Robert Hampton

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November 2010

1st November 2010

Bright Idea
Posted by at 7.38pm | In the News | 1 response

As someone who struggles to get out of bed on dark winter mornings, I don’t welcome the proposed changes to British Summer Time.

Campaigners say it would reduce accidents in the evenings, but surely it would just cause more accidents in the darker mornings instead?

The Daily Express is supporting the campaign — has anyone told them it would mean we were on the same time as… gasp! Europe!

2nd November 2010

Antisocial Behaviour
Posted by at 9.40pm | Films | 1 response

Last night I went to see The Social Network in the pleasant surroundings of FACT Picturehouse.

For the uninitiated, the film looks behind the scenes at the growth of Facebook, charting its progress from a minor web site covering Harvard University to the worldwide behemoth that it became. In particular, it focuses on the actions of founder Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues. I’m not sure how accurate a depiction it is, but suspect a usual amount of dramatic licence was taken.

I don’t want to give too much away about the film, except to say that the performances of the lead actors are great (Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg is particularly excellent, although it’s distracting that he looks a bit like Simon Amstell). The script keeps things moving along nicely, no easy task when quite a lot of the film is people typing code into a computer.

It’s nice to see Wget and Emacs get namechecked in a major Hollywood motion picture, too.

One thing I’ve learned from the film: never go into business with your friends — unless you’re prepared to lose one or two of them along the way as a price for success.

9th November 2010

Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Woolas?
Posted by at 10.44pm | Politics | No responses

The MP Phil Woolas has been stripped of his seat in the House of Commons, after a Court ruled that he breached election campaigning laws.

As a consequence, Woolas has been expelled from the Labour party, a decision which has not pleased everyone. Colleagues and sympathisers are stumping up for his appeal.

In the Guardian, Michael White argues that half-truths and unkeepable promises are par for the course in election campaigning. That may be true (although it’s not a fact that reflects well on our politicians) but Woolas went a bit further than most though: accusing his opponent of funding his campaign illegally and associating with Islamic extremists.

And if you still don’t think he’s done anything wrong, consider this: e-mails from the campaign team revealed during the court case show that there was a strategy to ”galvanise the white Sun vote”. His seat is in Oldham. Of all the places where stoking racial tension is a bad idea, that would have to be near the top of the list.

If Woolas’s appeal fails and a by-election is held, it will be interesting to see how the result turns out. The Liberal Democrat candidate lost by just 103 votes in May 2010 and would be expected to win this time round. Will the coalition cost the Lib Dems votes?

13th November 2010

Posted by at 8.21pm | In the News | No responses

Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!

With those words, Paul Chambers ruined his life. He was arrested, threatened with jail and lost his job. He was convicted and fined in May for sending a “menacing” electronic communication.

On Thursday he lost his appeal against the conviction, with Judge Jacqueline Davies saying that the Tweet was, “menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed.”

I like to think I’m an ordinary person (quiet at the back) and I found nothing menacing in the message. What Chambers posted was nothing more than an outlet for his frustration, the kind of offhand comment that might be uttered by any of us in the heat of the moment. Who hasn’t facetiously wished the worst for the person responsible for their train being late or a cheque going missing in the post?

The “mistake” Chambers made was posting his message in a public forum. However, it’s absolutely ridiculous that anyone could have taken it seriously. Does Al Qaeda routinely announce its bombing plans in advance on Twitter?

The Police have taken Chambers’s laptop as “evidence” — they have no legal right to do so as there was no incriminating evidence on it, so it should have been returned to him. He’s asked, but they ignore his requests. So my trust in the Police diminishes still further. They’re supposed to protect us, but it seems that they are basically above the law.

Also making me angry: some of the media reaction. The Guardian has been excellent as usual, but elsewhere the reporting has been terrible. It’s perhaps not surprising that Metro would use a sensational “Bomb hoax” headline, but I’m annoyed that the BBC web site reported it as if Chambers had made a serious threat.

So, in summary: the terrorists have won. If a daft joke like this can be taken seriously (as if Al Qaeda would pre-announce their plans on Twitter!) then security and paranoia has trampled all over our freedoms. An outpouring of Twitter fun won’t change the fact that we are living in a police state.

15th November 2010

Any port in a storm

Nintendo has earned a reputation for rehashing its classic titles in an attempt to extract the maximum revenue from its back catalogue.

It’s not an entirely unfair comment: the Game Boy Advance was launched with an enhanced remake of Super Mario Bros. 2, and by the end of the handheld’s life, all the classic Mario titles had appeared in one form or another. The Classic NES series, also for the GBA, presented pixel-perfect emulations of Nintendo’s best 8-bit games to a new audience.

It’s hard to blame Nintendo for milking its old games for all they’re worth. The games are absolute classics — immensely playable even two decades later — and it’s not a bad idea to introduce them to new games players. Retro-gaming is a massive business these days – can you blame Nintendo for cashing in? Is 500 Wii points really too high a price to play for games on the Wii Virtual Console?

That said, check out this upcoming release for the Wii: Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition.

Super Mario All-Stars Box Art

It’s a straightforward emulation of the old SNES game. It comes with a commemorative booklet and soundtrack CD, but the game itself is unaltered from the original 1993 release.

So Nintendo are expecting us to part with money for an unchanged 2010 port of a 17-year-old remake of games originally released between 1985 and 1990?

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m still going to buy it.

24th November 2010

The Protest with the Mostest
Posted by at 8.37pm | Politics | 1 response

The student protests added a frisson of excitement today. I had just got back to the office after my lunch break, and saw the Liverpool contingent marching down Church Street.

I work on the 6th floor so had an excellent view as they sat down on the pedestrian crossing at the junction of Bold Street, Church Street and Hanover Street, causing a queue of buses to build up rapidly.

The police presence – with vans, helicopters and horses all scrambled — seemed to be slightly over the top, but I understand from the Echo’s live blog that things were a bit rowdier at the Liverpool ONE end of Hanover Street, where the Liverpool Conservative Party has an office.

A smart-arse in the office (NOT me for once) claimed that the students were daft to protest, because they won’t be the ones affected by the tuition fee increase. I take the view, however, that they should be applauded for caring about the kids of today who want to follow in their footsteps, who are being sold down the river thanks to Nick Clegg’s inability to keep a promise.

In other news, Liverpool has a Conservative Party office. Who’d have thought?

25th November 2010

Winter Blunderland
Posted by at 7.56pm | Liverpool | 1 response

St Michaels In The Snow

Snow is falling in parts of the UK and more is forecast over the coming days, with Liverpool expected to receive its first dusting over the weekend. Last time this happened, back in January, much of the city ground to a halt, with buses sliding comically on untreated roads.

The January snowfall was particularly severe because Liverpool, like several other local authorities, ran out of grit. They assure us that this time they are more prepared. We shall see.

Photo: St Michaels in the Snow by adebâ“žnd on Flickr. Photo license: Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike