, whereas it can be difficult to get the damned thing to land. Nowhere near as controllable as the Syma X5C, which I can just chuck around in the sky with abandon.

All-in-all it seems a bit rushed in order to get it to market before Christmas. I would not give this to a small child as a present - it would be the quickest was to lose £70. Definitely a Dad Toy.

One tip - write your mobile phone number on it in marker pen before you first fly it, as I guarantee you'll end up with a fly-away. 

Another tip is to buy a couple of spare batteries for the drone itself and the screen. You might also want to buy a spare camera battery in case of failure, but you'll need to do some soldering to remove the old one and replace it. 

Good customer service though - they have been most helpful in ironing out some issues and sending me parts that were faulty. The main problem is the shipping delay due to the manufacturer being in China. No doubt someone will start stocking them here - and hopefully with the issues ironed out.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

High Castle Tenancy Scam for Birds

Idly looking into the middle distance of the garden yesterday I spotted a green woodpecker, a chaffinch, a wren, a robin, a fieldfare and the ever-present gaggle of magpies, jackdaws and blackbirds. We have quite a diversity of wild birds here.

Following my plan to move into consultancy, I have received two phone calls within two days from some scam outfit wanting to assist me with regards to the change of tenancy on my business premises, specifically with the electricity supply. The fact I work from home and have lived here for 3 years seems to be lost on them. These people obviously trawl Linked-In for new business pages and then target the owners with offers of unnecessary help, for which they charge a fortune.

Despite it being notoriously difficult to unsubscribe from, Hay has persuaded me to sign up for Amazon Prime for the trial 30 days. I was swung by the availability of Doc Martin, which I only discovered for the first time (purely by accident) a week ago on ITV3. We're now busy going through all the series (currently halfway through Series 2). It's not at all what I imagined it to be and I find it very amusing. Hay loves it as she spends most of the time doing diagnoses of the cast's illnesses (with a 100% hit rate so far). Hay's desire to subscribe was based on the availability of 'The Man in The High Castle' by Philip K. Dick, who wrote 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - aka Blade Runner, although I'm starting to lose interest, as the characters are gross caricatures.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Kitty Stardom

I simply can't understand why yesterday's video of Kitty didn't go viral. What more do you have to do other than just videoing your cat?

Seems we're less likely now to be threatened by ISIS than by being threatened by a nuke from Putin. It seems his strategy of feigning an alliance with the West and then purposely goading the most volatile member of NATO (and one that should never have been a member anyway) is working. The seeds of dissent having been sown, the possible expulsion of Turkey from NATO as a consequence looks to be on the cards. Scrap Trident? I don't think so!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Kitty Pudding Action Video

Given all the cat Tweets in Belgium, I thought I'd offer up an action video of Kitty:

OK, not much action going on today.

Boffins have managed to quantum entangle particles at room temperature. It's about time they focused on something more impressive, like cooking a Christmas pudding or turkey at room temperature.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Say a Little Prayer

Digital Cinema Media has refused to screen an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer. The reason given was that DCM thought it has the potential to upset some cinemagoers of a different faith, or no faith at all, and because of that they have a blanket policy of showing no religious adverts. In that way they are treating all faiths the same and not discriminating. The Church is a bit upset.
  1. The advert was to be shown before the new Star Wars film, which itself is a film about the Jedi religion! Double standards?
  2. The advert in question is for prayer - surely that would bring the church into conflict with the Advertising Standards Authority? Imagine if everyone started advertising woo-woo!
  3. Had the advert been on behalf of Islam, then I'm certain there would have been uproar (probably from the Christian element).
  4. It could set off an advertising war between faiths with the result that we are all bombarded with proselytising religious adverts before watching a film at the cinema or even while watching TV. With the amount of Christian, quasi-religious advertising blatantly masquerading as consumerism on TV at the moment, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was Christmas or something!
  5. I think the Church has basically misunderstands the power of advertising. The purpose of an advert is to keep your product to the forefront of the mind of the target, who is already in a frame of mind to purchase a product you're advertising. The advert merely guides them to you product, rather than that of a competitor. Somehow I don't think people shop for religions in the way they do for cereal. There again, perhaps they do.
I think DCM have taken the right decision - just don't show any woo-woo cult adverts. The intellect can be a wonderful barrier to woo-woo and advertising.

May the Force be with you...

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Failed Videos

Well, today's offering was going to be a montage of drone videos of sunrise over a frosty Chipping Sodbury, but the video failed to record this morning when I went for the Sunday papers.

Instead, here's Chipping Sodbury on a wet morning last week from opposite ends.

Saturday, 21 November 2015


While reading the book 'Trains and Buttered Toast', a collection of John Betjaman's BBC radio broadcasts, I came across a snippet about equality, which he defined not as some Utopian, Marxist ideal where all are forced to be equal and dumbed down in everything, but equality of opportunity - what you do or don't make of the equality of opportunity is down to you.

Yesterday a friend sent me this YouTube clip, which is worth watching and says it all:

Friday, 20 November 2015

Classical Shorts

The yellow rose in our garden is still producing flowers, the crocosmia I planted in September for next year are coming up, and I'm STILL in shorts. It may all change next week though.

Classical Gas. I love it, but am I the only person who thinks it was completely ruined by the horns in the middle, which gave it a hideously kitsch quality? The start is sublime; when the orchestra comes in it sends a tingle through me; when the trombones come in it's ruined and I want to switch off. It does recover, but the damage has been done.