Thursday, March 31, 2016

Berkhamsted Multi-storey Car Park

Petition

The premise seems to be that Berko needs more parking spaces, and that the traffic infrastructure is able to accommodate extra traffic.

However, according to the council's own report, our largest car park only gets 73% full, and the Lower Kings Road already gets 93% congested at the weekday evening peak - so the traffic congestion problem is already worse than the car park utilisation, and they predict the traffic queues on Lower Kings Road will increase by about 30%.

If you want to know the detail...

Let's start with that first part: that Berko needs more parking spaces. Looking at the council's own Transport Assessment that they have submitted to support this planning application, it says that the railway car park gets only 73% full at its busiest hour in the week. So there are already a significant number of free spaces in Berko just a few minutes walk from the centre. And as for the Lower Kings Road car park, the report tells us this can get up to 97% full at noon on a Saturday... at which time the railway car park is only 9% occupied. So we have more than enough parking spaces - we're just not using them.

Now let's look at the second part: the traffic infrastructure is able to accommodate extra traffic. This same report tells us that Lower Kings Road currently gets up to 93% saturated on average across the busiest hour, and predicts saturation will increase. Yes, the roads already get more saturated than the combined car parks. The worst increase in traffic congestion is predicted to be in the weekday evenings 17:30-18:30 where it is predicted to increase from 89.7% to 96.2% saturated on average across the hour.

What does this mean in real terms? They predict that the length of the queue of traffic backed up on the Lower Kings Road will increase by about 30%. The council believes the Lower Kings Road can cope with this traffic queue increasing by around 30%, but I've seen the traffic queues on the Lower Kings Road at the evening workday rush hour and if it tails beyond the entrance to the car park this is going to trap in the cars trying to leave this car park and cause traffic congestion chaos.

To summarise, according to the council's own report, our largest car park only gets 73% full, and the Lower Kings Road already gets 93% congested at the weekday evening peak - so the traffic congestion problem is already worse than the car park utilisation, and they predict the traffic queues on Lower Kings Road will increase by about 30%.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Online bookies

My new favourite website is http://www.joeje.co.uk - for all your online betting needs!
Not really, just a joke.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

SecureClient for Mac OS X Lion

Well, I've got CheckPoint VPN-1 SecureClient for Mac OS X Lion 10.7 and it's working just fine. I find it faintly ridiculous that they are restricting access to the download so if anyone is without and desperately wants it, talk to me.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Blank printouts from Word X on Mac

User was having problems printing from Microsoft Word X on her Mac (latest Snow Leopard). Printing to PDF produced blank PDFs. Printing to the printer resulting in blank pieces of paper. Yet creating a new test document from scratch (just typed a few words into the page) was able to produce a valid PDF.

A quick review of the Console log showed the following:

05/03/2011 21:51:07 [0x0-0x17017].com.microsoft.Word[176] WARNING: Font "Arial" with style 1 can't be handled by the imaging system. This document can't be drawn/printed with this font.

Turns out there were two copies of Arial on her Mac: one in the central Library folder and one in her personal Library folder.

I removed the copy from her personal Library folder, restarted Word, and all was then working fine.

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Securing notes across my devices

I wanted a secure way to access and edit text notes on my iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and also on my 'desktop' devices (Macs and Windows), with the notes synchronised across all of those devices, so that any amendments on one device would show up swiftly on all of the others.

I was already using the excellent Dropbox in conjunction with PlainText (on my iOS devices), TextWrangler (Mac), and WordPad (Windows) to work with clear text. Using these tools I can read or edit these text files on any of these devices. I also use Dropbox to sync other document types, including Office/iWork files, but only read access on the iOS devices (although I know there are Dropbox-enabled 'Office' apps available) — but as long as I could edit my text files from my iPhone, the Office files could wait until I got back to my Mac.

This setup was so useful to me that I started wanting to put sensitive information in there. Work stuff: Unix commands, reports, IP addresses, usernames, even passwords. But that's not really a good idea, is it? You don't put sensitive work information on a 3rd-party storage service — well, not unless you can encrypt it in a way that no-one else can decrypt.

I was already using encrypted .dmg files on my Mac to store sensitive data, but I wasn't aware of any tools that could open these on iOS or Windows.

Hence my search for an encrypted equivalent of this toolset began.

Has anyone else found the solution yet? I tweeted the question. I audiobooed my question. No answer was forthcoming.

I searched the Apple App Store for words like 'encrypt', and all I seemed to get were password manager/autofill apps. One of the most popular and expensive ones of these seemed to be one called '1Password'. Some of my Twitter friends seem to like it. But that's not really what I was after. I wasn't looking for an app to auto-fill my passwords into websites.

Evernote is a tool I've been trying to find a good use case for for a long time. They've got encrypted note support... but not on the iOS apps, it seems.

Pop the text in a draft email on our Exchange server? The iPhone talks to the server using SSL, so that's fine, but would all my email clients store their local cache in an encrypted form? No.

Then I thought, why not look on the Dropbox website - they seem to have a healthy ecosystem of 3rd-party companion apps. So I scanned through their page of apps (https://www.dropbox.com/apps), and found a few promising ones...

1Password (http://agilewebsolutions.com/onepassword) is the popular password manager/autofill app, but not cheap, at $14.99 for the iPad/iPhone version, $39.95 for the Mac version and $29.95 for Windows.

SafeWallet (http://www.sbsh.net/products/mac_os_x/safewallet) seemed similar to 1Password but at a lower price ($15 for the Mac version, $3 for iPhone).

Password Touch (http://www.passwordtouch.com/) has the advantage of being compatible with the open source 'Password Safe' database, meaning the desktop application would be free, and the total cost could be just $3 for the iPhone app. Unfortunately, the desktop version is Windows only!

Codebook (http://getcodebook.com/faq) seemed like a more pertinent app. Rather than being a password manager, this was actually intended for big chunks of text. That's what I was actually after! Again, based on some kind of Open Source encryption standard but with their own proprietary twist which means there's effectively no desktop counterpart. So no.

So, with the last two apps ruled out for technical limitations, I was left with the choice of SafeWallet and 1Password — both of which have a trial version of the Mac desktop app available to download. So I downloaded both and installed them on my Mac.

I pasted a nice long chunk of text into a text note in SafeWallet, but it only showed about 3 lines, even though all the text was in there, and I could find no way to resize the text box to make the viewable area larger (to make it actually practical). Not encouraging.

Then I fired up 1Password. The whole look and feel of the app was much more secure and trustworthy somehow. I created a secure note. A nice big text box, and even a space at the bottom of the note to drag and drop attachments onto. That was much more like it! Sync'ed it to Dropbox. Very simple and intuitive. But would it be this good on the iPhone?

There's no free trial version of 1Password for iPhone. And the trial version of SafeWallet doesn't do syncing.

I searched on the web to see if I could find any reviews of 1Password on iPhone that would cover the notes feature. YouTube had a bunch of video reviews, but these all focused on the password management/autofill functionality. I feared perhaps the notes would be inaccessible on the iPhone, or at most read-only.

And then my friend Pewari (http://pewari.may.be) came to the rescue with an audioboo. She was a very happy user of 1Password on her iPhone, and though she had never used the notes feature, she was kind enough to try it out and in the very same boo she reported that indeed it did work!

That was all the recommendation I needed. I then bought the iOS version on my iPhone, installed it, connected it to my Dropbox, and 'boom!' there were all my secure notes.

So now I'm happy. I may even start using it as a password manager/autofill tool, too, as people seem to rave about this functionality. Sure, I know after 30 days the trial version on my Mac will expire, and I will have to shell out $40 to retain desktop access, but I think it is worth it. I can keep my text safe and secure. It's backed up, it's easily accessible and amendable on all my devices, and I can be sure it can't be read by anyone but me.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thoughts on Magic Mouse

I've been using my Apple Magic Mouse this evening and it does not disappoint, though I feel now like the whole Mac OS needs to be updated to take advantage of the subtleties of the mouse/large trackpads on modern MacBooks. (I'm also hoping for an update to the MacBook trackpad software to incorporate the marvellous momentum scrolling feature from the iPhone and Magic Mouse.) The additional quality now endowed on these touch interfaces is great and enhances the efficiency of interacting with the existing O/S's (both iPhone and Mac OS X), but I feel there are further enhancements to be made and I'm sure Apple have these in mind. Snow Leopard gets us ready for something radical to come. Coverflow makes much more sense with Magic Mouse, and is probably indicative of the future of all file navigation.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today, for the first time in my life

Today, for the first time in my life, I had my daughter open the front door to let me into the house.

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